Free

***Linking up with MamaKat today: 2.) Write a blog post inspired by the word: goals.***

A repost from February because I’m not doing very well with this goal and thought I (and maybe everyone) could use the reminder…

What I like most about change is that it’s a synonym for ‘hope.’ If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is, ‘I believe in tomorrow and I will be part of it.’
— Linda Ellerbee

I know it’s almost February and I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been pondering. I wanted to get in on the “word for the year” game but I really wanted to get it right. For me.

So I decided my word for 2014 was…free.

I had a revelation the other day. It was in therapy which is often the best place to have a soul-searching revelation, no? (P.S. for those of you who aren’t in therapy, these revelations almost never happen while you’re with your therapist. They happen at 2 a.m. and then you forget by the time you have your next session. Am I right?) I was really getting frustrated with myself because I just can’t get past this obsession with being very thin. It’s ridiculous because a.) I haven’t been very thin in a very long time so I’m not sure why I’m still hanging on to it b.) it’s not going to happen c.) it’s getting in the way of my enjoyment of life. Point c was good enough reason for me to demand that I figure out why on earth I have this obsession.

Then it hit me.

I want to be very thin because I associate being thin with being free. Free from counting calories, from working out, from standing in front of the mirror pinching fat and lifting up your butt and wondering how much better you’d look if your waist was just *this* much smaller.

Then it hit me again.

I was very thin for a very long time and I was anything but free. I was obsessed and miserable. So that couldn’t be it. My therapist asked me when was the last time I felt truly free of this obsession. I said probably Kindergarten. I am almost 38 years old and the last time I felt free from my obsessions about my body and my looks was when I was five. Does that depress the hell out of anyone else? It did me. But it was a real eye opener.

I don’t want to be very thin, I want to be free. I want to workout because I love to, eat healthy because it makes me feel good and be done with it. I want to enjoy pizza and ice cream with my kids once in a while. Be free.

I want to be free from my obsessions. If that means taking medicine that helps me, then I’m going to be free from the stigma that comes from taking “happy pills”. I need them, damn it, so there.

I want to be free from caring what others think of me, from the unrealistic expectations I put on myself and others, from the need to be perfect 100% of the time.

It’s a great comfort to be yourself, and a goal worth striving for, even though it may temporarily make life more difficult.

— Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal

You want to know something else that has been really healing for me and helped me on my path to being free? A song from Frozen. Let It Go. As silly as it sounds, that amazing song from a Disney movie really got to me.

A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.
Couldn’t keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know.

Let it go, let it go!
Can’t hold it back anymore.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.

It’s funny how some distance,
makes everything seem small.
And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me.
I am free!

I’m never going back; the past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go.
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn.
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand, in the light of day.

Isn’t that perfect? No more perfect. No more queen of isolation. No more having to be the good girl. The past is in the past. I’m free!!!

I don’t want to be 40 years old and still obsessing over the size of my ass. I don’t want to be 50 years old spending an hour looking in the mirror trying to judge just how far my eyelids have started to droop. I don’t want to be 60 years old still feeling shackled to this perfect girl I felt I needed to be. I want to be free.

Will I still workout and try to keep my body healthy and in shape? Of course. Will I still eat healthy? You betcha. Will I still care about my appearance? Yes, Ma’am. The difference is I won’t obsess. I won’t let any of those things make me feel imprisoned. I won’t let it keep me from enjoying my wondrous life.

I want to be here. In the moment. Living and enjoying every single second of this amazing life.

Free.

One of the essential tasks for living a wise life is letting go. Letting go is the path to freedom. It is only by letting go of the hopes, the fears, the pain, the past, the stories that have a hold on us that we can quiet our mind and open our heart.

