Hurricane Irma- My Story

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a week since we finished boarding up the windows to our house with any wood we could find, emptied interior closets in case we needed to hide, bought last minute ice, bread and snacks.  It’s been a week since we were glued to the tv switching from one station to the next watching Hurricane Irma head north, west, north, east, west, west, west, then jog east at the last minute taking the worst part of the storm away from Tampa.  We sat in horror as the pictures and videos came in from the devastation of the islands Irma decimated not knowing if we were next.

It’s hard to believe that in a few hours it will have been a week since we stood outside, watching the winds gain strength, seeing the bands whip in and reach over 80 mph and watched our neighbor’s pine tree sway ferociously before cracking loudly and falling to the ground with a loud thump, barely missing their house.

It’s almost impossible to believe that in a few hours it will have been a week since our power went out at 9:30 PM Sunday night.  My husband and I were sitting in our living room surrounded by boxes, bubble wrap and tape protecting the breakable items that were most dear to us.  The lights flickered once, twice, three times. Then the entire house went dark. Everyone had their own flashlight and my husband yelled out for everyone to stay put.  He walked around and made sure all three kids were safe and not scared as I finished wrapping. The kids went to sleep just after the power went out.  My 13 year old son and 11 year old daughter felt safe on the floor of our closet surrounded by their pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and our dog. My 20 year old chose the hall closet close to her bedroom where her cats were. We knew tornadoes were possible.

closet

My husband and I walked outside about every thirty minutes, protected by the cover of our car port.  He was keeping a close eye on a tree behind our house, one in the front and a few of our neighbor’s trees.  There wasn’t anything we could do if they fell, but we watched nonetheless. I watched in awe of Mother Nature as sheets of rain fell in sporadic batches and winds shot in from the east, suddenly switching direction, stripping branches off the trees. We watched the water in our yard rise closer and closer to the house, grateful for the sand bags we’d kept from two years ago.  All of a sudden the rain would almost stop allowing the water to recede only to pick back up again. I stayed up as long as I could but was exhausted from all of the preparations we’d done over the previous three days and was recovering from oral surgery.  Around 1:30 am I gave up and went to bed asking my husband to wake me if he went back out.

yard      downtree

We slept off and on watching the news on our cell phones, watching Irma skate back and forth, not knowing exactly where she may travel. We woke up about 8 am and quietly slipped out of the house to assess the damage.  Tree limbs, branches, leaves and pine needles blanketed our lawn and covered the road.  My husband walked across the street and breathed a sigh of relief to see that the giant pine barely missed the house.  Slowly, more neighbors began making their way out to see the damage.  We soon learned who had power and who didn’t.  There was a small pocket, about 6 houses, that were out due to a tree that fell two doors down.  The wire was still live so I called TECO immediately to let them know.  They said it would be a priority.

branches

As the sun rose higher in the sky, I looked around and realized how lucky we were with only limbs and branches down with only one row of roof shingles barely lifted.  I thought about how fortunate it was that Hurricane Irma hit Tampa as a Category 1, not a 3. I knew how incredible blessed we were that our only inconvenience was that we were without power.  But that’s another story…

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Dear mom of that little heartbeat,

