Friday, November 13, 2015

A Vision of Health

I'm not sure that I have ever been what I consider healthy. My earliest memories as a child include many painful nights sniffling through various ailments. Some of my most treasured memories are from times I was sick and the love that my parents offered me in those times. I remember one night when I couldn't sleep because every time I lay down I couldn't breathe. My dad realized the problem and propped me up with his big over-sized pillow, then he brought in a little t.v. and let me watch Star Trek VI until I fell asleep. Another time I had an amazing conversation with my mother in the car when I was crying over being sent home with coughing AGAIN. Her love and genuine concern for me bolstered me in a very difficult time.

Now I am 28 I still seem to have many months in the year where I am sick, but I fear that the worst part of my health is probably my weight. Like so many others I have been through the eating disorder thing, I have been in a place where I thought that there was no way on this earth or any other that I was going to be healthy and fit. I have lost hope and pounds and regained them countless times. After a long time I feel like I have come to a more healthy state of mind. I wouldn't say that I am comfortable with my body and where I am right now, but I know that it doesn't effect my worth as a person, nor does it effect how beautiful I am. Lately I have been thinking about the path I took to get to this point. I was reading an article that floats across my Facebook page every so often speaking about how we should never body shame ourselves in front of our daughters, we should never tell our daughters that they are beautiful, or make any comment on their bodies whatsoever. I found this advice to be overly harsh. What came across to me was that my body issues aren't important if I have a daughter, it's not okay for her to see me struggle. I felt like I was being chastised for the times that she twirls in her dress, or puts a silly bow in her hair, or asks me "what so you think mama?" and the only word in my vocabulary that remotely expressed how I felt about her in that moment was in fact beautiful. I think that all three of my children are beautiful from their luscious long eyelashes to their sparkling personalities, and I personally don't see anything wrong with telling them so. I think there are things  far more damaging then telling your daughter she is beautiful.

First, as women we all have discouraging moments with our appearance. Even the most confident of woman has bad hair days, bad clothes days, bad days in general. We are not wired to like ourselves all the time. It takes effort to get there. It takes effort to take the knocks of our own confidence, and being strong for every one else in every moment is exhausting and not always possible. I for one want my children to know that I am human. I struggle. I don't always win the fight but I DO NOT GIVE UP, and I don't want them to either. I have watched my own mother struggle, but she continues fighting, past exhaustion, past setbacks, and even sometimes past hope. I would be an amazing person if I could emulate her in that. So sure, try your best to love your body when your daughter can see you, but in those vulnerable moments when she sees you struggling pull her aside and tell her you love her, tell her that you are working on loving yourself, and that some days you just aren't very good at it, but it is important to keep trying everyday.

Second, there ARE things that I believe you should never tell your children. Don't try to prevent their pain by telling them that they can't do something, or that no matter what they do they are just going to be the way they are. I thought I was fat from a very young age. I was basically a full grown woman by 14. When I graduated the 8th grade I was wearing a women's 14, and I thought I was huge. In comparison to many of my size 0-2 peers I was enormous. I wish that the advice I had listened to in those difficult teenage years was that you are wonderful just the way you are. I am sure that my supportive parents probably said something to  that effect, they have always been supportive of me as a person. However, the things that I remember the most are the aunt who told me "you are just big-boned" a statement which made me feel like I was just supposed to be the big girl, like the only way that I could possibly be was fat.  Then there was the voice teacher who told me that if I wanted to be a singer than I could kiss goodbye the chance at having a flat tummy. It felt like I had to choose between my dreams and having a nice figure, like the two were not possible together. I spent a lot of time thinking that the way I was was inescapable, unavoidable, like my destiny was a black hole in which I was doomed to be sucked into. When people said things that took away the possibility of change it hurt. Don't limit anyone else by your own struggles, or even by their own struggles.

There are definitely things we need to say more to our. When the ones that you love are unsatisfied with their physical appearance, don't just brush them off. These feelings are deep, and real. Support them in making decisions to eat better, to work better, to live better, to be better. Help them understand that the only standard worth living up to is their own vast potential. If they want to look great, to feel great, to BE great, than that power is in their hands, and only their hands.  They can be satisfied with who they are, and with how they look while taking steps to improve themselves, to grow, and to change. It is a remarkable part of our human existence.
When things get tough for our daughters just let them know "I'm sorry you are hurting, I love you so much. You are beautiful no matter what. What should we do to help you feel better." Even taking action on things that seemingly have no control, like my asthma and chronic illnesses is empowering, and uplifting.
I think that everybody should be told that they are beautiful. The world's standard of beauty is so small. If you hold yourself , or others to that standard you confine yourself to a very small world. However, when you look at a human being and recognize that they are a soul of infinite worth it can change the way look at them. It is not limited to their "great personality" or "sweet spirit" . Learn to appreciate the beauty of the human body. It is an amazing and wonderful creation in all of its forms. With or without eyes to see, or ears to hear, it is beautiful. With or without hands to grasp and feet to walk, it is beautiful. Fit or not, hair or not, whole or not, each person that has been given the gift a body is beautiful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteren's day

When I think about veteran's day I first think about my grandpa. Like many men born in his era he went overseas to protect the world from evil men. I am grateful for his service and that he came home, and married my grandmother and began the family that would eventually lead to my birth. He left me a heroic legacy and I am grateful for it. I also think about my sweetheart. He is currently serving our armed forces. I am  proud of him for his commitment to serve a higher purpose. My worst nightmare would be for that knock on my door to tell me  that he is not coming home. I think anyone who loves someone who serves could probably say the same thing, and some of them have lived through that nightmare. So today, this veteran's day I want to thank those who put their life on the line for the freedom of Americans. I want to thank them for the time they have spent away from family, missing birthdays, anniversaries and the like. I want to thank them for the effort they have spent exercising , training, and refining themselves into soldiers. I want to thank those who have spilled their precious blood, and even given their lives for the United States of America. I also want to thank the loved ones who have been left behind. You are heroes too. So to all those who have sacrificed something to ensure the safety of our country and it's people. Thank you and happy veteran's day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Plan

Have you ever had one of those moments where you had no idea how you were going to fix a problematic situation. I had one of those moments yesterday when my childcare through for my job training.  I felt short of breath as I tried to keep the onslaught of tears from effecting my voice on the phone. Still, I got off as fast as I could and instantly dissolved into a blubbering mess. I felt ,completely lost. My brand new job that was saving me the misery of graveyard shifts at Wal-Mart was at risk of ending before it began.  In desperAtion I put a plea out on facebook. Within minutes I had family members asking their own friends and contacts, and sharing my status. Though none of them were close enough to help themselves they made me feel their affection  from afar, they made me feel important and loved.  My sweet husband tried to comfort me by telling me that it was all going to work out. That God has a plan for us. In frustration I cried to him that my plan usually hurts less. I felt bad when my negativity shut him down. I spent a relatively sleepless night tossing and turning and mulling over what's was going to do if everything went wrong.  
 Things looked a little brighter this morning. After talking with my new employer I discovered that I only need childcare for half as long as I thought I did. Suddenly my problem didn't seem so big.  I joyfully began calling and facebooking the news to my friends and family. 
The situation is still not resolved, I'm still not sure how exactly things are going to work out, but I feel my faith renewed that they will.  I have even had the thought cross my mind that if things didn't look so bleak yesterday the problem I really have to solve would be way more overwhelming.  Maybe there really is a plan...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Break my Heart: A Letter to my Daughter

I took you to school for the first time yesterday. I don't know if it was just that I was coming off of six overnight shifts in a row but it was an extremely emotional experience. I lasted okay until it was time to walk away from the school. Only having to wipe the occasional stray tear away, but as I walked away leaving you, my baby, for the first time in a world I can't have an everyday influence in, I began to fight a rush of sobs that were fighting against my control.  A million thoughts raced through my head; memories of bringing you home from the hospital and watching you learn how to crawl and then to walk. Watching you dance crazily around the living room (one of your favorite activities) and then my thoughts turned to the future how this really is a first step to her growing up, and me having to let you go. For a moment I pondered on how much it hurt, on how much love I have for you my little one and how much it pains me to see you go, on how much it will always pain me to see you grow and change. No matter how good I raise you you will break my heart.

