Friday, October 9, 2015

Stay-At-Home-Mom Returns to Work

I have some great news to tell you, my dear readers!  No, I’m not retiring from my column.  And no, I’m not pregnant either.  What is it?  Well, brace yourselves.  Drumroll please…I got a job!  Yeah, so exciting I know!  Oh wait, you say I’m so indecisive?  I already made my mind up in previous posts that I knew where I belonged and it was at home with my babies?  Yeah, let’s forget I said all of that stuff.  I mean, I did utter such words, and then typed them down for all to read, but I hope you’ll join me in forgetting such words were even typed.

             As you are aware, I was a stay-at-home momma for a lot of years.  I had dabbled in the idea of going back to work in the “real world” and it just didn’t sit well with me.  I went to several job interviews a year or so ago and turned them down; I wasn’t ready to be away from my kids.  I felt immense guilt for leaving them while I worked outside of the house.
            Fast forward from that year-or-so ago.  I was casually browsing Facebook when I saw a friend post something about her dental office needing a new assistant in a pediatric office.  Um what?  Did you say a pediatric office?  And did you also say dental assisting?  Well hello there!  I have 15-plus years in pediatric dental assisting – I was ecstatic!  My heart skipped a beat!  As I further investigated the job situation, I quickly learned the job was 10 minutes from my house, I’d be working with a gal I’ve known for many, many years, and, the hours allowed me the ability to have a four-day weekend - ample time to spend with my family.
            I dusted off my resume and promptly turned it in.  I received a call from the office manager that the doctor was requesting an interview from me.  What?  The doctor was interested in my resume?  The one where it has a five- to- six-year gap in it?  Yes, he sure was.  I was elated!  I promptly replied and said I’d be there for the interview.
            A few days leading up to the interview I got cold feet-frostbite cold.  I started feeling guilty about leaving my kids.  How would they make it in this world without me by their side?  I went back and forth in my mind until the night before I was supposed to go in.  At that point, I knew calling the doctor to decline would look very unprofessional, and I couldn’t show my work ethic as anything other than professional.  So rather than do that, I forced myself to endure the interview. 
            After I left the interview that day, I sat in my car and melted a bit; a few tears were also shed (I cry about everything).  I had never in my life felt so at ease with a decision I had made.  I sat in golden silence for a while before driving off.  I reflected on what would have happened if I had allowed myself to pass up on the interview.  As the engine hummed, I put the car in drive and headed home feeling on top of the world with a hefty grin on my face.  The way my interview went, I knew for sure I had landed the job.
            It took the doctor a few long days to get back to me.  In that timespan of only a few days, I started to doubt my work ability.  I even doubted I was going to get offered the position. What if I didn’t get a call for the job because the doctor and staff didn’t like me?  All thoughts pointed to a negative outcome, so much so that I had settled on never receiving a call granting me the opportunity to accept the position.  Instead, I sulked, believing I didn’t possess the skills to properly hand the doctor a mouth mirror.  Guess diaper duty is as far as my talents will take me.
            Low and behold I received the call I had been waiting for.  The Dr. stated how he loved my resume, greatly appreciated the thank you card I mailed after my interview, and said how much the staff enjoyed having me for the day.  My anxiety was building…I had a feeling the next sentence would be, “But I’ve hired another person for the position.”              
            Hold on to your hats, readers.  Instead, he informed me that he’d love to bring me on as a new employee.  Um, HOLLA’!  (I’m over 30…can I say holla’ and still be cool?)  Yeah, so holla’, I landed the job!  I was so thrilled!
            Fast forward to today.  I love my job.  I must say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made, unlike those tattoos and that old boyfriend.  I made the personal decision to go back to work because it worked for our family.  I realize I may get some stay at home moms that are secretly jealous and others who want to shank me, but that’s the beauty of doing what works best for your individual family; you do it because it works for you and you alone.                                               
            At the end of the day, I can say I am at true peace to not only have my amazing purpose as my kids’ mom, but also as an employee who works to the best of her ability.  I feel very blessed to have the best of both worlds. Now what am I going to do with my paychecks I get monthly?  Hire a housekeeper and chef, of course.  Now that I’m a working mom, I don’t possibly have time to do those tasks myself…I’m going to get shanked now, aren’t I?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Let's Not Be Too Busy

“Sorry I haven’t called you in awhile, but I’ve been soooo busy with work.” 
“I’d love to meet for a play date, but I’m too busy.  Can we try another time?”
“Man, I wish I could make it to the gym with you, but I’m overly busy that day.”