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I had to share this…
Mothers, your souls deserve more.
I had an appointment today with my OB/GYN. (Nope, not pregnant- I’m well beyond child bearing years.)
With me in the waiting room sat a couple- clearly eager first time parents- flipping through pregnancy magazines and looking anxious and excited. When I got to my exam room, I realized they were in the room right next to mine, as I could hear their muffled voices and nervous laughter.
And then I heard the most magical sound in the world.
Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump.
It was the loud and unmistakable sound of their baby’s heartbeat coming through on the fetal doppler.
As I listened, I took a deep breath filled with gratitude that I was once lucky enough to hear that sound from my own womb, then I smiled- remembering how 20 years ago I first heard the sound of that sweet beat, and how it filled my soul like nothing else had before. It filled my soul with instant and immeasurable joy.
And then in a split second my smile faded, replaced with a frown and thoughts of all the soul crushing things that modern mothering has in store for that first time mom in the room next to mine.
That how raising a child these days- days full of sanctimonious social media and ever vigilant mom shaming-of being under the scrutinizing and suffocating microscope of anyone and everyone- is going to crush her spirit and her soul.
Crush it.
That joyful sound will soon be a distant memory, replaced with this…
Gained more than 25 pounds during your pregnancy? You’ll never lose it fatty.
Had a labor full of complications or a c-section? Your body failed you, and your baby.
Formula fed? Baby will have low I.Q. and be sick all the time.
Breastfed for only six weeks? Quitter.
Nursed into toddlerhood? Freak.
Back to work? Neglectful.
Staying home? No ambition.
Boxed mac and cheese? Poison giver.
Homemade mac and cheese? Obnoxious overachiever.
TV watcher? Tablet user? Ignorant. Both you and your preschooler.
Private school? Elitist.
Homeschooler? Religious nut, unsocialized kids.
Public school? Oh, I get it. You’re average.
Raising an atheist? You’re going to hell.
Raising a Christian? Family of bigots.
Raising a Republican? Blasphemy.
Raising a Democrat? Are you insane?
Kid playing outside alone? I’m calling the police.
Kid never allowed to leave the house? I’m calling child protective services.
No sports? Your kid will never be able to compete in life.
Traveling sports teams? Waste of money.
Piano? Dance? Cheer? Scouts? Brownies? Your kids are overscheduled neurotics.
Do your kids laundry, make their breakfast, and pack their lunches? You’re raising incompetent future adults.
Don’t do anything for your kids? Selfish.
Low standardized test scores? Your kid has no future.
High standardized test scores? Your kids will arrive at college depressed and burnt out.
Zero extracurriculars? Yea, good luck with college applications.
15 AP courses, president of everything, headed to Ivy League? Give me a freakin’ break.
Regular classes, 3.0 GPA, state school? Your kid is totally screwed.
Community college? Why bother.
And just like that, SOUL. SUCKED.
Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump.
Hey first time mom in the next room, mom who just had a baby, mom who has a house full of diaper clad toddlers, mom who will have a first time kindergartener in a few weeks, mom with school aged kids, and the mom who is getting ready to embrace the final years of high school or send a kid off to college- please remember one thing for me…
Remember that sound of your baby’s heartbeat.
Then remember it’s YOUR baby’s heartbeat, not society’s baby, or social media’s baby, or some parenting study’s baby.
Remember it’s YOUR baby, toddler, child, young adult, and college student.
YOURS.
Don’t let the motherhood soul suckers of the world take away one second of your joy of mothering. Not one single second.
You are the mom. Period.
You made that damn heartbeat (or had the privilege of adopting it), so you get to raise it, the way YOU want to raise it.
Nobody else.
It’s time to get your mothering joy back, deep in your souls. Start now.
Share this and let’s all get our joy back.
One thump at a time.
**Fantastic words by the lovely Melissa Fenton.

Use your passion

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My 13 year old son loves video games.  He would play them all day if I let him.  He wants to design his own when he grows up.

This morning, I wrote a note to him to look up the websites a dance dad told him about a few months ago.  Then I wrote him another note that said, “Use your passion to create something new today.”  Why should he wait until he gets older to create?  Why not now? Why sit around playing someone else’s game when he can use his passion and creativity to design his own?

That applies to all of us.  Why sit around waiting for something to happen to us?  Why not get up and do something right now?  My 10 year old daughter and I created an etsy store a couple of months ago but haven’t done anything with it, yet.  We’ve been incredibly busy with other things and keep putting it off.  But why can’t we spend a little time each day working on it?

It’s all about prioritizing.

Prioritizing and using my time carefully are two things I’m horrible at.  Just ask my fitness moms.  I’ve done a very bad job this time around and feel just awful.  I’ve let myself get pulled in several directions and piled too many things on my shoulders. Slowly, my commitments are falling away on their on allowing me more time, finally. Today, I’m creating a schedule with a list of things I NEED to do and a list of things I WANT to do and allowing time to do both.  I’d rather dabble a bit here and there than only focus on one or two things.  This may not work for everyone but I want to give it a try.  I’m tired of reaching the end of the day not having made time to do things I enjoy. I’m allowing life to get in my way.

