#MomLife

You know how people always say that moms put their family before themselves all the time? Well, I am a prime example of that.  Whenever we move, I immediately start researching and asking around to find doctors for my girls.  I get them in right away to see a pediatrician and then get all the specialists set up for my youngest.  I find them a dentist, orthodontist, and any other medical professional that they need within a month or two of our move.  Then life gets busy, and I never set up those things for myself until it becomes a necessity to get my medications refilled. There have even been times that I went months without my migraine medication and was miserable just because I just didn’t make the time to get myself set up with a new doctor.  Every single time we have moved, it has taken many months before I find new doctors for myself.  I just don’t make myself a priority.  Once I get an established physician, I am consistent in going and making appointments.  It is just that initial appointment that always gets pushed aside.   We moved here a little over 2 years ago, and I just went to the dentist for the first time.  Keep in mind that I am usually religious about going to the dentist every 6 months. While it should have been a priority, it just wasn’t unfortunately.  I really am ashamed to say that it took me that long to go.  I can assure you that now that I have broken the ice, I will go every six months religiously…until we move again. 

Putting myself last is a big part of why it takes me so long to establish doctors, dentists, and such for me.  I think another part of it is the fear of finding someone good that I like.  I always do extensive research before I pick someone to try.  I’m a little weird about it, I guess. I have been looking at dentists for a while before I finally pulled the trigger and made the appointment.  I just don’t like new and unknown, and I am definitely not good with change.  It’s even sadder that one of my few friends here is actually a dentist and would have gladly seen me, but I couldn’t make myself make an appointment with her.   I was afraid of it being too weird.  It’s not like I have a fear of the dentist like some people. I really don’t.  I’ve never even had a bad experience before.   Although, I do have to admit that I once bit my dental hygienist when she was inserting that tray of nasty fluoride like back in the day, BUT I was little and that hygienist was my aunt.  LOL! Oh, and the sound of them scraping plaque off my teeth is a bit like nails on a chalkboard for me, but other than that I have no problems going to see a dentist.  I have good teeth and have never had a cavity in my life. The biggest dental work I have ever had was having my wisdom teeth removed and having braces.  It really is all about not making myself a priority and not liking change.  

I finally had my dentist appointment yesterday, and everything went totally fine as expected.  I liked both the hygienist and the dentist, and it was so dumb that I waited so long.  The worst part was trying to understand what they were saying to me through their multiple layers of protective gear.  It was really hard to hear them.  Again, there were no cavities, and they were impressed with how well my teeth looked considering it had been 2 years since I had a cleaning.  I just got lucky with good teeth genes. I do have some receding gum lines because I am aggressive brusher. I do better about that when I am concentrating, but I’m usually not paying attention when I brush my teeth. They also recommended an upper bite guard which I’m not thrilled about because I clench my teeth at night. Overall, though, it was a great appointment and one that I should not have put off for so long.  

I would like to say that I have learned my lesson and will do better the next time we move, but that would likely be a lie.  I know myself too well and am certain that it will be a struggle for me again next time. It’s just the life of a mom who doesn’t make herself a priority and also doesn’t like change. 

Anchored and Rambling,

Check Yourself

I am about to get real personal today. It may be a little long, so strap in.  I shared a small portion of this on my personal Facebook page yesterday and figured it was time to share it here too.  You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as consistently as I used to over the last 3 or 4 months.  Part of that reason was due to a lack of things to write about since my life has been pretty boring with social distancing.  The other part of that was due to a personal battle I was facing.  Back at the beginning of the pandemic, I had felt a lump in my breast.  It was not something that was unusual for me.  I found my first lump about 5 years ago.  That first time I felt one, I freaked out.  It scared me to death.  I went to the doctor right away and was sent for my very first mammogram.  It turned out to be just a simple, fluid-filled cyst that I was told was nothing to worry about.  They said it would likely go away on its own.  I had another mammogram 6 months later, and it was gone.  About 6 months later, I felt another lump on the other side.  I again went to the doctor right away and had a mammogram (my 3rd in a year).  This time, they told me that not only did I have the one I felt, but I also had 7 others that I couldn’t feel.  I was again told that they were just simple, fluid-filled cysts and that I was obviously prone to them.  I was just told to take Vitamin E because it had been known to help with breast tissue.   From then on, I was having mammograms pretty regularly.  Each time, they would see some cysts had gone away and new ones had appeared.  It was just becoming a normal part of my life.  