            We’re all guilty of being too busy, myself included; life tends to get in the way, I get it.   But instead of saying, I’m too busy, we should admit instead, it’s really not a priority.

             We make time to shower before work, don’t we?  Or how about eating?  Sleeping, going to the bathroom, getting to the gym?  Maybe you even make it a priority to browse the internet 50 times a day?  I bet you make it a preference to do one of the above mentioned; I know I do, but somehow I seem to always mutter “I’m too busy” to myself and others in my circle.

            When women, moms especially because we’re so taxed, get invited to a girl’s night out, a play date, or even coffee with the bestie, it’s too easy to say you’re too busy, when in fact, it’s just not a priority for you.  I’m willing to bet if your friend said she needed to meet for coffee to talk about her husband who’s been cheating on her, or even the friend who wants to get together to discuss her daughter’s recent diagnosis with cancer, you’d make it a priority to meet with her versus say you’re too busy. Why do we personally use the phrase “too busy” when in reality it’s not a priority? 

            Don’t get me wrong; I realize we live in a society today that is over scheduled and over booked.  And I understand raising a family takes up much, if not all of your time.  But on the flip side of the coin may lie the real truth.  Sure we may be overly unavailable, but what about the cold hard truth?  Rather than tell your friend you’re too scheduled, be honest with her.  Tell her you’d rather not.  Explain to her your days are too full and when you do have a moment to yourself, you’d rather spend it with your family, having some alone time, etc.  If the friendship/relationship means anything to you, (which it may or may not, truth be told) schedule something; let’s not use the same ol’ line of being overly occupied.  I have a feeling your friend will more than understand rather than feel put off or even a little neglected.
             I work outside of the home, have five kids, a husband, and I’m pooped at the end of the day.  I have friends, kids, a husband, and family that all want to spend time with me.  Do I really want to have a girl’s night, play date, or even coffee with them with my busy life?  Yes, I do.  I love the fact they love me and want to spend valuable time with me.  In order for me to make those in my circle feel appreciated, valued, and loved, I make the time I spend with them a priority versus telling them my schedule is more important than they are.  It’s so hard; I struggle immensely on keeping up with my relationships.  I fail miserably at staying connected at times, but how does one even attempt do it?  What works for me: I schedule the time.  Just like we schedule a dentist appointment or even line up a time slot to get our hair done; I schedule the time with the people that matter to me.  With my husband, we schedule date nights.  With my kids, we have a board game or an ice cream night.  With my girlfriends, we have a pedicure date or even a BBQ where our families can all get together.  I literally write the day and time down in my calendar; I make it important to me despite my active lifestyle.
As the saying goes, “You gotta understand the difference between someone who speaks to you on their free time and someone who frees their time to speak to you.”  What a powerful saying, isn’t it?  I know after I read that line, I felt immense guilt for how I’ve treated others in the past, my own family included – putting my busyness over my relationships.  I never want to make someone feel as if I’m too swamped for him or her.  There will come a day when that person no longer resides on Earth, then what?  Will you be too busy to pay your respects?  I sure hope not.  Rather, let’s take the time to take a time out from life for a few moments if you happen to be too busy, like we all are.  Rekindle those relationships that are indeed important to you.  Let’s make the time…let’s make it a priority…unless you’re too busy.

*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First Day of School

Ahh...the first day of school -  every mom's dream come true, right?   It's okay, you can admit it.

Lucas started his third year of pre-school at Challenger.  This is his last year before kindergarten.  He is one of the oldest kids in his class (he has a late birthday).  I love seeing how confident he has become with his peers.  When he first started pre-school, he would barely speak.  Now, he's leading all his friends on the playground and inside of the class.  Excited for the year ahead of him!

Lauren started 4th grade at North Star Charter.  She has attended NS since 1st grade.  She loves her school...and so do I.  It is such a challenging and rewarding school.  Lauren continues to be the loving, social, and outgoing little lady she has always been; never hard for her to make friends.

