Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Blessing and a Curse

The first week back to the craziness of two full time working parents was pretty good work wise and at home too for the most part. We did pretty good at the beginning of the week of getting the girls to bed by 8:30, and getting everything prepped the night before with clothes and meals. But then by the end of the week for whatever reason it gets harder to keep up with all the prep work at night. Then I think it was around Wednesday that we had our sixth water/plumbing issue since moving into this house. The laundry room flooded again! This time it appeared to be a clog in the pipe that just dealt with the washer and the kitchen sink. It was the middle of the week during the chaotic back to school week so there was no way it was getting looked at anytime soon. Friday night Ave had soccer, and Nate stayed until almost 9 o clock at work, trying to get his classroom ready. Saturday blew by us with a visit to make a deposit on our new puppy, who at the moment is still nameless, and then we took off for a much needed evening with friends. Before I knew it, it was Sunday, and I went a little bit into crazy Ang mode.

My laundry was in five huge piles, which probably equaled out to about ten loads, dishes were all over my kitchen counter, the dog ran off in the rain a few nights before and wet dog smell had taken over my house, my basement was a disaster of toys and crap dragged out of the work room to fix and dry up the mess from the pipe issue, and we were out of every drink imaginable and desperately needed to make a trip to the grocery store. I'm a bit of a control, neat freak. Those that know me well have told me multiple times to not let the state of the house stress me out. Yes, I know a messy house is not important in the grand scheme of things.

But it's like I'm OCD or something. I can let it go for awhile but when it gets like this I can't. It freaks me out. Our lives are craziness enough. If I don't have everything at least organized, cleaned up,  planned, arranged, whatever at the beginning of the week how will I ever manage? I kind of handle our finances in this same OCD manner. I kind of blame this on my parents. Neatness and financial responsibility were like the two golden rules you did not screw up on. It's nice in some ways that people will tell me they admire my organization or financial management skills (believe me though we skim by like the rest of you even paying a few bills late here and there and have way more debt than I would like, especially in August); however, if these two things are not aligned, I go into freak out mode.

So some days yes it's nice that I'm so organized and neat and stretch every last damn dollar that comes into this house so we can get a little something else from our money besides paying our bills because I budgeted out every last dollar months ago probably so if it's not on the budget plan it's probably not happening. But it's kind of a blessing and a curse. One of our good friends, who to me is like my husband's unrelated twin sister, posted this today, "Unnecessary self imposed stress is really a silly thing to do to oneself," shortly after I was trying to convince myself the state of my house was not anything to get all bent out of shape about.

So this OCD behavior of mine towards being neat and organized and well planned with my house and our money is kind of a blessing and a curse. Nine times out of ten it is unnecessary self imposed stress that is pointless; however, I do it to myself over and over again. I don't want to wish it away though because I do feel that it serves us well  most of the time. I guess I'm just still a little bit of a work in progress about letting it go and not letting it get me in a negative or attacking mood.

However, I did clean my whole house today and it smells awesome again thanks to Pink Zebra. I'm also about halfway through that ridiculous pile of laundry so I am now going to spend my Sunday evening watching Netflix, eating my husband's awesome wings, and folding a huge pile of laundry. We do need clean clothes this week so I can only let it go so far, right?


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Throw Punches First and Ask Questions Later

The title is a quote of my dad's. My dad raised three daughters, but was occasionally criticized for treating us too much like boys. I guess we were suppose to be these dainty, submissive beings, but instead he and my mom got three independent, head strong, out spoken girls. It was a common Saturday morning practice for the three of us to rough house around. He didn't raise us to be push overs but to stand our ground. Another favorite sayings of his was "Blood is thicker than water." I guess this is where the "throw punches, ask questions later" followed because if your sister/cousin needed you to back her you just did it. You jump in whether she's right or wrong and sort it out later. As we grew up this occurred several times. I won't to into the stories of my childhood, but use this more as a background for my own rational for my parenting to my girls the other day.

