Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 to 2018

Whoever said the years go by faster the older you get didn't really lie; however, at times this year felt really long. 2016 ended pretty rough and that continued onto the first half of 2017, but the second half has looked better so hoping that carries over into 2018. With the end of each year I like to have these little logged posts to look back on the year and look ahead at the next.

Family: We've become more sold on three kids it is in 2017 than we were in 2016. Though my sister welcomed her fourth child here at the end of 2017, I haven't yet felt that baby fever. My past two pregnancies and post partum periods were rough of me physically and mentally so first, I'm wimping out. Two, we have our hands full. With no family around for help and three of them outnumbering us I think we better keep the number manageable or we'll be in WAY over our heads instead of just over our heads! Third, money- it's expensive with three as it is with the activities, the meals out all the time between the traveling and activities, and we're trying to save a little bit of money to help them each with college, and there's our own retirement goals too which I'll talk about in a minute so the Glenns are staying a family of 5.

The girls will sometimes ask me what I use to wish for as a child when it came to wanting kids. I'm sure my sisters and I weren't the only little girls that would play house and imagine our future children. I imagined two boys and then a little sister, but I always tell the girls God knew better than me what I wanted because he gave me exactly what I didn't know I really truly wanted. I love raising sisters and two girls after growing up with sisters myself and then leaving my sisters halfway across the country. I love that they're the first two and close in age. Then there's baby boy, which that is the boy that will forever now have my heart. There really is something magical about a momma and her baby boy. And thank God I have the two girls to help out with him. They adore him and he loves his big sisters, but that one is my wild, handful one. We call him the Tasmanian Devil.

As for the rest of our family outside of us five, we still do our best to get around to see our extended family, but unfortunately, I think I'm starting to see the truth of what my mom said so many years ago. Between the two of us we still have most of our grandparents so we do our best to get around to see them and for the kids to know their great grandparents. But the kids are getting older, they're getting busier; we're getting older, we're getting worn out. We're getting more and more settled in our lives and our ways. We did a pretty good job getting around in 2017 but it's looking like in 2018 that number will be cut in half. But our parents and siblings know where we live so maybe we'll see them out our way instead for a change.

Travel: Travel is always a yearly goal for me.  My ultimate goal is to visit all 50 states before I'm 50 and hopefully include my kids on visiting the 48 mainland states. Then after my I've covered the country we can spend our retirement hitting our most favorite places and traveling overseas. This year we added Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Louisana to mine and Nate's list to bring him to 27 and me to 26, though there are a different three for two of mine that he has visited. We took the kids to Delaware so the girls could hit states #18 and #19 for them. I have fourteen more years to hit 24 more states so I need to knock out about two new ones a year!

The only new state on the list for 2018 at this time is the UP of Michigan for the Fourth of July. My husband and I did thoroughly enjoy our little getaways to Hawaii and New Orleans this past year though so if I can find the money and time I'd love to squeeze in a little getaway to somewhere new for us too, but right now I don't see that anywhere except maybe a return trip to the Finger Lakes of New York. After traveling every single month except one in 2017 though I'm actually looking forward to three months- possibly longer- of just being at home too though! We may go up to New York City again for our very short spring break the end of March/first of April and right now that looks like our first trip of 2018.  We'll go up to my husband's family in May for a  wedding and hoping to do a long camping trip in PA with friends Memorial weekend- which we need to get on planning. Then after school lets out it'll be west to MO to see my family and then we'll end that trip in Michigan with our friends from Baltimore. Though we hope to do a beach trip in August it'll probably be to a beach we've been to and possibly one as close as OC, MD. Fall is usually our slowest time of the year for travel but I'll probably try to get out to my family's with the kids sometime between Oct and January and we'll hit PA again around the holidays. We have been tossing around doing Christmas in Disney because we have our timeshare available to use and with no spring breaks anymore to go down there we're considering going in Dec, but we'll have to decide that here in a few months.

Health: This category has definitely had some highs and lows in 2017. The end of 2015 was when we first learned of my son's heart tumors and what all that could entail, but by 2016 that was all looking pretty hopeful and that has continued throughout 2017 so thank God for answered prayers! He's doing great and though we still have to follow up with his heart because the one tumor is still there, his health has been fantastic otherwise.

The big health kicker of 2017 was my cousin's breast cancer diagnosis. March 2017 had us all a little freaked and worried, but by August 2017 she was on her road to recovery and now as we wrap up 2017 we're excited to celebrate not only Christmas next week but that she beat cancer.

After dealing with pregnancy health issues between my second and third with a thyroid disorder (did you know that can be triggered by pregnancy?) that resulted in my first major depression episode and then two miscarriages, that was then followed up with the worrisome pregnancy of baby boy, and then the PPD that followed him while we followed up with all of his medical testing after birth I put off following up what was going on with my hearing loss which I noticed back in Dec of 2013. This summer I finally went to an ENT, had a CT scan, and invested in hearing "helpers", but I am just now coming to the realization of how bad my hearing has become, that it's a lifelong prognosis (a genetic condition that was also worsened by pregnancy?!?!) , and that I could very possibly have profound hearing loss (one step below being deaf) before I'm 40. There's lots I have to sort out in 2018 about how bad is it really going to get, what are my options for repairing or restoring as much of it as possible (the "helpers" do help but it's not a 100% fix by any means), and what's all this mean for me in my personal and professional life and what action do I need to be taking to adapt. I go back to my ENT in February so now that I'm not so focused on my concerns with baby boy, I will probably use 2018 to figure out what to do about this new little health obstacle of my own.

Career: If you've followed my story much in the past year you know last year I was so ready to throw in the towel on education. This year is going much better, but now with my hearing issue I'm more convinced than ever that I'm not going to make 30 years in education. As I learn more about what all this hearing loss entails for my future I've already started researching my financial options in regards to leaving teaching. There looks like a possibility I could have a case for early retirement, and if my hearing is going to get much worse I am financially better off to stay in teaching for now and take the pension cut of retiring 10 years early than leaving teaching in the next year or so.  I have six years to go until I reach 20 years so right now mentally and physically with my hearing I'm hoping I can make those six more years.

Though obviously if I retire at 20 years verse 30 I'm going to collect a significant amount less for the reminder of my life, but at the same time if I can leave teaching, collect early retirement, and go do something else for 20 years that isn't so dependent on having good hearing I think I'll be okay with that as long as I can set aside more retirement funds to collect on when I'm 62. Though I've tossed around a ton of different career changer ideas from working with new moms to owning our own business I've learned life passes fast enough and whatever is next will be here before I know it anyway and I'll take it as it comes. Life has a funny way of working itself out.

My husband and I have a hard time seeing eye to eye when it comes to financial planning so I've realized in the past year it's best not to make my future professional or even retirement plans dependent on him. His shouldn't be dependent on me either. Our problem is we're too first born children set in our independent, our way is the only way mentality, and we split our finances about five years ago. Some will judge and criticize for that, but I'm too controlling and too much of planner and he's a spender. With this set up I can focus on my way of doing things- saving money and paying things off so hopefully if I'm leaving my career at 20 years I can carry my financial weight (with my 20 year pension and other job)  and he can plan and carry his however he sees fit to do so in whether he wants to go the business route one day or not and as for when he hopes to hang up his hat on education. For now I'm just tacking on each additional year in education that I can, and praying I can get a couple more good years like this one to keep me sane enough to keep going until I can hang up my teaching hat.

