How do you do it? A question I hear a lot!

a schedule to keepI often get asked, “How do you do everything you do?”

Truthfully there are times that I don’t even know how I do it.

I try as hard as I can to get everything done for everyone, and often I fall a little short. For the most part, things go smoothly, but then a business trip for my husband, or a track meet for the boys throws a monkey wrench into the mix.
Here is how I (mostly) keep it all together:

  1. a morning coffeeCoffee – I suffer from migraines. I have tried many different remedies over the years, and the easiest and most tried and true for me is two cups of caffeine in the morning. This plus a protein filled breakfast like eggs with veggies and cheese or (on a day where we are running out the door) a protein shake made with almond milk and  peanut butter. A good start to my day is imperative to everything working together.
  2. a calendar lookCalendars – Steve and I have calendars that connect to each other. My school schedule, the boys piano lessons, track practices and meets doctors appointments, even what day our dog gets her heart worm medication is all on the calendar. Without the calendar, we  would be lost. I used to use a paper calendar, but sharing that was next to impossible, and we were missing appointments. Once we shared a Google calendar it helped us to be on the same page with our commitments. Steve is the king of inserting into a calendar, and I let him because, well, I loathe it!
  3. Communication – Plain and simple. We do not schedule ANYTHING without checking with each other. we schedule our nights with friends and dates in advance. We have to because our commitments are many right now.
  4. Ignoring spam emails – I have over 2000 unread emails, 99% of them are from a store/stores I have shopped in at some point in time. I just do not take the time to delete them. so they go unread. It kills my organized everything has to be done side, but it has taught me to be okay with not getting everything done.
  5. Choosing to help the boys with their work before mine – My children need their mother. When I am home, their homework comes before mine. Even if I have a final exam to finish, they come first. I have spent hours working on a writing project with one boy and then stayed up way late writing my own paper. I have to put them first because they need me.
  6. Staying up late/waking up early – I stay up some nights until 1 or 2 in the morning to write a paper, read a text book, or plan a lesson. I also have woken up with my husband at 4 AM and while he heads to the Gym (crazy, right?) I will write a blog post or a paper, or plan a lesson for the next week. Sleep is something that alludes me, however, I get plenty of it during vacations, summer, and Saturdays (sometimes).
  7. a school scheduleChoosing a school schedule that does not interfere with the boys schedule– This is super hard. I try to pick a schedule that has me away from home for just one whole night, or online classes where I can work from home, or before I was teaching during the day. As I near the end of this degree, I am having to take classes three days a week away from home, and one of those days is Saturday from 9AM-2PM and it is a biology lab. I wish I hadn’t saved that till the end! My second degree will take place online 100% and will be one class at a time for 5 weeks at a time. so much more manageable. I start that in August.
  8. Spending one afternoon a week at school to write lesson plans (so I don’t bring them home) – This is huge. I spend usually Thursday afternoon at school cleaning up my classroom materials, planning stories and crafts, and organizing my collected work from my students. This has been instrumental in my teaching being a non-stress in my life. I enjoy teaching, and this method of planning has been key to a successful year so far! I often am willing to pay for resources from Teachers Pay Teachers to reduce my stress in planning. very helpful to not reinvent the wheel.
  9. Spending as much available time with my boys – When I do have time at home with them, I enjoy playing a video game, a board game, building Lego sets with them, and even a game of Minecraft on our tablets together. I try to meet them where they are, and spend as much time as possible building positive memories. we even enjoy 30 minute reading breaks together when things are getting crazy!
  10. Planning ahead – but not over-committing – We plan our family and friend events in advance, so they are set in the calendar, but we do not over-commit. we try to be fair and have time with everyone, however lately, we have focused on our nuclear family more. The boys were needing some family of 5 time, and that was important to recognize. We also keep family events low key by making them: potluck, board games, casual, and come and go as you can. With so many family members in our extended family, it can be hard to fit everyone’s schedule.  The boys commitments are minimal as well. They all take piano lessons, and run on the race team for our local youth sports league. These are manageable, and Steve is a runner (more than me) and I can read music and play piano, so I can help with those practice sessions. Simple is the key to not over-committing.
