Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas! (it is a Christmas letter)

Merry Christmas Everyone!

This has been a very full year!  I hope that this Christmas season finds everyone in a good place with the ones they love surrounding them.  We've had great things happen this year-- both struggle and accomplishment.

Our three biggest events are, in order, moving to Moline, Hope starting college two and half hours away, and Megan starting college again in town.  Those things in and of themselves are huge.

The move has been very good in many ways, and very hard in some ways.  Megan moved back in with us after five years of living in her own space, and we have all had to make adjustments.  In some ways it has been good, but there has also been struggle.  In September she decided to finish working on her degree with a change in major.  She is working on a degree in Pre-Med and planning to go on to medical school to become a doctor in obstetrics.  So far she's carrying a 4.0 gpa.  She also teaches birth classes and is still my editor and publicist for my writing.

Hope began classes in August and finished her first semester just before Christmas. In January she's moving into an apartment instead of a shared dorm.  We found out right before she started at the university that her food allergies and intolerances were greater than we knew, and as the semester began the cafeteria food did not work, and so she learned to cook her own food within the small confines of her dorm room.  But I think her one bedroom apartment will allow her a little more room to be the gourmet cook that she naturally is.  She is working toward her nursing degree and planning ultimately to be a nurse-midwife.

Todd is still working for John Deere, and I am still writing and planning to publish my second book Patrick's Rose.  Peter is thirteen and Todd is doing most of his schooling while I take care of all his doctor's appointments and counseling appointments.  He is growing into a young man and loves soccer.  Victory will be four in February and is a little fireball with a big smile.  Alex will be four in January and he and Victory are best buddies.

We like our new space.  The house we bought was built in 1905 and has the high ceilings and details from the Victorian era.  The nice thing about our home is all the necessary things have been updated-- like the boiler (May of 2013) and wiring (within the last ten years).  The kitchen is beautiful and I love the wrap around porch in the front, and the courtyard type backyard.

We live in a little bigger city and are about two hours closer to our church which makes life much more convenient. Adjusting to a new town is ahhh-- interesting.  But it has definitely been an awesome change, and I love our new town.

Hope Christmas finds all happy, warm, and life being lived to its fullest.  May you have all the blessings of the season.  May God bless your new year even more than the previous.

  Happy Holidays from us Herzogs.

Peter all dressed up.

Tory girl being her cute self.

Tory again.

Our new place.

My gorgeous kitchen.

Tory girl in the kitchen.

Todd at Naibi Zoo.

Peter at the zoo trying to see what his wing span is.

Hope's 1st day at QU

Meg and Alexander

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two Very Good Turnouts!

Monday things went well. Two very good things happened. First Hope and I had an appointment with her academic advisor and the person for on campus housing. This was HUGE! We have been working hard almost since Hope started at the university. You see Hope has a form of autism called Aspegers and on top of that she has really severe food allergies. These two things didn't work with a typical dual occupancy dorm room and cafeteria food. After talking with a psycologist, a counselor, and a couple of doctors we decided she needed to make a big change. So we limped through the semester with her making her own food with a microwave, a small crock pot, and a little fridge. But it barely worked.  Since October the school and Todd & I have brain stormed ideas.

Do we rent an apartment for her? Do we have her in a dorm where there is a kitchen but also other roommates? What about a single room? How would this effect her socially? Then at the beginning of November she had a panic attack worse than she has ever had before. It was terrible. I ended up driving down to her school in the middle of the night to calm her down.  The issue? --Having no alone space. People with Aspegers need alone time where they can create their base-- a safe place if you will. She did not have that. So that changed the whole dynamics of what everyone thought she needed.

After that I met with her advisor. But at that time nothing was available that would really work for her. So we set up this meeting we had yesterday and Hope felt stuck.  She was in tears and was more stressed than I have seen her before. I didn't realize just how worried I was about it either. Then yesterday it was like God's light shined through. It was a fluke.

The housing person was presenting the same options and Hope was trying to accept that she was still going to have a roommate when the housing person said "Hold on let me check on something." She left the room and a moment later came back to tell us that she had a small apartment in the building Hope was already in. To top that-- next week after finals Hope could move her things in and it is about a thousand dollars less expensive than the other option we had been talking about. We got to see it. Oh my goodness! Hope was ecstatic! So was I. It has a small kitchen, living room, full bathroom, and a queen size bed! I couldn't have found something so right. She will still be in the freshman building. It is a place she knows the routines. That is important. She can still walk to many of her classes and activities.  But she has the space she needs.

After that Hope decided she wanted to go to a couple events this next week on campus and I saw my happy fun loving daughter again. There was an ugly sweater party. She was really interested in and so we found an ugly sweater and bought it. Then Megan called and I got my second piece of excellent news.

