Friday, February 16, 2018

Mental Health vs Gun Control- ALL LIVES MATTER

Awe, you're pretty smart if you read the title and figured out that I'd be stepping onto my soapbox tonight. You know, there are only two things that will cause me to lie awake at night, worrying. Money and my family's safety. Since the title of this blog doesn't say a thing about money, then you know which topic I will be blogging about.
By now you know about the school shooting that took place in Florida this week. Call me callous or better yet, call me naïve, because I have not watched or read one news article about it. I can't. I cannot stomach hearing or reading in detail about another school shooting. I know the basics, all that I really need to know. I know that innocent lives were lost on a day that the students probably felt invincible when they awoke that morning. Social media is blowing up about what could have been done differently to prevent it, how gun control could have stopped it, how the shooter cried out multiple times for help to no avail because no one knows how to truly help those who suffer from mental illness. No matter where you stand on the issue, the sad reality is that school shootings are becoming too common. In fact, shootings in general, are becoming too common.
You want my thoughts on this? (If you don't then just stop reading here.) First and foremost, I believe that violence is becoming common because God is becoming "obsolete". It's easy to remove God from our schools, our government, our lives so to speak. But look at the results! We NEED God more than ever! Secondly, I think people have forgotten how to properly communicate. I do my best to actively (not look at my phone while they are talking) listen to the boys because I know that they need to feel they have a voice. If no one listens to them now, who will they be able to talk to when life gets hard? People send texts instead of discussing and resolving an issue in a logical manner. (I may have been guilty of this a few times in my life.) True communication is a thing of the past. No one makes time to talk...until it's too late. Thirdly, and my most controversial opinion, is that video games attribute to our spike in violence because a) it offers instant gratification and b) it glorifies killing someone who gets in your way. Now do I think all kids who play video games will become murderers? NO!!! But, sadly, for some it's the only life they know. They don't know how to play outside or use their imagination. They don't know how to play with others- working as a team or disagreeing about how to play a game/learning how to resolve the disagreement.
What people don't get is that, in most cases, issues that come out later in life began when the person was a minor. Communication takes daily practice. I am constantly coaching the boys on how they can talk to someone if they have an issue with them, how they can resolve the issue at hand in a positive way. Because I know that they will need that skill throughout life. Hopefully they also learn the skill of how to befriend people, how to be a good listener and hear more than just what the person is saying. Having someone on your side goes a long way! Our young people need that because, right now, I fear for the future of America.
I fear driving down the road because of road rage. I fear my boys going to middle school/high school. I fear that our little city is projected to double in population within the next 10 years (More people usually means more violence). I truly and honestly fear for our boys' lives as they get older. So I hope and PRAY that I am wrong. I PRAY that America does a complete turn around and turns back TOWARD God. Because if that doesn't happen my fears will most likely be justified. And that's something I will really be worried about!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

New Year, New Me

I've never been one for new year's resolutions. Or diets. Or long term workout regiments. But this year I'm throwing caution to the wind and trying it all! Well, sort of. I'm still not a fan of diets. But what I am a fan of is a lifestyle change. After not being happy with my body for the past 5-6 years, I asked Rob to get me a gym membership as my Christmas gift (gasp! And no, it's not grounds for divorce if I'm the one who asked for it. HA!!). Shortly after the new year I posted my 2018 goals on my bathroom mirror. One of which was to lose a certain amount of weight. I knew that wouldn't happen by continuing old eating habits and my non-workout routine. So I made some changes. Now I am conscious about my sugar gram intake (try to keep it in the single digits). I eat a gripload of veggies every day and limit my soda intake to 1 per week. Starbucks? (mostly) a thing of the past. I eat more salad than the main course but I'll splurge on the occasional dessert if the mood strikes me. On top of eating better, I have started going to the gym 4-5 days a week. 3 days a week I meet with a friend for various workout classes. 2 days a week I do my own thing. I have been shocked to find that I absolutely LOVE Spin class. Maybe it's because I can see how many calories I burn in a 45 minute class (500-600 calories, y'all!). Or maybe because I am drenched in sweat when I walk out of the class so I know I worked my butt off (literally). On days I don't feel motivated to go, Rob is my biggest cheerleader. He gently reminds me that if I skip one day it'll be easier to skip the next one. And you know? I don't really want to change my new routine. I like the way I feel. I have WAY more energy and don't feel the need for a daily mid-afternoon nap. I feel like I can think clearer and don't forget things as easily. I like how my clothes have started fitting better. I like everything about my outward appearance so much more than I have in the past 6 years! My self confidence is coming back in spades. So this year I am gladly embracing the new me, the one who enjoys a healthy lifestyle. The one who is happy and looking forward to the rest of a great 2018!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jumbled Thoughts

