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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Winter blues a comin'

When I talk about being productive, I don't always mean hit the ground running in the morning, staying busy, keeping a clean home, crossing things off my to do list and baking cookies all with a smile.   For me, some days my productive endeavor is just surviving and feeding my children!

I suffer from anxiety and I have a history of depression.  Some days the dark clouds loom over my head and it takes everything in me to just get through the day.  {And THAT is partly why I have this blog!  Why I write... and why I am so purposeful about things... trying to manage my struggles.}

I am seriously affected by weather and time change.  It's already getting dark in the evenings and I feel my anxiety building as we get ready to turn the clocks back.  I also feel the pressure of the holidays upon me... my mental to do list swirling in my head... 8 weekends til Christmas... Ahhh!!!  {Feel it now too?  Haha!  Sorry!}

I betcha I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and although I haven't been officially diagnosed with this disorder, I have seen someone in the past for my other issues!  I have some strategies in place to help me get through this time and I would encourage anyone feeling the blah to not ignore it and talk to someone!

Even with knowledge of what I can do to help get through these dark days, the blah always comes.  I wish it wouldn't but it does.  And fighting it is what my endeavor is right now.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sorry Kids... No sleepovers

My kids are 9, 7 & 4 and with age have come the invitations for sleepovers.  But we are that family that doesn't do sleepovers.  I know I know... sounds so strict and crazy but I have my reasons.  And after talking to other parents who I admire and who have older kids, I feel at peace with our decision.

I thought I would write about it in case there are people like I was... You have that nagging feeling in your heart but don't have the words to accompany it to explain why you don't want your kids going to someone else's house to sleep and wake up.  Or maybe you feel pressured because other parents are letting their kids do sleepovers but it doesn't feel right to you.  And the other reason I write... simply to give parents something to think about!

"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial." ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23

My reasons...

  1. My kids are young and need their sleep.  Sleepovers often don't involve sleep {go figure!} and the family has to deal with the consequences of overtired children the next day.  No thanks.
  2. Many homes and kids have the internet just a click away and some young kids I know have their own iPhones and iPads!  I used to look up "naughty" words in the dictionary never mind what kids could do now!  
  3. Friend's friends.  I trust many of my friends to take care of my kids and I genuinely like their children.  But we really need to think about those strangers who would be also spending the night with our kids!  Kids from families we don't know and that's something to think about.
  4. Possibility of sexual abuse.  It happens and is very real to me.  It happened in my family and I have friends who've been abused.  If we have to be the uncool parents to avoid this risk then so be it.  I can take a knock in my reputation to protect my kids from this nightmare.
  5. Nothing good happens after bedtime.  Truth or dare, freezing bras, sneaking outside, etc.. come to mind from my own childhood.  Sleepovers did not add to the quality of my childhood.  Some nights will filled with unnecessary anxiety and stress.  {I actually remember a friend of mine crying for her mom and how she was teased.  Not cool.}
  6. Sleepovers don't deepen friendships.  My kids aren't missing out on connections by not sleeping over at a friend's house.
  7. My kids are still pretty young.  As their mom and guide, I don't feel they have the skills to speak up if something is happening that they know is wrong or against our house rules.  I intentionally protect my kids from overexposure and one day I have to trust them to make decisions for themselves.  BUT at their current ages, I don't think it's fair for me to put the full burden on them.

clipart source

So ya, those are my reasons and my kids really don't feel deprived.  The older two have been invited to a couple sleepovers now but they have only attended one each, not staying the whole night.  The parties usually start around supper time and I just pick them up a little after their normal bedtime to give them a chance to enjoy the evening activities with their friends. 

