Follow Me through Email

Monday, December 31, 2012

...a little high...

Remember when I posted about musical theater and how much I loved going to see Les Mis and the Lion King? Well, this weekend has been freaking amazing in my little world.

If you haven't seen Wicked or Les Mis (in movie form) yet, I should probably make a ***spoiler alert*** now. Although, I am not really giving anything away, it's a ***just in case*** kind.

Also, I have to say that I feel a little guilty that Dave was taking on full parental duties two night in a row so that I could go out...but, I think I've been pretty good to him over the years and two nights in a row is a pretty rare never occurring thing for me, so I'll just soak it up this time.

So, Saturday night was my first time seeing Wicked. I had prepared myself for it a teeny bit by listening to the soundtrack ahead of time, and I kind of had an idea that it was a little more light hearted than I had maybe originally thought. And truth be told, I don't know that I have ever had a real love for the Wizard of Oz, and seeing Wicked was something that I had wanted to do because I had only heard amazing things about it. In anticipation though, and because it was conveniently timed, and because my niece happened to be playing a munchkin, I took the girls to see a high school performance of The Wizard of Oz and they loved it. And so did I. And we wanted to see it again. So we watched the movie, and watched it again. (Side note: kind of interesting that as a parent your appreciation of things becomes so much different!) And then came Saturday. And Oh. My. Gosh. It was amazing. Like give me the chills, totally surprised me, made me laugh, made me say "wow" out loud on several occasions type of amazing. I know several people who have gone, and I knew that it would explain some things from Oz, but I was still so surprised and excited to see all of the little things (LOVED the socks) and explanations that really tied it all together. (I was actually kind of giddy when I'd figure something out. Like the little kid type giddy when they figure out something for the first time.) And what amazing writers and talented individuals. I rarely get that "I want to see it again to see what I might have missed" feeling. But Wicked definitely did that for me. And I can't wait until my kids are old enough to understand and appreciate it for all of its worth. And hear them singing songs and quoting like they do now. (Which, I am currently in love with hearing them sing "We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz" while skipping out to the car. :))

And then came Sunday night. Katie and I always try to plan date nights around our birthdays, and it just so happened that Katie's birthday fell close enough to the opening of Les Mis at the movies, so off we went. I had been in anticipation of this since I had seen it at the Fox. And I loved it there. But, I don't know that I truly GOT it until afterwards when I went back and read all of the date changes and listened to the soundtrack in my car, and re-visualized the entire thing in my head. And I was kind of in love with it even more. So, I was totally curious about how it would play out differently
on the big screen.  It. Was. Amazing.  In a completely different way.  When I am in the theater, I really try to get good seats.  But lets be honest, good seats still don't allow you to see the things that you can see on the zoomed in big screen!  I guess I can best explain it by saying in the theater I had an appreciation for the characters.  On the big screen I had a better appreciation of the emotions.  And that still really doesn't explain it.  It was just...different.  But still, amazing.  The big screen version gave the details that you can't get in theater without reading a synopsis.  It's not like they flash up on the stage that the setting is France in 1815.  I did feel like things were a teeny bit out of sequence, but it still flowed perfectly.  Anne Hathaway as Fantine was SOOOO good, and her character was more developed than I remembered.  (I didn't actually think she gave in to prostitution at the theater, and didn't realize that she had sold her teeth.)  And the horribleness and filth that they lived in was much more apparent.  I also think that the casting director was spot on with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.  I didn't love the casting for Eponine, (I couldn't get a vision of someone else out of my head), but she did a great job, and she happened to sing my favorite song perfectly!  I sang the songs in my head and thoroughly enjoyed every second.  AND, I made it all the way to the end, when Fantine comes to get Valjean, before I shed a tear.  Although, if I hadn't known what was going to happen through the entire thing, I'd have been a sobbing mess, like the girl next to Katie (that she was NOT happy with!) 

So, overall, in case you didn't catch this, I love, love, loved them both!

So, that's my high.  Great weekend.  Great company.  Great productions.  And I loved every minute!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

...all of me...

This is the post.  The one where I put it all out there.

I live a second life.  By day, I am a mom, wife, professional.  At night... (oh wait, that's not the story!  That is perhaps something I read in a recent novel, or watched in a movie!)  Who in the world really has time of a second life anyway?  I barely have enough time for my own life!

There is, however, a side to me that some don't know about.  That some would be surprised to know.  That some judge me for.  That some will think I am crazy for putting out there for others to see.That some might respect me for.  A side that I am proud of; I am not ashamed of.   But a side that I also don't get to see of myself very much.

I recently ran across this little article.  I have no idea how old it is, but I find it entertaining at least.

I like to think of myself as an intelligent person.  And I do agree that it is a beautiful form of art.  I find it fascinating, and it will continue to be with me through life.  (Mine won't be retained after death as I plan to be cremated).  And yep, in the case I need to be identified, there will be no question!

I got my first tattoo in my late teens.  It was lame.  I mean, L. A. M. E.  It was a small little heart about the size of a dime and I thought I was pretty cool.

When I was 25, I got my second tattoo.  It is a cross with vines on my left hip.  My husband had a matching one.  (ahem, I did say had).

When I was 31 I had Merrick's original footprint from the hospital tattooed on to my lower right back with her name.  There was a flower put in her instep to cover the heart.

When I was 33 I had Taya's footprint added with a flower in the instep to match her sisters.  (Funny thing about that, you can tell which baby was the 6 pounder and which was the 9 pounder just by their feet prints!)

When I was 35, I had my back done.  A pink dogwood with 4 blue butterflies, one for each of us.

Also, at 35, I had an iris added to both of the girls footprints because I did not love the font of their names.  So, that got covered up.

At 36, I made the decision to have a visible tattoo.  It was a hard decision for me in my line of work, and I was discouraged from doing it for professional reasons, but I determined that my professional life was only a part of my life.  And my personal life was so much more, and if I wanted to have my girls names on my wrist for the world to see, then so be it.  Besides, I can cover them when need be.

***If you are offended by side boob or butt crack in pictures, you may want to stop reading here.  If you can see these things for artistic purpose, read on***

I recently decided that I wanted to do a photo shoot of my tattoos so that I can see them too.  I gave the CD to my husband for Christmas, and scored a groupon for cheap canvases the day after Christmas.  Overall, I was pretty happy with the outcome, but if you have ever seen a naked picture of your butt fat, it's pretty horrible and defeating.  So, we definitely won't be ordering those!!!

I have a few favorites, and I will strategically place the "clean" ones first, just in case...

And here you have it.  This is the rest of me that you don't see.  Just an average girl.  With large tattoos.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

...some Christmas break randomness...

I've got lots of little thoughts in my mind here and there but mostly nothing that is worthy of a post all of it's own, so I thought I'd throw it all together...

***T and I made a surprise trip to the American Girl doll store today.  I had repeatedly told her that there were none in the area, (lie) and she believed me ('cause mom would never lie).  But, today turned out to work for just the two of us to go, and the look on her face when she woke up in front of the store was priceless.  It was super busy but not overwhelmingly so.  It's just a good thing we weren't taking Caroline to the hair salon, because there was a 2 hour wait for that.  So instead, I asked the checkout lady how a mom was supposed to comb that mess of hair.  The tip, NEVER comb it dry.  OOPS!  I do see myself as a Caroline hairdresser in the future...which makes me wonder.  Do the AG hairstylist have to have special training?

***Before we went on break I was feeling great.  All of those around me were not, and I said a little prayer that if I could just make it to break without getting sick...let's just say that next time I say that little prayer, I might ask for the sickness to just skip me, 'cause what I have stinks.  :(  I almost think I prefer the 24 hour puking sick to the week long achy, horrible cold symptoms, sore throat, hurting ears, burning lips, headache, burning chest type of illness. Boo!

