Hi everyone! How are we in March already? The past few weeks have been a blur with all of the travel we somehow packed in! I was going to try to recap all of our fun in one giant post, but I don’t want to put anyone to sleep so I’ll start with NYC and save our Disney adventures for later.
My trip to New York was an early birthday present from my amazing hubby. I’d been wanting to see Waitress since before I knew it was a real musical (true story) but was patiently waiting for it to come to Seattle. Lee, being over-the-top kind guy that he is, decided to surprise me with a weekend in New York to see the show on Broadway with my sisters! It was truly the trip of a lifetime. Not only did it fulfill my dream of getting to see a play on Broadway, but to see this musical staring Sara Bareilleswith my sisters was almost too good to be true!
Being all of our first times in New York, we crammed A TON of sight seeing into our two day get away! The first night we checked into our hotel, grabbed some dinner at little Italian restaurant and walked around Time Square just taking everything in. I could not get over the bright lights! No wonder it’s the “city that never sleeps” – it looks like broad daylight ( ok, maybe Seattle daylight ) at 2 am!
The next morning we got an early start, grabbed a bagel (of course), and decided to start our day at Grand Central Terminal.
From there we walked to the New York Public Library (only getting a little lost along the way). I really wasn’t expecting much but it ended up being one of my favorite attractions. The architectural detail and beautiful paintings were breathtaking, let alone the impressive collection of books!
Next on our agenda was the Empire State Building. The whole experience felt rather gimmicky – kind of Disney-eque, but once we got to the top I was glad we made the trek. The views were absolutely phenomenal and it just wouldn’t be a trip to New York without it.
After that, we grabbed an Uber and drove down to Battery Park so we could catch a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Our driver recommended saving some money and taking the Staten Island Ferry instead since we weren’t really interested in going to the top of the statue anyway. The ferry ride was a nice break from all the walking and didn’t disappoint with it’s views of Lady Liberty!
We ended up having to wait at the terminal for the next ferry back to Manhattan, which was, again, a nice break from the walking and freezing winds, but by the time we made it back we were all starving! We decided to walk to Freedom Tower ( which turned out to be a little bit further than it looked) and stopped to pay a visit at the 9/11 Memorial just outside. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to take pictures, but the monument was a beautiful and incredible tribute to all of the men and women who lost their lives. Standing in that place and reading the names, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would have felt like to be there that day instead of watching the chaos play out on television from the safety of my own home as I had so many years ago. It brought a whole new level of awareness and appreciation – definitely a must see!
By the time we made it to Liberty Tower we were down right HANGRY! The lack of organization at the ticket office coupled with a little credit card snafu left me grumpy and feeling like this was going to be a waist of money. We finally got everything straightened out and made our way to the top just in time to see the amazing 360 degree views of the city in the final glow of daylight. We snagged a table at One Dine (the restaurant located in the observatory) and enjoyed our dinner as we watched the skyline transition from the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen to the twinkling of city lights. With full bellies, all was right with the world again and it turned out to be money well spent after all!
From there we, we took an Uber back to our hotel to quickly freshen up. I was in such a hurry and so nervous about being late for the show that I accidentally left my wallet in the drivers car ( lesson learned: be super nice to your Uber drivers and tip generously so they are willing to go out of their way to return your belongings you if you happen to be spacey like me)! Thankfully we got a hold of him and made arrangements to connect and get my wallet back after the show. Between that mess and traffic, we ended up arriving at the theater a couple of minutes late. I was sick to my stomach thinking we would have to wait until intermission to go in, but much to my surprise, theaters on Broadway are not nearly as stuffy as some of the local ones I’ve been to. They allowed us to sneak in during the first song and all was well!
Our seats were amazing and I was absolutely star struck to see Sara Bareilles on stage before me! Not to get too sappy, but my connection with this musical is tied closely to this whole self-discovery/self-love journey that I’ve been working on. I sat teary eyed during most of the performance but as soon as she broke into “She Used to be Mine” I lost it. That song has taken me from a place where I, too, could no longer “recognize me” to finally realizing that now is my chance to be “reckless just enough”. Sitting there with her belting out the lyrics that resonated deeply with me for so long felt like I had finally come full circle.
To top off the night, we ended up standing around the cast exit while we waited for my wallet to be returned after the show and caught glimpse of Jason Mraz and Sara Bareilles as they left the theater for the night. My sweet (and extremely loud) sister managed to get Sara’s attention yelling “you don’t have to write us a love song, just sign this!” as she reached across the crowd to hand her my playbill. As if the night couldn’t get any better I ended up walking away with my wallet and a signature from my favorite artist!!!
The trip was truly spectacular and the three of us agreed on making a “Sister Weekend” an annual tradition. Living away from family can be tough but it has made me appreciate opportunities like these all the more. We may not be in and out of each others lives on a daily basis (although with FaceTime, we kind of still are) but when we get together we definitely make it count!
First off, I just want to say a huge thank you for all the love and support I received after my last post! Your comments and messages meant the world to me and it was such a relief to have that post land so gently into your kind hands. To those who came forward and shared your own experiences, my heart goes out to you! Working to cultivate that sense of community around the topic of miscarriage is exactly the reason I stepped forward to tell my own story. I appreciate your encouragement and bravery more than you know!
Today I want to shift gears and talk about something a little different – Yoga. It’s been a hobby of mine for quite some time, but only this past year has it really become a passion. I always viewed it as a fun form of exercise, but was never able to commit to it as a part of my daily routine. When we moved to Seattle last spring, away from the solid support structure that I’d always known, I began to approach yoga from more of a self-care rather than a get-fit mindset. That shift in perspective made all the difference and suddenly yoga went from being a fun occasional workout to my daily dose of “me time” – a meditation of sorts. As I’ve dug deeper into to the practice, I found myself searching for ways to cary that amazing feeling of “centeredness” off the mat with me and into the rest of my life. I am at the very beginning of this journey myself, but these 5 lessons I learned from yoga have been so helpful in working towards my goal of living a more balanced and connected life that I couldn’t keep them to myself!
