Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Lesson of the Poop Emoji




Does the tween phase start at like age 8? The emotional drama of mine lately has me cringing and wanting to curl into the fetal position in fear for the pre puberty/puberty adolescent years ahead. And my eight year old has always been my easiest child?!?! So if she's becoming a parenthood challenge now what does that mean for us with the other two?!?!

Parents that have been there and survived, how do you not lose your S*&T and patience for the next ten years and then just as we're reaching the golden years with her and her sister not far behind we'll be starting all over with the boy?!?! Is that easier or harder? I'm kind of scared to know.  Either way you should just lie to me and tell me it is easier.

She thinks I'm like the meanest mom ever anyway because I make her empty the dishwasher, put her own laundry away, and clean up her room. Even though some days she'll do it without any complaint; other days she tells her sister how I make her feel like the maid. Yeah, I had a good laugh at that one. I'm pretty sure I was the one rolling my eyes that time and told her just wait until motherhood. I deal with other people's kids' attitudes without much choice in the matter these days if I want to keep my job so I have little tolerance for attitude from my own kids but I'll give her a little credit. I am pretty hard on her and do hold pretty high expectations that probably forget the fact that she is only eight. But I cannot stand when people lack accountability and can't clean up after themselves or do their part so one of my life's ambitions is not to send another one of those people out into society. So her and I butting heads isn't really any surprise but twice now the attitude has even reared it's head with daddy !

Yesterday her dad took her and her sister to see Wonder Woman which I think they enjoyed but I wouldn't really know because the attitude was all over her pouty face when she got in the car because her dad kept telling her no on spending her money. Every time we go to the store and in yesterday's case the mall the girl digs through her piggy bank and brings a little purse hoping she can talk us into letting her buy some toy. She wanted this poop emoji thing and her dad told her she didn't need to spend her money on a poop emoji. What the heck does a kid need a poop emoji for??? Somebody explain this to me. Then she wanted some other things but of course I got the biggest laugh out of
the pouting about no poop emoji. Rather than share what was nice about the movie she rather chose to pout the whole way home in which case my husband then also got irritated with her poor attitude and lack of gratitude for even going to the movie. Mind you this is the same girl who was overly thankful and told her daddy so for taking the time to take her to the father/daughter dance a few months ago. Where did that girl go???

Then tonight I told her I was going to put the $100 I borrowed forever ago back in her little savings account, and she of course holds her hand out and says, "Just give it to me." Haha. Not happening, kid. As soon as this kid has a quarter in her pocket she's looking for ways to spend it. I then go on to tell her how that's the start of her savings that she'll hopefully build up herself later to buy herself a car when she's 16 or 17, and she says, "It's my money. Why can't I spend my money the way I want?" Me of course being me replied with, "Why do eight year olds have to have opinions?" Like, seriously, they're only eight why do they have to think for themselves already. I'm all for self sufficiency as soon as possible but arguing their own opinion so soon? (

We all kind of chuckled at that but it left me thinking. First, I thought this parenting this was suppose to get easier? I think it just changes difficulty. Two, whether it's her piggy bank or her savings account that I'm still not letting her touch until she's older and a bit wiser it is her money. However, how do I teach this kid the value of money? Financial responsibility is huge in my book of succeeding or not succeeding in adulthood so if I can't send her out into the world financially responsible then we have failed as parents in some way.  She and her sister are definitely use to me saying no to things because of my own money habits; which is partially why she sneaks her own money to the store because she knows she won't talk me into spending my money on useless toys.  I get that she's young and again the expectations might be too high and she'll learn as she gets older, but in the meantime the dramatic pouty attitude of not getting her way lately is about to make my momma crazy come out.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Find the Blessing

My thirteenth year of my career and twelfth here in Maryland draws to a close this week. I know by now I have to take the bad years with the good years. I know this; yet I still let the rough ones like this past year drag me down into a dark hole.

I have never felt as pulled in two different directions with my job and personal life as I have this year. Each year the job gets more demanding than ever, and as my kids get older I feel I'm actually needed more at home than ever before. I have never taken off as much time as I did this year without being on maternity leave. Between I think seriously three water issues in the house this school year; about 10 doctor appointments for Lincoln to follow up with his heart diagnosis and possible TS diagnosis; elementary school events; my own health with PPD, pneumonia, and having to have oral surgery; our bad luck impending on the sitter with water issues and sickness, a family death that took me out of town and another out of town trip home for my sister's first baby; and a five year old that what we thought at first was the flu with three different times over the course of a few months of puking may actually be signs of migraines on top of  the stress of the job that so many others in my school and district felt in overwhelming waves this year or that we've been left in uncertain territory about my husband's job position twice now since February for next year due to budget concerns and him being funded out of Title I funds it's been a mentally exhausting year that ended with my dear cousin being  diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. But in one week this school year ends and I get possibly my most needed vacation ever. Hopefully it's the positive reset I need. I need to be able to go back to work at the end of the summer without the crazy anxiety I am ending the year with.

I've tried so hard to be there for everyone that needed me, but too many times it always felt as if I was missing someone or something. So many things got overlooked and missed, and I know as a mom, wife, teacher, and even as a writer I'm going to encounter criticism and disappointments. At some points this year though it just felt like blow after blow.

I've avoided writing much lately because wallowing in all these negative events of the past year just seemed even more depressing so I've avoided writing. Something I haven't done much of in the past five years. So yeah, it's been a shitty disappointing year. It didn't go anywhere near the way I had hoped when I headed back to work after my amazing four month maternity leave. But you know what. Forget the negativity. It's time to turn it around. Someone that I find inspirational once took all the things that were dragging her down and turned them into a blessing so here goes.

So yes, the water issues in our house are a HUGE pain in the ass, but the blessing that I am choosing to see instead is that we have this house in this small town community we love out here in the country something we and our children all love.

Though I am again faced tomorrow with the dilemma of skipping out of work early again to rush the hour home to try to catch an end of the year event at my daughter's school, the stress and anxiety I'll feel about leaving when I should be staying after to sell yearbooks it totally worth it to know how happy and how much she appreciates me making it there to see her. The blessing is in her and all the amazing things she does.

All the time off to run my son to all his appointments this year was as time consuming as I feared it'd be but the most amazing blessing in that is he is doing AMAZINGLY well and is completely on developmental track without any signs of seizures or further benign tumor growths. Though this kid has caused me so many sleeplessness nights the past two school years with worry over his health and then his reluctantance to sleep when I went back to work, the blessing is in him finally being here and healthy with us and being the perfect final fit to our family puzzle.

As much as it saddened me to tell my grandfather good bye on my birthday, I'm comforted in knowing he lived a long life, is now with the loved ones he's been so anxious to see for so long, and am so thankful he got to meet his little namesake, my son, before he passed.

Even though we've been jolted awake in the middle of the night to a puking kid all over our bed and I've tried to catch puke in my hands again even though I know that doesn't work, hopefully she did just have bad luck and got this year's stomach bug three times while the rest of us never did, the blessing is just this girl and her overabundance of love that she always seems to give when I need it most.


Though I had a PPD episode that knocked me down, ended up with pneumonia, finally had to have oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth and then ended up with nerve damage that messed my tongue up of all things for three weeks, and I am going to have to finally give in and check into getting a hearing aid next week when I see my audiologist because my continued hearing loss really is starting to cause professional and personal problems the blessing is I am overall in good health and have even over the past year managed to keep up with working out 3-5 times a week every week (except 4) the past year which is huge for me since entering motherhood.