***My girls are and always have been very inquisitive.  The older they get though, the harder it gets as a mom.  Like, I feel like I need to be studying the dictionary, encyclopedia, wikipedia, something to be prepared for the questions.  Some aren't hard, but when you try to explain them, it is sometimes difficult to put in words to make them understand.  From the car, I heard this..."I have to poop."  "You can't say poop in public,"  "Mom, what's public?"  See, public is a common word, and although I did a pretty good job explaining it, it took some thinking on my part.  If I don't have a great answer, such as to this, "Mom, why does a water tower do?" I will defer to Dave or the internet.

***I really want to do a "Chronicles" of Oliver post.  But, it seems like so much work.  It would require me to get 32ish pictures from my phone to my computer and uploaded...which seems like a lot of work.  But, my plan is to print this blog into a book from time to time, so at sometime it will have to get done.  Just maybe not tonight!

***The hubs is currently in the closet.  :)  I mean, he is currently putting my new Elfa system in my closet.  A couple of months ago I decided that I could no longer live with the bedroom entry in to the closet, and it must be a bathroom entry closet.  So, between my dad, Dave and my nephew, we gained room in both the bedroom and closet by moving the door.  Win, Win!  We just had to wait for the Elfa sale and soon, I will have a beautifully organized closet!

***I am contemplating a post that would expose a lot more than I have exposed thus far.  How do you decide if you are going to put it all out there or not?  I am not a very private person, and the people who read this either don't know me at all and if they don't like me will just stop reading, OR, they are people in my life who already know pretty much everything about me.  Decisions, decisions...

***For Christmas, I got something that I have wanted for years and years!  A Willow Tree Manger.  It is new, big and beautiful.  And I plan to leave it out all year long!

That's about it for my random thoughts.

:)  I hope that every one had a great Christmas!  As for me, I am looking forward to another 7 days off!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

...How I Met Your Mother...

I only have a few shows that I watch religiously.  And by religiously, I mean I have never missed an episode.  The Mentalist is one (love me some Simon Baker) and How I Met Your Mother is the other.  I also watch some reality TV that I watch when it is on, but I can't say that I have watched every single season, so they don't count!

Anywho...I finally caught up on 3 missed weeks of How I Met Your Mother last night.  And like the season finale from last year (although this wasn't the season finale but should have been), on the last episode, I bawled.  Like seriously cried.  A lot.  And not like sad crying.  Like, the Oh. My. Gosh. I have been watching this evolve for 8 seasons and I pretty much know you all and hang in your circle and I am so happy for my friends that I am just gonna sit here and bawl type of cry!  (Yes, I am totally aware that this is a fictional story line.  Yes, I am totally aware that Neil Patrick Harris is never going to marry someone of the opposite sex and is in a wonderfully happy relationship with David Burtka with two amazing twins.  Yes, I am totally aware that I do not live in New York and hang out at MacLaren's).  But still.

And secretly I kind of wish that Dave had some amazing version of "How I Met Your Mother" that would be awesome to sit down and tell our girls.  It would undoubtedly start like this:  Girls, it was the summer of 2000 that I met your mother.  (Although, he would probably have to leave out some specifics because they just might not be appropriate to share.  And lets be honest, some things you just don't want your kids to know, or think are OK.)  If I had time (and the creativity) to sit here and make up some amazing, wild, crazy, romantic, unbelievable story, I would.  But, I don't.  So I will give you something close to the real version.

How I Met Your Father (the mom version)

It was the summer of 2000.  I had just begun teaching, but really found no need to stay home and do nothing over the summers, or evenings, or weekends, so I worked as a server at Innsbrook Conference Center.  Groups would come in and have meetings and I would serve food to them.  I had been doing that for a while.  And then one day, I came in and saw this guy.  He was hot.  But, I was in a relationship and had been for a long damn time, and saw no hurt in flirting...right?  I think it must have been that first night that we had worked together that I asked who he was.  I found out that he had been working there for a couple of summers and that he had a twin brother, and his twin had just had a baby girl and gotten married.  And that was about it.

***If you have ever worked in a kitchen of a restaurant or anything of the type, I think you would almost have to agree that when you put men and women in a close environment that can be high stress mixed with down times, you will see lots of flirty exchanges.  Or, maybe I only think that because of my own experience.  But I swear to you...every damn person in that place was on a very personal level and seemed to know not a personal boundary.***

So, the super cute guy kept drinking my tea.  I mean, every time I made tea for myself, he stole it and drank it.  He claimed to like my tea.  Hot, right???  OK, not so hot, but definitely flirtatious.

The summer went on and I was having a serious internal struggle.  I had been dating a guy for 7 years, but found this other guy insanely attractive.  So, in my mind, I decided that if I was so attracted to someone else, perhaps 7 years guy wasn't the one for me.

I am not really sure when I found out "the rest of the story" about the guy that I was having a "flirtmance" with, but by the time I found out, I was kind of attached to him.

And the rest of the story goes something like this... He was getting ready to go away to college.  GASP!!!  WHAT???  I thought your brother had a baby and was married???  AND, he's your twin, so your the same age.  And I am a teacher.  WHAT???  But I really like you, and you are legal, and you aren't in high school...and it realistically won't go anywhere...and, but, and, but, and, but, and, but.

That was 12 and 1/2 years, a wedding, 2 houses, and 2 kids ago.

I once wrote a paper while getting my master's about the struggles of dating a guy that was younger.  And not just a couple of years.  6 years.  I don't know what the heck I ever did with it, but I am sure that it would make me laugh now.

So, it's not worthy of an 8 years and still going strong sitcom, but it's a good enough story.  :)

And, I kinda like this guy and these two amazing girls he gave me!

Friday, December 21, 2012

...5 minutes of fame...

I kind of giggled to myself today and I immediately called G!

I found out from Katherine, who posted a "Congrats for winning" feedback on my last post!

And then I got to read all about it from Karen in the most awesome play by play of the awards ceremony!

It was AWESOME!!!  My category "Favorite New Blog" was up first. I got presented my award from  Danny from NKOTB who was totally my favorite, although not the most popular!  AND, I was wearing a beautiful Blue Vera Wang dress!

The other awesome thing is that my friend Brooke also received an award for "Best Kept Secret."

I am sure that we totally celebrated and drank a lot amongst all of the celebs!!!

But seriously, a huge thanks to G who nominated me, and gave me this amazing outlet!

And also a huge shout out to all of Brooke's pals that voted for me just 'cuz I'm Brooke's friend!!!

And also to Karen who put on such a fun contest and put so much thought in to such a fun and entertaining post.  I absolutely LOVED my 5 minutes on the stage!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 name is Jodi, and I...

I've never been to a support group, but isn't this typically how support groups are portrayed to start?

When I heard about the tragedy on Friday, it rocked my world. I work in the education field. I have a daughter in 1st grade. I have a daughter in pre-school. The thought naturally and quickly came to mind of "what if it was one of us?" And your heart breaks in to a million pieces for the families and the community.

And then you get on Facebook and get to read everyone's personal opinions on why they think something like this happens. Which in interesting. Because everyone thinks they are right. It's because of guns, it's because we took God out of school, it's because our schools aren't safe, because we live in a sick world, because of violent TV or video games, etc.

I chose not to share my 2 cents in the FB world, however, I did share this article. I choose not to share my opinion on the why's of the tragedy, but it does give me an opportunity to jump on a soap box. A mental health soap box. And it starts like this...

My name is Jodi, and I suffer from mental illness.

Sounds horrible, right? I get it. But pull out a DSM-IV, and you will find me more than once, at different stages of my life.

This is my rap sheet. (Yep, it's personal. But it's real. And so am I. And so are the millions of people in the US suffering from mental illness.)

Depression (bad relationship)
Post Partum Depression (potential post-traumatic stress disorder)
Post Partum Depression (again)
Major Depression  (totally fought this one internally)
Situational Depression (sounds more like it)
Anxiety Disorder  (came out of left field, but totally sums me up)

I was first diagnosed with depression in my late teens.  Was I depressed or in a bad relationship? Who really knows, but that was back in the day when Paxil was handed out like candy.  Got a case of the grumps?  Here, try this!

