Tag Archives: Life

Reason to Celebrate

26 Jan

Wow! It has been one year since I started Life As I Know It. It’s a birthday, of sorts, for me. When I first started writing here, I just thought it would be a fun way for me to connect with other people. A good outlet when I was having a bad day. A way for me to have some “me time” throughout the week. And it has been all of those things. I appreciate each and every one of you who has shared in any part of this journey with me!

Today should be a day of celebration and good news! But, first, let me share a story with you…..

A year and a half ago, my husband and I decided that it was time for us to have another baby. We hadn’t been married for very long, but we are both in our early 30s and didn’t really want to wait. We each have a child from previous relationships and we figured it might take a couple of months, but it wouldn’t be too difficult, right? Wrong. I won’t go into all of the painful details but it was far from easy. There were doctors visits, test after test, invasive procedures, medications, and never a guarantee that any of it would work. There were tears, disappointments, negative pregnancy tests, insecurities, and fear. It put a strain on our marriage. It was one of the reasons that our marriage completely fell apart for a couple of months.

There was so much devastation. Broken dreams that seemed as if they would never become a reality. Each of us, without really consulting with the other, had all but given up on the possibility that we would be able to have another child. The sympathy that I have for people who cannot conceive, or struggle to do so, now knows no bounds. It is something that can never be explained to anyone who hasn’t felt it. I know people who have spent years and years wondering if they will ever be blessed with a child to call their own. And some never will. Our other two children are such immense blessings to us. We wanted to add to our family with a child we created together. A representation of the love we had found in each other. I cannot imagine the pain of never having a child. Secondary infertility carries its own hurt as well.

It is a very personal, very lonely, very painful kind of hell. It is a place where you can’t help but feel as if you are all alone. As if no one can possibly understand your heartbreak or provide comfort for your tears. As if there are no words to describe your disappointment. As if your dreams are laying, scattered, at your feet. You know that you’ll find a way to cope with it. You just don’t know when. Every week, every month that passes seems like forever.

imageAnd then one day, I woke up and realized that I hadn’t felt right for a few weeks. I was tired and I didn’t have much of an appetite. I was so nervous. I’d been here before. I’d been under stress, or just caught a bug, or something and thought to myself, “Maybe….” This time, I was afraid to go there. I waited a few more days. Still the same. So, I did it. I took the test. And then I sat it on the sink and walked away from it. And I prayed. I prayed for the strength to look at another negative. I prayed for peace. I walked back into the bathroom, took a couple of deep breaths and looked. Then there were no breaths. I couldn’t. Tears immediately fell from my eyes. I couldn’t even smile. I just stared. And blinked; hard. And stared again. Then, I believe everything was a jumbled series of laughing and spinning in circles and crying. Positive.

Telling my husband was a moment I hope I never forget. There was so much joy in that room. I’m surprised our home could contain it all. Our families and friends are excited. Our children are thrilled. I am on cloud 9. (When I’m not a hormonal, emotional, grouchy mess…… well, honestly, even then.) Our family will soon be complete. I have been blessed with a miracle. One that I will forever be so, so grateful for. And that is a reason to celebrate!

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Lessons Learned

4 Jan

I’ve already written about how much I was ready for 2013 to be over. Because I was ready to move in to another year, a better year. I never go through anything  without looking back on it and reflecting on how it changed me, made me stronger, what it taught me. So, today I’m going to think back on the lessons 2013 gave to me. These are the things I learned throughout the year.

I learned that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t make someone (not even yourself) fall in love, or out of love, with someone else. Why and how one falls in love is a mystery. It’s the most beautiful and most painful of emotions. And, if you’re lucky enough to be in love with someone who is in love with you back, nurture and protect that love. That is the most beautiful of fairy tales.

