Author Archives: Andi

About Andi

30-ish, Mommy, Wife, Reader, Writer, Cat Lover, Sci-Fi Fan, Walker, Occasional Runner, Eater but not a Cooker, HGTV watcher

Every. Single. Day.

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I’m just going to leave this right here.

To all those Moms who sympathize – we gain strength (and sanity!) in numbers.

For those of you who’ve never experienced this – you either don’t have kids or you’re lying!  images

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Happy Mommy-Daughter Moments

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Parenting is hard. Specifically, being a mother to my daughters is hard! Amidst the bickering of siblings, the defiant attitudes, the fights over mealtimes and what clothes to wear, it can be hard to remember that it’s not all bad.

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Some days I have to remind myself that I wanted this journey – it took 2 years of infertility drugs and two miscarriages to get the two beautiful daughters that I have. I can’t run out when the going gets tough when I worked so hard to have kids.

Sometimes I lament the fact that I developed severe endometriosis and adenomyosis, leading to the removal of my uterus, fallopian tubes and one of my ovaries.  I will NEVER have more kids. Most days I am perfectly fine with that, as I question my ability to handle the two I have. But sometimes it hurts to know that choice has been taken from me.

Being a mommy has it’s highs and lows – and sometimes it seems like the lows outweigh the highs.  In those instances, I have to sit back and think of the times when my kids made me so happy that my heart swelled to the point of bursting.

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Like the time that my youngest, who was about 18 months old at the time, looked up at me when I finished tying her shoes and said, “I love you so much Mommy!”  It was the first time she had ever told anyone she loved them. My heart hurt from the sheer joy of hearing those words.

Or the day, just last week, when my oldest daughter (who is 8) was sick with Strep throat. Daddy and her sister went on a shopping trip to Wal-Mart, leaving us with some very uncommon mother-daughter time.  My oldest is a Daddy’s Girl and rarely wants to hang out with me. But we sat on the couch and cuddled under a blanket with a cat in our laps and laughed together over episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

I also love to hear my girls sing. Not at a concert or in front of everyone, but in those moments when they are quietly playing with toys and I suddenly hear them singing a song I didn’t even realize they knew the words to. Or when I break out my Amazon playlist and sing along while we dance in the living room until we’re tired and out of breath.

I take pride in their accomplishments and whenever my oldest steps out to do something new for the first time, it never ceases to bring tears to my eyes.  Like the first time she went on an amusement park ride all by herself. Or the first time she got up in front of the church and sang her first solo.

While they may be far and few between, the moments when they remember to hang up their coat or put their shoes away or be helpful in some other way without me asking – those are the times I smile and say thank-you and breathe a sigh of relief.  Somewhere inside, they are getting the messages I try to teach.

So yes, mamas, motherhood can lead you to the brink of insanity. But when you think you’re about to slip over the edge, take time to remember those moments that make it all worth it. Remember those times when you just wanted to wrap them in your arms and hold them tight and never let them go.

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“Buy Used – Save the Difference”

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Kids should come with a stipend.

In the baby years, it can help pay for all those diapers. For toddlers, all the candy you use as a bribe while potty training. For me, it’s to offset the cost of clothes I have to buy for my 8-year-old.

She grows like a weed!  I buy pants in August for the new school year. By December, she can’t fit them anymore. I keep telling her to stop, but, as with everything else, she doesn’t listen.

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I dabbled in thrift shopping for myself over the years, but it’s only been in the past two years that I’ve gotten serious.  I don’t pay full price for anything. Bring on the coupons, the sales, the thrift shops, consignment sales, and hand me downs. The best part is that when I started hunting for places to get cheap kid’s clothes, I also found cheap women’s clothing. Bonus! And I’m not talking about the stuff with holes and stains that nobody wants anymore. We’re talking name brands – some with tags that have never been worn.

I recently discovered Swap.com through Swagbucks (which, by the way, is another great way to earn FREE $$ in the form of gift cards). I bought myself some new spring and summer dresses, then decided to hunt for some spring/summer capris and shorts for my daughter. My problem wasn’t in not finding what I wanted. My problem was finding TOO MUCH and having to toss stuff out of my cart.

I limited myself to my favorite 7 items, for which I paid a grand total of $36.  That’s only $5.14 per item. One of them is even new, with tags, never worn.

