Monday, April 28, 2014

Easter 2014

This year, we were invited to spend Easter with my aunt and uncle in Maryland (the same family that opened their home to us for my "rehab.") We love going to their home to visit so we couldn't turn them down. We drove down the same day Adam's family left and came back the Monday after Easter. It was beautiful weather and we all had a wonderful time. As per tradition, we did the Easter baskets and egg hunt on Saturday, and saved Sunday for the celebration of Christ's resurrection. 

The spoils: 

Do you think they liked it?

Get excited, Lucy.
 In the morning, we died eggs. Then the kids watched their new copy of Frozen (first time for that copy, millionth time for the movie.) While they hung with Anna and Elsa, my aunt and I hid the eggs.

Here they are ready for the hunt:

Can you guess who's hand that is?
 And the hunt:
Temporarily distracted from hunting by the super-awesome green motorcycle

I never tire of looking at pics of her hair.

Then we went next door to take pictures with the neighbor's giant Olaf thing. Cuz that's just awesome.

Sunday was a beautiful day. My aunt and uncle's ward did a great job with the speaker and the choir. And the kids had a special program in Primary. They even got to wave real palm leaves! We had a delicious ham dinner and then did a special Easter Egg devotional with 24 plastic eggs, which each held a scripture verse and a small item pertaining to the last week of Christ's life. 

I forgot to pack Eddie's tie, so my aunt provided some scrap ribbon. Genius.

So happy Easter from our family to yours. If you haven't seen this video yet, check it out. It's not your grandma's Jesus video. It's really moving.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ob La Di

Even though my posts lately have all been about Crazy School, life still goes on. Last week, we said goodbye to some good friends that were leaving Jersey for the Golden State. Jealous. Seriously, though, I'm going to miss my friend. We met at the playground not long after both of us had moved to NJ and bonded over how much we hated living on the East Coast. That was back when the babies were still babies and she only had two boys to wrangle. I hate moving. Why can't we all live in the same cul-de-sac somewhere? Boo.

Our families are just too cute.

Then, my in-laws came for their spring break, minus Kim who was on a school trip to Ireland (jealous, again) but plus their foreign exchange student, Pim. Yes, we traded Kim for Pim. 

After they arrived, I took them and the kids on a walk to the park to show them the neighborhood. Then it poured rain on us. But we had fun running home. And that night we all went out for Red Robin. (Apparently there's some jingle everyone but me knows since I don't watch TV so go ahead and sing that to yourself now.) And why did we go out to dinner? Because it was my birthday! Did you forget?

And let me digress a moment to talk about birthdays in the digital age. If I know you but never talk to you on the phone, a FB "Happy birthday" is fine. If I consider you a bosom friend, a call is appreciated, a text bare minimum. If you are related to me by blood, you better be calling. I'm looking at you, Rebecca. Just putting that out there. For future reference.

The next day, Grandma and Grandpa spent time with me and the kids, while Adam took Megan and Pim to the city. They hit up a few tourist stops and did a lot of shopping. I mean, the girls did a lot of shopping. I mean, Pim did a lot of shopping. Wouldn't you if you were visiting her hometown? (Bangkok). 

Central Park

What's more touristy than holding a giant M&M store bag on the subway?

Street meat!

The next day, I got to take the whole day off (!) while Adam took everyone to the Statue of Liberty. It was an awfully chilly day to be on the water, but the boat was the kids' favorite part. Okay, their only favorite part. In case you were wondering, 3-year-olds are too young to take to the Statue of Liberty. Especially three of them.

The whole fandamily. This was the only shot Charlie wasn't (visibly) crying in.

 Adam's family only spent a few days with us, but we were sure grateful they came down to visit. And what could be better than spending a few hours at the playground with these guys? 

Right? . . . Meg? . . . Mom? 

I'll let you fill in the thought bubbles. But seriously, we had a blast and hope they did, too. The kids crawled all over Grandpa, demanding story after story. Megan was quickly re-adopted as their favorite while always helping me. It was super fun to get to know Pim a little and the kids loved playing games with her. And Grandma brought the tastiest cheesecake so that alone makes her golden, besides all the help she was and love she showed the grandkids. I know the kids can't wait for them to come again. 

Stay tuned for Easter! And more Crazy School!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Crazy School: Week 2

Holy moly, guys. I'm learning a lot at Crazy School. I'm even learning that what I thought was "crazy" isn't really crazy. Here are some examples:

Growing up, we used to chant this little rhyme and think we were so funny:

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
I'm a schizophrenic.
And so am I.

