when the bottom seems to drop

stress can create fractures and eventually explode
stress can create fractures and eventually explode

stress

it is the moment when we feel like the walls are caving in

When it feels like the bottom will drop out of our lives.

There is never a real reason to believe that everything is falling apart.

We do that to ourselves

We put that in our own minds.

We create a life where we believe everything needs to be perfect.

we post on social media

we find activities on Pintrest and then wail over them failing.

We work

We stress

we compair

we judge

we meddle

we obsess

We want to do right by all around us.

Stress

Anxiety

Inside

That is where the damage is happening.

The shell we create inside crumbles with every blow. This way our outside appears the same.

Bang

There goes that test

Crash

Your child forgot a homework assignment

Kaplow

Your parents are ill

Zam

your car gets a flat

wowza

you get in a fight with your coworker

phew

your dinner burns

your laundry is piling up

your house needs to be cleaned

The exterior is fine, but check the structure

It is not withholding the blows.

At some point the foundation crumbles
the bottom falls out

and we tailspin

something as “small” as a tag in our shirt or pants can make every edge of our body itch

so how do we handle it?

do we cry

scream

change our outfit 12 times

clean out an entire room

paint

sketch

withdraw from social occasions

forget everything we need to accomplish

or do we find a way to cope

to maneuver our lives to adapt

Whatever we do, we need to recognize that the stress that we create for ourselves can be changed.

we need to learn to pick our schedules carefully

let go of what we don’t need

change what we can

and seek our friends often.

An hour with a friend can change our outlook

not on the phone, or in a text but with a friend.

go to a movie, or a coffee shop, or bring a bottle of wine to a dinner and just enjoy

anchor your hopewhatever we do, we have to remember that even when the walls are caving in, or the bottom is dropping out, we are able to rebuild or restructure by our actions and internal dialog. It is not easy to change those things, but, with time, practice, patience, and even sometimes professional help, we can overcome.

proud mama brag ahead

it's me
a blog about being a mom, a student, a teacher, and a wife, and everything else in between!

Sometimes as a mom, I wonder, “What am I doing wrong?”

And then there are times I want to say, “They don’t belong to me!”

And then there are the times I compare them to others.

But more often than not, I have moments where I am reminded that even in my weaknesses I am a mom who loves her boys, and can be proud of them.

oldest leadership letterOver the last two weeks my oldest was offered the opportunity to be a member of the student leadership team at his school. Right now, he helps younger children be certain they get to class on time. He in turn needs to be in class on time as well. As the year goes on, those duties will change, but he is excited to be a part of helping others. I am really proud of him. He heard about “This Thing” that his friends were doing, and he asked his teachers how it worked, and he applied and was accepted. Mind you, this is my socially awkward, hormonal preteen. He is happy to be helping others.

Remember me the special education turned preschool teacher? This moment was huge for him, and me. His father and I are so proud.

Meanwhile, today we received a letter from the school about my middle child in fourth grade. This letter:

the letter we received from the school asking if our boy could play board games with special education students at his school to help them learn social and emotional skills. what a joy as a mom.
the letter we received from the school asking if our boy could play board games with special education students at his school to help them learn social and emotional skills. what a joy as a mom.

He said as he handed it to me, “Mama, I got this letter today, and I think it is good, I hope it is good, but I didn’t read it. (his

best friend’s name not inserted here) got a letter too!”

He was excited, I was nervous…Is this a “Your son needs further help.” Letter? Was this a “Your son hit someone today.” Letter? But I was pleasantly surprised.

As a mom, I was happy that a teacher saw a quality in my child that he would work well with children who have special needs.

As a teacher, I say, “This is the moment where he discovers that he can help others around him. What if he decides Special Education is for him? How do I help him navigate that with him?”

I cannot express how happy I am that my children are excited to be leaders. Not just leaders, but leaders by example. They do not boss people around, but they do get to help others to find themselves. It is so important for us all to be able to find ourselves, but to help others to find themselves as well. Not leading others by telling them, but leading others by modeling how we find ourselves.

Leadership, it is not telling others what to do, it is getting in the trenches and demonstrating to others how you do it, and letting them do it alongside you. I am so grateful that my children have this opportunity to find themselves by helping others, and help others find themselves.