Don’t Rush Transitions – I found my yoga practice really move to the next level when I finally realized the importance of transitions. Nailing the pose is great but how we move from one to the next reveals so much more about our strength and self control! Once I realized the importance of slowing down and being intentional through transitions on the mat, I noticed how much I was struggling to do it off the mat. It became so apparent how much of a habit I’ve made of rushing from one task to the next. Once place to the next. I have really been working on slowing down, especially through transitions because there is so much that life has to offer us in the “in-between”.
Notice How You Feel – Once I started slowing down through transitions in yoga, I began to became more aware of how each pose made me feel. Noticing these little details really allowed me to get the most out of my yoga practice. The same is true for life. In order to get the most out of it, we need to discover what works for us and what doesn’t. What are the little triggers that cause us stress? What tiny moments throughout the day make us feel more alive? Once we take the time to notice these little clues our body is sending us, we can begin to make better choices and steer ourselves in a direction that allows us to get the most out of life.
Breathe – If you’ve done any yoga at all, you know it is ALL about the breath. The “movement with breath” concept is one of the things that made me fall in love with the practice to begin with. I really connected with that aspect of it because I had discovered fairly early on ( way back to my dance and gymnastics years as a kid) how useful breathing into tight muscles was in terms of gaining flexibility. I trusted the breath and understood it’s value as a tool to move deeper into poses. Outside of yoga however, breathing through difficult situations is not something that comes naturally to me. One of the biggest pieces of advice mothers get is to ‘just breathe’, but for some reason this is something I only remember after I’ve already lost my cool. Now whenever I notice those little triggers going off, I try to stop what I’m doing and take a few deep, controlled breaths. It is truly amazing how well it works (when I remember to do it )…
Balance – One of my favorite sayings in yoga is to ‘balance effort with ease’. That is what I want my life to look like – a beautiful dance between pushing myself just far enough outside of my comfort zone to find growth and relaxing into the place I am at in a way that feels graceful and free-flowing. Whenever I am feeling stressed or like life is just too heavy, I try to imagine what I would look like if I was balancing those two forces. It is such a helpful tool that allows me to refocus and find the places I need to push myself a little harder in order to find the calm.
Just Do You – This is the one I have had hardest time putting into practice but the one that makes the biggest difference in how we show up to the world. When I first started my yoga journey, I kept my eyes glued the tv screen. I had no idea what it was supposed to look like so I had watch and learn. Little by little, I began to memorize the names of poses and develop a feel for the rhythm. As my confidence grew, I started experimenting with different variations of poses and I am now finding the freedom to continue on my own if I still feel the need to work out any kinks after the video has ended. I’ve slowly grown comfortable with ‘just being me’ on the yoga mat and now I am working on figuring out what it looks and feels like to “just do me” off the mat. It is such an exciting moment when I catch myself on the verge of holding back and then remind myself to just go for it, follow my gut and show up as me.
Yoga has really brought these lessons to light and helped put them into practice in a way I had never been able to do on my own. I can’t help but notice that a lot of these lessons really started sinking in around the same time I found the Yoga With Adrian channel. She has such a down-to-earth vibe that makes Yoga appealing to people of all skill sets. I highly encourage you to check it out, if have not already! Weather you are a yogi or not I believe these are great things to keep in mind if you are looking to move a little deeper and live a more centered and connect life.
Happy Anniversary! It just occurred to me that it was right about this time last year, January 10th to be precise, that I sat down and began this little blog. It was a jumping off point. A commitment to myself that after a very trying year (or two), I was ready to leave it all behind and start figuring out who I was again. I am pleased to report that 2017 was a MUCH better year! It was a year full of uncertainty and change – making big leaps of faith and discovering that even though things didn’t work out quite the way we thought or hoped, we ended up exactly where we needed to be at exactly the right time. This blog is a token of that decision to leap, but as much as I hoped it would be a place for me to check in and report back along my journey, there was a big piece of the puzzle that I was still working through. Every time I sat down to write a post I felt like I was being inauthentic as I danced around the subject and tried to write about other areas of my life. Nothing else seemed to make sense without that critical piece, yet I couldn’t figure out how to share it. I tried dozens of times to type it up and throw it out there just to remove that road block, but every draft felt cold and pointless. Heaps of words that spelled out my story but failed to do it justice. I needed to find clarity. A way to sum up my feelings and find a path forward before hurling it all out for the world to see. All year long I sat, not so patiently waiting for that clarity to come until finally it smacked me upside the head in the most unexpected of ways. It was not pretty but I am so thankful that I finally understand my story well enough to share it. Really and truly, my biggest hope is that in doing so, I may be able to reach just one person who needs this story. Who can read it and know that you are not alone. I understand your pain and I PROMISE there are brighter days ahead!
As few people know, Lee and I have been trying for baby number 3 for well over 2 years now. The decision to add to our family did not come lightly. There were many times after Madeline was born that I thought for sure I was done with two. Even after much discussion and the decision to casually try, I was admittedly on the fence. We’d already been blessed with two happy, healthy children who fill our hearts and many times our hands with the trials and responsibilities of parenting. I was nervous about messing up a good thing, but at the same time my heart yearned for another baby. When I quickly became pregnant that May of 2015 all of my fears were pushed aside at the sight of that little pink line! I knew we would make it work and adjust to a new addition just as we had done before.