Writing: Though I am still a starving artist in the writing world, I did make money every month but four with my writing this past year so that is a new record for me, considering how sporadic I am in seeking paid publications. I did sell several essays, sold over a 100 books, and even made a bit of income from some great product reviews. Writing for a business is something that is really hard to stay consistent with and I'm constantly at a battle with myself of whether to push and pursue more from it or just do it when I want to do it and what gets accepted for publication gets accepted and what money I make is just nice little extra dinner out or vacation dollars when it comes in. I write for a niche that is overflowing with very talented writers so it's hard to get seen and break through the pile to get published at times. But I love the connection and relationships it's allowed me to build, and writing has been a passion of mine since I was ten years old so all of this writing with its rejections and acceptances has really helped me grow as a writer. One of my biggest dreams as a little girl besides traveling the country and world and my envisioned perfect little family (they're almost perfect :) ) was to be published one day. Whether it's completing two of my own book projects with editors to publish them or getting accepted for publication with online and well known print books like Chicken Soup for the Soul I've reached my goal. I also have "readers"- people that find something to connect and relate to in what I have to say.

But as I'm learning our goals and dreams are always evolving and my desire to write a novel is returning. I still "feel" like that's something in the distant future, but I also feel like when I do it I need to cut myself off from the digital world. Though I don't quite feel the need to wander into the woods like Thoreau I do feel like when the time comes to really tap into the depths of what I want to write I'd get my best work out of isolation. Again I feel like that's a ways away, but it never fails that whenever I start to feel the need to write on here less it's after I just put in months of growing my traffic and connections. I feel like I constantly take a few steps back for every step forward.

I don't really know what to expect of my writing goals for 2018. I've considered taking a writing course with the Disney Babble writer that edited my Letters to a Daughter book and working with her to pursue bigger publications in 2018, but I've also considered stepping back from the blog for a bit. I do know when I've been  drawn to writing these past five years it's had little do with seeking publication or making money- it's always been about my need to come here to my sanctuary so to speak when I need the help navigating life. So who knows what will be the situation with my writing in 2018.

Fitness: In April of 2016 I wanted to get back in the habit of working out 3-5 times a week on a regular basis again. I think once I started in April after Linc was born I missed four weeks for the rest of 2016. If I can stay on track this week and next then I will have also missed four weeks for the whole year of 2017. However, around this time last year I was down 22 lbs. I'm now about five lbs from gaining all of that back! Food, people, food! It's all in what we eat. I maybe kept up with the regular exercise but I totally slacked starting about last April with food. When I started watching what I ate the year before it wasn't even like I did anything too crazy. I cut way back on my sugar. I quit drinking soda so much. In fact we rarely even buy soda for the house anymore. I was much more self conscious of what sweets I was eating. Between that and when I first started I was doing 21DF about three times a week and then the past few months it's mostly been 2-3 mile walks or on the ellipitical so those things don't quite have the same calorie burning potential as 21 DF. But I'm getting 21DF extreme in the new year so I'm hoping with a new workout program and cutting back on my sugar I can at least go back to making some headway. But even still, I'm happy with  sticking to the consistency of working out 3 times a week now for going on almost two years! Weight loss or gain it's such a great mental outlet/cleanse for me, and I definitely need it.

Future goals: So what are my future goals for 2018. Well, not sure if you're as unsure what my goals are from reading this as I am from writing it. I've been a goal oriented, list checker, over planner probably my whole life. As the mid point of my life is quickly catching me, I think my greatest goal for 2018 is to just be. Just be happy with where I'm at without stressing too much about what's around the next corner on this road of life. Just be present more with my family and take a step back from moving through life so quickly. Just be content with who I am- as a mom, as teacher, as a writer, as a woman in whatever size that happens to be.  Just be me and embrace the me I am in all my imperfections, flaws, and silly quirks. Laugh more, yell less. Find the joy, ignore the mess. Forgive others transgressions of the past, and remember more how I'm blessed.

Thanks for reading in 2017 and wishing you the very best in 2018!

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Christmas Contradiction

One minute I love Christmas and the next I'm just like "is it over yet?"

I get excited about coming up with meaningful sentimental photo gifts (it's kind of my gift thing) or getting someone something big off their wish list. But then I get moody and grumpy that my bank account is dwindling down and that I never stick to the budget I saved to spend on gifts. 

I  want to buy up all the different pretty varietys of wrapping paper that fills the aisles at the store.
But then I get sooooo tired of wrapping gifts in said pretty wrapping paper I just let the six year old wrap it and pretty kind of goes out the window.

I love the pretty decorated Christmas tree in the window. But then I dread the work of taking it all down and starting at it dying in my backyard waiting to be burned to ash in the spring.

It's so busy with the parties and Christmas events to attend; the to do list with baking, shopping, wrapping, and traveling just gets overwhelming after awhile so I'm just ready for it to be over to start my hibernation the slower life of winter that follows after the holidays.

But then I remember Christmas with small children really is magical though and each year I feel like I need to do all these magical Christmas things right now because there are only so many Christmases where they're little enough to be awed by the magic of Christmas so then I don't want Christmas to ever end.

What are your thoughts on Christmas? Not a fan? Over the moon for it? Or have a love/hate relationship with it?

Be sure to check out my latest essay on Perfection Pending.

Need any last minute holiday gifts check out my Letters to a Daughter.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Joyful Thanks

Around and around the hands of time seem to go faster and faster. I try to slow the passage of time with photo after photo and journal after journal of the endless moments that fill me with a joy and awe that at times is beyond anything I imagined possible because to be here living this life with you really is the happiest of dreams come true.

This life is chaotic and overwhelming and as much as I may think I want to slow the hands of time, I swear we're running the time up faster and faster as we move from one thing to the next. I take the pictures; I record our life stories here. I don't want any of us to forget the highs and lows of this  journey together the five of us have embarked upon.

There's always rough moments in this life- in any life- whether it's the paycheck to paycheck stage, whether it's a house and all its needed work-desired or undesired-, there are health scares and struggles that leave you in a desperate fear for the ones you love, there are disagreements with the ones you love, there are struggles with how to do right for your kids, there's the stress of your job or career. It all adds up to a lot of sweat, tears, and sleepless nights.

But at the end of the day-the good and the bad- there's always gratitude in my heart that this is the life God chose for me. Life likes to knock us around and at times is quite on the mission to steal our joy. I'll be the first to admit I let it steal mine. When the job is harder than hard, when the money in the bank account seems to be running low, when our own health or the health of those we love is threatened, and quite honestly when it just feels like things aren't going my way I let my anger and quick temper take over.

There always seems to be the question of uncertainty hanging around with what's around the next corner in life whether it's health, finances, career, or just life in general, but I'm learning to be content in the now. Right here, right now with my little family of five just living the ordinary, not really sure what's around the next corner but content to be where we are at that moment, is a great place to be.