After school, when I couldn't find you right away, the thought briefly occurred that I had made a horrible mistake letting you go out on your own. You were not ready I thought. But when your teacher found you at the office trying to call me I realized how brave and how grown up you really are. I'll admit I was just a teensy disappointed that you were only a teensy bit scared. It meant that you had not needed me the way that you used to and the change was a little sad to me. I am proud of you though.

The reflections I have had over these first big steps for you have made me realize that no matter what you do it will break my heart. If you make choices that lead you into darkness and despair I will mourn and grieve for you, and I will fight for you (I will always fight for you) to come back to choices that will bring you joy. On the other hand if you always choose the right path. If you grow up to be happy and successful it will break my heart in other ways. I will miss when you played peek-a-boo with your baby brother (hopefully you will be playing peek-a-boo with children of your own). I will miss when you danced crazily around the living room. I will miss when you needed me every hour of every day, and when I got a chance to be mother to an amazing terrific little girl, because she grew up to be an amazing terrific grown woman.

So sweetie break my heart, it was yours the moment you came into this world. I am very lucky to be your mother, very lucky to hurt over these amazing first steps you are taking. Keep learning, and growing, and changing. Keep being brave, and thoughtful, and kind. Keep striving to be the best you can, and keep breaking my heart for all the right reasons.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

EmmyKate the Great

My sister Kate is a strong-willed, amazing, brave woman. My husband's sister Emily is likewise strong and capable. Little did I know that when we named our daughter Emily Katherine that she would also be so strong-willed and determined. From the time she was a baby she has been a very goal oriented stubborn little girl. Once when she was learning to crawl she saw a toy on the other side of a large pile of laundry. She struggled hard to get past it. I noticed her predicament and moved the pile out from between her and the toy. She changed course and proceeded over the pile, which was now out of the way, to get the toy.
She does everything with a ferocity and sweetness. I know that someday that passion will serve her really well. I have watched as my sister has excelled in nearly everything she puts her effort into, and I rejoice at the similarities between my sister and my daughter. Both of them are great examples to me.

The other thing that really defines my daughter's personality is her joyous spirit. When she isn't being a little turkey (and sometimes when she is) she is nearly always smiling. She is just a happy kid, and she is sensitive to the moods of others.

One of my favorite things about my EmmyKate is the way she responds to the question "How are you?".  She nearly always responds with an emphatic "Great!" Even when she is feeling glum she will respond with something like "I'm a little sad and a little great." I sometimes envy her carefree attitude toward life, especially in moments when I feel very down-trodden and grown up. I don't want her to lose that ever. When I think about that my mind begins to drift towards what I can do to ensure that she grows up as an optimistic force for good.

I think the best thing that any parent can do is to lead by example. If you want your child to work, than show them how to work. If you want your child to love than show them love. If you want your child to be an optimist than you had better learn to be an optimist. Optimism is not my forte, but it is something I want so badly for myself, and my children. So for guidance I turned to the biggest optimist I know, my four-year-old EmmyKate.

I have decided that whenever someone asks me how I am doing that I am going to respond the same way as my cute kiddo with a resounding "Great!". Now I know that this could  turn into one of those little habits that we pick up the way that we answer the telephone with "hello" or "what's up".  It very well could lose it's meaning incredibly fast, and then be a completely useless thing for me to do, but saying is only half of it. When I tell someone that I am great I want to  BE great.

Last night at work was very difficult. I was fatigued to the point of exhaustion, and it made things feel like they were ten times harder to do, but every time someone asked me how I was I responded "Great!"  The first thing I noticed was that my response often was met with a smile. Smiles are not something I see a whole lot of on the night shift. It was refreshing. Then after our brief exchange I would continue working, my thoughts going along the lines of "You really are great you know. You have a wonderful husband and children,  you have a decent job, and a roof over your head, you have friends and family who love you , and care about you , and pray for you. Yeah life is pretty great. YOU are pretty great and you can do anything."

Now it is entirely possible that I was just going a little crazy and talking to myself. I very well could have been hallucinating my whole shift (it was a really weird shift with a shirtless marine, and a grown man playing hide-and-seek in the fitting room scaring me half-to death,  not joking it actually happened). However, crazy or not, hallucination or not, it felt good to think about my blessings, and to reflect on the good I have to offer this world. I think I am going to continue my little experiment. I am going to continue to emulate my sweet daughter, EmmyKate the Great. I wonder what it will look like on the other side of a decent amount of sleep. I bet it is going to be awesome.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I am Blessed

I am a working mother. It's a recent development, but it's true. One Saturday about a month ago I was doing our family budget and I realized that even with my husband's fabulous new job that we would still only be barely eking by. So I turned off the computer, put on the nicest most business-like clothes I had (not an easy feat since the majority of my clothes are sweat-pants and t-shirts), did my make-up and hair, and told my husband that I was going to go get a job. I printed out a few resumes and took off with an optimistic hope that I would return with a job, and a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that there was no way that things could happen that fast.

Much to my surprise and the surprise  of my husband I happened to be at the right place at the right time. My job search ended that day with an interview, a job offer and a drug test. I could hear my husband's jaw hit the floor when I told him about the interview, I think he expected that I would come home a crying sniveling mess. Confession, I tend to cry when things (important things) don't go the way I hope. Rather than having to pick up the pieces this time he and I had to deal with a very real dramatic change in our lives.

The last few weeks have not been easy. I am working the night shift and he is working during the day. I am on when he is off and when I am off I have to run the household despite a major lack of sleep. Despite the difficulty I already feel closer to my husband in many ways.  First of all I have to totally brag. He has stepped it up with the housework, with the care of the kids, and with the love. Just last night  he bought me roses and chocolate just because he thought I needed it. This tough time that we are going through has made him so much more aware of me of my needs, of the difficulties that I have struggled with as a stay-at -home mom. He not only has become even more of an amazing support in my life, but he is also constantly reassuring me that I am doing enough. There is a major guilt-factor for me. Working a full-time job I am just not physically able to do everything I was doing before I was employed. I am so grateful that he knows that because it is something that I am still learning.

The other relationship that I have felt a major change is the one that I have with God. I have been leaning on him more and more. I have plead for his aid as I fight to get through an eight hour shift on two hours of sleep. I have begged for the safety and well-being of my family that I don't always feel present for. I constantly implore him to guide me, and to help me to know if I am doing the right thing, if I am doing enough. I have felt strengthened in my faith. I have had spiritual moments of clarity. In those rare quiet moments between my job shift and my mom shift I have felt like I am enough. So long as I am doing everything that I can I am enough. I try to hold on to that feeling when I am so tired I can't see.

So I know this post is pretty disjointed, and kind of mushy, but I had to send it out into the universe for my sake. So that I can remember it when I am physically and emotionally exhausted.


Monday, July 13, 2015

What Other People Think is None of Your Business

I have a really bad habit, and I'm sure I am not the only one with this particular minor fault. There are times when I care too much about what other people think. You know what I'm talking about. Maybe it's that time when you were flying through the grocery store at the speed of a snail with a wailing toddler in tow, noticing every other customer's glance or determined effort to not look in your direction. Perhaps it was in Church when your four year old started climbing over the seats flashing her black and pink bat-girl panties to the entire congregation. Maybe it was the time you met someone new and felt that you may have been rambling, or laughing too loud, or asking too many questions. Whatever the case it is a feeling that I am all too familiar with. 

I question myself constantly. Friends and people are important too me I have driven myself crazy analyzing and reanalyzing every  word I said in a conversation thinking that I may have opened up too much to someone who is virtually a stranger (If you hadn't notice I tend to be a very open person). I worry that I might offend someone, or worse that they might start saying bad things about me when I am not around because I really am such a klutzy, crazy loud-mouthed dork. I have imagined many scenarios where the people I meet are totally and utterly repulsed by my presence. No doubt this stems from the struggles I have had with my own self worth.  Between an eating disorder an massive amounts of baby weight it has taken me quite some time to look in the mirror and say " I like you, whoever you are, today and everyday." (It still doesn't happen everyday, but it does happen). 