Also, it's not like they don't ever spend the night at friends' homes.  Recently they stayed with friends while Jay and I went away for our first ever get-away since married!  Obviously we make exceptions depending on the circumstance but overall, sleepovers aren't a normal thing around here.
I want my kids to enjoy their friends and time with them but in the end, we are the parents and we need to trust our gut and make decisions that will keep them safe....  Even if that makes us the most unpopular and uncool mom in the neighborhood.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

My get-away with my man

Before I can share about our fabulous get-away, you must know this.... Until we went away in September to film our segment on The Doctors, my husband and I had never left the kids to go away overnight together!  EVER!  It was partly because we had no official reason to get away and partly because those infamous babysitting grandparents that everyone talks about live too far from us!  Soooo we barely get out for dinner dates never mind overnight!
So when the opportunity first came up, we almost didn't go because they only wanted to fly me and Jay and I didn't know who could watch our kids.  But a certain amazingly awesome friend of mine gladly took all three kids so we could go away without any worry.  She's pretty special and if it wasn't for Kim, I don't think I ever would have done it!  *ROAR FROM THE CROWD*!!!

The trip was amazing!!  We laughed a lot and we talked without interruptions!  We ate fancy food and took our time at the restaurants.  We weren't tied to our phones because everyone knew we were away and we really enjoyed being together!!  That alone {never mind where we went} was AHmazing and it was a super awesome get-away for us!

We stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel right on the Walk of Fame.  We've been to Time Square in NYC and it reminded us of that but on a smaller scale.  It was very touristy.  We ventured out a couple times to walk around, look at the stars' names and to take it all in.  All I cared about was seeing Michael Jackson's star, which I found!

And as a special surprise, there was an impersonator.  That was fun!

We didn't have time to get to downtown LA, Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive or any other popular places that come to mind but we really enjoyed what we DID do!  Like Santa Monica....

We had one full day to ourselves with no travel or studio commitments and we used it to go to the Pacific Ocean!  We chose Santa Monica and we used Uber car service to get there. {Check it out because it's a great alternative to a taxi!!!}.  They dropped us off at the famous Pier - which wowed me at first view.  We walked to the end of it and we enjoyed the scenery, the different musicians playing, looking at the the midway rides {thinking the kids would enjoy them!}, stumbled upon a professional photo shoot, saw a sea lion in the wild! and the weather... aaaahhh such nice weather!

From there we walked down to the beach.  {See the Pier behind me?}  I walked in the Pacific Ocean and went in to my knees then a big wave hit me and got my butt wet, which I was NOT expecting!  We laughed and I didn't care much because I had big plans to plop on the sand and enjoy the Californian sunshine!  Jay went in to swim while I sat on the beach watching our stuff and taking pictures.  He got beat up by the most powerful waves he ever experienced.  I just LOVED the scenery!  So peaceful!

From there we walked up to Third Street Promenade which we hadn't heard of before but Jay was curious to check out.  Turns out it's a major attraction - haha!  Just call us the wanderers!  The weather was unlike anything I ever experienced.  I loved it.  Even while walking, it was perfect.  The perfect breeze.  No humidity.  NOTHING like Connecticut.  I can see why people love Cali so much!

While in a store we asked a local what he recommended we should see or do.  He suggested we explore Venice Beach.  Lots to look at he said and he was right!  Lots of vendors and artists!  We walked from Santa Monica to Venice Beach along the foot path by the beach.  People were walking, running, biking, rollerblading, etc.  I noticed how healthy everyone looked.  Not celebrity perfection, but just active and well.  I liked it!  Did I mention the perfect weather?

We were near the Pacific for about 8 hours and we walked most of the time.  Another perk to not having kids, we could walk and walk without worrying about tired kids. It was soooo nice!

Another reason I'm glad the kids weren't with us was because of all the vulgarity.  The shops had t-shirts I wouldn't want my kids to see which included the F word.  One beggar {well back in Hollywood} sitting on a sidewalk shouted:  "Don't you F'ing see me?" when I walked by.  I heard "suck my..." lyrics in music.  And cursing ALL around me.  Definitely not a place I would bring my kids, but I got a good laugh out of SOME things I saw like this shirt which summarizes why we were there in the first place.... "The Man.  The Legend."  hahahaha!