Wishing you a blessed and joyful holiday season from our family to yours!


Sunday, November 26, 2017

The How and the Why

The pile of suitcases use to give me the thrill of adventure ahead; now they taunt me with the amount of work ahead to get five people packed and loaded to make a trip. As much as I dread the packing, I know my husband also dreads the six to sixteen hours ahead driving across country. I'm sure sometimes he thinks he'd rather poke himself in the eye with sixteen needles rather than endure one more hour in the car. Can't say that I really blame him.

With each kid and each passing year the road trips home to see grandparents and aunts and uncles seem to become more and more work. Yet over the years the number of trips made seem to go up rather than down more years than not.

The summers come, the holidays come, the wedding dates, the big birthdays, the momental anniversaries and we load up those suitcases, we strap everyone in, we empty the bank account on gas and countless dinners out and hotel stays. We take to the roads driving through blinding sun, pouring rain, snow and ice,  adding miles beyond miles in cars that don't last us much more than five years with all the miles we put on them.

We now face the tears of constantly saying good bye. There's usually barely a day, sometimes only a few hours, to unload and unpack before launching back into a full work week.

There are always reasons and excuses to not pack it up and go, and to say they don't cross our mind most trips would be a lie. But then we remember the reasons to go.

1. The lifelong relationships they're building with grandparents, aunts and uncles,  and cousins despite the distance.

2. A cornerstone of the foundation of their childhood we're building with our dedication to spend time together as a family and with the rest of our families.

3. The countless memories that will fill their childhood memory box.

4. The gift of time- time with us, time with grandparents that one day won't be here, time with cousins that will grow up one day.

5. Live, laugh, and love- all three are out there on that open road from one destination to the next where we live in the adventures we seek and in the moments with the ones we love. Laughter echos inside that closed little space of the car and in the family gathered around the table celebrating whatever in life is worth celebrating at that moment. Love is there in that car, in those hotel pools, it's there with the family that only gets to see them every so often. It is everywhere around them, and the greatest thing is they know it and they know it well.

There s always the question of how and why we do it. Sometimes the how is not pretty- it's sometimes the grumpy parents, over exhausted kids,  occasional disaster mishap of getting from one destination to the next but the why- the why- is the beautiful reason and why we won't stop anytime soon.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Shattered Glass

Image provided by I Pin Image
The pieces lie there shattered at her feet. Broken glass split her image into tiny reflected pieces , distorting where one part of her ends and another begins. She bends down to begin to gather the broken shards as tears slip down her face as she doubts whether it can be put back together to the wonderful image it once was.

Even if she could piece all the pieces back together again, there would be no way now to hide the cracks of imperfection in it's forever altered image. As she set about putting the pieces back together, she began to notice how the light from the other side blazed through the cracks, giving the shattered glass a new look of wonder and beauty.

She stared  at the broken expression starting back at her in the cracked glass. Her recent darkest truths to herself left her feeling shattered in a million pieces like this broken glass. The truth of her realities shattered her sense of self, breaking her down to the truths she avoided seeing for so long.

But just as that broken glass pieced back together into a new flawed version of its original beauty maybe there was a light and beauty to be found in putting back the pieces of herself to create a new image, constructed of the shards of who she use to be.

Just as there was no way to hide the cracks in the glued back together glass, her cracks as well would remain there for others to see. But maybe in displaying her truths and flaws a new beauty and light would be lit to empower and inspire.  Maybe there would be beauty to be found in her shattered hard truths too just as there was in the shattered glass at her feet.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Join Us for Our Online Mompreneur Shopping Expo

With our modern day social media age an opportunity has been created for moms to build more financial freedom for their families from the comfort of their own homes while they tend to the needs of the household and their children.

Some do this as their only source of income and others do it as an additional income, but either way there are a lot of mom boss ladies out there. I really wanted to be able to support them this holiday shopping season so I'm hoping to do that two ways: one in hosting an online shopping event for others to support their business and two I plan on doing some of my Christmas shopping with them. I also plan to tag my husband with all the things I want him to get me from them as well!

This holiday season next weekend, November 17-19, nine of us will be running sales and specials at our online facebook event here . It's a public event so anyone can come join us and shop. Husbands are very welcome so let them know you might be tagging them with things you'd like for Christmas. But if you're an early shopper or just not very active on facebook or hate getting all the notifications- which we're going to try to minimize by having a set schedule of who posts when so you're NOT hit with 10 notifications an hour all weekend - I have linked below all of our vendors and their sales pages so you can start shopping right now if you'd like or just come back to this blog post during or even after the event to do some shopping. The only thing is there may be certain sales that only run the weekend of the event, but as you know sales tend to run all the time; they just change date by date so happy shopping whether it's now, at our event, or even in the weeks after the event if you're a late holiday shopper.

Now to introduce our vendors:

Myself- I am Angela Williams Glenn, author of Letters to a Daughter - an interactive journal between a mother and her daughter with thirty two mini inspirational essays to inspire conversation between mothers and daughters. No matter what age mothers begin the journal with their daughter, whether she’s young or grown, it will be gift daughters will treasure, as a mother’s words of wisdom will forever be logged here for her daughter to cherish for the rest of her life. You can get the journal for $11.89  right now with checkout code LULU15.

I am also the writer of Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas- a book that examines the perceptions and expectations of motherhood in our 21st Century digital world. Each mother walks her own path with her children.  This book 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. You can get this book for $6.80  now with checkout code LULU15.

Also feel free to join our free facebook community to get daily bits of humor and inspiration in your facebook feed. I am also published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul books for moms, and these as well make great gifts for the teachers and daycare providers in your life so feel free to contact me at about purchasing those directly through me.

Leslea McKillip with Lipsense:

I'm  your Lipsense lady!! Have you heard about Lipsense or senegence cosmetics?!?  I have never been a huge makeup person until about a year ago! I got a couple of tubes of this Lipsense stuff and BAM!! I was hooked. My lips have never felt so amazing!! Choose a color or two and a gloss and you are good to go!! Check out for more details, but please order through me at for the best service!! Thanks so much!

Tammy Gragg with Young Living Essential Oils:

 I am with Young Living Essential Oils. Did you know that Essential oils support all 12 systems in our body! They are used for hormonal, sleep, and emotional support as well!! I use them for cleaning, in my skin products, and my laundry!! Essential Oils are the most powerful part of the plant. I encourage anyone to research the benefits of essential oils!! They are sooo versatile and amazing!!! I have an Educational Facebook Live class once a month that is completely free to attend that explains the benefits and uses of the oils! Please message me, Tammy Williams Gragg to be added to the event! Young Living offers Membership or Retail Option! Here is my link to check out these fantastic oils! Please message at with any questions!!

Erin Staponski with LuLaRoe: I have been with LuLaRoe since 2016. I love to help women feel good in the clothes they wear and life is too short to wear boring clothes. Join my facebook group to catch the latest styles and deals this holiday season and into the new year.

