Busy Bees

We had a pretty great long weekend in our house.  We actually had an extension of the weekend as my kids also had Friday off.  My girls even had 4 days free of practice too, which was awesome.  We didn’t have anything standing in our way of doing whatever we wanted. I feel like we got so much accomplished in those 4 days and we had some good quality family time in there as well.  Those times are rare in this household.  There is always something going on and we are always stuck planning around our obligations. It certainly can get overwhelming at times when we go weeks on end without a break.  Exhaustion sets in quickly during the school year, and I sometimes question why we do this to ourselves.  It was so nice to have the freedom to do whatever this weekend, and I would love to have more of it.  If we wanted to rest, we rested. If we wanted to watch a movie, we watched a movie. If we wanted to accomplish a task that had been put to the side, we did it.  It was great.  

It is times like this when I wish we weren’t so involved, but, then again, I am thankful that we are a busy family.  I am thankful that we have the ability to do so many things.  Yes, driving back and forth to practices all afternoon and evening every day gets old.  Trying to plan time to cook dinner when I’m not home long enough at a reasonable hour to actually make a meal start to finish is difficult and forces us to eat fast food way more than I care to admit. Traveling to competitions weekend after weekend, sometimes causing us to split off into two different directions, is exhausting.  Giving up my free time hour after hour to volunteer for each team is tough.  Spending hours hunched over a kid sitting on the floor while curling, braiding, teasing, bun making, and redoing hair makes my back hurt just thinking about it. Never really getting to talk to my kids except in the car is sad sometimes.  Juggling our work schedules can also be really difficult.  I cannot tell you how many times I am working while driving or sitting in a parking lot waiting for one of my kids to get out of practice. Many of these blog posts start with me dictating notes into my phone from my car.  Part of the reason I stopped teaching full time was so that I could accommodate this crazy life.  Finding time to schedule appointments around practice, school, and work schedules is nearly impossible. We have a LOT of appointments with all of our medical issues, too.  I honestly could go on and on about the sacrifices we make on a daily basis and the craziness of our busy schedules.  

I can sit here right now and tell you that despite all of the sacrifices we make to keep up with this busy life, I would do it all over again a million times.  The benefits of it all and the joy it all brings to our lives are ones that we wouldn’t trade for anything else.  It has all shaped my kids into these incredible young ladies who know the value of hard work and commitment. They know what it takes to get what they want out of life and they know that sacrifice is part of that.  I personally get immense joy out of watching them do the things they love. The people we have met along the way have brought such value to our lives and we have made lifelong friends.  We have gotten to go to some cool places and see incredible things as part of all of that travel.  We know the value of time spent together and we try to make the most of it when we have it.  Yes, I am juggling several smaller jobs now instead of one full time job, but those jobs have been life changing for me and are things that I would choose to do again and again no matter how much it adds to my day.  We are so blessed.  We are blessed that we are able to do all of the things that we do.  We are blessed that we get to teach these lessons of sacrifice to our kids. 

People tell me all the time that it is crazy how busy we are.  They say they don’t know how we keep up with it all and how we manage to make it work.  We do what we have to for our kids and our careers.  We try to stay organized and on top of it all.  For example, my husband just made a spreadsheet with all of the competitions for both girls this year and has mapped out all of the travel plans already.  He handles the competition details and I handle all of the practice details. We both are on the email lists for all of their teams and school stuff so that we both know what is going on and we can back each other up.  He keeps up with his work stuff, and I keep up with mine.  We share it all through our linked calendars on our phones.  As soon as something comes up for any of the 4 of us, it immediately goes into that calendar.  The calendar above actually shows a light month. Once December hits and we are in full competition season, we will run out of space to put in everything. We usually get in the bed at night and go over the schedule for the next day to make sure everything is covered.  Our organization is what holds it all together.  Yes, I long for more completely free weekends like this past one, but I wouldn’t trade anything to get them. I love our crazy life, and I love everything we do.  Being busy is just who we are as a family.  It is in our nature, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Bring it all on and let’s go!

