Friday, June 19, 2015

Teamwork

Perspective. It changes things. It changes the way we see situations, and the way we see situations then changes the way we act or feel in a situation.  And sometimes a small change in perspective can make a big difference.

Teamwork, yeah, yeah, we've all heard it before. We are all working for  the same thing and if everyone does their part then the team is successful. Although I've been married for 20+ years, I feel like I've recently learned an important team work lesson.

So Richard and I are a team. We use to tell the kids that when they were little ( Don't ask Dad if Mom has already said no!), and it's still true, we just don't say it as much anymore.  Our team's goal is to have a functioning family life.( ideally a happy, fun, supportive one, but sometimes functioning is enough right!?) To accomplish this we both have some primary tasks,some joint tasks, and some tasks that no one is ready to take on right now! ( those we just talk about !)
Anyhow right now Richard's primary task is to earn those $'s, that allow our family to meet the demands of groceries, medical bills, netflix, clothes, pet food and more.  My job is to spend that $! No really it is!  I buy the groceries and then have to come up with something to do with the said groceries ( yuck, I know.), and then clean up after.  ( another yuck) I manage doctor appts, and pay the bills. I usually tell the kids what $ they have for clothes or take them shopping, so you see, I really do spend the $.

Anyhow what I've realized is that teamwork involves everyone having their turn at crap jobs and then their turn at just enjoying their job.  I was sitting on the porch on a lovely warm day recently, a nice breeze blowing occasionally and reading a book,  Although it should have felt perfect, what I kept feeling was guilt. Guilt because I was doing something I enjoy, when at the same time I knew Richard had been having a week of just getting beat up at work. I felt like I shouldn't be enjoying the day when he wasn't. But in my mind I kept on thinking, Sue, you really need to savor this moment. You need to rejuvenate yourself. Doesn't it seem silly that perhaps I would have felt better if we were both having bad days? I talked with my teammate about this and he said that he has done the same thing- feel guilty if things have been easier for him, but harder for me. So some things I've come to realize about teamwork and having a HAPPY family life.


  • We each have things that we like or dislike about our roles right now.  Neither of us have a "job" that is always full of happy moments, but we both have things that we find relaxing or inspiring within these jobs.
  • We don't have to feel guilty for enjoying those times when we'd give our job an A+ rating. It's okay and positive and right to bask in the positive moments. It gives us serenity that will help us help our teammate through those days when their job feels like a full fledged F!
  • Just because we have miserable days or moments,we don't want our spouse to feel that same way.  Yes, I want my husband to listen to me vent about whatever was hard that day, but he doesn't need to feel guilty about the fact that I had a hard day. He has hard days too.
  • It really is about teamwork.  We both have things to do that we don't like to do,( we are waiting to get a new dishwasher so hand washing the dishes is right up there for me!) but we do them because as a team we are working to have a functioning, positive and happy family life.
  • Sometimes it's your turn to have a good day, sometimes it my turn.  And hip hip hooray for the days when we are both having a good day!
And so it goes...

Just Read- "Sister" by Rosamond Lupton. It surprised me how much I liked this book. A good crime fiction book that kept you wondering, but more than that she is a good writer. Several times I would read a sentence and then say that was a good sentence. She uses words well.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Family Update!

It's been awhile since I've written just a general blog about what our family is up to , so I'm going to try to do that now, although I'm sure I want be able to do justice to everything that's been going on- I wish I was better at blogging and including photographs and keeping it up to date.

We've lived in rural central Pennsylvania for about 4 years now. We find it different than anywhere we've lived in our adult life, and the kids have definitely found it different than anywhere they had experienced previously. There are negatives and positives, but what Richard and I and the kids have all felt is that even now this still doesn't feel like "home". We've all tried to "Bloom where you're planted" and I am especially so grateful that we have each other as we make a home and life where we really don't feel at "home." We did list our home for sale for awhile, but we have the unfortunate reality that since we moved here our home has been mapped into a flood zone, now requiring really expensive flood insurance if someone were to buy it. So between that and the fact that we don't have a lot of equity in the home (which would allow us to sell for less to offset the insurance), we recognize that we may be here for some time. However, at the same point we recognize that we may not. And life up in the air, is not one of my favorite feelings.

