Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hypothyroidism, Depression, and Divorce Recovery

"This is the part where you find out who you are." (Divorce Recovery)

September 2017
30-Year High School Reunion

Life, post-divorce, is really hard, but slowly I am recovering and moving forward.  The hardest part of divorce-life has been figuring out who I am without the "Mrs." in front of my name...without the title of "Fire Wife"...and with the new title of "ex-wife".  It has truly been a grieving process.  

This past summer (August) was the two-year mark of our separation and divorce.  (Hard to believe, I know.)  Last Spring (March of 2017) I was really sick.  I was depressed, but also experiencing some unusual physical symptoms inlcuding pretty significant hair loss.  It reminded me of being post-partum. And it frightened me.  I was also constantly cold and couldn't get enough sleep.  

But the hair loss...oy!

So, I made an appointment with my primary care doc...and after a battery of tests and bloodwork the diagnosis was a common one...hypothyroidism.  

It wasn't in my head!  It wasn't because I was depressed from getting divorced.  It was my sluggish and broken thyroid causing me to fee so terrible.  

I committed to getting healthy...and I take my little white synthroid pill, religiously.  At my follow-up appointment I was down 35 lbs and running up to 6 miles on the weekend and run/walking 3-miles daily.  Winter weather and laziness has slowed me down, but I recently recommitted to my healthy eating and exercise plan.

Here are a few photos from my Spring and Summer Weight Loss journey.  

"Eating healthy makes me happy!"
~Spark People~

So do cupcakes...  *giggle*

Monday, January 8, 2018

Magical Summer (1)

"Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August."
~Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty~

Summer in Kansas never fails to disappoint.  Black-eyed Susans...a favorite.

So many teeth were lost the Summer of 2017!  :)

...and turning SEVEN meant the start of FIRST GRADE!  FIRST GRADE earns you a right of passage in this house...your very own LIBRARY CARD.  We love books!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mele Kalikimaka in Kansas (2017)

Many changes have taken place at St. Paul Catholic school where the children attend.  Lots of staff changes including the departure of our beloved music teacher, Julieanne Eckles, took place for the 2017-2018 school year.  The kids adored her...and she is one of my dearest girlfriends...but the Holy Spirit lead her in a different direction after 5 amazing years at our tiny school.  #blessed.

I explained to the kids that change happens.  The constant in this life IS change.  Mr. Herron, the new music teacher is doing a fantastic job filling some amazing shoes.  While he doesn't have the flair (or pumps) that our Broadway performing/DC Opera star did...he brings his very own gift and musical talent to St. Paul.  

So, without further ado, I present to you a very merry Mele Kalikimaka Christmas program in Kansas.  *giggle*

The program started with the Beginner Band (Angel Band) performing followed by the Advanced Band (Archangels).  *smile*  Both Mary and Benjamin are first year Band Students.  Mary is studying the clarinet and Benjamin is playing the trumpet.  (future post to follow)  Unfortunately, from where I was sitting, I could not get a good view of Benjamin during the Band performance.

After the Bands performed, each grade level Kindergarten through 3rd Grade sang a couple of songs.  Luke was not as animated as his preschool and kindergarten years, but still did a great job on stage.  First Grade was asked to dress in all white and sang traditional religious carols.

Fourth through Eighth Grades put on an actual Christmas program.  It was really short and sweet.

And finally...a few snapshots of all three kiddos in "costume" at the apartment before we left for the program.

THIS one (top of the next two photos..her looking many FB likes and comments about her metamorphosis taking place in front of our very amazed at the beauty that she is becoming...1/2 little girl...1/2 young lady.  Definitely all 13 years old!

The best way to spread Christmas cheer, 
is singing LOUD for all to hear!
~Buddy the Elf~

Beauty on a Sunday...Estes Park

Beauty on a Sunday...Estes Park, Colorado edition...

A traumatic Fall 2016, found me traveling to Estes Park, Colorado with Chris and the kids during their Winter Break from school.  

It was a cathartic trip in many ways, mostly for our children who were needing some stability and normalcy to return to their lives.  Some poor decisions were made that created a lot of chaos in my children's lives during the Summer and Fall of 2016.   While the story is not mine to tell, suffice it to say that he (their father) is contrite and has learned some valuable life lessons.  While some questioned my motives and/or the sensibility of going on vacation with my ex-husband and children, a family discussion took place prior to the trip and we were all on the same page. 

The truth of the matter is...children are always going to have hope that their parents reconcile.  While that is not possible at this time, I don't believe that the door of reconciliation is ever fully shut.  And for my part, I work to be as conciliatory as possible towards my ex-husband for the sake of our children.  This trip to Colorado...a trip we had taken several times with our children...was an opportunity for some healing to take place.  

As we were in Estes Park over a long weekend, we attended Mass at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.  Celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist is always life-giving. 

Later that afternoon, we traveled into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) where we went snowshoeing.  It was bitter cold last year...record lows and record snows...and altitude sickness set in quickly for the kids.  We didn't get very far, but we did enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

I hope you had a wonderful day.  Wishing you a blessed start to the work week.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Christmas 2016

The 2016 Holiday Season was a fairly challenging one for all five of us.  Fortunately, a supportive school environment, family counselors, and our Catholic faith got us through some very rough weeks last year.

