The Graduation Situation

graduation ornamentYou may have noticed that there are very often several days or weeks between my posts recently.

I am sorry for that , but I have to be honest with you.

I have been having an affair on my blog.

With my studies. (insert horrible fake laughter here)

All kidding aside, this semester was the hardest semester for me yet. I am at the local community (or Junior) college completing my associates in Special Education and a certificate in Early Childhood. This means that next year I will move on to big kid school and work towards obtaining my bachelors in Early Childhood Education.

This semester found me taking three very difficult courses that truly should be taken at separate times. There was a lot of writing, editing, planning, demonstrating, and reading that went into this semester. I believe that this is the first time that I have actually read whole text books for classes.

curriculum classEarly Childhood Curriculum – aka a crash course in what your classroom/daycare center should look like and be doing. This course gave me so much insight on how to make my classroom a better place for my students and how to teach to them in a way that was engaging.

literacy class

Emergent Literacy – aka how children learn to speak and read and how you can teach them. This class was one I was intimidated by. The other students had so much more knowledge than me. I had to really focus and work hard to succeed in this class.

parent relations classParent & Child Relations – aka a class about how parents and children interact – aka how you are messing up your children in one long book.  This class was hard. The professor was very into allowing us to learn our own way, but I am a “Give me a rubric so I know what you want from me!” type of student. There was a learning curve.

 

I managed to obtain an A in all three classes. All of this while being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a coach. I also am in four musical groups, and teaching preschool. It is full around here. Our boys are doing well in school. We have even had meetings with all the teachers about our boys various difficulties. We have spent time with each other. My students have fun and educational things to do every week. Track has been successful (thanks to many other coaches- we have a great team). I mostly had all of my music learned for our Christmas performances in early December. I made time to help my friend move out of state (don’t worry, I live in Rhode Island, out of state is 20 minutes away!). I have even maintained a level of fitness that is changing my whole lifestyle. But I have missed my blog. I have missed pouring my soul out into this writing thing I do for you.

More importantly, I do not do this alone.

I find it hard sometimes to balance the school work for me, the school work for my students, the school work for my children, and the day to day tasks that need to be accomplished. I am grateful to have a husband who has stepped up to the plate. He does homework with the boys, the grocery shopping, the meal planning even, so that I can work, and study. He never once complains, and even goes as far as to being sure I am happy and have everything I need to do my work.  He is at his computer until late in the night being sure his work duties are accomplished, and has had to put time with friends on the back burner because my night classes interfere with his time to be with them. He has dedicated the last few years to being super dad while I am being a student.

I often remind him that he was lucky, he did college right out of high school, and moved right into a career. Not everyone finds their passion that early. My passion for educating children came later, and here I am trying to make everything work for  the good of our family. That reminder is a reminder to me. I need to work hard for this because I cannot afford to miss this opportunity this time.

graduation is almost hereI am doing this for me, but also for them. On May 20, 2016 I will graduate from Community college, a graduation that has been in the making since I started college the first time in 1998, and I will finally complete. Let’s hope the next degree does not take as long!

 

What are you doing for you? What did you start and never finish that you wish you could? What are you waiting for?

being a grown up

relax finish1

Sometimes when I am feeling stressed, I need to unwind.

Today I woke up feeling overwhelmed with the day ahead, so I grabbed the coloring books my bestie gave me for Christmas and started coloring. It gave me a feeling of calm, and allowed me to focus only on the task at hand.

 

How are you taking the time to relax during these crazy holiday hours?

 

when the moment to pause arrives

peace in the momentI stopped in to Target last Thursday to grab nylons for a dinner on Friday.

I of course grabbed a few other things, and I headed to the line to check out. There was a shorter line with a man as a cashier, and a longer line with a woman. I stopped and waited in the longer line. There were two women in front of me with overflowing carriages, and me with 6 items. As I stepped up, the woman in front of me was unloading her carriage, but offered to let me step in front of her.

It was sweet.

I declined.

Strange as it is, I enjoy waiting. It teaches me patience and gives me a moment to just be.

She almost insisted, and I again declined. We had a brief conversation about life (as you do in line at Target) and I expected her to turn away and put her things on the belt.