I shared this story about the girls to my friend I've known since the fourth grade the other day. While I was talking to her my husband overheard and shot me disapproving looks, but I have reasoning here. Maybe not very good reasoning, and I know it is not the "parenting practices of today" handbook.

If you don't know my girls well it's important for the point of this story to know that the oldest is a people pleaser. I call them my sugar and spice sometimes, and she is my sugar. She is a sweet, kind hearted, most of the time a very thoughtful little girl. I'm watching her the other day at the carnival. She goes to take this seat on the ride, and this other little girl comes up behind her, in the shuffle of kids rushing to take their seats, shoves Ave aside and takes her seat. Just as when the girls fight I don't step in and play the rescuer. She needs to learn to fight her own battles. I watch her let the girl take her seat and walk away to a different one. She then tried to save the seat next to her for her sister, and again another little kid just shoved her arm away and took Kenz's seat so Kenz ended up a few seats down from Ave for the ride.

Kenzi is my spice. She's a fireball with a temper, not afraid to speak her mind even if it is in gibberish, and even though she will fight back, sometimes she's the instigator. I've never seen her bully other kids, but she's kind of mean to Ave sometimes.

A few days later, Ave comes tattling to me about Kenz throwing a ball at her and being mean. I hate tattling. So I asked her, "Did you fight back? Throw the ball back at her. Tell her that's not nice. You gotta stand up for yourself sometimes, girl." She walks out of the room. Again I purposefully hung back to see how they would handle it. A few minutes later Kenzi comes in, "Sissy, threw ball at me." She was giving me her most pitiful, sad face, but I looked at her and said, "Did you throw it at her first?" When she nodded I went on to tell her, "It's not nice to throw balls or be mean to people. If you're going to do something like that you better be ready for them to fight back because nobody likes a bully. If you're mean then you deserve whatever they give back. Be nice though, you're not a mean girl."

There was something I wanted them to each learn here. Did they? I guess time will tell. I know modern day parenting is to go report the bully, don't fight back. I was not raised that way though and I can not get my head around that thinking. Even though my husband gave me dirty looks he has his own share of "throw punches, ask questions later" stories so he doesn't exactly have a lot of room for dirty looks. Throughout life we're unfortunately going to encounter different so called bullies or just mean people, and at some point we have to just know how to stand up for ourselves or people are just going to take advantage of us our whole lives. There's a line somewhere between being fiesty enough to stand up for yourself, but not to the point where you're mean to other people. For Kenz I want her to keep that spunk but not be the bully, and for Ave I don't other people to push her around. And last I want them to always have each other's back.

      Luckily they don't fight very often though. This is how I found them sleeping the other day. I think Averi will stand up more for her sister than she will herself.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy is Where I Choose to Be

As much as I will admit that I can be a selfish person, I also have spent too much of my time trying to make others happy and worrying about them rather than my own needs. One of the things I've found is not only does doing what makes you happy make others angry with you, but sometimes just being happy seems to angry people.

I'm not going to go on about negative people today though. Instead I'm going to be selfish or self absorbed and talk about myself. Sunday night I wrote my husband a long personal email to hopefully inspire him with a positive look towards not only the year ahead, but a reminder to be happy in the now. He had other plans that didn't work out for this school year so he's going into this new year feeling a little jaded. However, I'm a firm believer in what's meant to be will be, and there's a reason it all worked out this way. I don't know why right now, but sometimes we see why later.

I am a planner. As any planner knows we like to look ahead and plan. That's great and all, but I kept finding myself looking ahead, trying to analyze where my stress level would go away, where it wouldn't seem like there were so many problems, needs, and wants for me to satisfy, but as I explained to my husband in his letter life is never stress or problem free. So there's no point in waiting for that moment because while we're looking ahead for that less stressful moment we're missing so much that's important right now.

A couple months ago I also mentioned how I was torn on whether to stay where we're at here in Maryland eighteen hours from my family or to start working towards moving closer, possibly all the way back home. I hit a low point sometime after we moved into our new house. We had just bought this house that one I was worried how we'd afford, two that we could see as our permanent home for our children, and three how these two things together represented the reality of the distance between my childhood home and the home I was creating for my children. I questioned our decisions, I questioned what I wanted, I questioned my purpose with so many things.