Tara Simpkins with Thirty One
 I will be your Thirty-One Consultant for this shopping expo! If you are not familiar with Thirty-One Gifts, here is a little bit of info! We offer a wide variety of "giftable" products including signature purses, jewelry, totes, and other organizing solutions that help organize your life! Each season we develop new products built on the idea that our products must be functional, fashionable, and make great gifts! We offer our customers unique opportunities to personalize many of our products by adding icons, words, initials and phrases through embroidery, print, and laser etching! The name Thirty-One comes from verses of Proverbs 31. I specialize in helping you find the products that make you happy, help organize your life, and help with finding the perfect gift for that special someone!
Please feel free to browse my site and let me know if I can be of any assistance to you and your shopping needs!   


Jessica Ballenger Hoyle with Scentsy:

Check out my website but contact me directly at to order. I always can offer the best deal on shipping and our products.  

Holly Simpkins with Paparazzi Accessories:

Hi, my name is Holly Simpkins and I am a Paparazzi Consultant. I started out as a customer who was buying jewelry then realized how addicting it was and also realized I could sign up and sell it to others who could and would also love it too. I absolutely love the products that are available and love the fact that there is always new items coming out 5 days a week therefore allowing there to be NO catalogs. Its only available through consultants like myself so please it would be my privilege to be your jewelry lady.

Paparazzi Accessories are trendy, affordable and for all ages including the men in your lives. Also this month only being customer appreciation month, when you shop my online website and spend $35 or more you'll receive a FREE piece


Sandia Pantano with Sandia Pantano Imaging and Photography:

I'm Sandia Pantano, a wife, mommy, OB/GYN Ultrasound Technologist, 3D4DUltrasound Imaging Technologist and Photographer! My love and passion for Newborn and Maternity and Childbirth Photography stems from my past/current field of Ultrasound technology in OB  and 3D4D Imaging. I believe that both require a special eye and passion for and without either, it would not work and because I am a seasoned ultrasound tech of over 10 years I feel very comfortable  working with Maternity and Newborn family/clients! It's what I do everyday! I love having the privilege to work with maternity, family, newborn clients to provide them with precious moments,  captured and frozen in time to cherish for a lifetime.  It's a win win for me all around, especially when some of my patients I see  turn out to be my clients! So its  literally "Photography from the womb and beyond" for some of my patients and I just LOVE it! I am in the Baltimore/DC area  contact me @ 703-581-2044 to set up your holiday mini session appointment for only $65 or "like" my facebook page to enter the holiday mini session giveaway for a free holiday shoot.  

Sarah Ryan with Pampered Chef: I’m Sarah, your Pampered Chef Consultant. After 7 years with PC I’ve learned something really important... everyone eats 😂! Grab great gifts for the bakers, coffee drinkers, pizza lovers, health nuts, wine enthusiasts, experienced and inexperienced cooks, busy mamas, manly men and even the kids in your life right here.  I'm looking forward to helping you find the perfect Pampered Chef gifts and maybe a little something for you too!  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Stepping into Motherhood Community

One of the greatest roles my dad played in life was coach. He LOVED it. For fifteen years my dad coached probably well over two dozen different girls from their little girl years on the t ball field to their late adolescent years on the softball diamond. He didn't make a buck from this work, but man you knew he loved it. And he was good at it; not so much because we did win more games than we lost, including bringing home some nice hardware from more tournaments than we could count (though he could probably give you the exact number), but he was  good at it because of the way he had about talking to us girls and he just had a way about teaching you about more than just the game.

To some people that's what they remember about my dad- that he was a coach-not what he did to actually make money. Sometimes the things we do and what we're known for isn't connected to the life's occupation we choose to make our money. Our greatest accomplishments aren't always connected to our careers or paying work. In fact, the things we're probably the most passionate about and that have the biggest influence on others is probably something we don't make much, if any, money for.

I've always wanted to be a writer. My mom says since I was in the second grade, and it really was from about as far back as I can remember. Though I've ventured out with sharing my writing five years ago now, I still avoid really "talking" about my writing in person because in the writing world it seems if you're not making boo koo dollars and known by more than your small circle of readers then are you really a writer? This is where I often come back to the example with my dad. No, I am not some rich and famous author.

The thing about modern technology is it allows me to do something I love and connect with moms and readers. I am for the most part a little unknown writer. Though Chicken Soup for the Soup tells us publishing with them makes us a published author, and today's modern world has opened a door for independent authors, I still see myself as a writer, a published writer, but a writer more so than an author. I once read where a writer is something you are; whereas, an author is more a label for an occupation that provides you income. I was a writer as an eight year old kid and now I'm still a writer at 36 years old but with more than two readers these days. I have gotten to work with publishers like Chicken Soup for the Soul and I did work with Disney's Babble top writer on my Letters to a Daughter (who does make six figures writing essays for moms so maybe if I dream big enough maybe one day I'll be her :) ), and those were neat, growing experiences for me as a writer but I'm still just a writer and I'm okay with that.

So I'm not making boo koo dollars from this passion of mine, but I LOVE the connection and community with moms that have resulted from my little passion and that is worth way more than any kind of dollars. I've made most of my income from selling the four books I'm a part of, the second place my income has come from is what editors have paid me to publish something I've wrote, and the last two sources of income I've made has come from ads on my websites and product reviews. Because I'm not here to get rich and retire early, when I first started making any money from my work back in 2014 I wanted to use it to donate so here's the breakdown of how that's gone so far.

The Stepping into Motherhood community- and I say the community because without them I wouldn't sell books to make money, I wouldn't get enough reads to qualify for payment for the articles I have published on other sites, and I wouldn't aquire more readers that possibly buy books themselves or read and share the articles I get paid for- has raised enough money in 2014 and 2017 (I only blogged and didn't publish work for profit in 2015 and 2016)  to donate $75 to a childhood cancer non profit organization, buy a few gifts for an adopt a child one Christmas, $50 to a local elementary school, and now $50 to help a fellow community mom in need. Again I say this is a Stepping into Motherhood effort as it is writing income gained from readers that has led to these donations so thank you for being a part of the community.

I really wanted to use Letters to a Daughter money to help two moms in the Stepping into Motherhood community as they have encountered some of the toughest battles any of us moms could imagine this past year with breast cancer and having a stillborn death. I closed up October's book sales yesterday. I didn't get the initial sales I hoped for, but I think with the holidays coming around there will be more. We were able to raise the first $50 donation for one of the moms of the  Stepping into Motherhood community with the sales these last two weeks of October. I'm hoping with November sales I'll be able to sell enough books to make a $50 donation to the second mom in our community that could use a little help.

Both of these moms currently have GoFund pages at Doty Memorial Fund  and Taking on Cancer with Leslea too if you'd like to make a donation or share them on your personal pages. With the end of October though I've sold over 150 books and if I can hopefully sell out all the ones I have in stock currently I'll reach almost 200 sold books and definitely have the $50 to donate to the second mom of our Stepping into Motherhood community.

If you would like to support my writing and the Stepping into Motherhood moms, you can purchase a copy of Letters to a Daughter here or check out my independent author bookstore. If you're interested in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book contact me at You can also email me at for a discount on three or more copies of Letters to a Daughter or to package any of the four books I'm a part of together.