  11. a me time collageMaking time for me – This is crucial. With teaching, and being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a student, and a coach, I need to be sure I do things for me. It is always hard to take the time as I feel selfish saying, “I need some time for me.” It is necessary however to do so. How do I enjoy spending my “Me” time? I love to read and even enjoy an audiobook when my time to hold a book is limited, I used to run more but now I have a trainer so I go for a workout and sometimes a run, I love to play board/card games and these things are brain breaks for me but involve family, I like to color in my amazing coloring books I got from my best friend, I like to get a Starbucks and walk around Target looking for nothing,  I love to bake for others as we do not eat a lot of sweets here, and I love to watch a movie. I also spend time with my friends. I truthfully have one amazing friend who has been key to me staying on course. I go to her house and stay until midnight, she comes to mine and stays until late. she is the inspiration and support for me growing my blog, and really finding myself in it. Time for me often includes time with her as she is my best friend, and I need her around to keep me sane, knock me off of my pedestal, and to need me in return. being needed is a wonderful feeling, and I am glad that I have a friend who I can lean on.
  12. a moment aloneMy husbandSteve is a rock. He manages the calendar, takes the boys to the doctors, the dentist, pays the bills, grocery shops, does laundry, and cleans the house. He has picked up all of the things that I dropped. He also works full time. All the time. He is always answering an email, preparing a quote for a customer, or handling a situation with a tech or engineer. He has so much knowledge, and is so much more organized than I am, and I am fairly organized. He knows where I put my keys, where the boys need to be, and what I wore yesterday (when I can’t remember). He holds me when I cry over nothing in my closet looking right. He puts up with my clothes all over the bedroom because putting away my laundry is something I haven’t had time for. he laughs with me, makes my coffee, kisses my forehead while I am writing, and brings me snacks. He also entertains the boys, and for Christmas purchased every workout item I asked for without a blink, even though he had already purchased me the iPad I had been begging for (mine was obsolete and dying, and I was being a brat, I know this). He has been the stand holding me up while I have been barely standing up. The stress of my studies this semester was the worst, and he guided me through it with patience, understanding, and love. I am not worthy, but I openly accept it!
  13. a boy thingMy boys – My children are old enough to do a lot of things for themselves. They do laundry, load and unload the dishwasher, feed and walk the dog, sweep floors, clean mirrors and windows, make breakfast for themselves/each other, prep most of their lunches, and read, do homework and practice piano without question. They realize that mom is in school and busy, but that I love them more than anything. They know I love early morning snuggles, tickle fights, a good session of Minecraft and talking about Star Wars or Legos or both! I pray they understand that me completing my degree is as much for them as it is for me, and I hope they see my studying as a model for the hard work it takes to get good grades and work for what you want out of your education.
  14. My family – My mother and father have been supportive of me going back to school as a mom. They have helped with the boys when Steve has a business trip, read papers for errors, and been council on what my next step should be. my brother and sister have hardly seen me as I have not been around a lot with school and the boys, and they are able to communicate with me and let me know that they get it. my nieces and nephew I don’t get to spend as much time with as I like, but when I do, they are my priority, having fun, making memories. My mother and father in law have helped as well, taking turns with my parents in helping with the boys when school has kept me from being mom. It is actually amazing how a family can lean on each other and  support each other through something that should be simple. College as a mom in your 30’s is not easy, and you need a village. I have given up being the mom that can volunteer for  school events, or field trips. I have given up weeknight bible studies so I can be home or at class. I have stopped some of the things I love, but my family has supported me through it, and I love that!
  15. a end of day momentWine -I enjoy a glass (or 2) of red wine. It helps me unwind at the end of the day, reflect on all I have accomplished, and realize that I am an adult, “adulting” really hard, and I deserve a small break at the end of a long day.  I sometimes replace wine with tea, but I get the same effect.