When I felt the newest lump back in March, I didn’t immediately rush to the doctor.  We were in the beginning of the pandemic and everything was shutting down.  I assumed that it was another simple cyst like all the others and that there was no need for me to rush to the doctor and risk getting sick.   It wasn’t until June when some things had started to open back up and I needed refills on some of my medications that I saw my doctor and told her about the newest lump.  Of course, she sent me for another mammogram just to make sure, thinking it was likely the same as usual.   It was another 2 weeks before I could get the mammogram because I had to wait for the records from my previous mammograms to get here from my doctor in Georgia.  I had not yet had a mammogram since we moved.  In my world, nothing is ever simple, and they had a very difficult time getting my records which is a whole other story in itself. Anyway, I finally got the records after multiple phone calls and was able to get the appointment scheduled.  Now, when you have a mammogram, it is typically followed by an ultrasound.  In my previous instances, the ultrasound tech would tell me where and how many cysts had been found and reassured me right away that they were nothing.  Well, this time was different.  As she was doing the ultrasound, she really wasn’t saying much.  I figured it was because we both had masks on, and it was difficult to understand each other.  Then she told me to stay right there and she would be back with the radiologist.  I thought that was odd because I usually don’t see the radiologist.  In the past, the tech told me what she saw to ease my mind, and then the radiologist would send a report to my doctor and I would get a call confirming what the tech had told me.  The radiologist came in and introduced himself and then instructed the tech to continue with the ultrasound because he wanted to see it for himself.  At this point I was starting the sweat.  This was NOT normal.  When they were done, he asked me to sit up.  He told me that I had several simple cysts in both breasts like usual but that the one that I had felt was different.  He told me that it looked much more complex.  There were none of the assurances that I normally get that everything was ok.  I could literally feel my heart pounding out of my chest as he was talking.  I was trying to pay attention and process all that he was saying, all while trying not to cry or panic in front of them.  He told me that I needed to schedule an appointment to come back the next week to have a needle biopsy.  I held it together long enough to get dressed, schedule the appointment, walk back to my car, and call my husband.  He tried to assure me that everything was going to be ok and that they were likely just taking precautions, but the fear had already set in.  

That next week, I went back for the needle biopsy.  The radiologist cut a tiny slit in my skin. Then using an ultrasound as a guide, inserted a large needle through the slit and into the mass.  It wasn’t painful per se.  It was more just very uncomfortable.  He instructed a tech to push a button and the needle sucked a portion of the mass out through a tube.  He repeated this a couple of times moving the needle around.  Then he placed a “clip” near the mass which he said would show up in future mammograms, so they knew that they had done a biopsy of that particular mass before.  After tapping me up, he told me that my doctor should call me with the results in a couple of days.  The wait was excruciating.  I wasn’t sleeping and was so worried about it all.  When I hadn’t heard from my doctor after about a week, I finally called her to see if she had the results.  It turned out that they had switched systems and my results had been lost in the shuffle.  My doctor had never seen the results.  These things seriously only happen to me! Anyway, after eventually locating the results, I was told by my doctor’s nurse that my doctor would review them right away and call me back.  About 30 minutes later, my doctor called.  She was very matter of fact and told me that the biopsy results were ultimately inconclusive, but that it was possibly a phyllodes tumor.  She didn’t give any other details or information, but I felt like there was a sense of urgency in her voice.  She said I needed to see a breast surgeon right away, and that her nurse would call me back in a bit with an appointment.  Of course, I hung up and immediately began googling what she said.  It took me straight to the American Cancer Society page, and I freaked out.  I called my husband in tears.  I don’t think I will ever forget that moment and the pure terror that was racing through me.

I got those results on a Friday and four days later, my husband and I were sitting in an office at the Breast Cancer Center waiting to see the surgeon.  I was a nervous wreck.  I think the surgeon could see the pure terror on my face even through my mask when she walked in the room.  She immediately started reassuring me that I was going to be fine and that the chances of it being malignant were very small.  Wouldn’t it have been nice if my regular doctor had mentioned that little fact? She then began to talk to us about all the possibilities of what it could be and my options as she was furiously writing it all down for me.  I do want to go on record saying how amazing she has been throughout the whole process.  Anyway, she said that the tumor had to be removed to not only to confirm what it really was but also because we just needed to get rid of it.  She even drew diagrams for us to explain the whole process. She did tell me that I had to have a Magseed placed before the surgery, which was a simple procedure where they placed these tiny little seed-like things in or around the tumor to help guide her to the right location when she did the surgery.   I left her office feeling a little reassured and with an appointment for the Magseed placement in a week and a lumpectomy three weeks later. Even though she told me that there was only a small chance it was malignant, I still worried so much over those next three weeks.  Even little things would make me burst into tears.  I am not sure I have ever felt so afraid in my life.  

I had the surgery on August 19.  My surgeon told my husband that everything went well and that she would call with the results in about a week. However, if we didn’t hear anything, it usually meant that everything was ok. It was the whole no news is good news kind of thing.  I had a follow-up appointment scheduled two weeks later.  The pain following the surgery was way less than I expected, which was good.  I was obviously still worried about the results and I had some insecurities about what I would look like when I healed, but overall, I was doing pretty well.  In true Allison fashion, I never got the call with the results.  I took that to mean that I was ok, and I was just so glad it was all over.  Of course, I was wrong about one thing.  The whole nightmare wasn’t over.  When I went for my post-op appointment, my doctor immediately told me that it was a phyllodes tumor, but it came back benign. I was ok!  I had a brief moment of complete relief before she hit me with the next bit of information.  The results didn’t show clear margins all the way around which meant they didn’t get all of it.  I needed a second surgery to remove more tissue or the tumor was certain to return.  They would go back in through the same scar and take a little bit more.  I had my second surgery on September 16, almost one month after the first one.  This time the bandages stayed on a little longer than the first time, which caused me to have an allergic reaction.  I developed an allergy to adhesive a few years ago and tend to get hives that are extremely itchy when a bandage is left on for any length of time.  I ended up having to remove the bandages myself (they were supposed to fall off on their own), which caused some extreme pain.  The incision was VERY sensitive this time after being cut open twice.  With the large welts from the hives and the sensitivity of the incision, I was miserable for a couple of days.  Only me, right? Thankfully, this time I got good news at my post-op appointment.  They had finally gotten it all and this mess really was finally over.  I will see my surgeon again in March and then will have my next mammogram in June unless I feel another lump before then.  

