Friday, November 14, 2014

Green Apple Jolly Ranchers

I haven't posted since July, huh?
Can you guess who is a teacher?
Yeah, that'd be me.
When I met my husband, I told him, "You're not going to want to know me the first and last two weeks of school.  It's craziness."  Apparently I've taken that to a whole new level.  
So here I am.  At the request of a dear friend, I am posting again.

This one may take a while to come back around, but I promise, there's a story there.

So.  Green Apple Jolly Ranchers. 

A little over a year ago, I decided I was very unhappy with how I looked.  I had gained weight on top of my baby weight (for a child who was over a year old) and I was miserable.
I decided to make changes.  
I attempted working out, and I did really well...for a while. (My typical MO for fitness related things.)
I tried clean eating, but wasn't able to follow through with that, either.  (Anyone see a pattern here?)
One thing I was able to stick to was to drink at least 100 ounces of water a day.
I was ok with plain water for a while, but that soon fizzled on me, too.  So my alternative was to add the sugar free, low calorie "flavor enhancers" to my water.  Presto change-o!  These 100 ounces are a breeze now.  I actually have somewhat of a commute, a long commute for my neck of the woods 40 miles one way, and I am able to get 33 ounces in just on my drive to work.
But again, I digress.
What prompted this post was a flavor I found.  At my local Walgreen's, they had a selection of these items on an end cap in a variety of flavors, one of them being Green Apple Jolly Rancher.
Being in the education field for 14 years, I have come to loathe the word bully and anything related to it.
I will make some people mad with this and that's fine, but that word is overused and misunderstood.  When I hear it, I always think of Indigo Montoya from "The Princess Bride" when he says, "You keep on using that word and I do no think you know what it means."  Preach on, brother, preach on.
Either way, I don't know what it was, but I had a HORRIBLE fourth grade experience. My teacher was evil.  I distinctly recall sitting in her room thinking, "When I am a teacher I will NOT be like this!"  (Yes, it is possible to know what you want to do at age ten and follow through with it.  That is an entire other blog post though.)
So in fifth grade it didn't get better.  I grew up in a painfully small town.  My family didn't have the right last name and I didn't have the right labels on my clothes and shoes to buy me friends.  So, needless to say, those warm fuzzy feelings most people have when they reminisce about their childhoods, just aren't there for me.  Not related to school anyway.
So I went through a spell in fifth grade where I didn't want to go to school.  Staying home and watching "Little House On The Prairie" and playing Barbies was much more comfortable for me.
And all I can say, as I am getting teary eyed already, just thinking about what I am going to type is God bless my mom.  She did the best she could with what she had (which wasn't much, despite her and my dad busting their asses to make ends meet) and I am the person I am today because of how I was raised. (As most of us are.)
I think my mom full well knew I wasn't sick.  I think she also knew it wasn't in my scholastic best interest to be missing school.  (And as a teacher now,  I know that if I had a student that felt that badly about coming to school, I would go to the ends of the earth to rectify the situation.  (See previous paragraphs on the hell hole of a town I grew up in with a faulty school system to match.)
Like I said, I don't know if what I was going through was being bullied, or if I was going through much more than was apparent on the outside, but I was perfectly happy being home alone (my parents worked 50+ hours a week).  Being home didn't hurt, being at school did.
This breaks my heart for myself and my parents on many levels.
One, that my parents worked SO hard to provide for my sisters and I and for whatever reason, their youngest had this pain they couldn't fix.  Let me point out that I am sure it was at no fault of theirs.  I am pretty sure it was all on me. I have had self worth issues my entire life and I felt like I would be bothering them if I went to them with this.  Again, they didn't do anything to perpetuate these thoughts in my head, that was all me. 
It breaks my heart as a teacher that someone in the field I am so passionate about allowed this to happen.  Why didn't my teacher call?  Why didn't the principal notice?  Why didn't anyone say anything about a seemingly gregarious, bubbly little girl who has NO friends to play with at recess? I don't say all of these things because I think I am the America's Next Top Teacher or anything, but I do think about this a lot.
So rounding back to the candy.
When I say my mom let me stay home, she wasn't allowing it to get to the point of truancy and didn't allow me to miss so much school my grades suffered.  She did what I needed her to do, because if I had been forced to go to school, I would have been miserable and backed off even more and done nothing but hurt and make things worse.
When my mom asked me what it was exactly that "hurt" on me, since I had no fever and no other visible symptoms.  I told her it was my throat.  So that night, she came home with a bag of Green Apple Jolly Ranchers and said, "Here, suck on these when your throat hurts, it'll help."
I know I was not an easy kid to raise.  When I was pregnant with my son, I had visions of my payback for what kind of child I had been.
But I never forgot that time at home and I never forgot those Jolly Ranchers.