 

 

 

The reality of it all is that I do not get everything done in a day. A lot of things fall between the cracks. A lot of things never happen. I forget birthdays are coming up, or a special show I was supposed to record, or a promise of a book read at night that I don’t make it home in time for. I cry a lot about that, but I cannot let it hold me back. No one can do it all. and if they tell you they can they are lying to your face. It is not easy, It sucks most days, but at the end of the day, you do the best you can, ask for forgiveness/acceptance/love, and you move forward, it is all you can do!

How do you make your busy schedule work? Do you have any tips for others about how to make a busy schedule less busy? do you need support through something? leave a comment let me know, and maybe someone else can offer support!

Blessings for a happy 2016!

Love

Melendy

Blog it Forward

cropped-mamaisonlyhuman-blog-label-1.jpgI logged into facebook tonight and was greeted by a beautiful challenge from a friend. It was not directed at me, but when Chelley posts something that touches my heart, I try to respond.

Well today’s message was striking as it was about giving back.

We try to give back often, and visibly for the boys. At Christmas time it can be hard to keep the giving spirit for them when everyone is asking them what they want. My boys always do something for their teachers every year. A gift card, a hand made present, a picture they drew.  This year we did something completely different.

The boys were asking about the children we sponsor, and how to help them. They were asking on the day we received the catalog for Christmas giving. They looked through it more vigourosly than the Toy ads. They decided on three rabbits, money for education in the US, money for education outside of the US, seeds for one family to plant a harvest, and four soccer balls. These gifts will go to children who live in places where poverty is flourishing. These gifts will be the first of many.

The boys wrote notes to their teachers letting them know the donations that were made in their honor.   To my surprise, the teachers responded happily, and with notes of true gratitude. My boys came home with  such joy that their presents made their teachers happy. They couldn’t wait to give again.

They obviously do not have such a giving spirit every day. I hope this small teaching moment, repeated often, will allow them to see the good they can do for others.

It is not just money though. reminding them to hold doors, use their manners, and be respectful are just as important. I pray that if they see someone struggling with a bag, finding change, or even with a dead battery on the side of the road, that they will use available resources to help that person.

How can you give back? Pay it forward? What will you do?

 

I am challenging Lisa who has three boys like me. We have known each other for almost 10 years, and truly live parallel lives. We even share a birthday! We both love to give to others, and I know she will be willing to blog it forward!

 

I am also challenging Paula who is someone new to me. She follows my blog, comments, and seems to be working hard to overcome her fears and struggles with working out. I am sure she will take the challenge to pay it forward!

Feel free to join me and many other bloggers in “blogging it forward”

Head Here to see how you can help!

 

Happy holiday season!

Love,

Melendy

 

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?

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?

When It Is Not What You Expected.

my parents looking beautiful on Easter
my parents looking beautiful on Easter

Our parents are our first teachers.

They are our first hero.

They are the first to believe in us.

They are the first to care for us when we are sick.

As we age, we grow towards and from them like the ocean ebbs and flows from the shore.

As they age, their need for us to care for them becomes greater.

As they age, we are grateful for the moments to give back for all they gave us.

I mention in my bio my parents have had a few health issues over the last few years. My parents are not old, but I also remember that they are older than me, and as we age, no matter our age, our bodies start to show signs of wear and tear. If you are really active or not, your body is going to suffer at some point.

For my father, it has been joints, his heart, and problems with his ears. He has some hearing loss, and suffered for almost 6 months with vertigo before it was cured by a resourceful and dedicated doctor. There was a moment where I thought we were going to lose my dad. It was his heart. He lost consciousness while running. That was scary.  The end result was Atrial Fibrillation, and after an ablation, he has had no recurrence. He started eating healthier, walking more, and has shed some weight. He has worked hard to improve his overall health, and as a reward, he was recently discharged from his cardiologist.