What I learned through all of this is that life is so precious, and it can change at any moment.  I also learned that I am much stronger than I thought I was.  I cannot imagine what would have happened if things had turned out differently.  Not many people knew what I was going through over the last 4 months because I kept it all in, but I am so grateful to everyone that did know and prayed for me.  It truly was all in God’s hands and he carried me through it each step of the way.  It is only by his grace that things turned out the way that they did.  My heart and prayers go out to everyone that didn’t get the same outcome and have fought or are fighting for their life.  I know that what I went through was very minor in comparison.  Self-checks and mammograms are so important.  Please make sure you are doing them regularly.  No matter what age you are or whether or not you are at risk, you should be doing regular self-exams at home.  They are so easy to do, and they could save your life.  If I wasn’t doing them myself, I would never have found that first lump 5 years ago or the ones that followed.  If you are 40+ years old or have a family history of breast cancer, you need to be getting mammograms at least once a year.  Yes, they are uncomfortable and a little painful, but they are all worth it if it saves your life.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we are all reminded of the importance of regular checks, but we don’t need to forget about them the other 11 months of the year.  I cannot stress how important this is.  If you take nothing away from my story than this, please check yourself! 

I am still in the healing phase and am self-conscious of my big scar, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I am ok. I have been truly blessed.  There is no guarantee that this won’t happen again or that the outcome next time would be the same, but I know that God has me in his hands and will carry me through whatever the future holds for me.  

Click here to purchase a Mighty Warrior Bracelet.

Anchored and Well,

Blog-iversary

Wisdom Necklace

It’s my blog-iversary! I have been writing this blog for TWO years now.  Can you believe it? I am honestly proud of myself for sticking with it and continuing to show up here even when I didn’t want to sometimes.  Of course, this year has been like no other and has resulted in days where I just had nothing to write about, or I felt like I was writing the same thing over and over again.  Sometimes I sit here staring at my computer for hours typing sentences and erasing them because I can’t come up with something that I feel is worth sharing.  When you are not going anywhere or doing anything, your life becomes pretty boring.  Those days when I couldn’t complete a post are days that I felt like I let myself down and broke my commitment.  Initially, I was beating myself up for all the days that I didn’t publish something, and I even thought about quitting.  Thankfully, I eventually realized that in the grand scheme of life, it wasn’t that big of a deal if I didn’t post 4 days a week, every week of the year.  No one really cared about that but me, and I was beating myself up for silly reasons.  I also realized that I wasn’t ready to give up on something that has brought me so much joy and has challenged me in ways I never expected.  

Writing this blog has forced me to take a big look inside myself.  I have discovered weaknesses that I need to work on and areas of strength that I didn’t know I had.  It gives me the excuse I need to analyze the person I am and then strive to be a better version of that person every single day.  That is what I want for all of my readers too.  My goal with writing this blog has always been to help women, and helping myself has just been an extra bonus.   I want other women to know they aren’t alone in the world, and I want them to feel better about themselves as a whole.  It is important to be ANCHORED in who you are.  That means standing up for yourself and trusting in the person God created you to be.  While being anchored in who you are, also never stop learning, growing, and challenging yourself PIECE BY PIECE.   I strongly believe that you are never too old to stop growing as a person.  We should always strive to be better than we were the day before.  This blog has allowed me to grow into a person that I am proud of, and I want the same for all of you.   

While my second year of blogging wasn’t all that I wanted it to be, I have continued to show up, pour my heart out, and share some of my passions with all of you. For that, I am proud and so grateful. Thank you to all of you that have consistently shown up to read what little old me has to say.  It means the world to me.  The messages and comments I get are what motivate me to keep going.  If something I write resonates with just one person and helps them to feel like they aren’t alone or helps them to feel better about themselves, then it is all worth it.  Here is to another year of growing and learning and sharing my little world with all of you!  

Anchored for Another Year,

Insecurities

I feel like people often view me as a strong, confident, independent woman; but that couldn’t be farther from reality.  Inside I am really just an insecure mess.  I’m always worried about something. I worry about what others think of me, about the way I look, and about the things I say and do. I am always tearing myself down in my head and second guessing everything I do.  I can certainly put on a good show outwardly so that you would never know what was going on in my brain at the same time. I guess maybe in some ways I am strong and independent, but that is because I have no other choice.  I have to keep it together for everyone else’s sake while crumbling inwardly.  No matter how strong I am, I am equally just as insecure.  Why is it that as women we feel like we have to hide our insecurities?  We all project this perfect life when it is often a lie.  I feel certain that the most secure and powerful women in the world have insecurities as well.  As a society we see insecurity as a weakness, so we just hide it and suffer through it alone. We don’t talk about how we feel about our bodies or about our worries about being a mom, wife, business woman, or whatever else we judge ourselves on.  We hold it all in until it manifests its way into anxiety and sometimes depression.  