We only live once.  Make the most of it now.

 

Mommyhood through the years- School

I stopped by my daughter’s classroom this afternoon to see when a project was due.  The teacher told me a packet went home with all of the information.  I was honest and told her I didn’t read it.  If there’s something I need to know, she usually tells me.

This got me thinking.  When my oldest two daughters were in school, I read every single paper that came home, signed every single test, checked their binders every day and made their lunches the night before.  I remembered and went to every parent conference. I volunteered over 5,000 hours in three years, was the Volunteer Coordinator for a year and PTO president for two years.  I was under 30. I was an awesome mom.

The two younger kids came along when I was 30 and 33.  By the time the youngest went to kindergarten, I’d just survived a year with three kids at three different schools and my oldest was a senior in high school preparing to leave for college the following summer. Having a kindergartner and senior makes for a very emotional year. The first two years of my second go round having two kids in elementary school went pretty well.  I walked them to their classrooms every day, walked to pick them up after, remembered to sign binders 85% of the time and made sure their “buddies” checked their binders (when you have four kids with a seven year break in the middle, you learn to assign buddies to make sure no one gets lost and is fully dressed before leaving the house).  I was under 40. I was a pretty good mom.

I realized today, that I’ve gotten lazy with the younger two.  My son is homeschooled so I kinda have to know how he’s doing.  Thankfully there are no papers or binders to sign, no report cards or parent conferences.  My youngest daughter is 10 and headed to middle school next year (WTF?!?!?!).  I can’t remember the last time I checked her backpack, signed her binder, looked at her report card (unless glancing over it while driving counts).  But she gets her stuff done on time and like her teacher pointed out after my confession, at least she’ll be independent.  I’m over 40.  I’m an okay mom.

lazymom

Being Overwhelmed

Being a human can be busy.  Being a woman can be hectic.  Being a wife can be frenzied.  Being a mom can be flustering.  When you put them all together, along with everything else you do, can be overwhelming.

 I take on a lot.  Too much.  I like to help.  I’m a human, woman, a wife, a mom of 4, a homeschooling mom, dance mom, a student, a WAHM, SAHM, shuttle 3 kids around, run 5 Instagram accounts, 2 Facebook pages, sit on the board for an upcoming company, the chair for a fundraiser at my daughter’s school, a blogger, fitness challenge leader, TBMG admin, a gym member, maid, organizer, cook, crafter, reader, laundry room attendant and more.

 I also have ADD (can you tell?).

 I am also overwhelmed.

 It’s not always a bad thing.  Most of the time I’m able to keep chugging along and get things done. However, I when I get called out (or call myself out) about not keeping up with certain responsibilities, I’m forced to stop and take a look at everything on my titanic-sized plate.  This is when the panic sets in.  This is when I realize just how much I have to do, or have created for myself to do.  This is when I realize that I’m overwhelmed.

 Most people can deal with this rationally and occasionally I’m able to as well.  I make lists, set timers, ask for help, etc.  But sometimes, like the most recent time, I shut down. When I shut down, not a lot gets done.  I hide out.  I’m 5 weeks behind on homework and have a midterm in 9 days.  I haven’t blogged for Real Fit Mom in months.  I haven’t kept up with my duties as a TBMG admin. I’m way behind on pulling winners and promoting sponsors for my fitness challenges.  I joined a gym in November and have been about 6 times.  I have 3 weeks to bling 3 dance costumes and sew bottoms onto 3 shirts.  I haven’t stepped foot in the playroom since Christmas and the only reason my kitchen is clean and laundry is done is because we have to have dishes to eat off of and clothes to wear.

 I wake up every morning knowing what I NEED to do.  I get reminders, most of which I appreciate. Sometimes it still doesn’t get done.

 I know that I’m not alone.

 What others should realize about people like me, is that we don’t skip on responsibilities on purpose.  We WANT to be successful, organized, responsible and reliable.  On the outside, our lives may appear happy-go-lucky and carefree.  Social media doesn’t help.  Smart phones make it harder.  Fun apps provide a safe haven.

