A sentimental journey

Join me on a sentimental journey through life with my Littles - the joys, the love, the laughter, and our adventures with travel, foods, school and more! Join the discussion - I'd love to hear from you!

The jar…

So I have this jar I bought. Nothing fancy…just a jar with a lid. It’s clear glass and rather large. Glass lid. Has a little label on it that you can use chalk to write on – whatever you want to label the jar with. Simple. Plain.

I bought it with the intent to label it “2017 Blessings” – then “2018 Blessings,” “2019 Blessings,” and so on. My plan was that on Thanksgiving, we would open the jar, pull out our blessings one by one and read them over dinner – so many reasons to be thankful that year. Nice, right?

Well, it’s June 11 and the jar is empty. Yes, that’s right. Empty.

I am embarrassed. I am disappointed – mostly in myself.

There have been so many blessings thus far in 2017 that I cannot believe I haven’t written them down and put them in the jar.

Let’s start with the fact that my Dad made it through Christmas 2016 after a really terrible scare through the holiday season. Then the visit I had with him the first weekend in January – the one during which we had some precious time to just

sit and talk – about a lot of things. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the universe. I left there not knowing if that was goodbye – what a life changing series of moments. Thankfully he’s hangin’ in there and another visit is coming!

And then there is the new chapter in my career – my new role with Olympus. True testament that God provides. HE must have known I needed a change, and HE provided it – and I have never been so happy to share what I have learned and share my gifts with an organization and the people who truly appreciate it. Yet another life-changing blessing for the jar in 2017.

Steve and I celebrated 20 years of marriage in 2017, and took the time and opportunity to share it with our precious Littles through a beach vow renewal on the stunning island of Maui. Makena Cove was the spot, and special it was!

From the Christian/Hawaiian tradition, the blowing of the conch shell, the ukulele serenade to the sweet reaffirmation of our love for each other while our Littles snuggled at our sides. I just know that they will remember it for a lifetime – and pray that they remember it when they are in their own marriages, so they understand what commitment truly means. What an incredible blessing – again – the jar…

Now we are in summer, and another blessing fell in our lap. Trump, the yellow lab puppy, introduced to us through Facebook of all places – is now a member of the family. He is so sweet, and bad, and sometimes we call him “dum-dum” for the silly stupid things he does (and eats). But he couldn’t have come at a more perfect time…the Littles are a perfect age to learn what it means to love something living that counts on them for their well-being. It’s been fun (and tiring). But mostly fun.

Again…still haven’t added that to the jar.

It may be the end of the year before I remember to actually get some cute paper and start adding stuff to the jar. But that doesn’t mean the jar is empty. I guess it just means we are living the blessings – not just putting them into a jar to remember…

Maybe that’s actually the best way.

Maybe the jar needs to be filled with puppy food instead.

Here’s to looking forward to filling the jar of life – metaphorically speaking!

2016…go ahead and drink the wine…

What a year, what a year. Let’s put it this way…it’s was a year full of surprises, and not always the good kind. But when that happens, one hopes that there are lessons learned along the way that make you a better person. More to come on that…

It started out fairly quiet, with the usual falling asleep too early on New Year’s Eve and setting an alarm to (sort of) wake up and watch the ball drop in Times Square. Yes, I am that old! LOL

Early in the year, we were still in moving boxes and getting settled in, while I worked to bring some modern HR practices to a company seemingly still operating in the dark ages in so many ways. It was challenging and invigorating, and despite the challenges, I loved it! I had a fabulous HR staff, and felt great about the progress we were making. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my profession, and that I take pride in working to create an engaging, productive, and fun culture. The rewards are great, and in this company, I became comfortable and confident in the work we were doing.

In May of 2016, my family received a tremendous blow. My Dad, the best man I know, was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer. Even though they caught it early, it was Stage 3 because it did reach the lymph system. And yes, Dad was a smoker years ago, but quit at least 30 years ago, so this was unexpected and obviously super scary! Simply put, I am NOT ready to lose EITHER of my parents yet! They are too young, and so am I!

I went up to visit just before he started treatment, just for moral support and to spend some time…worried about how he would handle the aggressive treatment they had planned. I took Taylor with me, with the plan to lighten the mood with her infectious silliness and laughter. It was fun, even though our moods were somewhat darkened by the upcoming treatment implications.

After that, Dad went into 2 full months of very aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, and I think I just held my breath to some degree during that time. He thankfully handled the treatments well – no extreme sickness, but it did wipe him out in terms of energy. For that, I was grateful, because it could have been so much worse.

