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Life As A Fire Wife

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Matters of the Heart

My husband graduated from the fire academy when I was enormously pregnant with our third son. I was so incredibly proud of him for his hard work and commitment to following his lifelong dream. I remember sitting in that auditorium and being moved by all of the firefighter rituals. My man endured a lot during those 12 weeks of training and this ceremony was 100% fitting to these people and everything they did, not only during those 12 weeks but all the tests and training leading up to this point.

One thing that stood out to me the most was when the speaker talked about how these firefighters are now in the best shape of their lives and how they need to continue being in good physical condition because one of the biggest causes of death, injury, or illness amongst firefighters is cardiac related. All of a sudden I wasn’t so concerned with losing my man in a fire, but instead losing him to a heart attack.

I went to a new doctor a few months ago to address the fatigue I was feeling along with some other symptoms. She is a functional medicine doctor, and I just love that approach to medicine. As functional medicine doctors do, she ordered a boat load of labs and a super fun saliva hormone kit. As my follow up appointment drew near, I became more and more curious about my lab results so I went online and tried to read them myself. Please remind me to never do that again, as Dr. Google is not the most optimistic doctor around.

A few days later I told her that I saw my labs online, and with a smile on her face, she told me to tell her what my self diagnosis was. I laughed, admitting I couldn’t read the hormone test, but from the blood work I believe I have inflammation. Indeed I do have inflammation along with a few other problem areas; 1-lipoproteins way too high, 2- sugar slightly elevated, 3-hormonal imbalance, 4-inflammation, 5- cortisol high across the board. There are a few other things too, some are high, some are low(Ok now I feel like I’m reading Dr. Seuss). But this was a good wake up call for me. Because for all these years I’ve worried about my fireman’s heart, and while I still think about his heart and staying healthy, I realize that my health needs to take more of a priority in my own life and less of a backseat to the needs of everyone else in my world.

The more time I had to think about all the areas that are not so good, the more I got to see the connection between them and it’s actually kind of cool because when you look at it from a functional medicine stand point of treating medical issues with supplements and food, rather than drugs, a lot of the great healing supplements and foods work together to treat multiple ailments. For instance, as I’m learning about anti inflammatory foods, I noticed that a lot of these foods are good for cholesterol and balancing hormones. Exercise is an important piece to the puzzle as it helps to treat all of these areas.

It’s been about 2 weeks since my appointment now, and I am learning to be more mindful of everything related to my body. I am taking more time and care when preparing meals for myself. I’ve actually been cooking so much more for myself that I’ve been able to freeze meals. I think the hardest part of eating healthy in the past has been food prep-it just takes so stinking long to be healthy! I am making it a priority to move my body every day. Since my cortisol is high I shouldn’t be doing stressful workouts so I’ve been doing yoga, walking, riding my stationary bike, and kickboxing. I am watching the way I react and respond to situations, sometimes our emotions get the better of us, but I’m not doing my heart or my stress levels any good by getting bent out of shape at every little thing. Lastly, I’m trying to do one thing that I enjoy every day, and not feeling guilty for taking me time!

Basically, it’s really all a matter of the heart. I love my people so much that it is time for a change, it’s time to get healthy, for me and for them. I can’t prevent what has already occurred, but with this wealth of information I can work towards healing. It’s funny how we can look healthy on the outside, and perhaps even feel healthy on the inside, to everyone around us, we are fine. It’s a matter of the heart, and I want my heart to be in top physical shape, just like my firefighter’s heart was when he graduated from the academy.

If anyone has any tips, recipes, or would like to join me on my journey to better health, leave a comment. I would love some encouragement and support!

Time

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I ran into a sweet older gentleman at the beach yesterday. He was siting at the beginning of the seawall as my family and I finished our walk, my one request on mother’s day, a walk with my family. Child one rode his bike, child two rode his scooter, and child number three, fast as lightening ran while hubby and I strolled about 1/4 mile behind. As we all met up, I told the boys since the tide was out they could go climb on the rocks. They dashed off before I could say another word and I followed behind them. This sweet man stopped me, smile on his face, nostalgia shining in his eyes as he reminisced of the years gone by. “Seems like just yesterday I had my boys down here. They loved it here. It all went so fast. My oldest son asked me the other day, where did the time go?” I smiled. This was different somehow than the times my kids were babies and people would tell me time would go fast. I didn’t know what was in store then. Now I have had a taste of it, and childhood is zooming by in my little boys. “How many boys do you have?” I inquired. He smiled, “I have 3 boys and 1 girl.” “Wow,” I said. “Where was your daughter in the birth order?” “She was number 4, 7 years after our youngest son was born. She was the surprise of the century.” He chuckled. I smiled. “My youngest is going to be 7, I’ll have to let my husband know there is still hope for a girl.” I shared with him how my hubby and I just celebrated our 12 year anniversary. Time is a strange thing. 12 years ago, hubby and I were practically babies ourselves, just dreaming of the future. There were no boys underfoot 24/7. Just 12 years ago and it feels like yesterday. I looked at my husband this weekend while we were away celebrating our anniversary and announced that in another 12 years our oldest will be 22, followed by 20, and then 18. Time… I told the man, “God bless you,” and left to catch up to my climbing boys. The man then stopped my husband and had the same conversation. My hubby shared the same story. Time…