Anchored and Busy,

One Bad Seed ≠ A Bad Bunch

Last night was my youngest daughter’s back to school night at her middle school.  First, I will say that it was way too long.  It lasted 2.5 hours! It started with the typical PTA meeting (which was surprisingly short), and then went into the parents following our child’s schedule so we could meet all of their teachers.  I get that it takes time to do that, and I am not sure how they could have made it go any faster.  It was just really long, and I certainly didn’t expect to be gone that long as I had other things to do once I got home.  Anyway, that’s not the point. What I really want to say, though, is that there really are some great teachers and administrators out there.  As a teacher myself, I know that teachers often get a bad rap because of the one or two bad seeds out there.  We hear it all the time and see it all over social media every day. Don’t get me wrong; there are some people that should not be teaching or making an impression on our kids.  I have worked with some of them and my kids have had some of them. Unfortunately, those few bad seeds cause us all to be lumped together in a bunch as all terrible.  The thing is, I have also worked with some of the best teachers on the planet, and they far outnumber the bad.  These teachers spend day in and day out thinking about their students and how they can help them learn right where they are.  They are planning differentiation activities to meet the needs of all the learners in their rooms.  They have unconditional love for their students.  They take on their students’ burdens as their own. They spend hundreds and thousands of dollars of their own money making their class better.  They spend countless, unpaid hours developing the perfect lesson plans because they long for their students to succeed.  I know this not only because I have seen it but because I was also one of them.  I lived and breathed for my students, often to the detriment to my own family.  This is why I decided to step away from the classroom for a while after 17 years.  I needed a break.  It wasn’t because I didn’t love what I was doing or because I didn’t love every single one of my students over the years.  It was because it was killing me.  I could not continue to devote all I had to my students and completely forget about taking care of my family and myself.  This is the case for most teachers.  We burn out because we give it all to our classes.  We give and give until we can’t give anything else all while being belittled on social media and by parents of our students.  The sad thing is that most teachers can’t afford to take a break from the classroom like I have and will continue to give beyond their capacity for the good of their students. I once read a quote by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk that said, “A good teacher is like a candle—It consumes itself to light the way for others.” I thought that was pretty profound and absolutely true.    

I listened to teacher after teacher last night describe their passion for teaching and their students. I am confident that every single one of them will go above and beyond for my child with very little thanks or acknowledgement.  I know they will put their own families on the back burner so that they can give their all to their class full of students.  Good teachers exist.  Exceptional teachers exist.  They are out there fighting tooth and nail for your kids.  Pray for them.  Pray for your school.  Pray for the students.  Thank your child’s teachers and administrators.  Spoil them whenever you can.  Make them feel important.  For goodness sakes, don’t bash them on social media.  Don’t lump them all into the bad seed category.  Try to be understanding and trust them.  I promise you 90% of them have your child’s best interests at heart, and they know what they are doing.  Let them do their job.  Don’t question every little thing they do.  Instead let them know that you support them and will back them up at home.  That is all we want.

I shared this video on my Facebook feed 4 years ago. It still rings true today. I love the message these teachers are portraying. While there are bad seeds out there and there are many flaws with our schools, most teachers I know give everything they have to make a difference in our kids’ lives. I hate seeing comments on news stories about rare, terrible incidents lumping all teachers into a bad light. It simply isn’t true. Instead of adding your own negative comment, go out today and thank a teacher. Thank him or her for making a difference and devoting everything to your child’s success. Trust me, those two little words of “thank you” will mean the world to him or her.