This is where it's amazing how things come full circle. I wrote also several times about being mad at myself because I wasn't happy. My family would bug me about moving closer, my husband would bug me about wanting this or that next. Then there was the tug of war between the girls and work. I felt I needed more time with my girls even though they never said so much but mommy guilt is sometimes very irrational, and I felt like I stretched myself too thin with work responsibilities and never gave it the time it deserved. I wanted to make everyone happy, but along the way I lost my own happy. I was so worried about what everyone else wanted or what I thought they needed that I lost sight of what happy was.

As I reminded him our glass is 3/4 full with the other 1/4 the great things to come. They'll come in their own time. I'm sorry, but I'm then I'm not, if what I choose isn't what you want me to do. I've always done what I wanted regardless anyway, but I guess the part that I've come to realize is that if someone isn't happy with my choices that's not my problem.

Many choices in life come with sacrifices. I realize that, and I accept that. Nate and I have both always had to work for everything we have, and we built a life here that makes me and us happy. I'm ten years into a career I enjoy, and every year I think I get a little better at balancing motherhood with work and my own personal wants and needs. I'm almost thirty three years old, been married for over seven years, will be with my husband for eleven years in couple of months, and we've done so much in those almost eleven years. We have these two beautiful girls that are not only happy but adventurous and fearless.  I realize it's not just a good life but a great life. Life will never be easy; again I don't expect it to be, but happy is where I choose to be.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

On the Eve of Kindergarten

My Dear Kindergartner,

It seems like just yesterday you were a baby and dependent on us for everything. Now with the first five years behind us and the start of kindergarten we have completed this first chapter of your life. But this chapter was more like the prologue where your dad and I write the beginning of your story with the foundation we give you. You won't remember much from these first five years except the stories we remind you of as you get older and the pictures we share of these first years of your life.

But now you start to take over. We'll write these next few chapters together but as the years pass you'll take over more and more of the story.  Here now is where you will start to make the memories that will stay with you the rest of your life. I am so excited for this new beginning for you, but a little scared too.

You will learn so many wonderful things, but here is where you will also start to lose your innocent naïve view of the world. You will learn to succeed and fail, how to fall down and get back up. You will make many friends, but a few select friendships will carry beyond these school years.

Hopefully you'll discover a passion for learning that will follow you throughout adulthood as one of the most important life lessons to know is you always have room to learn and grow. You'll start to find who you are and what you want to be. You may get a little lost at times, but I hope you'll always remember we're here to help you find your way when you need it. You will make mistakes, but it will be okay.

You're going to be great. Now and later. As your parents with joy in our hearts and a little sadness because you're growing up so fast we wish you the very best as you embark on the school years of your childhood.

We love you to the moon and back! Always dream big.


Have you gotten my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas,  yet?  It examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. With the purchase of print and ebook books  20% of sales goes towards a children's charity for the The PACI Fund Project.

She's a Good Mother

Maybe she had her baby in a hospital with pain meds, but it doesn't matter because she s still a good mother

Maybe she had her baby at home with minimal medical assistance, but it doesn't matter because she's a good mother.

Maybe she exclusively breastfed her child, but it doesn't matter if it was months or years she's still a good mother.

Maybe she never breastfed her child, but it doesn't matter because she s still a good mother.

Maybe she gave up a career to stay home with her children, and that's okay because she's a good mother.

Maybe she pursued her career ambitions, and that's okay too because she is still a good mother.

Maybe she takes time every day for herself for either exercise or a personal interest, but that's okay because she s a good mother.

Maybe she rarely puts herself first, but that's okay too because she s a good mom.

It doesn't matter what works for each of us. There is no one right way to raise our children. All good mothers love their children and do what is best for them and their children. No two of us will ever mother our children the same, and that is quite okay. As women we beat ourselves up too much. You are a good mother but also don't forget to tell the woman beside you that she is too.