More and more women are being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and are taking medications to help manage it.  While I have never been diagnosed, I am fairly certain that I have it as well.  There is nothing wrong with needing and asking for help, but we do need to ask ourselves why this has become such an issue with women in the first place.  What are we doing as a society that the cases of anxiety disorders are on the rise? Why are we allowing the pressures of the world to affect us so much? Yes, I put the pressure on myself to look and be perfect, but where did I get the idea that I needed to be that way in the first place? It’s because we’ve been programed not to show our weaknesses. We don’t talk about it…ever.  We put our best life on social media and hide the truth. The so called “perfect life” is on display for us 24/7, and we feel like we are failing when ours doesn’t look the same.  Those little snapshots don’t show the whole picture, though. Those filters don’t show who we really are, but that is what we put out for the world to see. We don’t show those insecurities.  Instead, we try to hide them.  It is something that we as women should talk about.  Think of how much better it would make you feel to know that those strong, powerful women you idolize felt the same way you do. Think of the power it would give you to know you aren’t alone! 

We also don’t believe it when others say something good about us. We don’t accept compliments.  My husband gave me a compliment last night and I laughed it off, rolled my eyes, and said “yeah right!” Instead of saying thank you and allowing myself to feel good, it made me think about all the negatives about myself.  We as women do this all the time.  We say, “Thank you, BUT…” and talk ourselves out of the compliment. We end up putting ourselves down either verbally or in our heads instead of letting the kind words sink in and warm our hearts.  We don’t allow ourselves to believe that anyone else could really believe those nice things about us.  We turn the compliment into destruction. I do it all the time. I honestly don’t know if I know how to truly accept a compliment. I let the compliment fuel my insecurities instead of taking it for what it really is.

Women have got to band together and put a stop to all of this and make a real change.  Having insecurities is not a sign of weakness, but there is a way to get past them.  We have to start by having real conversations with our friends, family, or spouse about our insecurities. This will make them not so taboo.  It will allow us all to see that we are normal for feeling the things we feel and maybe make the insecurities go away. Next, we have to stop only putting the good out for others to see.  Stop using filters. Show the real you. It’s ok to say that you had a rough day or that you are struggling with something. This will keep us all from having a skewed view of real life and real women. It will be actual proof that we aren’t alone. Then, start believing the good about yourself.  Allow a compliment to sit in your heart and fill it with joy. Don’t allow yourself to turn it into something it’s not. Take it in and feel it. Only then are you going to change the narrative in your head. Finally, give your self compliments. Speak positive affirmations to yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell your self boldly and proudly that you are beautiful, strong, and confident. The more you tell yourself that, the more you will come to believe it. It is the truth!

Let’s work together to empower each other and force that anxiety curve to plummet downward!

Anchored,

Time for a Break

I love my children with my whole heart. In fact, they are a large part of the reason that I am no longer teaching.  For so many years I had given my heart and soul to my students to the detriment of my family.  I’m sad to say that they always got the stressed out, worn down mom and were often put on the back burner. I finally realized that it was time to give my heart and soul to my family, and that required me to walk away from the classroom.  I just didn’t have the capacity to do be a good teacher and a good mom at the same time.  It truly has turned out to be an unexpected blessing.  No, it hasn’t been easy giving up that second income and relying solely on my husband’s income and I really miss my students, but there have been far more rewards that have made it all worth it.  I have always had a close relationship with my oldest daughter.  She is a lot like me in many ways, and I just get her (for the most part).  Our relationship has only grown stronger since I stopped teaching.  I love that she feels comfortable talking to me about important things.  On the other hand, my youngest and I have butted heads majorly for most of her life.  She and I are like oil and water, and she has blamed me for every single thing that has ever gone wrong in her life.  She is the kid that would argue with me just for the sake of arguing over whether or not the sky was blue. For many years, our relationship was quite combative.  She would yell at me and I would yell right back. That was basically the only way we communicated.  Over the last couple of years, I have really worked to repair our relationship and learn how to best communicate with her.  Thankfully, we have done a 180 and get along so much better.  I think she actually likes me now!  I truly love the relationships I have built with both of them now that I devote the majority of my time to them.  

Again, I love my children. I really do! However, I NEED A BREAK FROM MY CHILDREN! Yes, that is really what this post is all about, and I am totally not kidding.  Being secluded with them for the past 6/7 months has been A LOT. It was great at first.  We got to spend time together and actually talk to each other instead of running from one thing to the next never really having time to even see each other much less talk to each other.  Now, however, they are just bored out of their minds, and they come out of their rooms and just sit and talk NONSTOP, mostly about nothing important at all! They even follow me from room to room not even coming up for air.  They both have ADHD and talk super fast anyway.  When they aren’t doing anything to burn off all that excess energy, they instead talk.  They talk and talk and talk, and they do not recognize my cues that I am either busy or not listening at all.   They are completely oblivious. They just continue to talk about nonsense.  It seems to have amplified with the start of school, too. They hold it all in while they stare at their computers.  Then at the first break in their day, they just explode.  For example, my oldest just came down because it is her lunch break.  She went on a 10 minute spiel about the new update on her phone. I had to remind her multiple times that she needed to be eating her lunch instead of talking to me.