My mom has been a teacher for over 30 years. Almost my whole life. She is so dedicated to her students that she often puts herself last. She has had problems with her knees as long as I remember. These issues stem from being a preschool/kindergarten teacher for so long and spending over 30 years in retail where she is constantly on her feet. She knew she needed to do something as the pain was unbearable. After a few procedures to try to avoid knee replacement, she eventually ended up needing it.

Earlier this summer she had her knee replacement surgery, and the surgery itself went as expected. What happened after was anything but expected.

Starting the day after surgery, my mom had heart and breathing issues that the doctors were able to resolve. After this episode they looked into her heart rate and some other things they were seeing and decided there was something going on. Several tests, appointments and added diagnosis later, she is now facing an uncertain diagnosis. Her doctor is saying it seems to be an autoimmune disorder, but is sending her for further testing. We do not have a name, but we do know that none of the “little” issues that have arisen will go away just because she gets a name. She is going to have to manage them all.

It means that my mom who has never “needed” a doctor will be spending days and weeks of appointments with them trying to figure out what is going on, and how to help her body recover.

I don’t know if she is scared or not. The not knowing? The unknown? That is my biggest fear in life. Here she is facing it. She is a rock star with her PT and making great strides with her knee. She still has a long recovery ahead of her. This is foreign to her. Taking medicine, going to doctors, being honest with herself and her doctors, these are all new to her.