Anyway I had a conversation last month with my mother-in-law. One of the things she said keeps coming into my mind, and I though I would share. I think she heard it from someone else, but she told me "What other people think is none of my business" It really stuck with me, and made me think "How often do I worry about things that don't concern me?" Scenario after scenario flashed through my mind. The list was long. After our conversation my head when back into the weekend, I had traveled with my children for my sister-in-law's wedding. The whirl of activities kept my brain thinking about other things. 

When I got back home I started thinking more about what she had said, and I began to feel a very liberating sensation. I began to realize how different those situations I listed earlier could feel if I worried less about how others perceived me. If I stopped worrying about what others might think in the store than maybe I would have more patience with my tempestuous toddler. Maybe I would understand more quickly what she wants or needs, and find a better way to soothe her than a harried bribe off the shelf, just to keep her quiet. In church I might be better able to laugh off my daughter's complete disregard for modesty, and turn it into a gentle teaching moment where I teach her about worshiping God and the best way to show reverence for him. Instead of taking the pessimistic view of how awful people think I am I can embrace the thoughts about the wonderful person I just met, and feel really grateful for the uplifting, enlightening, entertaining, and adult conversation I just had (without a child tugging on my leg). However, these are just hypothetical scenarios. I had a real one yesterday. 

I just started a night shift at a local retailer. From day one I found myself asking a lot of questions. Far more than the three other ladies I have been training with. This new situation already has me standing well outside of my comfort zone, but I am determined to be the best employee that I can so I asked the questions, I mean the more I understand the better I can do my job right? But then I start noticing little things about when I'm talking to my manager or the people training me. The way she silenced my question with her hand like that, Was it because she needed a minute to answer my question or am I talking too much? Am I annoying her? Or when I tracked down my manager several times in a shift to ask questions about policy and the details of how I am to do my job, was he annoyed that I pulled him from more important things? Am I asking to many questions? Is he going to hate me for it?

Jobs are stressful as it is and this line of thought was not doing anything to help lift my load. I was on my break almost to the point of half-hysterical worn out tears when what my Mother-in-law said came rushing back into the front of my mind. Suddenly the situation was different. It's not my business if my manager thinks I am asking too many questions. It's not my business if my manager likes me. 

So what IS my business? My business is my desire to gain an understanding on how to do my job, so I can be the best employee that I can possibly be. Concentrating solely on my business I suddenly have the freedom to be myself completely. My motivations become far more simple "what can I do to be my best self today?" I don't know if somebody else will like me better for it (and who cares since it is most definitely NOT my business) but, I like me better for it. To me it was giving myself permission to simply be myself, and that is what I was always meant to be anyway.

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Gay Rights" Do Not Give You License to be a Bully

I have tried over and over again to let this go. I have been nearly in tears, fuming over the injustice of it all. I have written this and deleted it several time. It infuriates me that my position on this will more than likely illicit unkind, and hurtful comments. I have been afraid to write this out for fear of online retribution, but I still live in a country where I can say what I want, and where I can stand for the things that I believe in. I just can't hold it in any longer.

Friday was a historic day for many in this country. A cause that they had fought long and hard for was won. Frankly I am relieved it is over. I don't agree with gay marriage, I will not be teaching my children that I'm okay with it, but I will not stand in the way of other people living their lives according to their own beliefs, and I would hope that these brothers and sisters of mine will afford me the same. I love and respect all of them, and the choices that they make that I disagree with will never affect my decisions to love and respect them.
That being said there IS a new trend in this country that I find very distasteful. The trend of bullying people who do not support Gay Marriage. The most recent example that comes to mind is a post that I read on Friday. A photographer openly supported Gay marriage on his Facebook page and a client messaged him on Facebook to tell him that they wish to change photographers, because they do not support gay marriage, and to inquire as to how they could get the money they gave him as a deposit back.  The client said nothing disrespectful just that they didn't want to support something that they don't believe in. Unfortunately for them they signed an agreement and could not get their money back. Rather than handling this professionally, by politely informing the client that they could not get their deposit back, he proceeded to write them a message that basically told them that he was glad they were going somewhere else because he doesn't want to take pictures for horrible people. He informed them that they could not get their money back, and that he was going to donate it to an organization that supports gay marriage.  After this he posted it on Facebook. He didn't use their names which I guess justifies it to some people. Then the masses applauded. They applauded his "daring". They applauded him "putting horrible people in their place". I personally felt sick to my stomach.

What if it had been the other way around? More and more stories pop up in the news about gay couples suing florists, bakers, photographers, and providers of wedding venues for not providing services. According to the media, and a lot of people who support gay rights, a gay couple who were declined service by a photographer would have then had the "right" to sue the photographer, take away his livelihood, and smear his name and reputation across the Internet. That is bullying, and we are letting them get away with it.

These people, the victims of the bullies, are having their lives torn apart. Why is this okay? If I saw someone being deliberately unkind to someone because they were gay I would stop it. Why does no one step in to stop the bullying when it is the other way around? People like me, who try, are often labeled as bigots, as haters. The people who assign these labels really need to take a look in the mirror. The golden rule is treat others as you would want to be treated. It is not treat only the people who agree with you as you would want to be treated. It does not mean that we treat everyone exactly the same. It means that we accept all people as themselves, with their imperfections, mistakes, beliefs, and values. It means that we value each person for their right to lead their lives according to their own conscience. It means that we do not judge them for living true to their own beliefs. Every person is precious. Every person has value. If people who want "equality" remembered that, this bullying behavior would not be acceptable in the slightest.
No matter the bully, no matter the victim bullying is always wrong. Let us stand together as a human family and put a stop to it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Please Don't Tell my Child It's Okay

I have invited you into my home and the first thing my child does is to jump on you. My four-year-
old is a bouncing ball of energy that if harnessed correctly could probably power the world, and right now every ounce of it is being spent on you my friend. You are the new face she is intent on loving, cuddling and possibly flattening. My cheeks may begin to color slightly. As often as I try to just accept her the way she is I would be lying if I told you that embarrassment doesn't come into it at all. Then I take a deep breath and try to put on my best parenting self (for your sake as well as hers) and I say "Honey, you need to ask before touching other people." Or maybe "Sweetie, I need you to take three steps back and a deep breath. Then ask before you cuddle with so-and-so."

I sense your discomfort. You have no idea what to do in this situation. Right after my little one subjected you to what very well may have been a painful experience you are now dealing with the awkwardness of me calling her out on it. You may sense my slight embarrassment in the situation and on the whole it's just uncomfortable so you open your mouth and say the worst possible thing you could say in this moment "Don't worry about it. It's okay."

The first thing that comes to my mind is "No it most certainly is not okay.". I definitely appreciate your patience in the matter. I appreciate that you still want to be my friend/relative despite the steamrolling you just received. I appreciate that you want me to feel comfortable in this situation, but it is definitely not okay, and here's why.

First I am raising a human being, not a monkey. When adults meet with each other they do not pummel each other in the stomach, squeeze each other's faces or hang on each other with all their strength. Each of my children , from the 1st grader to the baby, are all little grown-ups in training. I have the responsibility to act appropriately and to encourage them to do so as well.

Second there are many times where my child's behavior is completely inappropriate and even dangerous. Not everyone she meets is as sturdy as you. She has little old grandmas and grandpas that she sees on occasion, and not all of them are up to the amount of crushing love that you just received. I have to have a system in place to remind her how she can act around the people that are not quite ready for her wild sweetness.

Third, and this is the most important, is because I said so. I know it sounds cliche, and way to authoritative, but I am her mother and I see far more of the picture than you. I see every time she jumps on people. I am familiar with her needs and quirks, and heart. When you say to me "It's Okay." you are another grown-up undermining my authority as her parent, and she will listen to you. You are the one who just gave her permission to do exactly what she wants to do. What child in their right mind is going to do what mom says when someone else gives them permission to disobey her.

Things you can do instead

First, don't allow her to do what I just told her not to. Support me as a parent. If you are okay with allowing her to jump on you and love you that is fine, but if I told her she has to ask first than make her ask first.