My confidence was quickly shattered, however, when that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage just over a week later. Not having experienced any difficulties before or during my pregnancies with Emily and Madeline, it came as a complete shock. My doctor threw out statistics, ensuring me that this was merely a common outcome of the reproductive cycle. I could not get over the thought, however, that maybe this was a sign that we were meant to remain a family of 4.
We waited over a year, trying to figure out whether we should try again or move forward with our little family as it was. In the mean time, we had made the decision to homeschool our girls. The thought of adding another ball to juggle was scary when I already had so much on my plate, but the desire for another child remained strong. We decided to try again. When I got pregnant I was told by my doctors that our previous loss was just “one of those things”. This time would be different. I assured myself that every day. Nearly a week later, however, I woke up with that familiar loss of pregnancy symptoms and a gut wrenching feeling that something was wrong. Sure enough things would not be different this time around.
I was convinced that this was not just a random case of bad luck, but was told by my doctor that testing is not done until after three back-to-back miscarriages. We quickly decided to try again, hoping for the best, but falling back on the comfort of knowing that even if we did not get our baby we would at least get some answers. Again I got pregnant quickly. This pregnancy felt different. It wasn’t until seven weeks when my doctor called to inform me that my HCG was no longer doubling that I had any indication that things were not going well. I was devastated but did my best to keep my chin up and proceed with the testing in hope of finding a cure for this terrible heartache. When we finally got the results back I was shocked that everything looked “normal”. Everyone told me to be thankful that I was healthy – and I was – but I felt so lost! The one thing I was counting on to solve my problems had failed me. My doctor referred me to nearby Reproductive Endocrinologist as our next step, but once again, I began to question whether or not we were meant to have another child if the universe kept throwing barrier after barrier in our path.
I needed time to think… or not think. I don’t know which. My head and heart were in constant battle and I didn’t know what to trust. I wrestled with feelings of guilt over not being content with the two amazing children I already have. I suffered from anxiety, wondering if something was wrong with me that had not yet been discovered. I constantly questioned whether my desire for another child was genuine or if this had turned into some sort of battle of me trying to prove to myself that I could do this and I would win! Did I want another baby to raise and to love or just to heal this gaping wound that was left on my heart? I didn’t know. My head was too cluttered to make any sense of it and I wasn’t willing to take the steps to fight for another child before I knew I was doing it for the right reasons.
All year long I sat in this place of limbo, focusing on finding contentment in the moment and hoping that God would sooner or later lead me in one direction or the other. It was a year full of soul searching. I learned a lot about myself in 2017 and made a lot of growth in some very unexpected ways, but I still felt undecided on the matter of growing our family. Overall though, I had come to find peace in our current family structure for the time. Toward the end of the year, it became clear that our girls were ready for separate bedrooms and in the spirit of embracing life as it is, we made the decision to convert our playroom – a room that we had been setting aside as a future nursery – into a bedroom for Emily. The decision felt right and I wondered if maybe this was a signal that it was also time to let go of the space in my heart I had been setting aside for our “someday baby”.
We spent the entire weekend taking apart bunkbeds, getting Emily set up in her brand new room, and resetting the playroom down in the basement. The Monday following the move, however, it occurred to me that I might be a day or two late for my period. I ran out and grabbed a home pregnancy test just to be safe since we had plans for an upcoming Halloween party just around the corner. I was in disbelief when that faint pink line appeared on the screen. I had just begun to think we were being led down the road of life as a happy family of four, and now this! I did not know what to make of it. We had not made any progress in resolving our issues since the last miscarriage, and while the test results showed no indication that there was anything to prevent me from going on to have a healthy pregnancy, it also left me with little reason to believe this time would be different.
In the days following my positive pregnancy test, I forced my self to unwind from the bundle of fear and anxiety that initially gripped me. In doing so, I made the commitment to myself and my baby that the way I would make this pregnancy different was by simply experiencing it for all that it had to offer! To let myself feel every emotion as deeply and as powerfully as it came to me! One of the biggest things I learned and tried to practice throughout 2017 was self-empathy, a concept I had never known existed until I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Rachaeous. Her reminder that “it’s just as OK for us to feel and express the full spectrum of emotions as it is our children”, inspired a lot of personal growth throughout the year and seemed especially applicable in this situation. This time around I would not shy away from the fear and pain. I would let myself feel scared when I needed to feel scared and sad when I needed to feel sad. But at the same time I would not push the overwhelming feeling of love for this little life aside in attempt to guard my heart. I would enjoy my journey with this baby every day that we had together, whether that was a matter of days or an entire lifetime!
Before long I found myself on the other side of the 8 week mark, a milestone that I’d mentally noted as the point at which I could breathe. I knew it was time allow my mind to venture ever so slightly into the future as I begin looking for a doctor to care for myself and this baby if it was going to stick around. I found one quickly and reluctantly scheduled my first appointment for December 7. Booking that ultrasound re-triggered my anxiety. I knew that it would be the turning point at which my worst fear would either be confirmed or denied. Once again, I let those emotions rise to the surface, allowing myself to really feel out what they were trying to tell me. Late one night as I lay in bed trying to work through the suffocating panic that had crept up on me throughout the day, I began whispering positive words of health, strength, and hope to my baby. Suddenly, a wave of peace washed over me and the words “this will not be the end of your journey” came to me. Not audibly, of course, but the message rang through my head loud and clear! I was a bit afraid of what it meant. On one hand it sounded like perhaps this baby would not be the final destination on our quest to grow our family. On the other, it felt like a message that there was something more beyond this place of fear, doubt, and anxiety that I had so long been sitting – there were brighter things ahead! Either way, I was oddly comforted by it and chose to interpret the message in the most positive light.
