More than half

I was 19 and Bret was two days from turning 19 years old when we first met.  Next month I turn 38 which means we have crossed the point where I have spent more of my life with Bret than before him.  Bret's grandmother used to tell his dad that he had his mom longer than she (his grandmother had) when joking about what she was like or how she acted.

The highs and lows all ebb and flow as the years keep marching on.  Jobs, moving, having babies, raising those babies, teaching those babies how to drive, losing loved ones, traveling, and making memories fill the spaces in those years.  We grew up together and we changed together and all along the way we made the choice to continue to love each other.  Sometimes this choice was much easier than other times.  I am but only a glimmer of the same person that I was at 19 now 19 years later and the same is true for Bret.  However much I loved him then and man did I think it was impossible to love him more I do.  Through everything he still makes me laugh.  We still have so much to talk about and tell each other.  He is the first person I tell good news and bad news to.

We recently had family pictures taken and there was a one picture of us that I feel really captures us and our marriage.  The photographer said to whisper something sexy in my ear and after a brief pause on his part he leaned over and whispered "something sexy".



In April of this past year Bret and I decided to take on a new adventure together.  Bret and I were approaching weights higher than either of us had ever been.  I was working out regularly doing crossfit and running yet the scale kept inching the wrong direction.

A friend did a lot of low carb cooking and posted pictures of her food and recipes online and it got me thinking.  We have never been good about diets.  Diets in the past have made us cranky, impatient, and really just very miserable people.  Our plan was to try it before our trip coming up in about 8 weeks and see what happened.

It is now September and almost six months since we started our weight loss journey.  Both of us have lost close to 25 pounds each and are feeling great.  Even better it doesn't feel like a diet but more like a lifestyle change.  We don't keep track of calories and we don't keep track of grams of carbs we just avoid bread, flour, pasta, sugar, and high carb foods like potatoes.  We eat a lot of meat, cheese, eggs, and veggies.  I think this has worked for us because it doesn't feel like we are depriving ourselves all the time.  Yes I can't eat a bun on my hamburger but I can have cheese and mayo both of which I have avoided because of the calories and fat for many years now.  Also because of the fat in our diet and because our bodies had plenty of fat to burn we are not hungry and thinking about food all the time.

I always have a big garden in the summer and this past summer we used the produce more than ever.  I made zoodle and spaghetti squash dishes that my kids even thought tasted pretty amazing.  Somethings were higher in carbs but still complex enough that we ate them anyway and it tasted so much better than ever before.  The sweet corn out of our garden was so sweet it felt like a treat.  There is so much information about Keto and carbs and all of it can be swayed as good or bad depending on who you ask.

Nothing in life is a one size fits all and weight loss is no exception.  I wouldn't say that it has always been easy but it hasn't been as hard either.  We feel good, our bodies are clearly telling us this was what they needed, and the way I think about food has changed as well.

Several people have asked how much longer or how much more weight we are trying to lose.  I don't have an answer because I have stopped focusing on the scale so much.  Of course more weight gone would be amazing but as the loss has stalled and slowed down I don't think about it as much.  I ate terrible this past week and last weekend.  We were out of town for a concert and our week has been crazy with practices and substitute teaching.  I also think I made some poor choices because of my cycle and serious cravings for chocolate.  However this morning I weighed myself for the week and was down another pound.  I was completely expecting to have gained weight back.

I think my favorite part is that Bret and I are doing this together.  He cheats way more than I do but it still is working for him.  Every now and then he will crave something and will look online for recipes that work around the carbs.  Last night he made English muffins in the microwave and they tasted good and were low carb. (I think almond flour, eggs, butter, baking powder, etc)  My goal is try and post a few recipes here and there for you guys to try out just for fun.


Dixie Chicken

Yesterday I was listing to Dixie Chick radio Pandora station while cleaning the house.  I am not a huge country music fan but I can belt out with the best of them Strawberry Wine, anything by the Dixie chicks and all of the other songs about great young love.

I was scrubbing the floors and listening to the lyrics of a song and there was something about being 19 and leaving home with just a note because you just can't stop love and the thought occurred to me that 19 was awfully young to leave home for a boy.  Then the next line talked about breakin' her mama's heart and I realized that I am no longer the young girl in love singing this song.  Instead I am the broken hearted mama with a 14 year old daughter that will soon be the 19 year old in love.  Talk about a splash of cold water to the face.

It is shocking to think that it felt like just yesterday I was 19 when I met Bret and we fell in love so fast that our parent's head spun.  We laughed and became indignant when we were told to slow down and that 22 was young to get married and that we were babies having a baby at 23.  Song after song that I have always loved and related to talked about a daughter and her parents.  Sometimes needed to just spread your wings, sometimes about a silly boy not being good enough, and just the passion and blinding love that you feel when you are so young and your whole life is ahead of you.  I remember this feeling so vividly and although it doesn't feel like it was that long ago now it feels different.  Instead of a red hot fire of passion it is more like a warm cup of coffee on a rainy day.  Comfort, trust, stability, and solid are more accurate descriptions.  There is still passion but different.