So grateful for the opportunity for them, and for the trust in their skills as leaders.

On the note of creating leaders:

Look at this awesome art that my oldest and youngest created! They have a reward system at their school that gives “Good Deed Tickets” to students who are doing the right thing. Their school picks two students a week from these “Tickets” to do a special art project. The youngest was picked in September, the oldest was picked in October. The middle is adamant he will never be picked, but then, he is a middle! (deep inside I pray he does, but I am prepared to create an art project at home if he doesn’t”) I know that my children are being recognized for the positive things they are doing, and that makes me really happy. I pray that as they grow they appreciate these opportunities to be leaders by example.

the youngest drew this
the youngest drew this
the oldest drew this
the oldest drew this

That race I didn’t run, and the ones I did…

could be worse, but I finished well!
could be worse, but I finished well!

A few months ago I was talking about preparing for a half marathon I didn’t get to run because of not being able to get to the location: stop signs and a few weeks ago I wrote about running a  muderella . On Saturday, I ran a 5K. Not much, but for me, it was tough. I had suffered a twisted ankle in the weeks before the mud race, and over the past three weeks I had bronchitis. I finished a one week round of antibiotics on Thursday, so I had no expectations of doing well at this race. I expected to be at the end, never did I expect to be as strong as I was. I finished a 3.1 mile race in 38:26 minutes. A 12:22.2/mile pace. My fastest ever in a race setting. My happiness stems from this moment:

my longest straight run ever. I didn't keep this pace up, but it was a great way to start!
my longest straight run ever. I didn’t keep this pace up, but it was a great way to start!

So what?

So, I finished a race in the quickest for me time ever. Did I win? no

Did I even do well in my age group? no

Did I even do well for women? no.

Did I finish? Yes

Did I run over 80% of the race? yes

Did my boys see me pushing myself to finish a race? yes

Did I stop? NO

the moral of this story being that no matter how much you go through, you never know what you are capable of until you try. I am registered for a race in December (another 5K) and in May my first half marathon in Boston, and the following weekend, A spartan Sprint race. My intent is to weigh less by then, but my heart says that I am proof to my boys that it doesn’t matter what you look like, it matters what your heart is.

splits show consistency.
splits show consistency.

My heart said, “You got this!” even if my head said,”DO you?” and my body type said, “Haha!” it doesn’t matter.

When we look at ourselves, we have to want the things we say we want. We have to work for them. My body was not prepared to run as fast as I did, and I have paid the price. A strained neck, sore legs, and a pulled back. These are all worth it. They teach me that I need to prepare for the hard parts of life. If I don’t I will get hurt. If I chose to fight without preparation, I may lose. If I prepare however, I may find that I am capable of more than I ever thought!

When Mama Needs to Write a Paper.

writing can be cathartic until I am writing to be graded
writing can be cathartic until I am writing to be graded

As I sit here in my living room writing this post I have just completed a seven page midterm essay about early childhood literacy. When I finish I will return to writing an essay exam for a class on early childhood curriculum, and then I will spend the next two weeks researching for a paper and exam on parent and child relations.

I have also cleaned a few rooms of my house, prepped lunch for the boys. Reworked our budget to be certain we are being good stewards of our income, and planned Christmas presents and researched things we are looking into for our home. I also am casually watching Harry Potter while all of this is happening.

I find that I need to balance school work, mom work, and self-care, I need to never do just one thing. I set a stopping point and then get up and do something else and then get back to my paper writing.

a bowl of apple slices, sliced cheese, and peanuts protein and crunch to keep me strong
a bowl of apple slices, sliced cheese, and peanuts protein and crunch to keep me strong
2 of these bottles of water a day means I am well hydrated
2 of these bottles of water a day means I am well hydrated

So I thought I would list some of the things I do to help me focus on my school work and stay sane. Everyone has a brain that works differently so please, use what you can, and ignore the rest!