Seriously, where has the time gone? We went from being young and in love to newlyweds to family planning to having these big kids who are almost as tall as I am. And as I sit here looking up at the baby pictures on our fireplace, I miss those babies so much. When did I overlook the belly laughs, sleepy smiles, and snuggles and only remember cluster feedings, sleepless nights, exploding diapers, and projectile vomit. Not today, not anymore. So often my day ends and I pray to the Lord to give me another chance tomorrow to be the mom He desires for me to be, but I already am. I am too hard on myself. What escapes me is the joy and I’m not losing another second of that. I often get lost in the to do’s and trying to get stuff done that I don’t take that moment to look them in the eye and have that conversation. Instead of hearing the noise in a house that will one day be quiet as overwhelming, I want to hear it as a blessing.

In a world that is busy and chaotic, I crave to do things differently.

1 week ago I lost a beautiful friend. She was sick for a very long time, waiting for a kidney that never came. She was actually sick for the entirety of our friendship. She loved my kids so much and spoiled them rotten. My kids loved her back. I’m so thankful that we took the time to sit with her over the years, that my boys got to know her and that she knew them, loved them, and prayed for them. Time… One day she was here, the next she was gone. It all ties together, so why do we take today for granted and let time slip away? I can’t go back and hold my babies, but I can hug and comfort these big boys. I can’t take back the temper that I lost when I went ballistic that 2 of my kids were having a knock down drag out brawl in a friends driveway, but I can apologize for my reaction and pray that in a future situation that I would not behave like a child. I can’t take back all those nights that I cried myself to sleep over another night of overtime, but I can hold tight to every moment my firefighter hubby and I have together.

The best part about celebrating our 12 year anniversary was the get a way we got to take this past weekend. Nothing fancy or extravagant, but that’s not us. We ran away from home for 2 nights to the Berkshires. We got to pay one another 100% of our attention. What a gift that was in this moment as the next month is full of event after event. I loved that we didn’t have to rush to go to bed, or rush to wake up in the morning. We didn’t have to rush through a hike to be somewhere, we didn’t have to rush in and out of shops or through meals. We got to reflect on where we once were to where we are now and where we want to be over the course of the next year. Time…

Back to the seawall. Our walk was not void of excitement. Our 6 year old ran full speed in a giant puddle on the beach that I could clearly see was a puddle, but apparently from his angle he had no idea he would be shin deep in water. Only half way through our walk, I stripped off his socks and shoes and took them into the bathhouse where I put them under the hand dryer for about 10 minutes. Still damp, I brought them out and assured him that I wouldn’t mind if he wanted to go home. He did, so we turned around and walked back to the car. I’m glad we did. Because then I got to hear that sweet man’s story. And then I got to truly appreciate my mother’s day for what it means to me-not what it means to the world. I didn’t want to be pampered, I just wanted to enjoy being with my people. I started a new habit lately. At bedtime I’ve been telling my boys, “Thanks for being my son”(as if they had a choice). But I just adore when it is followed by, “Thanks for being my mom.”

Time…

 

Weathering the Storms

20180314_120953Yesterday I wore my firefighter pants. Usually this is no big deal, I wear them all the time. I love my big comfy black pants that say firefighter down one leg. Although I loved these pants the second my firefighter got them for me, I thought it was a bit silly to wear them because after all, I am not the firefighter, my hubby is. I thought it would be far more appropriate for my pants to say fire wife. But alas, they are sweatpants so I pulled an Elsa, Let it go, and wore the pants, because I adore sweatpants. And wore them I did. I wear these pants often. I actually cut back on wearing them this year because as I tried to talk my boys into wearing something other than gym pants, I realized that my argument wasn’t very convincing as I stood there in sweat pants.