Recent Posts

Back to Work as the Traveling Teacher

"I Can Do it Myself"

The Story of the Bloody Nose

Have you gotten my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas,  yet?  It examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. With the purchase of print and ebook books  20% of sales goes towards a children's charity for the The PACI Fund Project.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Back to School as the Traveling Teacher

The new school year is upon me. Even though I don't officially start back to work until Monday, I've spent the last two days at work. At first I wasn't quite feeling the whole back to school thing. I blamed it on all this fabulous summer weather we've had this year and that because I did work some every week this summer it didn't quite feel like the same break it's been in the past.

It was still a break in many ways though because my whole whopping average of  two days a week of work this summer is light compared to what it will be as I head back into full time work next week. But I think I'm ready now. I'm excited about the upcoming school year. As most know I am changing schools for the first time in eight years, and even though I will miss some people and some things from my old school, I'm really excited about new beginnings that will come with this school year.

Plus I don't really feel that this year is a permanent situation so that kind of leaves me excited too because I can try something different this year with probably something different again next year. The school that first wanted to hire me last spring couldn't offer me a full time position. So according to the department chair at the second school that hired me the chair at the first school spent an afternoon visiting and persuading the other school to offer me a part time contract to fill my full time need. Lucky for me, it worked and the two schools are only three miles from one another. One is the community high school for one of, possibly the best areas in our school system, and the other is a full magnet that serves the west side of our school system. Keep in mind the district I work for has 25 high schools. They are both great schools so I'm pretty pumped about getting to experience not just one, but two, new school communities.

The two chairs also worked together to give me my well loved English 11 American Literature class, which is great, but I am a little worried about the boredom factor with this because I'm teaching it six times! However, because it's only one prep and I get to work out all the kinks after six lessons I think it will give me a great chance to work on the art of teaching. I should be able to put in lots of time to developing good lessons.

Aside from the boredom factor I have a few other worries too though. One, because I'm in two different schools which I rotate every other day because of block scheduling I'm afraid I'm going to show up at the wrong school on the wrong day. And two I ended up with a longer commute on the horrid city beltway that I got to escape for the year and half that I worked the other job after we moved. However, aside from the five months after Kenz was born, this will be the first time in my working mom life that I won't have to get kids up, ready, out the door, and dropped off all by 7:15. I think this will be a huge help to me. I'm not sure how well my husband will fare taking over that responsibility but I plan to be that over organized OCD woman again where everything is laid out and prepped the night before for him, me, and the girls.

We did have to switch sitters with Ave starting kindergarten and me switching schools so it does sadden me to say good bye to our beloved Miss Kate, but we will definitely be staying in touch with her. Now the girls are less than five minutes from our house so I think that will be helpful.

I was also asked to come back and teach the Fall English 101 class I taught at the community college last year so technically my week will be filled with seven classes, about 200 students on three different campuses. But I loved teaching that class last year. I think it's a great opportunity for me and again lucky for me it's a 345-500ish class so the two afternoons a week I have it I will still be able to be home to my family by 6:00.

We have Averi starting kindergarten and Fall soccer starting the week after next so it's going to be busy. It's going to be hectic at times but I'm ready. Here's to hoping it's a great year for everyone! I have the sappy kindergarten mommy post coming up soon.

Students will be sharing their writing on my Teacher Facebook Page. Like the page to see what they'll writing this Fall. It's going to be part of my 21st Century Digital classroom where students will create online writing portfolios with their own websites and then interact in discussion threads created by their peers' hopefully insightful writing that they'll share from their sites on this one page. All students from all three campuses will interact with another in this one place. At least all of this is the vision. We'll see what the reality is in a couple months.

Recent Posts

"I Can Do it Myself"

Back to Fitness Week 4 Check In

The Story of the Bloody Nose

Why the Mommy Wars will Never End

Have you gotten my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas,  yet?  It examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. With the purchase of print and ebook books  20% of sales goes towards a children's charity for the The PACI Fund Project.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why the Mommy Wars will Never End

Some of us, myself included at times, cry out to end the mommy wars. But I don't really believe the mommy wars will ever end. Mommy wars is just a name to get our attention because Grown Women Wars just doesn't sound as clever. Because that's what it is. Sure, sometimes the debates are centered around women's roles as mothers, but I have two friends that are not even mothers that have had to deal with the criticism and judgment that comes from one woman to another. It's not just about mothers; it's about grown women. Grown women being mean girls is what it is.