My first real bout of depression came after  Merrick was born.  I don't remember all of the specifics of it, which seems weird.  I remember crying, a lot.  As a infant she had pretty significant jaundice, which sent us to the blood lab 2-3 times a week for her first two months of life.  She had little bouts of odd things happen here and there, and coming off of a stressful pregnancy, a stressful induction, a stressful delivery, a stressful after-birth experience, and just being a first time mom, I struggled.  A lot.  Not the I want to kill myself or my baby type of struggle, but I really was very anxious about motherhood and everything involved with it and just couldn't seem to snap out of it to function properly.  And I had horrible visions/nightmares that I would accidentally hurt her horribly.  The worst was at the mall and I was so afraid to get close to the bannister because I kept envisioning that I would accidentally drop her off the side.  Did I mention I cried a lot?

After some time, I had weaned myself off of medication and was functioning quite normally.  Our family of three was pretty great, work was going well, and I would say that my depression had ceased.

Until, I had Taya.  And I was sure that I was NOT going to be depressed this time.  (Because that is controllable, right?)  And this time, the crying was worse.  The night that I realized that I was told that I was not OK was a golf night.  Dave and I had had a disagreement of some sort, which really was probably nothing, but in my Mom of a 2 year old and infant mind, it was pretty major.  And I kind of cried.  A lot.  And not just crying.  But sobbing.  Uncontrollably.  Like hiccuping and ready to vomit crying.  And screaming at my mom that I was fine.  And one of my best friends rushed over and my mom threatened that if I was not going to take care of "this" myself she was calling the doctor on my behalf.  Because, that was not the first time that this sort of thing had happened.  Again, I was never in the mind set that I would kill myself or my children, but these thoughts of just going to sleep and never waking up to a world that you didn't feel like you could handle didn't sound horrible.

It was harder for me to shake the depression the second time.  Because here's the deal.  When you are on medication to make you "feel better" you have a false sense that things are better, you decide for yourself that you are going to stop taking your medication, and you hit bottom again.

That's the scary, scary, scary thing about mental illness.  If you have diabetes, do you stop taking insulin just because your glucose is normal?  If you have high blood pressure, do you stop taking your medication because your check up shows normal blood pressure?  The list could go on and on, but the answer will still be this:


I do not think that I was born wired to have mental illness.  Perhaps I was, but I will never know.  I choose to believe that my depression was rooted in a traumatic event that I did not have the strength to handle emotionally.  My wiring is very emotional;  not depressed.

Which leads me to my soap box.

There are millions of mentally ill people in the world.  Some are so significantly ill that they kill themselves.  Some are so significantly ill that they kill someone else.  And the most significantly ill can go in to a school, a mall, a doctors office, a church, etc. and kill many, many, many innocent people.  Ending in a horrible, horrible tragedy such as Friday's.

In the field of education, many times you can pick out "those kids."  But, many times, "these killers" are not "those kids."

Dave and I have been chatting about this a lot.  Who is responsible for identifying mentally ill individuals and getting them the needed help?  Is it a parent/family responsibility?  An individuals responsibility?  Or the public school system's responsibility?

If it is a parent's responsibility, are the parent's strong enough to admit that their child might be mentally ill?  Do they have the means to take the child to doctors, or therapists, get medications?

If it is an (older) individual's responsibility, do they have the understanding for themselves that they have an illness?  Most of the time, I'd think not. (From experience I can say that I was screaming and crying that I was fine.  And I was not.)  And if they do get medication, do they continue to take the medication after they feel "better?"  Or do they stop counseling or therapy because they feel "better?"  I think many times, this is the case.  For the person who is treated, they have a very false sense of wellness.  For the person who takes themselves off of medication/counseling, or the person who goes untreated, the illness continues to fester.  And in some individuals, it continues to fester until the point of explosion.  Which may lead to self-inflicted death and murder.

If it is a school system's responsibility to identify these children, do they have the resources available to assist parents and children in appropriate treatments?  I can say from experience, not enough.  The school district that I work  in does have educational support counselors in addition to mental health specialists that work within our buildings, but not solely at a building.  But is that enough?  Should there be a mental health worker at every building?  Should we have more programs for students who feel like they are loners, or who are wired in a way that they need that additional support?  If we had enough programs and support at the younger grades, could we reach individuals before it is too late?  Should there be someone who is continually patrolling our halls on the lookout for kids that are struggling on the inside, but may not be apparent on the outside?

The tragedy from Friday breaks my heart to pieces.  But so does the child who commits suicide because they can't face their life.  And the 1st and 2nd grade students who are hospitalized for attempted suicide.  And the kid who sits alone at the lunch table or plays alone on the playground because they don't have any friends.  Or the kid who is bullied for the way they walk or talk.  My list could go on and on...

Here's the deal.  Mental illness is real.  Not all people are born with it.  For some it is onset from trauma or a tragedy.  But all people with mental illness need help.  Whether it is medication, therapy, or both, the illness will not just go away.

I am not going to pretend that I have any answers regarding how to reach all individuals in need of mental health services.  I just know that without additional funding to reach out to individuals who are in need, we will continue to see tragedy after tragedy after tragedy.

And that is so scary.

My name is Jodi, I suffer from anxiety and occasional depression, but I am in control.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

...the pregnancy test...

Today G said that she was surprised that I was going to blog about this because it is so...personal.  But, I don't find it so much personal as just a story.  I will spare you all of the gory details ('cause unfortunately some have already been subjected to those), and tell you the rest.

It is kind of amazing what the power of suggestion can do to a mind and body.  On a pretty continual basis, I have diagnosed myself with something or another.  Any given day I may have brain caner/tumor, diabetes (again), breast cancer, bi-polar, ADD, etc.  Yesterday, before I talked to the doctor I was pretty convinced that I had cervical cancer.  No reason, (well, I guess reason enough to call the Dr. in the first place), but something odd occurs and low and behold I am dying.  But the minute a DR suggests something, watch out.  Because I will have every symptom that goes along with it.  True, I had told Dave yesterday morning that I was feeling quite right before I had any real evidence.  But who doesn't feel a little off every now and then?  Right?

So, I was on my way to work this morning, and had to make a pit stop because I felt sick to my stomach.  Oh, and I was dizzy.  Oh, and I had a really hard time getting out of bed this morning.  And, my boobs might be a little sore.  Sound familiar?  Crazy power of suggestion, right?  So I did what anyone else would do, hop in the car, march my self in to Wal-Mart, straight to the pregnancy test aisle (because that is what the Dr said to do) and confidently grabbed a cheap and generic pregnancy test.  Because who needs an expensive pregnancy test when the possibility that you are actually pregnant is like, NONE!!!  (Totally dejavu from a little less than 5 years ago, but that's another story!!)

But as I so confidently grabbed my test that I was sure to be negative, I saw a young girl standing there just staring.  And I felt bad for her.  Because when you know what you need, you grab and go.  But if you don't know what you need, the pregnancy test aisle could be a tad overwhelming.  So, one might stand and stare.  As if they are scared out of their minds.  And thinking that if they really buy the test, they really may have to take it, and that test could change their lives forever.  And then I thought about my friends who might stand there staring, wanting to buy just the right test and hoping and praying that this will be the test that is positive.  I have never thought about it before, but I bet that the pregnancy test itself may be one of the most life altering purchases a person can make in their lives.

So, off I went to work, a tad bit late for a meeting.  I ran to the bathroom, did my thing, waited approximately thirty seconds, saw this:

swore I would never put a picture of a peed on stick anywhere on the web for anyone else to see, but alas, I did

and there was this:  WOOHOO!!!!  Hallelulujah!!!

So then why did I have all of the "what if" thoughts for the rest of the day?  I knew with 99% certainty that being pregnant was not possible.  But if I had been pregnant, apparently it was a baby that was truly meant to be.  I've had one of those before, a little surprise "gift from God" and she is amazing.  Would it have really been THAT bad?

But, that's not in my cards anymore.  You can "what if" yourself to death and never know.