With that little token of wisdom to help keep my anxiety at bay, I made it through the week leading up to my appoint fairly well. I was beginning to get excited for our visit and couldn’t help but envision the surge of tranquility that would come over me upon seeing that tiny flickering heartbeat on the screen! Just days before my appointment, however, I was relaxing on the couch and started drifting into thoughts about the baby as I often did. I imagined it’s jerky little movements floating peacefully in my belly while I lay there. All of the sudden it hit me like a ton of bricks that I could not feel anything! Not movement of course, it was far too early for that, but I could not feel the connection – that warm sensation that had always come over me whenever I placed my hand on my growing belly. I tried again to tap into it but could not. I just felt emptiness. At the time I chalked it up to anxiety. I had never made it this far, all my symptoms were stronger than ever, my belly was quickly becoming more and more difficult to hide, and I had not experienced any cramping or spotting to indicate cause for concern. Surly I was letting my imagination get the better of me.
I was a bundle of nerves when the morning of our appointment came, but tried not to show it as I got my kids ready and sent them off to school. I drove down to pick Lee up from his office then ventured to the OB together to get the first glimpse of our little bean! My palms were sweaty as I sat in the chair of the waiting room, anxiously preparing for the moment of truth. Finally they called us back. I sat on the table, my stomach in knots, only halfway listening to the midwife’s explanation of what to expect during the ultrasound. I laid down, and reluctantly turned my head towards the screen. I knew what to look for. I knew that within moments I would be able to tell if our news would be happy or sad. With Lee holding my hand, she turned on the machine as I held my breath waiting for what I hoped to be our strong little baby appear before me on the monitor. Instantly my heart sank. I could see something but it was not our 9 week 5 day baby – that much I knew. I laid there completely numb as she checked and rechecked, questioned my dates, and called in another doctor for a second opinion. When the midwife finally confirmed what I knew to be true, I crumbled.
The days to follow were a bit of a blur, filled with more advanced ultrasounds and blood draw after blood draw. The storm of emotions that tossed me one way and the next seemed unbearable at times, yet I insisted on letting myself feel them. I knew from past experience that these feelings would not dissolve within. They would need to come out sooner or later so I let them come. I was angry at my body for tricking me into believing everything was fine when it was not! I was scared that I would never be able to trust it again. I was heartbroken that this baby that had been with me for nearly 10 weeks would not be mine to hold. I was afraid that this was my breaking point – that I wouldn’t have what it takes to expose myself to this potential gut wrenching sadness again. I felt isolated having so few people to talk to and fewer still who truly understood.
At the same time I felt an immense sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the people in my life who supported me when I needed it most. For my husband and his uncanny ability to never lose hope! For our relationship and the opportunity that each struggle has provided to bring us closer and build us stronger. Gratitude for my two amazing daughters and the continual reminder of the miracles that they are! Gratitude for a deep understanding of the essence of life. For the privilege to experience it in it’s most brief and raw form and to witness the profound impact that even the tiniest flicker can make! Above all though was gratitude for the opportunity to be one of those who “truly understands” – to have that knowledge and to use it to help others!
For weeks I’ve ridden the wave of those highs and lows. Though the process has been long and (I’m sure) still unfinished, surrendering to it has brought so much of the healing, answers and clarity I have long been searching for. As I spent time sifting through my emotions after the initial shock had faded, the message I received earlier in the pregnancy returned to me – “This was not meant to be the end of our journey”. This baby was not ours to hold, but it had a purpose and fulfilled it completely! This baby was sent to us at just the right time – a little spark to reignite that fire inside that I was getting ready to stamp out. A reminder that yes I want another child, yes it is 100% for the right reasons, and yes it is totally worth fighting for! With our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) appointment now officially on the books, I can finally say with certainty that we are moving forward down the path that is meant for us. I have no way of knowing if this will be our final hurdle or if this just another box to check off along the way, but for the first time in a LONG time I trust that I will be ok. Whether that means a baby or no baby. Whether that means this year, 5 years from now, or never. I know that I can get through hard things! That I can learn and grow and benefit from the trials just as much as the blessings. And above all, no matter how dark and fuzzy the path may seem, there are always brighter days ahead!
Whew, what a week! With my kiddos both in school for the first time, I’ve been bracing myself for what I knew would be a long season of strengthening our immune systems. This week it hit, right on cue. First my oldest, then myself, followed by Ms. kindergarten – never with enough time for any one person to recover before the next one succumbed to the nastiness, of course. With at least one of my kids attending school every day this week, I still had to drag my aching body out of bed in the mornings and give myself a pep talk just to get through drop off. Getting out the door seemed like a feat, in and of itself, but the thought of facing other people in this state was nearly enough to send me crawling back to bed.
I wanted so badly to slink out the door late and dodge the steady stream of walkers that buzz down our street every morning. I even contemplated dropping the kids off in the car just to avoid human interaction (even though it would have taken twice as long to get through traffic than it would to walk). But then I looked at my kiddos little faces and was reminded to be brave. If I am expecting them to go out and face the day, whether they are feeling on top of the world or are having an off morning, I need to set the example. I grabbed my jacket and my coffee (my adult security blanket – let’s be real) and stood at the window waiting to time our departure just right so we could walk alongside our new friends.
I am pleased to report that I survived! Not only did I survive, but each day I came home with a little more pep in my step after a brisk walk and nice chat with my fellow walk-to-school mamas. I hate to admit it, but this introvert may be starting realize the value of social interaction, however painfully uncomfortable it may be.