As always, thanks to my readers, because it is way more fun being a writer with readers than one with no readers!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Girl Mom to Boy Mom: Trucks, Balls, Pensises- Oh My!

"You don't have any brothers, do you?" the pediatrician asked in response to my question about my son's penis.

Nope. I was raised with all sisters. I'd been raising sisters for the past eight and half years until 18 months ago, so yeah, I know very little about penises and everything else around it. My experience up until 18 months ago was very limited in the world of miniature males. But in case my mom may read this I knew absolutely nothing about penises period until at least 18! On second thought, if my dad reads this, I was at least 25! No knowledge of male anatomy! So this boy mom world is a whole new eye awakening experience for me.

What a crazy world it is, too! They're so......different. They're rough, they don't sit still, there's a bit of this untamable, wild spirit about them. The thing is mine is sweet. He's not a get mad and hit you kind of kid; he's a pretty happy kid most of the time. But he'll playfully head butt you because he thinks it's the same as nuzzling you nose to nose. Never had a biter but this one thinks nothing of walking up to one of us and affectionately biting us in the back of the leg or the butt- whatever he can reach- he's not picky. I can be sitting down and he'll jump on my back and have me in a headlock, ready to wrestle me to the floor if he was just a little bigger. All of this in the expression of showing me how much he loves me, not ever because he's mad or angry.

This boy loves his trucks and balls- the sports balls! He'll launch those balls across the room right at you and ram those trucks right into your ankles like he's trying to bulldoze you right over. Silence means trouble is no joke with this guy. He covered our basement in small piles of cat food all over the basement the other day, and  you should never leave a boy alone for long or who knows what they'll destroy. This little guy doesn't mess around either when he tries to take things apart. He got out his dad real screwdriver and was attempting to unscrew the vent to our heater the other day. He's going to be a real fixer upper one day. Let's just hope he doesn't tear down the house in the meantime.

But there is a special sweetness about a momma's boy. He loves to cuddle and rock with his momma at the end of the day. I don't know whether it's because he's the baby or he 's boy but he's a bit needier than the girls when it comes to needing soothed back to sleep though. My husband reminded me the other day that I give him a hard time for babying and giving in to the girls after I once again gave into the poor little guy. But his sisters left him behind and it just broke his poor little heart so I just had to come to the rescue. Those baby boys really do grab at their momma's hearts.

Then, yes, there is the whole penis thing. Why are they so fascinated with it?  They are quite proud of it. Always wanting to touch it. Have to make sure it didn't go anywhere I guess. Apparently there's great pride in being able to stand up to pee too. With this big ole smirk on his face the other day he proudly stands up in the tub just to watch his pee arch back into the bathtub beside where his sister is playing. He thought it was cool; us girls not so much.

This raising a boy thing is a whole new world for sure! I can't wait to see what the years ahead are like because I'm sure this one will keep us on our toes. Look at him though- a little rough, wild, and rambunctious but how could a momma not give this face whatever he wants !

                          Check out my bookstore to get your copy of my newest journal book between mothers and daughters, Letters to a Daughter

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Strength and Power within Her

I have watched some women's amazing stories unfold through my connection with them whether it's been women I've known most of my life, that I've connected with through motherhood or here online, or women I've met through work. I think we underestimate the incredible strength of the woman; I think we underestimate our own strength.

I've watched these women move on from the heartbreak of their love moving on without them to building themselves a life of independence and a fulfilling career in politics, I've watched another realize life is too short to wait on your dreams after the passing of a dear cousin to successfully pursue her dream photography business, I've watched another battle breast cancer with three small children at home and a classroom of little six year olds that she was there for without hardly missing a beat. I've listened to the stories of others that have confided in me the heartache of multiple loss pregnancies but you would never know in the way they bravely carried on or courageously stepped forward to share their stories to help others. I've watched friends my own age say good bye to their parents at their untimely young deaths, yet despite their pain and grief they beautifully told the stories that would keep their parents' legacy alive for others that loved them and their own children . The stories of a woman's bravery and courage could go on for each of us.

These things have the power to break us down. For a bit maybe they do, but I've watched her- very possibly you- gather up those broken down pieces and put them back together into a new even more beautiful masterpiece than you were. Yes the cracks-the scars- are there but they just allow for the power of light within us to shine through now and reach out to the others that may now be empowered and inspired by our stories. It is in those crumbling moments when we've been broken down that we find we are stronger than we ever believed. It is in the moments we rise up, we overcome, and we carry those scars boldly that we tell the story of the power and strength of a woman for ourselves, for those that know us, and for those little girls that watch us.

We don't owe anybody our stories. For those that have bravely shared theirs I am forever grateful because I know the vulnerability in sharing our struggles. I do believe there is empowerment in our struggles. Whatever your struggles may be I hope you've found you are strong and there is bravery in how you carry on.

But it was these stories I've been honored to hear and watch and the awe inspiring strength of the women I know that truly inspired my Letters to a Daughter. No one has to know our stories but if we could bravely share them with our daughters they too can hopefully be inspired and empowered in overcoming the struggles they will face as they navigate broken hearts, chasing career ambitions and their dreams, overcoming the loss of loved ones and pregnancies, and in facing illnesses and battles that will try to hinder their momentum forward in life.

"May we know strong women, may we be strong women, and may we raise strong women," mommas!

My Letters to a Daughter is 25% off this week with coupon code LULU25 at checkout. Daughters, whether younger or older, will love this keepsake of your written stories that you choose to share with them.

                                     Photo credit Sandia Pantano Imaging and Photography

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review of the Ha-Ha Joke Coloring Book

My girls at 8 and almost 6 love to color. I'm always trying to find new color workbooks for them for our long road trips. Even though regular old color books work well, I like to try to find them things that are more interactive and different to give them some variety on those long evening drives like we have coming up this next week.

This week just in time for our trip we received the HAHA Color-Me Joke Book in the mail. My girls love attempting to tell jokes. I say attempting because usually they forget the punch line, and my husband and I are just left staring at them with this confused look on our faces before we force ourselves to laugh and then we laugh for real because their joke telling was so bad.

But with the HAHA Color-Me Joke Book they can actually read us the correct punch lines so we don't have to fake laugh for them. Not only are there 28 actual jokes they'll be able to read and maybe actually remember the correct punch line for but there's a picture for them to color with each joke. I'm sure on our upcoming trip my husband and I will probably even have the jokes memorized ourselves as they read them to us multiple times on the way up and back. There are also several pages in the back of the book for them to attempt to write their own jokes! And a few jokes with no pictures to color where they can draw the image  themselves to go with the joke.

The girls are excited to take them on our upcoming trip and I love that it will have them reading, coloring, drawing, and writing all in one book! These would make great birthday party favor gifts or inexpensive Christmas gifts for the littles on your list.

You can order your copy here for $9.99. For every book sold the author Neesha Mirchandani will be donating a free copy to a child in need.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month: We Won't Forget

I knew as I awakened in the dark silence of the night that the baby was gone. I could feel my body physically rejecting its presence, but the ache in my heart at the confirmation that my fear this baby would be lost too, would last long past the physical pains and discomforts.