As if that wasn’t enough, on July 8th, 4 p.m., I was unceremoniously fired from my position. Apparently, according to them, I did not “fit the culture” of the organization. The real truth was that the owner’s father, an 83 year old “old school” type of leader, didn’t have an appreciation for Human Resources in general, and certainly not my commitment to a more empowering, collaborative and less dictatorial style. So just like that, I was dismissed.

If you’ve ever been fired, you know how it feels. For me, someone raised with an incredible work ethic and a history of stellar performance, it was unbelievable – and that’s an understatement. I mean, seriously – even when I was in high school and had a part time job (and probably thought about quitting just so I could go to a party) – I was never disciplined or fired – I just simply couldn’t do anything but the right thing.

It was confirmed that my departure had everything to do with the old man – not fair, but blood is thicker than water, so it was what it was. But it still was quite the blow to my confidence and made me re-evaluate where I was in my career and where I wanted it to go. It goes without saying that trusting another corporation with my livelihood was not at the top of my “desired” list, so there was a lot of soul-searching about my next career move that went on over the 2016 summer.

Honestly, considering the “shit-show” (as I affectionately call it) that was the company’s operation, there was a part of me that thought, “they are not worth my efforts and contributions!” That in itself can be empowering and positive! I can find something better! A company who will appreciate me! That will be grateful for my contributions! YES! YES! YES!

But…the hardest part of the whole thing was that I had hired a fantastic HR team – both ladies who were amazing and competent and that I grew to know as close friends – and when all this went down, I lost one of those friends. I’m not sure if it was due to fear for her position, or if I really didn’t know her as well as I thought I did, but regardless, it simply HURT. Still hurts. Badly.

So for five months, I spent my time looking for a new position – something I’ve never really had to do – and boy is that depressing. Anyone who has been in that situation knows the job search market is NOT a friendly place. But I won’t digress…let’s just say it wasn’t fun.

I spent the summer looking for a new role, while also planning trips with each of the Littles to fly up to Ohio to visit with Dad…those were bright moments in an otherwise tough times…Dad was looking tired, but was otherwise ok…and I am grateful beyond belief for the time with him, and for the individual travel time I had with each of my Littles. What fun!

To prove there are blessings that come out of trials, I will tell you that I became closer to God than I think I’ve ever been in my life! Church and prayer became a refuge, and I am really feeling the tangible comfort that comes with being closer to HIM. My best friend gave me a daily devotional book, and it is my new addiction – I don’t feel complete if I don’t have that quiet moment with God each day.

We have also made some new incredible friends in the past year since moving back to Texas, and for that we are grateful. Most were made through the Littles’ school and activities or from the actual move itself, and we know what it is to be truly a part of the community, even if there is not enough time to get together as often as we’d like. I’ve also reconnected with old friends from the last time we lived hre (you know who you are), and there’s nothing like picking up where you’ve left off after all those years. Truly a blessing!

Another true blessing was Thanksgiving this year – we drove to Ohio for a full family holiday – my sister Julie hosted – and it was really amazing. All of my siblings, their families, and Mom and Dad, all in the same place, laughing and loving….truly a gift! Dad was tuckered out, but enjoyed the food, and I got extra snuggle time with him on the couch! Yay me!

And then, like magic, upon return from the Turkey Day holiday, I received a position offer from the most amazing company – Director of People – with the best culture, beautiful offices, progressive leadership, and more…and 5 months to the day of being let go, I started my new job! God is good!

So just in time to make sure the Littles had an amazing Christmas, I was back at work! Christmas was magical, especially since all of the Littles are still enthusiastic believers! Christmas morning, it looked like a gymnastics gym that had the American Girl Doll store explode around it, mixed with LEGOs, a bike and a drone for my Little big boy!

Christmas was not without some scary drama, with Dad ending up in the hospital with possible pneumonia and other heart-related complications, but the good news is he was released shortly after the holiday and is resting at home with therapists and my mom there to support his recovery. Again, proof that God is good!

So now I am sitting here, reflecting on the lessons of the past year, and looking forward to a much more (hopefully) simpler and humbler, uneventful 2017. Lessons learned? Yes….simpler is better…don’t get too comfortable….show love to those important to you…move forward no matter what…forgive those who hurt you (and move on)…know your worth, know your strengths…don’t be afraid to ask for help…follow your dreams…make it happen…keep going even when you don’t want to…

And finally….drink the wine!  LOL

 

The tummy bug…and my boy…

The dreaded moment you know…the tummy bug has entered the house. As a mom, you want to run like hell, especially if you are anything like THIS mom – one who would rather be subject to just about anything BUT throwing up! And you just KNOW that once it enters the house, you are on the path to vomitville! Gaaah!

