Making It

In the just-shy-of-a-year since we began our Dave Ramsey journey, a ton has happened. A lot of that has been wonderful and a fair amount of it that was expensive (and a lot of that was unexpected). But, now, 12 months later we are getting close. SO CLOSE! With my extra work at CCC this semester, we are just months away from finishing up our debt snowball and moving forward to bigger and better Baby Steps.

All that said, there have been many times in the last year where the process has felt hard. Heavy. I know Dave says “live like nobody else, so you can live like nobody else,” but for crying out loud. When does that actually start? Because it feels like once we do get out of this baby step, we’re just going to be stuck in the next one forever and won’t ever actually get to do the so-called living.

For some reason, the example I keep using when talking about this with people is wanting to buy a dress. When do I just get to go out and buy a dress because I want to?

Isn’t that weird? I’m not a huge shopper and not even a huge dress girl (although that’s shifting in recent years, it seems). But this proverbial dress has become a symbol in my life of not having so much financial pressure, and I want the thing. Badly.

It’s funny how the universe hears you sometimes and responds. Although we are still very much in the Snowball Stage with our Baby Steps, today I got a peek of the other side with, yes, a dress.

After writing for HVFH for 18 months, I got news today that I finally earned enough to cross the threshold into paid writer! Maybe that’s embarrassing to admit because I’m sure plenty of writers on the site get paid (nicely) every month. Should I really be publicizing that my stuff just now got enough views to add up to payment minimum? Well, whatever – I am because I am happy and proud and thrilled with this milestone moment!

Since I quit drinking coffee, though, I realized I didn’t have my automatic What To Spend It On item, though, and had to sit and think for a minute about what I would do.

Cue other bloggers sharing awesome business pages and a lightbulb moment and VIOLA – I got an adorable DRESS for free thanks to my HVFH payment. No photo to post yet, but they’ve already shipped my order (wowzers!), so that update will be coming soon!

That is winning in my book. And it is definitely a sign of good things to come and light at the end of the dang tunnel!

Popcorn Moments

When a bump or booboo happens in our house, we use bags of popcorn kernels that we keep in the freezer to ease the aches and pains. They are cold but not too cold and mold to the shape of whatever body part needs the comfort. Perfect, really, except for when the owies we need to heal aren’t physical, and we have an off day.

To say that this week has been a little off would be a bit of an understatement. Somehow I managed to schedule All The Things, which resulted in my rushing off to yet another appointment every single time Ben got home from school, as well as no family dinners on the docket until tonight.

See? Off.

Unfortunately, HD had an experience at school yesterday that was also a little off. For the sake of privacy, I won’t say any more than this about it – the poor kid was not excited about going to school today (and this, on Pajama Day AND – of all things – Popcorn Sales day!). Now, he also came home yesterday with a raspy voice and we spent much of this morning trying to figure out if he was sick sick or nervous sick, and after talking, talking, talking (both of us with HD, me with a couple friends and the school counselor, bless their hearts), we worked it out to where yes, he was actually up to going to school for the day.

Naturally, this kind of stuff breaks my heart. I never want to see my kiddo hurting over the words of others, and quite truthfully, I wanted to keep him home today for his very own PJ & Popcorn day with me. But since we can’t live in a bubble, and he was up for going, to school he went, and, perhaps as a result of the circumstances, I’m pretty sure he took a bigger piece of my heart than normal with him.

Definitely because of the circumstances and the added hubbub of the morning, I spaced out the $.25 he needed to buy his bag of popcorn after school, and when I realized it at 11:00 a.m., I almost (for the 3rd time today) burst into tears thinking of his disappointment.

OK. I get it. It’s a quarter-bag of popcorn. Clearly he’d live without it. But the kid’s had a rough 24 hours and I didn’t want the messiness of the morning to have any more impact on him than it already had, so I quick formulated a plan to fix it.

Ben was already set to bring RL home from preK today, so when he showed up with her, I had a lunch ready and waiting to send with him that he could eat on his way, and this note to take to Harrison at school before heading back to the high school:

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Am I helicopter parent for doing this? Or a tiger mom? Or some other stereotype? Might be. Totally don’t care, though, because even though this is a tiny thing, I am hoping it brings a huge smile to kiddo’s face, and he knows – once again, always – just how important and loved he is.