Richard continues to work as an IT specialist for Penn State Hershey Medical centers in State College area. For the most part he likes it, but does get tired of the politics between the State College branch and Hershey. It's hard having 2 bosses in 2  different places telling you 2 different things that don't always agree with each other.  On the other hand he is really enjoying teaching the PA state motorcycle safety courses.  It's like a hobby for him, but also helps with extra income since I'm not working outside of the home right now. I see the teacher in him as he really likes to see how the students progress from the beginning to the end of the course.  I've considered taking the course from him as well, but not sure if that would be a good or bad thing for our marriage!  He likes to stay busy and in his spare time has been busy wood working.  The other day I was considering everything he has made: coffee table, picnic table, bookshelf, corn hole, side table or seat.  He is handy to have around! 

Andrew has finished his 2nd year of college and has one more year to get his associates degree.  He started out in a 4 year major, then changed to a 2 year major, thus the 3 years. It will be in computer tech ( or something similar, I can't remember the exact name.) He especially enjoys the networking side of it. His girlfriend Nina still lives in Buffalo and spent some of last week with us. They seem to have done really well with this long distance relationship thing- and I know he didn't get that from me! Although, perhaps I've matured some in my years, I use to get a "If you're not here when I need you, then I Don't need you" attitude when Richard would be away.  They are tired of the distance though and  Andrew hopes to return to Buffalo to work and live after graduating. He is working his second summer at the local amusement park, Del Grossos. He works in the games department and comes home with interesting stories about co-workers and parents and kids.

Whitney just graduated from high school as Salutatorian. I'm really proud of her of course and I absolutely loved the speech she gave. She wrote it herself, but really said things I am pleased and proud of her for. As I said previously, this doesn't feel like home, but in her speech she said the things that she has learned here. If you want to see her give her speech here is the link. Whitney's speech.She starts at about the 39:39 mark. She struggled with deciding what to do next and decided she wanted more time before heading to college and having to decide a major. She has decided to do 10 months in FEMA Corps. This is a branch of Americorps that focuses on disaster preparedness and relief. She will start in Iowa and will then travel throughout the US working on projects.

Jayna just completed her 7th grade school year.  She is clever and has a good sense of humor. She has pretty severe scoliosis and we will be seeing a pediatric orthopedic specialist this week to see if she will be having surgery for it. From the research I've done on it, it seems like given the fact that she has two places where her spine curves greater than 50 degrees, it is likely.  I want to make June a fun month in the event that surgery will happen this summer. She is going to miss her sister when she leaves in August, and will kind of become an only child! We may be off to volunteer at the animal shelter tomorrow. ( This makes me a good mom, for those who know how much I like animals!)

I'm not working outside of the home now. With Andrew and Whitney getting more involved in their own lives, I really needed to be available to get Jayna wherever she needed to be. Living in  the country we are often driving about 40 minutes to go to a class or activity. So I keep busy "MOMing", and with the house and reading and such. I have started doing some mystery shopping where I act as a regular customer then write an evaluation on specific criteria. It gives us a few extra dollars here and there. I much prefer it when I can give a positive review! I've been looking into the possibility of returning to school part time to get my bachelors degree as well. I have been looking at a few different major possibilities, however need to wait and see what happens with Jayna and surgery this summer and where she will be attending school in the fall.

So, there you go, a brief little update and now some pictures!

