Christmas Spirit Fail

Not feeling like such a hot parent today.  I had big plans.  I was going to pick up my children early to surprise them and take them to the new Christmas movie, Star.  I thought it would be a fun moment for us as we get ready to swing into the holiday season.  After all, Marlin (our Elf on the Shelf) will be here this week and we are psyched for his arrival….

Then, today, my children did this cute little thing they do some mornings.  I don’t know if any of yours do this.  Ah, its the BEST!  See if it sounds familiar….

“AUUGHHH!”

“HE touched me!”

“She is looking at me!”

“It isn’t MY job!”

“You need to come because now its getting physical”

“AUUGHHHH!”

“Why can’t we have Halloween candy for lunch?  Seriously, Mom!  You are such a fun ruiner.”

etc, etc, etc,  (all actual quotes here).

Surprisingly this doesn’t have me feeling all the feels if you catch my drift.  It has me thinking, “The only star you are going to see are the ones twirling around your head like a cartoon character…” just kidding about that part but COME ON!  A Fun Ruiner?? I am like- the QUEEN of Fun!

I am now sitting at the library working on a writing project but I keep coming back to this morning.  I keep coming back to the fact that despite it all, I STILL want to surprise them and pick them up and share this magical moment with them.  Am I delusional???

Then, now that I am calming (writing does this for me), I am forced to remember some other things that ALSO happened today that I had forgotten when I let the negativity take over.

“Spicy, you can go first.  Ladies first- Always.”

“Thanks for recording the Steelers for me mom. I can’t wait to see if they won.  Don’t tell me, I want to be surprised.”

“I’m going to love nature A LOT today in Environmental Science class today. Like more than normal.”

“I’m going to ask my Spanish teacher to help me write a book in Spanish.”

“I love you, Mom” – times 3.

I love you all, too!  I love it all.  The Christmas spirit isn’t failed here like I thought.  I just need to embrace it all and remember that its tough sometimes; being a parental unit.  But, if you just keep your eye on the Star (the good), you’ll find something that makes all the travels worth it.

XOXO

 

 

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“Come to meet his mom…”

I have been sick over these hazing stories and deaths that keep coming up in the news.  I wrote about it.  I pray for peace for all families affected.  It is just so tragic.

 

Come to meet his mom  by Jennifer Woolford

 

She kept him safe from harm

Holding him by the arm

for Oh so long.

Don’t talk to strangers, keep close to home.

A mother’s usual repeated song.

 

She watched him grow into a young man

with dreams and hopes and wants

Headed off to college

to make them all come true.

Then he met you.

 

She heard about you right away

on his very first day.  He said,

“Mom, I met this cool kid.  I think we’re gonna be great friends.

He’s gonna help me fit in.”

 

She felt a sense of calm.

With friends looking out for him what could go wrong?

He now had people on his side

Just how she’d been all his life.

 

Come and meet her.  Come to meet his mom.

She’s the woman hunched over in black.

Tell her you’re the reason

Her son is now part of her past.

 

“You can be our brother

If you have another.

A few more things you have to do

For us to think you’re worthy and for us to like you.”

 

Its called hazing and it makes you feel so superior.

Makes you feel like men.

But when his mother is gripping his coffin

Where are the big boys then?

 

Come and meet her.  Come to meet his mom

She’s the woman hunched over in black

Tell her you’re the reason

Her son is now a part of her past.

 

You’ll brag about it, the hazing.

Laugh about it

Thinking it makes you so cool.

Its pathetic and cruel

Playing Russian Roulette with someone who looks up to you…

 

We each make our decisions

That’s how you’ll skirt any blame.

God forbid your generation

feel any obligation or shame.

Yes, he decided he would do anything to be your friend.

You really showed up, didn’t you?  A “friend” to the end.

 

Come and meet her.  Come to meet his mom.

She’s the woman hunched over in black.