Each kid as a different show that they like to watch with me. I DVR it and then we watch it in the next day or two. In theory, this is a good thing. They still want to spend time with their mama which should make me happy, right? WRONG! I cannot stand watching T.V. or movies with them because they do not stop talking through the entire show.  I can’t pay attention or even hear what is going on in the show because of all the talking and questions about every little thing. If they would just be quiet and listen, they would know what was going on.  IT DRIVES ME NUTS!  I honestly can’t imagine living inside their heads.  Their brains work so different from mine and it seems to be running 90 miles a minute, and I just can’t keep up.  Half the time, they talk so fast that I can’t understand them.  Sometimes I can’t even follow the conversation because they jump all over the place and it just doesn’t make sense to me.  I know that is part of living with ADHD, but wow! Sometimes it is overwhelming.  I guess I should be thankful that they can at least hold it together for school.

I know that I just said at the beginning that I love that they talk to me, but I don’t have to love it 24/7, do I?  Sometimes, I just need a break.  I need an escape every now and then.  When we are stuck in the house together for 90% of the time, I just get a little stir-crazy and need some time away.  They really need to go back to school!!  They need someone else to talk to besides me.  I think all moms feel that way sometimes.  It doesn’t mean we are bad moms and don’t love our kids.  It just means that we are human, and we need to take time for ourselves to recharge (or our ears to stop ringing).   I told my husband on Saturday that I needed a mommy break, and he kind of laughed and told me that I should enjoy it while it lasts.  He says one day I will want these days back.  I know he is probably right.  It’s easier for him to say that because he isn’t here getting the brunt of it all day, everyday. I just really like quiet time, and I’m not getting much of it lately. I need it to be quiet in order for me to think and be productive. That is the difference in my brain and theirs.  They need constant noise, and I can’t operate with noise. 

I’m going to say this a third time…I love my kids.  I love being their mom.  I love their unique personalities.  I just need a break sometimes, and right now is one of those times! Seriously, can I just walk around with noise canceling headphones?

Anchored,

Time to Get Crafting

I am a crafter by nature or maybe genetics as my mom is also a crafter. I think maybe part of it is the teacher in my too.  I love making things and being creative.  I am one of those people that will see something cute and think, “I can make that.”  Instead of just simply buying it, I either then kill myself to recreate it or buy all the supplies to make it and never follow through.  This is why there is an entire wall in my office of shelves that are full of crafting materials and unfinished projects.  It isn’t that I don’t have full intentions of completing them.  It is that for so many years, my life was so crazy that I never really had the time to devote to finishing things that were for fun, so they kept getting put to the side.  Now that I have some more time on my hands, I have gotten around to a few projects like the new wreath for my front door that I am totally in love with.  (I won’t even tell you how many unfinished wreaths/door decorations I have just waiting to be done.  Let’s just say it is an outlandish number.)  It is usually the projects for my house or for me personally that never get done.  Things that I do for others are much more likely to be finished. That usually means that it is either a gift with a deadline or I am being paid to create it.  No, I don’t have a crafting business to add to my long resume of job titles, but I have been known to create things for family and friends for a small fee.  I’m not really good at charging people, so I typically only charge whatever it cost me to make it. I know…that isn’t good business, but it is what it is. 

While we were in South Carolina last week, I decided to embark on a new crafting/home improvement project.  Since we bought and moved into our house a little over a year ago, we have had the same Roman shades in the living room that came with the house.  We have 4 windows that have an arch at the top, so these shades had to have been custom made.  Traditional Roman shades don’t work with the arch so I have been searching for a similar shade that would work with the windows to replace these since they do not match the rest of my décor.  That task has proved very difficult and has been a source of much angst.  I found people that could custom make them for me, but they were going to cost me a fortune.  I finally decided that I was going to attempt to make them myself.  Keep in mind that although I am a crafter, I do not sew or own a sewing machine.  My one attempt to make curtains using my mom’s sewing machine years ago was a total disaster, and my grandmother ended up taking them apart and remade them.  I don’t know why sewing is difficult for me, but I could barely figure out how to operate the sewing machine much less than sew a straight line.  How is it that I am going to make Roman shades without sewing them you ask? Well, I am going to attempt to use that iron on tape (stitch witchery) in place of stitching.  I may be totally kidding myself in thinking that I can make this work, but I have to try. 