Though these jobs have been a major source of stress for both of us this past year, the blessing is in that we have them and they provide financial stability for us now and security for our future. That and we've gotten great support from our superiors with so much of the craziness that has gone on this year.

Though we've had to take several unplanned days off throughout the year because our poor baby sitter encountered way too much of our bad luck with her own water issues and sickness and now deaths too the blessing of course is that we have her and her family in our life.

One of the biggest-if not the biggest disappointments of the year- was learning my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. But she's kicking cancer butt and the blessing is she's going to come out the other side of this even more amazing than before she faced off with this monster.

There is so much to be thankful for, and that's what I have to choose to see right now. I don't know what's going to happen from here in the next few years, but I keep telling myself to have patience and faith. Despite the fact that I've felt like one woman trying to do it all this past year, I haven't been doing it alone as one of my other blessings amidst the chaos of the year is my partner in crime. Though we may have butted heads a time or two I am impressed with how much better we've gotten at handling the tougher, rockier moments together as a team than how we use to in our younger years.










Friday, May 12, 2017

Teenage Angst

We watched just finished watching the Netflix Original 13 Reasons Why. As a parent and an educator the show left many troubling thoughts in my mind. The show really hit on the drama of adolescents that sometimes I think we as adults overlook as kids just being kids. I'm not just talking about the bullying either. I'm talking about the mean girls, the pressure of sex and relationships, the cocky jocks that think they can get away with anything including drunk date rape, the drinking and smoking marijuana, the identity crisis of adolescents, the sometimes sexual identity crisis.

I've worked with teenagers for over a decade. I tell every group of kids their adolescent high school years are their toughest years until they reach parenthood. I had an easy adolescent experience, so I can only imagine how much harder it is for some experiencing family issues, poverty, some kind of loss, or a host of other struggles that many of us probably know very little about. The struggles- the kids at highest risk for making poor choices or facing an internal battle that could put them on the brink of suicide- are not something that just befalls a particular "kind of student" either, and we need to let go of that stigma of thinking adolescent crisis like mental health, suicide, eating disorders, bullying, unprotected sex, and drinking and drugs is something our kids are immune to. They are all at risk. We can helicopter parent all we want but the truth is we can't fight all their battles for them or even really know what all their battles are.

Too often I think we like to think our own families or kids are immune  to certain struggles, but I cannot tell you enough how much I have seen the kid that seems to have it all together with talent, great grades, positive friend circle, and yes even a great family succumb to the inner struggles of teenage angst. Don't overlook and discount their concerns, their moods, and definitely not their voice when they do decide to speak up.

As parents and a teacher I think one of the hardest parts is to recognize when they're angry and defensive but really they're crying out for help and someone to listen. As a teacher we are taught to try our best to look below their behaviors to try to understand their triggers and real struggle. Behavior is often an outcry to inner pain, but as a parent and teacher trust me I know how easy it is to see their outcry as just being a difficult phase or "typical" defiant childish behavior.

As a writer myself and an English teacher I like to get my kids to write. I would love to give kids more opportunity to write about them in the classroom rather than about literary analysis and a speaker's use of rhetoric because I fully believe in the power of people, particularly kids, using writing as a therapy to manage the tougher moments of life. I'll share this one story but really in thirteen years of doing this there are many more. My second year of teaching I had this class clown in my class of seniors. He drove me crazy with his constant disruption and crazy search for attention. One day I had them do this personal writing and then I understood. He had this older sister that was an all star athlete, great student, going off to a great college and though he himself was popular and an athlete he felt inadequate next to her. If he couldn't measure up to that pressure to be as much like her as possible he sought negative attention since he couldn't steal away her positive attention. I've also worked with so many girls that again were highly successful in the classroom and on the athletic field but the pressure to succeed was so overwhelming they found themselves in crisis situations with mental health issues, eating disorders, and even contemplating suicide.

Here's what I have seen after thirteen years of working with adolescents too. There is plenty of peer pressure with fitting in, but I think we also forget the pressure adolescents feel to succeed and excel and hold up this perfect image which is partially I believe a result of the social media world they now live in. Sometimes as parents and educators we feed that pressure which I think is okay in healthy doses but I've also seen the damage of unhealthy doses- something I know myself as a parent will really have to work on .

As an educator and a parent it's hard to imagine being in either shoes after someone you know and/or love commits suicide. I don't feel that either is at fault in the show.  It's just a painful tragic situation all around. But I think as parents, as educators, and as friends we all need to look for others' silent pain and not be dismissive of their teenage struggles and pain. We may never know when our kind word or our positive attention could be what saves someone else's life. So as always it's better to spread kindness and love than hate and rejection.




Maybe I should start writing TV Show Reviews. Here's my one from This Is Us
 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Parent Business of Preparing a Will

While I was home a few weeks ago my sister was updating her beneficiary information on all her accounts now that they have a child. I remember shortly after we had our first daughter how we rushed about finding a life insurance policy and signed off on it all by the time she was probably two months old. First kid, you know, where we were gung ho about doing everything right, even if we're dead. Even though we had been married for about two years I think that was about the time we went back to our retirement accounts and changed our beneficiaries to each other and added our daughter in case God forbid something were to happen to both of us at the same time.

That was eight years ago. We haven't looked at or really put forth much effort to follow up on what would happen if something happened to us. It's not really what you want to discuss on date night or even those rare moments in bed ALONE together. Discussing it at the dinner table while the kids eat just seems like it would ruin their fond childhood memories of "family dinner" for the rest of their childhood.

However, between my sister putting her affairs in order for her newborn son and our upcoming trip alone without our kids, we managed to address the issue that we really should have wills and updated beneficiary information with who is custodian of the kids and their funds if something were to happen to us. I think it's one of those things you'd prefer to avoid for as long as possible. The weird thing it's not even the thought of "oh my God, I don't want to die!" but more you hate the thought of your kids growing without you, even more the thought of both of you where their whole way of life as they've known it would be so completely changed. I think we managed most of our discussion through an actual email. It's Pens Playoff Season so if I approach any topic that is not hockey right now I won't have to worry about my last testament because talking during an intense hockey game will be it!

However the email discussion ended something like this, "I'll agree to that should we kill each other...I mean go down in a fiery crash over California, I mean crash into the ocean and get stranded on a deserted island and I have to eat you to survive....  But ya hopefully we live to a ripe old age...  I don't feel like going to sleep forever yet... got shit to do!" So when approaching the discussion of your afterlife plans should you both perish at the same time make sure it's not during a time that will end your life sooner than expected and have a sense of humor while tackling the discussion and task!

Unfortunately, on a serious note though, I've seen too many people around my age pass unexpectedly including a coworker's dear friend from the flu this past year. So this past week we did the adult thing and updated our life insurance and retirement beneficiaries to now include all of our children with a custodian guardian if something were to happen to both of us at the same time. I get now why parents say they're worth more dead than alive.  Then we each drew up a Last Will and Testament at this great site called the Legal Depot. It was easy and super user friendly. If you don't have one yet or a lawyer friend it's a great way to draft one. It says we only need a witness signature but will probably have it notarized when we go have our beneficiary papers notarized.

I then told my husband and my mom that God forbid if something were to happen I now have all of our important papers in what I called the Dead Folder. Preparing your last testament and desires were something to happen to you is not one of those most pleasant adult experiences, but with three little kids we were probably way overdue to take care of having it all updated and current to our wishes.

