Saturday, August 28, 2010

18 months strong

Over the course of the last 6 months or so, my Slobber Rocket has been weaning. He is now, with a bit of prodding by mama, nursing only once a day. Generally he nurses between 10 and 11pm because he has the metabolism of a humming bird (or what I assume a humming birds metabolism must be like). Tonight he ate a pretty good dinner so I am going to try and let him sleep through the night without nursing. Not that I am opposed to nursing him by any means but he needs to be fully weaned pretty soon. I have discussed this with SRs speech therapist and we both agreed that SR may be a kiddo who will need a snack right before bedtime so I am also willing to give him a small snack if I need to even after he is weaned.

I am needing to go onto some medications for my allergies and some other health issues I am having that are not compatible with breastfeeding. But what I am discovering is that it is sad. No matter when you wean, it is kind of emotional. I weaned Super Muscles at about 10 months old. I cried the first time he took a bottle. I really wanted to make it to a year with him but there were some things going on and some stresses in our lives at the time and for me, it was easier to wean him then. It worked out fine. But I was a mess. I made my goal of nursing this little guy to a year and then to 18 months. I have accomplished all of my nursing goals including letting him mostly wean himself. I am giving him a last little push because I have to take care of myself now too. But it is still just... so emotional.

Slobber Rocket is easy for me to still see as a baby. Not only is he my youngest and, very likely, my last biological child and nursling but he is the size of a baby still. He is my peanut. He still needs so much help with stuff because of his size (getting onto furniture is a mega frustration for this child). It definitely lends to me treating him way more like a baby than he actually is. He IS gaining independence and a very strong will of his own. I need to start nurturing his growth into a toddler instead of being sad that he is growing up. Nursing has been that sweet time between us when I still feel like he is my little baby. It has given his tiny little body extra calories and lots of fat as we have been struggling with his sensory issues. It has helped me to feel like even when he wouldn't eat, he was getting good nutrients and a more complete diet. And he was! And I am so very sad to see this come to an end.

In a few weeks though when I am on vacation with my husband without my children, I think I will be glad. When I am on 2 new medications that will hopefully help me with some health issues I am having, I think I will feel confident about this. But in the meantime, if you notice me being a little weepy... it is because my baby is growing up too fast.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I am not an extrovert: the first step is admitting you lied to yourself.

It is kind of funny how you are constantly learning new things about yourself. I was telling a friend today that I always had this notion that I was extroverted. Well, I am not sure if that is the right way to put it but I sure spent a lot of time thinking I was extroverted based solely on what I wanted, in my head, from a social standpoint. I like the idea of social. I love the idea of having friends close enough to trust and care for. Love the concept of having people calling me and asking me to do things with them. I like thinking about being comfortable in social settings. But... I am not. And it wreaks havoc on my self-confidence. I am, for all practical purposes, introverted. As in... I behave as an introvert because of the sheer amount of anxiety I deal with on a daily basis. I do things with my family but that is about it. I stay home a lot. I stay away from new people. I don't feel comfortable behaving socially. I don't like crowds... they stress me out. I HATE talking on the phone.  I can't trust people. I don't even really like talking to people because I feel like they are judging me and my intelligence. And this is all just every day social interaction. Public speaking, um... no. It isn't that I don't know a lot of people. I do. I know lots of people, have lots of acquaintances. But no friends (I know there are people who will say "but yea , I am your friend" and I am not saying I don't value you so don't be offended. This is about me and the connections I make and not about who and how people reach out to me). It is frustrating. It feeds my anxieties because I feel like I am only good at failing in this area. I think I am generally known as a nice, but distant, person. Someone who will do things for others but not invest in them. And that is because that is about how I am. There are just so many things that add up to a very socially awkward person. This would be fine if I were like my husband and was okay with this. He is very comfortable with his introvertedness (wee made up word!). I think he generally feels secure and loved and valued/respected. Plus his personality has nothing to do with anxiety so yea, he is introverted but the boy can give kick butt speeches and has confidence in himself. And I just don't want to live my life being this kind of person!