Anchored,

Defeat is NOT an Option

You may have noticed that I didn’t post my usual style/fashion post yesterday.  That was because I was at the hospital most of the day with my youngest daughter.  She was having an endoscopy to check the status of her disease.  She has a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE).  Basically, certain foods trigger an allergic response in her esophagus that causes a buildup of eosinophils (white blood cells). This build up can cause irreversible damage to her esophagus, which can lead to pain, choking, vomiting, and a number of other issues.  You can read more in depth about her journey here.  Anyway, she has had to have at least one endoscopy each year since she was 4 years old as it is the only way to know how her medicines are working and if she can tolerate certain foods.  Every time she has to get one of these done, it is hard but it is a normal part of her life. My husband was able to come with us yesterday for the first time ever. Seeing his reaction to the whole thing, made me realize that I have become desensitized to these procedures.  I thought that my daughter had too as she is typically calm, cool, and collected on these days telling the nurses what to do. Yesterday was different for her, though. I don’t know if it was because her dad was there for the first time or that she is older and more aware of what is happening or what.  She was more nervous yesterday than I have ever seen her. She wouldn’t talk to the nurses or doctors and she was very combative with me, which is a typical symptom of her anxiety.  I know that there are kids who suffer through way more than what we have to deal with. I know that we are lucky because it could be so much worse.  However, no child should ever have to suffer through this being their norm.  It’s not fair.

For the past several years, her EOE has been in what they call remission.  It has been controlled by her medications and diet.  We expected yesterday to be the same because she hasn’t experienced any symptoms.  However, that was not the case.  The doctor saw what she believed to be evidence of the disease in the lower part of my daughter’s esophagus.  We won’t know for sure until the biopsies come back, but I have a feeling I already know what it will say.  The doctor also found “white spots” in her small intestines, which could mean multiple things or nothing at all.  Of course my mind immediately went to all the what-ifs and worrying about what all of it could mean.  It’s scary. I thought that worrying about her growth and the eating disorder that came as a result of this disease was hard enough.  Those things could get even worse based on the results of the biopsies.  I immediately jumped to the worse case scenario. I am thankful that my husband is able to keep a level head about this and encourages me not to go there, but it is really hard not to.  It is like the hits just keep on coming with this kid.  She just can’t seem to catch a break, and it breaks my heart for her.   

Now that I have had a little time to reflect after the initial blow yesterday, I know that I just have to pray and give it all to God.  He created her this way and he has a plan for her.   We may not know what that plan is or even understand it, but I know that he is holding her in his arms.  While my brain still tries to go to all the bad, I have to keep reminding myself that God is in control.  She may be the smallest kid her age, but she is one of the strongest (and strong-willed) kids I know.  No matter what the future holds for her, she will overcome it because she is beautiful, brave, courageous, and so much more.  She is more than this disease. It doesn’t define her.  It just makes her story a little more interesting.  This may be another bump in the long road that we have been stuck on, but we will not let it defeat us.   One day there will be a fork in that road, and we will be able to move to a new path. It will be a good path, a path that is full of happiness and good health.   No matter what bumps lie ahead or how many mountains we have to climb, we will never give up.  We will keep climbing with grace.  We will NOT be defeated. 

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: Top 5

Today we are having our first taste of fall.  It is a cool 67 degrees out right now and the high is only expected to be around 70. You guys know that I love the cooler temps.  Unfortunately, it is also rainy out, so it is kind of dark and gloomy.  It looks like the perfect day for me to curl up on the couch and finish reading our book club book for this month. Today for my Friday Favorites, I am sharing 5 things that I am loving right now. Check them out! 

1. Essie Nail Polish-S’ll Vous Play

If you have been reading this blog for a while or know me well, you know that I despise glitter. I absolutely cannot stand it.  I hate how it gets everywhere and then you can’t get rid of it ever.  It seems to multiply.  However, I do like the look of glittery things.  As long as it is contained like in my new favorite nail polish color.  I love this color for several reasons. One is that it is pretty neutral color. I would describe it as a light pink color with a little shimmer.  It can go with most things I wear without majorly clashing.  It is subtle, which I really like too. Surprisingly, I really do like that is has a little sparkle to it.  