Do you have a Will that states your desires should something happen to you? Are your beneficiaries up to date? Does someone know where to go to access your funds for your children should something happen to you?


 
 
If you missed the past happier blog posts
 
 
 


 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

This Blog and Me: Hobby or Work

My blogiversary is today. Five years ago this week I hit publish for my fist "public" writing. Those first few posts generated a whole whooping 30 average page views for the first year or so. My mom, whose creative outlet hobby was sewing, had told me for years I needed a hobby to put some of my time into. I think she knew without trying to be pushy that I needed something that was my own at a time when it's so easy to lose yourself in those early days of motherhood.

I wrote because it felt really good to write again. It had been fifteen years at that point since I had wrote on a regular basis. Within a year I decided to try something I always wanted to do- get something I wrote published so I started sending short pieces off to publications. Editor Lisa Shea of Bella Online gave me from first opportunity with my Bettis and Us Story and The Lost Crooked Christmas Tree published in their literary magazine and to write some articles for their adolescent page on their website.  From there I wrote a biweekly column for a new site called Mommy Hotspot that unfortunately after about six months ended up closing down.  As I was coming up on  my second year I had a handful of things published with these two sites and editors. Unpaid things though. Writing is kind of like the starving artists gig. Not that I was doing this for money, but now that I had reached my goal of getting published it seemed to really be considered published I needed to have some paid published work. So two years after I started writing,  2014 would be the first year I actually made money from my writing. I got an email from the Chicken Soup for the Soul editor to publish a story in their upcoming book about motherhood. I also completed my first book project- which was just a collection of my best blog posts from the first two years- to sell on here. I also generated two payments for running ads on my site and was compensated with free products for product reviews.

But here's what always happens. I get great momento going and then I get busy with life and my real job so my hobby here gets put to the side for a while. This is a business I've learned where you have to have consistency and constant engagement or your readers move on. For a year or so I was really active in the mom blog community and made some virtual friends that I'm actually still connected with, but just as I drifted away from the community some of them drifted away from blogging altogether. I've also been active in different writing groups, but again networking consistently with people is big in gaining and keeping readers. All of that takes A LOT of time on top of the writing. That part is the work, and so I keep coming to this point where I tell myself I do this because it's a hobby I love- not because it's work.

So in 2015 I slowly drifted away from those networking groups. I quit "searching" the web for readers more a less cause that's kind of what you're doing in those groups. I just wrote on here but didn't really pursue paid publications or any publications really. I didn't look for ideal ads or products to showcase on here in hopes I'd make a little commission. Just as I was finally making money I went two years without making any. In 2015 I only had one thing published which was with Bella Online's literary magazine again with my Roots and Wings story. With 2016 though I decided to start searching for new places to get published. I came across Tribe Magazine, Red Tricycle, and Lose the Cape which all offered the possibility of actually getting paid. I even got a reply from Arianna Huffington about having a piece about America and the election I sent in getting published on the Huffington Post, except unfortunately as I learned from others in a writing group I was still somewhat active in, they had horrible follow ups to their emails so even though I agreed to let them publish it the official editor never followed back up. Though two of my pieces with Red Tricycle were one of the top three posts for the week on their social media page I have yet to reach their 50,000 page view requirement to actually get paid. So even though all three have published my work I made very little from them.

However, the editor of Chicken Soup-which is the highest paying publication I've found by far anyway- accepted a second piece of mine at the end of 2016 for their Jan 2017 Curvy and Confident book so here I am in 2017 and for the second year of the five actually making money off my writing.

Out of curiousity I created myself an expense/income report and here's what I've found in regards to making money with my writing. After five years I have written almost 500 posts/articles/essays and with the income I've made I'm averaging around $2 a post. LOL. Obviously the majority of those generated $0 but you write about 25 hoping one will get published and out of about every four that do you hope one of those actually pays. My income has come from the following things: paid publications, book sales, running ads on the site, and writing product reviews. I've made over $350 from book sales and have about 30 books for another $150 of profits I'm hoping to sell in two upcoming vendor sale events in May and June so book sales are my biggest money maker with 120 books currently sold with hopefully over 150 after these coming up events. My second big money maker is over $400 with paid publications. Then comes ads and last product reviews which come in at a little over a $100 and a little less than $100. I'm not getting rich over here by any means! LOL. But it has helped with the traveling budget a little.

I go back and forth on how much "effort" to put into this site/writing hobby of mine. It's not the writing part that I'm unsure about. It's the "work" part of networking in a blog community, writing groups, and searching and pitching articles and essays to publications. To be successful money wise at this I've learned writing is really only half the work. Right now I throw my posts up on twitter and facebook and never network with outside groups, yet those whole 30 whooping page views are now in the triple digits without much "work" on my part. Sometimes I think how if I'd be more active in the blogging and writing groups I could double or triple my views and exposure, but then I remind myself I do this as a hobby, not as work.

But on the other hand I would love to invest in attending a blog conference to learn more about moneytizing my blog or I'd love to take a writing course with Chaunie Brusie - who you may not know but I've bet you've read her stuff if you follow Babble or Huffington Post Parents. God knows I'd love to invest in an editor too. Yes, believe me I know I need one. I always cringe when I read back through these posts and catch the abundance of errors I seem to make during my zillion interruptions or late night postings like now.

For now I'm pretty contend writing on here, writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I'm excited about a second book project I'm working on called Letters to a Daughter where I plan to include pages in between the six chapter topics for moms to write to their daughters about the following topics:

From Your Mother to Your Friend
From First Love to Marriage
From Playing House to Finding You
From _______ to Happiness and Success (ideas for the first part of this title???)
From the Playground to Finding Your Tribe
From Self Doubt to Self Worth


I've seen a lot of bloggers come and go in the five years I've been doing this. Some of the ones I've connected with I miss and for the others I try to continue to learn from them. I don't plan on leaving the blogging world anytime soon. This is my writing sanctuary now just as those spiral notebooks use to be from the days of my childhood.


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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Making Life Cleaner with Essential Oils


I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try out the craze about essential oils. As someone that has never been a fan of chemicals whether it's in our cleaning products or medicines we put in our bodies, I was definitely willing to try an alternative. Small confession here- since I've had kids and an abundance supply of baby wipes in my house that is pretty much what I have cleaned with when it comes to wiping things down. But this forced me to think about where I do use chemicals in my cleaning and my windows and my floors are where I’m the most guilt of this. My floors are the big chemical danger in my house because my kitchen floor with a baby I feel needs to be mopped constantly. With a clean damp mop I can just spray the thieves cleaner on my floor and mop up all those baby messes that seem to happen on a daily basis lately.

I also got the chance to try out the cleaning power of lemon oil. This time of the year I always attempt "spring cleaning" with scrubbing off all the marks that my three kids have decorated my walls with over the past year. Since I hadn't really tackled that chore yet I put lemon oil to the test of scrubbing off those old crayon and other marks. It did take the crayon off pretty easily. The only thing I found that it didn't really take off was nail polish. How bright red nail polish ended up sprayed all over my hall floor is apparently a true mystery in my house.

I also recently learned I can use my peppermint oil to lay out on cotton balls to keep ants away. With it being spring and summer on the way those pesky little ants sometimes grace us with their presence on our countertops and rather than using those poisonous trap things, cotton balls dipped in peppermint oil appears to keep them away.