Second, don't be afraid to upset her. If you are not okay with her being on your lap than don't let her be on your lap. Children are sometimes thoughtless, whiny and manipulative. The hope  is that someday they will grow out of that, and a big part of that is not always getting what they want. Allowing my child to climb all over you when you are not okay with that teaches her nothing about personal space and the right to your own body.

Third, please continue to have patience with her and with me. Don't see this as a time to take over as her parent. Uphold what I have asked of her by reminding her gently that "Mom said". Help her to understand that  what I ask of her is important. When I asked her to get off of you I wasn't passing the baton of parenthood over to you. I am working hard to forge a good and respectful relationship as mother to my children. Respect that and allow me to do my job the way I see fit.

This situation is just one of the many snags I have run into in this journey as a parent. There are many many others that I could name, but bottom-line we all need to support parents as they try and guide their children to the right path. Have patience with us and with our little ones. Be our cheerleaders. Don't tell us how to do it , or try to do it yourself. Just look us in our tear-filled eyes and say "You're doing great mom! Keep up the good work!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How the way we do College is Ruining Lives

Education is an important thing. You have been told this over and over by your father, your mother, your grade school teachers, your high school football coach, and anyone that has ever inserted an opinion on your life. However what they are really saying is a college degree is really what matters, and it is true. That little piece of paper that says you spent several years of your life slaving over homework and textbooks is essential to anything you may want to do when you finally decide to join the grown-ups.

I'm not saying that getting a degree is not a worthy endeavor. I am not saying that the time and effort put into the degree isn't incredibly valuable experience. It is always a valuable experience to pursue anything that stretches your mind, and encourages growth. What I am saying is that we have slowly and surely fallen into some practices with the college system that we have that has far reaching and negative consequences.

The first thing that comes to my mind is one of the most personal to me, since I have found myself in a situation where it is really relevant. I am looking for a job. I have spent  the last several years working hard to raise my children, a task which I put my education on hold for. I have learned many things in the time I have been away from school, things which are just as valuable and relevant as what I can learn in a college classroom. I work to expand my mind by reading good books, and constantly learning new things. I work hard to manage a household and balance a budget. I could be an amazing asset to any company that hires me, but half of them won't even look because I have no degree. They have made college degrees necessary for everything except the most menial of tasks. My story may not garner much sympathy after all I am just an unemployed twenty something who dropped out of college, but let me tell you another story.

There once was a man who worked for 17 years in the computer industry. He was good at what he did, and very knowledgeable. When the economy got hit hard in 2001 after the destruction of the world  trade center he got laid off. For two years he sought to find a new job with nearly two decades of experience and glowing references, but there were lots of young twenty somethings who gone to college and that little piece of paper that they had meant that what the man had to offer was overlooked and thrown away. I understand that at the time there were hundreds of people applying for one position , and companies had to make cuts based on quantifiable evidence of employee quality, but the attitude "degree or see ya" has endured past the initial dip in the economy. Thankfully this story had a happier turn. The man bravely went back to college in his forties, and graduated a year after his oldest child graduated from high school. It was a proud moment for his whole family. He now has a pretty good job, but may be paying on his student loans for the rest of his life, which brings me to my second point.

As of September 2014 there were 40 million Americans up to their eyeballs in student loan debts. The cost of a good education has gone beyond the point of ridiculous to absolutely insane. From hundreds of dollars for textbooks, to the exorbitant amounts of money borrowed for tuition, recent college grads are drowning in debt. The money that they had to borrow for that little piece of paper that they worked so hard to get may in fact haunt them for the rest of their lives. The higher cost of education may well extend beyond the monetary. South Korea, a country that highly values education, is now encouraging students to drop out due to a lack of viable jobs. Employers are being encouraged to hire more people with only a high school education because the amount of money being put into these educations is not proving worth it. 40% of Korean college students are unable to secure employment after graduation. In the US nearly half of graduates are unable to get a job that requires a college degree much less in their own field of study. We push and push our children to go to college, but wind up having millions of people completely overqualified, and unhappy. I fear for my children and the cost of education for them in twenty or so years.

Speaking of children, our drive to get them to a superb education is seriously stunting children who would have otherwise been thought of as intelligent and gifted. From the moment that they step into a public classroom the creativity and ingenuity that they posses naturally is suppressed to fit them into a tiny test passing, college bound  mold. Programs like no child left behind and common core are leaving children behind and cutting the core out of the amazing human experiences that they could have had otherwise.  Children spend increasing amounts of time sitting at a desk instead of breathing the fresh air and exploring. They spend weeks preparing for standardized tests, instead of learning at a healthy and more fulfilling pace. There are a few children that come through our education with a minimum amount of scarring, but I fear that those numbers may decrease as they are constantly pushed towards more academic and less creative pursuits. Mr. Holland's Opus says it all very poignantly  'You can teach them to read and write, but if you take away the arts, what will they have to read and write about?'.

I believe in education. I believe in all education, the reading and the writing, the math and the science, the art and the music. I believe in college classes, and in the life experiences gained outside the classroom. I don't know the answers, but I know that they will never be solved if we continue to ignore them. It will never be solved if "an education" remains simply a way to go to college and get a job. We need to find a way to remove the stress and bring the joy back into learning.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Service Glasses

The kids were all down for a nap, or at least quiet. I wandered into the study and flipped open my laptop. Tired and bored I pulled up something mindless and funny on YouTube. After far to short of a time the girls started quarreling over something stupid. I sighed and paused my video. I took care of the argument with some warning about punishments I would never delve out, probably torture on the rack or something along those lines. They obviously didn't believe me, but realizing that mama was feeling a little testy they complied and there was peace once more.
I dragged myself back to the computer and resumed watching, the boredom quickly turning to frustration and anxiety. I began to mentally berate myself, for the things that I wasn't getting done, for the mound of clothes in the laundry room, for the scary state of the dishes. Tears began forming in my eyes as I thought about doing all those things all day every day for the next twenty years or so. I turned off the now blurry video and searched for a tissue to wipe my now streaming eyes and nose. 

I called up my mother. I always seem to feel better after talking with her. She wasn't as sympathetic as I wanted, but enough. "You need to do something outside yourself. Make someone a plate of cookies, or stick some sweet little love notes in your husbands clothes for his trip this weekend." 
I kept back the words that rushed immediately to my lips. "I don't want to go do something for someone else right now, I do stuff for other people all day every day." The words sounded melodramatic, even in my own head, and besides I knew that they weren't completely true (who was that You Tube video playing for anyway?).

I got off the phone dissatisfied with my mother's advice. I tried turning back to my video now that I was calmer, but my unhappiness increased as I could only distract myself for a moment before the negative feelings came rushing in between videos. Reading a book wasn't an answer either as the thought kept running through my head "As soon as you finish this your going to feel miserable all over again." I shut the book, harder than necessary and did my best to set it down gently. 

My mom's words kept coming back into my head. I finally gave in and started thinking about what I can do. On one side my neighbors are diabetics, so a plate of cookies for them seemed a little insensitive. I don't really know any of my other neighbors yet, so I didn't know whether or not cookies from a neighbor would be a welcome thing for them. The local leader of my church lives a few houses down so I started considering what I might bake to take over there, but to my chagrin I didn't really have ingredients to bake anything. I slammed the cupboard door in frustration. I'd have to clean the kitchen to bake anyway. 