2. Portable Straw

I don’t know about where you live, but many restaurants around here these days are doing away with straws altogether.  I get he reasoning behind it.  My youngest will tell you straight up how bad straws are for the sea turtles and we need to save them.  However, I am a germ-a-phobe and have a serious issue with drinking out of a glass or paper cup from restaurants without a straw.  I don’t want to put my mouth where someone else that I don’t know has put their mouth.  It really grosses me out.  This has become a huge dilemma for me now that so many places don’t have them.  My solution is this nifty travel straw that folds up nicely into this little case and fits right in my purse.  Anytime I am out and there is no straw, I can just pull out my own to use.  Then when I am ready to leave, I dry it off with a napkin and fold it back into the case to wash later. 

3. Pampered Chef Mix ‘n Chop

I have had this Pampered Chef tool for years, and I use it multiple times a week to chop and mix food.  It is really great when cooking ground beef or ground turkey.  It helps me to separate it into smaller pieces.  I love Pampered Chef products as a whole, but this is definitely one of my favorites that gets used the most. 

4. One Bars

A friend introduced these protein bars to me several months ago, and I really like them.  I have tried so many different bars over the years and have never found one that I really liked and had really given up trying new ones.  I am kind of a picky eater, so finding a bar for me to eat on the go or when I need a boost has been difficult until now.  I really do like these One Bars.  There are so many different flavors, and I haven’t even tried them all yet.  In fact I just ordered a variety pack from Amazon the other day so I could try some more flavors.  My current favorite is Birthday Cake followed by Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough as a close second. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake is also pretty good.   Some of the other flavors include Lemon Cake, Maple Glazed Doughnut, Salted Carmel, Chocolate Brownie, Almond Bliss, Cinnamon Roll, Blueberry Cobbler, Peanut Butter Pie, Cookie ‘n Crème, and Red Velvet Cake. I love that there is such a huge variety because it keeps me from getting tired of them.  Each bar contains 20 grams of protein and only 1 gram of sugar. Oh, and they are also gluten free!

5. Jogger Sweatpants

These joggers are super comfortable, affordable, and cute. They are perfect for lounging around the house for days like today when it is dark, rainy, and cool outside.    

Anchored,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Will the Worry Ever End?

Well, it is official. Summer is over at our house as my kids head back to school today.  I now have a sophomore in high school and a brand new middle schooler. How is that even possible? I am a little nervous about them both this morning.  My oldest got her schedule on Monday and is missing a class.  We aren’t sure what is going on with that, as no one will get back to us on it. Hopefully when she gets there today it will all be figured out. Otherwise, I have no idea what she will do for first block, and I might have to go up there and stir some people up to get it figured out.  She is so painfully shy that she won’t do much to get it figured out on her own. I think I am more nervous for my middle schooler, though.  It will be her first year of changing classes in a huge school with all new friends.   Her elementary school feeds into 2 different middle schools, and her closest friends all ended up at the other school.  The one friend she does have at her school isn’t in any of her classes.  She was pretty bummed about that, too.  This is my kid with anxiety, and I can tell that she is super nervous about the day.  She practically cried over just getting her picture made this morning all while fussing about it.  That is how I know that she is nervous.  She gets very argumentative with me and yells for no reason when she is anxious.  She doesn’t want to think about what lies ahead today.  She is the one that had the hardest time with our move last year.  It was hard enough for her to go to a new school last year with no friends, and now she is practically doing it all over again a year later.  I hate it for her.  I know how it feels to be the new kid and not know anyone.  I pray that it all goes well and that there is plenty of help to get her where she needs to be for each block and that she finds a friend.  I am also super worried about her with lunch. As I have shared before, she has a condition called Eosinaphillic Esophagitis, which has led her to also have an eating disorder in conjunction with the anxiety.  She has a 504 Plan in place at school that allows some accommodations for her during lunch.  However, she is so adamant about not being “different” and not wanting special accommodations that make her stand out, that we are trying things out different this year.  I am scared to death that she isn’t going to eat.  If she starts loosing weight, there will be disastrous consequences that I don’t even want to think about.  I made her promise to me this morning in the car before she got out that she would eat her whole lunch.  I told her I needed her to prove to me that she can do it on her own.  I sure hope she can. 