My task while in SC was to get my mom to help me find all the materials that I need to make the shades including fabric. Well, finding a fabric that I liked, that would work for the project, and that had enough yards in stock proved to be quite difficult. I needed a fabric that was a little stiffer to make it work.  My windows are basically floor to ceiling, so I needed more yards than any fabric store had in stock.  Every time I found a material I liked, we quickly discovered there wasn’t enough.  My mom later had the genius idea to look at regular curtain panels that I could convert to the shades.  The task then was to find a curtain that I liked that had 4 panels in stock.  This was much harder than anticipated.  I guess many places are low on inventory due to COVID production delays.  Anyway, after two days of looking, I finally found something that I like that I hope will work.  The fabric isn’t as stiff as I would like it to be, but I am hoping it will still work.  I may spray a ton of starch on it to see if that helps.  Now, I believe I have all of the pieces and parts that I need to get started.  I think my biggest task will be cutting the length of the panels to the right width.  I am not sure I will be able to cut it in a straight, even line.  At this point, though, I am not sure I care how it looks as long as it matches.  I seriously have not wanted people to come in my house for the past year because of the totally nonmatching shades. 

I seriously don’t know why I do these things to myself when I know it is going to totally stress me out! Actually, yes I do.  I would much rather kill myself trying to make them for around $150 than to pay someone else $1000 to do it for me. Can I really make shades without sewing??? Stay tuned to see the fruits of my labor.  It could be a masterpiece or an utter failure.  It may take me a whole year (or two) to get it done, though, so don’t hold your breath.

Anchored,

Patience, Grace, and Prayer

I have been MIA for a little bit because we made a last-minute decision to head to South Carolina to visit family one more time before the crazy life of virtual school and cheer begins. We practiced a little social distancing but got to see everyone at least for a little bit.  I do have to admit that social distancing in South Carolina vs. social distancing where we live is night and day.  At home, you rarely see anyone without a mask, and stores and restaurants are fairly empty.   Down there, people were hanging out together in groups, not wearing masks, and stores and restaurants were crowded.  Schools had been in session for a couple of weeks and were in person.  We started school here today, and it is 100% virtual.  It’s just a totally different mentality, I guess.  It makes it hard to know which way is the right way.   Despite the differences, we had a great time and were hopefully cautious enough. I despise the long drive to and from every time, but it was worth it to get to spend time with the ones we love.  My one regret was that I didn’t take a single picture! I guess that means I was just living in the moment.

As I mentioned, school started for my girls today.  It is certainly not a normal first day of school by any stretch of the imagination with school being 100% virtual for the foreseeable future.  I did make them get up early and get dressed despite the grumbles I got.  We shall see how long that lasts.  I also made them go on the porch for a first day of school picture, which they said was pointless and dumb.  Then, I was forbidden to take a picture of them at their computers!! Got to love this age! I mean, I have to get at least one, right? I have to post them along with just about everyone else I know today, right?  No, they weren’t in their usual cute first day of school outfits, but it is still a momentous day. It is hard to believe that I have a junior and a 7th grader.  Where has the time gone? I have no idea how long virtual school will last or if or when things will ever get back to normal.  I just pray that my oldest child’s last 2 years of high school aren’t ruined because of this virus.  I really do hope that they will be able to go back to school and enjoy the traditions and rights of passage that come with these last few years of school.  I do like the fact, though, that I didn’t have to do any back to school shopping this year.  We didn’t buy new school supplies as my “school supply collection” from overbuying during my 17 years of teaching provided the majority of things they needed.  I haven’t bought them new clothes in a while either because they have been barely getting dressed for months.  I figure at some point we will need to do some clothes shopping. Maybe for Christmas???

I know that this school year isn’t like anyone wants or cares for, but it is the card we have been dealt.  We might as well make the best of whatever our situation may be. My heart is with teachers all over the country, whether it is their first day or 15th day.  I can’t imagine the stress you are all under. While I am not in the trenches with you anymore, I know that your hearts are hurting for your students and that you are giving it every ounce of energy you’ve got trying to meet the needs of every student.  Give yourself some grace and try to remember to spend a little time on you in the midst of it all. Trust me, I know that is easier said than done, but it is important.  I was never good at that and it is part of why I am no longer teaching.  I don’t want you to burn out like I did.  You’ve got this and you will get through it.  Who knows? Maybe it will turn out to be your best year yet! No matter what, you are all deserving of Teacher of the Year this year! 

Parents, I encourage you to also give yourself grace. I know this is hard for you too.  I know you are juggling a million different hats, and you are stressed to the max.  You can do it too. When you are frustrated or discouraged, take some time to walk away, take some deep breaths, and then jump right back in with a smile on your face.  You’ve got this! I also need you to give grace to all the teachers working overtime to meet the needs of your child.  It isn’t their fault that the technology is not working.  It isn’t their fault we are in this situation.  They are just doing their best. The only way to get through this is together…you, your child, and your child’s teachers. You have to support each other or we will never make it over this mountain before us. We are all in this together.

This year isn’t going to be easy for anyone, but we can get through it together with a little bit of patience, grace, and a whole lot of prayer.  We can do it! 