 Whitney with her boyfriend Luke. I have to say she seems so much more relaxed and comfortable and herself when she is with him. I have to say I appreciate that he brings that out in her.
 Jayna overlooking Raystown Lake. We love the beauty of Pennsylvania.
 Jayna and I went to Living Treasures Animal Park and it was cool to see a baby joey peeking out of it's mama's pouch.
 We get a family picture together like never! Graduation was a good excuse for one!
 Sisters! I guess sometimes there is a question as to who is oldest by looks. And recently I took Jayna out to lunch and the waitress asked if it would be one check or separate and Jayna looked at me and said "I'm only 13!"
 We don't get to see the grandmas much and especially not together! It was nice having them around for Whitney's graduation.
 Jayna wasn't so sure about the cow that put her whole hand in it's mouth!
 A girl and her dog! Whitney and Muffy just love each other!
 Family fun playing corn hole that Richard made for my birthday!
 Andrew and Nina making lots of Easter treats! Yum!
 Jayna bottle feeding a baby camel.
 Non-crafty Sue said let's try this Pinterest idea!
 I love our peony bed, wish they bloomed longer!

And so it goes...

Reading now- "Sister" by Rosamund Lupton. A little different than my normal read, but I do like her writing style.  Crime fiction, pretty good so far.

Just Read- "All the Light We Cannot See"- by Anthony Doerr, I liked the story, but not how he went back and forth between times.  It gave me insight into WWII and how things just happened.




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gratitude- Again.

Some day soon I want to do another Ashead update, where I share "what in the world are the Ashead's doing?", but today something else is on my mind.  Gratitude. Thankfulness. Peace. Remembering. Gratitude.

The past several months have been a big struggle for Richard and I - a lot of hard things have been thrown our way.  It seems one after another, without the first one or several getting resolved before we have more thrown our way. It has been a challenge and I'm not going to get into the details of the issues that remain at hand and hard, but as I thought about these stresses today, and prayed, God answered me in the way he often does. Gratitude.  I am brought to remembrance of the many good things still in life and a need to know that blessings abound, sometimes they are just not the ones I'm looking for- so I might miss them.

So, today's gratitude list.

**  Although things have been hard for the parents of the family, the kids do not seem overly affected. They are all functioning well and seem only marginally aware of the concerns.  I'm grateful for this, that for the most part  it appears, they are not feeling the weight of the world upon them as it seems we are.

** I'm grateful that through the  winding path of life and the places I've been and people I've interacted with I've made friendships with people who have been a strength in a variety of ways.  Maybe they have expertise or experience with some of the issues we are now dealing with and lend an ear, or insight, support and encouragement. Others are true friends who reach out in support and allow me to ramble and rant at times. Especially grateful for those who get me and my personality and why some of the things we have been dealing would be hard for me.

** There are still lots of great things going on for our family such as
     * Whitney will be graduating next month.  She is looking forward to her time with FEMA Corps. She just attended prom with a sweet young man and was on prom court.
     * Andrew just finished another year of college successfully and is home for the summer and working.
     * Jayna is doing well in school,and also just had her 2nd piano recital.
     * We have a vacation planned to Boston with plans for whale watching, seeing Newsies and more!
     * Richard is enjoying teaching the PA motorcycle safety courses.

** Then there are some of the "big" more universal things to be grateful such as living in a country and area where I don't fear for my family's physical safety regularly,  Having a home and food.  Libraries where I can get lots of books. A belief in answers to prayers.

Anyhow, that is where I am today. Trying to find peace in the good and being grateful for that.

And so it goes...

Reading Now- "Mozart's Last Aria" by Matt Rees
Recently Read- "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande- highly recommended reading for every adult! We need to have conversations about life, living and dying and what is most important to each other individually.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day and an Open Door