Grown women or not, we're not much different at times than the adolescent girls we were because women still like to impose their beliefs, their ways, their thinking on others. Then when others don't do it like them or see things their way they want to criticize, judge, put down. To be honest, women are nasty, rude, mean, spiteful. These are some pretty negative stereotypes for our gender.

But I don't see this changing. There will always be some other woman out there criticizing us, judging us, putting us down. I'm not saying I'm innocent of this. I don't really know if any of us are. Just some of us quietly think it to ourselves but don't make a big deal out of it. But the thing that crosses my mind when it comes to all this criticizing is who gives a damn.

Why does it matter what I do? What you do? Is what I am doing, what she is doing, really hurting anyone?  More times than not no. There's a big difference between judging and saying something  to help someone who is a danger to themselves or others. Judging isn't usually about a problem with the person being judged but with the person doing the judging.

Fortunately for me and hopefully for you too, probably 98% of the women I've met and are a part of my life are supportive, not critical. But the other 2% are there and they're the reason the mommy wars will never end because they're too shallow to see past themselves and this seriously limits not only the growth in their relationships but in themselves.

Frankly, I feel sorry for women that are like that more times than they're not (again I think we're all a little guilty of passing judgment occasionally). I don't think it should be so hard to be nice and encouraging of one another. I've experienced both ends and let me tell you I would much rather be someone's cheerleader than their critic. I find a sense of happiness in that. There is no happy in putting down other people.

Just as they tell the bully victim in grade school, ladies, I think it's the same when we're grown. We put down another because of our own insecurities with ourselves. Don't be the bully. Be the cheerleader.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"I Can do it Myself!"

"I can do it myself!" she demanded, hands on her hips, a look of determination on her face.
"We don't need your help, Mom," her sister added with the same look of determination on her face.
"But..." and I stopped and even though my dad was miles away I could still clearly hear his words, "Hmmm, I wonder who they sound like. Where do you think they get that from?"

Pride is a damnable thing at times. I prided myself my whole life on my independence. I could take care of myself. I could do anything on my own. I didn't need anyone's help. Help was for the dependent; for the weak. I'd take the hard way around just because I had too much pride and stubbornness to accept help.

I stared down at them so determined to do it on their own.  Didn't they realize they needed my help and would always need my support? I found myself at a parenting crossroads. People rave on my children's independence all the time; just as I'm comfortable in my own company, many times content to be by myself, they are too. I love this about them and their determination, but I could also now see a little more clearly the error of my ways (will probably see even more clearly later) so how do I teach them to keep that independence, that determination, but to hold their pride in check enough to realize we all need help sometimes and we always need one another.

In my The Stories our Lives Write Post  I mentioned how even though I have always believed in God, I never prayed for myself. I use to think maybe that was because somewhere admist all my selfish ways, that was the selfless side of me coming out. But no I think it's because as much as I believed in Him I didn't think I needed His help and now maybe I see I was wrong. Having God in my life I am seeing isn't just in believing in Him, but in accepting that I do need Him much the same way I do need everyone else.

My life is surrounded by an amazing support system of family and friends. Even though I never really thought of support as a form of help; it so is. And I need them. We all need that support, that kind of help. I may think I'm so independent and done everything myself all these years, but I see now I wouldn't have without them. They are my village (using the cliche term floating around the internet right now). I know some are crying out to bring back the village, but I have it right here and I didn't even know it. Because I was so set that I could it all myself. I didn't need anyone. That would make me weak. Make me incompetent.

But I see now I didn't teach by myself,  I don't raise my kids by myself, I don't live my life by myself, I don't have a marriage by myself. It's the community of support I get from my family and friends that enable me to do all of that. This village of people that love and support me in my highs and lows have always been there. It's not weak to accept help and support I see now but smart. We do need  each other more than we need anything else.

