Chasing Contentment

Tuesday, July 31

I made my second blanket (the first was a Hello Kitty blanket for Eliza), and I'm so pleased with how it turned out! I made it for Emma's second birthday (my friend, LeeAnn's daughter), and I hope Emma enjoys it.

Here's what it looks like... SO easy...

It's a groovy print on one side (Eliza selected it herself) and a light banana yellow on the other side.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, July 31, 2007  ]

Sunday, July 29

Friday afternoon, my supervisor yelled at me till I cried (which, I admit wasn't long... I'm the section crier). It didn't inspire me to go to work this weekend, so instead, I stayed home and we played. It was really nice.

My new friend, Amy, showed me how to make a blanket, so I'm making a blanket tonight for the daughter of a friend (whose birthday I missed, which is so unlike me). I'm so thankful that God has sent Amy to me. I am endlessly grateful for her friendship. Knowing she's there at work with me, accepting me (3 though I am).

And my dad (who is afraid the kids won't remember what he looks like) bought us a webcam, so we could see one another. An extra bonus - Mandy and Josh have one, too, and I got to see them all tonight. Highlight of my day.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, July 29, 2007  ]

Thursday, July 26

Two work-related thoughts for today...

I've been talking for months about how it's clear I'm going to have to make a choice in terms of my job. In order to be really good at it, I'm going to have to put in lots of extra hours. As it turns out, a conversation with a co-worker today showed me that I've already made my choice, and I chose to be a good mama rather than a good worker. I've never had to make that choice before, but I know it's the right one.

My co-worker said she's at the office early and that she stays late and she works every Sunday. She said her husband hates her and her daughter begs her not to go. She said her daughter has resorted to hiding her keys so she can't leave. And I can't do that. I know that in order to get promoted out of this particular wretched level in the company, I have to be a five (corporate lingo... we're graded monthly on a one to five scale).

I'm more of a three. A three won't get me promoted but it also saves me from getting fired. And as a three, I can leave and come home to my kids. And as a three, I can be a better mom than I could as a five. So I've apparently chosen - unconsciously - to be a three.

And... my pet peeve of the day ...
In my job, people lie to me. Routinely. And people yell at me. Routinely. I've gotten to the point where it doesn't much bother me anymore.

I've got this one case in which this particular client is being unreasonable. And at this point, I've figured out that if someone's being particularly unreasonable, they're probably lying to me. So, I called to speak with her and got her voicemail on which she quoted John 3:16. And that galls me. If you're going to put your Christianity out there in a public (preachy?) way, then all of your actions should back that up.

Now, I believe that we should all back up our faith with our actions regardless of whether or not we announce our faith. But if you're gonna push it, I think you should be able to show it, too.

So, that's my work observations of the week. (They sound better than "I hate my job," don't they?)

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, July 26, 2007  ]

Wednesday, July 25

My little Eliza... she may be a little nutty, but she's got style.

This is the outfit she chose to wear to go with Mike to the Moe's to get take-out for dinner.

And I'm just so proud... I honestly think it all works realy well. Of course, the pink CareBear and the pink heart handbag she added as she was walking out the door really made the ensemble.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, July 25, 2007  ]

Tuesday, July 24

We had another fabulous time at the beach with Chuck, Stacy, Hayden and Hannah. I am endlessly thankful for their love and friendship this year. Mike and I were talking about how we'll make the big kids come home every summer when they're in college to go to the beach with us for our annual trip.

And then, when the kids get bigger than that, the four of us can go by ourselves (and maybe sleep later than 7:30 a.m. each morning!). On Sunday morning, there were these two little old couples who came down to the water about the same time we did, and I told Mike that I hope that's us years and years from now.

In my quest to decide I don't want a tattoo, I got temps. And when Stacy and I tricked the kids with ours, I let each of them have one, too. (Mike wasn't pleased with where Eliza chose to put hers.) They thought they were So cool.