So when I saw this water on the shelf at Walgreen's, I had to get it.  And I don't know how they do it, but the stuff sure does taste like the candy.
When I mix it in my water and take a drink, I am happy.  I am home in my fuzzy jammies, watching Bob Ross or "Little House On The Prairie" and I am safe.  I am loved.  It seems dumb, but to me, it was love and caring, what more does a kid need?  It was maybe a $3 bag of candy, but it was the thought behind it.  My folks couldn't do a lot financially, but they love my sisters and I more than I think we even know.  My mom showed it by allowing me that time at home. Allowing me time to get where I needed to be in order to be ok at school.  THAT is what I needed.  That showed more love than all the money in the world could've and that is what I want to do for my son.
I am a mama bear to an extreme (my husband compares me to the mom on The Goldbergs) and I pray my son doesn't experience anything like this, but if we have a period, I will search high and low to find a bag of Green Apple Jolly Ranchers and do whatever I can to make the hurt go away. 
I know I can't protect him from every hurt every time, but I will do what my mom did and try my hardest.
I know this was a rambling post.  It probably makes no sense to anyone but me, but I suppose that's the advantage of having a blog.
The overall point is that as parents, we are always doing things that impact and effect our kids, even if we don't know it.  I am sure if I asked my mom about Green Apple Jolly Ranchers, she'd think I was insane, but to me, that taste will always remind me of how loved I am.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Full transparency time...again.
I have fears in my life.  A lot of them.  I recognize most of them are unfounded, but they are there nonetheless.  
My fear right now is my new job. 
In May I was offered a teaching job.  Which, in my area are few bad far between. On top of the fact that I have 12 years experience, my master's degree and two additional certifications, living in a college town with a very strong education program, I had given up on finding a job and had opened my own preschool just last August.  
I had always had teaching jobs because I moved away to larger metro areas where teachers are always needed.  In 2010 I moved back to western Kansas, where my entire family is and started over at 30 years old.
This was all God's work.  I had spent over a decade being miserable.  Looking for things in places that only led to more heartache.  So I finally made the decision I knew I should've made years before and moved back home, lived with my parents and everything.  Talk about humbling.
However, two months into living here, I met my husband.  One year after that we were engaged.  Months after that we were married and had a baby.  I also gained a great step daughter.  
As I said, this was ALL God.  I knew it then and I know it now.  
But I digress.  
My fear is my new job being in special education.  I know that teaching is my spiritual gift and I know I am talented at it.  Which for me to say, is a lot, because I have some real issues with self esteem.  But I have always felt there was a special place in heaven for sped teachers and even though I know I am a good teacher, it takes that and a whole lot more to be a sped teacher.  Yet, here I am.  
More background on my career, when I moved home, I had taken a job that I knew was only for one year under a grant, and of course loved it, but due to funding wasn't able to stay.  But God placed another job opportunity in front of us for a leadership position, which is great for my degree, but it was an hour drive one way.  In my neck of the woods, this is a LOT.  Especially where I am, the rural area with wildlife on the roads wasn't much fun.  One month after I was offered this job, we found out I was pregnant.  So I drove to and from all school year growing larger by the day.  I had our son in February and went back to work in April.  I finished out the school year and oversaw summer school, but I knew I couldn't leave my son again, so again I left my job.  I did sub jobs here and there and helped at preschools in my town the following school year and it worked for those few months but we were financially struggling.
When I started researching the need for a preschool in my town I was amazed to see what a need there was for one and my preschool thrived.  I had a wait list and I was always full.  So when the new job came it, it was a hard decision to make.  
Especially after the financial strain I put on my family by not working full time for several months, then the start up costs for the preschool, I told my husband this was long term.  Eleven months isn't so long term.
But here I am again, ready to embark on a new school year with a new area.  With all my degrees and education, special education isn't one of them.  I am blessed to be offered the job and to have my schooling paid for to complete my special ed degree.  
All of this and so much more, should calm my heart and fears, but I am still afraid.  I pray for it everyday and I know God will provide.  I trust the man that hired me that he knows his stuff and wouldn't have chosen me if I didn't have what it takes.  But failure is always a fear of mine. 
On top of my change, we are changing my son's daycare as well with all of this.  This is hard for me because this in home provider has been the only person my son has been with since he was 12 weeks old.  She has become a friend and is a neighbor so this decision was tough as well. 
Again I know God will provide but the fear is present and I need to let go and let God.
I will keep Psalm 27:1 in the front of my mind and know my family and I will be ok. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#imperfectmoms struggles

