Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Mom Life of Working Out

Three years ago this month I stepped on the scale and weighed more than I weighed nine months pregnant with the girls. I had thrown my scale out when we moved a year and a half before and that year that followed was pretty rough so I figured all that junk stress eating wasn't doing me any favors. With having to pick up a 5 hour a week/ two days a week PT gig on the side I had given up even more on working out than I did when I went back to work after the first baby five years before. I hated seeing pictures of myself because though I didn't have the scale to tell me I could see myself getting plumper with each picture.

That number on the scale was a smack in the face that if I didn't like it I better do something about it. I had beach body's Insanity from someone I don't even remember so I started doing the video workouts. Though the Insanity one was longer than I liked and I skipped parts I liked the idea. With two young kids at home, no family around to send them to while I went to a gym, and a husband that worked later than me it was the perfect convenience for my working mom life.

So for the next year on and off I worked with Insanity or did cardio outside. Except throughout that year I got pregnant and unpregant with two miscarriages so I wasn't very consistent and throughout that year I would sometimes go a few months without working out. But by the time July of 2015 rolled a year later I had managed to lose about ten pounds. Then I got pregnant a third time. I don't remember how long I kept up working out pregnant but pretty sure it wasn't very long. In April of 2016 we had our third baby and only boy. Because my weight with the lost pregnancies and inconsistent working out had been up and down so much I really don't know how much weight I gained with that last pregnancy but by the end of the pregnancy I was about 44 lbs from what I weighed before I entered this motherhood arena.

I had it in my mind though that once we got through all the tribulations we went through with that third baby I was going to fully commit to myself and getting in better shape. Now here I am 15 months after my last (and forever last) baby and three years since I stepped on that scale. I've had some victories and setbacks along the way.

First, I hate the damn scale. Why do we obsess about that damn number, ladies? I know I shouldn't but we waste too much time worrying about that damn number. Then it seems like no matter the number we want it to be just a little lower. Then what's ironic is my goal numbers I'd be ecstatic to hit now I use to be critical of year's ago. The scale was the worst invention ever. I've seriously considered not keeping one in my house again but it has helped hold me accountable with keeping my consistency the past 15 months.

I've learned to focus on my progress with the other numbers too though these past 15 months. Others with beach body encouraged me to do measurements of my waist, hips, arms, and legs because sometimes those numbers tell you more. The other numbers would be clothes sizes. This is the one that reassures me the most. I had to move up a size when I hit that weight gain peak in 2014. This past year I threw those clothes out and had to buy in my previous size.

 My favorite number though are the workout numbers. The fact that for the past 15 months I have worked out 3-5 times a week every week but five weeks. Each time one of those weeks passed I got right back on the horse. I've upped my weights, I can go through a whole workout without stopping or skipping like I did when I first started, and I've even clocked in running over two miles a few times. That s right. I ran! I hate to run. Now this is a new development so we'll have to see how long it will last.

Those workout numbers are my victory. Between beach body videos, we now have an elliptical, and the Runkeeper app my husband installed on my phone that challenges me to run and beat my past times these three things give me opportunity and flexibility to keep going, to make this the permenant lifestyle change I was hoping for three years ago. I feel confident now that I can make working out a part of my mom life on a regular basis just like I did almost a decade ago before kids. In the past three months my husband also jumped on the working out lifestyle train with me. For the past three months he has also committed to working out 3-5 times a week between hitting the gym and running a few miles in preparation for a 5K he signed up for, and lucky for us we're both just competitive enough with each other to hopefully keep the other one going.

The biggest disappointment for me though has been after hitting a low this past winter that put me 10 lbs from pre three babies weight with 24 lbs and 12 inches total lost since the summer of 2014, and then gaining half of the lbs and inches back in the past three months. Though it's easier to get my workouts in during the summer it's harder to eat better so hoping the Fall will help with that because I'm pretty sure my eating habits of late are the culprit.