And here’s hoping to many more years of popcorn being all we need to fix the hurts.

Steam Line

In a bold and brave move, I tried something new this morning – my first-ever (yes, not joking, even though I’ve worked there for years and been a member for at least a handful-ish more), I took my first group fitness class at the Y. That’s probably embarrassing to admit, but you know, I’ve been a little busy growing and popping out and nursing babies for the last 8 years, so group fitness just hasn’t been on my radar.

Except, now that I think about it, I’m not sure the class I took is exactly a “group” one. I mean, you are there with other people, but you totally get to do your own thing based on your skill level, which is good because my skillz are LOW and I definitely needed to not be worried about keeping up with the fast kids. I just needed to stay focused on staying alive.

Dramatic, much?

Yes and no, especially when you consider that this mysterious class I speak of was my first time in a POOL for lap swimming/lessons in 20-25ish years. You guys, I’m 34. That means that since my early years in the double digits, I have done nothing like what I did (at 5:30 A.M.!!!) this morning and I lived to tell the tale. Perhaps you’d maybe be a bit dramatic, too, in a similar situation.

So, the class. It is taught by my dearest friend and thank goodness because otherwise I never would have gone, or if I had, I would have burst into tears at just how poorly I did. As it was, she kept a watchful and nurturing eye on me the whole time and didn’t care one bit that I basically kept my head above water the whole time and didn’t even do half of the stream line lap assignments for the day. (The group is split into four skill levels/lanes and has a series of styles/skills to do for a set number of pool lengths, also based on skill level; in case you need clarification, I am a D, which is the slowest (but mightiest?) group, and clearly stands for Dang Right, I Just DID That and Didn’t Drown!). Because holy moly cow, I about lost my shit. And my cookies.

Honestly, I don’t know what happened. Beyond the whole it’s been a couple decades since I tried this and I have never been a “good” swimmer, I darn near had a panic attack in the pool this morning.

I got in for the warm up laps, trying to do the American Crawl stroke and my breath just freaked the eff out. As in, out of breath completely and not from being out of shape (well, maybe that was part of it), but because I was panicky. I swallowed water, too, which made my stomach feel terrible and queasy, and was another factor in the not doing the whole workout or even staying the whole time. Add some water up my nose, too, which I am totally still smelling, four hours and one shower later, and you get a whole bucket of awesomeness.

But you know what? I started. I tried something new and apparently terrifying and I freaked out and I’ll probably do it again. Why? Because I have a goal in January to complete in the Y’s Couch Potato Triathlon (you have two weeks to get in all the lengths of your three activities) and thank goodness I am starting to practice in the pool NOW because otherwise my January Quest would most likely be a bust.

I also gained a truck load of perspective for my kiddos this morning, and why they might balk at swimming lesson days for preschool. The water is no joke and apparently they don’t exactly come from swimming stock.

But again, I started, and everyone has to start somewhere.

img_4571This, by the way, is me in my car after leaving class early. I was totally trying not to hurl the whole way across the parking lot. And when I got home, three Littles – who weren’t supposed to be up out of bed yet – met me in the dark kitchen, so instead of collapsing in tears in the bathroom, I curled up in a ball on my kitchen floor (again – so not joking) and had them cover me up with a blanket where I let the fetal position help me regain my equilibrium until I felt OK enough to get up and shower so I could nurse the baby chlorine free.

Crazy? Perhaps. But worth it to see their not-so-little eyes get even bigger when I explained that I did something new and hard today? You bet.

I have no idea how I will feel about this later today or tomorrow. I’m sure I’m going to be tired and sore. But dang it, I started. That’s got to count for something.

But Keeping It Real

Last month I learned a great little descriptive phrase from a friend called The 11s. Not sure what I am describing? Perhaps this will help:

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LOL! Yep, that right there, folks, is my (are my? oh my) 11s. Loud and proud and crankily on display.

I would like to credit my children with my 11s, but it is just as likely that over a decade-ish of various teaching gigs (not yoga – I don’t use my 11s in yoga) has contributed to the cause, not to mention that I am life-long eye roller and forehead/eyebrow expresser. Those are things, are they not?