Tell her how you’re the reason

Her son, her life, her everything is now a part of her past.  ~JMW

 

 

Summer is here…

I cannot believe summer is here.  I can’t believe I have months to spend with my children uninterrupted and open-ended.  Its what I crave all year long while they are in school and involved with sports.  I find myself wishing away the days for time we can relax and jet off whenever we wish.

Then that time comes.  And I sometimes feel like I am the mom who is like, “Wait!  Don’t let school be over so soon.  I am not yet equipped for all this “together” time!”  And like all things, it comes.  The school year will start in a few months and I will grapple with that (despite telling myself my littles are driving me batty all summer long). Its a cycle. Maybe a hamster wheel, I have not decided yet.

To kick off our summer, we headed on a road trip.  First in a while without the husband and I will be honest, I was apprehensive.  That is ironic.  I have moved halfway across the country alone before.  Then moved back alone.  I used to do so much alone and self-efficiently.  I have now sort of become a completely different person.  Not as audacious as I once was.  It didn’t take long into the trip when my old confidence started to emerge and the nervousness fell away.  I was ready to make some memories!

We went to…Pigeon Forge, TN!  My son, Clever, has become enamored with the story and sinking of Titanic.  He has read and watched all he could about the tragedy and I wanted to encourage his interest.  I did some research to see if there was a museum nearby that would allow him to see some of the relics up close.  This is when I stumbled upon the treasure that is The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge.  You guys, this place was so cool!  The building is made to look like the Titanic complete with the bow plunging through running water and an iceberg starboard-side.  The museum employees dress in costumes of the day and offer such insight.  As you “board” you receive a White Star Line ticket that gives you the identity of an actual passenger on the ship.  You walk through the self-guided tour and at the end, you learn your fate.  Well, unless you are like me and need to Google it to see. ps- we all survived! Woohoo!

There were so many fascinating things to see and learn about here.  I cannot recommend it enough.  And the cool thing about Pigeon Forge is there are so many other things and attractions so you can really make it a fun family vacation.  I admit to being surprised by this.  I anticipated something different in TN.  Pleasantly surprised.

This museum takes people to Titanic, complete with the Grand Staircase to scale.  Remarkable. There is an iceberg you can feel and you can place your hands in water that is just as frigid and painful as the Atlantic Ocean was that night.

The best part of this trip was my children’s reaction and their increased interest in this piece of history.  It is so thrilling to watch your children being engaged and excited in learning.  So much so that they don’t even recognize they are doing just that!

 

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I figured something out…

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Maybe it isn’t anything earth shattering but it is important to our family and I am willing to bet, it may help yours as well.

Our eldest daughter Studious has always loved to read.  I mean ALWAYS.  No surprise there with me as a mom.  We spent hours each day getting lost in books.  It was what I was most proud to have passed on to her.  I still am.  There is nothing like the gift of being able to read and travel to the endless possibilities of the mind. I gave that to her.  Parental win for sure.

Lately I was looking at our final three and while they do love being read to, they did not have the deep desire to read that our eldest did.  I thought maybe times were just changing.  Maybe society was creeping in more than I realized.  I mean, they did just decide to shut down the circus – WHAT?!  Maybe reading was next on the chopping block.

Then I realized, the problem may quite possibly lie with me.  You see, the reason our daughter wanted so desperately to read all the time was because I was.  I was reading all the time and she was doing that thing our children do that we forget most of the time.  She was watching.  Like a hawk.  She wanted to emulate me and the desire grew until she took it and made it her own.  Separate from me.

Now you may ask, “Did you stop reading when Clever, Dapper and Spicy came along?”  The answer, of course, is no.  Not at all.  But HOW I read changed.  I got a Kindle and then I have a Kindle app.  I was reading just as much (okay- maybe a little less since I had 3 instead of just 1 kiddo) but I was reading.  The difference was, I was reading the books on my Kindle App on my phone.  Picture that in your mind.  What do you think my children saw?  Do you think they realized I was reading books or did it just look like I was playing on my phone?  How could they emulate my love of reading when they didn’t see me doing it?