— Jack Kornfield

I’m That Mom…and I’m OK With That

Recently I heard from two different friends that Olivia was not being treated very nicely and/or fairly by someone that was working with her at school. The first time I heard that she was being left out when in the regular classroom, the second time I heard that she was being ignored when in the regular classroom and the final straw was something negative being said about Olivia in her presence. The last one made my blood boil. I wanted to go to the school the next morning and punch someone in the throat. My Mom might have beat me to it. To think that I’m sending my daughter to school, and someone who is supposed to be helping her and advocating for her is saying mean things about her IN FRONT OF HER, makes me want to hurt someone. It’s not that they said something negative, although that doesn’t help matters, but that they said it in front of her as if she can’t hear or understand them. That is what hurts the most.

Olivia doesn’t have the communication abilities to come home and tell me that someone who is supposed to be helping her is being mean to her. Or that someone said something mean about her appearance while she was standing right there. Or that they ignore her or don’t allow her to participate. She’s verbal…but that’s a whole different level of communication that she just doesn’t have. But there are other clues, trust me. Like not wanting to get off the bus in the morning, and covering her face and saying “I don’t want to talk about it” when I bring it up. So I wrote an email. And I got the person in trouble. Just like last year I got her bus aide in trouble and got her bus switched because, in my opinion, the aide was abusing my daughter daily. They know me by first name at the transportation department and at school.

And I like it that way.

Working in education, and being a parent of a child with special needs, can sometimes be a little tricky. Some teachers like to complain about the parents of kids with special needs. “They’re crazy! They’re constantly emailing me! They bring a lawyer to every meeting!” And, while it’s true there are some of us who are over the top, the rest of us are just doing whatever it takes to protect our special children. Our typical children can come home and tell us everything that happened in their day. Our kids with special needs can’t. Someone is changing her pull-up and taking her to the bathroom. Someone is changing her clothes if needed. Someone is taking care of her needs during the day. You better believe I will pull out all the stops if I think my daughter’s day is anything but wonderful and everyone’s behavior better be top-notch. She wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone, she understands EVERYTHING that is said around her and she should be treated with the utmost respect.

Sometimes it’s really hard for me to stand up for myself or confront people. But not when it comes to my kids and especially not when it comes to Olivia. I’m THAT mom and I’m ok with that.

I would really love it if you would take 20 minutes (I know that’s a lot) to watch this video about courage. The courage it takes to be a parent of a child with special needs, but most importantly the courage each of our special children use every single day. (This video is made by my husband’s school district and was shown on opening day.)

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Happy This Week

Three blog posts in one week…I’m on a roll!

Emails and tweets from my students from last year just checking in or saying they miss me…it’s the best.

Pumpkin pie blast at our local Mr. Freeze with two friends on a Friday afternoon…one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life!

My lunch buddy made Junior’s cheesecake for us at lunch this week…O.M.G. delicious! (I guess my pants will be tight for another week… ;) )

Friends who are my eyes and ears at school for Olivia

Olivia’s teacher…she loves my daughter so much. The administrators at her school truly care about her as well. I feel lucky!

Time for a board game on a Monday night…I think that’s what I miss most when school starts…not being able to play games, take bike rides, etc.

Project Runway! Man I looooove that show!!!

I just started watching Dexter on Netflix. It’s bizarre but oddly good.

A quick glass of wine with my BFF on a Thursday night…just what I needed!

I know you’ll be surprised, but I don’t have a lot of time to read right now, but I did manage to read an awesome book over the last few weeks. It’s called This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper. It was a wonderful book and it’s about to be a movie with two of my favorites, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey.

It. Is. Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What made you happy this week?

I Love TV and I’m Not Ashamed to Admit It!

Linking up with Mamakat today: 5.) Good television is coming! Share the Fall lineup you’re looking forward to.

(Look at me…two posts so far this week…woohoo!)

I looooooooovvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeee TV. I can’t wait for new TV to start back up again. Thank goodness for OITNB, House of Cards, Project Runway, America’s Got Talent, America’s Next Top Model and Dexter to keep me occupied in the meantime!