I learned that people can be cruel. Over the last couple of months, there have been an influx of visitors to Life As I Know It. And I am so thankful for each of you that take the time to read the words of my heart. I am thankful for the people who lift me up and tell me I’m doing something right. I am thankful for the people who disagree with me, but do it politely and with respect. I am thankful for the people who think I’m right and those that think I’m wrong. But there are a few who have left words that I refuse to give light to. People attacking me for my thoughts. People saying hurtful things about my children. People who left me questioning whether continuing to write was something I could do. And I came to this conclusion: we are all beautifully different. We all have different parenting styles. We all have different belief systems. We all have different outlooks on life. We all have different lives. I celebrate that! I read every comment written on this blog and some of you have made me rethink some things. I appreciate people who challenge me to think outside of the spot I live in. I appreciate people who have differing opinions than mine. But, as you post on my blog, as you live day-to-day with other human beings who may see the world differently than you do, please remember this: Honesty is never a good excuse to be cruel. We should all be more kind to one another.

I learned that lip gloss will never come out of clothes after being in the washing machine.

I learned that, eventually, those old favorite jeans need to be retired for new favorite jeans.

I learned that, no matter how far away your mom is, you always need to go running to her when your life turns upside down.

I learned that I am not as breakable as I thought I was.

I learned that, when your child is hurting, it is amazing the amount of personal pain you can set aside to be a rock and a safe place for them to be.

I learned that there are people in this world whose hearts are bigger than any disease they may be fighting.

I learned that children are far stronger, and far more resilient, than most of us adults.

I learned that life is far too short to take one minute for granted.

I learned that red wine, music I can dance to, and an empty kitchen are the perfect environment to cook in.

I learned that God works in ways far more mysterious than I ever realized before and that when His plans unfold slowly and you can’t figure out where life will go from here, it is the scariest, yet somehow most peaceful, place in the world.

I learned that people will take any opportunity they can get to jump on opposite sides of a cause and belittle and demean one another in the name of defending their beliefs.

I learned that watching my son turn 6 and become more and more independent brings about more feelings of pride, and sadness, than I expected.

I learned that the stomach flu has to have been created by the devil and is an effective and horrible method of torture.

I learned that chronic back pain is not something that can be explained to anyone who hasn’t lived it.

I learned that infertility seems endlessly painful.

I learned that the right set of underwear brings about an unexplainable confidence; even if no one else ever sees them.

I learned that movie nights are better with comfy pjs, popcorn, and far too many people smushed onto one couch.

I learned that the internet is a fantastic resource for fantastic new recipes.

I learned that some things never change. Some things are constantly changing; sometimes for the better, sometimes not. And some things, and people, need space and time and opportunity and patience to change and grow and become better versions of their awesome selves. And that if I can continue to allow myself to grow and change and become better, it will be an amazing ride on this ever-evolving Life As I Know It.

New year, new outlook

31 Dec

New Year Hats

This year has been one of the hardest years I’ve had. Most of the posts I’ve written have had an undercurrent of pain running through them. Most of the days I’ve spent have been spent smiling through my breaking heart. Life has not been easy. Some of the pain I have brought on myself. Some of it was caused by the people around me. Some of it was felt for other people. Some of it is just a part of life. At some points in your life, you just realize that it’s your turn for better days. I believe that this new year, this new start, is my turn. Here are my hopes for 2014.

Better health – I have spent the better part of the past 12-18 months with chronic back pain. It has affected many parts of my life. I have hopes that with my continued chiropractor visits and work at home, it will be better and I can have some pain-free days. And I hope that with those pain-free days comes the ability to be more active and take better care of my body.

Stand up – There are several people in my life who seem to take constant advantage of me. And speaking up for myself has been a work in progress for the past 10 or so years. I hope 2014 finds me better able to stand up and speak my mind in a way that is productive; and not vindictive and hurtful. It’s time I start protecting my own heart from the people who seek to make a mess of it.