But what I do know is this.  I have a PERFECT little family of 4.  And that is all I need!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

...unexpected events, oh my...

So, I was sitting in the bakery drive thru this morning and decided I was going to write a post today entitled ...thank you, dear... Obviously, this is NOT that post.

Because, my events of the day have changed, and here I am sitting in the ER and thinking about the unexpected events of today.

Unexpected event #1: Justin got to come home today!!! We weren't expecting it until tomorrow, but I got a text @ 645 this morning saying that they all got to go home today! Which is awesome. Recovering in your own home always feels better than recovering in the hospital!

Unexpected event #2: I had a "girl" issue today that resulted in me calling the gynecologist. Remember the dream last week? Well, he asked if I was possibly pregnant. Ummmm, nope, my tubes are tied and that's not possible. His reply was, well, not impossible, so, you should take a test just in case. HUH? And call me if it gets worse. Ummm, OK? As of now, haven't taken the test because...

Unexpected event #3: I was sitting in a meeting, got a call from my husband that my brother-in-law had cut off his finger off, and he was heading to help Julie with Justin. And Jeff was alone at a hospital. A hospital. Not which hospital. A hospital. Ummmm?? So, thankfully Julie called and told me where he was. And off I went! Apparently Jeff has not had his fill of hospitals for the last 8 days! And here we sit, waiting for the hand surgeon.

I have to say, I feel bad for the person who is in surgery before him because their surgery has now gone on for 2 hours longer than it was supposed to.

So, that's my "oh my" day. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Oh, and if you are at all concerned, without taking a test I can say with 99% certainty that I am not pregnant! Cause that would be freaking ridiculous!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

...wrapping up the week...

The week is over.

Here is the overview.

Justin came through the surgery great.  It has been the aftermath that has been more difficult.  The pain is intense, but he is strong and keeping his head up.  (When he is able to stay awake!!)  He had a couple of small set backs due to medication issues, but has made incredible progress in the past two days.  He has grown 3 inches and is now the tallest in his family currently beating his dad out by 1/2 inch!  He went in to the hospital at 6 foot 1/2 inch and is now 6 foot 3 1/2 inches!  ( I wonder if he is the tallest kiddo at Children's right now??)  He has been walking short distances and is tolerating sitting in a chair!  Today he got to eat.  And watch football.  And I have evidence!!  :)

Apparently the hospital TV was small, so Dave brought him in a bigger TV to watch.  These boys LOVE them some football!!!  I love this pic.  It makes my heart so happy!!!
Kaitlyn came through her surgery great as well!  She had work done on both hands and one of her feet.  She did end up having to have pins put in one of her hands, but she too has been handling it great!  Apparently it is pretty amazing what a wee one can do with two thumbs!  She had 3 matching purple casts, and is as cute as can be.  :)  I have evidence of that as well!!!

She was still pretty groggy in this pic.  On her way home from the hospital.  Love her!!
My big girl ROCKED IT OUT at her Christmas program.  She was so unbelievably proud of herself, and my heart was BEAMING!!!  She would look over and smile at us, and you could see the pride in her smile.  It was killer in the BEST WAY!!!  And yep, I have evidence!!!

I know, the eyes are a little creepy, but honestly, have NO IDEA how to fix that!
Something that I did not know was happening this week until after I had posted last week about the weeks happenings was that one of my best friends dad's was having a kidney removed on Thursday.  They had found out a couple of weeks ago that he had a cancerous tumor in one of his kidneys.  Apparently, kidney cancer is often a silent killer due to it spreading quickly and quietly.  Thanking God that they caught it early and they feel that it was contained! He still has a lot of grandpa-ing to do!!!

I have almost finished up a project that I have been working on since Thanksgiving.  Between blogging, reading, parenting, working, wife-ing, etc., I have not been working as quickly on projects as I would like.  But, I am almost done.  This was an ETSY inspired project.  I wish I had a pic with the price tag, because I swear when I looked at it, it was being sold for $149.

Here is my $20ish version.  Notice I said I am not done yet.  I am still waiting for my ho ho ho's to dry. :)

The picture is blurry, and I am thinking my belt isn't wide enough.  But, we will see when it is all finished.
I also started crocheting today.  One of my best friends recently began crocheting and I decided that I would give it another try.  The first time I tried, my Granny tried to teach me.  I gave up.  Today, I tried again and told my mom that I must be working through Granny's hands because it seemed to be pretty simple.  I have a long way to go on this scarf, but I find it both fun and relaxing.  :)

I am hoping it will look pretty amazing with the beautiful new coat my hubs bought me!
The stressful week has NOT been good for my diet.  UGH!!!  Who starts a diet this time of year anyway?  If I could just find the time to work out more.  It will come.  Or not.  Perhaps I will just learn to be happy with a tubby middle!

And now it is time to get ready for this week... I hope it is a good one!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

...we are an army...

We are an army.

It's kind of funny to say that we are a 2 man army, but in a sense, we are.

And when I say "we" I am talking about myself and the girl on the right.  She is my sister.  She is strong.  She is amazing.  I can never discredit the others that often join our army, (Jennifer, our parents, our spouses, our kids, our friends) but, sometimes, it is "we" that make up our army.

 We have also often referred to each other as "driftwood."  You know, that piece of wood that you grab on to when you are floating down river, struggling to stay afloat, and you feel like you are going to sink.  But, you grab on to that piece of wood that is slowly, slowly drifting along and it helps you float. That's kind of how we are.

I can't say that we have always been on the same side.  I am sometimes reminded that when I was in my younger days, I might have gotten a new pair of wooden clogs, and I might have come home and announced to my sisters:  "I bought these shoes to kick you guys with."  But, I was young then.  :)  And not so appreciated.  (I also might have been the surprise that came along and intruded on the sisterly duo that was functioning perfectly well without me.)  And growing up 5 years and 7 years younger than your siblings isn't exactly the same as growing up with a sibling close in age to yourself.  We were really never on the same page of life.  I still don't know that we are on the same page, but we relate, and thus find each other on the same side.

We realized that we had this "strong/weak" connection a couple of years ago when my grandmother was sick.  We both had really bad days, and we both had good days.  But the amazing thing was...we were never really bad at the same moments.  If I was crying, she was not.  If she was crying, I was not.

This has continued as things have come and gone since then.

Most recently in the past 18 months since we first heard about FA.

(***disclaimer:  if the "f" word offends you, stop reading here)

FA is a shitty, fucking disease.  I hate it.  I hate it for so many reasons, but I hate it because of what it is doing to my nephew, I hate it because of what it is doing to my sister, my brother-in-law, my niece, our family, Justin's friends, everyone that is involved in his life.  I hate that there is no fucking cure.  I hate that right now, Justin is having his back cut open, halo around his head, central line in his chest, additional IV's in his arms, small steel rods being inserted around each of his vertebrae.  A disease that has led to such severe scoliosis that the healing process to this surgery will include him laying on his side being flipped from side to side for up to 2 months.  A disease that means that he will never be able to walk through a metal detector again without setting it off.  A disease that is so progressive in nature that in a few years, he will be in a wheelchair.  A disease that moves from his digits, to his limbs, to his systems and eventually to his heart.  I HATE THIS FUCKING DISEASE.

But here's the deal.  I am supposed to be the strong one.  I am supposed to be the one that supports her. I am the one who is not supposed to cry.  I am the one who is supposed to be the army,  right?  But, I am not always.  I have my moments.  And you know what?  She is the one who is strong for me.  She is the one who comforts me.  She is the one to say "I'm sorry, I know it sucks.  It's going to be OK."  The mama of the boy who is suffering is comforting me???  It's because she is strong, and amazing, and  she is my sister.

But that's just how we work.  Because we support each other.  And together, we are an army.  An army of two.  And sometimes more.

Monday, December 3, 2012 was kind of horrible...

I had a bad dream last night.

Recently I have been stressing about my tummy fat, I have sort of gone back on the "diabetic" diet, and I have also been reading a book about a girl who had died a couple of days after delivering a stillborn baby.  Add those things together and you get my bad dream.  Kind of.