She did,for a moment. Then, like we were long lost college roommates, we kept talking. Other people came to the line. Calls for more cashiers rang out.  A few offered to help me. I declined, and asked the person behind me to go ahead.

People think I am strange when I do this.

My comment was, ” Thank you, but she and I have a relationship now.  I can’t abandon her!” Laughter from the cashier now too.

She was in our tribe now.

The conversation continued

Life

Husbands

children

work

saying “Yes” to too many things this time of year

How next year we will RSVP “NO” to everything we are invited to.

How I always forget to use Cartwheel

How she is worried about getting everything in with a sleeping family at home

How she has 1% left on her phone

We cheered as the cashier completed the order before her phone died so she could get her Cartwheel points, and then, she packed up.

I said happy Holidays

And she was gone

Two lives

Never before met

Never to meet again

But for a moment

Two moms at Target had a moment to laugh, and relate, and realize we all do this. not a one of us stands alone in this motherhood game. working, stay at home, separated, divorced. we all are moms, and we all will be at the store at 10:45 to get whatever is needed because well, that is what moms do. Our lives were parallel. In that moment we realized: We are not alone.

It was 10:45 at night, and truthfully, I felt bad she was going home to a house of sleeping family. Lugging the carriage full of gifts and necessities into the house alone. I wished I could help, but that was not the plan.

I am most grateful for this moment of laughter with a stranger in the checkout line because it reminded me to pause, be still, and listen!

Too often in life we are in a hurry. We want the fastest check out. The least distraction from our day. The easiest path. But how often do we miss the moments to laugh with the PERSON in front of us in line because we both are buying control top pantyhose or push up bras? How often do we miss the chance to lament our children’s wants, that they list as needs? How often do we make the cashier feel rushed to finish our shopping, forgetting that that same cashier will do their shopping from what is left over because it is so hard to shop when you work retail?

In this season of hustle and bustle it is all too easy to rush. To make haste. To be aggravated with humanity instead of enthralled with the season of wonder and love.

merry christmas to me

What moments have you had this holiday season that have reminded you to pause?

Loved

A few weekends ago I attended a Women of Faith conference. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did not want a “mountain top” weekend that I could never live up to. I did not want a lecture about all the things I do wrong with my faith. I did not need to feel like a spotlight was on me.

loved stage and program

This being an event where Women were the speakers (with a few exceptions) and the voices of reason, this became a weekend of encouragement that I am not the only one who feels the way I feel.

I hate sermons

I hate listening to them

I hate when they are finger wagging

I hate when they take a small part of a scripture and twist it to their message (especially for stewardship)

I just sit in the Choir loft and usually read the whole chapter or book that the sermon is based on.

This weekend I listened to over 10 sermons. That is what they were. God’s message, spoken through the faithful, related to my life, and powerfully true.

the women who sharedNot once did I hate it.

Not once did I say, “ugh, here we go again!”

Not once did I say, “they just don’t get it.”

Not once did I see a finger wag

Not once was I on the mountain

I was in the valley with others in the valley looking for the best way to work this life to please God.

I was not on the mountain.

Several women spoke.

Some of my favorite lines are listed here:

“We aren’t going to be done with the hard stuff until we see the sweet feet of Jesus”

~ Patsy Clairmont

“God is a lovesick parent too…

We didn’t earn Gods love so we can’t loose it…

Loved kids with a lovesick father…

To your kids you are a Shade tree in a stormed world…”

~Jen Hatmaker

“God has a ram in the bush. Trust and he will make our paths straight”

~ Thelma Wells

“Emotions do not always give you the truth

They are reliable, but they do not tell the truth…

We have to be connected that is how God created us”

~ Marilyn Meberg (I believe!)

“Lord I want to help others!” – Lucy Swindoll

“This is it” – God

This is how I was made and I don’t think any of it was a mistake.

meeting glennon

“Crisis is a sifter letting all fall away that doesn’t matter, leaving behind treasure…

The mountain top is thin air, and you have to be still, but in the valley that is where the power is, because that is where the river runs. That is where the work is done…

Be still in the valley and let Jesus fight for you.