Here’s the deal. In my last post, I shared that my oldest daughter had been experiencing some social challenges of her own during the first weeks of school. It broke my heart to see her struggling and I wanted so badly to be able to fix it for her – to walk up to the other kids and tell them what an awesome person she is and to insist that they listen when she talks and include her in their games. But I can’t. So I came home and did what any millennial parent would do – Google “how to help my child make friends”. Quite a few articles popped up and as I read through one after another I noticed a recurring theme : “Model being a friend”. I felt a knot in my stomach. I want my daughter to make friends and have positive social interactions, but the last thing I want to do is step into that arena myself. I instantly felt like that little girl on the playground; “What if they don’t like me”? “How do I even start a conversation”? “They already have friends. Why would they want to be friends with me”?
You see, my daughter and I are very similar, sometimes painfully so. I’ve always been envious of people with overly social children. Why can’t my kids be the ones walking down the street starting conversations with every person they pass so I can just tag along and jump on board their social trains. All at once it hit me that maybe our shared weakness could be a positive thing. A way to grow together instead of an excuse to keep shrinking further and further back. I have the privilege of knowing exactly how she feels. I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. I’m still there. I still feel that. We can talk about our struggles and instead of me pretending that it should come easily, she can know that it’s hard for me too. She can watch as I put myself out there and push my own boundaries and know that it is something that she is capable of as well.
We’ve been walking with our group for a little over a week now and I can already see things opening up for us. My daughter has the opportunity to start the day off with a small group of friends instead of figuring out how to work her way into the larger picture once the bell rings and swarms of students start billowing into the classroom. As for myself, I have really enjoyed getting to know this group of mamas and have been pleasantly surprised by how welcoming they have been and how this little bit of social interaction has boosted my own confidence. For so long I have fed myself the lie that I am an introvert, therefore I do not need social interaction. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all social creatures who crave love and belonging, maybe on different scales, but in some capacity none the less. For those of us with social anxiety it can feel like a constant battle of having to talk yourself into stepping out every . single . time . It may get easier with practice or it may not, but I am beginning to recognize that it is a battle worth fighting. Not just for my daughters sake, but for my own.
There is a reason we are hardwired for connection. We are stronger together than we are apart. As cheesy as it sounds, it is so incredibly true. No matter where you are in life, whether you are 7 or 37 (I am not 37 by the way, it just sounded better than 30 ;)), there is a constant stream of new challenges to overcome. Challenges that other people all around us are facing too. When we open ourselves up to the world and connect through shared experiences, we gain the collective power to conquer those challenges rather than letting them conquer us.
What about you? Have you ever had to step out of your own comfort zone to help your child work through a difficult situation? Share with us in the comments below!
Let me start out by saying that this is not a post intended to bash homeschooling. I believe homeschooling is a great option for many families and can be done beautifully and successfully. The truth of the matter is, however, homeschooling is not for everyone and that is ok. I want to share our real life struggles with homeschooling and our decision to transition to public school because I feel like there is a void of information regarding the subject and I believe it can be helpful to know that you are not alone if you’ve tried homeschooling and it’s not what you expected or if you are considering homeschooling and wondering if it is right for you.
When I began contemplating the idea of homeschooling my daughters over 2 years ago, I scoured the internet searching for answers as to whether or not it would be a good fit for our family and what our long term education path might look like. Nobody ever said that it would be easy (thank goodness), but everywhere I looked families were taking control of their children’s education and rocking it. As a former early childhood educator I thought “I can totally do this”! What could be better than spending all day, every day, with my beloved children, tailoring their education to meet their exact needs, and building our family around our values and schedule? Yep. It was a no brainer – I was homeschooling my Kindergartner and I was going to crush it!
As I bet you could have guess, It didn’t quite work out that way. Though it took me a long time to admit it (ahem…right now) homeschooling was A LOT harder than I thought it would be, but not in the ways you might guess. As far as picking curriculum and actually teaching my kids – that part came fairly naturally to me. Sure, there were late nights on the couch searching for yet another literacy program because the first one was too easy and the second one was too structured… There were times when my oldest daughter’s perfectionist tendencies (that she may or may not have inherited from me) had us butting heads or days when I simply gave up trying to get my youngest to sit still for any type of formal instruction. Overall, however, I felt pretty competent. Whenever I started second guessing whether or not I was doing enough, they would have a major educational breakthrough to reassure me that things were working.
What ended up being hardest for me, and it took me quite a while to even be aware of this, was balancing the role of mom and teacher. Before homeschooling, I LOVED being a mom. I adored planning fun activities and taking them on outings. Once we started homeschooling, all of my time and attention was poured into planning educational activities. I was drained and had nothing left to give. Before homeschooling I took my kids to weekly story times and play groups but I quickly discovered that, while they do exist, these types of programs are few and far between for school-age children. When we did go out, we often felt out of place.
Another hard realization was that having two kids, close in age and opposite in personality, together ALL THE TIME was a recipe for insanity. Siblings bicker. I get that. My kids play nicely together about 50% of the time, but they are also very competitive. When left with zero space to do their own things or be their own people, it began to feel a little suffocating. For all of us. I am very much an introverted person. I love my children but I need time, and space, and quiet – all of which are hard enough to come by as a mom, much less a homeschool mom who is surrounded by kids day and night. When I don’t have time to process my thoughts or emotions I can become a pretty grumpy person and I was not happy with the Mom I had become. I chose to homeschool to enjoy my kids more, and simply put, I wasn’t enjoying it at all.
I am not the type of person that likes to admit defeat (who does?), so I kept chugging along convincing myself that I was in some sort of mom-funk and needed to snap myself out of it. I couldn’t dare entertain the thought that maybe I had taken on too much. I was born to be a mom so how could spending 100% of my time on my kids not make me happy? And even more than that, was my happiness alone, reason enough to think of making a change? After all, my kids were doing great academically – what more could I want?