Since it's been a few weeks since I've blogged, I have a few things to blog about. Part of the blog will be reflective and part of it will be giving you a life update. Let's get the heavy stuff out of the way first....
I have always been the one the boys turn to for everything. That is up until a year or so ago. Around the time E turned 4 he became a big time Daddy's boy. He goes to him to cuddle, to play with, to comfort, to discuss hunting and fishing, to ask advice from (as much as a preschooler can ask for advice). In his eyes, his daddy can do no wrong. E idolizes him and, if I'm being completely honest, I've struggled to deal with that at times. I've gotten my feelings hurt a time or two when E chooses Rob over me. But then I realize how blessed the boys are to have Rob as their dad. The other night, P and I were discussing how Rob and I were different with parenting. I had to remind him that Rob is the one who wrestles with the boys, plays football with them, swims with them in the Summer, plays tag with them...indoors!, takes them out on the boat any time they want to go. After talking to P about all the fun things Rob does with the boys, I spent a lot of time in thought about our conversation. About he and I make a good team. I am the one who takes them on adventures, does crafts with them, lets them help me in the kitchen, reads to them, the ones who takes care of their every day needs. But Rob shows them (and teaches them about) hard work, plays with them, gets down to their level, holds them on his lap when they just want to be still. We balance each other with our strengths and the boys benefit from it.


I have a lot of strong points, but slowing down and enjoying the moments in life is not one of them. And, although I am not big on New Years resolutions, I am trying them this year. I have a list of 4 of them taped to my bathroom mirror to hold me accountable. One resolution that I don't have written down (until now) is to slow down and not let a "To-Do" list dictate my life. Fortunately, God is helping me with this one. We have had, hands down, the coldest Winter I've experienced here and probably the coldest one LA has experienced in the past century. We have been housebound a lot for the past 4-6 weeks, which has helped me to slow down. I create To-Do lists when I feel like it but if I don't get to it, I don't beat myself up about it. I read stories to the boys when they ask. I help them built forts out of cardboard boxes. I take walks with them (when the weather is above a "Feels like 1 degree" temp). I am trying really hard to just be in the moment. I am trying not to stress about the little things. If I want to read a book or take a nap or work out, I do. I guess I am being more selfish with my time, but after always being a people pleaser, I am okay with taking time to enjoy life for myself and with my family.
The Winter Wonderland we woke up to this morning- more ice than snow but still pretty

Although his birthday was in December, we celebrated E's 5th birthday a couple weeks ago. It warmed up just enough for it to be enjoyable outside. Because we were hosting his party at the house, we rented a bounce house for the kids to enjoy. That was the only thing we cared to have at his party. Well, that and a hunting theme cookie cake. The little introvert that he is, he loved playing on his bounce house, knowing his friends were at the house, but not feeling the need to play with them. He wore himself out, having a blast. We are so thankful that God has blessed us with him in our lives. He and I butt heads regularly but I am thankful for his quick wit, intelligence, stubbornness (some days), his compassionate heart and his adventurous spirit. I can't wait to see how God uses his life as he continues to grow up!



Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017

New Year's is not my favorite holiday. In fact, it's far from it. (It's a close 2nd to Thanksgiving.) But, since we don't really celebrate it, it gives me a chance to reflect on the year that's ending. With only a few hours left of 2017, I have spent the past few hours thinking back on all the GOOD 2017 has brought to us through God's blessings.
2017 started with us buying our second house! After much frustration and heartache with a couple other houses, we realized it was worth it because this house has become our home. We have been able to use it for BBQs, dinner parties, pool parties, house guests, sleepovers and play dates. I love our neighborhood and even feel like we like in the country with all the perks of living in a city.
E started sports this year! He was only old enough to play soccer but he thoroughly enjoyed both seasons that he played. His best friend was on his team and, together, they became the dynamic duo. I don't know why I am surprised, but I was amazed by his athletic skill every time I watch him play. Now that he's 5 (give me a sec while I shed a few tears over that!), he is excited to add T-ball and football to his repertoire. He's going to be our all American athlete I'm sure.
In April I took a girls' trip to Nashville to compete in a half marathon. Not that I am a pro marathon runner by any stretch of the imagination. But, that was by far the worst marathon experience I have ever had! I am grateful to say I finished it on my own accord because several dozen runners couldn't say that. Nonetheless, it was a fun get away in a new town with a good friend. So, all in all, it was a memorable experience.
In May, P finished the school year earning 5 different academic awards! His craving to learn anything and everything astonishes me. He always has his nose in a book and remembers information like my mom. In May, I finished my first school year as a high school teacher and I have to say that I loved it a lot more than I thought I would! The boys and I ended the month in Cali, where we spent a couple weeks visiting my parents. One of my best friends got married so I was thrilled beyond belief to attend her wedding.
We had a super busy Summer! In fact, it was by far the busiest Summer we've ever had. Between friends coming over to swim, day trips and weekend get aways, I don't recall having one single day where we sat around with nothing to do.
School started and E got bumped up to preschool. Although he LOVES his teacher and friends, he doesn't like school per se. I don't think he's ever going to love it the way his big brother does. In fact, every morning he wakes up and asks, "Is today Friday?" because he knows that Friday at 1pm means no school for 2 days. Ha! But, regardless, I'm impressed with how much he's learning.
One of my nearest and dearest friends came for a visit from AZ in September. She and I snuck away to a beach side condo for the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed our time together. We laughed til our sides hurt and ate until our stomachs ached. It was one of the best weekends I've had in a long time!
Fall brought the busy time of the year for us. Between P's football schedule, hunting season, choir practice for our Christmas performance, photo sessions and school obligations I felt like we were in a continual juggling act with our time. But you know? I wouldn't change it for the world!
My parents surprised us by coming to us for Thanksgiving this year. It's the first time in almost 4 years that they've come for a visit and we loved their time with us! The boys loved showing them what we do here for fun and I loved having them meet our friends so they could put names and faces together. This may sound weird/gross to you but one of my favorite things my mom and I do are nightly foot rubs. So I loved our foot rubs/Hallmark movie nights and all the memories we created while they were here!
After mid December, our lives slowed down considerably. We didn't host Christmas at our house so it was just the 4 of us for the first time ever. Then Rob took off to camp so it's been just me and the boys most days. It's been cold and gloomy so we've used this break to stay close to home and rejuvenate. E and I have been fighting sinus infections so I think our bodies (and minds) needed this down time.
I didn't mean to give you a complete rundown of our entire year. I meant to just give you a glimpse of all the good that's taken place this year. Short story long, it's been a wonderful year. 1000x better than 2016 for sure! I am looking forward to 2018, praying that it'll be as good of a year as 2017. There are some great things in the works. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Lost Christmas