We are valley girls” (paraphrased as I listened in awe and tried to type)

~ Glennon Doyal Melton

These women shared life, failures, resilience, love, and hope with each of us.

I am glad I went, I am glad I stood in line, and I am glad I got to see Sandi Patti sing, with her husband and family, because her music is what I grew up singing, and loving, and helped me relate music to my faith, long before Christian radio and the popularity of “faith” in the music world.

I left feeling like I need to own my faith, love God, and trust him. Not be shamed of me or my faith or my beliefs because someone else may argue. They may be Satan trying to tempt me in my deserts of life. Or, they may be lost, and may need to see God through me to believe.

Either way… I have to be me.

That is, I have to let Him use me to do His works in this world.

and so, I did this: I had three more children.

 

the children I adopted…

As I sat in this audience, we were shown a video of a woman who adopted a child through world vision she spent numerous years writing, sending gifts, and being a part of this girls life. She even was phoned when the girl was asked for her hand in marriage, because she needed both of her moms permission. I cried ugly tears. (it was okay, the room was dark!)

our children

Steve had just settled into accepting an offer with his work for a promotion. a good one, and I was feeling the urge to give back. In this light, I adopted three beautiful children this day.

I may never meet them.

I may never get a phone call about a wedding.

I may never know how their health is, or what they feel about school or their lives.

What I will have is a sense that I do not have three children here in my home, and three children out in the world.

I will worry about them, love them, and wonder about them.

They live in Mauritania, India, and Indonesia. All three are about the same age as my boys. I was wanting a way to give to the world for all I have been given, and these three were the ones who spoke to me. Their ages being the similar to my boys makes it an opportunity  for them to see the world through someone else’ eyes. Pen-pals, siblings, friends…they can be a part of each others lives.

I was able to sponsor them through worldvision.

It is a monthly gift  of $39 per child. and I felt like I needed each of my boys to have a friend who has so much less than they do.

These boys of mine will know that they are blessed, and they will have a heart for helping those who have different blessings. The will give to others, they will support the poor, they will act out their faith, instead of preaching it, because that is the example we are trying to set for them. I hope we are doing a good job, but what I do know, is we have made the world a little easier for three young ones.

gifts to give

We will be giving gifts to children in need as presents to their teachers because well, a teacher can only use so many mugs, but giving a child and their family a gift of chickens or rabbits to start a family business or even eat is worth so much more.

Please consider helping a child who needs your love and support.

A word of scripture to remind me and you that we are forgiven the greatest thing to be grateful for:

You will again have compassion on us;

you will tread our sins underfoot

and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

 

I know this blog post is unlike any other, but it is my heart, on screen, for you to judge.

The post thanksgiving grind

So, after a great thanksgiving meal, I am feeling full.

thanksgiving mealI only ate one plate full of food, and only took small portions. I am proud of me. I am six sessions into my new workout routine, and I must say, I am not willing to sacrifice my hard work with my workouts by eating like crap.

One of my main forms of working out has been running and yoga. recently I upped the anti by starting training with a cross-fit trainer. We meet twice a week, and she has pushed me to be better.

I am making healthier choices with eating, drinking my water, and I am not missing workouts.

workout grind
my latest workouts…

I am trying hard to be consistent in between. In the next year I have a half marathon, two or three spartan races, at least one 5k, and a Mudderella.

The gear I use to run is helpful to keep me safe and injury free!

IMG_6119
The workout outfit

The details of my workout outfit.

 

IMG_6118
All of the details

A. A headlamp for those night time runs. Given to me by my best friend. It is awesome at this time of year when the sun seems to disappear sooner.

B. My road ID which I pay for premium service to have online access for emergency service personnel if something were to happen to me on a run, or even in a car accident.

C. My belt for my Epipen, My ID, some cash, and my inhaler. Found at fitletic

D.My iPhone with my runkeeper app. It helps me stay on track, and allows me to keep a record of my runs and my stats. I even have pocket track active which means if my phone is on me, and I don’t put runkeeper on it will still track my movement.

E.My fitbit helps me stay on track with my daily step goal, and it monitors my heart rate so I know where my fitness level is at, and how I am sleeping.

F.My Qalo ring is a silicone ring that I can wear when I work out to protect my diamond and platinum wedding band from damage while I work out with weights. It also comes off easily when my hands swell during  a run.