My other favorites out of the samples I tried was the Frankincense and Lavender. Unfortunately, it didn't magically knock my five year old out cold at her actual bedtime. She was still poking her head in the bathroom at me way after her bedtime, but I rubbed the frankincense and lavender on my temples for a few nights and I did feel like I got a better, more sound night of sleep, especially considering sometimes I let the stress of the day or anxiety of what's left unaccomplished on my to do list to intrude on my sleeping too much.

I was also sent an oil called "stress away" and one made by my great consultant called "stress free mama" so of course being the high strung mama I am I had to give these a try. The first week I had a fantastic week at home and work. I wondered how much was due to using the oils and how much was just due to the fact that it's May and this is usually one of my less stressful times of the year. However, the second week was not so great. Work was stressful with organizing a group project I had classes completing and running SADD week, and I was definitely grouchier at home. However, because I had so many things on my mind I was more inconsistent with making sure I applied my stress relieving oils on a regular basis. Really I think I need a longer stretch of time to see the benefits on these helping me manage my day to day stress.


With only a few weeks to try out the oils there is still so much I don't know about the amazing benefits of them. Two people were willing to share their longer, more in depth experience with me though. Here's what Dottie Wilson and Nicole Negley had to say about their experiences with oils.

"I have been using oils for about 11 months now. They have benefited me and my family's lives by helping us sleep better. I also feel less stressed with my oils. I use them to clean and feel totally comfortable cleaning around my children with something that is free of toxins and completely safe! I find that Thieves is the most useful because I use it for cleaning every single day! Thieves Vitality is great for immune support and that is super important to me!"

"I have been using essential oils for 4 months. Frankincense, Lavender, and Lemongrass help me to maintain healthy emotional balance. Panaway and Copaiba are very soothing to use after my daily five miles walk/run. My husband uses Cinnamon Bark in a carrier oil for digestive support. I diffuse Purification in my diffuser to freshen the air; and also in a spray bottle as a linen spray and air freshener.  So far, I find Frankincense useful for the reasons stated above. Panaway and Copaiba are AMAZING - also for the reasons stated above. Thieves Cleaner allows me to clean without toxic chemicals and saves money. I'm still learning about essential oils, and look forward to trying the HUNDREDS of other products that Young Living provides. Also their grapefruit and cinnamint lipbalms are the BEST! They aren't waxy or greasy. They are the perfect consistency for a lip balm and smell divine. They're also VERY reasonably priced - making them great little gifts for family and friends!"

Something with this trial review that you can't just get with any essential oil kit that I found incredibly valuable was Megan herself. She's a former teacher, and she attacks educating her clients about the benefits of essential oils the way a teacher diligently attacks getting her students the best results possible. She knows her stuff when it comes to these oils; she is wealth of information. Her pleasant, friendly personality shoots down any hesitancy you may have about asking questions or for explanations. She is active on social media at The Daily Diffuse, sharing daily tips on how to get the maximum benefits from your oils. She also offers FREE Facebook Live classes frequently to educate you on the benefits of essential oils. She's offering her next Facebook Live class on May 21 at 8:15 and if you can't catch it at that moment you have throughout that whole week to catch it. If interested in joining the next class just let Meg know you'd like to attend and she'll extend you an invite through facebook. If you don't want to wait for the class though you can learn more about essential oils here.



If you'd like to order a kit to check out essential oils for yourself follow the directions below and let Meg know you signed up from this review post and you'll get a $20 rebate back from her.

1) Go to www.youngliving.com
CLICK "become a member"

2) Enter my member number in BOTH sponsor and enroller section: 3786300
Or simply copy/paste this link in your browser to have it done for you:

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/start?site=US&sponsorid=3786300&enrollerid=3786300

3) Choose Wholesale. Please make sure you choose wholesale, because only wholesale members are eligible to buy the kit. If you sign up Retail you cannot purchase a kit. As a wholesale member, you also earn a 24% discount if you ever want to order oils again. Occasionally, people are hesitant to create a wholesale account because they think it means they are signing up to sell something, but please rest assured that is NOT the case. As a wholesale member you are never, ever required to buy or sell a single thing. If you don't like your oils, you never have to place another order after you receive your starter kit. I have a slight feeling you will fall in love and that won't be the case though! (Think of it like a Cosco membership)

4) You will also get to choose between 4 different diffusers during check out. It comes standard with the Dew Drop or Home Diffuser, which most people love! Let me know if you need help choosing one!

After entering all your info, make sure you write down your login information. Log out and log back in for practice! You'll need to remember your info. For future purchases! If you ever forget it, let me know and I'll help you get that information!

5) upon ordering a kit, I’ll provide you with a reference app. I can either PayPal you money for the cost of the App, or mail you a check. Let me know ASAP so you can start researching! Please refer to this app when you have usage questions about your oils. The Guide section is amazing. It contains usage suggestions for just about anything you can think of! There is also a section where each of YL's oils and supplements is discussed in great detail.

6) I am also part of the YL Essential Families group. We have a very active Facebook page that is a wealth of oily info. I will submit the request to have you added to the group. We also have a great website. I also have a smaller group for my oily friends that I'll add you to.

7) I will send you a welcome email that contains some helpful links and info on when you should expect to receive your kit. I will also send you a 3 part welcome email series, covering topics such as diffuser recipes, using oils in place of toxic cleaning products, and the Essential Rewards program. I typically send you one email a week for the first month.





      

Friday, April 28, 2017

To Be or Not to Be....Done Having Babies

My newsfeed lately is blowing up with all these newborn babies as friends welcome their latest additions. For several of them it's their third or fourth addition. My own sister is about to enter her second trimester with her fourth! Then my memory feed keeps popping up with all these flashback memories of bringing our baby boy home last April, and I just got our photo album of those days in the mail today. Even as exhausting as those first few days after a baby are and as much as your body aches and weird stuff is going on with it, there has just always been something magical about welcoming that baby into your family and home those first few days and weeks.

Last year after we had our son I said we'd have to make a decision if he truly was our last baby about a year from then which is technically about now because if we decided to go for four the plan was to start trying again this summer. Shortly after he was born I was really leaning towards a fourth. The girls are close in age but he's 4.5 and 7 years behind them so it just seemed like it'd be nice for him to have a little sibling close in age. Of course I loved the thought of him having a little brother so it'd be the two girls close together and then two boys. I've always wanted a large family, and though originally our plan was three after he was born I was seriously considering four. The thought of being done having babies just made me kind of sad that phase of my life was possibly over.

Wow-I almost just talked myself back into considering four just now with writing that?! But no. My thought of four actually switched to a confirmed three probably not too long after we considered four. I told our doctor when she asked if we were having more that we must be getting too old for babies because they are A LOT of work! And we're tired. I love my little boy and would not trade him for the world. I don't want to rush him to grow up but I really enjoy my girls being older and independent now. I'm kind of looking forward to that with him.

 As much as I listed my reasons I considered four last year here are my reasons we're sticking to a firm three and closing down the Glenn baby making factory. It is officially going out of business as long as there is no accidental unplanned production.

1. No need to upgrade our vehicles or find room in our house.

2. I can finally permanently have my body back!!!

3. I never have to give up drinking ever again.

4. The countdown to sleeping through the night has officially begun. Between the three of them do you think I'm maybe down to the last five years yet????

5. It is soooo much easier to go do things from a trip to the ball field to a trip across the country with older kids rather than babies.