Is there ever a time when I won’t worry about my kids, especially the little one? I think I have worried about her every single day since she was born.  It is so hard to be a mom, period.  We as moms naturally worry about our kids, but when you have one that has special needs, that worry gets ramped up significantly.  There is no way to really describe it accurately. The worry never leaves you.  It is constantly on your mind.  You will never truly know what I mean unless you have a child with special needs and experience it for yourself.  It’s hard.  I wish there was a way to turn it off and make it go away.  I wish I could trust that she will be ok, but I just can’t. I can’t let it go.  Yes, I worry about my oldest, but it isn’t something that is constantly on my mind like the other one.  It’s different.  With her, I worry about things like getting into college, grades, and what classes she will take.  With my youngest I worry about growth and development, basic survival, and mental stability on top of the normal mom worries.  The two just don’t compare.  I really just never ends.  It is like three little birds sitting on my shoulder all the time.  The blue bird is telling me over and over again that she’s not okay.  The red bird is saying that I need to be doing more to help her because I am failing miserably. The brown one is telling me to stop and let it go because she will figure it out on her own. It’s like a war going on inside my head at all times, and the blue and red always win out over the brown bird.  I guess it is just part of being a mom. Life will continue to go on. I will continue to worry. I will keep holding out hope that the worry will go away one day or at least decrease.

Anchored and Worried,

Haircuts are for the Birds!

Both of my daughters have really long hair, and I can’t stand it. It isn’t because I don’t like long hair.  Instead it is because neither of them takes good care of their hair, it always looks like a stringy mess, and I’m the one who has to deal with it for competitions. My oldest pretty much keeps hers in a ponytail 90% of the time anyway, so what is the point of having it so long? My youngest daughter’s hair is so bad that you can barely get a brush through it most days.  I swear I will fight through brushing it to get through all the tangles only to have it a tangled mess again within 5 minutes.   It drives me nuts. Neither of them like getting their hair cut either and actually only get their hair cut about twice a year when I have to force them to go. Today was one of those days.  You would have thought that I was making the lady shave my youngest daughter’s head by the way she was acting. She did not want anything cut from her hair.  She won’t listen to anything I have to say about how your hair needs to be cut to remain healthy and for it to grow.  The stylist even tried telling her the same thing, but my daughter wasn’t having any of it. Thankfully, my oldest has learned to just accept it and allow hers to be trimmed.  That’s the thing, too. I was only forcing them to have a trim.  It wasn’t like they were cutting 6 inches of their hair off.  I think both of them ended up getting about 2 inches cut off.  You honestly can’t even tell that they even got a haircut, but my youngest was furious.  She was texting me the entire time that her hair was being cut saying that it was too short now. As we walked to the car afterward, she said it was too much and that her hair was now ugly.   Her friend that was with us told her that you couldn’t even tell that she got it cut. My child just fussed at her friend saying that she was only saying that because I told her to, which I did not do. You really can’t tell.  Her hair is still ridiculously long, and I will still have to fight the tangles.  

Why do simple things like a haircut have to be so difficult? Where did I go wrong with that? I sure wish I knew the answer.  I think they must have gotten it from their father. I seem to remember stories of him refusing to get his hair cut as a child and pictures of him with longer hair. LOL! We all know that it didn’t come from me because I have shared the horrible pictures of me with the short, permed hair forced on me as a child!!!  I still have nightmares about it. Ha ha! At least I am not forcing them to get a perm! No matter where it came from or wherever we went wrong, my kids have to get their hair trimmed every now and then.  It is just a fact of life.  I feel like it will continue to be a fight, at least with the youngest, for years to come.  Maybe one day we will see eye to eye, but I doubt it! Until then, I will continue to drag the youngest kicking and screaming to the salon, and I will continue to pull half of her hair out trying to detangle it every day. Someone please tell me that I am not alone in this and that it is worth the fight! I may loose my mind!  