The rest of the day passed in a haze. I know that I interacted with my children, got the baby up from his nap, unwillingly did a few dishes, made lunch and put something in the crock pot for dinner. After my husband got home I went to a book club. The adult conversation was refreshing, but over too soon. I dragged my unwilling feet up the porch to my front door after my ride dropped me off. When I got in the house he was there playing a video game instead of packing. My anger flared up and I bit my tongue to keep back the vicious and poisonous words I knew would do nothing but cause a fight. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that he needs breaks sometimes too. I gently reminded him that he needed to pack and began helping him gather his things.  
Observing the dozen or so pockets he has on his uniform I remembered my mom's suggestion. When he went out to the car for something I quickly went into the study and wrote a bunch of little notes. I sneaked back into the bedroom with them in my hand. Striking up a meaningless conversation about something I knew I could get him talking about, I stealthily placed notes in every single pocket of every item that I placed in his bag.  A smug grin of satisfaction spread across my face as  I closed my eyes to sleep. 
The good feeling lasted me throughout the weekend. I kept imagining him finding the notes, and laughing about it or smiling at them. It made it easier to get the dishes done, and to work on the laundry. I could see his smiling face in my head when he saw how clean the house had gotten in his absence. Even my interactions with people at church were more satisfying. Just a handful of silly little love notes seemed to make all the difference. 
I'm not writing this to discourage hard working, Occasionally burnt-out mother's like me from taking time for themselves. I know that there are lots of times when "me-time" is just what the doctor ordered. I'm writing this so that I will remember a pretty decent answer for those days when I am tired and cranky, and no end of my misery is in sight. First even at almost twenty-eight there are times when listening to my mother is the best thing I could possibly do. Second making the things you have to do about serving someone else is a great way to make tasks easier. Third, doing something extra for someone else can brighten a lot more than just your day. 

As I have been keeping those things in mind today I have felt like I am looking through a pair of service glasses. Things I have to do just look different. I have found more patience with my kids, and more desire to be around them and to play with them. Comforting the four year old over invisible owies has been turned into an extra chance to cuddle instead of a chore. Pulling apart a toy to get at another one inside it has turned into an adventure instead of a bother. Teaching my children to work and to play is a greater joy today. Serving my family may not always be the thing I need to pull me out of a slump, but right now, today, and probably most of the time it's a great place to start. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Broke Stay at Home Mom

I want to preface this by saying that there will be complaining in what follows, but I want to start by saying that being a stay at home mom is such a joy in my life. I delight in seeing my sweet little babies learn to walk and talk. I am also homeschooling so watching the light bulb flicker to life as my six year old gets the "CH" sound is one of the highlights of my life.

I recently read an article called  "Being a Stay at Home Mom is not a Job". Despite my blood beginning to boil at the very idea of it I read it anyway. It was a women who felt that staying at home is a privilege but those of us who choose that lifestyle and are unemployed have no right to call it a job, and though I found a lot she had to say loud, obnoxious, and distasteful there were a couple points I agreed with.

One, it is a privilege. I know that. There are definitely days that I forget it it, but I know it. I know that I would miss out on a lot if I sent my kids to daycare. First steps, first words, and funny phrases are just some of the many things I would be missing out on if I was not the primary caregiver. I know that there are many working mother's out there who would give just about anything to watch their kids growing up from the perspective I get to see mine.

The second thing that she was right about is that it is not a job. Calling it a job would be an enormous understatement.  It is much more time consuming and much less fulfilling on the short term than a job. I am on duty 24/7. I get no vacation days, I get no sick time. I get no paycheck. It's not a job its a long never-ending slog. I spend all my days with three little people who need to be fed, clothed, bathed, cuddled, comforted, entertained, and educated. There are moments of wonder, moments when I can't believe how lucky I am but there are many more moments of isolation, irritation, loneliness, desperation, and exhaustion.

It is frustrating being a passenger in my own life. 6 years ago I made a decision to let my husband drive because I put my education on hold and gave up a having career to raise our children. I have watched as my husband has struggled to determine our path through HIS education and HIS career. I have shed many tears wondering how we are going to stretch our pennies and feeling helpless, especially lately.I don't want to give up my life with my kids, for any reason, not because I am broke, and not because I sometimes want more in my life than being an unpaid cook, maid, and child care giver.

Now we are hitting a major snag in our lives financially. I won't go into to many details, but I will admit that a good portion of it is poor decisions and money management. My husband and I are talking about me trying to find a job I can do from home. I have begun wading through the scams and real jobs on the Internet. My lack of education and experience are a hindrance to any job I might apply for. With a six and a half year gap in my resume I probably only qualify for something like burger flipper, however I  still don't want to be stuck doing something I absolutely hate.

What I want is to be a writer. I have wanted it for a long time. I want to be a real writer, not just a mom who writes a blog. I spend hours thinking about stories, reading books, typing on my computer and scribbling in journals. I would LOVE for someone to pay me for this task that I already do. In my desperation for extra funds I began a search online for writing jobs. One thing became clear very quickly I do not have enough education, nor enough experience to qualify for anything. Most people reading this will probably think that I am foolish and naive to think that I  could jump in and just get into my field of choice without some serious changes to the way I currently live, and maybe they are right.

You may wonder about what the point is in all of this. The first is I want to be a writer so naturally I
 am writing. I am writing what I know. I am writing what I am passionate about.  the second point is that I hope that someone who is struggling like me will read this and feel some comfort in the fact that they are not really alone in what they are going through. I hope that someone will come to the understanding  that stay at home parents do not have to feel guilty for wanting more, or wanting it all. Maybe I will someday learn that lesson myself.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ups and Downs

FINALLY! I finally got to sit down and get on my blog after a few weeks of neglect to it. the last few weeks have been pretty tumultuous to say the least.

 We counted down to my husband's big test and then his graduation as a linguist, all the while knowing that the next step was a huge giant gargantuan leap into the unknown. movers packed all our belongings and we packed up our van and we headed off to a knew adventure in another state.

I lamented to a friend just a week before the big move  "We are making a huge leap into the unknown." Her words have stuck with me "Well, that's okay, because God knows the unknown."

things have not gone exactly as we hoped. We are not living in the city we aimed for, and my husband did not get the job we thought he would get, yet we still have felt the influence of the Lord in our situation. We are living in a beautiful, reasonable priced home. My husband has a job. It is temporary as it does not provide enough to support our family of five, but he has some great options coming to him in the not too distant future.
  I have taken many a deep breath and cried many a tear as I struggle to make a new budget work, and just haven't been able to. I have been humbled as i sought help just for the basic necessities of life. I have been so so so down. I have also been okay.
  I firmly believe that God wants us to be happy, and that if we align our will with his that he will guide us to the path that will help us be the most happy. However, I am a stubborn person and I often find myself telling God what I want.
  I have done a lot of praying and a lot of studying in my scriptures, as well as reading some amazing talks on by apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. I have researched topics such as the will of the Lord and finding peace in troubled times. I have had some very uplifting experiences. I have also come to the conclusion that there are steps you can take to want what Heavenly Father wants for you.
The first of these two steps is to show gratitude. I realized that my children when they pray ask for lots of blessings from God , but were not taking the time to tell him how thankful they are for his gifts. I found myself doing the same thing. So I began writing in my journal the last thing in each entry is a list of things I'm grateful for. The more lousy the the day the more lines I fill. When I focus on what I am grateful for I feel so blessed; it allows me more patience to wait for the Lord's timing for the blessings I still want/need.

The second of the two steps is to serve others. My efforts have mostly been focusing around my immediate family, but even doing something simple like bringing my husband a snack while he is job hunting on the computer lifts me up and gets me outside of myself and my own worries and fears.
  I still have agonizing moments of doubt and anxiety. Money is tight, and stress is high, but I am sharing my feelings with others, taking LOTS of deep breaths, and praying for help in each moment of apprehension. There are even whole days when I feel like I just might make it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Teaching my Kids How to Work

  I remember taking hours and hours to do the dishes when I was a kid. I probably spent about a third of my pre-teen and teenage years in the kitchen not getting the dishes done. My room was always a mess, much to the chagrin of my sister, and it was not often that I actually finished pulling weeds outside in the hot Arizona sun. I remember my dad saying over and over that he wished we lived on a farm so we would know what REAL work was. I had responsibilities at home that I never really fulfilled as well as I could on a regular basis.

  Now as an adult I still struggle with keeping things cleaned up. The laundry and the dishes seem to pile ever higher as I get more and more overwhelmed with the task before me. I have shed tears and even gotten into big trouble because of the state of my house. Poor health and a difficult pregnancy contributed to the problem, I fell out of the habits I was building to keep it clean and now I frequently look at my house and despair that the next decades of my life I will be little more than a maid in my home.  Of course that is a little on the dramatic side ( I am a dramatic person and I know it). I have a wonderful husband that pitches in where he can, and I am beginning to realize that I also have my children to help with the work.