Anchored,

Baking 101

My 12-year-old has decided that she either wants to be a baker or a photographer when she grows up.  Meanwhile my 16-year-old has no clue what she wants to do with her life, but that is beside the point.  The 12-year-old has decided that she needs to practice her baking skills; so this summer I have taught her how to use the mixer, the oven, the stove, etc.  At first she was wanting to bake something new every day, but I had to quickly put a stop to that.  I was running out of eggs and milk way too fast.  We have cut it down to once or twice a week that she has been wanting to bake something constantly.  She has mostly been making box cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.  We haven’t yet ventured into her making things from scratch.  The first few times I was in the kitchen with her going step by step with everything to make sure there were no eggshells in the food and that she didn’t burn the house down.  She now has proven to me that she can handle it and has graduated to doing it on her own as long as I am somewhere in the house.  This makes her so excited as she has always loved being independent.  Plus, it has given her something to do and look forward to while we are stuck at home.  She is also enjoying constantly making fun of her sister because her sister is still too afraid to take things in and out of the oven by herself. 

While I am happy with this newfound interest, it does come with 2 huge problems.  First of all, she is an extremely messy baker.  She hasn’t quite learned how to ice things yet.  Part of it is that she doesn’t really like icing, so she never uses enough which makes the cakes crumble.  I know what you are thinking…what kid doesn’t like icing?!?!? Remember, this is the kid with all the food issues.  Anyway, I don’t know how she manages this, but she always ends up getting icing EVERYWHERE!!  I find it days later in places it never should have been in the first place.  It’s insane!  One of the things I have to constantly remind her is that if she is going to bake, she has to clean up after herself.  She seems to think that means just putting everything in the sink for her sister to wash.  You see, they both have dishwashing jobs.  The youngest loads and unloads the dishwasher and the oldest washes the pots, pans, and other things that I don’t like to put in the dishwasher.  It is really just a constant source of arguments between the two of them. It’s a work in progress for sure.  

The second problem, and probably the biggest, is that we constantly have all these sweets lying around the kitchen.  I think I gain weight just smelling them baking.  Once she has a finished product, she insists that everyone in the house tries it right away.  We have to ooh and ahh over it or she thinks she is a failure.  Then, she is constantly shoving more and more of it at us because she knows she can’t bake something else until the current baked good is gone.  Her dad isn’t really into sweets all that much, so he will eat it that first time just to please her and then not again.  Her sister likes cookies but isn’t big on cake, so she will sometimes refuse to even try it.  This causes much angst too.  Basically, it leaves me, the one who has a weakness for cakes and cupcakes, eating it all.  I think I have gained like 10 pounds just from eating all her creations.  I don’t know what to do about this dilemma because I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I cannot keep eating all this myself.  We threw out almost an entire cake last night because I just couldn’t eat it.  I am hoping that she doesn’t notice, but I am sure she will.    

Despite the mess and the added calories to my diet these days, I really love that she is interested in baking.  It gives us a common ground. When I was 11 years old, one of my mom’s best friends taught me how to bake and decorate cakes.  By the time that I was 12, close family friends were actually paying me to make birthday cakes, and it is something that I still love to do.  As I have shared before, my youngest and I butt heads A LOT.  We are like oil and water 98% of the time.  Baking is one thing that we have sort of bonded over recently, and it gives us something to laugh and talk about.  I have really tried over the past couple of years to really work on our relationship.  Things have gotten way better than they used to be, and this has sort of been the icing on the cake (pun intended).  I really love that we have this in common.  I guess it is worth the extra calories if it means we aren’t yelling at each other all the time. Bring on the cake!

Anchored,

Just Stay Little Forever

Something happened last week that I am so not ready for.  In fact, I am not sure that I will ever be ready for it.  My oldest daughter, after having completed driver’s education, 45 logged hours of driving time, and a 7 day behind the wheel course, has officially gotten her real license.  She just has a piece of paper right now because the state requires her to appear before a judge in court to get the hard copy in the next few weeks, but that piece of paper means she can legally drive without an adult.  I’m not ready.  Is any parent ever ready to let their teen get behind the wheel alone and drive off? I don’t see how anyone could be.  The thought of her driving without her dad or me there is so scary.  We live in an extremely high traffic area which is a far cry from the small, zero traffic town where I first got behind the wheel alone all those years ago. I am certain my parents were nervous for that first time, but I feel like it is vastly different here. There are so many more opportunities for crashes in the crazy traffic we see around here.  I think I would feel much better about the situation if we lived down there instead of here.  Let’s be honest, though. That’s probably not really true.  I would likely be a nervous wreck no matter where we lived. Ugh! I’m not ready. I know I said this same thing when she got her permit, but this is a whole new ballgame.