I feel anxious all the time. Sick. I want to succeed in social situations but I have a very hard time doing that. Maybe if things would have played out differently I would be better or it would be easier. But not in this life and not right now. Anxiety, fear, inability to trust... I am so sick of those things being the theme of my life lately. I am trying to change that. I really am. I have a massive fear of my children being horribly affected by my fears and fear related/anxiety driven choices. I can not let that happen. I have found a counselor that I really like and we are working through stuff. It is like this though..., hard at first and for a while. My anxiety level is higher than most of the populations just as a product of suffering with multiple anxiety disorders so counseling makes me a lot worse for a while. But it is going to get better and I am going to make some big, healthy choices for me and my family. It will hurt, no doubt, but it is what I need to do. Being healthy for my family is the most important thing I can do for them. I am so thankful that even though I have issues, they love me. I keep coming back to that. They love me, they support me, and they are totally worth the hard work. And sometimes... I feel like I might even be worth the work too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A funny story about a Great Dane

Super Muscles is a very observant little guy. The other day we were at the ball park watching Daddy play softball. There was a young woman at the park with her HUGE great dane. His name was Jackson and I am pretty sure he weighed at least 140 lbs. GIANT. Super Muscles head was the only part of him that stood taller than this dog. The child was in love and went immediately over to Jackson's owner to ask if he could pet, touch and otherwise bother the huge dog. I walk over to find SM looking over every.single.inch. of Jackson. He is talking about everything. Mouth and brain both working at record speeds. "Mom, Jackson has very short hair and it is white. He is very different than Jade. Jade has long black hair that comes off her body when you pet her" "Wow, you can see spots on Jackson under his hair" "Mom, he has a long tail with a big black spot on it" "His head is really big, bigger than mine and he has saggy eyes". So many observations from my curious 4 year old.

Then... it happened! Something that made everyone erupt in laughter and proved to me that my son has a very firm grasp on what makes boys boys and girls girls. Next thing I know my son is leaning over looking under neat the dog and exclaims loudly "WOW! Hey Mom! Jackson is DEFINITELY a boy!!!" Yes son, good observation. If anyone has missed it, boys are obsessed with their private parts... and mine is apparently impressed by the not-so private parts of huge male dogs.

Anyway, it provided many of us with many moments of laughter. Hope it made you smile too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cherishing Marriage

Beware of sappy post. Avert your eyes if mushy makes you queasy. Don't say I didn't warn you ;)

I have a good husband. He is a very good, genuine, and kind man. He puts our family first and he is sacrificial in so many ways. He forgoes many of his own wants to meet our needs and wants first. I am madly in love with him and I am not even remotely afraid to admit it. His personality is full of so many things that I lack and he is supportive and encouraging of me. And I know my own personality compliments his as well. He genuinely wants me to be happy and I desperately want for him to have a fulfilling life filled with love and rich experiences. We get along well. We understand each other in very unique and intimate ways. We are good co-parents to our children.

In fact, before I got married this is not at all what I would have pictured *my* marriage looking like.

Honestly, I didn't know what a good and loving marriage was. Fortunately for me, I did not fall into the same pattern that is common for girls/young women who have been abused to fall into. I started dating a kind, smart and quirky MW when I was 14 years old. I look back and am so thankful that my first real relationship was with him and was a safe and caring experience. It continues to be a safe and caring experience. There are bumps and obstacles. There are hard times and rough spots. There are bad attitudes and cutting words on occasion. But for the most part, a huge part... it is beautiful and fun and happy.

But we are not perfect and I have been thinking a lot about marriage and how to strengthen mine. We are doing a Bible Study at church on this topic. I have also been really convicted by many songs recently (Dancing in the Minefields for example) and by some videos (this interview) friends have posted. I want to look back on my life in 40 years and still feel this intense love for the man I have married. I want to still get butterflies in my stomach when he kisses my forehead and honestly I still want him to want me. I want him to know that I am always there for him and that there is not much he could do to make my love for him waiver or shake. I want our trust to bloom into something that can not be moved or broken (big deal for me... I am not good at the whole trust thing). I just want to... cherish... him and cherish... us.

There are some lyrics to a song called God Gave Me You that really kind of sum it up for me.

On my own I’m only
Half of what I could be
I can’t do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo

I am so thankful for my sweet husband and his unending love and support. He is my biggest fan and best friend. He challenges me and pushes me to become a better person. I would say I don't deserve him and he would tell me that is a big lie. So I will just say, I am blessed and I hope I bless him just as much.