Anchored,

Fashion Finds: Jewelry

I love jewelry.  I have so much that it takes some time in the morning to choose what I am going to wear each day.  It is a very rare occasion that you will see me without any jewelry on.  I always have on at least earrings and my wedding rings, but I will usually add another ring to my right hand too.  Today, I picked some really cute pieces from my favorite stores. Like with clothes, I am always looking for inexpensive things to add to my wardrobe so all of these pieces are very affordable.  Jewelry is a great way to update an outfit or to take it to the next level.

Loft Outlet

Rafia Earrings/Hammered Bracelet/Disk Necklace

Target

Rose Quartz Earrings/Charm Bracelet/Tassel Necklace/Pearl Ring

J. Crew Outlet

Tortoise Earrings/Cuff Bracelet/Sunburst Necklace

Trades of Hope

Lotus Earrings/Silver Identity Bracelet/Ravi Necklace/Celestial Ring

Kohl’s

Linear Drop Earrings/Marquise Bracelet/Lariat Necklace/Twist Cuff Ring

Amazon

Tassel Earring Set/Alex and Ani Bracelet/Tassel Necklace/Wide Band Ring

How fun are all of these? Aren’t they great? Tassels are really in right now, and I love those earrings from Amazon. They come in a set of 8, which gives you so many options! Gold is also making a comeback and is very trendy, so don’t be afraid of it. The Sunburst Necklace from J. Crew and the Ravi Necklace from Trades of Hope are bold statement pieces that will add a little pizzaz to any outfit. It is all just so fun! Happy shopping!

Anchored,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Friday Favorites: Blue Light Blocking Glasses

I think it has been well established by now that I suffer from migraines and have for years.  I take two different medications daily to help and sometimes even that doesn’t work.   I have tried many different things to help prevent me from getting them. Some of those things work well, some work for a while and then quit working, and some don’t work at all.  It is a constant trial and error thing with me to try to get relief.  I also have several triggers that will bring on a migraine, and I do my best to avoid those triggers. One of those triggers is light. Bright lights really bother me. They make my eyes hurt and feel strained, and I start to get a headache right behind my eyes. When I was a teacher, I used these awesome florescent light filter pads that covered the overhead lights and cast a soft blue light throughout the room.  Many of my students with autism also had sensitivities to light so this helped them and me.  Score! Other teachers would come hang in my room all the time because it was so peaceful. When I am at home, I often don’t turn the lights on.  I would rather sit in the dark than to have the blaring lights on. We also very rarely use our overhead lighting and use lamps with soft lights instead.  

Blue Light Blocking Glasses/Earrings/Necklace

The light from screens bothers me too.  My husband always gets annoyed when he uses my phone because I have the screen brightness turned down really low. He swears he can’t see anything on my phone.  I do the same thing with my computer and turn the brightness down low.  Otherwise the screen really bothers me.  I don’t know why, but it does.  This brings me to one of my favorite things.  I decided to order a pair of blue light blocking glasses several months ago to see if that would help with my migraines.  I had read a few articles from people saying that it helped them.  Since I already knew the screen brightness bothered me and I am on my phone and computer most of the day, I thought maybe it would help me. I chose a decent looking pair from Amazon that had good reviews and ordered them.  I know you are thinking that I already wear glasses so how could this possibly work? Well, I wear glasses because I am nearsighted.  I can read and see things up close just fine. It is distance that I have a problem with.  I don’t really need glasses to see my computer or phone.  I can totally see fine with just the blue light blocking glasses on to do my work.  Maybe it is all psychological, but they do seem to help me.  My eyes don’t feel as strained when I wear them, and I don’t feel the headache behind my eyes as often as I was.  Blue light blocking glasses were originally created to be used before bedtime to help with sleep.  I do think they help with that too, but I think that wearing them during the day when I am on my computer and phone a lot helps too.  If you suffer from migraines and are on your phone or computer a lot, I would highly recommend that you try them.  Go with the inexpensive ones on Amazon versus the higher priced ones on Instagram.  They work just fine for a fraction of the cost. 