In an effort to remain completely transparent, I admit I struggle with feeling adequate.  
I want to make sure I'm a "good enough" mom, stepmom, wife, Christian, teacher, daughter, sister, aunt-you name it.  
I have a hard time allowing myself grace and forgiveness when I mess up. I fret over a lot, a lot more than I should and I fret over things that are inconsequential.  It's easy to say, "Give it to God." But the giving part isn't so easy.  I feel like a burden, like there are so many people with such bigger problems that I shouldn't bother God with it and I'll just handle it-eventually (maybe). 
Don't get me wrong, I don't feel I can handle it all better than God, I just feel I shouldn't "bother" Him with it. 
This has nothing to do with how I was raised in my faith or what my current church practices, this is all on me-for whatever reason.  
So, my first step to being "better" or stronger in all the above areas is to take a page from the Disney book and "Let It Go" (to God). 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Favorite Ways To Relax and Refill #imperfectmoms

I'm a book junkie. So escaping into a book is one way I relax and refill my brain. Being a teacher I have made a commitment to myself to be a lifelong learner so I am always looking for the latest in teaching strategies and trends in order to keep my teaching brain sharp. I also like to read for fun, so seek out the suggestions of friends and coworkers on books to read.

I also enjoy a spa pedicure at the local hairdressing college every now and then. For $25 I can escape for an hour and have someone focus just on me. It doesn't seem like much, but sometimes, it's just enough to make a difference.

Never forget the small things. Sometimes a hot bubble bath with candles and relaxing music is enough of a break to allow relaxing, peaceful time to regroup.

Just last week I attended my first yoga class. It was at 5:30 in the evening and I left feeling like I was floating. I will definitely be going again and am so glad that it's available so close to home.

Ever since I was a baby, I've loved relaxing in a hammock. We currently don't own a hammock, but we do have a lovely deck and when the mosquitoes aren't horrible I love getting my lounge chair out and just vegging. I close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me. If I can, I might doze off but sometimes just being calm, quiet and aware are enough to unwind and untangle my brain.

I'd love to hear how YOU relax and refill!

More thoughts on being an #imperfectmom for all #imperfectmoms out there

What if my plans fail?
My best laid out plans always seem to fail. Fall down seven times, get up eight, right? It's not always easy, but now that I have kids I feel more compelled to do it.
I'm a teacher, with 12 years' experience, a Master's degree and two additional certifications. That's all great, but I live in rural western Kansas. In a town with one of few state universities, which graduates hundreds of new teachers twice a year. Finding a job in my area is virtually impossible. The last time I checked, there were 279 teaching jobs available in my state (yes, all of it) and there were over 3,000 applicants for them.
My husband has had his job with the USPS since 1997 and my stepdaughter lives 23 miles away and we barely get to see her the way it is, so moving for a teaching job isn't an option for us.  I've done everything from subbing to a grant position that I knew would only be a year to driving 130 miles a day to opening my own preschool, just to be a teacher.
In the last month or so, I've accepted a new position, this one *only* 35 miles away. Except this one is a special education job.  You'd think with all of my experience and education it'd be a no brainer, right? WRONG! It's new. It's scary. It'll be challenging (like all teaching jobs). But I trust the man who interviewed me who felt I was the best choice for the job and I trust God for leading my husband and I through prayer to close my preschool and take this new position.