Juliebelle is a big 8th grader at Heritage Middle.  She's at the top of the totem pole at school this year.  She went to North Star the last three years, but decided on the change for 8th grade.  She's active in cheer, can do a back flip like nobody's business, and is getting more beautiful every passing day.  She, like Lauren, never has a problem making friends.  Oh, and her sense of style.  She blows it out of the park...every single outfit!

Anthony.  Of course he wasn't present for picture day.  What 14 year old boy wants his picture taken?  Certainly not my son.  He's a whopping 9th grader at Rocky Mountain High School this year.  He too went to North Star last year, but decided to switch it up for his freshman year.  He, like his sisters, are very social and have zero issues making friends.  I truly am blessed, from a mom's perspective to have such social children.  He's loving school already and has promised to maintain good grades; he wants to be enrolled in driver's training.  Uh-oh, makes this mamma nervous thinking about him driving.

Dillon has four more months before he starts pre-school.  Yeah, I can't believe it either!  He will be three and hopefully potty trained by then.  He'll join big brother at Challenger.  They may even play together on the playground.  Lucas has specified when Dillon starts school, "He will NOT be in my class Mom, he'll be in the baby class."  I assured Lucas he will indeed NOT be in your class.  :)

Excited for a wonderful school year for all my babies.  Here's to a great 2015-2016 school year!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Handling Facebook With Respect

I re-entered the Facebook world last month after a five-year hiatus.  It’s really good to be back.  I enjoy seeing up-to-date pictures of my best friend’s kids, I know how to use Dawn dish soap for purposes other than to wash my dishes, I’m kept current on the day’s political news, and I even found out I’m a helicopter mom due to the latest quiz I happened to take, all by scrolling through my news feed. 
I will admit I have become somewhat of an addict when it comes to my re-introduction.  I find myself taking my phone into the bathroom with me, checking it in between making the bed and doing laundry, and I even postpone going to bed by sometimes up to several hours by scrolling through the pictures, comments, and memes I seem to find fascinating.  Yes, several hours.  Really.
But what I happen to find even more fascinating is the way people respond on Facebook when their own way of thinking gets challenged. 
For example, when the hot topic of Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner came about or even the matter regarding gay marriage.  I read comments and watched videos that astounded me.  Hateful, spiteful, vicious, and even heinous words were typed and spoken by human beings.   Those words, spoken and typed, were justified by the offenders, with them saying such things as: it’s our religious freedom, goes against the Bible, I think it’s wrong, ugly, distasteful, etc. 
            As I scrolled through my feed with my own personal opinions on Caitlyn (Bruce) as well as gay marriage, I found myself getting fired up!  I was ignited by the opinions of others and how mine didn’t match up with theirs. The thought of “un-friending” those particular individuals on the spot came to mind, but I chose not to.  Rather, I found it within myself to respect another view point – another perspective, rather.  I put myself in the passenger’s seat for a moment.  Because my views and opinions are different than another’s on Facebook or in real life, would I want them “un-friending” me over such indifference?  Certainty not!  I would presume they were too shallow to know any better in regards to respecting someone else’s views and judgment; exactly what I would have been guilty of had I “un-friended” them.
            I stopped myself in that moment of thinking and realized something really profound.  How boring would it be if we all liked the same things?  If we all agreed on what’s right, wrong, or even impartial in this world?  It would be beyond boring.  Life would be too mundane, dull, and uninteresting if it weren’t for the opinions of others.  Because someone thinks gay marriage is wrong, letting your baby cry themselves to sleep is the only way, posting 50 pictures a day of their life’s events, or even whether or not it’s alright to breastfeed in public – these discussions, opinions, and right and wrongs all make us who we are.  I would really miss out on being open-minded if I always thought my way or the highway when it came to the opinions of others. 
            My best friend and I have been friends for over 25 years.  We disagree with so much in life, but what we do agree on is allowing others to have their voice be heard all the while being nice and respectful. When you see organizations, religious or not, shaming others for what they believe, it’s time to take a double check…on both sides.  How do you feel when someone shames you for believing in God or the lack of a God?  How about shaming you because your parenting styles don’t match up to Nanny 911’s?  Or how are you left to feel when you support your gay friend, but your other friend calls you a sinner for doing so?  I know how you feel - you’re angry, crushed, distressed, and just down right feel crummy.  I know I don’t want to be responsible for making others feel that way, all because I don’t agree with them.
            I have cultivated the notion that I enjoy what’s important to others.  We are all here on this sweet Earth to live out our journey.  That journey looks different to each individual.   At the end of it all, it’s the person staring back at us in the mirror we have to live with.  Who do you want glancing back at you?  I want an individual that was kind, respectful, and loving of others despite their beliefs and points of views.  Remember this, dear readers: You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate to others.
            Until next month…keep peeking in that mirror at your beautiful reflection and reminding yourself to be kind, respectful, and loving of others.  I know I will, as soon as I put this dang phone down!