In addition, Chris' mom (Grandma Kueter) was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in late 2015 after some serious incidents which involved memory lapse, driving, and Iowa. mother-in-law actually drove from Kansas City to the Iowa border...without knowing it.  She failed to show up to babysit my nephew at three in the afternoon, and was missing for close to 24-hours.  Police refused to issue a silver alert because at the time she had no medical diagnosis and could have left on her own accord.  We were able to track her whereabouts by use of her ATM card which showed her filling up her tank at various gas stations between Kansas City and Des Moines.  Very traumatic.

A few weeks later, she was involved in a not-so-minor car accident which looked like her driving on the railroad tracks thinking she was going down a side-street.  Fortunately, a train going the opposite direction on parallel tracks saw her vehicle headlights and radioed in that a car was riding the rails.  BNSF Railway (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) was contacted and traffic stopped....a true tragedy was averted. (When she realized that she was driving on railroad tracks, she put the car in reverse and got stuck on the rails.)  My ex-husband's family immediately took away her car and keys and within a matter of months, she was moved to an assisted living facility.  She is not quite at the level of needing memory care...and Alzheimer meds have significantly slowed her rapid decline...but nursing care is necessary.  

This picture is of Thanksgiving Weekend 2016 when I took the kids to see their grandmother.  Luke was rather frightened by her change in appearance and new surroundings, but my older two did well given that my own grandmother was in nursing care in St. Louis.

Christmas 2016 was meager in the way of gifts, but fortunately my kiddos have hearts of gold.  They were so appreciative of the little that I could provide for them.  In addition, I was having a hard time finding my Christmas joy.  As you can see in the background...I could hardly bring myself to decorate...yet I knew that I needed to for the sake of my kids.  The following pictures were snapped the night of their St. Paul School Christmas program. (I think I got the tree finally decorated on Christmas Eve...I tried to play it off as intentional, but it was really depression.)

So, it's really important that I share these photos because when I look at Christmas 2017, I can see the personal growth that all four of us have experienced!  Growth is good...and so is God!  

Christmas 2016

Mary Catherine...12 years old
Benjamin Paul...10 years old
Luke Alexander...6 years old

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Back to Ballet

Over the years, I've posted sweet pictures of my little ballerina.  Well, she isn't so little anymore, but she has been gifted with an amazingly graceful, ballerina-like stature (all from her dad!).

Two years ago, divorce forced us to take a financial break from dance.  It broke my heart.  And if it broke hers, she never let on...

...but, dancing since she was three, she terribly missed it.

So, last year, come hell or high water, I was going to figure out a way to get her back into dance.  I knew that I could not afford lessons at an expensive studio, nor could I afford for her to audition for dance team, but some simple ballet/tap/jazz lessons to get her moving again was something I could afford.  After a lot of phone calls and searching, I was able to get her into some weekly private lessons with two other girls and a former dance instructor-turned private teacher.  It was the perfect fit for us.

The following pictures are of Mary dancing with Miss Cheyenne at the local rec studio in Eudora, Kansas.  She was rusty after a year off, but it quickly came back to her.  Her beauty and grace amaze me.

This school year (2017-2018), I got a bit more bold with my finances (and her father) and enrolled her in a dance conservatory.  This studio's focus is on classical training...which she bemoaned in the beginning...

...but her growth has been amazing.  AND, more importantly, she has begun to find a passion for ballet.  Tap and jazz have always been her love, but you can't take those classes without the fundamentals of dance acquired through ballet.  She's always moaned and groaned about ballet class.  But this year...oh this year has been so amazing.  To see her actually be excited to go to ballet class is wonderful.  She's already prepping for advancement to pre-pointe!  Very exciting.

Here are a few pics from her new studio.  I sat in the last week of December classes for parent watch week...the ballet training was intense.  She is usually famished after dance classes and now i know why.  These pictures are from her first week of dance in August.

She is all legs... and never without a book...that's my girl!!!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Christmas Break Wrap-Up

Yesterday was our last day of Christmas Break.  Honestly, the kids were ready to return to school...even if I am not ready for them to go back.  I love our days together...but I have to share them my heart breaks a little bit during those quiet, lonely days, when they're with dad.  (Our shared custody schedule is 50/50 so we share the kids week-to-week.  More on our custody schedule in a future post.)

To celebrate, we went to the movies.  We saw "The Greatest Showman".  Phenomenal.  I highly recommend this movie.  So great to see a good family flick...and all three LOVED it...especially Mary.  She was still talking about it well into the evening.

Our favorite song...

...and this is them at the movies! 

Then, before bed and read-aloud time, we had hot chocolate with gourmet peppermint marshmallows.  Yummy!

I managed to get everyone into jammies and bed before 9 PM...quite the feat after 2 1/2 weeks of late-night escapades and lazy mornings.  Cheers to the start of a successful 2nd Semester and 3rd Quarter!