This is not an anti-kindle or other e-book post.  This is merely an observation and a truth I have made and discovered in our home.  Children will model us.  What do we want them to model?  Are we giving them the right things to model?  In my case, I wasn’t.  I was still reading but my children were not seeing it.  Trips to the library were few and far between because I had everything I needed on my app.  BUT THEY DIDN’T SEE THAT!  They saw their mom sitting quietly with her iPhone up to her face.  A lot!  Lets face it, I love to read so you can imagine how often they saw this…

So now, recently?  I have gone to the library over and over and then back again.  I have stacks and stacks of books that I am touching in my hands and actually holding.  You know what else I realized? I had missed the tangible books as well.  The smell, the textures, the actual sight of seeing words on an actual page…It has been a coming home of sorts.  I didn’t even realize I had stepped away.

But the best thing?  I have turned this parental fail into a win.  In the short time since I have altered this behavior, I have noticed a change in the final three.  They are emulating me with stacks of books of their own.  More quiet time is being spent curling up with pages and words and all is right again.

XOXO you fabulous models!

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Exit 2

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On July 1 at 9:30, my husband and I arrived at the hospital to begin the journey of transformation.  I can say with complete honesty that I was not scared.  I WANTED this.  To my core, I knew this was what I wanted.  I was having a touch of anxiety over the IV placement as that is usually difficult but that went well that day.

We met funny nurses, serious nurses, in the middle nurses.  All were kind and sweet and some were favored over others (as I believe is always the case).  The doctor came in to discuss how I was feeling and to write all over me with his purple Sharpee.  He was an artist and I was his canvas.  My anticipation level was high.

The  last one to come in was the anesthesiologist.  He lacked personality and bedside manner but to lets be honest, I just wanted him to drug me up and keep me out of pain.  I didn’t need to make a best friend over the transaction.  I did tell him that I had trouble with going under.  In more recent surgeries, I had problems with low blood pressure and being woken from anesthesia.  He slightly nodded as people with his personality do.  You wonder if they heard you or if they cared to make a note.  I know from later conversations that he did, in fact, make a note of it in my file. It didn’t help in the end, though.

Fast forward through the surgery.  It was to have lasted 3 hours.  It lasted about 4.  The doc came out to my husband to tell me he was very happy with how successful he was in terms of the lipo, tummy tuck and the muscle repair.  Once I was stable in the recovery room, my husband could go back to see me.  Hour after hour passed.  I was not only having trouble coming out of surgery, I was having the worst time I have ever had coming out of it.  My bp was so low, there was great concern.  I kept receiving more and more fluids which weren’t really helping matters.  Finally after 5 hours, they let my husband come back.  I kept waking momentarily and asking for him.  I knew they were going to send for him when I heard one of the docs say, “Let the husband come back, it can’t make it worse.”  I remember thinking, “Oh shit” but just as I thought it, I slipped back to sleep.

My husband tells me that when he saw me, he cried.  He said I looked seriously ill.  He could also pick up on the concern of all the nurses and docs.  It was a stressful situation for him and for that, I am sorry.  He did tell me that I now looked like Dolly Parton since I had my operation.  With my waist gone, it accentuated other parts of me.  Ha Ha!

When I finally began coming too for the duration, I realized the issue at hand with the staff was my fluid.  They had given me 5 bags of fluids to help with the crashing bp and then were not able to “find” it.  It wasn’t coming out in the catheter. I was swollen everywhere like a Goodyear blimp.  They gave me Lasik to flush my kidneys but that did nothing.

Of course at this time I began telling them I was having a hard time breathing.  I didn’t feel as though I was getting enough Oxygen when I was breathing in.  They checked my Oxygen to find my levels were very low.  They were then concerned that the missing fluid was in my lungs so they ordered an emergency chest x-ray to verify all was okay there.  It was.  Thank God.

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I stayed for a couple more hours in the recovery room until they could brief the floor upstairs what was happening.  I was eventually moved upstairs to nurses who despite my being assured they were aware of everything, certainly didn’t act like they knew what was happening.  They were nice women but it was as though I had entered a new world.  Downstairs I was treated with kit gloves and gently.  Upstairs they were pushing me from one side to another, sitting me up, moving me all around roughly.  It was a tough transition.