But yesterday morning, I got out of bed, and LIKE A BOSS, I put on my firefighter sweatpants and realized that although my hubby holds the title of firefighter and goes to emergencies at work, I am the one at home putting out the “fires.” 3 Nor’easters in less than 2 weeks, (I don’t even know if yesterday was a blizzard or not as we lost power for about 12 hours), means that there has been a lot of over time at the station. A lot of over time at the station means that majority of home life falls on my shoulders. And yesterday I put on my firefighter pants proudly because when hubby told me he took the 24 for the storm, I didn’t even have a temper tantrum. That’s right, I rolled with it. Sure I was sad. I don’t enjoy weathering the storms without my man. But weathering actual storms without my man is a lot different that weathering life’s storms without my man, and thank you God, that I don’t have to weather those kinds of storms alone.

You might be wondering what kind of fires I am putting out at home. KEEPING 3 SMALL HUMANS ALIVE IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. Not to mention the job of keeping my sanity, another very serious job. We are currently on week 3 of concussion recovery here. So I basically spend a lot of time reminding middle child that he has a concussion… It goes something like this, “please don’t climb on that chair, you have a concussion.” “No you can’t go play basketball, you have a concussion.” “You need to go to bed early, you have a concussion.” “Sorry no sledding, you have a concussion.” “CHILD, DID YOU HEAR A WORD THE DOCTOR SAID? YOU HAVE A CONCUSSION!!!” I am also still checking on 3rd child’s bowel movements daily since the constipation/vomiting craziness that occurred a few months back(see Life is so Daily post). And then there is child one who wants to back hand spring off of concrete onto concrete, Lord have mercy! I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

Keeping 3 small humans alive is exhausting. It involves more than I could have ever dreamed or imagined. And I’m not just trying to do this job, I’m trying to not suck at it. As I’ve looked around the world around me whether it be on social media, through conversations with actual people, or by observation, I realize that a big goal is to raise small humans to be caring, compassionate, and competent members of society. How does one do this? Honestly! Lots of prayer, that’s for sure. I’ve had to take a step back and examine our lives. With my firefighter’s schedule and my boys growing to be almost as tall as me, I figured it is time to delegate responsibilities so not so much falls on my shoulders. It may take more time out of my day to sit with my six year old so he can pack his lunch, but if I do it now, maybe he will be doing this independently soon. The floor may not get swept perfectly by my eight year old, but he is learning to help and contribute. For a ten year old, taking out the recycling and replacing the bag is a pretty straight forward job.

So yesterday, when I wanted to be snuggling up with my firefighter watching the snow fall outside, instead I got to snuggle up in my firefighter pants with my 3 small humans, knowing that my husband and I have a partnership in our marriage. Will there ever be a storm that he is home for? Maybe not. But I have no doubt during these winter storms in New England that if I need him, he will be here, and in a big truck to boot. He’s got his gear on at work and I’ve got mine on at home. Now all I need is a shiny red truck =)

“The problem with life is that it is so daily.”

Wow, it has been far too long since I have blogged. It has been far too long since I last wrote much of anything. My heart aches for it when it is absent from my life. Most days I think, yeah, no big deal, I’ll try tomorrow. But tomorrow always comes and goes, it always does. I heard an expression recently, “the problem with life is that it is so daily,” how true is this. I can’t think of a more accurate statement, well actually I can but that one is for another day. I don’t want to say life gets in the way, but there is always something going on. Even today, I feel like I have to choose between working out and writing on my “day off.” Writing wins, it comes in first place today. Although I have been craving time on my bike down in the dungeon lately, maybe I’ll get a chance later, because today I crave writing like yesterday I craved chocolate. My mind, my body, my soul feel like a piece of me is absent when I don’t have a pen in my hand or a keyboard under my finger tips. Just like God gave my husband the gift of his lifelong dream to be a firefighter, God put stories in my mind and words on my tongue that need to come out.

“The problem with life is that it is so daily.” Yes indeed, life happens every day! Like yesterday, my 6 year old came home with new shoes because his shoes broke and the sweet note from his teachers that talked about how they needed to duct tape his shoes until they found an extra pair in the classroom that fit him. I have been in his classroom several times this year and can just picture the comical scene of his teachers wrapping his shoes in duct tape, bless their hearts, they love those kids so much.

“The problem with life is that it is so daily.” I stopped at the firehouse to get the debit card from my fireman this morning and he told me he’s probably not coming home tomorrow. Thank you Lord for providing overtime to take care of these bills that come every month and providing food for all these growing boys that need to be fed at least 3 times a day(they want dinner every night?! Come on that is like so daily!!!) And this is the perspective I must have, a perspective of thankfulness and gratitude, mixed with a dash of laughter, otherwise I would cry at doing another weekend on my own. But the good Lord provides, and he knows that all three boys need new shoes, even if that means that it is currently Friday and daddy won’t be home until late Monday afternoon. It is ok. It is ok.