We got Eliza water wings, and she did so well in the water. By this time next year, she'll be swimming.

When we go to St. Pete, we stay in this cute little cottage hotel place. It's obviously been there for years and years. There are also all of these big condo places along the beach. Our little place is in between two tall condos. From the water, you can only see the roof of the complex. I find it amusing and endearing.

Hayden took this picture of the sunset.

I took a sweet picture of Chuck and Stacy...

and then, of course, Stacy insisted on Chuck taking one of me and Mike despite how desperately I hate having my photo taken (I'm trying to get over that.).

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, July 24, 2007  ]

Monday, July 23

We had a fabulous weekend at the beach (even if I am all sunburned), and I just now finished the new Harry Potter book (it was lovely). For now, I'm tired and going to sleep. Tomorrow, I'll post beach photos.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, July 23, 2007  ]

Thursday, July 19

Woohoo... we're going to the beach tomorrow! I love the beach. We're going with Mike's brother and his family... back to the same little cottages we went last year. I can hardly wait.

And after we get home Sunday, I'll fall fast into the wizarding world of Harry Potter with the new book. Mike and I are going to have to share our book this time, so he'll read while I'm at work, and I'll read when I get home in the evenings. So I'm guessing there won't be much blogging from me for a week or so.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, July 19, 2007  ]

Monday, July 16

Linda and I always swapped books when we lived in town together, and now, we mail books back and forth. When Griff and Mike were there last month, she and I both used Mike as a cutie-patootie pack mule for the books we wanted one another to read. She sent me this book that was as difficult to read as it was completely engrossing.

One of the things I kept thinking about through the book was the idea that we create our own lives. Now, I know that there are lots of things we don't create, would never in a million years choose. But I do believe that we create our own responses to our life situations and in doing so, create our lives themselves.

And I've been thinking about how I want to create this life. This life doesn't feel to me like an extension of my old one. It's a completely new entity. There's my Louisiana life and my Florida life, and there are bridges between them but there are different lives along my journey.

For the first six months here, the heartbreak was probably palatable around me. Literally, I got out of bed each day and just managed to walk through the day itself, trying to do what had to be done, to encourage my children, to work to convince Griff that this would be okay. For six months, my heart hurt.

And while I cannot pinpoint the moment when it stopped hurting every hour of every day, I know that it didn't stop until after the first of the year. But sometime after Christmas, I missed people and places and faces, but I didn't ache with it.

And then all heck exploded at work, and it was all I could do to get out of bed each day and walk through the day hating my job and feeling horrid for it. I was suffocating with the trapped feeling I couldn't escape, even in my sleep.

I've been floating, not determining my destiny... just trying not to drown.

But now, now I think that maybe I'm ready to begin swimming. I'm not angry with God any more. And I don't think God's angry with me. (I could hear the relief in Mike's voice when I told him that last night.) I just think this is where we are now. Where we go from here is up to us.

I am ready to begin creating this life. And that is a really encouraging feeling.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, July 16, 2007  ]

Sunday, July 15

Given that we are going to be at the beach again in less than a week, it seemed like a good time to post photos from our beach trip back in May.

This is from the day we got there... I love the shot of Eliza running toward me and Griff.

Though I don't usually like pictures of myself, I like this one of me and Griff.

Our Griff with his swim shorts riding a little low.

Our niece, Hannah, looking all golden with her white-blonde hair and her creamy tan. With her athletic build, the boys are going to be digging her in no time... much to her daddy's displeasure.

All of our little beach rats together - Eliza, Hannah, Griff, and Hayden. You can pick my two out easily... they're the dark-headed ones. Not that my current color shows it, but they didn't have a chance with my dark hair combined with Mike's.