But maybe some of the weight gain is due to muscle rather than fat so I'll hold onto that perception. The other victory is I feel better in my clothes again and I don't look at pictures of myself in disgust anymore. Originally my goal was to get back to my weight before all three babies, and no I have not succeeded at that. In fact I'm 22 lbs away from that currently with the recent weight gain but the victory is not in the scale.  It is reaching my goal of making working out a part of my lifestyle as a mom. That is my victory.  It is in feeling confident in my own skin again despite the number on the scale. That is my victory. It is in reaping the physical and more importantly the mental benefits of making working out a part of my life. That is my victory.  So screw the scale I'm still calling these past 15 months a win.


I use to give myself the excuse because of the kids (and work) that I just didn't have time to fit it in. These three are doing it with me right beside me half of the time. The little guy likes to just climb on me as soon as I get on the floor for an exercise but the girls have their own weights now because I got tired of them trying to steal mine and whining that they didn't have any. So as so many use to say to me, "Make them your reason, not your excuse." The blowup of beach body and workout posts on my facebook page leading up to deciding I wanted this change for myself and throughout the process of staying with it was the perfect inspiration I needed so before you knock all the beachbody coaches  look for the inspiration in what they do rather than the criticism and to the beachbody coaches that have and still do blow up my feed thank you! We really never do know how what we do and say might inspire and touch others so keep it up!





 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Would the Stay at Home Moms Quit Complaining about their Kids Being Home for the Summer

I get now why there are mommy wars, and why hard as I might try I have a hard time fully staying out of them so I'm sure I'm going to anger a few people here but hear me out first before you stomp away in anger. (Also there isn't anyone in particular that I personally though that has been guilty of this)

I'm a working mom ten months out of the year, but for the other two I get to stay home with my three kids. Two of them aren't in school yet, but I'm lucky enough to be home in the summer when my older one is out of school. Unfortunately, for three summers when my two girls were younger I worked during the summer so I missed that stay at home time with them so now that I've had the past two summers back with them I'm very appreciative of the fact that I get this little sliver of time home with my kids. This time with them is gift, not a sentence or punishment.

So the memes and blog posts and magazine articles getting passed around with stay at home moms complaining about their kids being home with them all summer is about to drive me bat shit crazy. Okay, maybe I'm there considering I'm writing this post. Do you know how many working moms would love a summer-just one summer- home with their kids? Do you know how many teachers look forward to actually giving their own kids their time and attention instead of yours for just these two months verse the ten that your kids get from us? I just watched a mother fight for 18 months for any little extra time she could get with her dying daughter but she sadly passed about a week ago so do you know what she would give for one more carefree summer vacation with her nine year old??? A friend of my sister's is facing possibly her last summer with her kids do you know what she wouldn't give to have another summer with her kids? To fully enjoy this summer without worrying if it's her last one.

So stop the damn complaining if you're home with your kids this summer. They are only young once. They are not even guaranteed to us much past this very moment. How much time we actually have with them ourselves is not any guarantee so enjoy your time with them. Yeah, I totally get that they can be little heathens. I have three. Two that fight half the day and one that is in the toddler temper tantrum throwing stage and wants to refuse naps all of a sudden. But this is my time to just enjoy their wonder, to go outside and play with them without the pressure of the clock, to plan everything in my day around them for a change instead of planning time for them around my day.

I don't mean to sound harsh but for some of us we see this time in the summer home with our children as a gift and your complaining is not wanted here or really anywhere. Go enjoy and laugh with your kids instead.



 

Goals and POA (Plan of Action)

I know it's not the New Year when we all tend to make new goals. Back at the beginning of this new year I was feeling a little lost and conflicted on my goals. I always feel like as educators we face two "new years" though, and I feel a little more sure of my plan and goals now than I did six months ago.

As any that know us or follow us here know we've been discussing making a big life change with careers and relocating. There is now a more definite plan in place. The anxiety I've dealt with in education is almost suffocating at times. It's not constant though, thank God, but when it peaks it is overwhelming for me. My husband has put in years of jumping through hoops to move up in our current system, yet as much as his principal loves him and he loves working for her, here we are a month and a half away from school starting and who knows what position he'll even have in the Fall so both of us have dealt with our share of frustrations over the years.