Later this week will be the first time that she has to drive by herself.  She has SAT tutoring, and my husband and I are not able to take her that day.  Normally, we would just reschedule, but my husband has talked me into letting her drive herself there and back. He says it has to happen sooner or later. It is only like 2 miles away, but I am not sure I am going to be able to breath until she texts me that she is safely there and parked and safely back home and parked afterwards.  I made her drive there yesterday with me to practice and to practice parking in the parking lot.  Of course, she did fine, but that doesn’t mean that she will do fine on Thursday.  She still makes careless mistakes sometimes as an inexperienced driver that really make me nervous.  Plus, she is a blond and a true dingy sometimes. I can say that because I am her mother. If you know her, you know it is true. She will admit it herself.  I know that she had her own nerves every time she gets behind the wheel, and that does make her more cautious.  I guess that is a good thing, but I would like her to be a little more confident.  She says that she is ready, though, and that she will be fine driving to tutoring by herself.  It is just me that isn’t so sure.  The whole time she had her learner’s permit, she really had no interest in driving. We actually had to force her to drive most of the time just to get her practice and to be able to log her 45 hours of experience. Now that she has the real thing, though, she is making all these plans of where she is going to go and what she is going to do.  I am thankful that the law here is that she can only have one non-family member in the car with her at a time.  She can’t just load the car up with all her friends and go galivanting around town.  My husband and I were talking yesterday about needing to set our own ground rules for driving as well.  I can think of like 50 rules, but he, of course, thinks that is overkill.  

I know that this is a part of growing up and a normal part of life, but she is my baby. She may be almost as tall as me, but to me she is still that 4 lb, 8 oz peanut that we were scared we would break when we brought her home from the hospital. Now I am scared she will break while out driving, and that is a million times worse. I know this is a big step in her life, but I don’t like it.  Why can’t they just stay little and innocent forever? I don’t know how I am going to do this.  I get a pit in my stomach just thinking about it.  I know I have to let her go and just keep praying that she will be safe, but it is excruciating. Is there ever a stage in life when parenting isn’t hard? We have joked for years that we couldn’t wait until she could drive herself to practice and we could get a break from all the trips back and forth.  Now that the time is here, I have changed my mind.  I take back all those times I complained about the time I spent in my car.  I will happily continue to drive back and forth if it means keeping her safe forever.  Please pray for me. I might have a nervous breakdown. Mom life is HARD!

Anchored,

Sleep Deprived

Does anyone have some magical remedy for the inability to sleep? If so, can you pass it along? I think I am functioning on about 3 hours of sleep right now.  I believe I have said this before, but I am one of those people whose body requires 8-10 hours of sleep.  I always have.  I was the college kid who went to bed at 9:00 every night because I knew I couldn’t function without sleep.  In the last 5 years or so, I suddenly cannot sleep.  I can’t fall asleep, and I wake up and then can’t go back to sleep.  It is really killing my brain and contributing to my migraines.  I wish I knew what was causing it. I typically go to bed between 10 and 10:30 these days, but I just lay there tossing and turning for hours on end until I finally fall asleep. I hate it because I feel like every time I move around I am waking up my husband.  Last night, I am fairly certain that I fell asleep sometime after midnight as that is the last time I remember seeing while staring at the clock.  Then, a storm rolled through at 2:00 and the booming thunder woke me back up.  I dozed off and on for a few minutes at a time for the rest of the night.  I, of course, then got up with a migraine this morning.  I get out of bed most mornings feeling like I have been run over by a big truck.  body needs sleep.  My brain needs sleep.   

I have talked about my inability to fall asleep and stay asleep repeatedly with my doctors over the years and no one seems to have any answers or remedies for me.  Most of them are surprised that my migraine medicine doesn’t make me sleepy as that is an extremely common side effect, which is why I take it per their direction at night. Sometimes I wonder if it has the opposite effect on me, but I have been taking it way longer than I have had the sleep problems.  I am certainly not willing to stop taking it either.  Even though I still get migraines, they are nowhere near as extreme or as frequent as they are when I am off the meds. Some doctors have thought that my sleep problems were related to stress, but these days I am less stressed than I have ever been. If anything, I was way more stressed when I was working full time, staying up later, and getting up earlier. I guess maybe I was just more exhausted back then that sleep came easier.  I don’t know.  It just doesn’t make any sense to me.  Should I go back to running myself ragged so that I fall asleep from mental and physical exhaustion or continue to live a less stressed life and not sleep? I’m not really a fan of either option.  Now that I am thinking about it, it really has been since I stopped teaching that the sleep problems have started.  I just don’t understand that.  

I have tried multiple things including essential oils, blue light blocking glasses, reading, and so many other things.  Nothing seems to work.  There have even been times when I have taken Tylenol PM, and I still can’t sleep.  We also keep the house pretty cool at night and run a fan year-round because sometimes I get super hot when I am asleep and wake up sweating.  It is just so crazy to me that my body craves sleep so badly, yet it doesn’t come easily.  I think I got more sleep when I had infants than I do now!  Clearly I have chronic insomnia (you know how I love diagnosing myself). Seriously, a quick appointment with “Dr. Google” confirms my diagnosis. I have ALL of the symptoms.

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night-CHECK
  • Waking up during the night-CHECK
  • Waking up too early-CHECK
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep-CHECK
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness-CHECK
  • Irritability, depression or anxiety-CHECK
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering-CHECK,CHECK, CHECK
  • Ongoing worries about sleep-CHECK

I just want to know how to fix it, preferably without adding any medications or taking any away. I’ve tried all the things that “Dr. Google” suggests, so now what? Maybe I need to see a sleep specialist.  Do those even exist? I feel like they do. I’m getting pretty desperate at this point. I just need sleep! 

Anchored and Sleep Deprived,