Cherishing you, cherishing us. I love you Mr. Wonderful.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Words, words, words

Now for something not quite as deep from me. I know, I have been serious huh? Well, that is life for me right now... kind of serious. BUT I have a whole lot of cuteness in my house so I will shift to my 18 month old blonde haired delicious Slobber Rocket.

He is a chatty little boy! His older brother did not hardly say a word until 2 years old. When he finally started talking it was like he had done it his whole life. But, many people were a bit worried that my oldest child had some issues with language before he finally started talking. Slobber Rocket, however, surprises people constantly with his verbal skills. You may doubt his age by looking at his tiny cute little self but when he opens his mouth... I get people saying "there is NO way he is as young as he looks". And they are right! ha.

What is this little crazy boy learning to say lately?

On top of many many words (100+ I would guess) he has started saying lots of phrases and short sentences.
"Go away Jadey!" talking to the dog. The boy knows what he wants
"I wanna eat"
"I want down"
"I want donee" (that would be a donut)
"I see you"
"I gotta bat!"
"I throw ball!"
"Dink meeeeeeese" or... drink please
"Take a bath"
"SHOO WEE I tink" when I am changing his diaper and... he does, trust me.
"go outside"
"hot, hot, hot" when I put him into his car seat or when his food is too hot to eat (he is NOT a fan of hot food)

and my favorite "I lu you"

Sweet boy, Mama loves you too. I love watching you learn and develop. I love playing games with you and chasing you all over the house. I love your hugs and nursing you down to bed. I love your adventurous nature and when you sing in the car. I love the way you hug your brother and give him kisses and when you curl up on your daddy's lap. Little boy, you make big impact on our lives. I am so thankful for you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Perspective: Own verses others

One thing I am learning right now is that people need people. It is amazing as I open up about myself some of the people who have contacted me or who I have just had a sense about who say "you know, I feel like you might understand this". I had one such conversation like this recently. I think I may have helped my friend a bit but she also helped me see something kind of eye opening.

She was explaining a situation that happened to her and as she explained it she minimized what happened to her by the words she chose to use. When I asked her what she would think if the same thing happened to her (future) teenager daughter... well then it would have a much harsher definition and a very concrete outline of an appropriate punishment. And as I listened to this sweet woman tell her story, my heart broke in half for her. I was angry, I was pissed, I wanted to hurt some people in the situation who had the opportunity to make it easier on her and refused to do so. I could see some of the things that I thought would help her. Obviously with any healing the steps you have to take are steps that must be taken in your own time. But my heart seriously burned with empathy. When I spoke to another friend about some of my own stuff she said something along the lines of she just doesn't understand how I have sympathy (or some skewed version of such a thing) for my abuser because SHE wants to punish this person herself. And I knew I understood exactly what my friend was doing when she minimized the situation.

I get it. I have the same problem. I have done this for a long time. Until recently I have been ignoring the past. Truth is I have been in counseling before and I even ignored my past then focusing mainly on trying to get my anxiety under control without really digging into the hard stuff or the roots of some of the anxiety. That was too freaking scary! Too hard to admit. Suppressing it to the point that everything about myself had become numb to avoid pain. Even as I acknowledge it now I sugar coat what happened and I even talk about it like I am talking about it happening to someone else. I have a lot of issues actually attaching the story to myself. Abuse is easy to say as far as abstract descriptors go. Abuse can mean anything really. It can mean your mom yelled at you a lot. It can mean your dad called you stupid. It can mean you were physically assaulted frequently and hid under your bed when you got into trouble. *sigh* It can mean so many different things but it feels easier to say and leave it up to other peoples imaginations or interpretations with the hope that they will chose the easier things to think and not feel bad for you. Or to just admit that other people have had it worse so your own trauma is not THAT bad. Adding the adjective in front of the word is a whole other demon. Physically abused, sexually abused, verbally abused, emotionally abused... they all add gravity to what one has experienced and often times the one who has experienced them doesn't want to own the gravity because that is hard. Admitting to yourself that you were violated and how... wow. And giving it the proper assessment is even more difficult. I can see how my friend was violated and how badly she hurts and I feel that in many ways more than I feel my own hurt.