Before leaving we watched a west coast sunset.

God did not disappoint!  It was beautiful.

Loved our time away!  We will be celebrating 15 years of marriage come December so this was an early anniversary trip for us!  We really loved it and are so thankful to CBS and The Doctors for giving us this little vacation!!!  {And again to our amazing friends who watched our kids so we could go in the first place!!!}

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

New chores for the kids

Anyone else dread getting kids to do chores?  
Gah!  It's so emotionally draining to me!  So I confess, I have always just had my kids to do the minimum around the house to avoid unnecessary conflict.  They haven't had any regular chores but they do clean their rooms and help me tidy up the house when we are expecting company.
That's been about it.
Ya, not good.

So I've been noticing that my kids don't help as well as they used to.  And quite honestly, I feel like I've been doing too much FOR them.  Time for Momma to train her monkeys better so I am implementing a new chore system!  I want my kids be more productive and helpful people.  On top of keeping their rooms clean, they are going to have zones to take care of.

Vienna is 9 and her zone for the month is going to be the dining room.  This is no easy feat because it's where we do school.  She will be responsible for putting our books away and getting the table ready for supper each night.  She will dust and wash the windows weekly.  She also will be in charge of picking up the shoes by the front door and keeping the doorway clean since it's right next to this space.

Lance is 7 and his zone for the next month is the living room.  He has to put all the toys away and whatever else is out of place in this room.  He'll dust and make sure all the dishes are put in the kitchen.  Seriously... there is no need for me to be cleaning up after the kids or fighting with them to do it!

Colin's zone is going to be the upstairs hallway.  There always seems to be random toys and lego pieces laying around.  He also has to help keep his room and the playroom clean so he's not off that easy!

Since this is new territory for me, I would love to hear how other people actually carry out chores.  Do you have your kids do them daily?  What do you do if they don't do their chores?  I also would love specific ideas for age appropriate chores for my kids!  I plan to change it each month.
{If you leave a comment, just know that it won't show up right away, but no worries, you'll see it once I approve it!  Thanks so much!}

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Bible study update in Genesis

I am currently reading through Genesis with Good Morning Girls.  I've read it before but holy smokes it's so cool to see the stuff I'm noticing this time around!  I have more bible knowledge under my belt since I last read this book so things are standing out that I skimmed over before.  It's kinda like when you watch a movie over and over and notice new things in the background you missed before!

stock photo
Part of our bible study format is to see how the scripture could be applied to us today.  My main focus these days are my husband and kids so that's where my thoughts usually go.  So here are just SOME things that stood out to me since reading Genesis this past month:

Chapter 3:16
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

Many know this is where God puts a curse on woman to have painful childbirths {thanks Eve!} but it was the second part of that verse that stood out to me this read through. Are any wives out there a micro-managing control freak?  Ha!  I know submission is a big problem for many women and the idea of a man "ruling" over us sounds so primitive but in our home, my husband is the leader.  He leads our home with love and doesn't beat and suppress me.  For those working outside the home and have a boss, you submit to him or her, right?  You respect their place of authority and that's kinda how my home is.  Think about it... in the workplace would you try to control your boss and tell him/her what to do?  Well then, that is exactly the problem in many marriages, including mine.  I'm bossy far too often so it was interesting to learn that it was put in our lives as a result of what happened in the garden. Ugh! {again, thanks Eve!!}  Being aware that control is a problem, helps me to be aware of it and work on it.

Chapter 4:7b
Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
My big sin issue is anger.  I have been praying for God to take the hot simmer that's always brewing in me away because I want to to be a nice, calm even-tempered person.  But the day I was in this chapter God taught me something HUGE.  Anger is totally ok!  It's how I react to it that's the problem.  It's ok for me to be a passionate person with emotions.  After all, God gave them to me.  But if I lash out at others and hurt them because I am angry, that is when I sin {aka self-absorbed} and am in the wrong.  I can say pretty mean things to my husband when he ticks me off!  So this verse is a keeper for me.  I must subdue and be anger's master.  I don't want to hurt my family.  This is easier said than done but I am ACTIVELY working on this and was so encouraged by this nugget!

