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!

Your job is not to be the best…

“Your job is not to be the best; it’s just your job to DO your best, and let God take care of the rest.” (Rebecca Lindenbach)

Today was a tough day for my Littlest (or should I say youngest?) – and probably just as tough for this Momma, who isn’t as great as their Dad is at controlling her emotions when it comes to our Littles.

So today was Taylor’s 3rd gymnastics competition EVER. She loves gymnastics. Actually, that is an understatement. She eats, sleeps, lives, dreams, and breathes gymnastics. She has since she was really little – like 2 or 3. Forget board games, playing with dolls, coloring, watching kids’ TV – she’d rather be flipping around, hanging on her bar, or watching endless hours of gymnastics videos on YouTube. Our garage looks like an extension of her gym, with panel mats, other kinds of mats for which I do not know the name, a bar, a balance beam, and even something called an air-track, for which she spent all her own money to acquire.

She spends about 13 hours in a week at practice – soon to be 16 or 17 when we add Saturdays. She insists on being at the gym AT LEAST a half hour early for practice every time. And when she’s not at the gym, she is practicing at home. She is utterly fearless! Her passion is infectious – even for a mom who has NEVER been even close to as fearless as she is.

I finally put her into gymnastics “formally” because I knew she needed to learn how to do all of these things SAFELY. And I haven’t regretted one minute of it…she is strong and fit, and because she is my sassy one, I love that she has something to keep her so busy – which will help her stay out of trouble when she’s older (or at least I hope that’s the case)!

So I’ll say it again…today was her 3rd gymnastics competition EVER. The 2nd one, which just happened to be last weekend, was really great – she powered through, earning places on the podium and even 6th place in the all-around for her level and division. I beamed with pride for her, and inside, was praying that she could feel and enjoy that rush of being recognized for all her hard work and effort. She gave it her all and it showed.

So today, I was expecting no less. She is a competitor…tough and proud and skilled. The competition started at 8 a.m. and was about 45 minutes away from home. That meant a short night of sleep for me, worrying that I would oversleep and she would miss it or something. But the alarm went off as planned, and bleary-eyed, I dressed and did hair – both for her and me, and we headed off together for the meet, stopping only for chocolate donuts (breakfast of champions) and some coffee for mom.

Then the warmups began – her first event was floor, and I immediately noticed she wasn’t warming up her required double-back-handspring. Then she tried it, and landed flat on her bum-bum hard. I knew that was going to be a problem. Now mind you, she’s thrown that double-back-handspring a thousand times, but it’s the one thing that has gotten into her head before, and I knew this wasn’t a good sign. I tried signaling her for her attention – or even her coach’s attention – to no avail. I wanted her to practice it more before her judged routine.

Nothing…

Excruciating as a parent NOT to charge out on the floor to make her do it.

She also didn’t have that game face on. The one she had in the first two meets. She was goofing around with her teammate and her coach. Her body seemed relaxed and undisciplined, vs. her normal serious, stoic and concentrated self. It was annoying.

The day before, she had been in the garage on her equipment. For about 5 hours straight. Practicing all sorts of things, including a skill that is one level up from where she currently stands. I didn’t think anything of it. This child can’t sit still. Her love for it almost seems like something a future Olympian would have. So I don’t try to stifle it or hold it back. In this case, I should have.

She was tired.

And guess what? She did her floor routine. It looked amazing. She was in time with her music. She was tight and precise. She did everything – EXCEPT the double-back-handspring. Just didn’t do it. You can see it here.

I was crushed. I was mad. I was disappointed. Did I mention I was mad?

She scored a 6.750. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me. Then I had a hard time with the fact that I was actually feeling mad at her. I felt like I should be that proud Momma no matter what. I didn’t like the fact that I was disappointed. But I knew she didn’t do her best. I knew she had given herself permission NOT to throw that back-handspring.

The rest of the meet went ok…but she was off. And her coach was not thrilled. He loves coaching her – she is coachable and talented. He was disappointed. And he was hard on her, as he should have been.