So why talk about the 11s now? Other than their awesomeness, you mean? Because yesterday was part kick ass and a bunch of parts 11s because sleep has been eluding me lately. And I can’t even blame the baby because it is not his fault that I am not sleeping – it is that I am piling too many things in my days and nights and when I finally try to crash at night, my brain goes HA! NOPE. and suddenly I found myself Wednesday night and into way too many of the early hours of Thursday evaluating not only all that I had going on, but also what can change so I start sleeping again.

Simply put, I have to put No Thank You back into my vocabulary, and not just to outside requests, but within the walls of my own house and even within the unlimited expanse that is my mind some days (and nights). I know what kind of boundaries work for me with commitment and technology and I have not been honoring them. Henceforth, the abundance of 11s as of late.

Perhaps with a bit of intention (and wee bit of cold cream or some other “wonder” product), I can lesson the intensity of my wrinkles and increase the good lines – the laugh-inspired ones – instead.

And I promise, more about the kick-ass-ness of this week to come soon. ūüėČ

 

 

Don’t Blow Your Top

Believe it or not, from time to time, I stop and think, Should I really post that?? That being a status update or a picture I quickly snapped of my kid or sometimes even a blog post. Yes, there is in fact a filter in place. Occasionally I let the filter broaden a bit and I get a little more real because life ain’t always pretty. It’s just not.

You can consider this one of those less than pretty posts.

Actually, it’s not all that bad. OK – it’s not all that great either, but it is very much real.

In the last two weeks, our morning routine has been, ummmm, strained by the 3yo. Take your pick of the threenager vs. 3yos are a**holes debate as evidence that I am not alone here, but wow. When the 3yo decides to be VERY 3YO before 8 a.m., Mama about loses her damn mind. For one, I have not had my coffee yet by then because I have to wait for my first cup until after I nurse the baby down for his first nap. So, my Go Get ‘Em-ness isn’t quite functioning well, much less prepared for meltdowns and BATTLES¬†OVER WEARING PANTS.

Yes, pants. PANTS have been the culprit of both of our disaster mornings with Lincoln here recently, and for the love of all things holy, can someone please explain to him that we live in NEBRASKA and WINTER IS COMING? He is going to have to start wearing ever-lovin’ pants and soon.

The second reason this crap makes me crazy is that it unfairly puts stress on Harrison as we are then late to get out the door and walked over to his¬†school. He shouldn’t have to be counted tardy because of his brother, but we can’t just leave said brother at home in no pants, so we have to wait until I can get something on Lincoln’s legs and then get him hauled into the stroller.

This morning’s meltdown was heightened by the fact that when I finally got LT out to the stroller where the Bigs were waiting, I found that they had managed to break the only opener we have for our garage door by pushing it too many times.

I’m sorry. Am I the only one out there who is constantly amazed by all the shit kids can manage to break? Things you never could have predicted they would break? Kids break all your shit is a parenting Truth that all people should be warned of when they bring their first kid home. Honestly. [side note: please, do not take my reality sharing for lack of gratitude. I love and am thankful for my shit breakers, even when they are currently breaking my shit.]

So. Screaming/refusing to wear pants (I got him in shorts) 3yo, and shit-breaking Bigs. Not the best 7:40-7:50 a.m. I’ve ever had. And, because I am human, I got frustrated. And when I get frustrated, I tend to throw things.

Now, I’ve never been a hitter and sometimes a yeller, but here is the truth – throwing things happens. Normally I throw pillows. Yes, pillows, from the couches in my living room (you guys, I just realized they are called throw pillows, so I don’t think I am actually that off target here). I do not throw them at people, just as hard as I can at the floor and that usually helps.

Here comes the shameful part: today, because we were already in the driveway, I snatched HD’s backpack off the top of the stroller (Why? Because I suppose I was quite pissed about the garage door and wanted him to carry his own dang bag to school instead of making me do it?) and chucked it at the ground. And guess what happened next? Water started pouring from his backpack.

Yep, in my childish angst, I broke my child’s cheap-ass water bottle that was inside his bag. Awesome. What a terrible¬†and immature lesson I just gave my kids, right? Right.