I’m really looking forward to these oldies but goodies…

Grey’s Anatomy (yes, I’m still watching!), Big Bang Theory (Sheldon love), Brooklyn 99 (if you’re not watching this you should be), The Goldbergs (if you grew up in the 80’s, start watching!), Modern Family (I mean, come on, hilarious!), The Middle (can’t decide who I love more on this show!), Law and Order SVU (season 16 and going strong!), Mom (Allison Janney for the win!), The Following (is that coming back?) SNL (still love it), Grimm (so spooky scary), The Good Wife (sob…no Will!), PARENTHOOD (the final season…boo!) and Walking Dead (can’t wait…EEEEEKKKK!!!).

I will be in TV watching heaven when everything comes back on. That list is embarrassingly long…and I probably even forgot some! But I don’t care. The way I figure it, I read plenty of books to cancel out all of my brain-numbing TV watching, right?

I’m not in the loop on any new shows but I will probably give Mysteries of Laura with Debra Messing a try. I just love her.

What shows will you be watching? Any new ones? I’m always up for a new show!!

Help Means Love

A few weeks ago, right before school started, my best friend’s oldest son got really sick. He somehow contracted a very serious staph infection in his lower back. He had three surgeries, was in the hospital for 8 days, had a PICC line put in that delivered antibiotics and lost 20 pounds. He’s still not able to walk and on antibiotics. But, thank God, he’s improving and getting better every day. He will heal and be ok. But, damn, it was scary.

During those 8 days and after, watching my best friend, my sister-soulmate, watch her son suffer and feel helpless, all I wanted to do was help her and her family. I would have done anything on earth to help them. I learned an important lesson. Sometimes, when someone you love needs help, it feels so good to be able to help them. I have a really hard time asking for and receiving help. I don’t ever want anyone to think I’m weak or that I can’t handle something. But, in the past few weeks, I’ve only wanted to help Amy as much as I can. When I couldn’t help her, I felt helpless and terrible too. Helping her let her know that I love her, I love her son, I love her family and let them know I was there for them. I didn’t help her because she was weak, I helped her because I love her and her family.

I realized that, when people offer to help, it’s not because they think you’re weak, it’s because they love you and they want to show you that love by helping. My Mom is one of my biggest helpers, and I always feel bad when I ask her for help, but this whole situation has helped me realize that it’s important for her too to be able to help me. She can show me love. When I do something helpful for Matt or the kids or my friends or coworkers, it’s not because I think they can’t do it, it’s because I love them and I want to show them that through helping them.

It was really an eye-opening experience for me. I think, if you’re like me and hate asking for and receiving help, it may be a good lesson for all of us. Needing help, asking for help and receiving help doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It means you are surrounded by people who truly love you. And that means that you are a very lucky person indeed.

Happy This Week

For any of you still out there reading, I am so sorry that this is my first post this week. I am barely treading water over here. Hopefully with a couple of weeks of school under my belt, I’ll be back to it more regularly. I miss writing!!

We had open house on Monday night (makes for the longest Monday ever!) and I had quite a few parents come. I love meeting my kids’ parents!

I also had Gabe and Olivia’s open house this week (can you say longest week ever?) and I really enjoyed meeting all of their teachers too!

One of my dear friends teaches at Gabe and Olivia’s school and I got to catch up with her for a bit. I miss my friends and love when I get the chance to chat with them.

We hired a new 8th grade math teacher this year and he is awesome! I’m old enough to be his mother, but let’s not talk about that. He’s a great addition to our team!

I am so thankful to have a mother I adore, who is fun to be with, who is gorgeous and who helps me whenever I need it. She makes me happy!

Gabe’s team got absolutely crushed last week at the soccer tournament. He went back to practice this week with a smile on his face and with tons of energy. What a kid I have!

I am having some issues with Olivia’s day, let’s say, and I am so happy that I have friends I can vent to and get action plan ideas from!

I got to babysit my friend’s 3 month old last Saturday night. We played, he cooed, he pooped, he ate and we cuddled. It was fun!

Olivia’s so happy when I pick her up after school. My heart just about bursts I’m so happy to see her.

I haven’t spent a lot of time with the kids this week (hello two open houses and soccer and work) and I’m so thankful and happy we have a three-day weekend to catch up with each other!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

We all survived the first week back to school! Woo hoo!