And this is where perspective comes in I guess. Trauma shifts the perspective you have of yourself. Whether you are detaching from what happened to protect yourself or grew up thinking it was normal for you and you deserved it or had other people minimize what happened so you tried to follow suit. Ah, there are so many reasons people can not see their own abuse in the same light that they see others' in. But the important part of the conversation for me was the realization that I have to care for myself and love myself like I care for and love other victims. I have to embrace the love of God for myself as much as I encourage others to. I have to realize that if I believe God sees their pain then I have believe he sees my pain just as intensely. If I believe they deserve healing and rest then I need to believe I deserve the same. I have to think myself worthy of the same respect I feel she deserves. Now from head knowledge to heart knowledge... like usual.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Expectations are a funny thing. For me, they serve as a way to challenge myself. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to meeting expectations. I have to be on time, I can't bail on people, I have to meet expectations! Failing makes me feel horrible so I tend to be everything to everybody. Taken to the logical conclusions, this is not a healthy way of living. I can not meet everyone's expectations. I don't WANT to meet everyone's expectations. I want to come to a place where I am okay with me being me. I want to be able to say no to family if that is the best choice for my personal well being. I want to be able to not feel sick if I am 5 minutes late because the baby had a dirty diaper on the way out the door. I want to be able to experience not being perfect without attaching the word "failure" to myself.

FAILURE: one of my worst fears in life. Not good enough. Useless. Worthless. Irresponsible. Bad. Things I have been taught. Things I sometimes feel in my core even though I know that logically they are not true. But I FEEL them. They are adjectives that I wallowed in for most of my life. Abandoned, Ugly, Abused, Distant, Hated, Angry... all lead me to feel like a failure. Right, I know all about self-defeating thoughts. I know I have a great husband, beautiful kids, a nice, warm home.... I know there are people who love me. How do you get from head knowledge to heart knowledge though. How do *I* get to the logical conclusions about myself becoming what I feel about myself? I am a good person. I try to treat people well and love my family the best way I know how. But I still always feel like I don't measure up. And I get stuck in the wheel of trying to be "perfect". Trying to constantly prove myself to others. Expectations are heavy for me. They bear a lot of weight and a lot of control on how I feel about myself.

And that is the messy way I deal with other people's expectations.

Expectations of others... this is one of the biggest struggles in my life right now. My husband and I have a conversation about every 3rd night or so on how I need to lower my expectations of people. Apparently trying to be perfect puts me in the mindset that other people should be willing to meet my high expectations too. But this is complicated. My expectations are not high. But they are for the people in my life? Confused yet?

My family is a big ole bag of mess. I love them. I care about them. I want relationships with them. But I can not maintain "normal" expectations of them. I can't expect my family to behave how a "normal" family behaves. We are not typical. But I desperately want a family that feels normal and safe. And I have expectations that reflect what I want out of an extended family (extended because they are not MY created nuclear family, I guess). The problem I am having is learning how to place boundaries in these relationships to help us all form something that is... functional. I have started implementing a few things my counselor has suggested. Limiting visits home, for now, seems to be something I have to do. It sucks. I miss my nephew and niece like crazy. But I have to figure some things out before I put myself in some of the more vulnerable situations that can arise with my family. I need to be surer in myself.

But back to expectations. How do I create expectations that seem functional when I really just want a different family? Well not different people. Just a different dynamic and different types of relationships. The problem is that time can never be turned back and things can not be undone so we have to try and figure it out where we are at. But I WANT a more invested family. I want a mom who calls me to see how I am doing and brothers who are honest and real with me. I want my family to get real with themselves as much as I want my own recovery and progress to happen. I want family not affected by abuse and war (literal war, Iraq style) and anger. I don't want to be an adult who is dealing with childhood abuse and I don't want my family to be the family who is dealing with me changing in ways they don't expect. I want to be perfect for them and I want them to meet my expectations. But that is fairy tale thinking.

So I have to re-evaluate my expectations. And yes, even lower them to realistic. Because, lets face it, I will never have the family I have day dreamed about. Coming to terms with that sucks but it is necessary. Allowing myself to create boundaries and stop trying to be everything to everybody is healthy. Lowering expectations so I can't be so easily hurt is OKAY. Now, to get that to sink in to more than head knowledge. Digestion is slow I guess....

Friday, August 6, 2010

The ear saga...