Cole Hann Studio Grand Purple Horn Glasses (CH5019) /Earrings/Necklace

Now, recently I went to the eye doctor for my annual checkup and needed a new prescription because my vision had gotten worse seeing at a distance.  My close-up vision is still perfectly fine.  Anyway, I needed a new pair of glasses.  When I was ordering my new pair, the lady asked if I wanted the blue light blocking lenses.  I had no idea that this was now an option for my regular glasses.  Of course I said yes so I won’t have to change my glasses out several times a day.  The only drawback to these though, is when pictures are taken of me or I take a selfie. My lenses now have a purple tint to them in pictures unless I find the right angle.  I guess it is worth the sacrifice of trying to get great pictures in order to not get as many migraines!

Anchored,

Bring on the BTS Photos!

I keep seeing all of the back to school pictures all over my Facebook and Instagram feeds over the past couple of weeks.  It is hard to believe that summer is ending.  My kiddos head back at the end of next week, so we have just a few more days of summer.  I know that some get annoyed by all of the back to school photos filling their social media feeds, but I have to say that I love them.  Sometimes it is the only way I get to see my friends’ children.  I love looking at them and seeing my friends’ faces reflected in their kiddos’ faces. It takes me back to memories of days gone by. I also love seeing how the kids are growing.  So much changes in a child in the span of a year as they grow and change.  It’s incredible.  I look at previous first day of school pictures of my own kids as they pop up in my Facebook memories and reflect over how much they have changed. You don’t always notice the change when you are living life with them day in and day out.  Then when you actually compare two pictures side by side that are a year apart, you start to see all the differences.  I love reflecting over the previous year and all the things that we did together and all the things they have accomplished. Those BTS pictures give me the joy of memories, so I say bring them on!

Kids grow up so fast. I have been thinking about my oldest a lot lately as we get ready to enter a new school year.  She only has 3 more years before she graduates and moves on. It is hard to believe that the little 4 lb. 8 oz. baby that entered my world all those years ago is now this young woman who is almost as tall as I am.  I have watched her grow up a lot, especially over the past 3 or 4 months. I’m not talking about height, although I swear she grows an inch a week. I’m talking about in maturity.  She has always been the goofy, clueless blond who is slightly immature for her age.  In fact, my husband and I worry all the time about how in the world she will handle the real world on her own.  However, she has given me a little hope over the past few months as I have finally seen her start to mature and take some responsibility for herself.  Don’t get me wrong, she is still the goofy immature kid who loves to play up her cluelessness with her friends as they shake their heads and laugh at her, but I see her changing.  I see her growing.  I have a glimmer of hope that she is going to be ok when she leaves the nest. No, I am not ready for it by any means, but I know it is coming.  I know that there are only 3 more back to school photos to post online for the world to see.  It makes me sad.  I truly cannot imagine letting her go, and it hurts my heart to even think about it. All of the back to school photos remind me that the end is near.  

Parents, I urge you to take those pictures year after year even if your teen begs you not to or your kindergartner won’t stand still. Display them proudly for all the world to see. One day soon, you aren’t going to have a BTS photo to take anymore, but I can promise you those memories of years past are going to come up year after year in your Facebook feed.  You are going to be thankful that you have them as you look at them reflecting on old memories.  You are going to remember how much they have grown and changed. You are going to miss those grubby little faces. Hold on to that moment forever, and take the darn picture!

Anchored,

Becoming the G.O.A.T.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably seen post after post in your social media feed recently about the great Simone Biles.  I assume that it is probably more in my newsfeed than many of yours because we are a part of the gymnastics world, but I am pretty sure that there are few people in the US that don’t know who she is.  She is considered the greatest gymnast of all time (the G.O.A.T), and I would whole-heartedly agree.  She, in fact, has not lost an All-Around title since 2013! The things that she is able to do with her body are unheard of.  This past weekend she made history again as she was crowned with the gold at the US National Championships.  She landed two skills (one on floor and one beam dismount) that have never before been done in competition. I won’t get into the technicalities of what those skills are because most of you wouldn’t know what I was talking about.  Let’s just say that is was incredible to watch. It is like she is literally flying in the air.  