  1. Entertainment: I am the type of person who needs background sound on while I work. Very often I plug my headphones into my phone and play a television series on Netflix while typing or reading. I sometimes listen to an upbeat playlist, sometimes the radio, and sometimes home improvement shows. No matter what it is, I make sure that it is something which is not too distracting.
  2. Water: I make sure to stay hydrated by always setting a large bottle of water by my laptop. I make myself sip between paragraphs or thoughts. This way I stay hydrated when I spend Saturdays writing all day.
  3. Movement: I make sure to get up every 30 minutes or so and move. Go put a load of laundry in, clean a room, step outside to smell the air, but some form of movement. This refreshes my mind, gives my feet a chance to stretch, and keeps me from getting stiff.
  4. Food: it seems almost as common sense as water, but often when I am in a deep study session I forget to eat. It will be six hours and all of a sudden, I am ravenous. I make sure with my water to grab some nuts or fruit, and stop to eat meals. It really helps to write when you are fed.
  5. a warm soul means I can focus
    a warm soul means I can focus

    A warm mug: When the cooler days of fall and winter chime in a hot cup of tea helps relax and soothe while I write. I always make sure to drink while editing because I seem to catch my mistakes and be able to focus when I am warm.

  6. The kids: I have to remember that even though my studies are important, my children are the most important. I need to be able to pause where I am, and help then, care for them and even have some fun!
  7. Knowing when to stop: While I have many assignments and preparations to complete, in taking care of me, I need to know how much time is too much time to spend on the grind.
  8. A proofreader: when writing many papers it is very important to have someone who will be willing to read them, be honest in their critique of them, and be available to help at very odd hours. Luckily I have a few people I can trust, which means no one person is helping all the time.
  9. toys and costumes filled my boys afternoon, and made writing much easier.
    toys and costumes  made writing much easier.

    An overly supportive husband: without Stephen I wouldn’t be able to accomplish half of this. He is home for the boys daily after school, takes them to piano and cross country/track, and has stepped up in the parenting department by being here all the time for them.

  10. A purpose: I am in this to become a better teacher, and in the process, I am becoming a better person. My organizational skills, time management skills, and communication are increased because I am needing to be certain that everything is finished, and everyone is where they need to be.

Choosing to be a student while being a mom and a teacher was not a choice I took lightly. Being present for my children and my students is a priority to me, and there are times I feel selfish going to school and spending my Saturdays and nights learning, writing, and studying. But then I remember that I am learning for them, my children, my students, and for me. Being a teacher means making a difference and in order to make a difference I need to know how.

knowing that a student feels the energy I pour into my work can make stressful or just busy day much better
knowing that a student feels the energy I pour into my work can make stressful or just busy day much better

How do you get it all done? Leave a comment and let me know how you accomplish your goals!

Did You See That?

This weekend we took the boys to see the movie PAN. Without giving any of the story line away, there is a moment where Peter is trying to read and what you see on the screen is the words jumping around the page and letters changing form. He says “I can’t read this.” And someone else reads it to him. This theme continues, but for me, it spoke volumes.

Three boys.
Each with their own abilities and challenges.
We have been suspicious of the younger two boys reading ability for a while. We read to them, but they refuse to read to us. Reading frustrates both of them. We work on handwriting (because we understand the importance) and words and letters, and the boys take piano lessons (where the youngest transposes his hands). We have tried so hard to make books a natural part of their lives, as they (books)  are a natural part of our home.
I realized while doing homework with the youngest that he reverses many of his letters and even writes them quite literally backwards. I then asked him to read me a page, he did, and while the first letter matched sound, the words did not make sense and did not create a story. They were just words.
Luckily he knows words. A lot of them.
Our middle son is in a year at school where there is more homework than he can do in an hour, and every two weeks he needs to complete the reading of a book and do an Independent Reading Response (IRR).  He has read half of a 300 page book, and written the same IRR twice. I had to pull answers from him to get him to write. So I asked him to read. Words that were close to other words were switched, and it ended with him in tears.
He told me “you remember in PAN when the words and letters moved around the page? That is what it looks like when I try to read.”
Reality check
Dyslexia – A learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading.
noun
  • a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.
    Do Not Affect General Intelligence
    This.
    I needed to read this. They will be ok. But damn. Two boys at once? How did we get here? How did I not know? My major is special education. I am trained to assess, but I missed this?
    Reality is, I did not miss it. I just didn’t want to see it. I tried to help the middle boy read. Pretended that everything is ok. I tried so hard to believe he was ok, and just didn’t like reading.
    I don’t think I’m going to get the hang of this mom thing ever, but then will any of us ever? I will be writing a letter to the principal asking that both boys be assessed. Why? Because I need to know. I can’t ignore it.
    Mama might only be human, but mama knows her boys, and mama should have acted sooner.
    But mama won’t sit back any more.
    It is time to figure out what they see when they read, and how we as parents can help them.
    *we do not have a diagnosis of dyslexia, but we are seeking an opinion. If you or a loved one has concerns please reach out to the teachers, caregivers, and doctors in your child’s life. More information can be found at: http://dyslexiafoundation.org/