January was one of the longest months I can recall. I would even go so far as to say November-January were all a big blur looking back and reflecting. While life was so daily, we had a sick child for a long time, from Thanksgiving week until almost Christmas. We had a sick child who experienced vomiting episodes for 3 weeks and when he wasn’t vomiting he was waking up 4-5 nights a week with belly pain. I hate belly aches, because, I legit can’t fix them. I can rub tummies til my wrist is numb, but I can’t take the pain away. I was so tired and so worried I didn’t know what to do. It clearly wasn’t the stomach bug, as no one else had it. It wasn’t strep, which we tested for after round 2 of vomiting. I started keeping a food journal and restricting food. By the time round 3 of vomiting came along, I was physically and emotionally spent as I’m sure my husband was too. Round 3 was so severe that we contemplated the emergency room. Little man and I were able to rest all the next day and by Monday went back to the pediatrician for tests(it was now December). They tested for everything, food allergies, kidney function, etc… At some point that week when he was still complaining DAILY of belly aches, I pushed for an abdominal x-ray. By that evening we knew that poor guy was severely constipated and began treating him for that. A little note to all you moms out there with kids independent in the bathroom; if it’s coming up, it might not be going out, something that I had no idea about.

So from there I thought we were good and in the clear. Lab results were coming in slowly. The first phone call revealed one funky result that needed a follow up at MGH because it indicated that he could have cystic fibrosis. ROCK MY WORLD, WHAT!? Repeat after me, google is not your friend, google is not your friend. Yay me, I managed to not google Lipase(the enzyme) or cystic fibrosis. Instead I walked around in that anxiety driven fog. Bare minimum activity please. I thought we were done at the point when the next phone call came telling me to call genetics at MGH because he could have a metabolic disorder or mitochondrial disorder. My firefighter was at work and actually offered to come home. ROCK MY WORLD, WHAT?! Google is not my friend, google is not my friend. But I went to dr google anyway which assured me that my child could indeed be dying from a toxin in his body.  My beautiful thriving child had been symptom free for weeks. Now it felt like we were starting from scratch.

“The problem with life is that it is so daily.” Sometimes and in some seasons, you find yourself going through the motions. I was daily going through the motions. Even though in my heart, oh deep down in my soul, I knew, I just knew that Logan did not have CF, and I knew that he didn’t have a metabolic or mitochondrial disorder, I still had to wait on this daily life to hear back from genetics to book this appointment. But for crying out loud, it was the week before Christmas and nothing was happening, phone calls weren’t being returned, records weren’t being reviewed. FOR THE LOVE, all I could do was go through the motions and pray. We finally got an appointment for April… APRIL. Genetics would be in April, and the test for CF would be the week after New Years.

By the time the week of the CF appointment came, New England was hit with this microburst snow storm. It was wild. It just snowed and snowed. The snow started later than anticipated and ended later than anticipated. I called MGH on the day of his appointment and said, umm, we are totally not coming. For crying out loud, why risk it, I knew my sweet boy didn’t have CF!!

I think it was about a week and a half later, I still needed to reschedule the CF test, when genetics unexpectedly called and left a voicemail saying that they had a cancellation the following day and we could have it if we wanted. I called Kenny and told him, not feeling any big pull to rush to this appointment. We talked about it briefly and got off the phone. He called me back not 5 minutes later and said, DO IT! I called genetics, they had to call me back after making sure it was still available. So I waited, heart in throat. They finally called back, we were in! Now I decided to push it big time. I called the CF lab and asked if they could get Logan in for the test before the genetics appointment, and they could. One trip into MGH, two appointments. Thank you God, everything fell into place.

Only a few short hours later we knew that Logan did not have cystic fibrosis. We bought him a giant cookie for a being a champ at his first test. The next appointment ended up being very long. After a long family history talk, a Logan history talk, and a physical exam, the sweet doctor looked at us and said, “Kids get constipated.” She had no reason to believe our sweet boy had any kind of disorder. At that point she talked about drawing labs to give us some ideas that might point to his developmental delays. So we did that and she also drew his lactic acid which was the funky lab that brought us there. He yelled ow at the nurse who jabbed him with the needle as we hushed him and said, “we are going to McDonald’s! (Yuck, but for him, no, not yuck, this kid was getting chicken nuggets, chocolate milk, I would have bought him the world).

As we sat in the car in rush hour traffic coming out of Boston, I could care less, because our boy was healthy. And two days later, when my house was empty and I finally got a moment alone. I sobbed. I was overwhelmed by emotion that after all these weeks, all the unknown, all the tests, all the waiting. Our sweet, sweet boy was ok, thank you God.

“The problem with life is that it is so daily.” Oh those 2.5 months were so daily. They were painfully daily. But being on the other side of it now, I can look back at the sweet moments in it.