Breathe – Most days are over before I’ve taken a moment to realize they’ve begun. I spend all of my hours taking care of someone else. When I’m not working, I’m cooking dinner, doing laundry, running errands, or picking up after someone else. Much of that comes with being a wife and a mother. But, I’d like to take some time in the coming year to breathe and enjoy my life. I want to read more. I want to write more. I want to spend more time in my flower gardens. Take my dog and my kids for more walks. Enjoy our family vacation. I want to look back at 2014 and know that I haven’t just let it pass me by.

Smile – I want to spend more time with the people who make my laugh genuine. I want to be with the people who make me smile. I want to take the little moments that we never get back and enjoy them; not take them for granted. I want to love the people that love me. I want to really live this year.

So, 2013…. I’m not sorry to see you go. I’m ready to embrace 2014. I hope you bring brighter days with more sunshine. If there’s one thing I know, it’s this. No matter what 2014 has in store for me, a year from now, I’ll stand on the other side of it better, stronger, hopefully smarter, and definitely blessed.

Happy New Year everyone!

Making Memories

23 Dec

Merry Christmas

 

I love Christmas! I love everything about it! Spending time with the people I love. Decorating. Eating. The joy that everyone seems to have. Picking out that perfect present for someone you love. I seriously love it! One of my favorite parts of Christmas are the traditions. Some of them have passed down from when I was a child. Some of them we have started on our own. All of them make the Christmas season so much more special. Here are some of my favorite holiday traditions. I would love to hear some of yours!

 

Shopping – I love Black Friday shopping with my best friend! We make a night of it. We scope out the sales, visit as many places as we can, drink lots of coffee, eat breakfast (in the middle of the night) someplace yummy, and then sleep the whole next day. I know there are so many people who think Black Friday is a waste of time, for many reasons. It is, however, one of the days I look forward to throughout the year. One of my favorite traditions with one of my favorite girls!

 

Decorating – Immediately after Thanksgiving, the Christmas decorations come out. When I was a kid, we would put Christmas music on and drink hot chocolate. We each get a new ornament for the tree each year and it’s so lovely to see how the number of ornaments has multiplied from year to year. There is something so exciting and magical about beginning the Christmas season.

 

Lights – One evening, just before Christmas, we all pile in the car, hot chocolate in tow, to drive around and look at the lights. The kids love trying to find the biggest and best light display. I love listening to the conversation and laughter coming from the back seat. It’s one of my favorite things to do with my children.

 

Pajamas – Ever since I was a little girl, there were new pajamas to be opened on Christmas Eve. When I was young, I just thought it was a neat thing my mom did. Turns out, her motives weren’t just to give us a special memory. She wanted decent pajamas in the pictures each Christmas. As a mom, it is definitely a tradition I’ve carried on with my family. We all get new pajamas on Christmas Eve. The kids love the idea of opening a present early and I love getting nice pajamas for pictures the next morning.

 

The Christmas Story – To be sure that we remember what our focus should be on Christmas Day, we read the Christmas story from the Bible before any present is opened that morning. Again, something that my mom started when we were kids. I think it’s the perfect way to remember the greatest Christmas gift ever given. And to remind us all that it’s not the shopping, or the decorating, or the presents….. it’s the gift of Love. That’s what Christmas is all about!

 

Merry Christmas to each of you!

 

Make Me Great

18 Dec

Author: Bagande

 

This is part of my 30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me Series. The topic….. Something I wish I was great at.

 

There are many things I want to be good at. I would love to be able to play the piano and the guitar. I’d like to be able to bake something from scratch. I wish I could dance. There are several things I’d like to be better at. I strive every day to continue to be better at my career. Writing, singing, car mechanics, and computer skills also come to mind. (And I’m certain my husband wishes I were a better driver.) But if I could choose one thing to be great at, the choice would be an easy one. I want to be a great example.