So that aside (and no, it hasn’t reached me yet – maybe all the excessive hand washing and loving from afar actually works), this post is more about my Little Colton and his particular, very personal tummy bug!

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It all started yesterday – I was at a professional appointment, and the Littles were with Daddy at Colton’s soccer practice. I had just called to let them know I was on my way, when Steve had to cut the call short because Little Lauren had just thrown up on the playground. Twice.

One of the blessings (if you can relate blessings to being sick) about my girls when they are sick is that they don’t really complain. They just throw up and move on – sleep, lie around, so easy! I’ve always attributed that reaction to the resilience of kids – you know, they bounce back very often more quickly than we do as grown ups!

So we managed to get through the night – the worst was over with her by bed time, but I awoke early in the morning to the sound of vomiting in the hall bathroom. Thinking immediately it was Lauren, I hopped out of bed ready to console her and help clean up any potential “misses.”

To my surprise, it was Colton. Poor little kid. One of those scenes where he’s sitting on the potty with diarrhea, and vomiting on the floor. Not too much of a mess – there really wasn’t much in his stomach (thank GOD), so we cleaned up and got him tucked in lying on the couch. That would be TWO home from school today!

As the day progressed, we dealt with more dry heaves and diarrhea, and through all this, my theory of the resiliency of kids became challenged.

Baby boy, as it turns out, is quite the drama king! Seriously, he was moaning, crying, shouting out, “Tummy bug – what do you WANT with me????” I mean, as a mom, it’s so sad to see them sick and hurting, but c’mon – how do I stop myself from nearly spitting-out-my-drink laughing when that happens? Add to that the writhing on the couch shouting, “why me?” and “I’m not sure I’m going to make it!” and you have a full-on reality show script!

In his drama, though, he is SO sweet it just makes me want to cry! Here are some quotes from the day:

“Mommy…even though I know there is nothing you can do about the tummy bug, you are my only medicine.” Cue the “awwwwwwwww!” Seriously? This kid – my love! I have my own tummy bug prevention strategy, BTW…

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He asked late in the day to get into the tubby for a nice warm bath, which of course I accommodated – who doesn’t love a warm tubby? While he was in there, he asked me to pour water over his head, face and down his back. With each pour came different remarks, including:

“That one felt like a warm snuggle…”
“That one felt like a thousand kisses…”
“That one felt like a long warm hug…”

I’ve said it before – he is the sweetest little boy I’ve ever seen in my life, and he’s gentle, kind and loving. And apparently I can add “poetic” to that list!

So even though the tummy bug is here (still hoping to escape it), I am grateful for the insight into this Little guy’s persona as I love him through it. And yes, like any good mom, I started thinking – college scholarship for drama in his future? LOL JK

Pray the bug leaves soon – but I’ll always have these memories!

It’s official! I am a “soccer mom!” And…

So it’s finally official! After dabbling in extracurricular activities with the Littles on an intermittent basis, largely because it’s been hard to get them to said activities with all the hours I’ve been working. Now, I have some time and flexibility, and so being the “overachiever” (and I say that tongue in cheek) that I am, I have jumped into that world with both feet!

I am now a soccer mom, a gymnastics mom, and soon-to-be swimmer mom! Gaaah! What are the odds I can keep up with all of this? Seriously, so far I am LOVING it! There is something truly magical about watching your little ones out there “doing their thing,” and enjoying it! Whether they are a superstar or just doing their best, I simply love it!

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I am a big believer that keeping your Littles “busy” because then they are too busy to get themselves into something naughty – thanks, Mom! My hope is also that they continue to grow into and display their very own gifts and personalities, and learn to know what it is to be on a team or what it is to excel in something that they love. Making new friends is awesome too – I love hearing them say “hey” or “bye” to each other as they come and go. Mom gushing…though this crazy schedule has just started, I look forward to the continued chaos!