Thats when God threw me a bone – a ticket to bow out gracefully. Right as my oldest daughter’s first grade year was coming to a close and I was really beginning to contemplate whether or not this was going to be a road we could continue down much longer, Lee got a job offer in Seattle. Before we knew it, it was a done deal and we were searching the internet for houses. We were really struggling to find something that would accommodate our budget and our menagerie of pets, but just as things were beginning to feel hopeless we found the perfect rental and just down the street they were building a brand new elementary school! I knew right then that this would be a perfect opportunity for a fresh start!
We spent all summer planning and preparing to send them both to school in the fall. While I knew it was the right time, I still felt anxious as to how the transition would play out. Would my kids settle in easily or stick out as “homeschoolers”? Would public school meet their needs academically? Would it help them grow socially and emotionally or would it steamroll right over their uncalloused hearts? Not to mention the question of how on earth I was going to cope with sending both of my babies off to school at the very same time.
We are just now wrapping up our first full week of school and while most of those questions and concerns will take time to completely answer, I feel more confident than ever that this is the right choice for them. We’ve had our fair share of struggles this week in terms of navigating the social aspects of a much larger pond, but the lessons my kids are learning, while difficult and sometimes painful, are helping them to grow in ways that I could never have prepared them for on my own. I feel grateful to be a part of this community that seems to be very involved and supportive and can already see that taking this leap of faith will help us all move forward into this next season of life.
I want to end by saying that I do not at all regret my decision to homeschool. My daughters both excelled academically in that environment and I think getting off to a strong start will make a lasting impact on their learning. I also really enjoyed the privilege of guiding them through some of their earliest and most important educational discoveries. Getting to know their individual learning styles and realizing the importance of following their lead will be beneficial while helping them with homework and advocating for them within the school environment. Further more, I know that if I hadn’t given homeschooling a try I would always look back with a big “what if”. If you are considering homeschooling, I think it is a great option and worth a try. Just know that, as with all choices, there are definite pros and cons. Think hard about your personality and your kid’s personalities. If you are the type of person that can easily create your own social network and be “on” all of the time, then homeschooling could be awesome for you. If not, it might be worth considering other options or having a strong support system in place before you jump right in. Every family is different and sometimes you need to try things on for size before you know whether or not its a good fit and that’s ok too. You will be better off knowing than spending the rest of your life wondering.
Things are crazy right now under our little roof! I’ll explain more later, but let’s just say that when I started the year off on a resolution spree- wanting to take advantage of a fresh start, make changes and try new things- I had no idea that life was about to throw me a curve ball, forcing me to take my idea of a ‘fresh start’ to a whole new level!
Despite life being hectic, things have actually been going fairly well on the resolution front! Our progress with reducing waste has been kind of a two steps forward, one step back sort of thing. Slow and steady, but I’ll take it! Shortly after beginning our mission to reduce waste, we also took on the Whole30 challenge as a family. In a lot of ways I feel like these two goals complement each other nicely – If I am going to reduce waste by making things from scratch, I might as well make Whole30 approved versions – but at the same time, the complete overhaul of our diet threw so many new foods and ingredients at me all at once, I couldn’t quite tackle everything (not while keeping my sanity, anyway). I opted for making whole 30 mayo, ranch, ketchup, muffins (yes, I know there is really no such thing as whole 30 compatible muffins), and ghee while allowing myself to purchase other packaged goods like almond flour, coconut milk, and pickles ( I did make hubby find some in a glass jar rather than the plastic container he originally picked up though – baby steps). I also conquered my fear of bringing reusable containers to use at the deli!!!
I don’t know why, but this was a big one for me. I am not one to rock the boat and I didn’t want to make anyones job harder, but the friendly butcher happily complied and I even got a compliment from the cashier as I checked out. No sideways glances or anything! We haven’t been perfect, but between all of our efforts, we have managed to reduce our waste by at least half!!! At the beginning of the year our trash can was routinely overflowing every week by garbage day, but the past two weeks it has been only half full!!!
I’ve shared a little bit of our whole 30 journey over on Facebook, but haven’t really talked much about it over here. We began the diet a couple of weeks ago, and like our progress with reducing waste it’s been more of a two steps forward, one step back sort of thing. While getting back on track with healthy eating was definitely one of my resolutions for this year, I wasn’t quite planning on going the Whole 30 route until we were at the book store with the girls one weekend and happened to run into Melissa Hartwig, who was there doing a speaking event and book signing! After hearing my sister-in-law rave about her experience doing Whole 30 this past December, I was intrigued and half listed as I helped my kiddos select their books. It sounded interesting and fit overall with the type of whole foods diet I was already wanting to get back on, so I grabbed a copy of her WHOLE30 book as we checked out!
I poured over the book all weekend and decided to start the program the following Monday. The first day was awful for me! I think it was in part due to my overall lack of sleep the week prior, but between my mombie status and taking away my carbs, I was not a pleasant person to be around! Things did get a little better from there though. I finally got some sleep and ended up making three trips to the grocery store that week to restock on healthy snacks (we are eating 3+ dozen eggs a week and I can never buy enough bananas!!!), which improved my mood, but sadly not my stomach. I don’t typically have a lot of stomach problems, but the first week of Whole30 tied my stomach up in knots (my husband on the other hand, who has terrible acid reflux, noticed a pretty quick and dramatic improvement with his issues). After a week of suffering with heartburn, indigestion, and all sorts of other nasty symptoms, It was pretty easy to declare a ‘cheat day’ when my nieces first birthday rolled around on day 6. We ate chips, sandwiches, cake, you name it, and kept the ball rolling by taking the family out to dinner where we continued to indulge. The next morning Hubby was definitely paying for it, but my stomach felt surprisingly better!