Though people have told me it's okay to stay in a job for the money you make, the benefits it provides to you and your family, the early pension, and the time off staying just for that doesn't sit well with me. I'll be honest, adults are the problem with education and society. We all want to blame the kids, but there are a bunch of know it all adults frantically trying to "fix" today's youth and education. We-the adults-are the ones taking away accountability which leads to the problems we see in youth and education. We-the adults-want to "fix "everything especially on paper for kids, whether it's parents helicopter parenting and demanding an A when it's not earned or admin demanding something to meet their data goals. If adults-whether it be the parents or the higher ups- would back off and let me run my classroom the way I see fit rather than bending me to their will- I could see staying in education. But with where education is going right now I'm selling a "product" I don't believe in anymore, and that's a huge conflict for me with my personal values.

So where do we go from here? I'm a planner if you don't know. Because I've been in a situation twice now where I didn't think I could take the education field for one more month, I am now working on a plan so that hopefully if or when it happens again, I have at least myself in a financial situation to make a big jump off the education train. I have a two, maximum three year, financial plan in place that would pay off my car, our timeshare, make updates to increase the value of our house and gain equity in our rental house (if the market doesn't crash again), and increase our savings. Our assets will be more and our debt will be less and our credit score should be just as good as it is now if not hopefully even better should it be needed for a business venture.

By 2019 I can have myself down to one school loan payment, one small balanced credit card, and a loan that will still have 2-3 years left until paid off. I have even outlined our travel goals in case we are 1) leaving the east coast 2) won't get to travel for a few years if we start a business. Between Fall 2017-June 2019 I plan to hit New Orleans (already booked), Michigan (summer 2018), back down to Disney and Savannah , Georgia (Xmas 2018) New England 15 day road trip (June 2019), hit NYC one more time (spring break 2019?), possibly OBX again but not sure when or Williamsburg, VA but also not sure when. Then we would have covered everything east of the MO/KS line except Minnesota and Arkansas. And Mississippi but I'm not sure what to go see in Mississippi??? So I'm really pushing if we're completely relocating to moving west-it'll make it easier to travel west of Missouri in our second life!

I have also informed my husband of a similar plan for himself. His will be a little trickier as we separated our personal debt years ago, which I find to be a huge positive because I am a saver and he is a spender, but whether he's financially or personally ready to leave teaching anytime after 2019 when I may be will be up to him getting his finances in line and being personally ready. He may still get what he's been looking for in education and not want to leave, and that's fine.

I've felt so stuck the past few months because I kept saying how I felt like I couldn't plan my next move without knowing his move. I think this thinking created a lot of my own anxiety the past few months. Yes, we're married, but we're both very independent people and like to do things very differently sometimes (hence why for the sake of our marriage I separated our finances to an extent) and though he never said it, I think thinking I couldn't plan or set my own goals until I knew what his were (staying in education or leaving and if leaving doing what) and feeling like my choices were so dependent on him with his personal career choices and finances created this suffocating void where I felt like I had no control. I didn't like feeling like me getting out of education was dependent on him.

I think realizing this and setting a plan for myself that isn't dependent on him is what I've needed these past few months as I head back into the uncertain future of education for  myself. Maybe to some it sounds like I'm dismissing him but really I feel like before I was dismissing myself and my goals when looking ahead and now I'm bringing myself back into the picture. We may not both be able or want to step out of education at the same time, and now I think that's okay because I don't think either of us should really leave until we really feel like we've reached the end of that road for ourselves. Just hopefully we don't reach it before we're financially ready. For myself I know I need at least two more years and him probably closer to three.


As I've been a little torn on this mid career life crisis of mine, someone told me to back map my life (obviously with that terminology I was talking to a teacher)  to determine what my path of direction should be so that's what I did. If I leave education I push my retirement back to 62 rather than 53; however, I was probably going to work doing something until 57.5  when my son would be done with college and my husband would retire (he'll be 62 four years before me). I'm giving up anywhere from 4-9 years of retirement; however, if I'm smart with my money I can do what my dad did. I can technically "retire" from my career actually earlier say somewhere between 15-20 years, go be my own boss with my own business like my dad and sister have done and/or  work other less stressful jobs to get me to 62 where we will have six retirements (obviously those teacher pensions won't be as big for 15-20 years as they would for 30 but we'll have other retirement) waiting for us including each of our social security if we get it which in Maryland we do assuming the government hasn't jacked it up for everybody by then.