Genesis 8:6-7
"After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat and released a raven. The bird flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth had dried up." 
Did you know that Noah sent out a raven before a dove?  I had no idea!

Genesis 13:8
"Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives!" 
So many records of people being in conflict!  I love Abram's response here.  Wish all family could take his advice, especially mine!

Genesis 16:4
"So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt."
I always thought Sarai was super mean to Hagar, or at least that's how it's depicted in that TV show The Bible.  I felt bad for Hagar when she was sent away.  But now I see that she had a major role in it! I also understand why some people say to avoid movies or TV shows about the bible.  They can confuse us so this is a personal conviction.  No more TV shows and movies about the bible for me or at least not til I know scripture better!

Genesis 18:19
"I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.”
This is a great verse with parenting in mind.  I want to teach my kids to do what is right and just.  I want them to be good people who love others well.  Great family verse to tuck away.

Genesis 19:26
"But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt."
My bible notes said that the verb "looked back" indicated a prolonged, intense gazing toward the world she loved, not a curious glance.  When I first because a Christian I was convicted of many things.  I made the decision to leave my old life behind and follow Jesus but it wasn't out of desire at first... it was out of obedience. I still WANTED certain things.  But as I grew, so did my convictions.  My heart has changed so the things I longed for, no longer even interest me.  One quick reveal would be sexually explicit movies. I used to watch them and enjoy them.  But now I have no desire to watch that stuff and it's taken a long time to get to this point.  At first it was out of obedience but now I just do NOT want those images - or sounds in my head!

Wow!  This was longer than I expected and I didn't even share everything from all 20 chapters but there is so much more!  It has been such a great journey reading through Genesis so far with my Good Morning Girls group.  I am so grateful to have a place where I can share my discoveries with friends and in turn learn from them!  Such an encouragement to me!

One last little funny to leave you with... I just got back from a trip to my hometown.  My mother saw me reading each day and teased me asking:  "Don't you have that thing memorized yet?"  haha!

Too much in it to EVER be done reading it!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Once upon a time, I doubted I could ever hold a pregnancy, never mind think of being a mom to three children as I am now!  Years ago, before having my first child I actually miscarried twice.
Today, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and it made me think back on my own losses.  I really wanted to share on here in case it might encourage someone else.  {And I also want to share because I do NOT take for granted the blessings I have in my life now.}

My husband and I were married a couple years before we started talking about having children.  We didn't aggressively try to get pregnant, but I went off the pill with high hopes.  I always had a fear that if I missed one pill, BAM, I'd get pregnant!  But no... there I was off the pill and it didn't happen right away as I thought it would.  I learned a lesson early about not having much control over my own life as I thought I did!

{A pic of my pregnancy calendar.  I kept them all.}
We told our parents that I was pregnant the day after we found out in late Dec 2002.  We were just so excited!  Icky symptoms started in week 5.  I was tired, nauseous and lost my appetite.  Week 7 we went to the doctor and they did an ultrasound.  They couldn't find the baby and suggested it was too small and had me come back the following week.  When I went back in my 8th week, sure enough, no baby.  I cried.  I had what is called "blighted ovum".  Basically the sac and placenta grow without the embryo.

The doctor told me we could try again in 3 months but my husband was deployed the week prior so that wasn't going to happen.  {When it rains it pours right?  And we also lost Jay's grandfather two weeks before my miscarriage - the first of our grandparents to pass.  It was a sad time.}

I had the choice to carry the pregnancy til my body rejected it, in which case I could hemorrhage.  Or I could get a D&C.  I was so nauseated and wanted to move on so opted for the surgery.  Because my husband was deploying, I had to go through this without him by my side.  It was a very lonely time for me.
{spellcheck is clearly my friend - comedic relief for ya!}

So my husband was away though most of 2003 and it wasn't until 2004 that I got pregnant and again it didn't happen right after our reunion.  It took a few months!  We were living in Alabama and I was so excited to have a baby because I was no longer working full-time and I wanted to start a family.