My students are awesome. I love my job…that is a very happy feeling!

Project Runway! I miss new TV!!

I held two brand new babies this week. I wanted to take them home with me!

Gabe’s new soccer team practices 10 minutes away from my Mom. On my night to drive, we go and hang out with my Mom. Love it!

Carpooling for soccer! Thank GOD!

Olivia’s new clothes…she is the cutest.

Matthew was SOOOOO excited to go back to school!

Gabe was excited even though he wouldn’t admit it!

Olivia had a great first day! (According to her…I honestly have no idea so I’m going with her answer!)

It’s Friday!!!

Soccer tournament this weekend! I’m excited to see Gabe’s new team!

My BFF’s son (the one that was really sick?) went to school this week!! He’s on the mend and we are so happy. We went over on Wednesday and he was up and looked so much better and Olivia jumped up and down with excitement. I love that our kids love each other too!

What made you happy this week?

Here’s To Another Great Year

I post this every year…because I love it…and I think it’s worth repeating. Here’s hoping that this year is even better than last year!

The Transfer of a Trust by Susan Wojciechowski

The syndrome hits me every year right after Labor Day. It’s always the same. At 9:34 a.m. the school bus wheezes to a stop at the end of my driveway. My child waves an uncertain goodbye and climbs aboard. The door shooshes shut and the bus rumbles slowly out of sight.

I go onto the back porch for another cup of tea, a peaceful cup at last. I spread the paper open in front of me and start to cry. I snap the paper to attention and pretend to read Sidney Harris. My tears blur the words into a muddy jumble. This is nonsense. I should be glad school is back in session. No more sticky kitchen floor, no more sliding door left open, no more trail of Kool-Aid across the rug. It’s no use. I want to jump in the car and follow bus 158 to school. I want to peek around the corner of the building to make sure my baby has found the right classroom, has not gotten knocked over by bullies, has remembered to carry her lunch box off the bus.

But more than that, I want to glimpse into her classroom. I have no need to check the bulletin boards or the lesson plans. I want to look into the teacher’s soul. I want to find some hint of assurance that she is worthy to continue what I have these past few years begun. For, when each of my children turned 5, they were suddenly snatched from me. I had, up till then, been the overwhelming influence on their development. Their values were my values; their world was shaped by what I wanted them to see, hear, experience. All at once a teacher, a stranger, was taking my place.

And so I cry on the first day of school. I cry because my child is entering a world into which I cannot, no matter how desperately I long to intrude. I cry because some stranger is taking over the job, not of teaching my child math or reading, but of nurturing his development of self. And I wonder if she’ll do it with the dedication I demand.

Each September I fight a overhwheliming urge to rush to school to remind the teacher what a very special little person my child is: that he is not just one of a roomful of pupils–he is MY CHILD and would she please, please treat him accordingly. Would she be so kind as to try to get to know his complex personality, his weaknesses, his childish vulnerabilities; would she try never to humiliate him or belittle him; would she notice his bad days and on those days treat him ever so gently because his is, after all, not just one of a sea of little bodies–he is special. He’s mine.

But of course I can’t do that, can’t dictate caring to every teacher my children will encounter. I only can hope that each one of them will know that for all the fantastic educational tools a teacher might use and for all her mastery of subject matter and exciting lesson plans, and for all her intelligence, her most basic responsiblity will be unfulfilled if the element of caring is missing. And the key to that, in my mind, lies in seeing each pupil as somebody’s precious child.

So I sit on my back porch, drinking a peaceful cup of tea and pretending to read Sidney Harris and hope that my children’s teachers see them as unique, complex, fragile, vulnerable beings. I only can hope that the reason they are teachers, after all, is to bring each student ever closer to his potential, not just as a mind, but as a heart and soul as well.

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Summer Reads II

I read so many great books this summer!!! One of my favorite parts of summer is to sit down with a great book and not feel one bit guilty about it!