Simone Biles is one powerful female! I don’t just mean that in reference to strength, either. (Have you seen her muscles, though? Wow!) I mean that she is powerful also in who she is as a person and as a role model for young girls everywhere.  I would even go as far as saying that she is a role model for me, and we can all learn something from her.  She is the picture perfect example of what hard work and dedication looks like.  I know what it takes it be a gymnast of her caliber and it is not easy by any means. It takes time, skill, determination, courage, mental grit, and more work than you could ever imagine.  

Hard Work

I can promise you that she spends hours at the gym every day.  She will work a particular skill over and over again until her brain and muscle memory can take over and she can do it without effort.  She will spend nights awake running the skill through her brain thinking of how to make it better.  I can bet you that she is also a perfectionist.  She will continue to push through until she can’t even move to get a particular skill just right.  It could take years of working a skill before it is perfected to the level that she feels she can perform it. It takes more blood, sweat, and tears than you can imagine. Am I willing to put in that level of work to reach my dreams? Until about a year ago, my answer would have been no.   Now I am more aware of what it takes to get to where I want to be.  I know what I want and I am finally willing to put in the work it takes to get me there.  I am ready to give it all I’ve got.  

Commitment

Simone’s body is shredded day after day.  As a gymnast, something ALWAYS hurts.  The human body isn’t made to do the things she makes it do. She is forced to fight through the pain every time she steps into a gym, yet she gets up every day and does it again and again for hours on end.   That kind of dedication prevents you from leading a normal life.  It means missing out on big things, and it means that you spend a lot of time to yourself.  She knows what it takes and she goes for it. She is willing to give up everything else to reach it. She does it because she wants to.  It is her dream. No one is forcing her to do that to herself.  She wants it with every fiber of her being. What would it look like if we all got up each day with that level of commitment to go after our dreams?  I’m not sure I can imagine it.  I can tell you right now, that I don’t wake up that way every day. I would say that I don’t wake up that way most days.  It is hard to fight through sometimes, and it is easy to give up.  I do it time and time again. I am slowly learning what commitment really means and what it takes to really go for it. 

Mental Grit

Maybe I don’t want to reach my dreams as bad as she does. Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I’m scared.  Maybe I don’t have what it takes. Maybe I’m not good enough.  That is where the mental grit comes in.  I don’t know Simone Biles personally, but I can assure you that her mental grit is strong. What do I mean by mental grit? It is perseverance, strength, passion, toughness, resiliency, and courage all rolled into one.  It is the ability to overcome obstacles and failures.  It is getting back up on the horse after it has thrown you off.  It is standing up for yourself against your own self-doubt.  It is facing your fears.  It is ignoring every single person who says you can’t. It is the ability to tune out all distractions.  It is pursuing your dreams all day, every day without ceasing.  It is never giving up.  Can you imagine it? Can you imagine being that strong mentally? My mental grit is weak, but I am working on it.  I am working to turn away from my own self-doubt. I am trying to make myself tougher. I am attempting to retrain my brain. I am worthy of reaching my dreams, and I have to keep telling myself over and over again.

Simone Biles is the G.O.A.T. and she deserves that title.  I am not saying that we all have to be like her.  I am saying that we are all capable of great things. We are capable of reaching our dreams however big or small they may be.  We can all follow her example and achieve success.  Just like she once said, “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.” Be your own first. Stand out for who you are.  I know I am not likely to reach the status of G.O.A.T like her, but I can be successful at reaching my dreams if I put in the work, if I am committed, and if I have mental grit.  I can be the first Allison Clark. You can be the first you. Are you ready, willing, and able? The answer has to be yes if you really want to go for it. Let’s do this!

Anchored,