In my dream, I went to the doctor and found out I was pregnant.  Apparently, I had no idea and remembering saying, "well, I guess that explains my fat tummy," to which the nurse replied, "nope, the baby is not yet down in your stomach."  (HUH?)  And then I remembered that I couldn't be pregnant because when Taya was born I had my tubes tied.  To which she explained that sometimes they come untied and heal back together.  (HUH?  I mean, I guess that is possible, but I actually read the surgical report and I can tell you that they are tied in figure eights, which I imagine would be hard to come "untied" but I guess stranger things have happened.)  And then I said, "oh, and my husband had a vasectomy, so this really isn't possible." (HUH?  He definitely has not had a vasectomy.  I took that one for the team, so why would that be in my dream?)  But, I had apparently remembered that my boobs had been quite tingly lately, so at least I had something to go by.  (Again, HUH?  Have my boobs been tingly lately, and if so, should I be concerned?)  So, apparently, I was pregnant by some sort of miracle.

I then remember thinking that I had no idea what we were going to do with a baby.  We have been out of the baby phase for a couple of years.  We have NO baby things.  And I have a 4 year old who will not even let me go near a baby, so how am I going to take care of a baby.  And I can no longer breast feed a baby, so how in the world was I going to get the baby mama milk, and also, how do you lose baby weight if you don't breast feed?  And oh crap, I have diabetes again!

And then I remember thinking "when should I post this on Facebook?"  (HUH?  Because that's important, how I am going to tell the world.)  And what would the girls at work think when they had to cover my maternity leave?  And what would my friends think?  And my family?  And did I mention, "WHAT THE HECK AM I GOING TO DO WITH A BABY???"

And then, I think I woke up.  Thank Goodness!  I can't imagine being pregnant at 37.  I can't imagine going through the baby stage again.  I can't imagine not being able to feed my baby.  I can't imagine Taya not being my baby.

But the truth is, I probably wouldn't mind so much.  :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012's going to be a rough one...

This week...

Although I am not directly affected by the events that this week will bring, I am emotionally vested in the people that will be directly affected by the events that this week will bring.

Monday:  My nephew Justin will be going in to Children's hospital for his final consultation for Wednesday's surgery.  My cousin Wendee will be traveling to St. Louis for Kaitlyn's reconstructive surgery.

Tuesday:  Justin will be at Children's to get his port for the surgery.  Kaitlyn will be having the first of two reconstructive surgeries on her hands and feet at Shriner's.  Kaitlyn was born with additional digits and webbing on her hands and feet.

Wednesday:   Justin's surgery.  Justin is having a spinal fusion.  He has pretty severe scoliosis that is concomitant with Friedreich's Ataxia.  Due to his growth cells still being open, it is necessary for his spine to be fused to protect the rest of his body.

Thursday:   Eliza's Birthday.  Two years ago my friends David and Brooke delivered a beautiful, sleeping baby.  They have since welcomed a beautiful, smart and spunky Caroline in to this world, but my heart hurts knowing what this anniversary brings to them.

Friday:  Taya's Christmas program.  We have yet to be successful with Taya participating.  This year we are in a smaller and familiar venue, so I am hoping this year goes better.  As a mama, this hurts my heart immensely.  To see your daughter so badly want to participate in something, then be so unbelievably scared that she cannot, and watch her friends perform and cry because she wants to, then ask afterwards if she can have another chance.  Ugh!  (OK, so this one DOES directly affect me in a way!!)

I am hoping for a pretty uneventful and heart happy Saturday and Sunday!  My heart is gonna need it!!! could I not...

My mom reminded me this morning that I have not posted any new posts lately.  Truth is, I have been working on one all week.  I just haven't been feeling it.  The post itself has been very much to release some of my frustrations with a certain little girl that I love dearly but makes me crazy on a daily basis.  It's the story of her.  It's complicated...just like she is.  :)

So for now, I will share a completely different story about her.  One that warms my heart to the core, sends me out to a shop I swore I would NEVER shop at, requiring me to spend an exuberant amount of money on something that should NEVER cost as much as it does, and has me asking "how could I not?"

A couple of weeks ago, Merrick came home wanting to add an American Girl doll to her Christmas list.    I immediately went in to a slight panic as that was definitely NOT in my plan.  And I just happen to be a planner.  So, we had a little talk about how she has never been a "doll" girl, so I was curious as to why she had changed her mind.  She admitted that it was because her friend wanted one and decided that she would rather have a piano instead.  (ummmm....that backfired.)  But, I found a great deal on a girl sized baby grand with 37 keys and was content.  :)

Until Thursday.  One of my good friends had asked if the girls could come over after school to bake cookies.  Yay!  I got to go get my nails done.  And went to pick the girls up.  On our way out the door, Taya asked Camryn if she could borrow one of her "mazagines."  It happened to be an American Girl doll magazine.  Taya has ALWAYS been a "doll" girl.  I mean, like we have so many dolls we don't know what to do with them.  For a while we had a lot of problems going to the store because Taya truly believed that all of the babies needed homes, in particular our home!

So, when she decided that she wanted the Caroline doll from the American Girl catalog, I became a wee bit concerned, but that's just Taya.  She wants everything.

Dave happened to be out of town that night, and the girls got to sleep with me.  Taya was having a hard time settling in, and she kept getting up.  I honestly didn't think much about it.  And then I got up at 1:00am to let the dogs out.  On my way there, I saw this:

If you look closely, you can see our Elf on the Shelf, Oliver, looking down towards the floor.  On the floor is the American Girl doll "mazagine" placed in the direct line of vision of the Elf.  
Melt a mama's heart.  How could you say no to that?  Which is how I landed here this morning:

And it was packed, and crazy, and overwhelming.  But it made my heart happy to think of what a happy girl I would have on Christmas morning.

And, because I could not fathom paying $62 for a set of matching PJs for Taya and Caroline, I stopped at My Red Thread and got a matching set of monogrammed penguin PJs for half the cost!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

...the art of sleeping...

Truth is, I suck at it. On average, I spend 6 out of 7 nights with some type of sleep disturbance. Usually it results in 1-3 hours of being wide awake in the middle of the night.

It is completely possible that my sleep disturbances have something to do with this game we play on a daily basis called "Musical Beds." It works like this... Merrick typically goes to bed in her own bed. Taya and I go to sleep in her bed. And Dave comes to bed later. And the game begins. Dave wakes me up and I go back to my own bed. At some point one or both of the girls usually ends up in our bed. Either they get transported back to their own beds, or Dave gives up and leaves them and goes to sleep in Tayas bed. If one of the girls doesn't make their way in, one of our dogs will squeeze her way in which usually puts me out of my spot, and I end up in Tayas bed again...there are honestly days that I wake up wondering where I am because I typically don't end up where I went to sleep.

Another possibly contributing factor is that I really don't like to be touched while sleeping. I like my space. I will be the spooner, but can't handle being the spoonee. (Side note, spooning a 6 year old feels about the same as spooning and adult). The worst is on the 3 nights a month that Dave is out of town. The girls are allowed to sleep with me. But they both want to sleep next to me. Which means that I get stuck in the middle. And, I'm slightly claustrophobic...

I also struggle with completely letting work go for long enough to sleep stress free. Although I sometimes get through a ton of email from 2-4 am, I'd rather just sleep.

As a mom, I think that subconsciously you are always on alert for your kids to get up, throw up, have a coughing attack, cry out from a nightmare, or come crawling in your bed. Add that to the awareness of noises in your home, and I think that that super-deep and restful sleep that is needed to ever feel completely rested is missing.

All in all, I miss sleep. And I LOVE to sleep. Which is sad. I don't want to sleep my life away, but I do want a good nights sleep.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

...a simple list...

I am thankful for so many things this year...

My healthy husband
My healthy girls
Amazing friends
My parents
My sisters and their families
Dave's family
My warm home
Food to eat
My dogs
My job
My health
Safe transportation
A new church
A simple life

My list is simple, but says it all. Our basic needs are met, and for that I am extremely thankful!