6. Babies NEED sooooooo much from their mommas. I NEED sooooo much more me time.

7. As the kids are getting older my husband and I may finally get more time for each other again for date nights and more trips alone like our upcoming Hawaii one (but that baby making factory must still stay closed).

So, yes, we are saying good bye to the baby phase of our life. In fact I've spent the past week pricing all of our baby stuff after eight years and three kids to sell it in two upcoming yard sales. I do kind of have mixed feelings on this.  Sarcasm aside- even the crazy sleep deprivation this kid has caused at times- I am trying to soak up and enjoy his littleness as much as I can. I will sit and hold him and it does sadden me at times that he is the last and that any moment I could be experiencing the last of the last with this phase of our life as parents. I know there are great things to come as he and the girls continue to get older though so I will just have to support others' baby making factories and hold their littles to satisfy any possible baby urge I may experience. As we shut these doors to this phase of our life it is with happy memories that I look back on it but with excitement that I look ahead for the post baby part of our life to come.


 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Write a New Chapter or Write a New Story

If  you follow us on our little life journey lately you know we've been looking at making some rather big changes- moving out of state and/or making a complete career change. However, those are not easy changes to tackle. As anxious or excited as some may be for us to just do it or others may think "quit talking about and just do it" there's a long list of things to consider and I need this space to get my thoughts around it all. If you want to brave my tangled thinking with change on the horizon ahead read on; if not see you next time.

We've invested twelve years into our careers and life here in Maryland so leaving it behind is not something we take lightly. But big changes are coming either way, but at this moment it's more of a question are we going to write a new chapter or are we going to write a whole new story??

The current situation is this: I am working at a school that on a good day I spend two hours of my day commuting or on a bad day it's more like two and a half hours. When I took this job I said it would be a three to five year thing depending on my personal job satisfaction with a new school change and my tolerance for the commute in heavy Baltimore traffic. I am wrapping up year three now, and whereas last year was probably one of my most personally satisfied years with the job this year was not so much. Apparently I was not alone though. It didn't matter if I was talking to other teachers in my school, in my school district, in my state, or in this country-teachers everywhere it seems had one of their worst years to date. I'm not going to get into all wrongs of education right now, but the point is I don't know if I can give this profession another seventeen years of my life to make it to thirty years.

The situation for my husband is after putting in countless evening hours and weekends over the course of two and a half years he got his Masters degree in 2014 to become certified as an educational administrator. The school he was working in at the time was not going to give him any opportunity or support in pursuing that goal so a year later in 2015 he left that school and joined me on the 2-3 daily commute. However, he gained an amazing boss and administrator that has been completely supportive of his goals to become an administrator. She gave him the job of Title I coordinator these past two years and has spoke highly of him to others in his pursuit to gain an administrator position. A year later in 2016 he was accepted into the administrator pool a year ago; however, they school system overflooded the pool with  hundreds of people when there were barely any openings for last school year. He returned to his similar position this past year which he enjoys very much, but the concerns with that as we've learned this year is there is little stability in it from year to year. Because it is Title I funded he has faced the possible threats of his position being cut altogether or having his hours/pay reduced. On top of that his administrator is looking at retiring in the next few years so to lose her as support and a mentor could be a huge drawback in his own movement forward. We have also figured out over time, though he is willing to look at schools outside our district the problem we've found is they will not accept someone from a "teacher" position to an "administrator" position so his option is to hope he finally gets an AP position in our school district that has 100s of applicants for dozens of openings or go backwards to a teacher position in another school system and take years to jump through their political loopholes.

So here's the current deal. He's in this administrator pool until the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. He's worked really hard over the course of years to hopefully finally get an opportunity to be an educational leader as a principal. We don't want to throw all that away yet, especially when he has two more hiring seasons (this spring/summer and next year's) to get a position. As for me, I feel my plans are somewhat based on what happens with him, but I have an interview scheduled in May for what I call my dream teaching situation- to teach in the community in which I live. Not only would I gain about two hours back to my day, but I have never experienced living and working in the same community and with my kids getting into school I would love to have this experience. If I could have that opportunity and experience but still decide I want to leave before thirty years I feel I could do it without looking back at that point. It's the same for Nate. If he could experience the position he's put all this work into the past few years and still decides to leave before the clock strikes thirty years I think he can do it with a clearer conscience.

Our current hope is this- that we get to write at least this one last chapter to the A & N Maryland story. Our plan A is he would get an AP position with a better commute for next school year and I would get into the school district-hopefully a school even in the town where we live-for next school year even though mine comes with a pretty decent pay cut. Then we would each get to experience our ideal educational job before making our final decision on whether to stick with it to the thirty year mark or cut out early.

Plan B would be if he gets an administrator job and likes it enough that he thinks he'll stick with it past the next two years and I am still in the same school district where I've spent the past eleven years then I  would look into going back to school to get my library media certification to become a school librarian. Or I may see if there's a way to get my school counseling certification which might be easier since my masters was originally for school counseling. Even if Plan A works out and I get into the school district/school here where we live, if my husband decides he is interested in staying in education for the long haul and pursuing his Adm I to become a principal of his own school I would possibly still look at getting an out of the classroom certification. There's still that possible Plan B option 2 where I would maybe make a complete career change and look into the certification classes that I was talking about for lactation consultant/doula/childbirth educator/maternal health counselor, but if I have to take courses again as a working mom I'd probably stick with the education out of the classroom path for the reasons of the better fitting schedule with my kids and earlier retirement that comes with that choice.

Then there is Plan C. Whereas Plan A and Plan B just write a new chapter to the A & N Maryland story, plan C is to write a whole new story. I have to tell you I'm not even sure which scenerio I want to play out right now. It's like living in our own "Plan your Own Adventure" book. On one hand the thought of doing the same thing for our whole working career life just seems kind of a letdown. But on the other hand it offers so much stability- it offers a good amount time home with our children, stable paychecks, insurance, retirement in our 50s. But if the job is too much of a suffocating, life draining, depression and anxiety inducing experience that's not really the way we want to live until we're 50+. I have always enjoyed working and I've said it before I have a very hard time accepting that I have to spend my time working in unhappiness and frustration.

My husband is the dreamer whereas I'm more of the realist, but I'm still a chase your dreams  kind of person when I want to be. Leaving education behind offers that; it offers something new and different. It's an opportunity to chase other dreams that some of us either abandoned years ago or ones that have taken shape as we've moved through life.

Ever since I've known my husband he's wanted to open his own restaurant. He went to culinary arts school in one of the top culinary arts schools in the country,  Johnson & Wales.  Before I met him and when I first met him he worked in restaurants  where he functioned in  pretty much every position there is in a restaurant. Now he's developed the leadership skills managing people and budgets and supplies through his leadership work in education. He has true talent. The man can cook; and the man is very good with people. People like him, are drawn to him, listen to him, and believe in him; he can lead people.  He's had his own original recipes for years. I truly believe he could make a helluva a go at it in the restaurant business world.

So we've spent a lot of time the past three months researching, thinking, talking to the point that if our Plan A or B doesn't work out within the next two school years I have a budget plan established that should hopefully get us the funds we need to take this huge leap of faith in the spring of 2019- just two years from now. We have talked to a business lender already about what we need to be approved to start a business, we've done a little research on locations and nearby competition in those location, and Nate's started to brainstorm his actual business plan.  He would be taking the lead on this; though I'd be his partner in some ways he'd really be my boss more times than not. I'd handle the books when it comes to scheduling, budgeting, and probably also the advertising and promoting where he'd run the kitchen and the dining room and manage the staff more so than me. But this would take A LOT of his time so I would get to pursue something I've always wanted-be home more with my children (at that time the youngest would be in preschool) and hopefully work on publishing more of my writing.