In panic and remorse and already late anyway, so why ¬†not? mode, I went back in the house where lo and behold, we had an extra bottle that would fit the same nozzle and began to fill it up for HD. He followed me inside and, because kids are amazing like this, wrapped his arms around me as I filled up the “new” container for him. And he just held on until I got the task done and talked to him; when we left the kitchen – again – a minute later, we were both OK. I apologized and he apologized and we high-tailed it to school just fast enough to get there in time for a quick Kissing Hand before his class went in for the day.

img_3938So why I am sharing this? Because this is real. I had a crap moment and my kid forgave me anyway and I learned that the throwing has got to stick to the pillows. I don’t hit my kids because I don’t want them to hit others. I also shouldn’t throw their stuff because that’s not exactly teaching them to care for the belongings of others.

No pillows around? No throwing. Foot stomping and deep breaths, it will have to be. Because guess what? My kids are going to continue to break my shit. Apparently I am capable of breaking theirs too, and cripes, if that isn’t a kick in the pants moment of humility, I don’t know what is.

 

P.S. Ironically (not really – just a moment of No Mama Alone), my friend Kim just wrote about forgiveness and apologies and kiddos. You should check it out here.

 

Today was Bullshit

Today was hard.

Today did damage – to many things, but my maternal spirit perhaps most of all.

Today was bullshit.

Today was a day of a sick kid home from school but not sick enough to be sequestered to the couch, just really really whiney and demanding and clingy and whiney. So whiney.

Today was a day of a 3yo who not only colored his teeth – his TEETH – with a red marker that he then left uncapped on the bean bag, which bled so much that I turned six paper towels and my hands pink trying to clean it off before I gave up/had to move on to actual life essential tasks.

Today was a day of a school aged kid who was bouncing off the damn walls after he got home and apparently has never ever learned what the phrase listening ears actually expects. Holy mother of. 

Today my husband told me at noon that Wednesday

Where was this button today?
 was half over. I replied in my head, Bullshit. At noon on a day (night) when I teach, I still have eight hours of work ahead of me. Half my ass. 

Today, after being wiped out and totally depleted by this day, I had to put on my big girl pants (a dress, actually) and mascara (I understand that is a choice), and be not only a grown up but also a professional as I spend my evening attending to the lessons and needs of my students because I am busting my hump this semester to provide for the lessons and needs of my children who drove me batshit crazy this afternoon.

Today I typed a blog post with my thumbs because at this point it was write or explode. 

Today the baby and I are still friends. That is nice. 

It Goes to Show…

For the last four weeks, the kids and I have walked Harrison to school every morning (minus one, when Daddy did it). We meet up with friends along the way at the “walking spot” and then move as one big happy (and some days quite rambunctious) herd to the school where we get the kids to their respective lines to wait for the start of day.

While some of my friends have kiddos who always want them close as they stand in line, Harrison has been content 9/10 to run ahead, hop in line, and wait. I always go over (once I catch up) to give him a hug and a smooch – because I know my years (days?!) of him being OK with me doing that in front of his classmates and friends are way numbered – but then that’s it. I go back over to where the stroller is parked and we wait and hang out until his class goes in, but rarely does he even turn to wave at me, much less wave me back over for another check-in.

img_3835So imagine my surprise this morning when HD suddenly had small tears in his eyes as we loaded up in the van to do our very first “drop off” morning (thank you cool and drizzly and windy weather). I had no idea he would be bothered by the idea of my not being there as he waited in line, but when I questioned him about why he was upset, sure enough – that was it!

Was it simply the change in routine? Trust me, this mama had some anxiety about doing the first ever drive-by-drop because all those cars! All those people! (it was totally, fine, by the way – no one even honked at me), so maybe my big first grader was feeding off my worried energy a bit. And/or/but maybe he really does like the fact that we’ve been there every morning, even if it has been at a distance, because just the sight of us – should he needs it – is enough.

All I do know is that my heart is forever walking around with him (and his sibs) and today I am hoping his sweet heart is just as brave and big as it seemed when he jumped out of the car and took off at a run to get around to the playground and his line. And that the magic of the kissing hand really holds.

It just goes to show, you never know what seemingly small things you might be doing as a parent that are ultimately big and meaningful to your kiddos. ‚̧