 But every day is a new day.  I tell this to my fitness challenge moms a lot.  If you had a bad day yesterday, try to start over today.  Lost a whole week?  Get back on the ball next week.  Shut down for a month (or two)?  Take baby steps to get your shit back together.

 I updated my dry erase calendar yesterday.  Today, I made a short list of things to do on my dry erase board.  After this post, I’ll make a loooooonnnngggg list of things that need to be done.  I have a brand new pack of sticky notes to post reminders to myself.  I’ve also discovered that my dry erase markers work on the refrigerator and my kitchen cabinets.  Yay!  I deleted all of the notes in the Note app on my phone because I never go back to check them.  Instead, I took my fitness iPod holder, stuck some index cards and a pen in it and keep it strapped to my arm.  Yup, I look like a dork but I always have something handy to write things down on.  Ok, so I haven’t actually put it together or worn it, BUT, it’s on my mental list of things to do.

 The good thing is, I woke up this morning, drove my daughter to school and instead of going back to bed, I got on the computer and found stupid articles to keep me occupied for 2 hours……then I got up and made a protein smoothie and sat down to write this article which is growing longer so most of you won’t make it to this point.  But, I’m up, I’m starting over, it’s not even 10:30 am so I still have plenty of time to get things done and I have a plan.  Check back with me later to see if I decided to get back with the world or if I retreated back to my hide out.  😉  #dontgiveup #justkeepswimming #yesiputhashtagsinanarticle

Article also posted on Tampa Bay Moms Group.

Today is a new day. Make it count.

​I’m not usually the worrying, stressed out type. But I have been for the last week. I gained several pounds, let my house go to shit, put off decorating for Christmas, ignored my family, deprived myself of sleep and it was all for nothing. I failed my statistics final. I won’t graduate this month, I won’t start subbing to help pay for my youngest daughter’s dance and I won’t be taking a semester off from school.

This sign has hung in my room for several years. I don’t remember why or when I made it. It is a new day. I can’t fix what happened yesterday but I can make changes today. I won’t bore you with my to-do list but think about this; we only have one life to live and we should fill every day of it with love, joy and laughter. Worrying, stressing and being angry or resentful are horrible ways to waste what precious time we have.
I watched my oldest daughter graduate from college last Sunday. I helped heal her broken heart with a new puppy. We shared an entire day with friends and family and it was wonderful. Every day should feel like that. 

I’m off to make today count. I’m going to make it amazing. I’m going to eat my leftover sandwich for breakfast because it was so good I don’t want to wait for lunch (thank you Carrollwood Deli!). I’m going to make sure that my husband and kids all laugh at least once today. And I’m going to end the day next to our fire pit in Florida’s 80 degree weather because it makes me happy. We all deserve to be happy. 

My mom taught me how precious life is. I grew up with so much love and laughter in our home and I’m passing that onto my children. Live for today. Every day is a new day. Make each and every one count. 

Miracle of the Moment

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^^^^ Listen!!!

Yesterday my family said goodbye to a dear friend. She fought cancer for four long years. As I sat in the service I reflected on my own life and how I lived it. I’m a procrastinator. Big time. I never reach my fitness goals because I’m lazy.

Sandee can never hug her family again. She will never laugh with her friends again. She won’t get to see my daughter dance anymore. 

“Do what she can no longer do” popped into my head. I want to remember this every day not just for Sandee but for my mother-in-law, Granny Pat, Shirley and all of the many people we know who have lost their lives to cancer, to anyone who is no longer with us. 

My husband are not big planners. We tend to be spontaneous which I love. One of the lessons I learned from losing my 1st son was to live every day to its fullest. Life is short. While doing dishes this morning, Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Miracle of the Moment” came on and I was moved to send a message to my fitness moms which led to this blog post.

It’s ok to take a day off. It’s ok to sit down and play with your kids and not vacuum today. It’s ok to take time for yourself. But don’t forget your purpose in life. Don’t let your goals get away from you. Do what they can no longer do- live.