It was a somber drive home. There were amazingly grownup talks about being your best and giving your all – and choices about whether or not you want it. It was that very hard balance of showing your disappointment and also not crushing her spirit. It was hard. She cried, quietly. She was mad at herself. She should be. I was proud of her for it. She didn’t do her best and she knew it. Coach told her she was lazy. She was. She knew it.

We went home and took a nap. Snuggled together. Talked some more. She decided she wanted to quit because “it’s so hard.” But I think what is hard for her is the thought of facing her coach tomorrow evening. She will be fine. She won’t quit. She really doesn’t want to.

But it was a hard day. I hope I did the Mom thing right. I really do. I am so unbelievably proud of her and how far she has come in only one (formal) year in the sport. I love her more than life. And those words don’t even cover it. Balancing the “disappointed” in this moment with the “I love you more than life for forever” seems easy. It’s not, only I want her to know that I need her to be her best “her.” The best version of her she could ever be. Because that version of her is the most precious gift SHE or I could ever receive.

She is a gift. She is a champion. She is my baby girl.

(and she wants me to write that I am not mad or frustrated or disappointed or angry…or just scary…LOL) So that is my gift to her for today. 

October already? Musings…..

Wow…it’s October…where did the year go? Yes, October 1st! Christmas decorations have been in stores for at least 6 weeks. I’m starting to believe what I’ve been told – that the older you get, the faster time flies. I’d choose to just believe that time flies faster the more fun you are having. And boy, are we having fun!

The Littles continue to surprise and delight – and how different they all are! Fourth and third grade, each with their own personalities. All BIG personalities! Teaching me new things everyday – about what is important, how each needs attention, how to discipline, coach and, above all, LOVE!

Sometimes we make mistakes (who doesn’t), but we remain super close and I am so grateful for the smiles, snuggles, love and security that is our home and family.

My cousin Jake, who was the cutest ring bearer a wedding could ever have (20 years ago), just got married. I know someday that we will be giving a child away to the love of his/her life – and yet I’m so grateful I still have at least 8-10 years to enjoy my Littles before that happens.

Colton continues to be more his Mother’s son – more interested in creative endeavors than sports. Shameless plug – he has his own YouTube channel – called “TwoTwistedKids” – please subscribe if you have a heart – he will be so excited. He’s determined to be the next YouTube star – or actor, director, producer…Lord help me if he decides he wants to move to New York City or Hollywood someday!

Lauren is our little giver and lover – the most thoughtful little person I’ve ever known. Teaches me to be mindful of being thoughtful every day – and makes me envious of how naturally it comes to her to think of the littlest things that can affect others. What a lovey little girl. Latest obsession? Unicorns, of course!

Taylor is my diva – need I say more? Can’t wait until she’s 13, loves taking selfies and SO careful and particular about her wardrobe. Little fashionista! Sassy as the day is long, and will surely give me a run for my money in the parenting department. She is our athlete – gymnastics her sport of choice. She is her Daddy’s daughter – I don’t have the sassiness and he does. Witty and clever…OMG may spell trouble!

And then there is Trump – AKA “dumdum” – our yellow lab puppy who has brought his own kind of teaching to this already crazy family. We can’t help but love him…he is such a cutie pie. But he is also a big baby, reminding us that he will NOT be ignored! And without enough attention, he will uproot plants, chew on throw rugs, and otherwise make it impossible to pay attention to him when we need some time to relax! Good thing he’s so cute! Just sayin’!

So what’s the point of this post (other than just a good record for my memory lane later)?

It’s this:

Live every moment – IN IT! Be present!
Take time to stare…really look at those you love…because with every day that goes by, they change.
Take time to talk…just sit quietly and find out what is on their little minds…during whatever time of day works best. Sometimes the best conversations I have with my Little ones is when it’s bedtime and during snuggle time.
Appreciate and learn their differences…it will make all the difference in the world – at least I hope and pray.
Let them teach you…every day, in the Littlest of ways. It will be worth it.

Happy October!

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