Richard and I headed to bed a bit ago, and I left the bedroom door wide open.  I've always liked to have the door open some and some light coming in; he on the other hand prefers it completely closed.  He is not a mom.  Whitney has been gone since Thursday morning on her school's senior trip. She'll get home late sometime tonight, I don't really know when to expect her, but when she gets home, what I want her to see is the open door, both literally and figuratively.  She knows when she gets home she is expected to check in and let me know she's home, not just tonight, but any of the many nights that she gets home after we've gone to bed.  But, as a mom I want to get as much as I can from that late night check in, and that is where having an open door helps. How does she sound as she's telling us she's home? Changes in her voice are more noticeable with an open door.  Is she just sounding tired, or is there something in her tone that makes me wonder if she's upset? Do I just say good night, or wait a few minutes and then go check on her and make sure she's feeling okay all the way around.  I also want to see her just a bit as she enters the room across the hall. Is there any sadness or frustration on her face, is there a slump in her shoulders that makes her look more than just tired, or a smile on her face.  These are things that as a mom, even when woken from sleep that I am looking for.
However, I also want my kids to always see an "open door".  I want them to know that no matter how early or late, that I'm here for them. I want them to see me as a safe place to ask questions, to process their thoughts and to become who they truly are.  I want them to know that my love for them isn't conditional - it's not based on certain expectations or achievements.  I want them to see an open door when they call for a ride at an inconvenient time or when they are choosing beliefs that aren't my own. I want them to see an open door- a door they are always welcomed through, not one they tiptoe by in fear.



I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a mom to each of them. Andrew, Whitney and Jayna- who continue to teach me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Healthy Changes- follow up

So it's been about 3 weeks since I started on a slow journey to get healthy. I've started with adding in one new challenge each week- all of them relatively small changes but I hope by making small changes, eventually they will add up to big changes. Doing these small things helps me to feel more in control and able to follow through.  In the past when I would take on a "diet" mentality, it required me to change so many things at once that I don't think I could sustain it long term ( and obviously didn't), which just puts you on the yo-yo path. I would love to report that all though it's been only 3 weeks doing simple things that I've lost 10 lbs. or something, but it's just not true.  The first week I was down a little, the 2nd week up higher than my initial starting weight and tomorrow will be the weigh in for this week- my weight tends to fluctuate, but if it stays where it was yesterday that would probably put me back down to about what I was the first week where I had lost a smidge. Here's a review of the goals and how they are going.

Week 1- Ditch artificially or sugar sweetened sodas and flavored waters, start drinking 9 cups of water a day. I just felt this was an overall healthy goal and also not too much of a stretch.  Only in the past few years had I really started drinking more and more artificially sweetened sodas and such on a more regular basis. I still occasionally want that sweet taste, but I don't buy it , so it's not here. My youngest daughter has also started drinking milk more often than a soda, so that is good too, I think.  It is mostly when we are out or travelling that I think I will have to consciously think more about this- for example when we are on a long drive it would be normal for us to stop and get sodas at the gas station- and I always didn't want to buy a water bottle because it seemed silly- water was free, so instead I would usually get a diet soda.  So sometimes yes, my body feels heavy and full of water, and there are days I spend more time in the bathroom than I would like, but my nails are also nice and shiny and I feel like this is just a healthy, natural goal.

Week2- Limit eating sweets to only one time a day.  It's a little embarrassing that this even had to be a goal, but it did. I would often eat something sweet multiple times during the day, especially on stressful days.  It didn't have to be much, a handful of chocolate chips here, a cookie there, but it may be several times a day. Sweets were definitely a coping strategy. Doing this goal has made me insightful.  This is what I have found- I CAN control my sugar cravings and not give in, I like to often save my "sweet" for the end of the day, it has made me more aware and deliberate in my food choices. However, this is still an area of struggle for me. I find that when I do decide it is my time of the day to eat sweets, remember I never said only 1 sweet, only 1 time a day, I find that I eat more than I may be satisfied with, I feel I have to get all I could possibly want, or maybe I'll order a small blizzard instead of the mini one, just because I can.  I'm still working on this- breaking the power sweets have over me, it's a process, and knowing is half the battle right? However, I do see new thought patterns emerging- for example yesterday I was at a church function and they served lunch with dessert available. It looked delicious and normally I would have had some without a thought, but I knew that that night was Jayna's piano recital and that we would most likely be going out to Dairy Queen afterwards, so although it was hard and a very conscious decision, I was able to choose to skip the dessert because I knew we would be having something later and that is where I wanted to spend my "sweet". That thought process is not something I would have done before, unless I was on a "diet", which I don't really feel like this is- in a positive way.