Mudderella 2015

My sister and me at the half way point! a nice
My sister and me at the half way point! a nice “obstacle” climbing a wall to look through the window and have our picture taken

POWER TO THE SHE

OWN YOUR STRONG

FUTURES WITHOUT VIOLENCE

My sister and I ran the 2015 New England Mudderella a few weekends ago. These phrases are things you hear a lot on the course. They may seem like just phrases, but they are so much more than that. In my opinion, they are a call to action to women and men everywhere to wake up and pay attention.

the race course for the New England Mudderella at Thompson motor speedway
the race course for the New England Mudderella at Thompson motor speedway

Power to the she: women are strong, and capable. No one doubts that. However in this race there is no “this is easier” “here is an easier obstacle” “here is the female start line”. There is just a course. A five mile obstacle course. Running up hill, down hill, climbing walls, trudging through sludge, balancing on balance beams made of logs, and crawling under wires through mud. It is a tough course. It was definitely fun, but you needed to do it as a team, and you had to believe in yourself.

the "selfie" banner after the race.
the “selfie” banner after the race.

Own your strong: each woman (and man) on the course has their story. Each story is different, but what isn’t different is that we all race for the cause. No matter how large or small the donation, no matter how strong or weak we are, we all run for each other. The idea of teamwork is critical in this race. Many obstacles occur just so that you CANNOT get through it alone. One obstacle in particular for me was the wall. Even with a foot hold, my body weight weighed me down.  I didn’t trust myself to not flip over the wall. I felt unsteady. There was a great group of women who helped us through and at this obstacle, they spotted and encouraged me. I found myself saying “I just needed to know someone was there.” I was strong enough, I just needed the courage. In that moment I owned my strong in that I could not do it alone.

statistics can be scary
statistics can be scary

Futures without violence is a not for profit organization that supports women, educates, and fights against domestic violence, child abuse, bullying, and violence against women. It is astounding to think that 1 in every 4 women is abused. I had never thought about it like that. Look around you. One of every four women around you. (Obviously not actually the women sitting there necessarily). My sister and I ran together. There were three women we were with along the course. The ones who helped me over the wall. We ran beside them, all five of us pushed shoved and grabbed each other over the A frame wall. We laughed, high-fived, physically pushed, and supported each other. We finished together. Three of them,  two of us. Holding hands as we crossed the finish line. I did not want to finish running that race. I wanted to walk. They pushed me.

It was after the finish line that one of them broke down in tears. She hugged us both, long and tight, and then the three of them were willing to take the finish line photo with us. (I purposely omitted this photo because I did not get their permission to post.) We did it together. We finished together. The reason for her tears is unknown. I remember at mile one she hugged the mile one marker and was relieved to be there. At the A frame wall she literally grabbed my leg and shoved me up. As we ran and did obstacles together there was a sense of “this is more than a race”.

It is not just women who suffer, but men and children do as well. make yourself aware
It is not just women who suffer, but men and children do as well. make yourself aware

I am eight days out from the race, I have bruises everywhere that I have been hiding all week. I received them jumping over walls, climbing ropes, and just going all-in on all of the obstacles. I need to hide these because I am worried they could be a sign to my students parents or to others at work that I am being abused. I am not. I am fortunate. I do not have to hide bruises every day of my life.
One in four.
One out of every four women are victims of domestic abuse.
One out of every four women HAS A NEED to hide bruises because she fears for her life.
Know your friends
Know your family
Ask questions
Offer help
Don’t let someone you love suffer as one of the four.
Find out more at Futures Without Violence

and find out more about the race at Mudderella