*The first night Logan got sick, in the living room, my oldest looked at me, as I calmly asked him and my middle to bring me different things(paper towels etc), he looked at me and said, “I could never have kids.” I asked why and he began to say that he didn’t know how I was able to just take care of Logan the way that I was. It might have been the most mature thing I ever heard him say.

*Over those weeks of food restrictions, Christopher and Evan had a genuine concern for Logan and never teased or bragged when they could eat something Logan couldn’t.

*I saw love in action as friends reached out to see how Logan was feeling.

*I felt deeply loved when a friend took Christopher and Evan for a whole day after Logan’s 3rd round of sickness. Logan and I would not have gotten the rest we so badly needed had that not happened

“The problem with life is that it is so daily.” The beautiful thing about life is that it is so daily. On a daily basis, God’s mercies are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. When I have a rough day, when I have a parenting fail, or many, when things are just a crazy tornado because shoes are broken, there are dishes in the sink, I didn’t get to spend as much time with my people as I would have liked, the laundry has been in the dryer for 2 days, my fireman has been gone for 84 hours, there is comfort in life being daily. Because the laundry and dishes will still be there tomorrow, and God willing, I will have another day with my family where I can learn from my parenting fail, recover from the crazy tornado that is my life, and we can all learn to have a bit more grace with one another.

I Quit Hallmark Part 2

I mentioned in my last post that I have been feeling lonely. My firefighter has been working a lot. In the past when he worked a lot I would get frustrated, but right now, in this season of life, I just miss him so much. Maybe I’m finally growing up and settling into this lifestyle, maybe it just took all those years to not be resentful of his time away but instead to be thankful that he has a job that he loves and it pays the bills. Not many people can say that, so in that we are very fortunate. And yes, I miss him because he is gone, but more so because I love him.

A few weeks ago people in California were living in uncertainty. Hour to hour, day to day, depending on which way the wind blew, these people did not know if they would have to leave their homes, these people did not know if they would lose their homes. My dad, my sister, and her family have been living in California for a few months now, and they were part of that uncertainty. While I spoke to my sister on the phone one day she told me of a firewife in California who’s husband had been gone for weeks fighting those fires. I can’t imagine being that firewife with a husband fighting wildfires, being concerned for his safety, and having very little communication with him because every minute is critical.

Once the danger was over, I forgot about that firewife. But in the last few days, that story popped into my head and brought me perspective. Right now, my firefighter is coming to the end of a 36 hour shift. I’ve talked to him on the phone several times, we have texted, he even answered my SOS text yesterday morning that read, “I either need you to come fix the sink or tell me how.” I got under the sink in crisis mode with a flash light and an allen wrench but I had no idea where to stick the thing, I only knew that this was the tool he uses when the garbage disposal is acting up. I stuck that wrench in every hole I saw, but I had no idea what to do with it once I stuck it in those places, no idea if the pipes were going to explode all over me or if I was going to get electrocuted, yes I realize I’m being dramatic. But man, was I ever thankful when I heard that ladder truck outside responding to my broken sink call. Most days, he’s only a phone call away.

On most 24 hour plus shifts, I take comfort in my alone time with a good sappy Hallmark movie, but it has occurred to me that perhaps these stories are feeding the fire of my lonely season. Our lives are not perfect, we go through messy times, but we are together, and God is good and faithful and true. I’m incredibly thankful for the work He is doing in my heart right now to teach me how to get through the tough days, because the tough days will always come. When I look back on those tough times, it has what has drawn my firefighter and I closer together. So if any fire wives are reading this and struggle with being alone, take comfort in this, being apart is hard, but it makes the times we are together even more valuable.

I quit Hallmark

Loneliness… In all these years as a fire wife, this hasn’t come up often. Maybe I feel it now because I don’t have little people nipping at my heals from sun up til sun down. Maybe I didn’t have time to think about it before. Maybe I was too busy.  Whatever the reason, this has been a current struggle of mine. Between overtime, recertification classes, union stuff, the regular 24’s and then the part time jobs, I’m alone a lot. A few weeks ago as I was loading my people in my van heading to gymnastics for my oldest and he was getting into his truck, headed for an unexpected overtime, I kissed him and said, “2 ships passing in the night.”