I cried silent tears in the night at what was lost. I'd have to tell my daughters that we lost another baby again. They would be sad in the moment, but they wouldn't mourn the baby's loss on the monumental dates ahead that would have marked the baby's growth.  They'd never think of April as the month we would have learned if it was a boy or girl or that in August it would have been the baby’s birth date. The knowledge of those moments, as well as this one, the date the baby's short existence ended, are a burden a mother alone carries.

I will go about my days as if nothing is amiss while I quietly mourn what was not meant to be. Some will know and understand my loss while others may wonder how I can miss someone I never met. But a mother begins to sense and connect with her baby shortly after conception. I knew you, my baby, though I never saw your face, and it was only for a few short months. I imagined our future together that will now never be more than a lost dream. I will join the ranks of those women that mourn babies they never got to meet.

Though there may be more babies that follow- a rainbow baby they call it- for me to love, a mother never forgets the babies she has lost. I will often wonder what you would have been like. How you would have fit into the dynamics of our family and the relationship you would have had with your siblings? Few will ever even know of your existence but know your short little time with me left a lasting impression on me, and I will never forget you, my sweet angel baby that was never meant to be a part of this world.

Check out my recent essay on post partum depression here.
Join our online facebook book launch of my new Letters to a Daughter here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

It's About the Relationship

At Christmas I gave my oldest daughter a journal book for us to write to one another back and forth in and I will probably start this tradition with my second daughter next Christmas. My hope is this is something we continue through their teenage years. At only eight years old I can already see both hers and my emotions getting in the way of being able to effectively communicate with one another at times. I want this journal to be a place where we can go after our emotions cool to reopen the door of communication between us.

We're only a few months into this third grade thing and I can already tell we've turned a corner here. A fellow mom of a now fourth grader warned me third grade was a big transition year. As Ave and I have talked about how school is getting much more intense with more homework, actual letter grades and so many tests it seems like, and more competitive sports, I've mentioned how this is just the beginning of things getting harder.

It makes me sad on one hand to think that already the easiest part of her childhood is already over. I know as she's stepped up onto the more competitive soccer field she's struggled self esteem wise with it, I've seen her hide the one poor grade out of about a dozen other A/B papers she brought home and then burst into tears when I asked her what she was hiding because she didn't want us to know she struggled with something the first time, and the friend drama already started in second grade and I imagine that's only going to get crazier from here. Though she hasn't hit puberty yet, I am afraid to see how much more emotional she's going to get in the years ahead.

I know we have high expectations of her, and my dad so kindly pointed out to me sometimes as parents we don't have realistic expectations of our kids. He's right. She's only eight, and I've always treated the girl as being older than she is. Though we may butt heads, she's a really great kid.  But she's my first and there are going to be so many growing pains between us as we figure out this preteen to adolescent to grown daughter thing in the next ten years.

Here's the thing, mommas, I'm going to make a shit ton of mistakes. Probably way more than her, but because I'll push her to excel, push her limits so she can reach her max potential, hold her accountable even when it breaks my heart because she thinks I'm the most awful mother, and I'll try to do what I think is best for her in the long run even if it temporarily makes her angry and frustrated with me because I'm her mother first and her friend second, the years ahead aren't always going to be easy. Her emotions are going to the get the best of her and though I'm the adult mine will probably get the best of me too.

I wanted us to have a safe place to be a calm center for us, a place that was for building our relationship, not adding to the tearing down of it that can result in those heated arguments between mothers and daughters. The constructive criticism and redirection and "parenting" would all happen as the moments unfolded but this would be a place for us to reconnect and rebuild our relationship with positivity and gratitude for one another. Despite all the trials and emotions of this phase of our life together I want there to be no doubt in her mind of the depth of my love and admiration for her in those tough moments now and for her to hold onto years down the road when maybe I'm not there to remind her despite her struggles she is loved and will always being amazing in her momma's eyes.

She loves our little journal, and I can always tell when she's read it as the encouragement I leave her in there seems to remind her despite mistakes and struggles she may be having I still think she's amazing. It was from starting this with her that I decided to create Letters to a Daughter. Whereas my writing at first started as an opportunity to do something I have loved since the third grade, it has become so much about building relationships. First I wrote here on the blog to build relationships and connections with other moms. That's been an amazing experience for me.

But as a mother and a daughter myself, as I've watched friends my age start to lose their own mothers; as my cousin, sisters, and I had a smack in the face with our own mortality with a cancer diagnosis to one of us last spring that thankfully is in remission now, and our newsfeeds too often remind us of tragic losses of young mothers I wanted to create something that was for us as mothers and daughters. I didn't want my writing this time to be about creating a relationship between me and other moms- this blog has already done that- but I wanted to give something back to readers that would give them the opportunity to build two of the most valuable relationships they have- the one with their daughter and the one with their mother.

It will be for sale in paperback for $13.99 and hardback for $21.48 next Tuesday. I hope you can attend the the facebook launch party that is next Tuesday through Thursday. Join the event to see how you can enter to win a free copy and there should be publisher coupon codes I can offer throughout the event to get the book discounted. My goal is to sell 125 books in these three days so I can hopefully donate $100 to three different families medical needs- two of which have been readers here since the beginning in 2012.

As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Sibling Rivalry: Her Success is Never Your Failure

I watched her sulk away, my motherly instinct torn between smacking her upside the head for attitude and wanting to give her hug to tell her despite her attitude and my lecturing of it I understood. Her sister just wanted her to recognize her success on the soccer field this year; it wasn't about her success in comparison to her sister's. She was just proud of how much she had improved since last year, yet sulky big sister saw it as another reminder of her struggles in the current season.

Though it was soccer to both of them, they were playing on two different playing fields- literally and figuratively. Five year olds can score a zillion goals a game because well really they don't know how to play and they just chase each other around like a swarm of bees. But the eight year olds playing travel ball for the first time had to build their skill, work hard for every little goal, and it was about team wins, not individual goals. This phase for them was just another valuable lesson they'd first learn from each other because this was just the beginning of them understanding how different the "playing fields" were for each of us.

How many times as grown women do we do the same thing my oldest just did to my youngest? How many times do we avoid congratulating someone or offering someone support because we see it as a reflection of our own short comings or flaws rather than just being happy for someone's victory because just as my younger daughter never saw it as being better than her big sister, more times than not, women don't see their successes and victories as better than someone else; it's just about personal victory in being better than their former self.

I totally get my oldest's struggle this season; it's been a knock to her confidence. Last week she scored her first goal of the season, and to see her pride in herself was something we all missed seeing this year. I know all too well though how we can let our failures or lack of success quickly overshadow the glimpses of success that we get. How many times do I myself let my own failures as a teacher or writer discourage and weigh me down to the point that I am the grumpy the eight year old I'm staring down at, trying to figure out how to tell her to manage her own frustration with herself without tearing down her sister in the process. I'm the 36 year old version of her- frustrated with some editor's latest rejection, frustrated with some latest walk through observation, frustrated with some parent's latest complaint. Those tend to overshadow my one in about five acceptances or positive feedback verse criticism or parent thank you verse complaint so my first reaction at someone else's success is to react in a somewhat similar salty way. But then I remember their success isn't about the lack of my own. Their "playing field" and challenges on their field to overcome to reach their successes are different than the ones I must overcome. We'll all reach our successes and victories in our own time, and they'll be mixed in with our failures and setback. This will be the case with their friends and the women they surround themselves with as well so I hope they always remember the biggest competition we're trying to best is not the girls or women in our lives but ourselves. 