As tempting as it was to carry on my good fortune and throw in the towel for good, I actually was enjoying preparing healthy meals at home and knew that getting back on track was in the best interest for the whole family. The next day was back to reality, and except for one little latte, at the grocery store, we stayed pretty well on track throughout the week and my stomach continued to improve! Overall I think we have decided that doing a true whole30 is not in the cards for us right now. We just have too much going on in our lives at this time to stick to it 100 percent, but I can say that as a lifestyle this is generally something that we will be embracing for the long term. For now we are ok with sticking to whole 30 compliment meals at home while allowing ourselves a little freedom every once in a while when we leave the house or attend get togethers. Perhaps, at some point, we will be able to do a true 30 days of compliant meals to get the full experience but for now, we are eating a lot healthier in general and I am proud of our progress!
It’s been nearly a month since my little girl turned 7 so I figured it might be time to finally write a post about all of her birthday fun. This years festivities were a little more low key than usual, but tons of fun none the less! Emily played a big role in planning her own birthday party this year. She insisted upon a Gracie (her cat) themed party and had so much fun designing a cake, coming up with party games, and helping make the decorations. Although I am not always the best at letting go of control, it was truly a joy to watch her take charge and plan a party that was very much her own!
What’s a party without delicious snacks? This girl had a lot of fun browsing Pintrest for cat themed birthday goodies, but her absolute must-have treat was this fluffy gray kitty cake that she had been imagining and sketching out for months! Although we had to tone it down from her original 2 tier design to fit our smaller crowd, I think she was pretty pleased with the result
The decorations and party games were were she really made her mark. She decided on Pin The Tail on Gracie (which she helped paint) as well as an a Adopt a Kitty Center and Cat Toy Make Station that she came up with herself!
She also had her heart set on a yarn ball piñata this year, and after the crayon filled piñata incident of her 4th birthday, I felt the need to redeem myself. We originally tried crafting our own paper mache version which was a fun project but ended up being far too fragile to hang up, much less survive more than a round or two of batting practice! We ended up finding a beach ball piñata at the store and were able to transform it to the piñata of her dreams with a little paint and a LOT of yarn. Between the sturdy cardboard construction and all of the additional materials, this thing ended up being invincible and after many many rounds of swinging at it, the kids finally took to stabbing the bat through the piñata to finally break it open! Lots of fun and loads of giggles!
My little girl had so much fun with all of her little besties and I had a blast watching her in element, lead the group from one activity to the next.
It’s inauguration day and the heated emotions that had only just begun to cool off are once again fired up as most Americans are either enthusiastically hopeful or anxiously biting their nails. This is not the easiest post to write. I’m not a particularly political person, nor am I accustom to sharing this type of personal information, but in the spirit of being ‘real’ I thought I’d share a major mommy fail of mine recently to help remind us all, including (and perhaps, especially) myself, to be kind and mindful of the words we say.
My story goes back a couple of months to the week of the election when my first grade daughter came home and announced at our weekly dinner with my in-laws that her classmate’s mom said Hillary Clinton is a “baby killer”! I was a very much caught off guard in the moment and didn’t know quite how to respond. I could have just brushed it off as “crazy things kids say”, but after a lot of thought I decided that letting those words simmer in the brain of my daughter, a thinker and worrier, was a bad idea. Later that night I took the time to sit down and discuss what her classmate had said, what he likely had heard, and what it meant. Let me tell you, discussing abortion with my then-6-year-old was not a fun or easy conversation to have! I danced around the subject at first, explaining that Hillary Clinton was not walking around killing babies that are already born (she was specifically concerned about her baby cousin), but rather that one of the rules she wanted to make if she became president was that mommies who were pregnant could decided if they wanted their babies to be born or not. She was not fooled by my tactics and immediately understood that that meant killing them. Without getting into too much detail, we discussed the topic a little further until she came to her own conclusions on the matter, which I applauded and let that be the moral of the conversation; That we are all entitled to form our own opinions based on our own beliefs and reserch. Though it was not a conversation I would have wished to have had, I was proud of the way I had handled it.
Fast forward to this weeks family dinner (why do all of these things have to happen at family dinners?) when we sat around the table lightheartedly discussing the upcoming inauguration. I turned to Sassafras and asked if she knew who the new president was going to be, hoping to be impressed that she was well enough informed to spout off the correct name. She responded confidently with “Donald Trump” and then quickly added “He kills people”! I was MORTIFIED! How could MY daughter just have uttered such a terrible accusation? I went from sitting high and mighty on my throne of how I had handled the situation just a few months prior, to being THAT mom! I can assure you that neither my husband nor myself have ever said those words or anything to imply that that statement is true, but at a whopping 4 years of age we are her only source of information. Where did we go wrong??? After much thought, I have come to a place where I must admit that while we have not gone so far as to make false accusations, there has been an unnecessary amount of negative talk regarding Donald Trump and his policies in our household and especially in front of our children. If Mommy and Daddy think Donald Trump is such a terrible person, than he must be doing terrible things! And when you are a child, your mind goes to the most terrible thing you can think of… killing people. We took the time to correct her and tell her that he has not killed anyone and that he is our new president so whether or not we agree with him, we need to be respectful of him while still standing up for the things we believe in.