Week 3- Exercise 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. I know, it sounds like such a tiny goal. Exercise is something that I have difficulty with when it comes to consistency and injuries. There have been times when I actively exercise 5 days a week or so and then times when I am doing hardly nothing. Immediately before this, I was at the nothing part.  However, about a month or so ago I was doing really well at exercising a few days a week. I had started in part to keep depression at bay. I had a video game that I actually enjoy with a variety of exercise opportunities.  And then I threw my back out. Weeks of pain and now I am okay, until I do anything outside of my normal daily movements.  If I do something more such as pull garbage cans, mow the yard or cut tree limbs, I again end up with a hurting back. I haven't gotten back to the video yet and this week I just walked to meet my goal. They say you should find something fun and make it a part of your life but that seems to back fire on me. Enjoyed the video game = hurt back, also I've enjoyed playing tennis in the past but I usually end up with a hurt shoulder. Again 3 times a week at 20 minutes isn't going to make someone really lose weight, but I do think it helps someone be healthier and push them towards the losing weight goal as well. Something is better than nothing right?

Week 4- This upcoming week I think I am going to not add anything else in but keep working on the 3 goals above, hoping to make the exercise part not feel so dreadful and hopefully tweaking the sweet eating to be happy with just enough. I think adding in another goal right now would make me start to feel out of balance- too many things hard at once.  I think I just need one more week on these goals before I add a new.

And so it goes...

Just Read- "We Have Always Lived In The Castle" by Shirley Jackson- the same author that wrote "The Lottery", which I watched in school at 7th grade which traumatized me. Andrew read this book and loved it. Her books are those that make you think of community and society as a whole and how we act.  I give it 3/5 stars.

Currently Reading- "Inside the O'Briens" by Lisa Genova. She also wrote "Still Alice" which I enjoyed which was about a lady and her battle with early onset Alzheimer's. This story (fiction) is about a family whose Dad has Huntington's disease. Good so far.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Wanted- Cheerleaders, not coaches.

The end of December I took a leave of absence from my job as an activities director to manage some family needs. By the middle of January, I knew that the needs were more involved and that I wouldn't be returning to my job. This was  hard, yet the right choice.  It put me in a new position.  So many people find that they have too much stuff to do and not enough time, but for me all of a sudden I felt like I had all this time, but not enough stuff to keep me happily engaged.  Although I was needed at home, since all of my kids are in school I was often home alone- and yes, I could spend loads of time cooking and cleaning, I can tell you neither are my passion.  So I decided it would be a transformative year for me. I had desires to: use my girl power, become spiritually stronger, get healthier and overall become the best me possible.  Now a few months in- I can't say I've changed drastically, although I do feel like I've done little things in probably all of these categories, but mostly I've gotten busy wasting time or spending time on what isn't most important to me- it is so easy to do.  Anyhow the realization is that to accomplish the above goals it takes time- but more importantly a set plan.  So I've been thinking about the health issue- especially in regards to weight.  I've been processing through my life, and my story because I think you have to understand where you are and why before you can make changes.

So here goes- How did I get so fat???
Now listen, I don't consider that a negative statement, I'm not overly beating myself up, but the truth is I'm not only fat, I'm obese.  I don't believe being obese means you can't be beautiful, but what I know for myself is that being so overweight limits me- and I don't like to be limited. And I don't necessarily mean the limits you put on yourself, because I think many overweight people limit themselves. Growing up I felt like my mom often didn't want to take us swimming because she didn't want to get in a swimsuit- I have really tried to not live like that- I have put on a swimming suit to take my kids to water parks, snorkeling at Disney and more.  And now I have to say my mom swims on a regular basis. However, I do feel limits and one of the biggest for me is when planning trips or activities wondering or worrying if I will be to overweight to do something- for example before going to Disney I did a lot of research about fitting into rides and such- now thankfully Disney is a size friendly theme park and I didn't have any problems, however wondering about it did cause me worry that I can really do without.  Am I too heavy for a Segway tour, too heavy for sky diving, for horseback riding.  I love doing things and I hate worrying about if I will be able to.  Will I have to set out an activity while I send my husband and kids to participate- that sounds sad.  So I have to say once upon a time I wish I had a list of all the activities I would like to do and a maximum weight allowed to do such things- of course I never knew I needed a list, because I never knew that I would be where I am now. I also feel like I don't feel mentally or spiritually as well when I am so overweight. It limits what I do, because although I try not to feel self -conscious , sometimes you just do.  I also know my body is a gift from God, and that I am expected to care for it well and that when I don't, spiritually I suffer.