The scary drawbacks here are we lose all that stability we loved in education. I may be home more with the kids but what about our time as a family traveling and vacations?   I truly think he could establish a place that could make us a pretty decent income of equal if not greater than we have now but just not right away of course. And what about health insurance? That is one of my biggest concerns and something I still have to do quite a bit of research on. The other big decision when you decide to end one story of your life and completely write a new one is where do you want the setting of your new story to take place?

This is something I'm not sure we're quite sure about yet. As much as I love Maryland, and it will always hold a special place in my heart I kind of want to write our new story elsewhere. I would like to get closer to my family. We have traveled the whole eastern side of the country east of Kansas City except New England (Boston- Maine maybe next summer???) so I'd like to get over closer to the other side of the country to eventually hit all those National Parks out west on our trips during the kids' teenage years.  .

I am heavily leaning towards the Lake of the Ozarks. There are many things I love about the thought of going there.
       1. It is close to my family but not super close. I love my family but I've been on my own for over a decade so I need my space! LOL. About 3-4 hours sounds about perfect. We could get to one another in need if needed but they won't be all up in my business!
      2. The schools are pretty decent. Schools are good where we currently are, but some of the places we've considered one of the big drawbacks have been the schools as we want to live and have the business in the same town so good schools are a must.
      3. I really like the idea of opening a business in  a tourist area so not only is the potential to make decent money pretty good but because there are peak seasons we could have a few months off similar to our teaching schedule to return to our traveling dreams as the kids get older.  Rather than the Fall being our busiest, most stressful time Mem-Labor day would be, and rather than our off time being June - August it would be more like Feb-April as places there close for the winter months. We'd probably stay open until the Superbowl, but I'm all for closing up shop for a month or two and hopefully even closing a day or two during the week during the off season school months. Though if Nate found good managers I'd see him chopping that idea. With our less busy time being the school year I love the idea of being able to more easily attend the kids' stuff at school. Our busiest time being when they're out of school could be drawback, but I also see them as they get older making it their summer job so they can help pay their way through college!
   4. Another thing I feel is a positive about this area is we're bringing in a product/brand that is not in abundance in that area.  Since we're willing to pretty much relocate anywhere a smart move would be to go where there's not a lot of competition for restaurants like we have in mind.  Though we've looked around western New York and Pennsylvania those are areas are pretty well known for wings with not only Buffalo Wild Wings but Quaker Steak and Lubes and Anchor Bars as well as the Pittsburgh and Buffalo area just have lots of really good small non chain places that are locally well known for wings, but as you head west and really south too there's Buffalo Wild Wings and that's about it. There's actually a pretty good need for another awesome wing type of restaurant in the southern, Midwest, and western part of the country. When I've done searches for best wings in most areas I'm always amused when KFC or pizza chains like Papa Joe's pop up because I don't just believe he can open a successful restaurant I believe he/we can create a successful brand that has the potential for great expansion. He has a dream, I have a plan, and together we have quite the vision. I've reached a point in my thinking where to not see where this path could lead would just be one of those huge end of life regrets.

There's huge risk in this without a doubt. We'd be investing money into this that we could or possibly should have saved for our retirement years but I still see it as a "retirement" from teaching anyway so even if I look at the worst case scenario and we lose that money it still seems worth it for the break to experience something different. We can always go back into education if we had to. I always believe there's great value in failure, but also on the other hand you can't reach the possibility for great success without risking failure.

Would it be a hard adjustment? YES without a doubt. Does just the thought of that stress me out? Yes, already at times. I know change always comes with it's own set of growing pains. Success won't just happen overnight. It's going to take years of work and dedication. But we're not 20 something years old anymore, so I like to think now in our older, more wise years we can go into this knowing it's going to be difficult at times, we're going to be anxious and worried on whether we're succeeding or failing. We're just going to have to be ready to pull up our big boy and girl pants and be ready to sacrifice some of our time, our money, and some of our other dreams like traveling for the time being, and be ready to go at hard all hands on deck.

With his talent and me with just the right kind of brains we need for this operation I truly believe we can be highly successful. I'm sure we will without a doubt butt heads and possibly want to kill one another at certain times because that's just the way this partnership of ours operates. We have such a great successful partnership though because we excel in different ways but sometimes we're each too hard headed to want to listen to the other at times. But if we get through the growing pains without killing each other I really believe we can leave an amazing legacy behind for our kids. It's not even so much the legacy of leaving a profitable successful business but more so the taking of  a vision and made it a reality, something that will hopefully inspire them to do the same as they embark on their own dreams.

 I really hope we each get the chance to write that one last chapter in education we envision , but even if not I can still say we wrote one helluva a story here. Choosing to move on from Maryland and education isn't because we failed here, it isn't because we're not happy with how this life turned out and want a do over, it isn't because this life isn't good enough. It's about living life to the fullest; it's about allowing your dreams to change and giving them a chance; it's about trying and experiencing as many things as you can in this one life.  We wrote an amazing story here for our kids. Even as much as I may complain about my career in education lately, I don't want that in the end to overshadow the positives I've experienced in this job or the amazing kids I've met in this story.They are part of the reason I feel we need to follow through on our own dreams. I've taught the American Dream and been encouraging kids to chase their own dreams for about a decade now; I don't just want to preach it. I want to live what I say. There's a part of me that is sad at the thought of leaving teaching, especially on weeks like this where I've enjoyed myself. It does feel like leaving a part of yourself behind., but I've learned we teach people not just in the classroom.

We teach and inspire people in the way we live our lives. The biggest people we can teach and inspire are those three pair of eyes that watch and take in everything we do. Though it is choosing to end a story we fell in love with that though challenging at times we wouldn't change for the world, rather than staying the course and continuing to write new chapters I'd rather show our kids how you can live more than one story in your life. Our lives don't have to be a series of chapters to the same story; rather we can write a series of different stories in our one life.

My sixth grade teacher told me one day I'd write the next great American novel. Though she continued to foster my love for writing I never really believed her. That's a pretty hefty prophecy to fulfill. But maybe the prophecy wasn't about writing the actual novel; maybe it was about the story we'd write in the life we live. The American story I want our kids to know.  There may be one more last chapter to this Maryland A & N story, but then we're looking onto writing a new story in a new place in a new life. We write our own stories in the lives we live; let's make a memorable one!




 

Friday, April 21, 2017

#MOMAZING


A little over eight years ago I became a mom for the first time to a beautiful baby girl. When I look back at the very beginning of my motherhood journey I still see it with these rose colored glasses of pure bliss. Between my maternity leave and summer vacation as a teacher I had about six months at home with her and then I went back to work full time including coaching a Fall sport. I had always been a list checker, sometimes over achiever, occasional perfectionist so I tackled motherhood the same way. At first I didn’t really understand what all the fuss about it being so hard was all about. I had this. I was a rock star at this whole career momma thing.

So two and half years later we added baby #2, another precious baby girl. Except she was colic, I had a two year older toddler, a full time career that I just couldn’t give the same dedication to anymore, and we were in the process of moving and it all started to unravel.  The pressure to succeed, to do well was like nothing I’d ever experienced, even more than as a pitcher with a full count and the bases loaded. I struggled. Like the stand in the shower and just sob in frustration kind of struggle or the step outside of your house to escape to just take deep breaths before you lost your shit on somebody. I made mistakes. I failed. I let motherhood defeat me, and I hated myself for it. But I remember one day when I was having a rough day and my then four year old told me she loved me even when I was mad and upset that I truly started to understand how differently  they saw us than we saw ourselves.
 