Megan has also been in classes. She is working through an online school and she takes one class at a time. Each one takes seven weeks. She started a week or so after Hope and she is trying to maintain a 4.0 gpa. With this last class at two weeks in Alex became severely sick with a virus.  She came close to taking him to a hospital and we don't do hospitals. Then she got real sick. All in all it cost her two weeks, but the professor was nice and told her to keep up and work on turning in the stuff she missed. Well she worked really hard along with interviewing for jobs, being my publicist, putting together a Bradley birth class session, and-- oh yeah-- as if I could forget-- being Alex's mom.  Guess what? She got everything done for the class. She was hoping for an A- but expected a B. Turns out she got her A. Not an A- but a full blown A and her professor gave her an awesome review on her last paper.  I am so proud of her!  She found out her grade yesterday and so I had two reasons to feel good. Thought I would share some feely good stuff this time instead of my emotional ahhh crap.  Anyway this is Cat out.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Am I a mouse named Cat?

As much as I enjoyed having Thanksgiving with my family, I also struggled to keep the energy up and keep smiling.  I always love seeing Todd's parents, but the last evening they were here I kinda bailed on everyone.  I was exhausted and emotionally drained and ready to shut down and I wasn't even sure why.  It wasn't Todd's parents-- they are kinda awesome.  I enjoyed having all my children here and my sister.  Yet I also felt stuck in a pit, which I had trouble understanding.  This is not like me.  On top of that I forgot to call my mom and dad, and a few other family members that I normally would have.  Except I can't say really I forgot.  It was on my mind the whole weekend.  I kept meaning to, but just didn't.  Which again is not like me.  That brought me to my place tonight.

The last post I made on November 20th still plays heavy on my mind. -- Still feel vulnerable, angry, and out of sorts.  Rereading that post helped me hone in on what was going on inside of me.  I am wrestling with myself and the depression I've faced many times in my life.  I'm wrestling with God, even though I know he is my best defense.  I keep reminding myself that I have so much good in life, so many I love, and so much to be grateful for.  Then I answer myself back with a sarcastic 'That's great but this hurts!'   It hurts like hell-- a place I have visited in various forms over the years.  I feel so out of control and vulnerable.  It feels way too intense.  It frightens me and I want to lock all the emotions away again, except  I really don't want to go through this again when I am feeling strong just to be torn back to this semi chaotic state.  I've never let myself go all the way through this to the other side.  I'm afraid my family may never forgive me for turning their lives so upside down.  Lately especially I've done this isolation thing.  I need to get back to the things in my life that I treasure.  --Example daily Mass.  For the last several weeks I've given that up.  I feel exposed or something else that I do not know how to explain--  Like one of those dreams where you realize you are standing in the middle of a public place stark naked and try to find a place to hide-- except in the dream you always wake up.  This feeling doesn't so easily go away.  Anyone putting a hand on my shoulder will feel me instantly tense up-- even Todd.  I'm cold even when everyone else is boiling.  Usually I run around without socks on my feet-- even in the winter-- not this year.  I wear my socks to bed.

 The pain drains my rational side and leaves this blubbering idiotic emotional side that I finally get fed up with and shove it down just to come back to visit again in another few months or years.  I'm ready to lock it away again, but I don't want to deal with this agony again and again. Bottom line is this hurts.  I want so much more from life than this painful existence.  I think I want to go through this because I don't want to keep going in circles for the rest of my life.  Being stuck is really just not fun.  It is not fun for me or for those around me.  I don't know how to do this.  I don't know how to heal the emotions within me, but I do know I need to heal them and as long as I shove them down or away they just fester.

It's like the physical reality of living with Staph.  If you don't do the probiotics, the diet changes, and the nutritionals-- even at times a round of antibiotics (eeekkkks!) you'll never be able to get rid of it.  You just keep having it come up each time you get a cut or a mosquito bite.  Over time it festers and becomes worse until you finally do the work.  The emotional damage is the same it doesn't go away on its own, and no manner of wishing it away or ignoring it works.  But walking through it is just about as bad as dealing with Staph.

One thing I know about is Staph-- I've had it most of my life and battled it.  Same with these old emotions.  Tonight as I tried to understand what was going on I looked up the stages of grief.  In those five stages (or seven depending on which you read) I found much of what I am dealing with.  But they kept talking about the loss of a person.  For me it's not the loss of a person...  Then I thought about that again.  In a way it is.  When I was harmed I lost-- me.  I lost the me I would have been if only I hadn't been harmed.  And suddenly it made sense.  I don't know if this will help me heal or not, but it does give me new perspective.  With the weight loss I am trying to gain back parts of myself I have lost-- like liver health and kidneys that work a little better.  I'm trying to gain back a body that moves with more ease. These are parts I gave up to 'protect' myself.  Except the beast that hurt me is no longer alive.  I am an adult who can chose who I am around.  To top that off I have this wonderful group of family around me that love me even with all my cuts and bruises.  So why should I keep the weight shield up?  It is safe to put it down.  Yet the lower I get in weight, the more emotions I deal with.

Now this is the test.  How bad do I want to heal?  How important is this to me?  How much do I want to get to my goals?  Am I willing to grieve out the loss of that almost five year old girl that would have been me?  That is where I am at.  I have to make this choice.  Here is where the road splits and I go one way or the other.   Each way goes to different end places, and each path has different sights along the way.  One way is familiar but it will not take me to the place I want to go.  One way is frightening and totally unfamiliar, but ultimately it will take me the direction not only that I want to go but that I need to go.  The real question is if I remain the mouse named Cat.  Or do I take on my own roar.