I guess it's good to have a healthy sibling rivalry to some extent, but I hope they each learn their sister's successes is never their failure. They are each going to excel at different things and at different times throughout their whole life.

My Letters to a Daughter book for parents and daughters will be released later this month. Be sure to join the online launch party here for all the details.

Check out my latest published piece on motherhood after depression on Lose the Cape

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Looking for America

I saw the look of fear in her eyes. First that he slipped under the water, and then again as she looked around to see who had possibly seen her quick moment of maternal failure. As she yanked him upright in the water I told her, “My son just took a dunk too. They’ll both be fine though.”

She adjusted the hijab on her head and her now wet clothes as she nodded. I offered her a smile and her apprehension- whether towards me as a stranger or her sudden heart failure at her son slipping in the water- seemed to subside. She moved her son back closer to the edge of the pool so she could sit on the ledge like I was.

“How old is he?” I asked.

“Fifteen months,” she said in perfect English.

“Mine turns a year old in a few days. First boy. They’re a little more of a handful than girls I’m finding,” I said. She nodded, still seeming hesitant at my attempt for conversation.

Her son splashed in the water near mine. My son mirrored her son’s motions and before long the two were slapping at the water, giggling at the constant spray of water. “If only adults interacted like children,” I thought.  I looked around the crowded water park. As the children played they would make new friends. I could see my daughter going up and down the little kiddie slide a few feet away with a little girl she just met. She’d run up to me in a bit like she usually does and tell me how she made a new friend. That’s the way children played. They didn’t know religious, racial, or economic differences. They just saw someone fun that was willing to interact with them. But in the adult world we not only saw the differences but as the recent political climate has shown we attack those differences, thinking one made someone better than another. If it wasn’t our own judgments and bias preventing us from opening a conversation about our differences it was the judgments and bias we felt passed against us.

I grew up in the middle of white middle class America. I left home at 23 on a search for America. I wanted to see her sights, understand her history better, explore her culture, and meet more of her people. Even though I experienced my first culture shock on the outskirts of Washington D.C. where I found myself surrounded by people of varied races, religion, and languages, I’d learn to see her differently everywhere.

But as much as I came to appreciate and see the beauty in her diversity I also came to see how divided we were as a country in who we all saw America as. Some saw Syrian refugees as a threat to our national security; whereas, I saw the boy that sat in the back of my American Lit class that wrote a beautiful story about leaving Syria at the age of five to come to America for better opportunities. Whereas some saw Muslims as terrorist, I saw the boy that stayed after class almost every day to put up the chairs around my room after all his classmates left for the day and would tell me to have a nice evening or weekend as he left.  Some would see a random black man walking on the street as a possible threat, but I saw the big tall black kid in my class as one of the biggest gentle giants I had ever encountered in my life who loved to talk to and tease my daughter when we attended his wrestling matches. Some saw the Hispanic immigrant as the one taking what was “his” or “hers”, but  I saw the immigrant girl in my class as one of the hardest workers I’d ever taught as she valued her education as an opportunity to make herself a better life. Some saw the poor kid on free and reduced meals as someone expecting a handout, but I saw someone that had been dealt a crappy hand out of her control that approached each day with a hope and positivity so many others dealt more lacked. Some saw the homosexual boy as just acting out for attention, but I saw a boy that just wanted love and acceptance like everyone else.

I first truly found America in those diversified classrooms of America’s youth, but as I searched to understand and appreciate her better I began to see her more. I started to see that she was everywhere as I traveled back and forth between the East Coast and Midwest. She was there in the farmers I saw working away on their fields across the plains of Ohio to Missouri in the hot setting July sun. She was there in the way the wait staff greeted customers with their southern hospitality in the mountains of Tennessee.  I saw her in the big hopes and dreams of the strangers I passed as we walked the streets of Hollywood. I saw her in the people that made it their life’s work to revitalize their small downtowns or their communities and schools. America wasn’t just a color of white or dark skin; she wasn’t just a religion of Jewish, Christian, or Muslim; nor was she who she was just because she was rich, middle class, or poor. Who America was wasn’t based on a race, a religion, or a certain income level though it seemed we saw her that way first. Rather she was a strong work ethic, she was hope, she was community, and she was acceptance. She was all of us- working towards achieving something the world missed. America’s hope was to achieve unity in our sense of work ethic and compassion in a world too often divided by our differences.

When tragedy has stuck our nation over and over again, as has been the case all too much recently, the heroes that stepped forward to risk their own lives and offer help were of all races, religions, political parties, and social classes. We all bleed red, and just as evil lurks in humanity regardless of the labels placed upon us as people, the heroes are cloaked in all labels of humanity too. It’s not skin color, political party, money, or even our religion that separates good from evil but what lurks in our hearts and our minds. The light and the darkness is there, hovering on the cusp of who each of us can be, and though it may be easy for some to always choose the light, our true American humanity shines through when we reach into the darkness to help pull one another deeper into the light of hope.  

I looked at the kids who made new friends as they played in that water park in the middle of Wisconsin in the middle of this country that I loved and hoped that maybe they would be the generation that could put the division of our races, sexuality, and religion behind us and be the kind of America she was always meant to be. Here in the hearts of our young is where the hope and acceptance of what America was lived. They were not cloaked in their skin color or their differences but in their hope for something better.
                                                     Image provided by Spirtuality Photo Ideas



Friday, September 29, 2017

Celebrate the Victories!

It is Friday, but not just any Friday for me this year. This week last year is when everything started to unravel at a rapid uncontrollable pace for me. All week my facebook memory reminded me of my struggles from this week last year where I was desperate for sleep from a then six month old that decided to have a sleep regression crisis all while I was trying to prepare for an observation in a class where though I had one more week than I do this year to memorize kids' names that my foggy brain could not grasp while I was also suppose to be getting papers graded on the new grading scale for upcoming interim reports on top of the usual chaos at home with chores and this kid has that and this kid has this.

I pulled this from the blog post I wrote on this exact day last year:
"So this week I failed. I feel miserably.  I failed at my job, I definitely failed as a housewife as the dirty dishes in the sink can attest to that, I'm not doing very well in the marriage department at the moment, my uncharacteristically crying seven year old and my four year old putting baby food in her brother's eye and not having a six month old sleep through the night might be indicating I'm failing motherhood at the moment too, and I even failed at being the damn tooth fairy this week."

I was trying to find the humor in it all but two half weeks later I reached a point I never thought I could reach. Hitting that crashing wall of reality was a huge blow to my self esteem and to my sense of self. No one probably puts higher expectations onto me than I do myself, and as much as I can sit here and say we all need to cut ourselves a break and love ourselves, I am sometimes the first person that needs to hear my own advice. I had this vision in my head as I headed back to work for the first time as a mom of three a year ago as I was also approaching the big 3-5 in October that I was going to nail this whole working mom balancing act. Year after year I felt like I fell short but yet felt a little more balanced and headed in the right direction. So when I failed miserably it was like I had a self identity mid life crisis, if that is such a thing.