G.My running headband from my sister. This is truth: hippie runner says it best : I love running: I hate running!

H. My socks from C9 and my shoes from New Balance help my feet feel comfortable and allow me to run or work out without worry of my ankles rolling, and my feet being comfortable!

 

After my workout I know I need to stretch and massage to prevent injury.

 

workout stretch
post workout stretch

 

 

I find that dedication before the big day has allowed me to be wiser about my food choices, and to be wiser about the reality of what I need to succeed!

 

 

What have you decided to do to keep yourself honest?

Hire a trainer?

 

Change your Food?

 

Be better about your water intake?

 

or all of thee above!?!

 

Whatever you have decided too do, do it for you, be committed, and understand that you are worth the change!

So what are you waiting for?!?!?

 

 

 

 

Cruel Devil Music – a play on words

When you have a child that has struggled with everything external, you rejoice when others “get” them.

We have a tradition in our family of listening to “iTunes” radio while we drive. It means we are not listening to the same music over and over, and we often find new favorite songs. Last school year we had a 45 minute drive to and from school. With three boys in the car mama had to find some way to stay sane.

a pixilated picture of his music...
a pixilated picture of his music…
My boys loved listening to Disney radio on iTunes radio because they knew most of the songs. We would play “Name that tune” and try to guess the name of the song, or the movie the song was from, or what character sang it, or what was happening in the movie/show at that time. My oldest really enjoyed when Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians came on. He would talk about how great that would sound if he could play it. He said it sounded like a really tough piece to play. I encouraged him to ask his teacher. Last year he did not believe he could ask her, or play it. This year, I again encouraged him, and he went for it. One month into lessons, his teacher found the sheet music for him. He has loved learning it, and has until June to perfect it as he and she have already decided he will do it for the recital.

Why is this important?

Because my oldest has sensory integration disorder, and the fact that he can even play piano is wonderful. the sound was a sound that bothered him years ago.  Also because his teacher takes in his sometimes quirky requests and embraces them. She knows her students and is always willing to find a way to make learning piano interesting for them. This means that my boys enjoy piano lessons and practice because they love the music they are playing.

Music is so important for learning because it is a whole other dimension for my boys. They get to use many senses all at once to create music. They are learning a skill they will never regret by learning to read music. I feel that they are learning to become better thinkers as the problem solving music involves, the quick thinking, and the physical repetition helps them to grow. I also enjoy hearing them play as I know how hard it can be, and I am amazed at what they are capable of.

The have other skills as well. They run track, and cross country, read books, color/create, do origami, and play video games (full disclosure),  but we often forget that there are other dimensions to learning. We need to remember that their interests are important to encouraging continued growth. They can grow from the opportunities we present them.

Life

Music

Choices

All of these help our children to grow…all of them.

And for your viewing pleasure, my oldest attempting to play this very difficult piece. Practice makes perfect only if we keep correcting and trying!

I wrote a book!

It was an assignment for class, but I wanted to do it really well.

So, I wrote a book.

I wrote the book using my dog as inspiration and creating a fictional story.
I wrote the book using my dog as inspiration and creating a fictional story.

It was a quick adventure, but I hope it will not be my last.

I started with an idea.

My dog

Silly, but I started to write about my dog liking the fall.

I edited my words after finding actual pictures of my dog.

I ended up with all of the seasons.

There is a website that allows you to create, upload, print, and even sell your own books!

So I downloaded the software, and I went to town.

I never in a million years thought that I would be writing a book.

Then I brought the book to school and other teachers said it was cute.

Then I showed my boys.

the start of her journey!
the start of her journey!

They want to read it over and over.

seriously on iBooks store!
seriously on iBooks store!

So, I made it available for purchase. This website which prints actually sets the pricing. So if you want to take a look, feel free. You can preview a few pages, or just take the plunge and buy it!

I hope you like it! Be looking for more in the future!

You can purchase it in several formats here:

my book!

iBooks store!

Thank you!

FULL DISCLOSURE: If you do purchase a book, I will receive compensation for it. The website I used has given me nothing in return, and I have not been compensated for this post directly from the website.

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.