I watched my dad work for a company for 20 years, and then morealess "retire" from that, went into business for himself for ten years, sold it and now works for the guy to make money to get him to his official retirement collection years. I also cheered my sister on a few years ago when she was tired of the company world of the hair salon business and broke free to become her own boss. Here she is now years later as a mompreneur, and she's set herself up pretty damn good!

If I'm now looking at 62 rather than 53 or 58 as retirement I have 26 years until retirement with at least 2-3 of those left in education so a little over 20 years to go do something else, which honestly as someone that likes to experience new things I like the idea of experiencing two careers. Obviously one of the big things we've talked about doing is our own business; however, what business and exactly where depends on many factors. One, if it's a business both my husband and I are doing or if it's just me because a restaurant business would not be my first choice so if he's not onboard financially or personally then I'm not doing that one (at first anyway) , but if he is because it's always been his dream I'd jump on that train with him and manage the financial and payroll and other behind the scenes aspect of the business while he was on scene and the one really putting in the hard hours. Where we would go to do it would really depend on several factors- location and opportunity, schools for our kids, desirable area we wouldn't mind spending the next 20 years, and possible proximity to family.

If he's financially and personally ready to do this when I'm ready then I'd go along with it though it's more his dream than mine because it still allows me the opportunity to explore my dream of being home with the kids more and writing more while I handle the books and marketing of the business at home and leave him to managing the on site running of it. If we did this and we relocated we'd probably actually rent for a few years until the business was well up and running and hopefully build a house a few years later. I have also already stressed that family time is still my #1 priority and is one of my biggest concerns with this kind of business so we'd have to look at certain times of the year to close up shop for travel and family or invest the money into a good manager and kitchen manager we trusted to leave in charge a few years after we had it up and running.

If this isn't what happens in 2-3 years because he's not ready for whatever reason, the plan is to financially have myself in a position to make a significant career change whether that may be going part time, opening my own little business of some kind, pursuing some training or courses to change careers if I feel the need. Or maybe I won't. Education is constantly changing and one thing I've learned after 13 years is how vastly different one year to the next can be. But  I don't want to ever experience what I experienced last October ever again. If I ever feel that trapped, that overwhelmed, that stressed and anxious that I can't sleep and I can't even function to the point that it consumes my life like a fog of suffocating black smoke I want to know I've given myself resources (aka money and a plan) to walk away. I hate to say it that way, but there's a reason young teachers are walking away in less than five years of service. I refuse to accept  I'm trapped in my own career for the rest of my working life because I've put in too much time already. We always have the option to change and do something different for ourselves. I plan to be ready next time (as long as that next time is 2-3 years from now and not 2-3 months-please let this be a year that refuels my hope for education)

 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Why the Experts aren't "experts" on my Parenting

I know the experts mean well when trying to advise parents of the “perfect ideal” way to “successfully” raise our children, but I think there are a few factors in their research they don’t have their facts straight on. Though science classes were long ago in my memory, I do believe I recall something about variables and how those variables could skew the scientific findings one way or the other. Parenting isn’t a scientific formula in which the experts can give us the step by step process on how to raise our children to be conformed to society’s standards and expectations. There are so many variables the experts are missing when trying to tell us how to successfully raise our children.
First, you don’t know my individual child. As a teacher of thirteen years and parent of eight I can tell you NO TWO children are the same; therefore, when one strategy may be successful with one it may not be with another. As a parent one of the most amazing things to me is how different my children can be from one another. Learning how to parent isn’t a mastery of one particular skill set that you just put on repeat with each kid that follows the first. Each kid has different needs, different strengths, and different weaknesses, and we are constantly adapting and trying new strategies.

Second variable you are missing  is you don’t know me. You don’t know my flaws and imperfections because believe it or not those things aren’t so easily fixed with some “expert” suggestions either. I’m a continued work in progress and always will be so right there is one huge variable you’re forgetting to consider. You don’t know what baggage and insecurities I carry. You also probably don’t share my beliefs and philosophies. You can’t fit all parents into the same box of ideology and practice. You don’t know each parent’s situation.  Our options on what we can do for our children is varied so much based on our individual financial situations, individual work schedule situations, our extended family situations, how many children we have, how many varied needs and personalities each of our children have.