But just a couple weeks after finding out I was pregnant, I started spotting.  I was hopeful that it was just the egg nesting into the uterus and I was put on bed rest just as a precaution but it was too late.  Heavy bleed started a couple days later.  The hope of a new little one gone.

With two miscarriages in a row, I doubted I could have kids.  "What if's" filled my head.
Eventually I focused on God and His plan for my life.  I trusted Him 100% and I felt that if He didn't want us to have kids, well then we'd have to do other things with this short life we live here on earth.
That didn't mean I didn't cry or was sad, but I chose to focus on that to get through the hard days.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  ~Jeremiah 29:11

PREGNANCY #3, #4 & #5
3 months later I got pregnant again!  That was a shocker!  The doctor in Alabama was AHmazing and had me take a progesterone suppository to help boost my pregnancy hormones.  9 months later we welcomed our first child, little Vienna.  2 years later her brother Lance and 3 years after that, our surprise Colin arrived!

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." ~Psalm 139:13

When people see me now with my three kids, they say that I am so blessed.  I know this more than anyone and I do not taking getting pregnant for granted especially since it was a 3 year journey from going off the pill to holding my first baby.  With the delay in starting a family when we wanted it... having miscarriages and even a third unexpected child after a vasectomy, I see how little control we have over our lives.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. ~Isaiah 55:8

This is a great day of remembrance to allow parents to talk about our losses.  Some people think that miscarrying early isn't emotional but for many, we mourn the life lost no matter now short.  It was life and it was growing!  I was happy and hopeful when I got pregnant.  I still know their due dates.  I dreamed about holding them.  And family was excited knowing there new life on the way.  Each pregnancy offered us hope of expanding our family and that ended when they were lost.

I know many people... dear friends and family... R, A, P, S, R, T, L, L, D, S... come to mind quickly who have miscarried and I am praying for you today.

If you are reading this and had a loss yourself, I'd love to hear about it.  Tell me your due date and how far along you were.  Did you name your baby?  Someone once suggested I do that for healing so I did.  My babies were Amelia and Joshua.  What about yours?

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever." ~Revelation 21:4

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Behind the scenes at The Doctors

It was an absolute blast and an amazing opportunity!  We were able to share our story about our third child's conception after a "successful" vasectomy on The Doctors, which aired Oct.3rd!  {Click HERE to watch the clip.}

I was first contacted by an associate producer after she saw our story on the HuffPost Live back in early August.  After many conversations, they decided to fly us to California and record a segment in their Hollywood studio!  They provided the airfare, hotel, and a per diem for hotel food!  My husband Jay and I flew out on Tuesday, Sept. 9th and came home Sept. 12th.  It was the very first time EVER that we both left the kids and together went on a trip!  {I am actually going to share all about the amazing time we had in California in a different post another time!}
on the plane!
The first day there, we recorded all the scenes they used for the introduction clip.  We first arrived at a place they called "The Loft" where they had different living rooms, dining rooms and even a kitchen set up!  Stephanie asked us a bunch of questions on camera.

She had us pose and do different scenes and Jay and I were giggling and laughing, totally out of our comfort zone.  I was so worried about not getting it all right, but if you saw the intro piece, you know how amazingly talented she was because it was amazing!  The edits were to the point and the add ins funny!  Did you see the pic of the butcher block and chopped meat?  LOL!!!!

The day of the show was fun.  They recorded three shows this day and we were on the second.  As we got ready we could hear the audience cheer from our waiting room!

Look they had our name on the door!

We were told to bring a couple different outfits in bold bright colors and then a wardrobe person came in and helped pick our look.  She took our clothes and had them steamed.  I felt very pampered!  While waiting I poked my head out the door and loved seeing the wardrobe racks for the show!