*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*


Monday, July 27, 2015

Bogus of a Day

Our Sunday was spent driving up to Bogus Basin to check out the trails.  The boys and I loaded into the car and headed up to the resort.  Steve found a small trail that looked good.  The boys got out of the car and it was if they had been set free!  Lucas wanted to take charge of Rusty, so he held his leash.  On our trek, we spotted a big tractor on the side of the trail.  The boys were in heaven!  After about 30 minutes of climbing a hill that seemed to never end, we finally reached the top.  Rusty was pooped out: tongue dangling out of his mouth pooped!  We explored the mountain side for a bit before heading back to the car.  Dillon decided to run full speed down a small dirt road.  Yep, he fell.  Got both knees scraped up and gave himself an "owie" on his hand; it was very dramatic (a nap was missed, contributing to the dramatic episode).
We thoroughly enjoyed our time together as a family.  I sure do love my time with them.  :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Beth Moore

Friday evening I attended a Beth Moore Living Proof Conference with two of my girlfriends.  I have read a few of Beth's books and have seen her on TV, but have never experienced her conference before.  The conference was the evening of Friday and wrapped up on Saturday morning held at the Century Link Arena in downtown Boise.
Over 3,200 women decided to attend as well.  It was a gathering to speak the name of Jesus, to know Him, and to learn how to let others know about Him as well.  It was a few days of spiritual re-fueling getting my spirit with the Lord re-centered...oh how I've missed Him.
With the busyness of summer with work, kids' schedules, etc., I have put my spiritual time with Him way down on the list.  This conference re-lit my flame.  I loved listening to Beth speak about how wonderful our God is and how He's so full of grace and love for each of us.  During worship music, it was hard to not get emotional looking around and viewing 3,200 other women gathering together for one purpose.  I felt so blessed to be in the arena with these ladies who all have a love for God so fierce and bold.  I was deeply touched by Beth's words for each of us.  Words I will be able to hold onto, and walk with the knowledge that I am saved, by nothing other than grace alone...not by acts of service for others, being able to keep a tidy house, or even by the meals I serve my's simply by His grace that I am set free.  What an amazing gift, isn't it?
Thanks girls for attending with me.  I'm so blessed to have friends in Christ who love and support me for who I am.  Thank you.  :)
And Grandma Collie, thank you for watching the boys!

Growing Up

For the past two years, I've had to do my grocery shopping solo, sans kids.  I have tried in the past, but inevitably, Dillon tries to crawl out of the shopping cart to set himself free.  Having to deal with his tantrums of being forced back into the cart would leave me more than always forgetting something on my list.  So Grandma Collie has been gracious enough to watch him for me for the past two years.
Friday, I decided to try visiting the grocery store, but having Dillon come along this time.  Maybe his ripe ol' age of two-and-a-half has matured him.  I couldn't have been more pleased with how things turned out!
I loaded him into the race car version of the shopping cart at Freddy's.  By the way, are there any other parents on this Earth puzzled as how to steer those dang things?  Almost always I ram into the bread stand or run over someone's foot trying to push those tanks.  As Dillon was locked and loaded into the cart, I started my list.  As I pushed him past the deli section, he knew the free sugar cookie was just down the isle a ways.  He yells out, "Ookie Mommy, ookie!"  I grabbed him his cookie and he sat the entirety of our trip.  He also insisted on wearing his shades into the store as well, and throwing his hand high into the air throwing out hey's and hi's to whoever passed his way.  
I smiled from ear to ear due to my joy in such a little circumstance.  After I loaded him into the car to leave, I looked at him and gave him a smile.  I told him how proud of him I was for being such a wonderful and well behaved boy.  He smiled back at me and asked for another ookie.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lagoon Adventure

This past weekend, the girls and I drove to Layton, Utah to have a fun few days.  My dad and Kathy hosted a great Lagoon trip!
The girls and I loaded our things into the car and set out for the four hour and 45 minute drive.  With the new speed limit set to 80, it seemed like we were there in no time.  
When we arrived, we checked into our hotel.  The girls had to break in the room by jumping from bed-to-bed.  The mom in me wanted to tell them to stop, but I remember being their age on vacation and doing the same thing on the hotel beds, so I zipped my lips and let them jump.