Experts are too scientifically based in the aspect that they want to solve a problem with a solution so they create a recommend method to put into practice, yet because each child is different, each parent is different, and each family situation is different and unique this one size fits all mentality isn’t going to work with raising children. Pushing parents and children to conform to society to behave, think, and live a certain way actually kills creativity and individuality which is what I also thought we wanted for our children.

I’m not trying to make excuses for poor parenting choices. I know we could all use a little help here and there in getting those mini humans of ours to behave at times, but keep in mind we and them are only human.  We can only do so much in so much time. Honestly what one may think is a bad decision a whole other group of “experts” and parents are going to think is the right decision. The shades of gray in parenting choices is so vast you can’t nail parenting down to the scientific method. Unfortunately, all the “expert” parenting articles on the vast web is mostly just succeeding in making all parents feel inadequate and incompetent even when we’re doing the best we can. Thanks, experts, for your advice, but I'm going to continue to believe I know what's best for my children.


                                     So yes, these little monsters are a handful at times but come on doesn't it look like we know what we're doing???
 
 
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Time for "Our People"

As a kid you watch and at times mimic your parents. Though as we get older there are times we resist them and their philosophies and life teachings, before we realize it all that time with them shaped and molded us and before we know it we become extensions of them. We don't know when or exactly how it happened, but as we move forward in life we can look back and see how all those things we loved and resisted about our childhood experiences influenced the adults we become.

Now as an adult raising my kids I often wonder what are the things-positives and negatives- that will influence them in who they become. Though I could manage a list of the negative influences I worry about, the positive that I often hope to have one of the greatest impacts on them is their commitment to their "people".

Every year about March or April we start our rounds that tend to take us up through the New Year. January and February is our "down" time at home. Some wonder why I keep our schedule so full but when your "people"-family and the friends that are like family- are scattered across the country- it takes some planned effort to hit them all and some several times a year. So we load up as a family and hit the road for sometimes no more than a two hour one night trip and other times for a two day drive, week plus trip. When we are home we have the friends we've made in the little town we've made our home we like to hang out with and our Bmore family that's been here with us since the beginning.

In March we went north five hours to spend a weekend with my husband's family; in April we went west where I not only got to spend a week and Easter with my family but had a dinner out with my cousin before her second chemo treatment, an evening sitting on my sister's deck with my best friend since the fourth grade, and as almost always when I'm home an evening drinking and chatting with one of my very best friends from college. In May we had an impromptu celebration for one of our bmore friends' birthdays, spent an evening around a fire with some of our local friends, enjoyed a visit with a cousin I don't get to see very often, and to kick the summer off we headed to Shenandoah where I got to sit outside and have a much needed heart to heart with a girlfriend of mine that lost her cousin recently. In June we got to go up to New York to see my mom's family that I was long overdue to see and enjoy a night of celebrating wedding bliss with cousins I don't get to see enough. In June we headed back west where unfortunately my time to catch others was short and missed for some, but my kids got a full two weeks in with their cousins, aunts, and grandparents while my husband and I got some much overdue time alone. July will be mostly quiet with hopefully some Sat nights spent catching up with local friends.  In Aug we'll head the five hours back up north to spend with my husband's family, and then our little family will head out to spend a long weekend at the beach. In the Fall we'll hopefully get to make a short trip down to visit our VA friends again this year and spend a weekend camping with other friends of ours we only get to see about twice a year. Then we'll get a weekend away with some old college friends of my husbands for a weekend before spending Thanksgivng and Christmas with each of our families again.

Whether it's the effort we put into making the time for the people that matter to us or the effort to plan time that's just for the five of us away from the to do lists and responsibilities where our number one focus is to just enjoy each other's company, I hope it molds my kids to see the value in committing to whoever "their people" may be (which better include us in our old age!).