Even though the unraveling of myself peaked in October, it was a longer road than I'd like back to myself. I know for all of us at some point it feels like every day is a fight- a fight with ourselves to be who we envision with who we are in that moment, a fight with being who everybody else thinks we need to be verse who we are, a fight to get over the failures and the let downs and get back up and move forward.

This past summer was the absolute best medicine I could have given myself. I got time away alone with my husband to just be "wife", I got to be a stay at home mom with my kids for four weeks and just be "mom", I put in a lot of working at home hours on preparing for the upcoming school year to focus on the  "teacher" me without the pressure of being teacher and put in hours as the "writer" me without having to battle time to fit it in amongst all the other roles I typically fill throughout a day. I got to individually dedicate so much individual time to all the roles that make me "me", but as approached going back to work and juggling all those roles at once again, my anxiety was through the roof. There was that little nagging voice in my head saying, "It's all too much. You can't do it. You're going to miserably fail again at balancing all the balls in the air."

But here I am at the end of the fourth week of school when the to do lists and the expectations seem to grow and start to consume you. There were about two times this week I could feel my anxiety start to kick in with some unrealistic expectation, but with a little help from my oils it passed quickly. Who knows what's around the corner but if there's anything I've started to learn it's to take the victories where you can. I don't know about you but sometimes it feels like there are way more defeats than there are victories. So here it Friday after staying after school to help students make up work this week before the interim cut off, catching up on grading for those irrelevant but must do interim reports, organizing the school's underclass portrait pictures for next week, getting the yearbook up and running this week, having some great teaching moments with kids in response to stereotypes and race, completing my book revisions to begin the final process to get it ready to publish next month, getting in two of my three workouts (Sundays are typically #3), participating in an online writing promotion event that though I wouldn't do it again I gave it a try, getting another essay accepted for paid publication, working some more on the kids' individual photobooks that I'm hoping to give them at Christmas, running kids every night but one to Girl Scouts and soccer practices, starting to look into refinancing our rental house, and even finishing the sixth book in a series I'm reading. And I feel great! I don't feel overwhelmed or crazy stressed. I feel like the girl that can do it again! I can do busy again. I can juggle the balls without completely losing myself or my mind.

It's not like it was a perfect by any means. I dropped my keys in the trash can one day after work so that was fun to dig out, my laundry- oh my laundry- it's ridiculous but who cares, I haven't mopped our new floors since we got them a month ago, my house is a DISASTER right now (but don't worry everyone will be pitching in tomorrow to clean it up because I think they know by now this is all of our house, not just momma's so everyone pitches in to take care of it),   I did lose my patience with my kids a few times, and I was going to attempt to cook chicken parm but then passed it off to my husband to do at the last minute so I only ended up being the cook one night this week when usually I've had two of the nights.

But it's all okay.  I'm calling this week a big win for myself. I wallow in my defeats sometimes way too long, so for today I'm celebrating the victory of this week.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It's Your Happily Ever After, Mama

                                      Image provided by Sandia Pantano Imaging and Photography

As mothers, there are moments where we feel like we’re stuck in the early childrearing years of those days of runny noses, crying toddlers, butt wiping, and constant repetition of cartoons, activities, stories, and bedtime rituals. One minute we can’t wait for them to be older and more independent so they won’t need us as much, but then at other times we just want to savor these innocent early childhood days. But when it’s all said and done, it will just seem like it happened in a blink of an eye. These early years will feel like yesterday one moment and forever ago the next.

            We find ourselves lost in the shuffle of carpooling kids, practices, rehearsals, baths, meals, school activities, and play dates. This flow of motherhood seems to overtake our lives at certain points. At different points along the way it can seem like we lose sight of our own interests, our old friends, our own relationship with our spouse, our own career ambitions and goals because we are now on a road directed by our children. Some days we think about how this wasn’t exactly what I envisioned. Then one day the chaos will die down, our children will be grown, and we will catch ourselves trying to identify who we are again. As mothers, the role of momma overtakes every other identity we have ever had. One day they will grow up and even though we are still their mothers, their constant need for us gets smaller, and we are left with rediscovering who we are.  We will survive these early years of child rearing but we won’t be the same person we were before we began the journey. It’ll be this new woman that conquered childrearing, was supermom and superwoman at times, that we will be left with rediscovering at the end of this journey.  No matter our choices, motherhood is each woman’s personal journey from the girl she was to the woman she will become. Along the way there will be bumps in the road but we will survive.

Social Media can leave us with this myth sometimes that parenthood is always happy and wonderful. Social Media creates a clashing world of illusion and reality, but we can’t let the myths of parenthood shape our perceptions and expectations so much that we lose sight of who we are or who our kids are. We want everyone to know we have our happily ever after but real life is not a Disney story.

My oldest daughter is all about the Disney princesses. She loves to dress as one, she claims her daddy is her prince, and at night one of the princess stories is almost always selected for the night's reading. There's some speculation and concern out there about little girls' obsession with the princess culture and the misleading myths it creates, but a question my daughter asked me one night that left me thinking and pondering way past the last happily ever after line was, "Will I live happily ever after, Mommy?" I thought about how even though we know real life is not a Disney story, how does our belief in happily ever after shape our perceptions and expectations when we begin this life of motherhood and marriage.

As little girls we dream of our wedding day, who will be our prince, and how we will live our days out in happiness. I believe happiness is a choice we choose but even so there are challenges that we will all face throughout our lives that will challenge our faith, our love, that very happiness we fight so hard to have. I pray every day that my girls live long, happy lives. I hope they experience falling in love and experience the joy of starting their own families. But I don’t want them to be confused about what it means to live happily ever after.

Happily ever after exists in the moment we gaze into the eyes of the person we love and vow our love to one another. Happily ever after exists in the moment we watch our loved one fall head over heels in love with our child. Happily ever after is in the moments of watching our daughter dance on her daddy's toes and our son call mommy his princess. Happily ever after exists in the moment we are all together laughing and joking around the dinner table. Happily ever after is in the moments in the backyard camped out together around the campfire or under the evening stars. Happily ever after exists in the moments that laughter fills our house. Happily ever after exists in the moments we see our kid hit the ball out of the park, see them dressed for her first dance, and watch our child walk across the stage for graduation. Happily ever after exists in the moments we celebrate the beautiful, successful people our children have become. Happily ever after exists in the moments our children with their children gather in our home. Happily ever after exists in the moments we enjoy the quiet of our spouse's company.

So for every woman out there that’s ever dreamed of happily ever after just remember they are random moments that happen over and over again throughout your life. In between the moments there may be sadness and doubt but hopefully in the end you have lived enough happily ever moments to make your story complete. It’s your story, Mama, write it well.

Do you want to read more about embracing and loving yourself as the mother you are? Today you can get my book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas for $8 plus shipping.
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