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Gudenkauf is great at writing stories that pull at your heartstrings. This one doesn’t disappoint. Ellen is an overworked, exhausted, harried mother of three. One day while in the midst of a work crisis, she forgets something most precious to her and the repercussions will be devastating to her and her family. While Ellen is dealing with her crisis, her mother befriends a lost little girls named Jenny who is very far from home. Gudenkauf weaves both of these major plot lines together brilliantly and they come together perfectly at the end of the novel. I wasn’t able to put it down. You will find yourself yelling at the book to try and prevent events from happening!!

The Stories We Tell Patti Callahan Henry

This was a quick and enjoyable read. Eve and Cooper Morrison are a power couple in their Savannah community. Eve owns and runs her own printing business with two of her dear friends. Cooper is involved in a terrible accident with Eve’s sister, Willa, and their seemingly perfect life starts to unravel. There is nothing earth-shattering in this book, it’s pretty predictable, but it was a very enjoyable read. Eve’s printing business was fascinating to read about and I really wanted to order the greeting cards she speaks of throughout the book!!

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter should just write a book every second of every day…that’s how much I love her writing! This is not part of her series with Will Trent and Sarah but a stand-alone novel that was amazing! It’s set in the 70s as two female police officers are trying to make their way in a male-dominated world. I find it fascinating to read about badass women trying to make it in a world that doesn’t want them there. It’s a wonderful read.

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

This is Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane. Kate has died from cancer and her family has fallen apart. Kate’s best friend, Tully, has become an addict who can’t leave the house. Kate’s husband is trying his best to function without his better half but not doing very well at all. Their daughter, Marah, has completely gone off the deep end. Will they be able to overcome this insurmountable loss? I love Hannah’s books and this one did not disappoint. It’s a quick, heartfelt, heartwarming book.

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

I’m sure most of you have read this already, but I am late to the game. This is the memoir of four-year-old Colton Burpo’s visit to heaven during a near-death experience. It’s hard not to believe in Heaven after reading this book. The part where Colton meets his sister in Heaven made me cry like a baby. His mom had a miscarriage, which he knew nothing about, and this was that sister that he met in Heaven. Man, oh man, I hope it’s true! This book sure makes you think. 

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I would have loved this book if it was around 200 pages long. The fact that it is almost 800 pages almost kept me from finishing it. The story was really unique and interesting, but it felt like it dragged on and on. Maybe I’m just not meant for critically acclaimed books because everyone loved this one, and it’s up for a Pulitzer, but I didn’t really like it. Theo is a 13-year-old boy who has just lost his mother in a terrible accident. The story follows his struggle to make his way in the world without his anchor, his mother. The plot is very interesting but I just felt that it was way too long.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

I loved, loved, loved this book! I couldn’t put it down! The plot is unique and timely, the characters are well-developed and it’s a fast read. All of my favorite things in a book. Kate is a single mother to Amelia, a high schooler, struggling to find time for her high-powered career as an attorney and for Amelia. She is in the middle of a very important meeting when she gets a call from Amelia’s school that Amelia has been suspended. What happens next causes Kate to “reconstruct” Amelia’s existence and examine her own life as well. It’s a great read!!!

What have you read lately?

Happy This Week

I tried, I really tried, to post more this week…but it just didn’t happen!!!

I start back to work tomorrow! I’m so excited! We’ve had an awesome summer but I’m ready to meet my new 8th graders and get back into the swing of things!

Soccer started!!! Gabe is loving his new team.

I took pictures of one of my best friend’s kids. They are awesome and gorgeous…it was fun!!!

A manicure AND a pedicure!!!

A haircut!

Therapy!

An at-home date night after the kids went to bed

Coffee with my mom…and no kids! We never get to spend time just the two of us!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…it was awesome! The best part? Olivia loved it! We’re moving past animated movies…occasionally!

Last, but certainly not least, my best friend’s son has been in the hospital for over a week, had three surgeries, was in a ton of pain while suffering a very rare infection in his back. It was really scary. He is finally home and on the mend!!!!! Woo hoo!!!

What made you happy this week?