   At church on Sunday I heard someone mention that she had at one point written out a huge list of the tasks that she wanted her children to be able to do at their age. She talked about how this didn't work out exactly as she planned, but it made me think. I rarely ask my children to help out beyond a quick pick-up in the living room, or their bedroom. I realized that I had no idea what my kids are capable of when it comes to cleaning the house, and that in my own struggle to be a better cleaner I was completely forgetting to teach my children about it. Obviously this is unacceptable, and I need to fix it.
   Yesterday while I was out at the store my husband rounded up the troops to get the living room clean, and while there was a marked improvement by the time  I arrived home, it wasn't remotely close to my own standards of a clean room. So when evening came and the room was still a mess Chris and I decided to have a Family night lesson on the importance of having a clean home. Then, everyone of us got up and we cleaned the room together until it was just about perfect. It was a good experience for all of us, especially my three year old who then proceeded to clean up her own playroom and bedroom  without being asked!

   This morning the trend continued when my six year old and my three year old got the kitchen table cleaned off for breakfast while I fed the baby. It has made me realize how important it is to clean with my kids. There are times when it is easier to just to it myself. But if I do that all the time then two things will happen  I will get burnt out and two my kids will not learn to clean for themselves. This morning after breakfast I asked the girls to help me unload the dishwasher. They very carefully handed me each dish to put away in the cupboard. It was a pleasant experience, and afterward as I was preparing the girls schoolwork Lucy (my oldest) asked me what her next task was. They are primed and ready to help out. I just have to ask, and while I'm sure there will be times when the helpful attitude doesn't last at least at that point I will know that they know how to do it.

UPDATE: On the health and weight loss things. Weight loss is going slow. This morning my workout was still insanely hard but I stopped less. It also helped that my sweetheart got my breakfast shake ready and rubbed my feet afterwards (Go ahead ladies be jealous of my amazing man!) I am continueing to make an effort to plan healthier meals.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tears and Defeat

   I called my mom this morning in tears and defeat. I had finished a 30 minute workout. I was hot and sweaty, but severe cramps in my feet and legs meant I couldn't do the full thing full out. It had taken me too  long to even pick a work out this morning. I didn't want to do yoga, one of the nineties workouts with the underwear over the leggings just made me laugh too much to take it seriously and then Chris picked the Jillian Micheals 30 Day Shred. I kind of liked the sound of it. I like to feel like I really worked at the end of a workout. However when the first thing she wanted to do was jumping jacks I began to get really frustrated. First of all I have one bra and it doesn't even fit right and it is not suited to jumping up and down in a comfortable manner. I glared at my husband daring him in my mind to make a stupid flirtatious joke on the subject, lucky for him he just recommended a sports bra. He then turned around and left for work. The next activity was jumping rope. By now the cramping had begun in my left foot and shin. I tried to compensate. First I tried not jumping so high, and then I I tried alternating feet while I jumped. I finally had to come to a crashing halt and try and stretch the cramps away just in time to hear Jillian Micheals say that if her 400 lb clients can do it so can I . She said a lot of things that really annoyed me on that video. By the time 30 minutes were over the total awful truth of my physical condition had come crashing down on me. I felt like I could never change.
  Talking it out helped. At least it gave me a clearer picture of the end for just a brief moment. It's really hard to keep your goal in mind when the path is painful. I was calmer when I got off the phone. I  made myself some Replenish (it's an Isagenix sports drink, and it's tasty and awesome) and sipped it while I made breakfast for the kids. Sitting here at the computer I don't feel as defeated as I did just after the workout. I feel very tired though, and there is a long day ahead with my three wonderful amazing, and very playful children.
   Despite how annoying the workout was and how awful I felt emotionally afterward I probably will do it again. I have already invested in it. I spent a whole $1.99 on it on Amazon, and there is that whole half hour of my life that will just be lost time this morning if I don't stick with it. Okay I am definitely trying to talk myself up to it. I don't want to be defeated the first week of this thing I'm doing. I don't want my kids to ever go through this anguish physically or emotionally because I wasn't a good enough example to them. I want to look and feel as awesome as I am on the inside. I have a lot to offer my family and this world, and it is going to be a lot easier to do that when I don't feel so tired and I don't have to fight my own body to get the simple things done. I really hope I can do this. I CAN do this, I can do this, I can do this....

Monday, February 9, 2015

Feeling CRAZY Taking it one day at a Time

   My sweetheart has lost eight pounds since we started this health plan together. He is on a more aggressive plan than I am on though. I have to be careful about cutting to many calories since I am still nursing the baby. I have no idea if I have lost weight in the last four days.  I refuse to step on the scale at all until I reach a week. Stepping on the scale can be a hazardous practice for me if done to frequently. I am going to weigh in on a weekly basis.  The differences I have noticed so far though include a little bit of energy and an intense pain in my upper body. I lifted weights on Friday with the hubby,  and had to get his help undressing and dressing for the next 24 hours after that. 
He was really encouraging. Laughing a little with me over my pain, but also reminding me that the pain meant that my muscles were activating and coming to life. Doing the job they are supposed to do.

   I am feeling a little anxious and overwhelmed when I begin to think of all the work I have to do before we move next month. The amount of junk we have just boggles my mind. I'm tempted to just close my eyes and pitch it all in the dumpster, but I fear that I might throw out something we actually need. On top of that I have chores that must be done daily, homeschooling for the kids, in addition to the things that my sweet little squirts demand outside the normal feeding, bathing, and dressing. I have found myself to be rather cranky. I know that there are lots of people with a busy, more hectic, more demanding schedule than what I have right now, but I was never the kind of gal to rejoice over other people's dilemmas and feel better over my own lot in life. So I am trying to take deep breaths when I want to cry, to call someone when I feel too lonely or overwhelmed, and make sure that I get a couple minutes to myself to read a book I really want to finish. I am also trying to take the mess, and the organizing and the de-cluttering, and the homeschooling, and the terror of leaving a place and friends I have loved for the unknown one day at a time.

   I have to believe that I am going to make it in one piece. Perhaps a different and more beautiful shape when I am through this, but all together a whole and healthy person body and soul. It's days like today when the baby refuses to nap and kids are driving me crazy that I really have to hope that crazy isn't such a bad thing to be.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

When I grow up

   I am tired. I am tired and my joints hurt so badly that it makes simple things like standing and doing dishes difficult. I hate the way my clothes don't always quite cover me properly. I loathe when I go to a public place and my hips brush the arms of the chair uncomfortably. I despise the way that the water gets blocked in the tub behind me when I take a bath. I would show you a picture of the way I am now, but I have really tried to stay away from the front of a camera lens. In November I played flag football with some gals from church and somebody took pictures and posted them online. Seeing myself in in too tight clothes next to the gorgeous and fit women I was playing with was enough to make me cry. My body is just so far away from where I want to be.

   These are feelings that I know are not unique to myself. There is someone very close to me who has dealt with these kind of issues and feelings for most of my life,and that is my mother. I can't tell you enough good things about my mom. I call her nearly everyday for comfort and guidance, and sometimes just to tell her the funny things my kids say, and she is always willing to listen. She is always willing to advise, but also to back off if needed. My mom is one of my best friends and I feel privileged to be her daughter.
The path my parents have walked has not been smooth. In addition to my mother's problems with her weight she has also had to deal with the bad health of family members (namely my father and myself), financial distress, and the challenges of having an autistic son. She has come through each of these trials with grace and dignity and a resilience that I really hope I can live up to. She has also had the wisdom to seek out help and healing for the emotional damage that life has given her.

This is my mother in 2012

It is hard to find photos of my mom where she isn't hiding behind someone because like me she did not like her body and appearance when I was growing up.

This is my mom now

She is leading a full and active life that she loves. I love her for it, and I love the example that she is to me. In early 2013 my mother and I were introduced to a program called Isagenix. My mother has flourished with it.  Through it she has made friends with outstanding and optimistic people, and found a way to put good nutrition in her body.