The morning of our Lagoon adventure, it was raining pretty good.  I looked up the weather at 9:30 and it showed rain and lightening through 3 pm.  Our dreams were shattered at that point.  I called Lagoon and the lady said they were still opening at 11.  We headed to Target on our way out and grabbed sweatshirts for the girls.  Who thought to pack them for our trip when it's 90 degrees outside in the middle of summer?  Not this mom.

When we arrived at Lagoon, the rain magically decided to stop and the sun came out.  It was perfect!  Within minutes, the girls had their mom, who's terrified of roller coasters, standing in line to board one.  My hands were sweaty, my heart was racing, and I plain just wanted to cry.  I had a little talk with myself, persuaded myself to just do it - live a little and have some fun.  I did just that, but I didn't have an ounce of fun. I sat next to a 10 year-old boy who said he lives for coasters.  As the coaster pulled away, he looks over at me and smiles.  It took every ounce of my being to smile back.  I really wanted to ask him what he was so darn happy about, then I realized I was the problem in this equation, so I smiled back.  As we inched our way up the rails, I took a deep breath.  How on Earth did I cherish these moments as a child?  I had no fear when I was the girls' age.  But now?  Completely different story.  As the coaster slammed my body through the tracks, I clenched my teeth, squeezed my eyes shut, and gripped the bar in front of me.  I was miserable to say the least.  After another two to three terrifying hills on that track, I was ready to exit this machine.   After I met up with the girls, all I could see were smiles a mile long on their faces.  They asked me how I liked it.  I simply said I hated every second of it...and smiled.

The rest of the day was spent chasing the girls from ride-to-ride.  I occasionally sat with my dad and Kathy while the girls went on rides I wanted no part of.  There were several rides in the Kiddie Cove area that were perfect for me; the girls obliged and rode with along with me.

We of course HAD to stop and eat at In-N-Out on our way back to the hotel.  Oh, I really wish Idaho would bring one of those our way.  

The three days spending time with my dad and Kathy and the girls was much needed.  I enjoyed the mini-vacation away. Oh, and did I forget to mention how beautiful Utah is?  Their mountains are gloriously breathtaking!

Thank you Dad and Kathy for a wonderful get-away!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

An Open Letter

My 13 year- old -daughter and I were having a conversation the other day where she proceeded to eye roll me.  That eye roll spoke volumes: “You know nothing, Mom!”
It sparked in me a memory I had with my own mom. I thought I knew everything at that age-and every year after till my 30’s.  I wanted to write my younger self a letter, in hopes my daughter will accidentally happen to stumble upon it, read it, and thank me when she’s my age.  So here goes:

Dear Know It All Ang,
You my friend are amazing!  But before I get too complimentary, let’s go over some important issues first.
You will have your heart broken, maybe once, twice, or even a large handful of times.  Those boys that are responsible for the tears and heartache?  They will move on in their lives to continue breaking other girls’ hearts; they were no good for you anyway. 
Brush your teeth at least two times a day.  Oh, and floss once a day too!  There’s no amount of money and dental artistry that can replace your own genuine smile.
That sun shining ever so brightly on those summer days?  Yeah, slather your body in stuff called sunscreen.  And stay out of those large machines called tanning beds; they wreak havoc on your skin.  Plus, melanoma doesn’t match your eye color.
That large term paper due in three weeks?  Get started on it now.  If you don’t want to finish the entire paper in one evening, do a little bit each night.  That all-nighter you’re faced with will only take away from your beauty sleep, plus the stress is horrible on your young adrenal glands.
Give up some of your time.  I realize your time is more valuable than gold, but giving to others will really make you see how blessed your own life really is.  That homeless man will thank you abundantly when you hand him a bar of soap and his only meal of the day.  Be someone’s smile.
The mean girl who keeps gossiping about you?  You see, her life is empty, full of heartache and turmoil, and maybe she has some serious issues at home.  Continue to do the right thing and, hey, throw a compliment and smile her way…she just might need it.
Exercise young lady!  And not only to keep your girlish figure either.  You’ll thank me when you’re 65 and your bone density test comes back with flying colors - oh, and you’re able to play with your grandkids too.
Wash your hands.  I know it seems like a chore, but the amount of colds and flu viruses you’ll save yourself from over the years... it’s really worth the twenty seconds it takes, trust me.
Interested in that cigarette? Please don’t.  Not only will your lungs suffer, but so will your beautiful skin, teeth, and hair.  Not to mention your pocketbook.  And what boy will even want to look your way puffing on that cancer stick?  Plus you’ll stink.  Just don’t even go there.
That alcoholic drink and or drugs your “friends” are pushing you to try?  Please, honey, if you’re curious, go talk to Mom or Dad.  I know without a doubt they’ll be so proud of you for coming to them first.  If you choose to bypass Mom and Dad, beware.  The movies glorify alcohol and drugs way more than it should be.  That stuff is awful, illegal, and can lead to some major disappointments further in your life.
Your allowance money you’re dying to spend on candy, toys, and useless stuff?  Save it.  Learn to be a saver and the rest of your life will be so much easier…trust me on this one.  Ask Mom and Dad about Dave Ramsey; he’ll be the fourth most important man in your life, next to God, your dad, and your future husband.
You think remaining a virgin till marriage will make you less appealing to your future mate?  Well, let me tell you, the exact opposite is true.  Keeping yourself pure for your future husband is the most appealing attribute a woman can have. 
Put your academics first - above friends, sports, and social engagements. There’s nothing worse than not getting your diploma or passing up on college.  Trust me on this one, keep your nose in those books.  You’ll thank me later when you have an amazing career only a good education is responsible for.
Give your mom and dad a hug now and then.  Don’t forget to tell them you love them occasionally as well.  I know it may seem like they’ll be on this great Earth forever, but they won’t.  And you’ll miss them…really miss them, I promise.
            Tattoos.  Let’s talk about those little things.  Please darling, don’t.  I realize you think the Tasmanian Devil on your ankle is really cool right now, but when you’re 30 and all dressed up at your wedding, that faded Devil will be adorning your ankle staring up at you…for the rest of your dang life!  Plus the Taz doesn’t go well with elegant attire, your beautiful bare skin does.
Getting married.  Hmmm, I know a thing or two about this one so listen up!  I understand you’re 19 and have found the man of your dreams.  But have you finished college?  Have you done some traveling?  Have you been selfish and done for you?  You haven’t?  Then pass on that ring…till you’re finished getting to know who you are and are a complete and whole human being.  Oh, this applies to having kids too.
You will change and evolve, more than once or twice between the ages of 18 and 40…and beyond.  Allow yourself some grace during those years.  You may decide a relationship with God isn’t your cup of tea at 18, but when you’re 28 and in need of a leader, I hope you will give Him a second chance.  Or you may think being a follower is what’s up your alley at 21, but know you may decide to step into the driver’s seat when you’re 35; that seat might be where you were always meant to be.
I love you young lady.  Please know I support you and will be here to guide you throughout this life of yours.  Mistakes will be made, oh dear Lord plenty of them.  But know this life is also supposed to be filled with great pleasures, wonderful accomplishments, and days spent with joy.  You’ve got this! Now go wash your hands and brush your teeth.

Your older self

*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Camping Away the Summer

Our family's camping trailer has gotten some use out of it.  We've packed her up close to every weekend so far these last two months.  I've never been the camping type, so to have a trailer - with a toilet and shower, well, camping has become much more desirable for this girl...glorified camping. ;)
Last week, Steve and I headed up to Silver Creek Plunge to camp with just us and the boys.  It was fun despite the horse flies, mosquitoes, and extreme heat.  We tried to beat the heat with trail rides in the Rhino, walks to the creek, and plunges in the resort's pool.  However, the elements got the best of us this go-round; we headed home a day earlier than expected.  We might just wait till it's a bit cooler before venturing off into the woods for our next adventure.  Needless to say, it was nice to get away from all electronics and enjoy being with each other.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Swimsuit Buying