This struggling and feeling like I was failing wasn’t what I envisioned in my successful idealism of balancing life, career, and motherhood. It was like I had gone from this graceful masterful trapeze artist that suddenly lost her balance as the crowd waited in hushed tones to see if I’d regain my footing. Whereas everyone else seemed to still be that graceful trapeze artist as they navigated the trenches of motherhood here I was the clown of my own circus show of motherhood trying to juggle way too many balls in the air. Just as all the things that go up must come down, it all crashed around me. After a year I final spoke to a Dr. Though I believe part of my problem was post partum depression by the time I sought help my second daughter was well over a year old and they actually labeled my depression as a symptom to a thyroid disorder they found that I had.

But it was at that time when I was struggling the most with this motherhood thing that I started to write.  My expectations of myself, motherhood, and even life in general was at conflict with my realities. I had to separate and recognize the difference between those two or I was going to drown in despair in the trenches of motherhood, and that's where I started to write. I wasn’t going to ace everything or be perfect and flawless at everything. I was going to fail, I was going to fall down, people were going to be unhappy with me. I was going to struggle on this journey of motherhood, adulthood, and life in general at times and that was okay. I had to give myself permission for that to be okay.

When we become mothers we are remade. Motherhood I've come to see is the journey from the girl we were to the woman we become. We will never be the same person we were. We evolve and change as we adapt to this most important profound role of our lives. Sometimes we get a little lost on our way.  As I taught students by day as they navigated their own search for self journey through the trying years of adolescence I navigated my own journey at night through my writing as I searched for this new woman that I now was as a mother of two.

Here’s what I learned as I wrote away about the highs and lows of being a mom and balancing life. Searching for perfection is a falsehood that steals our joy. I love the internet and social media. We now have the “internet” to tell us all the ways we are doing this motherhood thing wrong, all the ways we aren’t “enough”, all the ways we need to change to be better. This was peer pressure was greater than I remember from the adolescent days of high school! It may seem like everyone is great at everything but really we’re all just great at different things. We each need to find our uniqueness as a mom and embrace it! I learned I was enough. You are enough. We must love ourselves on the good days and love ourselves even more on the hard days, ladies.

My sisters and I were athletes growing up and our Dad when we would get down on our capabilities to win a game would tell us to get out of our head. I still find that to be so true today in motherhood. Due to depression after the second and then two miscarriages leading up to my third child I have to remind myself of this often. Our doubt lives there and it waits for us to struggle or a threat of failure to taunt us, stealing our confidence. About six months after my third child, our son, was born I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office this time diagnosed with post partum depression.

Even though I have loved to write since I was a child I never dreamed writing about the journey of motherhood or parenting would be my writing platform, but it was the community that formed about my writing that keeps me here because we need each other. To  talk to other women about loving themselves, embracing their flaws, and finding the beauty in motherhood and life on the tough days is a great reason to keep writing which is why I love that Chicken Soup gave me the opportunity to write for them. Chicken Soup stands for community and togetherness. They promote not just accepting and loving one another but ourselves too.  The world desperately needs love right now. We need to love ourselves, love one another, love those that support us, and through all of that we will teach our children love and hopefully that will lead to a better future full of more love rather than hate.

 Three kids, two miscarriages, two depression episodes, yet a wonderful life of eight and half years into this parenthood thing I can stand here and yes validate for you that this is ridiculously hard. Some days I feel like all anyone notices-work, the husband, the kids-are all the things I’m doing wrong rather than any little thing I’m doing right.

But I can also validate for you that there is nothing better, more rewarding than this journey of motherhood we’re on right now. Their giggles, hugs, their own journeys and accomplishments will overwhelm our hearts. They are worth the hardships everyday. So for them we will stare down our failures, mistakes, and disappointments and not let them get the best of us. They give us more joy than we ever imagined possible. To watch our kids become their own people and see how they inspire us to be better each day is an amazing gift. They will inspire us but without our even realizing it we will inspire them too.

In this competitive digital era of mommy wars, pinterest wars, instagram and facebook highlight reels it's easy to get more bombarded with the criticism and self doubt than the unity we should have in this journey. But whether we’re the older mom that’s traveled these trenches of the early season of motherhood, the mom that gives so much of her time to the school and PTA, the mom juggling her career with kids, the fit or creative mom that throws herself into her passions and makes herself a priority despite it all there's something to admire in all of us. We are so dedicated to this role is so many different ways. We can recognize one another’s good deeds without it meaning any less of our own.

I find so many of you #momazing in life and motherhood so I challenge all of you to leave a note of encouragement and appreciation on another mom or woman's social media page and tell her why she's #momazing (don't forget the hash tag). Let her know she should continue to spread the #momazing love by doing the same to at least two other moms. We are as unique and as individual as mothers and women as our own children are from one another. We all bring something different to the story of motherhood. Allow yourself to inspire and be inspired by one another. Share the mom love and tell someone why she's #momazing!  

 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Didn't Get the Best Me

I had such high hopes and expectations for myself and this year when I headed back to work in August. Everything had finally fallen into place. Our family was finally complete with a little boy even, we were not only settled and financially stable from our move into a small town community to raise our kids but once again found ourselves some great people to call friends in our new small town family life, Nate and I had both just had our best years of our careers the year before. There for a bit it really was picture perfect, and I knew in that moment it was great.

This past week I probably had my most successful week of the past few months. I sent an essay off for another possible publication, I received my order of books for two upcoming book sale events including my first ever book signing, scheduled a screening interview for a possible job that would be so ideal, knocked out my deadline goals at work with a yearbook deadline and third quarter grades, received a decent write up from a drop in observation, had a student leave me a great thank you note, got outside four times this week to play with my kids, and got in four workouts. We leave in a week to go home- one of my most favorite places to go-and made reservations for a little side stop to add another state/stop to our US map of places visited. It was a successful week. I should feel good about it.

But I'm just flat. I'm not "feeling" it. The past few months have seriously kicked my butt. No one or nothing got the best me these past few months. Definitely not my job. My house-haha- my housekeeping obligations started getting the worst of me somewhere between the second and third kid. My kids probably more times than they should have probably did not get the best me. My husband definitely didn't get the best me as that poor guy has had to run at the bottom of my "list" for far too long though we did have a great weekend away in the Fall alone together. I didn't give anything the best me like I had had such high expectations to do months ago. Instead I think I reached a point where I let it all get the best OF me.

The job itself has been more stressful than ever for everyone in my school system it seems like. Teachers have been dropping out of the profession before the end of the year at a rate I've never seen. I have serious philosophical issues with what's been going on with policy changes in our system, and I have a really hard time "selling" something I don't believe in. 

On top of that in the last six months my grandfather passed away; I dealt with the craziest parent sleep deprivation I've ever experienced; I've had issues with my own health with a post partum depression breakdown that resulted from no sleep and overwhelming work stress, pneumonia, and now I have to have oral surgery in a few weeks to remove an infected tooth that's been leaving me in chronic pain since February; we were told Nate's job that he loves won't be there for him next year due to budget cuts; and we learned of my cousin's cancer diagnosis. I let it all get the best of me. Twice now I've come home with no energy and have just crashed, sleeping the afternoon away. That on top of just not feeling "right" even after a good past week has me thinking maybe it's just my thyroid again. It's messed with me pretty good before.  I'm running on "fake it until I make it" positivity right now.