Our Thankful Tree

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

... the 20 year reunion predicament...

I recently was notified that there is an official date with tickets on sale for my 20 year high school reunion. Huh? How in the world has it been 20 years? I mean, I remember when my mom went to HER 20 year reunion. I was 11. I helped her fix her hair. That also happened to be 26 years ago! Holy cow...1993 + 20 = 2013. OMG! It is true. TWENTY YEARS AGO I was a SENIOR in high school!!!

Seriously though, that means I'm old. I almost feel like this milestone sounds worse than turning 40! But, I don't feel old. In my mind I'm still a twenty something who is married with two kids and lives in a big girl house. But I'm not. I'm a pretty darn close to 40 married mom of two who lives in a nice, modest house in the country. Who has a decision to make...

The question is this, to go, or not to go? Twenty years ago, I swore I would never go to a class reunion. Ten years ago, I refused to go. Present day, I am waivering, and I kind of want to go.

High school for me was difficult. Not academically. (Although, had I actually tried, I know I could have done better.)  I guess "socially" would be what I had the difficulty with??? But, I am not sure that it is the best word to describe it.  I had a social circle.  I had boyfriends.  I had haters.  I had bullies. I was a follower.  I wanted to do what everyone else was doing and really had no opinion on what I wanted to do.  I made my decisions based on what everybody else did and not what I thought I should do (which I don't even know if I knew.)  What I was missing was friends...the true long lasting friendship that people have for life.

I was in sports.  Not band.  Not flags.  Not drama.  Not cheerleading.  But sports.  Because that is what my sisters and "friends" did.  I played volleyball for one year and sucked because I couldn't serve overhand.  I played basketball for 2 years and wasn't great.  I was in track and could have been really good, but didn't put forth the effort that I should have.

The best class that I ever took in high school was English IV.  All of my "friends" were taking public speaking, and my parents made me take English IV.  I was able to relate to and grow surface "friendships" with people who weren't necessarily in my social circle.  (Which seems weird for a small town).

I don't know that I was ever without a boyfriend.  Which is dumb.

I was bullied by one of the meanest girls in school.  I had an atypical gait apparently (I guess I was a toe-walker) and was made fun of for it daily.  I was threatened by several girls who were going to beat me up (and I ended up moving down the road from one and as a 30 year old was still afraid of her).  I had horrible rumors spread about me (apparently I was a boyfriend stealer and slept around).

Even after high school, I made the decision to stay at home and commute to college because I didn't want to be away from my boyfriend.  Dumb.

College was blah.  I went through the motions, got my degree, and started working.  (I did make a lifelong friend, but she moved away and we have been friends from afar!)

Work is when my "new" life began.  I made friends.  Real, honest to goodness, lifetime, would do anything for them and they would do anything for me friends.  Friends who accepted me for me.

And then I met my husband.  And then I met my children.  And I continued making friends.  And life is good.

So, the predicament comes as this.  Do I allow myself to go back to "that" life for a night? The one where I was miserable.  The one where I couldn't make a decision for myself if my life depended on it. Back to the people who strung me along but were not willing to invest their heart in me.

The thing is, I have been following and chatting with a lot of the people that I went to high school with on Facebook, and I would like to see some of them.  The reality is, we are all completely different people than we were 20 years ago.

If I go back, I can show these people who I really am.  I have a successful career.  I have an awesome husband.  I have 2 amazing kids.  And I have the best friends in the world that a girl could ask for.

Someone said the other day that going back could be gratifying.  She was talking about the gratifying because you were a bully and now you have done so many drugs that you have no teeth, but look at me who is perfectly normal type.  But I think that going back could be gratifying in the fact that I can walk in a room and hold my head high because I am proud of who I am and don't really care what anyone else in the room thinks about me.  (However, I will probably crash diet and will have to make sure that my gray is completely covered before hand!!!)

In the grand scheme of life, going to my 20 year reunion won't change anything for me.  But going back 20 years would change everything...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

..the more the merrier...

Well, not all together "the more," but add one or two, and some peace you will have.

It is amazing how sometimes a playdate gives you a little bit of peace and quiet.  At least at the age my kids are.  Kids playing with kids (as long as no one is crying) means that kids are busy and occupied and mama can sit for a little while without having to occupy the kids herself.  Yes, there will be a mess to clean up.  But, overall, it's usually worth it.


Friday, November 16, 2012

...crying, it's (un)professional...

In my profession, I often find myself in emotional situations/meetings with parents. Most of the time, I am expecting it and am able to prepare myself mentally. There is a certain circumstance that no matter how much I prepare myself, I struggle. And by struggle, I mean choke up, get teary, or flat out cry in a meeting with a parent. Today, that circumstance came as a surprise.

When I went to work this morning, I did not have any parent meetings planned. I was going to meet with a vendor, catch up on some things I was behind on, and do some observations. My day quickly changed, as it often does, and I ended up having to rearrange my schedule and cover some parent meetings. No big deal.

I got to the school, got settled in and got out my paperwork for the meeting. It was going to be pretty simple. We needed to determine if we should test a little girl for eligibility in the area of health due to her ADHD impacting her education. So, we started going through the educational areas, talked about how she was struggling with attention to task, how her grades were low, and got out her old records only to figure out that she had been tested previously...and not just once. So, I started flipping through her previous evaluation, and felt like I had just been punched in the stomach. I looked at my Psychological Examiner, she looked at me, and said "do you think we need to go ahead and have this conversation?" (She was as blindsided as I was.). My reply, "umm, yeah."

I took approximately 3 whole seconds to compose myself by staring straight down, looked up, and with a quiver in my throat began to explain one of the hardest things that someone in the field of education says to a parent.

I don't recall exactly what I said, or how many times I apologized for the tears that were threatening to spill over my eyelids, or the quiver in my voice, and the pausing in my explanation, but I am sure it went something like this...

"When she was tested the last time, her scores were significantly lower than average. When we are looking for a learning disability, we are looking for a discrepancy between ability and achievement. Her language scores are commensurate with her ability level, and her ability level has remained consistent over the different tests that she has been given. Your daughter scored one point higher than the state criteria for an Intellectual Disability. We need to test her again. But this time we pray that she tests at least one point lower because in order to get the specialized instruction that she needs, we need for her IQ to be in that Intellectually Disabled range. But please understand that this score does not and will not ever define her, it is simply the score that is going to give her the help she needs." And then the mom passed me the box of Kleenex.

The thing is, we are not doctors, and we are not diagnosing illness. I know that in no way, shape or form can this be anywhere nearly as difficult as informing a parent of a terminal or lifelong illness. But I work in the business of sometimes having to tell parents that their children may struggle through life because cognitively they fall in the lowest percentages of functioning. That adaptively, they may need support with daily things. That their dreams of their child becoming a doctor or lawyer or even college graduate could be crushed. There is a whole new myriad of things for them to worry about. And, it's tough. And, I struggle.

Does crying while telling this to parents make me unprofessional? Perhaps. But, it won't stop me. I can't help it. I am a mom and I am human. I am a real person who has the empathy to hurt with a parent and I will continue to do so as this will never get easier.

And today, they thanked me for being real.

Sunday, November 11, 2012's a new (Sun) day...

So, last week, I decided I needed a new church.  This week, I tried a new church.

This is what my critics had to say:

"Mama, this makes my heart happy" and "Mom, I like it already! (upon walking in the door) Can we come back?"

And this is what I have to say:

Wow.  I mean, wow.

We pulled in to the parking lot about 15 minutes before the service was supposed to start.  I sat for a minute mentally preparing myself as I had seen people standing around in the lobby and really didn't want anyone to talk to me.  Our plan was this...walk in, avoid eye contact, use the potty, find a seat, and hope no one noticed us.