So to my beautiful independent, determined daughters, I tell you this. Hold on to that independent, determined mindset because it will serve you well, but realize you never have to do anything alone. Find the family and the true friends in life that will become like family and hold onto them with everything you have because you will need them and they will be the reason you will be able to do what you set out to do.

And to you the village, thank you for being there for me and my little family. You help us learn how to parent differently and hopefully better. You help teach our children with your examples and direction when they need it. You support us in our good and bad moments, in the highs and lows. As much as we can all do it ourselves, we do need each other.

Have you gotten my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas,  yet?  It examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. With the purchase of print and ebook books  20% of sales goes towards a children's charity for the The PACI Fund Project.

Fitness Check In Week 4

I'm still going. I started week 5 today. I took my first two days in a row off between the end of last week (Sunday) and the beginning of this week (Monday). I got the chance to weigh myself again and I'm almost down 10 lbs. As of a few days ago I had a pound/pound and a half to go. If I could lose another 10 pounds with this coming up month then I'll be closing in on my goal. I am noticing some of my clothes are fitting better.

Aside from losing weight and getting in better shape though my other goal is to make exercising at least 4 times a week a habit permanently again. After having a set back week 3 with only getting in 4 days when my goal right now is 5-6, I did get in 5 days last week. However, I'm noticing my running/walking two miles days are quite a bit easier than my Insanity video days. Because we were out of town last week I ran and walked mostly, but today I did the videos again. I see why someone said they used the videos for their daily workout, barely ran, and then went and ran a 5K I think they said, and they said they were in just as good if not better training shape to do it than if they actually trained by running. I can also see that with the fact that running is much easier to me now than it use to be. I'm still only running 1/2 mile intervals. I need to find a better place that's not gravel and lots of uphills to see how I feel running a mile. I'm still looking at doing a 5K in Sept when these first two months are over, but I'm not convinced yet I could run three miles straight. Either way I'm still convinced if you want something that's going to push you, is convenient, and give you results, I'm pretty sold on these beachbody videos.

My eating the last two weeks has not been the greatest. I've indulged a little more than I did in the beginning. I go back to work next week so where I'm worried about how well I'll do with sticking to 5-6 days a week of exercise I think being back in the work routine will be better for my eating habits. I went to the store yesterday so I have plenty of snacks in place to keep me from grabbing all my usual bad stuff.

Even though I don't officially report back to work until next Monday I have a busy next three days so I'm hoping I can get in 4 workout days between Wed-Sunday. But next week will really tell the story. As an teacher knows the massive to do list that comes with the beginning of the school year seems to overtake everything else. Wish me luck for next week.

Last Week's Fitness Check IN

My book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, for mothers of any age (suggested by an older reader's feedback) focuses on women today accepting who they are. It examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Family: There is No Other Way to Us

I can't believe we're coming up on the last week of summer vacation. We had a little freak out stress moment at the beginning of the summer with Nate's summer income, but it resolved itself in a few days later  so other than that it's been a really great summer. Nate worked half days for three weeks and I averaged about two full days of work a week so pretty much worked part time the whole summer. But it was still down time compared to the busy work schedule of the school year. And like always we got in lots of family time.

One of the biggest contributors to my personal self doubt on this road of parenthood is raising our kids so far from family. We were not people that moved far away from our families because we hated them. I know some just want to escape, but that was not us.  Being far from family I don't think ever really bothered either of us much before we had kids, but now that we do it's definitely on our mind at times. One of the things I told myself a long time ago when we had kids and deciding to stay where we are- six hours from his family and eighteen from mine- was that seeing our families would always be one of our top priorities.

I don't know how many people like to tell me "oh, we keep wondering when you'll quit coming home to visit so much", "don't you want to spend your time off at your own home", "it's going to get harder and harder to come back home when the kids get older", "it's too expense to make it home we understand." I know everyone means well, but there really isn't anything that's more important to me. I don't think to Nathan either.