I know we are all at varying degrees on the spectrum of where we stand in support or opposition of the new president, but the point I am trying to make, and the one I have learned the hard way, is that negativity only breeds more negativity. When we focus on the worst qualities of a person or a situation we are at risk of blowing the truth out of proportion. And the worst part about it is, the little ears, the sponges, the future of our country are the ones most negatively impacted by this false information! Let’s all take a moment to think before we speak. Is what we are saying fair? Is what we are saying truthful? Is what we are saying inline with what we claim to stand for?
I did it! I managed to remember my reusable bags AND coffee mug all in the same trip! What I’m even more proud of though, is the relatively little amount of packaging on everything inside my bags!
Reducing waste has been somewhat of a goal of mine for the past several years. We switched to cloth instead of paper towels in the kitchen (as long as I’m on top of the laundry situation) a few years ago, I finally signed up for milk delivery so we can get milk, orange juice, and cream in reusable glass bottles, and ever since last summer I have been a composting nut. These little changes were a great jumping off point, but the problem is, I never jumped! I was never brave enough to make the lifestyle change required to truly make an impact on the amount of waste we produce. It wasn’t until my 7 year old watched a video of one persons ‘zero waste challenge’ and was so inspired that she asked if we could try it as a family, that I finally felt the courage to give it a go. Sometimes we just need the idealistic mind of a child to help us believe we can truly make a difference in the world!
Let me take a minute to say that this post is not at all designed to guilt trip anyone on the amount of waste they produce or even persuade anyone to change their ways. I am in no position to judge, trust me! I simply thought it would be fun to share this major change in our lifestyle and all of our struggles and victories along the way. If it happens to inspire someone to make a change, well then thats just bonus points for all of us! We are at the very beginning of this journey ourselves. Miss 7 initially asked to start the challenge mid December but I knew we would have a very hard time being successful at making such big changes during such chaotic time of year. Also, to be clear, our goal is not to produce ZERO waste. I don’t think that’s very realistic for our modern family of four at this point in our lives. For now, our goal is simply to minimize our waste as much as possible.
Anyway, here we are, two weeks into January, and I am finally seeing progress! Here are a few of the changes we’ve made so far:
Quit using fabric softener. I recently ran out of both fabric softener and dryer sheets. Rather than going out and buying more, I decided to experiment with not using them at all. We have a water softening system so this may not be as easy of a change for everyone, but I have not noticed the slightest difference in any of our clothes!
Quit using trash bags. This one was also done on an experimental basis. I was not sure I could handle the mess of no trash bags in the kitchen, but it has not been nearly as bad as I thought. I have really upped my composting game so most of our food waste goes in there. What can’t be composted either goes down the garbage disposal or straight out to the the big garbage can in the garage. Most of our kitchen garbage now consists of packaged food containers and hopefully not for long!
Making our Own. This is one of the big ones I am tackling this week! Tomorrow with the kids I plan on making a big batch of apple sauce, some paleo banana muffins, and some homemade larabars. Miss Sassafras has been very concerned that this challenge will mean she can no longer enjoy any of the yummy foods she loves and I want to show both of the kids that we can still have good things to snack on around the house, we just need to be more mindful about how we get them. Also, if you’re thinking we must eat an extraordinarily healthy diet if Larabars and paleo muffins are the treats my kids so desire, don’t be too impressed. Healthy eating is yet another thing we are rededicating ourselves to in the new year, but thats a whole different blog post!
Opting for reusable containers. As mentioned above, I managed to use both my cloth bags and ceramic coffee cup when I was doing my shopping today! I also grabbed another set of mesh produce bags, which I’ve heard are great for nuts and goodies in the bulk bins, so my goal for next week is to take a stab at that. If all goes well, I am hoping to gain the courage to bring glass jars for my meats and cheeses. I’ll keep you posted. Wish me luck!
The best part about all of this is that it is actually seems to be saving me money!! I typically do all of my grocery shopping at Target and between their low prices, cartwheel and my Redcard our weekly grocery bill is generally about $120 on a good week. I was blown away to see my bill at $63 at a health food store!! But it totally makes sense! By avoiding packaged food and choosing to do without many items we once deemed as necessary, I have sooo much less stuff on my list! To be fair, I did have to swing by target to buy cat food, a new cat food container (because I can’t seem to find anything that those little devils can’t break into), and some eye shadow which totaled $30. Still a pretty good savings, if you ask me! I can’t wait until next week to see if this trend continues, but for now, I’ll leave you feeling hopeful!
Yay it’s 2017! Who is with me in celebrating the glorious commencement of a new year? I’d go into how 2017 was a hell of a year, but at this point, I think it’s beginning to sound a little cliche…Needless to say I am doing everything in my power to take full advantage of a fresh start. I have a laundry list of resolutions strapped to my belt and I’m ready to go! First up on my list of resolutions :
– Find Yourself…
Easy right? I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but thats why were here!
As a former Kid’s Activity Blogger, I was pretty involved in the blog scene for several years. There
were many things I loved about it (i.e. having a platform for my introverted self to connect with other people and share my thoughts with the world!) and many things I did not (i.e. the pressure to constantly be coming up with original crafts and activities in a Pintrest word, pressure to make every activity I did with my kids look picture perfect in a Pintrest world, pressure to pretend like every idea I had was a raging success in a Pintrest world). You get the idea…But over all, I miss it! I love writing. It’s always been my go-to method for sorting out my thoughts, so getting back into blogging seemed like a natural jumping off point on my quest to find myself!
This blog is all about the real me ( plus 3 – Hubby, daughter 1- we’ll call her Gracie Girl, and daughter 2 – we’ll call her Sassafras). No pressure to be perfect or pretend I’m something I’m not. Just a place where I can project the real me and all the hilarities and tragedies of motherhood. And, if I’m being real (and you know I am), I think we could all benefit from opening the window to reality in our picture perfect Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest world!