 

I want to example a great wife. I want my husband, my daughter, any other girl watching me, and even my son to see grace. To see humility. To see selflessness. To see forgiveness. Purity. Partnership. Kindness. Passion. Gentleness. I want to show them that a woman can be independent and strong, to stand up for herself,  and still be an effective member of a team that compromises and gives when it’s needed. I want to example a love and respect for my husband that will leave a legacy of successful and happy marriage for my children and grandchildren.

 

I want to example a great mother. I want my children, my nieces and nephews, my students to see sacrifice. To see unconditional love. To see boundaries. To see structure. Fun. Laughter. Openness. Memories. I want them to learn to prioritize the people in their lives above the things. I want them to learn all of the personality traits it takes to be a great parent and I want them to be able to apply them when they have children of their own.

 

I want to example a great friend. I want my friendships to be great examples of love. Of laughter. Of sharing. Of fellowship. Of loyalty. I want to show how important it is to have people in your life who challenge you and make you better. People who will support you and lean on you. People who laugh and cry with you. People who listen to you and trust you. I want my children to learn how precious true friendships are and what to look for when finding those people they can count on.

 

I want to example a great woman. I want everyone who crosses my path to see joy. To see faith. To see courage. To see freedom. To see strength. To see hope. I want people to see that, despite life’s struggles and disappointments, there is One who offers strength when we are weak, comfort when we are broken-hearted, and a safe place to land when we fall. I want people to see God’s love when they look at me.

 

That is the wife, the mother, the friend, the woman I want to show my children. Those are the footsteps I want to leave for them to follow. I want to be a great example so that I may leave them a great legacy.

 

Ten People That Changed My Life

14 Oct

This is part of my 30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me series. The prompt…. ten people who have influenced me.

The Heart

1. My husband – The things that I have learned (and am continuing to learn) because of this love are things that I never imagined I needed. I have learned that I don’t always have to be strong. I have learned that I don’t always have all of the answers. I have learned that depending on someone else is not always a mistake. I am learning that vulnerability is not weakness. I have learned that grace and forgiveness are gifts of freedom. I have learned about the power of prayer. I am learning more about who I am. I have learned the true meaning of unconditional love. I am learning that God’s plan for our lives doesn’t always look like we think it will…. but if we trust Him and follow Him; He will bless us beyond our imaginings.

2. My son – Before I found out I was pregnant, I was a totally different person. I was just going through the motions of life. Nothing was really important to me. I merely existed each day. Just taking up space in this world. Because of Isaiah, I turned my life around. I reconnected with God and my faith. I started making decisions based on what would create the best life for us. I had new drive to be the best person I could be. Raising him to be a good man. Teaching him to be a good friend. Showing him how to be a gentleman. Talking to him, answering his questions, giving him love and the best life I can. I frequently say that he saved my life. Maybe the better way to say that is that he gave me a reason to truly live.

3. My (step) daughter – Knowing that someone is watching you and learning from you makes you better. In those moments when I reflect on my life and who I am, I think of her. She makes me want to be a better wife, because she’ll become one someday and I want to be a good example. She makes me want to be a better mom, because she’ll become one someday. She makes me want to be a better Christian, because, I pray, she’ll become one someday and I want to be a good example. She makes me want to be a better woman, because she’ll become one someday. She makes me want to example strength, grace, love, beauty, faith. All of the things that I pray make up her personality when she chooses who she wants to be. And, like my prayers for Isaiah, I pray she’s better than me.

4. My parents – Obviously my parents are a big influence on many aspects of my life. I would like to focus on just one of those. My parents taught me how to get along. They showed me how to maintain a positive relationship with someone because of children you share. They taught me how to create an environment for my children where it is safe for them to love all of their parents. They taught me about sacrificing any grudges or bitterness for the happiness of my child. They also taught me about love and laughter. Faith and family. Marriage and motherhood.

5. My siblings – My siblings have influenced me in very different ways. My younger brother influenced my career choice and instilled in me the drive to be an advocate for struggling students. My youngest brother gave me a deeper appreciation for music and musicians and the passion they possess for sound and rhythm. My baby sister made me view dancers as artists and the movements of the human body as something that can be used to make beautiful pictures.