We probably spend  a good $1200-$1800 a year making trips to see our families. So, yes, it is expensive. Is it worth it? You bet. Our kids will have plenty of childhood memories full of moments with their cousins, visiting their grandparents' houses, and days spent with their aunties (Nate and I only have sisters). We both grew up in small towns, yet one of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how different places can be from one another. The people are different, the way of thinking is different, the values are different, the lifestyles are different, and my children will be exposed to those three places and their differences over and over again throughout their childhood. I think it's important for them to see life outside the one bubble they live in. They will have childhood memories that are rooted in three different places.

Not only that but as I've visited with Nate's grandma and her sisters and then his dad's parents this past weekend, and I remembered similar discussions with my mom's dad and now even my dad, I was reminded of how those talks around the dining room table or on the back porch is where they will sit and hear the best stories ever. There are always the storytellers in every family. The ones who take us back in time and retell the stories of their life in a different time and place. I think as my girls get older they will come to treasure those precious storytelling moments with their grandparents the same way I do.

 I see so many families that as the kids grow up and move away that lose touch with their siblings, don't see their aging grandparents like they should, maybe even their aging parents, or even some that have used the word "disowned" to describe their tattered family relationships.  How many use that word to describe family relationships is a little disturbing to me even though I have my own experience with it. I'm sure we could always do better than what we do. We definitely need to work on picking up the phone to call more, especially our grandparents, but we try to see everyone at least twice a year.

But either way I refuse to let distance, money, and time be an excuse for not seeing our families as much as we possibly can. Even though our families are all ready to support us with an excuse because of time or money, I promised myself a long time ago for them and for my kids I would make it work.

Not only do I want my kids to have these deep rooted relationships with their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, but one day they too will grow up. I'll never forget sitting in the guest room with Nate, holding my first newborn baby, and with all those new mom hormones raging I started crying, saying how, "One day my baby (Averi at the time) was going to grow up and move away from us just like I moved away and just like my mother before me moved away." One day when my babies grow up if they're anything like their mother and father they too will want to spread their wings and see what else the world has to offered.  Maybe they'll come back permanently, but if they don't I don't want us to just be forgotten old people. Our values are so often a reflection of what we're taught and for them I want it so embedded it them that they don't know any other way to live because it's what was modeled to them their whole childhood. Family comes first-you make the time, you make it happen.

For us that's the way it will always be.


My book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, for mothers of any age (suggested by an older reader's feedback) focuses on women today accepting who they are. It examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Week 3: Fitness Goal Check In

In keeping up with my weekly check ins mostly for myself and those of you that are on your own similar journey, here's my reflection on the third week. If you missed week 2 you can check it out here and if you missed by background story on why I decided to embark on this you can check it out here.

I knew last week would be an interesting test week. It was my first week working five days all day so I knew I'd have to come home and get my workout in at the end of the day. Because it was just this one week of full time work for my last week of summer camp I wasn't very disciplined with a bedtime either so I think I stayed up past midnight every night. I got in my workout Monday and Tuesday after work, but when I came home Wed I was pooped from lack of sleep. I ended up laying on the couch, reading a book on my phone pretty much the whole night. I knew I had to get back at it Thursday since I was worried how I was going to get in a workout over the weekend with our camping trip. But by Friday with working and then having to finish packing and getting on the road to get to the campsite I ended up taking my second day off of the week. Again I didn't want to end up taking two days in a row off so I went for what I planned to be a jog on the camping trail Sat morning but it was pretty rocky so it ended up being more of a hike. Then we went canoeing so my arms got a good workout so between the two I counted it. But by Sunday after packing up the campsite, unloading every thing, I just wanted a relaxing Sunday so I took my third day of the week off.

Normally if I worked full time and had a busy weekend but still fit in four workouts I'd consider it a pretty good week. But I fell short of my goal for these nine weeks because I wanted to get in six days a week for the first five weeks before I go back to work, then five days a week for the first four weeks when I return to work, and from then on to get in at least four, if not five, workouts a week.   I know I'll be much more disciplined about a bed time for myself when I return to work for the school year and my weekends at the beginning of the school year are pretty open, but this still gave me concern for how consistent I will be when I return to work. As any teacher knows the beginning of the school is a very hectic time of the year.