Besides realizing how much my marriage has changed over the years is the realization that I have a teenage daughter and how terrifying the role of watching her walk her own path in life is.  I pray constantly for her.  I feel like I am trying to hold the right amount.  Not too tight but also not so loose that she floats away.  I am constantly readjusting my grip trying to find something that works for the both of us feeling like nothing I do is right and that I am failing and that time is working against me.  When I look at my relationship with my daughter there are so many feelings jumbled together that there are not enough words to describe it.  Joy, pride, love, anxiety, fear, and frustration are the ones I felt just this morning as I helped her curl her hair (twice because the first time the curls were too lose so we had to do it again with a smaller curling iron) and get ready for school pictures today.  It is staggering the waves of emotion that come as my daughter grows older and starts to make her own way in life that is different and separate from me.

I am learning as I go and although I am no longer a Dixie chick I am OK with now being a mama chicken raising her flock the best I can.


2018 Back to School- Logan

School for Logan has never been easy.  When I say that I am not talking about academics.  He is actually a really smart kid.  He is working on the 5th Harry Potter book (over 400 pages) and learns math and science with ease.  No what I am talking about is classroom behavior and attitude.

This is the first time since he started kindergarten that I have not received a phone call home from the principal's office the first week of school.  Granted the first full week is just beginning but "knock on wood" so far things have been off to a great start.

I think part of it he is growing up and becoming more mature.  His temper, stubbornness, and awkward behaviors are starting to fade some.  A bigger part has to do with his teachers.  Last year was by far the worst school year I have had with any of my four kids ever.  I got phone calls, emails, and letters with follow up meetings that left me feeling like complete shit about my kid and my ability to parent.  His 2nd grade teacher was a first year teacher and very young/not married/no children and I felt like just didn't know what to do so instead she told me how awful my kid was.  Needless to say Logan wasn't the only one who spent significant time in the principal's office although for different reasons.  It was the first time that I felt like I needed to really be an advocate for my kid.  When the teacher told me she has tried everything it was shocking to learn that really she hadn't tried alternative seating to keep him at his desk or anything other than what she had started the year out with as her own expectations.  Crazy to think that with four different discipline/reward systems going on at various times (sometimes all at the same time) a kid had a hard time understanding or caring about expectations and consequences.

Someone asked Logan a few weeks ago if he was ready to go back to school.  As expected his answer was no and that he hated school.  It was so sad to hear because he loves reading and learning yet how much he dislikes school.  After the person walked off Logan turned to me and said "you know mom, I haven't been in trouble at home at all this summer."  It broke my heart because he was right.  He may have gotten in trouble for not doing something asked and lost his ipad for the day but overall he was never in major trouble.  During the school year however he was constantly in trouble at home because of trouble at school.

Logan wasn't the only kid that got into trouble in that class but he was probably the most.  Teaching is never easy and I know Logan can make it feel impossible.  I spent a lot of time reading everything I could get my hands on when it came to classroom behavior.  Moving your clip, flipping cards, and other color behavior charts have repeatedly been shown to do more harm than good.  Boys especially seem to struggle the most and fail to meet the expectation of sitting still and quietly all day and having recess taken away as a consequence when they fail to do so.

So we are starting 2018 with great hope that it will be a better year.  That Logan can find his groove, that his teachers (who are awesome by the way) have a great school year, that he makes friends, he keeps Jesus at the center, and it is the best year ever.


Life is Precious

As the school year begins so begins better routines, fall sports, and earlier bedtimes.  My oldest headed off to 8th grade and the baby to kindergarten.  My heart is so full of both joy and sentimental sadness.  I pray for all four of them constantly and for Bret and I that we are doing our best to raise them into decent human beings.

The past several months have brought with it some shocking losses of life and although none were immediate family or friends they were just close enough to feel the pangs of loss at how sudden and sad their untimely deaths were.

A close friend suddenly lost her mother who happens to be my mom's age and who was in much better health than mine to a stroke.  A classmate with an unhealthy lifestyle never recovered from pneumonia and passed away.  Only a few days ago a friend's 15 year old son took his own life the night before school started.  It is shocking, gut-wrenching, and unimaginable the pain that their loved ones are walking through right now.

It is a reminder that life is precious.  We are only on this earth for a limited amount of time and we spend so much of it worrying about inconsequential things and working so hard to achieve such materialistic based goals.  Time is a gift that should not be wasted.  I lost my dad rather suddenly and I didn't realize how precious the time we had was and took for granted that he would not be here for many more years.  I try not to do the same with my mom but it makes me feel more panicked as I am not sure there will ever be enough time with her.  We are so very blessed.  It is my hope that we change our goals from bigger houses, newer cars, and more stuff to making memories and sharing love.

Although I have so much to say about this horrendous epidemic of teenage suicide for today I just want to say that you are all very loved, you are worth it, ask for help, call a friend, fight to stay here.


Thoughts about the latest Tragedy

My deepest sympathies and prayers to everyone involved with the latest school shooting in Florida.  I was a freshman in college when the one of the first big news shooting took place at Columbine.  It was tragic then and how little we knew then that this would be something that would continue and become something we would actually have to say "the most recent" about instead of it becoming something unheard of happening again.