And now, we're already excited about the next trip, counting the days till Friday.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, July 15, 2007  ]

Saturday, July 14

I love lazy Saturday mornings. I still feel like someone's sitting on my chest (I really need to get an allergy/asthma doc here in town), and I'm worn out, but I at least feel better than I did earlier this week. My boys are going outside to mow before it gets too hot, and Eliza's curled up in our bed watching 'her shows.' So I have a few moments alone (really, this is as close to alone as I get these days).

I spent more than one sleepless night this week, trying to think about things other than my sore throat or my unhappy tummy.

I've thought about how motherhood changes us. Now, I know fatherhood changes men, too. Mike is immeasurably more amazing now than before children. But I think that motherhood changes something fundamental in women. (Motherhood - not pregnancy or childbirth, though those certainly can change us.)

My friend, Mandy, is a good decade younger than me, and Mike and I have always talked about how looking at her was like looking at me in my early 20s. She has always been strong and opinionated and independent and determined and bold. There was no under-served population group or overlooked individual she was not willing to support or befriend. Right and wrong were clear. I was always like that. And these are qualities that I admire in her (and in my icky moments wonder if are lost in me now) and that I hope for in our Eliza.

And then I had kids. And things went crazy. Strong though I have always been, I had trouble adapting to new life situations (hadn't figure that out from reading the blog this last year, had you?). I had trouble blending into marriage without losing me, and I had trouble being a mama and being Chel and being Mike's 'Chief' all at the same time.

I had always been a worrier, but children opened up a whole new realm of possible worries. I did eventually figure it all out enough to know that my roles are always evolving, and I figured out that I had to trust God a whole lot more and try to worry a little less (I'm still not up to a whole lot less). And I got a little less bold and a little more measured. And I picked my battles more carefully. I've finely honed my battle response to something we refer to as the 'Mama Bear.'

Mandy told me this week that she worries more now that she's had Olivia. And I was reminded of how motherhood changes us. I think I'm more gentle now, more willing to see the other sides of various situations. I'm more aware of the dangers out there and of the fact that I can only do what I can do and that I have to leave the rest to God.

When I get that panicky feeling (or when I tell Mike that we need to take a digital photo of the man who lives next door who talks to Eliza about his puppies and is probably a very nice man but whose name I do know not know and of his license plate -you know... so if he were to be some horrible SVU man who would take my kids, I could give the police the photo and the tag number), I take a deep breath and remember that these are God's children first and mine second and that He loves them infinitely more than I ever can.

I haven't quite resolved that belief with the things I read in the paper and that I know happen to people who are also God's beloved children, but that falls into the category of those things that I just have to accept and not try to rationalize or understand. Before motherhood, I was less willing to accept that some things just are. And now, those things break my heart a little bit more than before.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, July 14, 2007  ]

Thursday, July 12

I believe we're finally back from the land of the sick. Of course, I ended up with Griff's stomach virus on top of my sinus infection/whatever. I went back to work today, though I wasn't very chatty.

I'm hoping to make it through tomorrow quickly (I know... I know... don't wish your life away), so we can get to the weekend and some rest. I'll have to work Saturday to make up for some of the work I missed this week, but at least that work will be on my own schedule.

And now, I'm hoping to get Eliza in the bed soon, so I can go to bed myself.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, July 12, 2007  ]

Monday, July 9

Both of the kids are finally in bed (though Eliza's still awake making shadows on the walls with her tiger flashlight), and Griff seems to be feeling better, thankfully. The pediatrician said it was a virus. Mike says Griff probably picked up some germs at the interactive science museum yesterday, which makes perfect sense.

I'm not feeling great, but I'm taking all of the vitamins and meds I can possibly take, so I'm hopeful that I'll feel better tomorrow. I have to go to work tomorrow regardless, so I really hope we all get a good night's sleep tonight.

Pretty much the only productive thing I've done today is bid on several cameos on Ebay. I was asked to donate another piece of jewelry to Food for the Poor, and I've got this idea in my head of what I want to do, but I need to find a vintage (but reasonably priced) cameo.