Later the next am, I was still struggling with low Oxygen levels and trouble breathing.  it was late morning when I felt severe tightness in my chest.  So much so, I called for the nurse and told her something was wrong.  She told me I should get an ekg to make sure I wasn’t in cardiac arrest.  She wheeled in the machine and all looked okay.  I was ready after all this to go home.  But of course, I had to wait until my Oxygen level was okay before I could be released.  This would take all day.  ALL DAY.  Finally in the last moments (after a certain point, you have to stay another night), my level was “fair enough” to go home.  WOOHOO!  I was so glad.

Handsome hubby took me home and the trip was uneventful.  I was sore but so doped up that I don’t remember much.  Truth be told, I was so doped up for the first 4-5 days that I remember only bits and pieces.  I do remember when I came into the house, our plan was for me to head right upstairs from the foyer into our room.  My hubby just wanted to get me settled into our room and then let the children come to see me.  So in we went and according to plan, up the steps we went.  What I had not taken into account was my shortness of breath and struggles with breathing.  By the time I reached the top of the staircase, my chest was burning and I was gasping.  Then I had to continue on into our room.  Oh my gosh.  It took a good half hour to calm my lungs down.

After this, I was pretty much just laying low in our bedroom watching Real Housewives of Jersey (marathon) with my husband and feeling pretty darn sore.

One day I got my first and hopefully only migraine.  I guess it was from all the medication and trauma.  Needless to say, I had my husband cover the windows with blankets and then I was sporting the below (see picture)…I wet wash cloth, an ice pack both on my head while wearing his sunglasses.  Funny story about this picture is that it was taken in the part of our bathroom that has no windows.  The light was off and the door was closed and I STILL wanted sunglasses.  🙂  To which my adorable hubby asked, “I know this isn’t funny now but can I take a picture because I know we are going to think its funny very soon.”.  Of course I said yes.  Even in pain I am always down for a good laugh.  🙂  And look, he was right.  Here we are laughing about it!  Smart guy!

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I know I made it sound like Exit 2 was a nightmare.  It definitely had its issues.  And I have to say, the real work rested on my husband and Studious.  They took such good care of me and the Final Three (when grandmothers didn’t have them).  I am blessed.

And though it was a hard road, I have no regrets.  I am so pleased with the outcome.  Exit 2 led me to Exit 3 and I am so happy for it!

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XOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Melissa Graves,

One week ago at around the time I am composing this post, the unimaginable happened to your family.  I have been thinking and praying for your family since the news broke that evening that your son had been taken by an alligator at Disney.  I prayed harder than I have in some time.  And as hard as I was praying, I am sure it could not hold a candle to your pleas with God.

Here we are, one week later.  I am angry at God for your son not being found healthy.  This is one of those times that make me question so much.

Many times this week I found myself tearing up for you, a total and complete stranger.  Words truly cannot convey how so sorry I am for you and for your husband.

I wondered a few times this week why this was affecting me so differently than so many other horrific stories brought to us daily by the media and I realized, it hits close because it could have just as easily been me.   We were in Disney just a few short months ago.  I remember the joy I had in telling our children we were going to the most magical place on earth.  I remember being excited myself as a 39 year old woman because I knew- at my age- that it really is a magical place where dreams come true and good always wins.

I have tried to think of ways to help your family.  Some small token to let you know that my family felt your loss.  Across this great country of ours, we have felt for you.   We still do.

I have decided to donate several children’s books (classics and new releases) to our local libraries in Lane’s name and honor.  Inside each book, I will have a label explaining that the donation was made to honor Lane Graves, a little boy taken from his family and encouraging the adults reading these books at bedtime to snuggle a little closer and love a little harder.