Where do I start? So many thoughts running through my head this evening. This day did not go at all how I imagined. Not because of Rob. Not because the boys didn't love all their gifts. Not because we didn't spend quality family time together. Not because we didn't enjoy a nice meal together. But because I got so caught up in my head that I didn't take time to enjoy the day. I knew it was just going to be the 4 of us for the first time in our married life and that didn't set well with me. One of the things I love most about the holiday season is all the social events- Christmas parties, dinners, entertaining. But it was just the 4 of us all day and it seemed too quiet to me. I also knew that I had opened 90% of my presents before Christmas so I didn't have much to open. Selfishly, that kind of makes Christmas morning less magical for me because I love surprises. It's never about the size or the price of the gift, but how much thought was put into it. My absolute favorite thing is opening my stocking because I get things that I "need" but don't buy for myself, things like nail polish and lotion. My dad always puts together the best stockings! So I started the day in a funk.
Then, after opening the presents, I was trying P's drone out that Santa brought him and I lost it. Like, it flew over someone's property and just disappeared. I spent several hours looking for it to no avail. While looking for it, I lost the ring he had bought me at the school Christmas store. I was beating myself up about losing the ring and drone on top of being in a funk.
We laid down for a nap and when I woke up I had a few minutes to myself. I realized that I had spent the day thinking about all that the day was lacking instead of counting my blessings. First and foremost, the reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We work very hard at making sure the boys know that that is the real meaning of Christmas. But, sometime I don't put enough importance on it. Second, even though I've missed my parents terribly today, I have Rob and my boys. We are all healthy (for the most part) and spent the entire day together, playing and relaxing. Third, we are blessed beyond measure. Although we never go overboard with gifts, Rob and I are always blessed to be able to buy the boys (and each other) the gifts everyone wants. We have a beautiful house (Our first year celebrating Christmas in it!) and we had a nice meal. There are a lot of people that can't say that.
So, while Christmas wasn't how I pictured it to be, it was imperfectly perfect. It was a day packed with memories and blessings. And most importantly it's about our Savior, the One Who was born to show us grace even on our most imperfectly perfect days! 
Merry Christmas y'all!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Traditions

If you have been following our blog for awhile, you know that I value family traditions. I love making birthdays and certain holidays even more special by partaking in family traditions. In my opinion, traditions add to memories. Now that I'm a mom, I try to keep certain traditions that we enjoyed when I was a child. Traditions such as driving around, looking at lights; searching for the German pickle on the Christmas tree; stocking filled to the gills (One of my most favorite things about Christmas!). Certain traditions we have not kept for various reasons- the "Orange Man" and cutting down a fresh Christmas tree; enjoying In N Out Burgers after looking at Christmas lights; falling asleep on a pile of wrapping paper Christmas morning. Other traditions we had made as a family- elf on the shelf; reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and the "Birth of Christ" Christmas Eve; supporting a family in need. This year I realized just how important our traditions have become because P told his teacher about the German pickle. She was very impressed with this tradition and shared it with another teacher, after asking P more about it. I hope when the boys grow up and have families of their own they are able to keep our family traditions or create their own with their family. Traditions enrich our lives and help tie generations together!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Making or Breaking?

Maybe it's because I have a Bachelor's in Child Development (basically child psychology) or maybe it's because I am a mom to two very different kids. But, I've been thinking a lot this week about making or breaking a child. I have heard two people speak to two different kids in two different settings in ways that make my heart sad. I have no doubt that either person meant to hurt the child's feelings or harm them in any physical way but it's just made me think. I feel that adults (parents, teachers, coaches, etc) have an important job in a child's life. It's to help a child without tearing them down. It's to understand that a child does not cognitively have the same ability as an adult. It's to build self esteem, highlight a child's strengths instead of always harping on their shortcomings. It's to make them feel safe, to feel loved. A child should not feel that s/he has to earn love and praise. It should be unconditional.
I am by no means a perfect parent so please don't think I am pointing fingers. I lose my patience with the best of them. I make sarcastic comments and see the hurt I have caused. But I try. I try to love on both of our boys equally. I try to discipline them equally. I try to encourage their strengths equally. All the while knowing that our boys are as different as night and day. Both are smart and strong and brave in their own ways. I want to start acknowledging that more.
Here's why. By the time the boys become teenagers, their mental foundation has basically been set. What they have heard over and over again is what becomes engrained in their mind. It can become their focal point. I want those things to be positive things. I want both of our boys to feel they can conquer the world because that's what they've learned from the adults in their lives. I want them to be strong (mentally as much or more than physically) to handle what life throws their way.
I am not the type of mom to think every child deserves a trophy. I think that society has made kids too soft with that mentality. But I do think that it's vital to teach while nurturing. That doesn't mean to be soft. It just means to love. To build up. To understand. To give them your best. Because they deserve nothing less. They are our future.

**Scroll down to see our Southern Winter wonderland.**