So... LONG ent appointment today. 2+ hrs. I didn't really find out anything new. My eardrums don't work. I have mild hearing loss. My Eustachian tubes are stupid (they do NOT work). And so far we don't know why and/or have not come up with a medication combination to help. The current theory is that my allergies are so bad that the nasal inflammation and sinus issues are causing my E tubes to be pinched shut (basically, I guess). So my sinuses and nasal passages are always swollen and they push up against the tubes in my ears that are supposed to regulate the pressure and help get fluid out of my ears. The one in my right ear seems to be completely blocked and the left ear is mostly blocked.

Before this trip I was taking zyrtec, asmanex, and fluticasone (a nasal steroid spray) plus my albuterol inhaler when I needed rescue help for my allergies/asthma. My ears are still not better even with all this medication that should be helping my allergies. The thing is my allergies don't seem to be horrible this season (yet... oh how I love the peak of ragweed season though. It is about to be upon us with fury too). But my passages are still very swollen. At any rate, Dr. Y says there is nothing dangerous going on with my ears and we certainly have time to try things to see what will work best so for now he added another medication, singulair, to my every increasing lists of medications. He also did a RAST blood test to confirm or disprove that my body has an IgE reaction to corn and rice. I have had skin reactions to those foods before but I have eaten them my whole life. So I have been wanting to see if it may make my immune system and allergies better if I cut them from my diet. But corn is very hard to get rid of so I want to double check the allergy test. If both the skin test and RAST say I have those allergies, I definitely need to see if I can cut them out of my diet.

Anyway, the short answer is we are guessing that the problem is my allergies. There are some other issues we are hoping just go away (tinnitus the static in my ears, the clicking adn vibrating) as we correct the swelling that is messing up my E tubes. But this is just a guess at what is going on. So I guess I wait a bit longer and see if the new medication helps. If not, back to the dr for more practicing of medicine on me... love the guess work. The good news is it is not dangerous and we have time to figure out what is causing the E tubes to malfunction. So I am going to roll with it. I am not convinced it can be fixed because the problem has been very chronic and my hearing is still not normal but I can live with it for now until we get it figured out. I am very thankful that so far it seems to be just a really annoying problem to have and thankful for my doctor who is trying to help me even if I find the process incredibly slow :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On the mend

I did end up needing to take Slobber Rocket back to the doctor today but the on call doctor decided against a blood draw. Which... seems to have worked out in a good kind of way. Slobber Rocket has been fever free all evening and without medication. So I think he just had a random fever. It is going around in little ones here right now so says the doctor. Just wanted to let you know hes feeling better it seems.

Super Muscles is still fighting the gunk. He sounds awful. I feel sorry for him when he cough and hacks and chokes on snotties (as we call it in our home). Hopefully tomorrow will be a better, healthier day for everyone in this house!

I go see the ENT in the morning. Still having lots of problems with my ears. Hopefully he can shed some light on what is going on. My ear is still very clogged and hurts. Having issues with odd sensations and tinnitus in my ears too. It has been to a point where I can't do things I love to do (like singing) so I definitely need to figure out what is going on. Everyone seemed hopeful that clearing out the infection in my mastoid would solve the problems but I still have some major issues going on.

That is all I got for tonight. Sorry I am so boring ;) Will update about the ENT when I can.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sick kiddos and concerned looks

Both of the boys are sick right now. Super Muscles has a virus. He has a very nasty cough and drainage. Mucous everywhere. He is choking on some gross stuff every single time he coughs. He just... LOOKS sick. The boy rarely slows down but his eyes look ill and he is slow and tired. Dr. H thinks that he should just have a few more days left of this though and he will hopefully get some good sleep tonight. Cough syrup isn't helping and there isn't really anything I can do for him other than make sure he has enough to drink. Which, when his throat hurts he drinks gallons of ice water a day. Yes, I ONLY let him have ice in his water when he is sick. I have found it to be a good tactic to get him to stay hydrated when ill. Ice cubes are apparently like a treat and he says the "super duper cold water" makes his throat feel better. I roll with it. Dr. H suggested warm apple juice to help with the excess mucous and I thought my kids eyes were going to pop out of his head in pure delight that someone was suggesting to me that he could have juice (remember, we are a no juice family). HA!. We haven't tried it yet but I may pick some up tomorrow and see if it makes my sweet sicky feel better.