My mother took many years to find healing and peace. She learned to make the switch in her brain of "I am depriving myself" to "I can eat what I want, I want to eat healthy."  Only then was she ready to commit to something that finally has helped her be the person she always wanted to be.

   I have been working on the inner healing thing. My weight has been an issue much of my adult life. I also have struggled with an eating disorder most of my adult life. In college I was about a size 10/12 and I did some pretty unhealthy things to keep myself there. I played sick games with myself, skipping meals for days on end, and taking measures to get rid of food that I felt I had eaten in excess. Every time in the past where I have put myself on a diet, strictly counted calories, started freaking out about my weight, or gone through a stressful time or trauma (and I have been through some pretty hefty traumas in the last couple years) I have turned back to those unhealthy behaviors. I've been working with a therapist on my mental issues with food, and one thing she has said to me is "an eating disorder can't survive in the light" So here I am putting it out there to fry in the sun. I'm not putting it out there to gain any unsolicited advice. I am putting it out there with my head held high. I HAVE ISSUES. I AM HUMAN!! I do not want to feel shame anymore, and an eating disorder can be a very shameful thing

   I was encouraged , by my therapist, to just start eating whatever I want. As I allowed myself to do so, I started feeling better mentally and emotionally. No food is completely off limits. That is a rule I have lived by over the last few months and it has helped me. I don't obsess over the food that I can not have. I don't eat too  much of the food I want because it is "forbidden" and I feel I have to hide it. Having not eaten too much I don't feel guilty about it. I can continue my life eating when I am hungry, stopping when I am full and not feeling totally engrossed by what I eat. I had to learn what it is like to feel hungry, as well as what it feels like to be full. I really messed up my body with all the strain that my eating disorder put it through. I finally feel like I am mentally ready to start making the changes I need to get healthy. I have learned that what I really want to change doesn't start with what I eat, but what I want to eat.

     On Facebook, my mother has issued an invitation to join her for something called the Isa-Body Challenge, starting on February 23rd. When I saw it I felt something inside me stirring into action. I am 27 years old and over 100 pounds overweight and I am no longer finding that acceptable. I have an urgent desire to follow my mother's amazing example. My sweet heart and I have talked about it and together we decided to use the same system to get healthy.
   I know I have to be a little cautious on what limitations I give myself. I have learned that drastically changing my diet to something more suited for healthy living often leads me to make bad guilt ridden choices, so I am choosing this path with support from my husband and my sweet mother.
My amazing man is helping me out by being my  support for fitness. On the days that we have time to, he is helping by arranging time for us to go work out and on the days when there is little time he is still holding me accountable for some form of exercise.

   My mother is helping me by supporting on the food end of things. In addition to her expertise on the Isagenix products she has also offered to help me out by making suggestions on little things I can change to improve my diet. She knows what I have gone through and offered to give me as little or as much help as I ask for in these matters. Which is really what I needed the most.

   It took my mom a very long time to get to where she is today. It took a lot of heart ache and stress and fad diets and lots of things that didn't work. Now she is in her late forties and for the first time enjoying the way that life can be when you are physically fit. I have no intention of waiting that long. By the time I am thirty I fully intend to be right up there racing around with my mom. I know I can do it. I have a wonderful loving husband who supports me, an amazing support of family and friends and something else that my mom didn't have. I have her.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reflections on Breakfast and Lullabies

I have had success in running my children through a bedtime routine the last couple of nights. The evenings have gone a little more smoothly. The kids have stayed in bed a little better, and I actually have found that I can more easily relax after bedtime. Maybe that's because the constant clamor of children running up and down the stairs has decreased quite a bit, but I have also found myself falling into a little more of my own night time routine. After the kids are in bed I'll watch maybe a show or read a book, take a bath and go to bed. I have been feeling pleasantly tired at the end of the day, and it hasn't felt like I am longing to stay up later and later just for some much needed me time. I definitely like this night time routine thing. Another unseen side affect of having a routine with my kids is that by making going potty part of our night time routine my oldest daughter has wet the bed less this week so far.

The mornings have been less structured. My girls are frequently awake before I am ready to go get them up. If it gets to be around 7:30 or so and I still haven't heard from a child, then I go upstairs and wake them. However, like I said most mornings the girls are coming in around 7:00 or earlier. I have found the key to getting them dressed right away is to make sure that their clean clothes make it up to their drawer. This morning for example my youngest girl got herself dressed right away and the other had to be told several times that her clean clothes were in the dryer. I have come to the conclusion though that I don't necessarily need to be the one to wake up my kids to have a good and productive morning. I think I am going to put more effort into the night time routine.

Now my AHA! moment here may seem like a Duh to lots of people, but I'm the first to admit that my organizational skills are lacking. It is a weakness that I intend to put a lot of effort into. So far the efforts that I have made have really paid off.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Things do not always go according to steps

   It is harder to stick to a bedtime routine over the weekend. I tend to be a little more relaxed with timing and things. This morning I didn't get the kids up with breakfast I got caught up working on our budget and didn't get to it until after they got themselves up. On the plus side I finally got some laundry folded and put away over the weekend and the girls were able to dress themselves without help, because clothes were in the drawer.

   Things are pretty stressful around here. We are getting ready for a move next month. Today I gave our 30 day notice to our property management people. It is starting to  feel real and scary. Once we are done where we are at my sweetheart has to find a new job, and we have to find a new home in another state. It is a lot harder to stick to goals I set for myself when I am so stressed. At the moment my goal for a week seems really huge and unattainable, so I am going to break it down a bit on here

Today's Baby Steps

1. Do 1 load of wash that includes clothes for girls tomorrow and pajamas for tonight

2. Plan and prepare dinner tonight ON TIME!!! at 6 to prevent bedtime being put off

3. create a bedtime chart for girls and run through it with them at bedtime

That's it. Just three itty bitty things. I can do just three itty bitty things... I CAN do just three itty bitty things.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Breakfast and Lullabies

   I know I have a few days left before I reach ten days from when I began, but I feel the need to move on with other goals. My final thought that I intend to write down on the matter is that I think getting up early is a great thing for me.  Even on days that I find myself grouchy and tired those days are more productive. I am able to accomplish more of the tasks I set before myself. I still have along way to go before my days are as productive as I would like, but there is lot's of time for that.

   As I considered what I would like my next objective to be I reflected on my children's sleeping habits. My girls tend to do a lot of exercise right around bedtime, most parents know the drill. "Mama I need some water." "Mama I need to go to the bathroom." "Mama I had a bad dream even though I only went to bed 30 seconds ago." I have not always taken it well, and more often than not I am too wiped out and out of patience to deal rationally with this behavior. So my next goal is hopefully a way to cultivate some patience and deal with it in a new way.

   A failing on my part has been sending them to bed with little to no help. It was a failing brought to my attention at a parenting class I attended recently. Some constructive criticism of my parenting endeavors was that I needed to be with my children more when I have given them a task, and that I needed to work on creating routines. It was hard to hear the things that I have been doing wrong, but I was grateful for the ideas to improve some of the things I have found frustrating.

   Anyway, the goal I have in mind is a step toward both the situation with the girls getting up at night as well as the beginning of building some routines. The next mission I have given myself is to be there with the girls when they go to bed at night, and when they get up in the morning. I have already begun implementing a routine the evening. It includes a final drink of water, the brushing of teeth, A final trip to the potty, a lullaby, and prayers. So far it seems to be helping with the problem of keeping the kiddos in bed, but I already feel myself drifting away from the desire to keep it up. So I am making it official. I am setting an actual goal in actual writing in plain view of others. My goal is to keep up with that routine for a week from now. In addition to that I also intend to be there with the girls in the morning. To wake them up at a specific time and get them dressed and eating breakfast first thing.

   I'm hoping that by making this change for my girls that we will have a little more peace in our home, as well as build some good memories for my sweet children.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oh what a Beautiful Morning!