The unknown is scary, and it can feel lonely, but in reality we have a strong family, and we will overcome it. Right now, right now we just don’t know, and it definitely is not what we expected.

~~~~

I would also like to add a note that I am writing this for my emotions. I know there are people who deal with more, and people who would kill to deal with another day with their parents. I do not take lightly how lucky I am to have them both and have these moments with them.

Love and Marriage

Sunday morning Steve and the boys and I headed to his mothers church for 8:30 mass. It was interesting as her church building has become home to a new  church affiliated with the Lebanese Catholic Church know as Maronite Catholic. The service is similar to those we have been to in the past, but also, different.

The reason we were here this morning was wonderful. Steve’s mom and dad had their vows renewed during the mass. Their Father was wonderfully accommodating, and even had Steve and his brother and sister serve as witnesses. The “ceremony” during mass was to bless their marriage, and renew their vows. It was beautiful to be a witness to.

the happy still couple
the happy still couple

This did not originally register with me, but then Steve’s dad said something unique. He was excited about it being his wedding day, and said “how amazing that (she) got to be married in her church with her pastor? I feel so blessed.” What an amazing testament to love. He was so excited about how happy she was that he was talking about the day like it was hers.  Let’s be honest, it was. She was the bride, she planned it, she asked the priest, she did the leg work. He was happy to do it for her. For them.

I will be honest, vow renewals have never been something that I thought highly of. I just had this naive concept that if you were married, you were married. Why did you need another party? I was wrong. so wrong. Vow renewal is important to couples who have been together a long time, couples who have renewed their love for each other, been through a tragedy and seen the love that supported them through it. It is a testament to love, a testament to marriage that lasts. A testament to family.

After the ceremony we ate at Steve’s mother’s house and like a typical Sunday, there was a lot of food! while we snacked, we were watching old home videos. My father -in-law is king of the video camera. He captured everything from lazy Sunday afternoons, to holidays, to special events, to sporting events, to family fun. One of those special events was my wedding.

My wedding…

my "Aunt" and a very good friend singing a duet at our wedding (The Prayer)such beautiful voices, and so wonderful to hear again like this!
my “Aunt” and a very good friend singing a duet at our wedding (The Prayer)such beautiful voices, and so wonderful to hear again like this!

Stephen and I have been married for almost 13 years. I have NEVER seen a video of our wedding ceremony. EVER!!! so on this Sunday afternoon, we were watching Steve’s brother use the toilet, and then, in a blink, it was our wedding. Me in my pearly bow dress, Steve in a tux and a tiny goatee (no beard like today) and hair. It was a snippet of our day, but I cried, I sobbed, I was so emotional over a day, in our history.

And I was reminded why I love him, why I stay when things get rough, why we fight for us. Every member of Steve’s family said what a beautiful ceremony it was, and what  party we had after. How nice it was to be together with everyone. We had over 200 guests, and over half were his family. As I watched the part of the ceremony where Steve wiped a tear from my eye before kissing me, I remembered it, like it had just happened. How I was embarrassed and in love in that one moment.

I know we are blessed to be together, blessed to have a love that has lasted even this long, and what a blessing it is to be a couple who fights for each other through it all. Even when times get rough, I remember this:

our first dance
our first dance

And I remember why, and I am willing to keep fighting.

Love your loved ones while they are here. The videos we watched had many happy memories. They also included many family members and friends who have gone before. These moments made the whole day come into perspective. The moments we have, the love we share, and the people we are blessed with are never a guarantee.

Mama Is Only Human

An introduction to my life and my new blog:

IMG_3384I am a mom. My three boys call me Mama. I am not sure why, but they do. I met their father, my husband, right out of high school. We dated, and eventually he proposed. A year later we were married, and a year after that we had our first child.

Being a mom became my world.

Our oldest was quick to learn, happy to help, and funny. Just before we had our second child, our oldest stopped talking. For a year we went through testing, and he was given a diagnosis of PDD -NOS which is a spectrum disorder, as well as sensory integration disorder. He went to speech therapy for 4 years and OT/PT for two years. He grew older, and we learned to manage. He still struggles with Sensory issues, and Executive Functioning skills (organizing thoughts and lists). He is a great student, and  is caring, and compassionate towards others.

Our second child was born in the spring, and from the start was just a happy boy. He was laid back, and went with the flow. He needed some medical intervention for ear infections and snoring. He has a milk allergy that gives him eczema and stomach issues. He wants life to be fair, and he struggles when it isn’t. He needs to know what is next, or he gets anxious. He is loving, has a great imagination and is a great friend.

Our youngest son is a miracle. Born early, he had issues with his eye sight, Mal-absorption,  low tone, and his hearing.   He spent a lot of time in the hospital and as he aged many of his issues disappeared. His hearing recovery was considered a miracle by the doctor, and I agree. He has since caught up with his peers in physical strength, and is almost caught up cognitively and socially at this point. One of his teachers described him as “Christmas morning every day.”

Once they were older (not that old), I decided to go back to school. It started with a teacher assistant certification course. After that course was finished, I felt drawn to do more. I thought I wanted to be a Speech and Language Pathologist, but as I worked in the school setting, I discovered that teaching is what I wanted to do. I am currently a full time teacher, and a full time student. My certification and experience as a teacher, art teacher, substitute teacher, and teachers aide have allowed my employer to have confidence in my skills. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach while completing my degrees. On top of this I am a wife, working hard to keep our marriage strong. We are doing this while managing his recent Diabetes Diagnosis and all that comes with it. I am also a daughter whose parents have had health issues recently. They are doing well now and that is a blessing. I like to run, but I also hate it. I wish I could say I was one of those people who fits a run in in-between work and school while making the boys a snack, but that would be a lie. I fit that in when I can, and right now am working toward my first half marathon. I am hoping for a 14 minute mile – if that tells you how much of a runner I am. I am also involved in many singing groups in our church. I sing solos, as a part of a group, and in the choir. Singing is a stress relief for me because I can be someone else. I can show my soul through words and melody intertwined together.

I am writing down my journey because I want to be a voice. There are many people who think they cannot do something. I want to show them that they can. Many times the reason for the cannot is time, money, ability, mental fortitude, or energy. I have used every one of these excuses in my day to day, but I am choosing an attitude of I can. I hope that I can inspire others to choose this attitude as well. My struggles, laid out, my joys lifted up, and my journey an open book. Come join me and see why Mama Is Only Human!   blog picture