Who's going to fill me back up?
I know the canned response to this is GOD, only The Lord.  But let's be honest. Sometimes, we're weak, we need our husband to to be there. We need our kids to do a little pouring too. And if you're lucky enough to have girlfriends, they can be filler uppers (yes, it's a word) too.

Does anyone notice me?
I struggle with this one on the daily.  Especially in regards to my role as a step mom. I've actually recently turned down an opportunity to be flown to Chicago, all expenses paid for three days to be on the Steve Harvey show to talk about my role as a stepmom.  That'd surely get me noticed, but not in the way I'd want. It'd be a whole can of worms that isn't worth opening. Plus, it just happens to be taping the second week of school. I'm already going to be gone for two days in October to go to MOPS convention in Kentucky, so I don't think it's a good idea, in a lot of ways.  But it's reassuring to know that people do notice, even if they aren't close to me.

Does God care about me?
I know He does.  I wouldn't have the life I have if He didn't. It's because He does that I'm even here. In immeasurable ways. I'm unworthy of it all and I know this, and it keeps me humble and appreciative every day.

Is it wrong to treat myself?
I know it's not, but I always feel guilty. I always feel like that time away from my family is time I'll miss something amazing. I know I need to do it and that my husband and I need to make time as a couple, because in a blink of an eye, it'll be just us, but I still struggle with it. I don't want to miss anything.

I'm a work in progress! What can I say?

Am I Messing Up My Kids Questions

I'm doing an online bible study over a really cool,book right now and this week's questions were really insightful to me,so I thought I'd share.

What are some truths in your life that you can share with the rest of us?
Some truths I've learned in my two short years of being a biological mom and three years of being a step mom are: it'll never be perfect. There will be perfect moments. Perfect days and perfect glimpses, but we must do what we have with what we've been given and like my previous blog post said, it's not easy. No one said it would be. Facebook, Instagram and social media make it look like we've got it all together, but we must remember that people CHOOSE what they post there. How many times have you taken a perfect photo after the first shot? For me, rarely.  I'll retake the same photo 27 times if it means I'll save that one and show my son and/or stepdaughter (or all of Instagram) later.
Another truth, a harsh one at that, is that being a step mom is the most thankless job...ever.  And I'm a teacher, so yeah. That's saying a lot. But just like any other part of motherhood, it's what we do. I knew that my husband had kids when he proposed, so I just pray and stay faithful that it's all His plan.

Of the truths I shared from my life as a mom, which ones were meaningful to you or would you like to discuss further?
I'm already seeing how fast this all goes and I'm scared/worried/nervous I'm missing out on "little things" with my kids.  I don't want to look back in 8 years and 16 years and be sorry for what we didn't do. What do y'all do for special family time?

Do something special for yourself mom, you deserve it! Just look at all you do!  How will you treat yourself this week?
I'm actually getting a facial today! I commented on a post on a Facebook page and was chosen to get a facial at a new salon and day spa in my little twin. This will be the third one ever for me in my life!!

Thanks for the series! I'm looking forward to more posts!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Being A Mom Is Tough

Seems pretty simple, right?
No one said it'd be easy.
If anything being a mom is made to be one of the worst things ever.
But it's not. The tantrums aren't fun, but the hug and "sorry mommy" after are.
Potty training, and failing and trying again, and failing again, not fun whatsoever. But do,we give up? Nope. Never

Trust in Him. He gave us these beautiful little creatures to nurture and love, being a mom is tough, loving them is easy.