Well, that plan was shot as soon as the girls got out of the car and started running to the door to avoid getting rained on.  They were greeted as they walked in by someone I know.  Whew!  We said hello, did the whole, yes, this is our first time, blah, blah and headed to the bathroom.  And I hear this, "MERRICK!"  Ugh.  We are just trying to get to the bathroom people!  We are supposed to be invisible, no one is supposed to see us, we are supposed to go in, decide if we like the church or not, and get the heck out and decide if we are going to go back.  But, nope.  Merrick chatted with her friend, proceeded to the potty where we talked about if Merrick wanted to go to Sunday School with her friend, and off we went.  To sit down.  But, we didn't.  "Hey Merrick! Hey Jodi!"  OK.  We got this.  So we quickly chatted with the parents of her friend (the mom who teaches at Merrick's school and the dad who I used to work with back in the day), and headed (past the COFFEE BAR) into the worship center.

The first thing I noticed was that it was dark.  The stage was lit, but the rest was not.  Which was nice.  We chose a seat in the back row and I was beginning to feel a little more safe.  Loren's parents sat close to us, and then her mom came over and asked if Merrick would like to go to Sunday School.  Merrick said yes, her mom took her and Taya and I settled in.  I did notice that there weren't a ton of people, and the band started playing, and Taya and I began bopping back and forth to the beat.   And all of a sudden, people were flooding in the doors, and the place was full.  The praise band was good, the songs were upbeat, and it was still dark!

So then, the pastor, (who I think was in the high school I taught at back in the day = in my mind he's pretty young) began his sermon.  And do to it still being dark, and him being in the light, my focus was only on him.  (And the four year old to my right who was being perfectly behaved!)  And his message was good.  And I found myself relating.  And, I TOOK NOTES!  Not the cloze note kind.  Real, honest to goodness I need a new journal for next Sunday type of notes!  (Did I mention that he wore blue jeans and tennis shoes and an American Eagle t-shirt??)

The condensed version of what I got from the sermon is this:

  • Go beyond the surface
  • Hard work doesn't always equal getting our way or what we want.
  • Once we are instructed by God, we have a duty to fulfill
  • You have to put something in to get something out
  • If it's going to count, it's going to cost

And here's the thing.  I was writing out all of the verses that went along with the sermon so that I could look back to them later.

And then, he closed the sermon, there was one more worship song, offering in the back on the way out, and I looked at the clock.  50 minutes!!!!  And I loved every minute!

On the way out, I chatted with a couple more people I knew, was thanked for coming by some people I had already talked to, and said I planned to come back next week.  Which I do.  Because, it was just what I was hoping for.  And my kids were happy.  And I was happy.  Which felt great.  :)

Then, this afternoon, I jumped on Amazon and ordered a daily devotional that I have been eyeing up at a new little shop in the Meadows.  

And, the best part is...Dave said he might go with me next week. :) :) :)

It is a new Sunday indeed!

Saturday, November 10, 2012 you see what I see...

And conversely, do I see what you see?

Recently I had a conversation with my favorite "school parent." It's funny sometimes how a simple conversation can really make you self-reflect. And this particular conversation definitely did that for me...

The parent has a son with pretty typical characteristics of Autism. He was found eligible for special education last year and started with pretty minimal services and has needed an increase as curriculum has become more rigorous. We chatted about how his son was doing and how he has really benefitted from small group instruction. He said that his younger self always imagined that he would have sons who played sports and that's how he would be cheering them on. He said with this son, it's a daily cheer and excitement when his son comes home and verbalizes something that happened at school, or verbalizes that he had an interaction with a friend. He even got excited telling me about it, displaying a fist pump and ear to ear smile. He stated that he was amazed how his perspective has changed.

But, there's something else about this parent. He told me that he now recognizes that his oldest son also likely suffers from Aspergers. But, so does he. From the first moment I met him, I knew there was something about him. His speech patterns are not typical, his sense of humor appears to be thought out and approached with care. His thoughts appear to be very processed, as if you can actually see the wheels turning. But, the most important thing about this parent is that he has overcome any social weaknesses that he may have had, and has learned to compensate so well that he is able to represent both himself and his wife amongst a group of educators that I would imagine can be very intimidating for any parent.

When I met this parent, I honestly thought, I wonder if he sees what we see. Does he have any idea that he likely has very high functioning Autism as well? But, my perspective has shifted to to this... I wonder if he sees what we see. A caring and advocating husband who supports his wife who struggles with sitting in those intimidating meetings and listening to others talk about their son, and a caring an advocating parent who cheers on his son for such small accomplishments as talking to a friend. And does he have any idea how he has touched the hearts of and inspired so many of the teachers that work with his son?

Witch brings me to my self-reflection. What do others see in me, and do I see that in myself?

Some of those who are closest to me, (my sisters) have defined me as being both "high-maintenance" and somewhat of a loose cannon. Do I sometimes over-react? Perhaps. Am I high-maintenance emotionally? Absolutely. Overall, do I think those words describe me? Nah. But, they are definitely a piece to my complicated puzzle. (Side note: I love my sisters dearly and I'm pretty sure they love me too!!)

In my work life, I've heard "you are amazing", "you are a bitch" and everything in between. Do I see myself as amazing? ABSOLUTELY! (oops, I forgot the NOT!). I am by no means amazing. Nor am I an expert. I know enough to muddle through, and perhaps enough to make some think I know more than I do. I am passionate about my field, but often shy away from making strong stances unless I feel backed to a wall or feel that someone is completely off base. I have been told I can be intimidating, which cracks me up, because that is definitely not the me I see.

I have often been told, "you are such a good mom." Ha! Perhaps the mom that others see is good, but 24/7, I am far from it. I have parent fails daily. But I love my kids passionately! I love that others see me as a good mom, I just wish I could see that.

In married life, I am far from a perfect wife. I love my husband dearly. He thinks I'm perfect...(ahem)...and he compliments me much. But, I don't see what he sees either.

The me I see is just an average girl. I love deeply, be it family or friends, and I am protective of all of those people. I am super, super sensitive. I sometimes have a hot temper. I can hold grudges, but if I love you, I forgive easily. I am a giver, almost to a fault. I hurt easily. I lack self-confidence. I tend to be naive. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and I am an open book. I am guarded until I trust you, but once you have my trust, you may know more than you want to. I tend to be a follower, and don't have many things that I am passionate about. I love to be spoiled. I have a hard time saying no. And I love my family with all my heart.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

...the booty, it's in the genes...

Yesterday, I made Merrick cry. She's a sensitive soul, so this is not such an uncommon occurrence. When she was younger, this would break my heart, perhaps followed by this, "Oh my gosh, I am a horrible mother, I hurt her feelings and made her cry," and then I would cry. These days, it looks slightly different.  There are times that I feel bad.  But, there are times that sometimes I giggle, and smile, and try to teach her about joking.  (Although, I have been told numerous times, "Moooooom, you know I don't know how to tease!")  That was yesterday.

Merrick had been getting ready for school.  She had started with her panties.  And I heard this:  "Mom, these panties don't fit!"  Thinking that maybe she had grabbed some older panties that perhaps were too small, I asked which ones she had put on.  She showed me, and knowing that she had JUST BEEN WEARING that type of panties, I told her to put them back on, and let me see.  And I said, "OH, hmmm, those sure don't fit do they?"  And apparently my tone gave away the fact that I found it humorous that her booty no longer fit in the panties, because this came next, "Mooooooom, I can't help it!  It's not funny!"  Which might have made me giggle even more.  And then, she ran to her room crying.  I explained that I thought it was cute (which it was!) and that I would pick her some new panties for the day.  So, I did, and we finished getting ready, and off we went.

And, of course, I couldn't let it go.  (I know, I know, BAD mama!!!)  So, thinking she might not be quite so sensitive in the evening, I said, "Hey Merrick, tell Dad what happened this morning."  Well, before she had time, Taya piped in.  "I'll show you what happened, look!!"  And, proceeded to reenact the events from the morning, pulling down her panties enough to show her little crack, which again, sent Merrick to her room, to hide in the corner and cry.

So feeling a little bit bad, I went in, scooped her up, gave her some kisses and met Dave in the hall, where she was covered in kisses.