As for eating during the week I do pretty well. Besides eating chips Friday the worse day of the week was Saturday. Camping is sitting around and eating for this family so I did not keep tabs on what I ate Saturday. I just chalked it up as a cheat day, but I've gone back to doing pretty well the last two days.

I got my workout in first thing Monday morning. Today I squeezed it in right at the end of the day  and the plan is to go run first thing tomorrow morning before traveling north up to Nate's family. While up in PA I will probably jog their dirt road Thursday and Friday but Saturday and Sunday will be busy so I could be looking at a five time workout week this week. In some ways I think "oh no, I'm failing" and then in another moment I remind myself I am still working out pretty intensely when I do and I may not be super consistent with eating better but I have cut back on sugar, sweets, and soda.

It's still progress. I haven't bought myself a scale yet and I wasn't near my friend's house where I weighed myself the last two weeks this week so I have no weight results, but I have started to notice that some of my shorts are baggier so I guess that's a good sign. It could have been a better week but I'm still sticking with working out and eating better so I'll just keep going forward.

Recent Posts

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My book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, for mothers of any age (suggested by an older reader's feedback) focuses on women today accepting who they are. It examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Camping: Picture Happy vs Reality

We had our annual camping trip this weekend. We returned to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia for our second time. We  usually either camp out in Shenandoah in Virginia, Harper's Ferry, or Assateague Island on the beach in Maryland. We like Harper's Ferry because it's on the river and this time we got to fish and go canoeing so it was a good choice. If you look at the pictures it looks like one of those blissful family weekends for the memory book. Being the photo nut that I am I'm sure they'll go in the photo book, but let me just share the reality that is not so easily seen in those picture perfect moment.

My idea of sitting around all day around the fire relaxing I quickly came to realize was NOT going to happen. I swear in about every five minutes one of those girls had to go to the bathroom. Then Averi wanted to play in the mud. Then she cried because she was muddy. Bettis who we always bring was abnormally bark happy. I think he's going blind so just barks at every noise and smell. I'm thinking Averi sat in timeout about five times. In which case that usually resulted in more tears. We were really looking forward to taking the girls out on their first canoe ride. Not even ten minutes out on the river and one of them had to go to the bathroom. With the way they were whining and crying I took them back to the tent in the afternoon for a nap. Except while I attempted to sleep they climbed all over me and each other. Just giggling and having the time of their life so no nap. I didn't pack enough clothes for as many times as they got muddy, marshmellow smeared all over them, drenched from playing too close to the river, the times they peed all over their clothes trying to pee in the woods (even though Averi did inform me she was a pro at this by the end of the weekend). They fell asleep early and quickly that second night but all us adults were exhausted ourselves from keeping up with them all day we retired to bed shortly after them.

When it was time to go Averi told us she had so much fun and wanted to stay longer. They did have fun, but I told Nate they worn out I was just ready to get home and crash. And lock them in their room and forget where I put the key for awhile. It was a great weekend to catch up with our dear friends from Virginia that always meet us for this trip, and I did catch a few moments of sitting around the fire, watching the girls fish or playing on the river bank, a hike down the trail where I did think this really is the life. I love being outdoors and I love that my kids love it so much too.

                                                          A little evening fishing
                                                         Mommy can still French braid!
                                                          Just hanging out with my sister.
                        Hoping they didn't come home with a bunch of poison ivy from playing on this thing.
                                                 Nate's awesome stuffed peppers
                                                   She loved playing in the mud.
                                                           Canoe ride

                                    At one point in the day the mud sucked her shoe right off.

                                  May be an old man but he still loved to swim out for that ball.
                                                              Our aged camper
                                                Conspiring to give mom and dad trouble
                                                              My morning hike

                                                       Finally asleep!
                                                     Teaching sister how to fish
                                               Score! Sissy caught a fish!