On top of missing my firefighter, there is something about this time of the year that gets to me. I miss my mom terribly on Halloween-not because she made a big deal out of the day-but because every year when I dress them up, I think about how much she would have loved to see them. And then we set those clocks back and it gets cold like all of a sudden so I know I am missing out on some serious vitamin D and that fresh air. Blink- and everyone is getting ready for Thanksgiving. Now I’m not trying to be a downer today, but I have a hard time with Thanksgiving too. This is why I quit Hallmark

I was out walking with my bff the other day and I told her that I wasn’t feeling like myself. I’m tired, I’m lonely, I’m being pulled in every direction by every person in my house who has a need, and I’m not looking forward to Thanksgiving. Why? Because I have picture perfect, Norman Rockwell, Hallmark channel, expectations of what I think this day should be and it’s not. My parents didn’t make a big deal out of holidays. In fact, my dad worked nights so when I was in elementary school we celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday instead of Thursday, and at a certain point when my parents marriage was headed down the tubes, Thanksgiving just disappeared. Now that I’m married and have these 3 little blessings, I’ve put all these unrealistic expectations on this day because, well, I guess Dr. Phil might say that I feel this way because I missed out on it in my own youth and want it to be “Hallmark” for my kids. It wasn’t until I said all of this out loud that I realized the problem is all in my head. My bff is great, like she is totally awesome. I ❤ U KW!! Who else would look at me and say, “I think you need to take a break from Hallmark movies for a while.” I laughed, but later realized, when I put on a Hallmark movie, that she was right. I’m idolizing these perfect scenes of love and perfection in these movies, these movies that are not real life. And as I’m watching these movies, I’m not craving the situations these people are in, because they all come from some kind of messy background; widowed, divorced, married to a career, afraid of commitment… The list goes on and on, but such is life. We all have our messy stuff that would make great Hallmark storylines, but what about the happily ever after?

So I quit Hallmark! Instead I watched reruns of Friends. I realized, my kids don’t need fancy centerpieces or place cards. They don’t need organized pinterest inspired games and crafts. They don’t even need the food for crying out loud, because they don’t eat it anyway. Every year they fill up on cheese, crackers, and pepperoni then they sit down and eat a roll. Oh well! This year I’m going to look at what my kids get, because they get exactly what they need, time with their family, and that is more than enough. In their minds they already have family traditions; spending time with their cousins, eating Nannies chocolate pudding pie with whipped cream(after their rolls of course), going to our town’s annual bon fire then coming home for string cheese and to watch Charlie Brown. Nothing about it is over the top, but this is what they know, and this is what they love. So this year, I’m going to embrace it with them. I’m going to be present and thankful for each person sitting around our table and I’m going to do my best to let them know that I’m thankful!

 

Stress Paralyzed

Stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, this is how I am feeling. Really the exhaustion should always be an indicator for me to slow it down a bit. Truth is, it is mid October and I’m struggling to get into the school year routine. I’m rushing every morning and am overloaded every afternoon and evening. I’m way too hard on myself, I know this is true.

But the truth I am holding on to today is that I know, far beyond anything else, is that God will take care of my needs. I KNOW IT. How? I just need to look at my past and remember the joy on the mountain tops he has blessed me with as well as the sorrows he has walked through with me in the valleys of this life.

He has answered every whispering prayer of my heart-even if it wasn’t in a way I wanted Him to.  Yes… No… Not now… They are all answers. I give my boys these answers when they ask me questions. Can I have a piece of gum? Yes. Can I ride without my booster seat? No. Can I watch a movie? Not right now. Every question gets an answer, but not every answer is yes.

I was encouraged this week by a blog called Finding Joy and a video blog by the Truth Bomb Mom. I seriously want both of these women to be part of my inner circle. I want to do life with them. Finding Joy talked about waiting for tomorrow. That totally reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book we read tonight, Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Towards the middle there is a section on waiting, everyone is just waiting. I’m totally guilty of making excuses and putting off until tomorrow, as if I’m guaranteed tomorrow. But how many times this week did I move the folded laundry from the bed to the floor, to the bed, to the floor. Why? Because I could put it away tomorrow. Well tomorrow came and went and I forgot about the laundry on my bed until bedtime because I never go in my room during the day and at bed time I want to go to bed. I know the laundry is not a make it or break it deal, but seriously if I just took 2 minutes to put it away before bed, I would have one less load to put away, when? TOMORROW!!! Ya know what else got me this week? Facebook. The boys were all headed for bed and I was tired so I thought I would scroll for just a sec… yeah, can you scroll for just a sec? Cause I can’t. So I scrolled and scrolled, and when I got up, I remember that not only did I have to do whatever I got up to do, but I also had to make lunches and switch the laundry to the dryer and possibly wash more dishes. Well I took my phone and I gave it a timeout. Yup I tossed it on my bed(maybe next to the folded laundry) and I left it there for the rest of the evening because I was not going to use it as an excuse anymore. This was like eye opening stuff to me. I tell me kids to clean up when they are done and ready to move on to something else, so why shouldn’t I? Then there’s Truth Bomb Mom who did a permission video this week, basically reminding moms that we don’t need to be perfect or get everything done. That some days are going to be great and others days won’t.