And then I heard this... "it's OK honey, you get that booty from your mama."

To which I replied, "HUH??? I'm pretty sure that your booty isn't so small either, DAD!!!"

But, here's the truth.  I do have a big booty.  And Dave's isn't so small either.  So, our poor girls will likely have big booties as well.  Cause it's in the genes.

And big booty or not, I hope they are always proud of those genes!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

...musical theater, who knew???

Me.  Deep down, I knew.  I think.

In September, Dave and I had taken the girls to see Lion King.  I had already seen it, but they had not.  In fact, I am the only one of the four of us who had ever even been to the Fox, and the only "theatrical" production that I had ever actually seen was Lion King about 5 years ago.  I remember being moved to tears at that time, and I had vowed to bring my kids back when they were ready.  I said that I didn't care how much it cost (which was a small fortune), because this would be a family experience that we would never forget.  And it was even more amazing than I had thought it would be.  And even Dave loved it.  And the girls thought we were in a castle.  And I cried all the way through the opening and closing scenes.  And I fell a little bit in love with musical theatre.

They were super impressed by the fanciness of the basement.  

So, last week, I had an impromptu trip to the Fox Theatre to see Les Miz.  I had really been wanting to go for a while.  Although, I have to say I knew very little about it.  Well, let me tell you, I was extremely moved by the entire thing!  From the way that Fantine sacrificed herself for her daughter, to Eponine's love for Marius, and the complete evolution of Valjean...amazing!  I loved the story, loved the music, loved that the ENTIRE thing was sung, just loved the whole experience.  In the past week, I have listened to the entirety of the sound track all the way through once, while literally visioning the entire thing in my head again, and listened to a few of my favorite songs over and over and over again.

Me and my girls from the 'hood.
Which has left me to do a lot of reflecting about theater, and what it means to me...

I would say that a part of me has always secretly wanted to be an actress.  I think to be an actress though, you must have a lot of confidence.  Which I do not.  I would say that growing up, I was a follower.  And the group I followed were not in to theater.  So I kind of missed the boat on that one.  And how do you get in to theatre if you never pursued it earlier in life?  Who knows, but even if I did know, I still lack the confidence to do it, so, I continue to dream.  And I have recently wondered and started researching how to get my oh so shy daughter in to musical theater.  She loves to sing, she loves to dance, she loves to perform...but for us.  I honestly can not see her doing it for anyone but us.  But, I so much want her to.  I want to be able to live vicariously through her.  And I know that is wrong.  I should want her to pursue her own interests.  But, if I had a choice... :)

So, instead of pursuing a silly dream of my own, I have decided to give in to my desires to see more productions.  And my hubby has decided that he will support me.  :)  In December, I will see Wicked.  In February, I will see Book of Mormon.  And in April I will see Million Dollar Quartet.  And this summer, I just may see Les Miz again!!!  And I couldn't be happier about this new phase of my life.  The new phase that pretends that I am a sophisticated theater connoisseur and not a midwest country girl!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

...going through the change...


Change is tough for me. Typically, I don't embrace it. Even if I know the change is needed, good, required, etc., I still struggle.  Sometimes I can stop, take a deep breath, and move on.  But sometimes, I worry, strategize, worry some more, and proceed with caution.  Other times, I move quickly, realizing that the change is so needed that it creates the anxiety that if I don't make the decision to change RIGHT NOW, my perfect little somewhat crazy life will be so anxiety-induced that I may not be able to function.

Recently, I had one of those AHA! moments that we needed to make a decision to change.  Quickly.  For the past 2 and 1/2 years, we have/had been taking our girls to a well-known and highly accredited "school" that really draws you in based on curriculum and technology.  They hire certified teachers and you pay a lot of money for all of that.  Overall, we were happy.  Merrick had attended for only 1 year, but Taya was in her third year.  We have experienced a lot of turnover in staff (because certified teachers are typically looking for jobs in elementary and not pre-school) and for the most part, we dealt pretty well with that.  I managed to lay low for the most part as a parent.  (Ahem, not a small feat for me!)  And also, I got "close" with a couple of Taya's teachers.  (I have wondered if this was a sub-conscious act on my part to get the teacher on the good side and they will prefer your kids???, but in hindsight have determined that I genuinely liked them!)

Although we thought this was a good school, and I liked the teachers, Taya and I continually struggled with going to school.  In 2 and a half years, I honestly can not remember a time when we didn't struggle with drop-off.  Typically, it was Taya crying, me trying to reason with her, and ending up leaving with a sometimes sad, sometimes crying, sometimes tantruming, and sometimes completely melting down daughter.  We have tried MANY strategies to help, even asking one of my favorite SLPS to write a Social Story.  (I also had talked to the Pediatrician about severe attachment issues and was recommended that we go to counseling, but that's another story!) We had temporary success, but never anything long term that "cured" the problem.  And we had been seeing increasingly worse behaviors at home that didn't seem right for our little princess the bear that we typically knew.

The AHA! moment came about a month ago.  I had been noticing little things here and there when I would drop Tay off or pick her up, but the realization came on a Friday afternoon when I picked her up and saw one of Taya's "friends"engaging in an EXACT behavior that we had recently seen at home.  WHAT???  My bear was imitating behaviors.  Yes, I realize that all kids do this.  But, her behaviors had become pretty extreme.  And I was at a loss.  And it was on the way home that day that she finally decided to confide in her mama that she did not like being at school anymore with her "friends" that were bad.  UGH!  She had been in class with some of these friends for 2 1/2 years, and we had a "routine" (albeit not a great one), and although I realized we weren't in a great situation, I wasn't really sure what to do.  Because, if we did anything, it would required CHANGE, and I was still struggling (still am) with the change that I have been going through with my (forced) new job position.

And then, the guilt set in.  What had I missed?  How could I have not seen the cues she was giving?  Why hadn't I paid more attention to the fact that we had never settled in to a good drop off?  Why did I not put two and two together when she repeatedly asked when she could go to school with Merrick?  Why did I lay low as a mom instead of addressing certain issues?  Was this an epic mom fail?  Hello, anxiety!

The next night, Dave and were having dinner with friends, and I decided that I needed to chat with him about considering a move to a new school.  (Great timing, right?) But we talked it out on the way home and agreed that we needed to look in to a new school.  Without much hesitation, and very little discussion, we decided that it would be best if Tay went back to the "kollege" that the girls had both attended when they were little, and like that, we were preparing for change.  A rather large change.  Based on a single instance that had brought about a moment that opened a flood gate of realization.

I chatted with Taya, and expecting her to be sad, quite the opposite occurred.  She was excited.  She wanted to learn at a new school.  She wanted to be away from the boys in her class.  And she wanted to be with her sister again.  (The "kollege" also happens to be M's aftercare!)  And my worry about THIS change went away.  Because T was on board.  And it would be good, right???  (It was sad, however, telling her teacher, then leaving on the last day with both of her teachers sobbing, I was crying, and Taya skipping out the door ready to embark on her new adventure!)

And for the most part, going through the change has been good.  Dave did drop off and pick up most of the first week, and this week I embarked on my solo journey.  We had 2 really good days, 2 OK days, and 1 REALLY BAD DAY that resulted in me sitting in my car sobbing, and continuing to cry all day long because I had messed up her routine by FORGETTING to drop her off at school.  But, my amazing sister went and checked on her and reported back, and I was a little more at ease.  Taya is learning so much, she is reciting bible verses, she gets to hug and kiss her sister when she sees her, she is making friends, and she is overall doing a great job!  Her behaviors at home have improved some, and her manners are much, much better, and I am a proud mama that is thankful for the change.

However, as is the story of life, I am facing another change.  After several recent chats with one of my closest friends and confidants, I have realized that my well-being is in need of a change.  For the past 7 years, I have forgotten who I am.  And that is a change I am going to be working on.  Changing from "wife, mom and professional" to "Me, including but not limited to wife, mom and professional."  And dare I say I am anxious to see what this change has in store for me.