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While services like Stitch Fix or sites like Zulily make it sound like you’re getting a deal, they aren’t cheap. The Stitch Fix website says their average price point per article of clothing is $55. $55!

If you’re a mom looking for good quality clothing that you don’t have to break the bank for, do your research. There are great places online and even in your neighborhood that offer quality clothes for reasonable prices.

Two of my online favorites are:
Swap.com
Schoola.com

Does anyone else have any favorite ways to save money on clothes for the family?

 

(Just a disclaimer – I stole that title from the now infamous Duggar family. Despite what you might think of them, their son, and their lifestyle, you can’t argue with the wisdom of saving money.)

 

First Place Blue Ribbon

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I’m so excited!  Excited and surprised!  This is my first writing challenge entry on the Faith Writers website in 2.5 years.  I had hoped to amass enough samples that I could use them as part of a writing resume. Earning a ribbon wasn’t my goal. . . . .

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But it sure feels good!  I had hoped to place, as that would look even better on a resume, but 1st Place? Wow!

In case anyone would like to read the actual article, I’ve posted it below:

MOTHER OF THE YEAR

I will never be awarded Mother of the Year. In fact, I’m positive I wouldn’t even get Mother of the Hour. Most days, the best I could hope for is Mother who Made It Through the Day Without Losing Her Mind.

When I envisioned becoming a mother, I never anticipated how hard, dirty, and heartbreaking it would be. My husband and I shared four years of marriage before we started talking about children. At the time all I could think about was how wonderful it would be to have this little blank slate that I could introduce to the world, molding and shaping and nurturing it, allowing it to grow into the person God created it to be.

Then I had kids.

The reality of raising children is the antonym of my visions. Kids are not born blank slates. God fills them up with their own personalities. They’ve got their quirks, their own likes and dislikes, and their own style of communicating.

Forget the flowery images of introducing the world to an eager, attentive little creature who hangs on my every word. Instead, I feel as though I’ve been given barbarians that I have to tame before it’s time to release them into the world.

I love my kids. I’ve got two of the most intelligent, beautiful, creative, and humorous daughters God ever made. I’ve also got two of the most stubborn, illogical, and unreasonable humans on the planet. There are days I step back, attempting to check my anger or tears (or both), and wonder why I ever thought I could do this.

There are moments I look at my kids and feel utterly unqualified to be their mother. I don’t understand who they are or who God expects me to be for them. I feel as if I’ve been handed a project that I don’t possess the tools to complete.

There are many nights that I go to bed with one simple prayer: Please Lord, may they know how much I love them. Don’t let my inadequacies screw them up.

I’ve accepted that I am the disciplinarian. I’ve been reassured that to be a parent, I can’t always be a friend.  I know that sometimes I will be disliked for making rules and decisions that they don’t understand. Those things I can handle. Those things I embrace.

What breaks my heart are the moments when I lose my temper or blow things out of proportion, hurting feelings and bruising souls, when patience or a kind word would have worked better. It’s the days that I’m stressed out by other things and I lash out at my kids that I know I’ve dropped the ball.

I can’t take those moments or those feelings or those words back. I can’t undo the damage to their little hearts or change a message I never meant to convey.

I’m okay with never being Mom of the Year. Some women are born with a gift for parenting and motherhood.  I was not.  It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve got to dig deep to find the woman willing to serve and sacrifice for the sake of her kids.

However, there are times when the only award I deserve is Worst Mom of a Lifetime. I will never be okay with that.

That’s why I’m grateful for each new day God gives me. Every morning is my chance for a fresh start. It’s my chance to kiss my daughters’ faces, hug them so tight it hurts, and try again. Even better, and more gratifying, is their willingness to give me a fresh start. They don’t hold grudges. They eagerly accept those kisses and hugs, ready to try again just as much as me.

That’s all the reward I need.

Adult Musings on Kid’s Cartoons

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Good morning!  Since picking up this blog again, it’s amazing how many moms have popped up on my radar. And the best part is that they’re just like me – struggling with this thing called motherhood and trying to find the lessons and the laughs in the middle of the chaos. So to Jenny and Mommy Tribune and Jess  – thank you!