Yeah, it wasn't until I was almost an adult that I figured out that schizophrenia is not the same as multiple personality disorder (which might not really be a thing. But I digress.) Remember the movie A Beautiful Mind where the brilliant mathematician hears voices and sees hallucinations? That's schizophrenia. And it wasn't until last week that I figured out that schizophrenics aren't crazy. We have open process group for an hour every day where anyone can talk about whatever issues they're dealing with. I'm still getting to know everyone, but I was shocked to learn that some of the people I'd come to feel the most comfortable with suffered from schizophrenia. There's one guy, we'll call him Herman, cuz that's such a great name, who has always been very polite and thoughtful. When I cry (which I'm sure you can imagine is a lot), he always brings me the tissue box. He dresses like a homie, and I can tell from his accent that he's chicano. He's very soft spoken, and always talks about his wife and children with an incredible amount of love and concern. He's had a rough life—he's alluded to years he's spent on the street—but I was flabbergasted when he spoke up one day about how that morning he'd been hearing voices. He'd seen the news coverage of the shooting at Ft. Hood and it triggered his voices. He referred to the phenomenon as "they." They told him he was a horrible person; that he should do bad things; that he was in danger of doing the same kind of thing that shooter did. He talked about overcoming his fear of reaching out to his wife when the voices got bad, but how he overcame it and texted her and how it helped ground him, quiet the voices. Herman is my friend. He is kind and considerate and honorable and hard working. And sometimes he hears voices. He is not crazy. 

This is what real crazy looks like.

I recently talked to an old friend and her husband on the phone. Her husband has anxiety and depression and has been heroically battling it for a while. But talking to me was the FIRST time he'd ever talked to someone else who has the same illness he has. The first! That, my friends, is crazy. Why don't we talk about these things? Just hearing someone say, "I can totally relate to that," gives me so much hope. And it's even better when they can say, ". . . and here's how I dealt with it." But empathy has it's downside. The other day, after a pretty intense discussion in group, I suddenly started crying. Most everyone had already gotten up to leave for a break, but the few people that remained noticed and asked me what was wrong. I hardly knew what to tell them. I just felt so overwhelmed by everyone's grief. There was so much suffering in that room—so many heartbreaking stories, so much pain—it just filled me up and spilled out. I wanted so badly to be able to help everyone feel better. But all I could do was listen and give feedback. I felt better after crying. But it's been hard to not get teary-eyed ever since then. I'll have to figure out what, if anything, is behind it. 

But back to the crazy stuff. We talked a lot last week about cognitive distortions. Come with me, if you will, into the mind of a "crazy" person. You'll see that they're not really crazy. They just have learned bad ways of thinking. (And, psst! We all have!) So Mr. Cray Cray goes to the store to buy some bread. At the store he sees Mr. Neighbor that he's known for a while. Mr. Cray Cray waves to Mr. Neighbor. Mr. N doesn't wave back. Mr. N completely ignores Mr. CC. Mr. CC starts to wonder what's wrong. Was it something I did? Why didn't he wave back? Is he mad at me? Why doesn't he like me? Nobody really likes me. I hate myself. Mr. CC starts to feel really down. He feels angry. He feels depressed. Poor Mr. CC. He then goes home and snaps at his wife when she asks him to take out the trash. His wife snaps back and they get in a big fight. Afterwards, Mr. CC feels even crummier and realizes he was right, nobody likes him. He's scum. 

Okay, so Mr. Cray Cray's example is a little extreme. But do you see how it works? A healthy person would take an event like a neighbor not greeting them and figure, Hmm...he must not have seen me. Or, Mr. N must be having a bad day. But Mr. CC has a cognitive distortion. He takes the negative thing that happened and internalizes it. It's his fault. His negative thoughts lead to negative feelings which lead to negative actions which reinforce the original negative thoughts. The good news? Mr. CC can interrupt the cycle at any point. He can challenge the negative thought. He can ask himself, "Is this true? What evidence do I have? What's a more logical explanation?" If he's already to the negative feelings, he can do something to help himself feel better. He can go talk to his neighbor and reconnect. He can call up a loved one. He can go for a run. Whatevs. If he's already at the negative behavior, he can forgive himself. He can be honest with his wife about what happened with Mr. N. He can fight the impulse to label himself as "scum." He can let it go. (I can't tell you how many times I sing that to myself in group.)
Letting go feels pretty awesome, right Elsa?

Guys, this stuff works. I've used it on myself. I've used it to help Adam. (He'll be so embarrassed I mentioned him.) It works! But you have to be mindful of what you're thinking and feeling. But mindfulness is for another post. I hope this stuff isn't boring you. Some of you have expressed interest in peeking over my shoulder at my notes from crazy school. So there you are. We're all crazy. And no one really is. Class dismissed.