I shaved my legs and applied the self tanner.  I knew my size of large on top, small on bottom.  And I even did a few lunges, jumping jacks, and squats before heading out the door.  I was ready to tackle this, ready to make the purchase I look forward to every year…buying that bathing suit!
What?  There’s actually a woman, mom rather, that looks forward to purchasing spandex material that barely covers her body?  Yes, you heard that correctly.  I look forward to it.  I anticipate the season when the stores line their shelves with brightly colored suits, straw hats, totes to tag along to the pool with, and isles lined with vibrant shades of flip-flops.  It gives me such a euphoric sense.
You see, my story of how I arrived to enjoy this season -  both in my life and time of year -  starts way back.  Pull up a chair and have a seat while I explain.
Growing up in the early 80’s, I was the elementary school girl who was overweight.  I received daily doses of name-calling, what we’d call bullying by today’s standards.  I endured years of this verbal torture.  My self-esteem about my body image was way below par, far below what any young girl should ever have to undergo.  But puberty hit, my eating habits changed, and I discovered a thing called exercise.  And wouldn’t you know it?  By the summer of 91’ I shed those excess pounds and my days of taunting were over. 
  Years passed by. I remained a “normal” size.  I soon went on to have children.  As I gained the 30 pounds plus in my first pregnancy, I worried I wouldn’t be able to ever fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes again, something that bothered this once overweight girl.  But after getting pregnant very soon after my first child, the worry really set in.  After my second child was born, I went off the deep end.  Back in the early 2000’s, diet pills and drinks were readily available.  I chewed on those pills and gulped those drinks all while running miles and miles daily on that treadmill while keeping my caloric intake to a minimum. I lost all my baby weight and then some.  I had never looked better (so I thought).  
  But emotionally, I had never felt more miserable.  I was chasing that dream of perfection -  that dream body.  I had that dream body, but it somehow wasn’t enough for me; I wanted better, I wanted more, and I wanted what I wasn’t ever going to get at that moment in time: internal peace and contentment.  I struggled for many more years with self-contentment.  It wasn’t until after my fifth baby that I realized something.  I was scrolling through pictures of my past self when I was at my “fittest” and looked the “best.”  I felt defeated.  I wondered how I had let myself slip away from that body I once had.  I knew then and there I had to change more than just my body; I had to change my mindset.
I now had five children looking up to me to guide and nurture them; I needed to set an example for them, especially my two girls.  Instead of being ashamed of the excess on my thighs or stomach, I was thankful...well sort of.  Instead of frowning every time I stumbled upon jeans that no longer fit (from ten years ago), I was thankful instead…well sort of.  And every time I would glance in the mirror at myself after a shower, I would find something about my body I was thankful for, rather than finding something amiss.  Not only did I need to set this example for my own children, but also I needed to set the example, and believe it too, for myself.
Far too many days of my life have been spent scrutinizing myself in the mirror.  I wish I could have those days back.  I’d live those particular days like I do now: with gratitude for my health and wellness. 
My goals today look far different than those darker days that have passed me.  My goals now are to appreciate this body of mine for what it has done, what it’s currently doing, and for what it will continue to do for me.  My intent is to feed and move it right; take care of it. 

It’s taken me many years to be emotionally content with my image. Do I like the fact that my stomach will NEVER look the way it did in my twenties?  No I don’t.  Nor do I like knowing the stretch marks on my hips will never go away.  But by no means am I proud of my stripes or less taut skin.  I’m not that kind of gal, but hey, if you are…rock on sweet mamma!   
What I am proud of is how content I am with myself.  As I approach 40 (right around the corner), I am so grateful for what age has given me.  Knowledge, the ability to discern what is really important and what isn’t, and the understanding to realize I’m good enough and I’m doing the best I can.
As I exit the fitting room with my chosen suit in hand, I look off into horizon…
I have a feeling I’ll be that old lady in the pool with her grandchildren, years from now.  I know I’ll be teaching them how to dive for colored rings, showing them the backstroke, and even how to do handstands under water.  I’ll more than likely be wearing the flashiest suit there is, because that’s how truly content I will be…by then.  

*Article first appeared in Idaho Family magazine*

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day

 As I sit here and want to grumble about how difficult my day has been with my kids: how much laundry there was to wash, dry, and fold; moan about the pile of dishes in the sink, and protest doing it all over again tomorrow, I’m reminded I chose this profession. 

