Yes, everything is okay, and yes, we have a church. Yes, we both are still working - no layoffs yet. Financially we are fine. Yes, Mormons believe in Christ and celebrate Christmas. Oh, we'll decorate - we've just been a little busy.
I finally put a wreath on the door. And got my nativity set out. But the neighbors are still worried. I can tell by the glances they shoot at our house when they gather in little groups at the bottom of the driveways to gossip. (Usually, I think our neighborhood full of retired people is quirky and charming - but usually, I'm not in their sights). The next one that asks is going to get an earful....
I've been under a little pressure this year. Its been building and building and I'm to the point where I need a sobfest for a couple of hourse to release all that frustration. For some reason, I haven't been able to make it happen. My family has a running joke (which I hate) that it's not Christmas until Kim cries....well this year should be a doozy - good thing I'm not going home.
1. I broke my foot in March and stubbornly kept walking on it so that by the time I agreed to see a doctor in July, I was stuck in a cast until October. 6 months of being cooped up. 6 months of not being able to function at the speed I am accustomed to. 6 months of falling behind.
2. I worked my tail off last school year and we missed being recognized by the state because we lacked 1 student passing the science exam. I am extremely discouraged. This year has been Mt. Everest in terms of the teachers being overwhelmed with staff changes and new IB programs, the students not having much English exposure, not making the connections, and just being mentally checked out. Probably due to PTSD that most of our students lost everything they owned in the flooding from Hurricane Ike (not much to begin with). However, try telling that to the upper-level school nazis that are pressuring us to get our scores up. I have had 2 district "visitors" in my lab this week. Yet I earned a performance bonus this year. I don't understand the politics involved- No Child Left Behind, you know.
3. My darling, sweet, wonderful son. Really, he is! However, parenting teens is not simple. (i know - i should expect that!) I just don't understand how an intelligent, loved child does his work in class and at home and DOES NOT TURN IT IN! He is literally driving me crazy. I knew this year might be more difficult because of the 7th grade state writing exam that causes his teachers to freak out since he has dysgraphia and shuts down when required to write. I purposefully cleared my after-school commitments for this school year to the bare minimum so that I would be available. He has given every excuse in the book for his non-achievement. He has happily informed me that he wants to be a 75 kind of guy, not a B or A type. The problem is when you shoot for a 75 you sometimes fall short so then you are a D or F kind of guy. He has a pattern of getting his grades up to acceptable levels and then not turning in anything the last week of the grading period which results in Ds and Fs. ARRRRGGGGHHHH! By then it is too late to fix it. As a result, he is grounded from all types of media until his grades are up. It is going to be a long, long, long holiday break. Plus, he won't be able to play with his 1 Christmas present.
4. Nate has done really well health-wise until October. His iron levels dipped again and he is back to the dizziness, fatigue, crabbiness, leg cramps, and sleeping 18 hours a day. It is all he can do to work and do his calling. I love him dearly and understand this, but sometimes I feel like a single parent. I wish there was a diagnosis so then we could find a cure for this darn anemia.
5. Speaking of that, my chronic psoriactic arthritis is on full-court press. I had to go back on the Enbrel so that I could walk, move my fingers, and function. Enbrel is a miracle - but it comes with a price (and not just financial). It blocks the function of my immune system, so I will catch every germ that comes my way. Not a good thing when you are an elementary school teacher. So how do I start my winter break? With a really, really bad cold. I understand that for some people, a cold is just an inconvenience, but not me...since my immune system doesn't fight as well, it tends to linger, and linger and turn to bronchitis or pneumonia. Plus while I'm sick I can't take the Enbrel so the arthritis returns.
6. I worry about my extended family. My dad just had a heart procedure that went well, but I don't do surprises, so it was quite stressful. My mom is going to work herself to death. My sister seems to be fine, but I'm not really sure about that. I think she is lonely. My brother and his family are fine, and I love being able to hear about their funny lives, but I worry about them anyway. My little sister seems to be supermom and I know from experience how hard that is. My in-laws are serving a mission in Ecuador and seem to be very tired. My husbands siblings are all busy but face challenges too.
7. My messy, messy house. With all of the above going on, my house is a shambles. I have been slowly working out from under the backlog, but its tough. I keep giving and throwing stuff away and I'm not a big shopper, so where does all this junk come from? I have a theory that my house is as organized as my mind. So it is very apparent what I'm dealing with mentally. Plus that little list of what I'd like to fix about my house is getting longer instead of shorter.
8. The stress of everyday life. This is a real stress. I won't bore you with the details, but everyday there is stress. Traffic, fear, sorrow, little obstacles. They add up. Also they announced drug dog checks of all teacher parking lots...no I'm not taking illegal drugs...but one of the factors dogs will alert on is gunpowder and my husband is a gunsmith. I just know I'm going to get called to the office and have to explain to the police why my car reeks of guns. Plus I haven't had a commitment-free evening since October.
So no, I haven't decorated yet. I haven't wrapped gifts, I haven't made or purchased Christmas cards, I haven't baked, I haven't hung the stockings by the chimney, no gifts for those people I'm not related to but appreciate. And you what? I'm not really sure it's all that important.
I have a family and friends that I love. I try to show them that love year-round. I read my scriptures, say my prayers, eat my vegetables and take my vitamins. I love the Lord and he loves me.
And now, finally I'm crying....so all will be well in a few hours. Yay!
And here is the science on crying:
PS 2:30 p.m. I'm feeling much better now. I knew that crying would relieve the stress. I'm wrapping presents and trying to decide how to arrange the den so that the tree can be by the window. I know that my life is very blessed. So I guess the family myth is true. It isn't Christmas 'til Kim cries.