Mike's gone to get me more tissues and something cold for my throat, and then he'll watch the Home Run Derby while I sleep.

Tonight I am thankful -- for a phenominal husband... for funny, unexpected cards in the mail from friends... for cold Starbucks drinks... for antibiotics, even if they do make my tummy unhappy... for two very-Lysoled bathrooms... for pretty stormclouds... for the feeling of being loved.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, July 09, 2007  ]

So it's 4:30 in the morning here, and Griff's been up for the last couple of hours very ill. Poor baby. He is just so pitiful. We've run through a range of possible illnesses - from an allergic reaction to a virus since he says his throat's sore like mine - and now I'm up worrying that he might have appedicitis (I did as a kid). Why is it that mamas pray more in the middle of the night than any other time?

I'm trying really hard to embrace the fact that we're here and we're not leaving and that we need to build a life here, and I'm doing better at it. When something like this happens, I wish we still lived where I knew my pediatrician well and where I knew I had people who could help us without question. It's a little lonely to feel like it's just me and Mike in this together. I'm very much an 'it takes a village' sort of girl.

It's been almost 10 minutes since he got out of bed last, so I'm hoping maybe he can get some sleep. I'm calling my supervisor's voice mail now to let her know I won't be in tomorrow.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, July 09, 2007  ]

Sunday, July 8

I woke up this morning with a horrid sore throat, but we still pushed on with our fun plans for the day. We took the kids to MOSI and had a great time, and then we ran by the mall to pick up the LUSH stuff I needed. On to the Spaghetti Warehouse for lunch/dinner before heading home. Everyone was happy and tired.

And now my throat hurts so badly that I'm searching online for home remedies. Clearly, I'm going to have to make a CVS run here soon.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, July 08, 2007  ]

Saturday, July 7

Now that we're into our second year of life in Florida and I've made a to-do list for this year, I think it's probably time for me to think about - and to articulate -some of the things that I already love about living here.

So here we go...

Chel's Fabulous Florida List
1. Mike enjoys his new job and is teaching at a college where he is able to teach what he believes about journalism without censorship or fear.
2. Neither of us are threatened with losing our jobs because we attend the 'wrong' church.
**These two need to forever be at the top of my list as a reminder of how God uses times of tension and ... lots of other mucky things... to teach us and as a reminder that He does eventually rescue us from what we feel like is our own little hell.
3. Being close to Chuck, Stacy, Hayden and Hannah.
4. Flip-flops all year.
5. Less allergies for me and both kids... I suppose it's something about the air or the lack of trees here or less pollen or a newer house with less ick in the walls than our old one. I don't really know & don't really care. We're all taking less meds for allergies and asthma, and I think that's a good thing.
6. Recycling.
7. A young stylist who is a color wizard (I'm dark brown, kinda red as of today.)
8. The weather... it's never cold here. And the sun always shines. This bright, can't-really-be-real bright with clear blue skies and puffy white clouds. Honestly, it looks like it can't possibly be real.
9. Spring training.
10. We're located between Orlando and Tampa, so I'm never more than 45 minutes away from a LUSH store and another pot the best facial mask ever.
11. A Starbucks on every corner (I'm currently loving the orange passion tea.).
12. Panera bagels.
13. The beach.
14. Outdoor produce markets.
15. December strawberries. Really good strawberries.
16. Lots of groovy things to do for the kids.

I'm going to keept working on the list. I'm sure there are tons of other things, but there's more Live Earth to watch.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, July 07, 2007  ]

Thursday, July 5

I am a sucker for accessories. (Now, Mike and Griff would say I should just end that statement at 'I am a sucker,' but that's another story.)

Griff's had a pair of knock-off crocs that he's worn for years now, and he's finally to the point where he needs a bigger size. I found a Crocs store at a mall in Tampa, and I want a cute pair, too (in celery green!).

Now, mainly I want them so I can get the little Jibbitz to wear with them... see, accessories.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, July 05, 2007  ]