I am feeling great today! Last night I went to this awesome parenting class. I had been dreading it a little bit, but to my great surprise it was absolutely wonderful. I got some great advice on things I need to work on, as well as praise for the things I do well. There were some great ideas that I am excited to try.
   This morning I rolled out of bed around 5:30 when my sweetheart finished his use of the bathroom. I sleepily rolled out of bed and marched myself downstairs where I did an AM Yoga workout designed to help you wake up. With the sleeping children it was pure bliss. I had a moment to stop and ready my brain for the day and for the things I need to get done. I am really optimistic about how the rest of my day will be.
  Anyway duty calls. My six-year-old is awake and in need of her Mama. GOOD MORNING!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rising Early: Update

 I found it impossible to get up early on Sunday. Saturday night I had a headache that felt like it was going to crack my skull. I allowed myself to sleep it off. I was the last to get out of bed that day. The first part of the day didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked. Breakfast was delayed, and even at 1 PM when we were to be at church we were pushing to arrive on time.

On the other hand I discovered yesterday that getting up early does not always mean better energy. Sunday night was long and arduous. My little man was vying for my attention most of the night, and when the alarm went off I groaned in sleepy agony. I didn't get up exactly with my husband, but I was up and at it before the kids. Despite my exaustion and cantankerous mood, I still accomplished tasks better yesterday. I am still caught up on the cleaning of the kitchen and now the livingroom is also manageable once again.

After a full night's sleep last night I am optimistic for what the day will bring today. I have less housework to do, so who knows what I can accomplish.

To be continued...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sleeping in on Saturday

   Last night about 8PM I headed out the door to go have a girl's night with some friends. I called back to hubby over my shoulder "I'll be gone and hour, maybe an hour and a half". At 11 PM I texted him to tell him I wasn't ready to come home yet ( one of my girlfriends decided she wanted to be awesome and do my nails.) He replied "have fun honey." At 1 AM I finally got home, having had a thoroughly relaxing and fun time, and I dragged myself to bed realizing that 5 AM was going to come really early. I sleepily shrugged it off and decided against getting up that early, only feeling slightly like a flake.

   This morning I woke up about a quarter to seven to the sound of my little man wanting his first breakfast (like a hobbit he has two). The house was pretty quiet and Hubby was sleeping peacefully. Rather than poke him and hand over the baby so I could get a few more minutes/hours of sleep I got myself out of bed, threw on some clothes and started my day. By 8:30 my Saturday was already looking vastly different then the norm. The living room had been picked up (mostly) and vacuumed in places. I went and made French toast for breakfast, which was eaten at the table all together. Eating together has been a rare occurrence at our house, and it felt nice.  Now it is 10 AM , and the TV has still not been turned on. Breakfast has been cleared away and cleaned up. Overall there is a peaceful, and happy feeling in our home.

   I'm still going to try and get up at five during the week with my sweetheart. However, I am realizing that what I want with this goal is not to get up at five AM, but to be one of the first in my household to be awake and moving. Being up first (especially on the weekend) seems like a good way to have a more productive morning.

Friday, January 23, 2015

And... We're back

     After nearly two weeks of being sick I am finally getting my energy back (YAY!!!). So I am starting again with my early to rise plan. I have refined my plan a little over the course of my illness though.  I spent some time on Facebook

, and I ran across an article that was talking about sleep. It went into details like what healthy sleep looks like, and tips for getting a better nights sleep. It recommended that rather than forcing yourself to go to bed early that you go to bed when you are tired and be very specific about the time you get up in the morning. The article suggested that this be done for 10 days with the theory that most people wind up starting to wake up just before the alarm after this amount of time. It made sense to me so I think I am going to try it.

     It was closer to 11PM when I finally headed off to bed last night, but I still got up with my husband at 5:15. I took a quick shower to wake me up and got a little yoga in before my oldest came down the stairs. She watched me finish my work out, and afterward we had a little chat about how Mama likes alone time sometimes, so next time she gets up early would she please just quietly grab a book and read instead of getting Mama's attention first thing. Those first moments of peace before she got up felt pretty good. Anyway, after I worked out, I strapped on an apron (thanks Mom it's awesome!) put Pandora on my phone and into my pocket and I got the kitchen cleaner than it's been since before I got sick.  I fed the kids a simple breakfast that wouldn't dirty the kitchen I just got cleaned, and then a friend of mine came by. The sweet person that she is she pitched in and helped me finish up the floor.  then we had a nice little chat. I don't know if it is because it's Friday, and I'm not doing home school with the kids today (we do it four days a week, but today feels pretty relaxed. I'm tired, but not to the point where I can't manage it. Maybe I'll snag a fifteen minute snooze when I put the baby down for a nap, but If I don't get it I think I'm going to survive just fine.

Since this is only day one of ten I can't for sure say that my day has been better because of my choice to get up earlier, but it s definitely a good start.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Early to Bed, Early to Rise Day 1

I was in bed at 9 PM, like I planned. I found it fairly difficult to fall asleep. Part of that may have been the hour but I think it is more likely that the cold I have been fighting was affecting my ability to fall asleep (note to self: use night time cold medicine if symptoms continue)

This morning I enjoyed a few moments of good conversation with my husband. I made him breakfast while he got ready for the day. It is not something I do usually because I am in bed. I think he appreciated it. When he left and I had a few minutes to myself I began work on a menu  for the last few days of this week. I didn't get very far into it when my little man woke up. I fed him and then he wanted me to hold him so I didn't get much else done before the girls woke up. I think he is just used to me cuddling him first thing in the morning.

By 7:30 my energy was already way low, but that could also be affected by my cold, My oldest wanted a shower so I closed my eyes for about 10 minutes while she showered and the other two played next to me. If I wasn't sick I might try to push on and make sure I am really tired at the end of the day, but being dead tired before 9 AM is not going to help anybody.


It is now 9:05 PM and the monkeys are still wanting drinks and asking questions. My cold symptoms are a little worse (my head feels like it's in a bubble, and my ear is ringing a little) Had a very crazy, stressful day, which included blood, sweat, and lots of tears (some of them my own).  My idea yesterday was that if I put this off because I'm sick than it will just be something that I do halfheartedly or not at all, but I am really sick and my body really  needs rest. So I am putting this experiment on hold until I am feeling just a little better. Will return to being awesome soon....

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Experiment #1 Control Observation: Early to bed, Early to rise

I like to stay up late. I REALLY like to stay up late, but every morning I moan when my sweet, early-rising husband brings in the baby for his morning feeding. On weekends my sweetheart whisks the baby away post haste and I snuggle in for another hour or more. On weekdays I linger in bed until either my oldest two demand breakfast, or I feel too guilty to stay a minute longer.

This may sound very luxurious and cozy. While reading this you may feel completely jealous of my amazing husband (I won't discourage that he IS pretty terrific.) However, there is a price for starting my day later.

On weekends my absence downstairs encourages the use of the tv and Amazon Prime as the first thing we do on Saturday. When I finally show up in my pajamas I frequently join my little flock for the end of a show and maybe two or three more 20 minute cartoons depending upon how much I get into the story. At that point my hubby and I look at each other and decide who will make breakfast and what to make as it is now 10 AM and breakfast time is quickly turning into lunch. Occasionally when I have actually planned something on the weekend like a shopping trip or an activity, the lateness of the hour is used as an excuse for no one to make breakfast and we eat out instead.

During the week I rush to get ready (kind of) sometimes I just hang out in pajamas. I throw some breakfast together for the kids ( which I may or may not eat as I am more picky than my little monsters that eat anything). I force myself to do a lesson with my girls, I am currently homeschooling a kindergartner and a preschooler. Lunch again is way off and kind of thrown together. By now I am winding down big time. The rest of my day blurs most days in a hazy mess. I neglect to get anything done and I find myself frequently looking at the clock longing to have my husband home so that A I have another adult around, B we can have another discussion about who's making dinner/ what are we having (leading once again to frequent patronage of our local eateries,) and C the kids can finally be chased to bed.

My hypothesis: Going to bed late and rising late influences our finances, productivity, and general well-being in a negative way. Going to bed early and rising early will lower our cost of food, allow more time for getting things done, and improve my energy and motivation.

Experiment: Everyday for a week I will go to bed at 9 PM and rise at 5 AM

I certainly don't expect things to turn around overnight, but I believe that changing my habits will lead me to greater joy in my life.