We live in a highly distracted world these days. I LOVE social media. It does give me the opportunity to maintain relationships long distance. As a mother God knows I love text messaging as it allows me to carry on conversations with friends without them realizing how completely distracted I am by the chaos that surrounds me most evenings.  But those conveniences could easily convince us that it's okay to miss the dinner out with my cousin, the deck night with my fourth grade bff, the late night conversations sitting in front of the street I grew up on with my college bff, or the long overdue heart to heart with my friend that lost her cousin. No I don't get to catch everyone as much as I'd like, but the opportunity to connect with them in person rather than through the computer or phone is something I hope my kids remember to value. Time is fleeting whether it's my children's childhood slipping by or our parents and grandparents getting older. The older we get the more we understand how fast life can change and how unfair life can be in how much time everyone has here.

I want my kids to see this more than how big the houses are that we live in, the cars we drive, the highs and lows of our careers. I want them to see this time away with their immediate family or time with their extended family and friends is some of the best medicine for their soul. We all need the break from the demands of work, home, and life in general. Though technology makes us think we can stay connect to one another, the late night chats in person or the dinner conversations are always better. That time to connect, laugh, and create memories is something we all need in our life.

I want them to know in the end it's not about the money we made, the things we owned, even the places we went or the things we accomplished. It's always about the people. Life is always about the people love.

 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

To the Child that's Just Like Me

I looked into your hazel eyes that were turning greener by the minute as they pooled with tears and as I looked into eyes so like own I saw the reflection of me past the similiar eyes down to the similar emotions that always opened the floodgates.

So just as I've done since that first night we both cried all night in that hospital room alone together I just squeezed you tight. I get you, girl. At five years old now sometimes I think you are the only one that really gets me. Even when those are tears of anger in your eyes possibly even directed at me I get it. I know what it's like to feel like the difficult and misunderstood one. I know what it's like to be in your own little world- where your creative, overactive mind wonders and checks out- but others criticize you for not paying attention. I know what it's like to be cautious and over think things way too much rather than just doing them while others roll their eyes at you just being "you" they say. I know what it's like to speak your mind and stand your ground even if it's only about a cookie right now at five but people try to make you feel like having a mind of your own is a bad thing rather than a good thing. And little girl, I know all too well about hiding tears when others hurt your feelings for constantly calling out your quirks like they re all "fatal flaws".

At five years old you're so happy to be like me, but some nights like tonight I lay here and wonder will you still feel that way at 13? At 21? When you're a mom? Because besides a few that I feel really see my flaws as the same quirks that lead to my potential you re one of the few that sees right past them to me to really see how the flaws just lead to the imperfect me I'm meant to be. Despite all the ways I screw up and let the difficulties that are me show throughout the day you love me the same at the end of everyday. I see me in so many things about you, and I want you to always love that like you do now. There are good things that result from our often criticized flaws. I don't want others criticism or frustration that you're being difficult to overshadow your love for yourself. Even though at times you and I may butt heads I hope I'm always the first one you run to when those emotions I know all too well will start those flood of tears.

You have the biggest loving heart I've ever seen, kid. People will always love you- new ones and old ones. People like us are never without enough people to love us, but I'm not sure how many people actually understand us.  We  love so hard and fiercely but because of that you'll get hurt easily. I don't know if you'll master the stone mask of seemingly like you're hard and uncaring where you use anger and sarcasm to hide your true feelings. I hope you don't get like me where you let your  anger sit at the top of your emotional volcano because letting anger out seems safer than dealing with all the other emotions overly sensitive and deep thinkers like us carry.

I pray this bond between us lasts the challenges we will face ahead as you grow. You have loved me for me in such a way that I've never been loved or understood and I just hope I can do that for you. I can't let you eat five cookies for dinner or stay up all night but you being difficult whether it's speaking up or always lagging behind because you re deep in your own world or talking my ear off way past bedtime because your mind is on some deep philosophical thought that is way too much thinking for a five year old just remember, kid, I get you. I get it all. I get the frustration of people' s criticism, I get the frustration of your own mind overthinking too many things, I get the frustration of controlling your emotions and feeling like you need to hide them, I get the need to ramble the constant flow of thought out your head, I get the doubt that lurks because all of that makes us think we're not good enough. But, please, baby girl, know that you're always enough just the way you are. If you doubt it for a second you just keep coming to your momma because I get you, baby girl.