Mommy Tribune had a great post this morning about kids’ cartoons that made my day and made me laugh!  I wanted to share it, because I know we aren’t the only ones who have these thoughts.  🙂

Please check out her latest post – Cartoon Conundrum – @ https://mommytribune.com/2017/01/16/cartoon-conundrum/

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Make Life Hard

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I stumbled across this kernel of wisdom while reading one of my daily devotionals from David Jeremiah.  Sometimes it’s the scripture verse he references or the message he offers that speaks to me. But sometimes, it’s the quote at the bottom of the page that leaves the biggest impact.

This one made me think. About my own kids and what kind of life I offer them. About other kids I know and the life they live. It’s all about perspective.

I started this blog as a way to support other Mommies who find it hard to, well. . . .be a mommy! I’m not a natural. I find it easier to nurture my cats. I love my kids. But my kids aren’t my life. There is so much more to me as a person than “mommy”.

I know there are other moms out there who feel the same way. And you probably struggle with the same sense of guilt that I do. (If not. . . .well, aren’t you special?)  There are plenty of times I know I could’ve been kinder, gentler, softer, more patient, more understanding, etc. I have plenty of regrets. I’ve told them I’m sorry and asked for forgiveness. Thankfully, my kids still wake up every morning loving me.

However, reading this statement eased some of that guilt. I’m hard on my kids. I have big expectations for them. I know what they’re capable of, especially when they fall short. I don’t let them off the hook easily or give in to tears. I’ve told them to “Suck it up!” or “Cowboy up!” or “Deal with it!” so many times I should be paid for it.

Why am I hard on my kids?

Because the real world is hard!

I refuse to raise kids who will go out into the world expecting it to bend to their wishes and whims, to give in when they whine, or give them a pass when they’re too tired. IT WON’T HAPPEN!

I want them prepared to face the truth that it’s going to be hard.
That they will get their feelings hurt.
That they will have to put their time and energy into things they may not want to do.
That they will not get rewarded for effort, but results.
That they will have to budget to pay rent and grocery bills before anything fun.
That no one will be motivating them but themselves.

So, when my eight-year-old tells me she’s too tired to get a shower before bed, I tell her, “Tough. Do it anyway.”
Or when she doesn’t want to brush her teeth, I tell her, “You can pay for your own dentures.”
Or when she “borrows” money from grandma to buy something, I make sure she pays it back.
Those nights when she complains about the “horrible” food that I cook – (I can cook, by the way. I just don’t like to.) – I remind her of the two little girls we sponsor in Africa who would be happy to eat my horrible meal. And then I offer to send her there and bring them here.

On the days when they fight, when they whine constantly, when they’re too bored because they don’t have anything to do, when they complain that there’s nothing good to eat – I’m honest with them. I tell them I don’t like their attitudes and I don’t want to be around them. I’ve told them I need a vacation from them and threatened to leave them home alone with Daddy. (The horror!)

I will not pander to their every whim, I will not reward them for trying, I will not give them a pass when they break a rule or give their word.

I will make life hard for my kids now because it will continue to be hard for them.

My hope in being hard is that:

  • It teaches them right from wrong.
  • It teaches them how to think for themselves.
  • It teaches them responsibility.
  • It teaches them integrity.
  • It teaches them how to persevere.
  • It teaches them to be thankful and content with what they have.

Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t condone any kind of abuse. That’s TOTALLY different. And I also don’t want to raise children who are cold-hearted scrooges.

I want to produce two adult women who know how to take care of themselves and expect nothing from anyone. I want two women who can be relied upon for their upstanding character and hard work. Most of all, I want two women who understand how hard life is – and are willing to find ways to make it easier for others.

That’s why we sponsor two little girls from Africa – to show my kids what a “hard life” truly is. They learn compassion by making that hard life easier. They also learn to be thankful for how rich we are – even if we aren’t “rich”.

That’s why they are aware of and (to a small extent) helped in the creation of a local program, Panther Packs. It sends food home on the weekend with at-risk elementary school children who may not otherwise have a meal. My kids learn that hunger exists in their own community – with their classmates. And they learn that Mommy’s food isn’t so horrible after all.

I make life hard for my kids now so when it truly gets hard, they aren’t too soft to handle it.

 

 

 

Goodbye 2016 – I won’t miss you!

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Hello, 2017! And Hello, to those of you who once read this blog!  I did not succumb to the insanity of motherhood nor get kidnapped by aliens.  Though I teeter on the edge of the first one on a daily basis.