The lady who did my hair was so nice.  She was so friendly and we chatted while she worked!  And the make-up artist miracle worker was AHmazing!  She mixed the color for my foundation in front of me and everything smelled so nice going on!  She said it was the stuff she used to clean her brushes!  I never wear eyeliner so looked so different and I really liked the look!

When Jay and I met back in our waiting room after getting our make up, I laughed at him!  He had lip gloss on and I could not stop laughing!  He was so pretty!

Mackenzie, the associate producer is the one who we talked to on the phone leading up to our trip, and she came in to go over the show and the script.  I started getting nervous at this point because even though the show was recorded, they did a live taping and she said they limit the editing on it!!!  Eeek!  I was concerned I might mess up after many issues recording the introduction piece!
Click HERE to watch the clip.
We went into a different waiting room to get our microphones on before going upstairs.  I had to take my necklace off because it rested right on the microphone.  I also had bracelets on but they were too noisy so I had to take them off too!  It was here that we first met Dr. Spitz, the urologist on the show.  I recognized him from previous episodes so introduced myself and Jay.  We spent 10 minutes talking with him but we purposely didn't talk as much about the vasectomy to keep the conversation fresh for the show.  We learned about his three kids and one has an interest in aviation.. my husband is a pilot... small world!  He's a really friendly down to earth guy!

When it was time to go backstage, I got so thirsty - nice symptom of nervousness for a talk show!  UGH!  They had bottles of water and kindly gave me one - with a straw so I wouldn't ruin my lipstick!
Time to go on stage!  They brought us to our seats.  Dr. Rachael came over first and I told her I enjoyed her segment on Dancing with the Stars with Candace Cameron Bure.... that was one of the first times I heard of The Doctors!  Dr. Travis shook our hands and said something funny to set us at ease and before I knew it he was talking and the show had started!

Click HERE to watch the clip.
This was the first time I saw our intro clip and it was amazing!  It choked me up because it was so well done and I saw the sweet faces of my kids who I missed a lot!  I tried to hold my tears back because I had awesome make up on but Dr. Rachael called me out on it!  Uh... not in the script!  I answered quickly without thought.

The doctors talked.

They teased Jay.  We laughed and BOOM!  It was over!
Click HERE to watch the clip.
I said something about it being quick and Dr. Travis said that was TV!   Geesh... all that for about 5 minutes on stage!  Relief spread over me but in hindsight... oh I wish I had more time with them!!

We waited around for a bit to get a picture with the doctors.  They are very tall.

People ask me about Dr. Travis... yes ladies he's handsome and taller than I expected!  I didn't get to talk to him much because he seemed really busy between shows.  And can I say that there is something about Dr. Ordon.  That man is so charismatic and I ended up liking him all the more after meeting him!  He has a little sparkle in his eye that was quite charming!  And Dr. Rachael told me to tweet with her the day before the show.  Of course I did.  Her reply was awesome!

On our way out the crew took our pics outside of the studio!

The crew was absolutely amazing!
Everyone was BEYOND friendly and easy to talk to.  I had so much fun chit chatting with everyone!! From the drivers to the producers... the people helping us get ready... oh wow it was great!

On my way out I noticed a really cool painting on the side of the building!  There is one in a town near where we live so it was neat to see that with The Doctors sign next to it!!

Close up:

And that was it!  I can't believe we were on the show!  I watched it at my friend Lynn's house yesterday because she was so excited {my biggest fan!} and said I shouldn't watch it alone!  She cooked me breakfast and everything!  What a friend!!!  Her idea to get in the pic with the TV!  LOL!
"I'm on TV!!!!"
Seriously though... I just hope our story gets out there and people realize that vasectomies really are not as certain as people think they are!  Even when you do all the right things and wait the right amount of time and go back to rechecked, pregnancies CAN happen!

To read our full story, please go HERE to the original blog post that I wrote almost three years ago!

Stay tuned for more stories in the next week about my get-away trip with my man.  And what I wish we could have talked more about on the show!

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