I don't have answers and I can see so much truth in both sides.  I feel like both sides are so far apart that neither will take a moment to think about the truth that each has to offer.  If we take a step towards the middle both sides feel that is relenting completely.  I also think that when both the right and the left use this situation to try and justify their opinions on gun control other major factors get over looked and ignored.

I read an article this morning giving some surface details about what happened.  At one point they showed the text messages that the students were sending to their parents while this horrific tragedy unfolded.  I completely lost it because it reminded me so much of my own teenager and pain I felt for these parents as they lived through what I can only imagine as my worst nightmare.  Texts that said things like there is a shooter, I heard gun shots, I love you, I'm scared, thank you for everything you did for me, still bring me to tears just repeating them.  I also read that the school was full of unanswered phones ringing as parents prayed and desperately tried to reach their precious children.

My own daughter texts me from school now and then asking about after school plans or for me to check something.  This past fall there was a bomb threat and many parents refused to send their children to school the next day even though the school took every precautionary measure possible to ensure their safety.  Although fairly certain it was a hoax to get school canceled we let Emily decide whether she wanted to go or stay home.  She chose to go to school even though many of her friends did not.  One mom told me that she would never forgive herself if something happened and the risk was to great for one day of school before break.  I've never prayed so hard for her safety at school as I did that day and looking back maybe we should have kept her home too.

19 years ago in February a friend took his own life and changed mine forever.  It seems to me that Feb is one of the hardest months for everyone but especially anyone that suffers from depression.  Mental illness and suicide is more prevalent than ever and happening in children younger and younger.  My sister, a high school counselor, has several students that are currently hospitalized after either attempting have having thoughts.  With social media on the rise I feel that it hyperboles the already difficult experience of middle school and high school.  There have been so many experts point to it as a direct link to the increase in students' struggles with mental illness.

As a mom one of the most difficult question that comes to mind when tragedy like this strikes is how do we keep our children safe?  This is when my liberal friends look at me like I have two heads but here is my truth.  We raise our children to be successful in this lifetime but most importantly we raise them to be saints and to enter the Kingdom of Heaven first and foremost.  We anchor them as disciples of Christ and teach them love, kindness, and charity.


Tough but not too tough Love

The start of the school year was a little different for us this year because we have a teenager starting middle school as a 7th grader.  For the past seven years our kids have gone to a Catholic elementary school which meant uniforms and much smaller schools and class sizes.  To say that I have been dreading middle school is such an understatement.  No one likes middle school.  It is just such an awkward stage in growing up and trying to find a balance between being independent and still needing a lot of guidance.

Emily is a great kid and she works so hard and wants to succeed.  She is taking pre AP classes and it is a little bit of a stretch for her academically.  Her elementary school prepares them well and we were advised to go ahead and try the harder level classes. So far for the most part it has gone well.  Until the end of last week.

Self discipline is something that Bret and I never excelled at.  We get the work done but procrastinate like pros.  School was never a huge challenge so we could usually get by with last minute except for those pesky classes that kept you from waiting until the last minute.  Deadlines, check-ins, practice logs, and attendance were never our strong suits and it kills me to say that already I can see Emily heading down that path.

She has to have 3-4 books read by the first deadline of one class and she as of Thursday last week she was 85 pages into her first book.  Needless to say a grade update of D- was a cold glass of water to the face.  Next came band class which Em loves and is pretty good at.  Except the consistent practice part.  Once again her practice logs resulted in a D grade update as well.

So we spent the long 4 day weekend in between family activities reading and practicing the sax.  This morning I got a frantic call from Emily because she left her practice log (that is due today) at home and needed me to bring it to her.  I took it too her and called when I got to the school and she didn't want to come get it bc she was worried she would be late.  Not my problem.  Either she came and got it or I took it home.  5 seconds later here she came sprinting out the building and back in with her log.

I went home feeling bad that I was too hard on her.  Bret said he understood and that what makes it so hard it that we know she is trying.  She is trying pretty hard and isn't purposely just not doing the work or not caring if she succeeds.  

We have high expectations for our kids but we are pretty reasonable too.  Emily cried this weekend telling us that she hates reading and is a slow reader and sometimes has to read things more than once.  She said she was going to fail the class.  My answer was maybe with that attitude and that if she did she would then lose her phone and be grounded.  So she kept reading.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart and I feel like the first two weeks of school has been pretty rough in our house.  Logan got sent to the Principal's office, Palmer got in trouble at home for having kids over when we were not home, and Emily has been struggling with school work.  Add that to exhausting schedules of cross country, football, and cheer and I am ready for a drink.  It is a roller coaster of highs (Em made the elite stunt she has been working so hard for in cheer, placed at her first cross country meet, Palmer made the baseball team he tried out for, and Logan turned his behavior around pretty drastically) and lows (tears the whole way home from an earlier in the week cheer practice because stunts were not hitting, low grades, Logan & the principal, Palmer got in trouble).  Two weeks of school people and I am ready to hide under the covers.  So we begin again with a shortened week and pray for grace and patience.