So as I’m feeling tired and stressed, I have some choices… I could wallow in it and wait for tomorrow(wait for when we have more money or wait for when my kids don’t try to rip each others faces off the second the phone rings or wait for my firefighter to be home more), or I could DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! So yesterday I wallowed. But today, today I did something. Today I did NOTHING! I kept my tired butt in bed reading for myself until 8:30am, watched 3 movies with my boys, worked on some gardening-for 2 hours, basically uninterrupted, made dinner and served it on paper plates, bathed 2 children and had everyone in bed before 9(there was a nose bleed incident that delayed this process but I think we are all good now). I was tired, but it was the least amount of fatigue I had all week. This was such a good reminder for me of why self care is so important. Mom’s Night Out reference coming at ya(if you haven’t seen it, you must), I’ve got to put on my oxygen mask before assisting others. If I’m tired and worn out, everything I do is basically going to suck because nothing will sound as good as going to bed. I’m so glad I got to recharge today.  In this coming week, I will not put off until tomorrow. I will finish my essay for submission. I will start writing for the  book idea I’ve been working on. I will love my people and give them the best of me every chance I get because that cannot wait until tomorrow. And now since I am oh so ready to go to sleep, I will put away the laundry that is on my bed!

Have you recharged lately? What will you do to take care of yourself in the next week? Feel free to share in the comments!

This is MY 24 on

 

All of my children are at school and my fireman is on his 24. It’s just an ordinary day in my life. I managed to get everyone up and dressed in picture day appropriate clothes with no tantrums, although one child did style his hair to have one eye completely covered while the hair on the other side of his face is brushed nicely to the side, we may not be purchasing his pictures. As we walked to the bus stop, I asked my boys to show me their beautiful smiles that they will have in their pictures. After 2 showed me their unapproved picture day faces, I may or may not have told them I would destroy them if they made those faces, but there are no witnesses so you can’t prove those words came out of my mouth. I gave them all kisses(still allowed, thankfully) and watched them leave for the day.

I changed it up a bit today and got a haircut, a special treat for myself, and then after a few household chores, I picked up my 1 year old nephew and took him to story time for the first time. Hopefully the blue paint washes out of his clothes and skin(apologies to his mom and dad). A mom I know from previous years with my boys said, “Who is this, you don’t have a baby?” So I told her very matter of factly, “I wasn’t ready to give up my Wednesday morning story time routine, so I stole a baby.” (Insert pause, possible awkward giggle), “No, he’s my nephew.” As I followed my nephew all over the children’s room and then played with him at the playground, I thought back to those busy days when my boys were so little and problems usually had an easy fix like singing a song together or a kiss and a hug. Sweet memories that I most likely did not appreciate in the moment.

By the time I got home, I knew it was time to get down to business around here, the bathroom needed to be cleaned(no matter what I do, it always smells like urine-I am no longer fighting this, instead I am embracing it, and lighting a candle), I needed to eat lunch, read for my bible study tomorrow, work on gutting my basement, fold laundry, write, etc.

By the time I got down to the basement I allotted myself 20 minutes to sort/organize/whatever. At the tail end of my time, I started looking through a box that came out of someone’s truck(I am saying someone so that I am not pointing fingers). There were tools, eye glass cases, an empty water bottle, instruction manuals, and then… I pulled out… a small Tupperware container… containing… ugh… I can’t even… I don’t even know what it was or what it had been, all I know is that I stopped singing Backstreet Boys-Drowning, and examined this brown liquid that may have always been a liquid or that has been in my basement so long that it is now in liquid form. It didn’t spill on me, but I swear I smelly funky. I am fortunate to report that my face did not freeze in the position that it was when I pulled this container out, and at that I called it quits. Cleaning my bathroom that perpetually smells like pee had to be better than cleaning the unknown! PS-to that special someone, flowers and a foot rub may erase this memory from my brain but not from my blog.

Honestly, the bathroom felt like a welcome relief, so I put the past behind me and put some music on my phone and placed it on the window sill, because, now that I am home alone, I can’t clean without singing and dancing(no dancing in the bathroom though, too small, I could hurt myself). As I scrubbed my counter top, I couldn’t help but wonder if my neighbor who was out on his ladder working on his siding thought I was serenading him with Charlie Puth and Ed Sheeran.

Now I’m sitting here with my feet up, laughing at my day, looking at the laundry basket of clean laundry, listening to Darius Rucker. My shoes are finally off(I was told yesterday that I may have a stress fracture and that I need to break up with my flip flops and bare feet for awhile-sadness). I have an hour until my house is filled with chaos and volume again. Here is what I am learning in all of my lonely hours-breathe, don’t take things so seriously, laugh, joke around, relax, love.