Ok…enough gushing – now let me offer some musings about my observations so far…

Colton has chosen to continue with soccer, and boy is he the cutest soccer player I’ve ever seen! I love to see him all dressed in his uniform and ready for a game. I have fond memories of playing myself, and as such, I know the game and can follow along, offer “relevant” cheers and advice on what to focus on and what we need to practice. He so clearly loves to run and chase the ball and so on, so long as it’s not heading his way by another kid coming straight at him! He tends to play defense, which is very slow when our team is down the field trying to score, but the second it’s heading his way, he’s raring to go. The kicker (no pun intended)? He is afraid. Afraid of getting hit with the ball, afraid of getting hit by another kid. Just the visual that a kid is about to kick the ball in his direction is met with a flinch and even his arms up and head turned away “just in case!”

I can’t remember if that was me when I played or not. What I do remember is that I ended up quitting right about the time I started to get (hooters) – let me tell you – a soccer ball to a pre-teens ta-ta’s HURTS! LOL

So I plan to practice with him – to teach him to be a bit more aggressive with defending – and as long as he wants to play, I’ll support it of course! But in the back of my mind, I wonder if a non-contact sport may be more up his alley. You know, swimming, track…? We’ll see! But right now, he’s still the cutest little soccer player I know.

Little Lauren is starting swimming lessons in a few weeks (wow are they booked up fast here). She loves being in the pool, and she has a fierce competitive spirit! Her love language is most definitely 13445542_10206908370687657_3478816580629499935_n-2“words of affirmation” and the biggest motivation for her is praise for what she is accomplishing. She gets SO excited and SO proud of herself when you honor her accomplishments – and the giggle that follows is the most delightful thing a mom and dad can hear.

Now the other part….this child, this beautiful, gifted child….is about the most uncoordinated Little I have ever seen! She literally could fall down standing still, and we’re constantly looking 5 steps ahead of her to try to prevent an accident. It seems she is just too busy to pay attention to where she is and where she’s going. We’ve tried gymnastics with her (ooooh, too scared on that beam!), tennis (she fell and scraped knees and elbows) – and now, she’s decided she wants to try swimming! Mom says, “yea!” For those of you who don’t know, I did swim in college. Certainly wasn’t Olympic material, but I did ok. It’s a great sport – with both team and individual accomplishments – and the best part? You really can’t get hurt! Ok…tendonitis, maybe, but that’s repetitive motion.

So she starts in a few weeks with lessons on how to do the traditional strokes. She is great in the pool, but doggie paddling will never be an Olympic sport. So I am eager to see how she does…stay tuned!

And then there is Taylor…

Taylor, by far, is our most athletic child. She is strong, stocky, and fearless – which scares me quite a bit actually! She just started gymnastics and tumbling classes, which, truthfully, I had to sign her up for because I need her to know how to do these things SAFELY – because she practices all around the house! Literally cartwheels everywhere, and has been threatening to do a back handspring!

So here we go, her first class at gymnastics – a free trial class provided by the gym to give her an opportunity to see if she “likes it.” HA! I told them, “Oh, she’ll like it!” I then told the coach to keep an eye on her, because “she thinks she’s ready for Rio!” He laughed and assured me she’d be ok.

To keep a long story short, let’s just say she loved it AND aced it! Coach came out after and said, “Well, she certainly is confident!” Ya think? And he told her that if she could just master a particular bar movement (hard!), she’d be moved right up to the advanced class!

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Oh, boy…how awesome is that? I was so proud of her! And wouldn’t you know, the very next class, she mastered that move, and she’s moving up! We celebrated with ice cream at Baskin Robbins, and I gushed over her success (as all moms do, of course)!

Next, her first tumbling class – again – aced it and a different coach told her she would be moving up quickly! She is SO excited!

Of course, I’m proud – of course! However – all this moving up and gushing I think has unleashed a bit of the beast of EGO! Let me tell you – she is SO proud of herself! And she should be, don’t get me wrong. But she is super SUPER proud! Like, do a perfect cartwheel, then hands-on-hips-(kind of like this photo)-strut-around-like-the-Queen-of-Sheba-proud! And although it is so incredibly cute and funny to me when she does it, I need to reign in the “I am SO much better than anyone in my group” pride.

Yes, we’ve had talks about it. And at the end of the day, I think moving up is going to be good for her skills AND good for leveling the playing field a bit. After all – those who are already in the advanced class will likely be a bit ahead of her – something to strive for and something a bit humbling too.

Parenting is hard. You want them to have all the confidence in the world, but in all of that confidence they also have to find humility. So I am a soccer mom, a gymnastics mom, and a swimming mom. But most of all, I am a loving mom that wants and needs for them to understand ALL of the highs, lows, sportsmanship and grace of sharing their gifts with the world. I think I may learn more during all this than they will!

Wish me luck!