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I encourage everyone reading this blog to please do the same and comment to me that you are.  I hope this small gesture brings you a smile during this unimaginable time.  To know that your boy is remembered.  He is being thought of and his life is mattered.  That because of your little boy, libraries across the USA (hopefully) will receive numerous donations and that countless parents will read the donation label and will give their little(s) an extra squeeze.  Hug a little harder.  Appreciate a little more what we all take for granted.

Please know that your little boy will be remembered and thought of in Maryland.  And so will you.  I will continue to pray for you and I will forever be sorry this happened to you and your family.

XOXO

Keeping it Real…

Hey, guys! Sorry I haven’t posted for a while.  I have been busy with book stuff.  As you know, my children’s book, No Cheese Please, is out in the world.  I have been keeping up with it as it has been Out In the Wild as my Instagram feed shows.

And so with all that great and exciting stuff happening, I must also tell you other things that are happening here.  Things I am not proud to admit.  Things I am ashamed to state.  Why do it then?  Why use this platform to share?  I have learned (it to me decades) in my life that it is not healthy to keep negativity and shame locked inside.  The damage it inflicts on the psyche is so devastating, some don’t come back from it.  I want to keep this blog real and let it be a true representation of myself.  The good, the bad, the ugly.

So, first.  I really feel like I identify as a………worrier.  (Did I make some of you nervous there?).  What I mean by worrier is with the impending social engagements I have lined up for No Cheese Please, I find I am so nervous and self-conscious for them to happen.  I have found myself putting off event planning because I get so anxious.  So if you all could say prayers to help me battle this, I would be most appreciative.

And funny, I thought the second “For Real Reveal” was a separate matter and only now as I am typing realized it is so closely related, they are practically conjoined twins.  If you will remember, months ago I shared that I had been struggling with my weight and its toll on me.  I was proud to show you that I had lost a good bit of weight and you all were super supportive.  Thank you.  I am ashamed to tell you I completely fell off the wagon after my hysterectomy and did not get back on when I could/should have.  As a result, I have gained all the weight back.  I believe this contributes to my anxiety over public events.

I struggle because I am a very determined person.   I believe I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to. The problem I have is my focus (that pin point surgeon focus) has only ever been able to be on one thing at a time.  Yes, I can multi-task BUT there is going to be one thing I will go over the top with and the others will get the basic (if anything).  The result of the past few months?  I published a book and I am enjoying it being sold all around.  I have done interviews and have events planned.  You can guess what had my focus and attention, yes?

The other result of this?  I have suffered.  My sweet husband has suffered.  Because believe me, when I am not happy with how I look, it manifests itself in so many random and unrelated things that he has to deal with as part of his “For Better or Worse” gig.  When I am overweight, it affects every aspect of my life.  Photos?  I hate having them taken of myself?  Dressing in the am?  Torture.  Shopping?  There are no words….

I even worry that my appearance will embarrass my children.  Studious is in college so she is well aware that I am not living a healthy life.  Clever, Dapper and Spicy are still young and I still worry about going into their schools.  I worry that I (even now) embarrass them.  I hate that feeling.

So, I am going to work on this and I am sharing it here for a collection of reasons.

  1. I am a writer.  Its what I do.
  2. I hope to encourage even one person (even if its me, it will be worth it)
  3. I want the accountability.  I mean, it will be hard to NOT make these changes after sharing this with you all.

My blog is still going to focus very much on writing and being a mom.  That is where my heart is and you all know that.  So I will not be making this a blog about weight loss/etc.  However, I do vow to share with you once a week a progress update.  You can expect these updates to come Saturdays as that is the day I officially REBEGAN my transformation.

Some of you will ask what it is I will be doing.  I plan on following the Ideal Protein protocol and also using the workouts from Bikini Body Mommy. The BBM currently has 4  90 day challenges.  I have started Bikini Body Mommy Challenge 1.0.  They are free workouts- check them out.

I do have before pictures I took on Sunday as well as my initial weigh in.  At this time, I am not going to reveal those.  I would like to revisit sharing at a later date.

In closing, I wanted to thank you for reading this novella.  And I hope you can help support me and each other in this.

As I have said before, “I want my outside to reflect the person I am on the inside”.

XOXO