So back to HOW did I get so fat?
Genetics and lifestyle- the early years. Both of my parents spent a lot of my childhood being overweight.  My dad and mom were both short as well- and when you're short, there is just less space for those calories to go.  We didn't have packaged, processed food, but we did have probably a meat and potatoes mentality, although vegetables and fruit were available as well. Also lots of homemade goodies such as pies and cookies.  Healthy habits weren't really talked about.  I know I over ate then but at the same time we put in so much physical labor that it probably balanced out to allow me to be around a size 10-12 during my high school years. My dad encouraged badminton, horseshoes and ping pong as active fun.

A misunderstanding of religious teachings?- I remember all these lessons about vanity and how it was wrong and that you shouldn't be so concerned about how you look, as well as the importance of not judging others on the way they look- and somehow I got it in my head that it was wrong to care or worry about how you looked.  I know we also had lessons on healthy eating and the Word of Wisdom, which then mostly seemed like a list of "Don'ts", but I feel like it was the anti- vanity lessons that stuck.  And I agree you shouldn't judge others on how they look, but there is nothing wrong and actually something right with wanting to look nice. And in reality the church teaches to care for our body- but my teenage brain got everything a little skewed.

Marriage and Life- Early on in our marriage I got down to one of my lowest adult weights of around 125.  I think I was able to do that then for a few reasons- we couldn't really afford eating out or buying many extra treats, our life was simpler- just two people and time to really plan out meals and count calories. I gained a lot of weight with our first child, but was able to lose it.  However after our second child was born, and basically from then on, I've been gaining weight. Yes sometimes with a loss and regain thrown in.  I'm not sure if I was always a stress eater or became one or that it was just noticeable because all of the sudden I had a lot more stress, but I would definitely say I am a stress eater. I have recognized this, but haven't yet learned how to do this differently.  I think I need to do 2 things- learn to get stressed less, but then also learn to substitute something else to do when I am stressed. So as well as being a stress eater, there are many other things I do wrong and some things I do right. 

My goal now is to set goals to start incorporating healthy habits and to find time to really focus on what I need to do. Time to really think about the steps to take.  I'm not on a lose 100 lbs by next year plan or triple the exercise plan or only eat veggies plan, I just want to mentally feel well, physically feel well and eventually get to a point where I don't have this nagging worry over my head of "will I be able to do that", I have every intention of  spending a lot of fun time with my family as I age. Right this minute I don't know exactly what goal or goals I'm going to work on first, although I have started a list of ideas. I'm going to talk to Richard tonight and discuss this, maybe we will do this together or even choose our own healthy habit to start on, but be able to support each other.
I' m happy to have cheerleaders on my journey, more than coaches right now- if I have learned anything it is that sometimes ( all the time?) you have to choose what works for you and ditch everyone else's "you shoulds", but feel free to become a cheerleader on my team!

And so it goes...

Reading Now- "Everything I Never Told You" by Celeste Ng and "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D.Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

Recently Read- "1984" by George Orwell- thought provoking
"Longbourne" by  Jo Baker- a fun read showing another side of  "Pride and Prejudice"
"The Light Between Oceans" by  M.L.Stedman- Great story! A page turner except for the fact that you don't want it to end!