Being a mom is hard work some days.  There’s a constant to-do list we’re expected to uphold.  Our offspring rely on us for their every need, practical or not.  Dinners need to be planned out and executed; McDonald’s is not an option seven nights a week.  The house needs to be kept in order, faces need wiping, lunches need packing, homework needs tending to, stories need to be read, baths need to be given, Band-Aids need to be applied with kisses to soothe the hurt, and hairs need to be brushed.  The mere thought of my “mom’s duties” overwhelms me some days to the point where I want to question why I chose this position as CEO of The Hayes Family.

After my list is completed for the day, the babes are bathed, the toys picked up and put into the toy bin for the 40th time, and I’m able to sit down for a moment, I look around at the stillness.  I listen to the quiet that surrounds me other than the soft breaths I can hear in the background of my children sleeping the night away.  I echo the day’s events in my mind: getting frustrated at my two year old for wanting me to hold him yet again, “Can’t I have some alone time?”, I howl at him as if he’ll understand my annoyance, to impatiently telling my four year old to hurry up and get his shoes on for pre-school.  I even recall skipping several pages when it came to story time because I was just too worn out to read the entire book…again!  As my mind slips into reminiscing my day, guilt creeps in.

 I have often questioned my ability to be the true definition of a mother:  to bring up (a child) with care and affection.  Sure I can bring up a child; I’m doing it every single day, but with care and affection?  That’s where I feel as if I’m failing.  Too many of my days are defined as a momma who’s worn out and weary.  All too often those days are followed by bouts of guilt as to why they were executed in a fashion that doesn’t grant me a Mom of the Year award.  I have these days more than I want to admit.  And the comforting thought?  I know you do too fellow mom.  I know you get overworked, exhausted, pooped, and out of gas as well; we all do as moms.  But somehow putting on our, “I’m June Cleaver, it’s nice to meet you” face to the outside world makes the cover-up okay.  Well, it’s not.  Because then what happens?  You become even more jaded, impatient, and burnt out as a mom trying to keep up with how you “think” you’re supposed to be by certain standards.  We’re human ladies; we make mistakes every time we turn around.  We don’t always have it all together the way society says we should or even the way we desire for ourselves. 

I have embraced one word that turns my mistakes around and gives me that stamina to pull through yet another day that seems extra rough: grace.  Yes, we receive more grace from our children than we realize.  It’s that refinement that keeps us going, along with their beloved smiles, that gets us back on track again. 

I know that I was put on this Earth to be my kids’ mom.  My job is tough some days; what job isn’t?  But knowing I was specifically chosen to raise, love, and nurture my babies?  That’s priceless.  So priceless I welcome another day, and another day after that one too.  All bellyaching aside, I love being a mom.  I have a fervor knowing I am trying my best every single day to raise little humans that will grow to be productive, respectful, loving, larger beings.  I am the one called for this CEO position and through the clutter, confusion, and chaos, I smile everyday realizing how blessed I truly am to have the title of MOM.

As I pull the sheets up over my head to close out my day, I hear, “Momma, I need a drink.”  In the silence of the night, I drag myself out of bed and fill his Superman cup up with water.  I walk him back into his room, tuck him snuggly into his Spider Man blankets, kiss his soft, sweet smelling head, and say, “Thanks for the grace today Buddy, I really needed it.  Goodnight, I love you.”

Moms, you are doing a wonderful job at this thing called “motherhood.”  I know you get discouraged at times, question if you’re doing the right things for your babes, and even beat yourselves up more than you should.  But know grace is all around you; whispering to you, “You are impeccable and superb Mom, thanks for all you do.”

As Mother’s Day is approaching, remember to honor the woman who created life for you.  Maybe it’s even your grandma, aunt, or step-mom that helped raise you and needs the honor too.  Honor her for her weary and worn out days.  Let her know your grace for her comes overflowing, without hesitation.  I know I will honor my own mom come the second Sunday of this month.  I only wish I could tell her in person.  But until we meet again, the gratitude and abundance of grace in my heart will have to do.

Happy Mother’s Day to every mother reading this.  May you know how valued and loved you really are, through all the glorious days of your mothering…and beyond.

*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*