6. My best friend – She gave me the push I needed to discover who I am. She convinced me that the person that I am was someone worth knowing and loving. When other people were feeding my insecurities, she was pointing out those same things as things that were awesome about me. She calls me out when I need it. She supports me when I need it. She’s always on my side. She has helped me become more confident, more self-assured, stronger. Her impact on my life helped me to realize that I had wings that were made to fly.

7. My close friend – A woman who came into my life when I was praying for a mentor, of sorts. A woman who challenges me to be the best wife, mother, and woman I can be….. and then be better. A woman who speaks truth into my life, even when she knows it’s hard for me to hear. A woman who holds me accountable to the life I’ve chosen to live. A woman who shares my love of Starbucks and sarcasm. She is invaluable to me and I am so grateful for her.

8. The only other long-term relationship I’ve had, aside from my husband. The relationship that started when I was extremely young and lasted far too long. The relationship that gave me an opportunity to learn so much about who I was. To learn about who I wanted to be. To learn about strength and how much of it I possess. To learn about the ways in which I should let people treat me. To learn about self-esteem. To learn about standing up for myself. It was a situation I should have gotten out of much earlier. But, it was a relationship that produced my son, the best part of me. And for that, I will always be grateful.

9. My 5th and 6th grade teachers – The two women who inspired me to become a teacher. The two women I thought of, especially in my first years of teaching, when I was deciding what kind of teacher I wanted to be. The two women I used to gauge myself and how I was connecting with my students. I want to be the kind of teacher that touches her students so profoundly that they look back 20 years later and remember that impact on their life.

10. My students – These kids have given me more compassion. More patience. More tolerance. More empathy. More gratitude. More understanding of the true meaning of life.

My Wish For You

30 Sep

This is part of my 30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me series. The prompt…. my hopes and dreams for my children.

To my children,

I want so many things for you. There are so many dreams inside of me that awakened because of my love for you. I know that there are great things in store for your lives. And I look forward to watching you fly.

I hope you laugh. Find reasons every day to enjoy being alive. Surround yourself with people that make your smile meet your eyes. Don’t take yourself too seriously. There are very few things more beautiful in this life than someone who is truly happy. Be beautiful.

I hope you dream. And dream big. Never let someone tell you it can’t be done. If you find passion in something, pursue it. You are capable of great and wondorous things. Believe in yourself. Never give up. Follow those dreams, wherever they may lead you.

I hope you love. Fearlessly. Recklessly. Once you find someone worthy of your heart, don’t hold back. The greatest loves are founded on the greatest sacrifice. But most of all, love yourself. I assure you, you are someone worth loving.

I hope you cry. Emotions are not to be hidden. In fact, it takes strength to be connected to your emotions. To feel so strongly that your heart can break. Shed tears of sorrow without feeling weak. And shed tears of joy without feeling shame. Allow yourself to be passionate. Allow yourself to feel.

I hope you pray. Realize that your strength does not come from within. But from a God who loves you beyond logic and expectation. A God who’s love for you is infinitely more beautiful than any other love you’ll know. A God who will speak to you, you need only to listen. Follow Him.

I hope you are kind. Truly care about others. Be polite. Reach out your hand to help where you are needed. Give of yourself. There are people all over this world considerably less fortunate than you. Not just because you have things, but because you have love. Give freely to them.

I hope you are happy. It is easy to worry and be afraid. It is easy to let the trials of this life beat you. Be strong. Be courageous. Look yourself in the eye each day and decide to smile. Decide to laugh. Decide to dance. Decide to sing. Whoever it is that makes you happy, be that person.

I hope you live. We only get one chance to change the world. Don’t waste it. Live freely. Without regret. Make your mark. Make a difference. Make your life beautiful. Fly.

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