Sometimes I tell myself maybe I need to just lower my own expectations of myself. But I also don't handle the unknown very well. I don't handle not having everything "in control" very well. I also don't handle things not going "my way" very well. I hate feeling like I failed or disappointed someone. I have a hard time letting those things go which I know I should but obviously I still have some personality/mindset issues to work on.

In a few days I get to leave town and spend 10 days with my little family and visit my family back home. Hopefully it's the "medicine" I need to clear my head, put the disappointment that this year wasn't what I had expected or hoped for behind me, let go of the frustrations that I can, and come back positive and hopeful for the challenges and good things ahead.



 

Friday, March 31, 2017

What "Collateral Beauty" Taught Me

Guest Post by Stepping into Fatherhood aka Nathan Glenn

My wife has been wanting me to write a guest post on this blog for a while now.  I hadn’t known what I wanted to write about until now.  I just watched a movie called “Collateral Beauty.”  Though it really didn’t get very good reviews, I feel that it was a very powerful movie.  In fact I don’t know how you could watch it and not have to wipe tears away from your eyes, especially if you have young children.

Without ruining this movie for you… this movie is about dealing with loss.  Specifically the loss of a young child.  Whenever I watch a movie like this I can’t help butt imagine what that must be like and I can feel the pain as I put myself in the characters' shoes.  It really got me thinking about how we live our lives…more specifically how we live our lives with our children. 

Especially with modern technology, too often we check out.  How many times are you present with your children?  I mean really present???  I got to thinking about this on a personal level and I know that too often, way too often, we are physically present with our children but checked out because we are on Facebook, watching TV, playing games on our phone, doing work, etc, which my wife and I are guilty of all at different moments. Time goes too fast for us to continue to do this and we know it's something we need to really consciously work on.
 The time we have with our children will never be again.  There is no rewind button in life.  We don’t want to miss those special moments because we were checked out on our phone. We can’t get them back again!  We do our best to enjoy our children and cherish every moment, but we both feel we could do better.   As is pointed out in the movie “tomorrow is not promised.”  I could not even imagine losing a child.  My children are my everything and I really don’t know how I would be able to go on. However, I do know that I can enjoy the beauty that my children bring into the world.    Every day my children, your children, bring beauty into this world simply by being in it.  Be it a laugh, a smile, a hug, a cuddle, or a thought there is something every day that is truly special.  Every day we get to spend with them is a gift! 

This also reminds me of something I often tell my wife when she complains about our girls crawling into our bed.  Cherish these moment because one of these days it will be the last of its kind.  The last time crawling into our bed to get snuggles, the last time needing us to do their hair, the last piggy back ride, the last bedtime story, the last, the last, the last.  We are going to miss these things when they are gone so we need to experience as many of these moments as possible.  We can’t do that when we are checked out doing other much less important things.
So from now on we're going to look up from our phone, put down our work, turn off the TV and enjoy what really matters in life… our children.  There is a saying that life is what happens while we are busy making other plans.   Our children love us, they look up to us, and they yearn for our attention.    One day the “mommy, daddy” moments will become less frequent and begin to disappear and I don’t know about anyone else but I'm going to miss these moments.

 
 
 
                                     The Hubby's other Stepping into Fatherhood Guest Post

                               How Marriage is Like Riding a Bike: also written by the Hubby

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It's Going To Be Okay

Shortly before we found out Lincoln was a boy I had a dream. It was the dream that not only told me he was a boy-which I didn't believe because I kept thinking we were having three girls- but that something wrong or troubling was coming but in the end it would be okay. As those of you that follow this story know not only was the dream correct in telling me he was indeed a boy but that he had heart tumors that first we had to worry could cause fetal death if hydrops developed, and then once he made it through the scariest part of the pregnancy  we had to worry that it was connected to a genetic disorder that would cause tumors to grow on his other organs and cause a variety of other problems for the rest of his life.  They told us he would have to go two years without any other tumors or evidence of the disorder appearing anywhere else on his organs before they would dismiss his case as a rare occurrence with multiple heart tumors that were not in connection to the disorder.

I still experienced a lot of crazy anxiety during that pregnancy but let me tell you that dream is what reassured me time and time again. I believed in it. After my miscarriages I prayed and prayed for something to reassure me about getting through a third pregnancy. Though I have had "visitation" dreams I had never experienced a dream of something in the future like this, and I haven't had one since.

Though I was confident months ago that he was going to be okay, I kept waiting to "experience" that moment in the dark nursery where I knew it was all okay. Though I would sit in that dark nursery rocking my baby boy many times, thinking how I knew in my heart he was okay, and would even ask myself was this possibly the moment I dreamed, it never "felt" like that moment.

Two weeks ago he went for his last EEG of this first year rotation. A couple days ago Kennedy Krieger called me to tell me once again that he was clear of any signs of seizure activity from brain tumors. And that he does not need to have any more EEGs! We're suppose to follow up with Kennedy Krieger this summer, and I'm not sure at this time if they'll have him undergo organ scans like he did at birth again or not. Either way I continue to be confident my baby boy is okay. Not only do I thank God for answering all of our prayers but for even answering the one to ease my anxiety in some way. That dream carried me through my pregnancy and beyond. I truly believed God sent me that dream.

Except then something happened the other night. My cousin that I grew up with was diagnosed two weeks ago with breast cancer at age 34. That has obviously weighed heavily on my mind now these past two weeks. Then one week later my older cousin (my sisters and I are the only other three girls on this side of the family tree)  received the news she also very possibly has cancer so now we are also waiting to hear her prognosis. My mind has been distracted and worrisome of late to say the least.

On Sunday night after we found out our water heater was leaking again for the fourth time in four years, I was tired from a quick weekend trip up north to see my husband's family, and it was almost an hour past my own bedtime, and my fighting daughters who should have also been in bed woke up the sleeping baby I was just ready for one of my own mommy meltdowns. So I grabbed that screaming baby out of his crib and sat there in that dark nursery to rock him. Of course my mind was still wondering if my cousin with the breast cancer had received her PET scan results yet because we were still anxiously waiting to make sure the cancer hadn't spread and it was contained. But as the quiet and peace finally settled around me in that dark nursey I told that sleeping baby, "You know it's all going to be okay. We're all going to be okay." Within moments I realized right then was the moment of my dream! But the "going to be okay" wasn't about my baby boy and his heart and this possible genetic order. It was about my cousin, my family, and this damn cancer. All this time I took the moment in that dream to be about the baby and his heart.

Was the dream meant to reassure me about him after all? Or was it meant to reassure me now? I don't know. But I do know this. I was meant to believe in it. Believe in it this whole past year when I thought it was meant for Lincoln. And believe in it now when I realized maybe it was meant for this moment with my cousin(s) and family. I've always felt that God talks to us and sends us messages if we believe and listen. He's there. We just have to believe and we have to look and listen. I'm listening and I believe. Thanks for always praying for us. We will continue to need them in the months ahead for my cousin as she begins chemo, for my one and only older cousin as she faces her own cancer path, for Lincoln as we hopefully continue working on ruling out this genetic disorder this summer and revisit his cardiologist in May to check on the hopeful continued shrinkage of the tumor he does have, and for all of us on this journey with the ones we love.

 
 
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