No, life simply swallowed me with other demands on my time. Like two children, one of which is old enough to start “extracurriculars”. Like a part-time job. Like aging pets who needed frequent vet visits and medications. Like a husband who works long hours, leaving me to handle the necessities at home.

Life. Is. Exhausting.

This past year, in particular, tested the limits of my faith, my sanity, and my determination to persevere. In truth, the Fall of 2015 set the stage for the start of 2016. It started with my husband leaving on a business trip to another state, a middle of the night ER visit for me due to a nasty and undetected UTI, and my mother (and chief babysitter/helper) being rushed into cardiac bypass surgery. Mind you – that all happened within a 48 hour period.

My husband came home, I started meds, and my mother came through the surgery with flying colors. I thought all was well again, even though I underwent a hysterectomy and two weeks later caught a virus that left me with a month long sinus infection. I tried three different antibiotics before it surrendered.

Looking back, those things all foreshadowed the start to 2016.

  • The first week of January I ended up in the ER – twice. No diagnosis. The doctors’ best guess was an allergic reaction to meds coupled with a new virus.
  • While home from work on a sick day, I discovered that one of my kitties passed away in her sleep. I was now an emotional wreck as well as a physical one.
  • My immune system hung in tatters and health issues continued to plague me. I lost 13lbs in a matter of weeks because I couldn’t eat. I had severe chest and abdominal pain. I spent the next 7 months undergoing a battery of tests and being bounced from doctor to doctor.
  • Despite meds, I suffered from panic attacks. I experienced moments that felt as if I hung onto my sanity with my fingernails; as if my mind might shatter into pieces at any moment.
  • I cried and prayed a lot, begging for relief so I could go back to work and care for my family.
  • Finally, despite no firm diagnosis or treatment, my body started healing. Very slowly, but in a positive direction. I returned to work and could finally care for my family. My husband took a promotion at work. Things were looking up!
  • Nope.
  • October 1st I walked away from my job of 13 years due to administration changes. I could not work for an organization and people who had such a poor track record of ethics and employee relations. I had no backup plan or job, but I felt God calling me on to different things.
  • My husband spent two weeks overseas in October for business, leaving me to care for the kids alone. Thank God for my family! However, October also brought the loss of another kitty due to cancer and the news that my endometriosis had returned and I needed surgery. Again.
  • I managed a small long weekend at the beach with my Mom and kids, despite feeling vaguely unwell. Returned for pre-op testing only to find out I had another asymptomatic UTI.
  • *sighs*
  • In November I underwent the removal of one ovary, almost a year to the day of my hysterectomy.
  • Two days later we lost another kitty to old age and poor health.
  • After a brief reprieve, December arrived with runny noses and chest colds. I became plagued by migraines and sinus issues.
  • Besides making me ridiculously itchy, testing showed I have numerous allergies which instigated and exacerbated the sinus issues. The sinus issues were causing (the majority of) the migraines.Included in the list of allergens – cats! Hello expensive HEPA air filter, constant vacuuming, and careful maneuvering of blankets, bedding, etc. Not to mention the increase in meds.
  • The week before Christmas my husband came home sick, spent the weekend in bed with body aches and such. Five days later my daughter came home early from school with a fever. On Christmas-Eve Eve, we took a trip to the ER where she was diagnosed with H1N1 flu. We spent Christmas in quarantine – no church services, no family dinners.
  • Despite having less than a week left in the year, I held my breath, waiting for something else to happen.
  • Thankfully, 2016 finally gave up. Here’s to 2017 – I hope it’s nicer than its predecessor.

I’m not telling you this to gain sympathy. I know 2016 was a bad year for a lot of people, many with much worse issues than mine. I tell you so you know where I’ve been.

More importantly, I’m still here. Take that, 2016!  You tried your best to break me – physically, emotionally and spiritually. But you didn’t!

Instead, I learned what it means to find strength in weakness. I learned what it means to rely on God for the next breath, the next moment, the next day. I learned that I will take the “insanity of motherhood” any day over the prospect of truly losing my mind.

My kids still drive me nuts – they are currently sitting on kitchen chairs opposite each other, forced to stare at each other until they can speak and play nicely with each other. I do not and will not lack content for this blog.

Right now, though, I’m taking a deep, cleansing breath and asking God that 2017 be a year of healing and positive change. If the only crazy thing I face is my kids, I’ll take it!

I leave you with some positive moments from 2016. God Bless and Happy New Year!