Slobber Rocket... well we aren't 100% sure what is up with him. He has a high fever. That is about what we know. He is not showing symptoms other than a fever. Right, he does this a lot. I know. lol. But if he is not showing symptoms of the same virus his brother has by tomorrow he needs to go back to Dr. H for some blood work to make sure he doesn't have a bacterial infection. He gets random fevers though and though we had a nice stretch with no fever, maybe he didn't want us to forget they exist. lol. Anyway, we will see what the morning brings for him I guess.

He hasn't gained any weight in 5 weeks. Not a single ounce! And that is where the concerned looks come in.... Right but I don't know what to say. You can lead a horse/child to water/food but you can't make him drink/eat. That is my life right now. Leading my kid to food and trying to make it work. And it is a process. A very frustrating process. One step forward and a few back. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes it seems like there is progress. The last month it has seemed like to me that he is eating a wider variety of food and we are getting some actual nutrients into him but he hasn't gained any weight. I mean he still doesn't eat much but we follow the rules and work with him. *sigh* But Dr. H said we can talk about it at his 18 mos appointment which is in 1.5 weeks. I am so glad she could read on my face that I was so NOT in the mood to talk about it today.

The Motrin and cough syrup will expire soon so I should TRY to get some sleep. We will see how that goes.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Have you ever acknowledged something about yourself that was not really good? You admit that it is a problem but you have no clue where to even begin to start fixing it. You know its a destructive behavior but logic can't overtake emotion for some reason... That is where I sit tonight.

I know I have a problem. My problem is that I make and maintain almost exclusively superficial relationships. I know WHY I do it. I don't trust people. I can't trust people. I like to control my environment enough to make myself feel... safe. But this is not a healthy way to cope with the past. I can't keep my children away from everyone who I perceive could be dangerous. That has been exhausting and quite honestly it makes me sick, physically, to worry about them so much.

I also need to learn how to make and nurture relationships. Healthy relationships. Ones with boundaries that make sense and friends who make as much effort in the relationship as I do. That is not a skill I possess. Which makes finding meaningful relationships even more difficult. Apparently I don't know what normal relationships are. I have a fairly normal relationship with my husband I think. But he is one of the few people I know who can put up with me in a relationship. It is not that I am mean or critical (of anyone other than myself) or self-centered. I am a distant friend. I would do anything for a friend or family member but I don't have the ability to open up to people or emotionally invest.

But... the fact that I have only made 2-3 trusting relationships in 10 years (including the one with my husband) means I have no real support network. In the 3.5 years I have lived here I have only made one friend who sadly had to move away from the area. But even that friendship, though I care about her, is distant sometimes. I recognize this. I am just at a loss on how to fix it. I realize only 2 people know me. I mean the me that is hidden from everyone else. The real, honest, vulnerable, sweet me. I even own up to the fact that I am usually okay with that thinking that yea, its not normal but it is what works for me. Plus, if anyone has a reason to be like this... it is me! So not a great attitude to have but sometimes that is how it is. But the older I get  the more I realize, I have to learn to function in a variety of relationships for the sake of my children and most importantly so that I can have fulfilling and rich friendships. I would rather not pass on my own issues to my children by being a poor example to them. I would also rather not experience extreme anxiety anytime I let them do things without me. That is obviously not a healthy way to deal with normal kid stuff like... going to preschool (yes, those who know me know it has taken me almost 2 whole years and a lot of hesitation to put SM in preschool).

This all came to the surface in therapy on Monday because we were discussing goals for my treatment plan. And there is an area for social goals. It just made me realize when talking about it that I don't know how to make friends. I mean I can function socially out of necessity but I don't know how to actually figure out who is trustworthy and who is interested in becoming my friend. I don't know how to tell who my secrets are safe with or how to know if someone just feels sorry for me or obligated to listen to my sad tale. I don't know what is too overwhelming or what information to give to people in pursuit of a friendship. I feel terribly inadequate. I also wonder if other people feel this way. I assume most people make friendships kind of... organically. But I just don't have any experience with that. I have tried to make friends while living here and I have lots of acquaintances and even people who are willing to help us out if we need it. But again *I* keep it very superficial. Thankfully I have someone teaching me some of the skills I need. But I feel odd discussing it and going through the process of picking someone who is supposed to become a non-superficial... you know, genuine friend.