9/11

IMG_0472I feel like being honest today, not that I’m not usually honest,  but I feel like being raw, it’s that kind of day and with 6 followers, what have I got to lose? 6 followers, please don’t leave me!

I met my husband 16 years ago, a little over a month before 9/11. He dreamt of being a firefighter like his dad and I dreamt of being a writer. It wasn’t until we started dating long distance and I started to fall in love that I told him that I wasn’t interested in making a life with a firefighter. I wanted a nice predictable, tidy life, with a bow on it, perhaps. A life opposite of the one I grew up in. I didn’t want the uncertainty of being the wife of a firefighter, a life that I knew nothing about except…the risk, the danger, the… possibility of being killed in the line of duty… death. I was scared of death, everything about it, even talking about it, I couldn’t do it. My husband and I dated for 5 years before we got married and the two things that had the potential to break us up were our long distance relationship and his dream of being a firefighter.

In 2004 hubby and I graduated with our Bachelors, him with a degree in criminal justice and me with a degree in communications and English. He got a job In a retirement community as a security officer and I got a job in a daycare, neither one of us living our dreams. My hubby works so hard at everything he does that he moved up rather quickly in his job. His job as a security officer got him his EMS license, and from there he got his EMT. I knew he wanted more, there was something missing, even after we got married and had our first son, something was missing. He started talking about the fire exam more and discussing paramedic school. My heart about the whole issue was changing. Now we were married and I wanted my husband to live his dream. I remember when I told him to go for it. He jumped in, 100% and I finally let go and supported him. Blood, sweat, and tears marked the years of paramedic school, the call to the fire exam, the physical training, the fire academy, the pregnancies, the potty training, etc, but we survived, and on the day he graduated from the fire academy, I was ginormously pregnant with our third son, and beaming with pride for my husband.

9/11 brings back different memories for everyone. We all remember where we were when we heard the planes crashed into the twin towers. I lived in NY at the time, working in a daycare on the bottom floor of a 7 story building. People on the top floor could see the crash. It was an unbelievably scary day. We put babies in cribs and evacuated the building, waiting for parents to come pick up their children. I called my mom, over and over again, wondering if she got out of the city. She worked across the street from the twin towers. I couldn’t breathe easy until I finally got the call that she was safe, on a ferry to Staten Island. But she was scared and covered in debris.

My friends and I, brand new high school graduates watched the news in unbelief. That day began the countdown for me, I was scared to be in NY and ready to leave. As if it was New York’s fault that terrorists attacked the twin towers. As if it was New York’s fault that so many people died that day. Truth is we live in a broken and fallen world and there are bad people out there. The bible says that the devil comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. The comfort in tragic events like 9/11 or the Boston marathon bombing is the good that comes out of them, because good always triumphs over evil. Good always triumphs over evil, ALWAYS. Hard to believe that when we are too scared to watch the news because it is bombarding us with every bad thing that has happened in the last 24 hours. There is good out there, so why do we focus on the bad? It’s like gossip, bad news always spreads faster than good news. But good always wins, because when bad things happen, people band together, they forget about politics and choosing sides. Thank God for all of those first responders who ran into those towers when everyone was running out. Thank God for those people on that flight that banded together against the terrorists ruining their original plot. Thank God for the emergency workers, who are away from their families responding to hurricane relief in Houston.

For the longest time, I couldn’t watch anything 9/11 related. Even when I left NY, the fear gripped me and brought me back to that day. And then, my husband became a firefighter. While the memories of that day will never change, the meaning of the day impacted me differently. You see it wasn’t so much about remembering the fear, it was now about remembering the civilians, honoring the fallen fire fighters and police officers, knowing that the final alarm can come at any time. So now on 9/11 I take my boys to the ceremony that my small town puts together to support my fireman and his brothers, no matter how it makes me feel, no matter how choked up I get when I hear those bagpipes, and no matter how my eyes sting when I hear the Fireman’s prayer.

Almost a year ago my guys and I got to visit my family in Colorado for Thanksgiving. It was amazing to be with my family for a holiday, the first one in 7 years, we hadn’t celebrated together since 2009 when my mom passed away. While we were visiting we had the opportunity to go the Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Colorado Springs. The name of every firefighter who died in the line of duty was engraved in this beautiful memorial site. And as I’m walking through the rows, quietly observing and paying my respects, my oldest son says, “wow, a lot of firefighters died on that day.” I told him to check the date. “September 11, 2001,” he replied. I looked at him, and he understood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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