One Year Later

Oh, I have been slacking! Not really. It’s been a pretty busy, hectic year. A lot to cover but for the moment I’m just going to give the Readers Digest Very Condensed version: I did not get to be Commencement Speaker (but I was really okay with it, I tried and that was huge!) I graduated and got my Associate degree in Elementary Education, the girls finished elementary school, I sold the house, we moved to Derry NH, the girls started Middle School, I started at SNHU and this past year went by in a WHIRLWIND!

Moving to Derry was THE BEST thing I did for me and the girls. They have both not only flourished in their new school, they have blossomed into some pretty darn amazing young ladies. I am so incredibly proud of both of them. They each played a sport in the fall (Field Hockey for Brenna and Soccer for Ryleigh), they are in the school chorus, joined the Glee Club, Ryleigh was in the school play and Brenna played softball this spring. Me, well I was very excited to make the Dean’s list in the spring! Fell a little short in the fall but that’s okay! This coming year, I have classes in the fall, then student teaching in the spring and GRADUATION again! Oh yeah, I get to be a teacher after that!

Today I got a wake-up call that I didn’t like. I had a physical and wasn’t expecting anything unusual, until the doctor said to me that my Blood Pressure was slightly elevated and was the last time I was in too. I asked what it was and was really surprised because it’s never been that high before. I was ALWAYS on the very low side of average. Now I’m getting close to the point of needing medication! Last year I had blood tests done and I was borderline pre-diabetic! NOT cool at all. I had more blood tests done this morning so we’ll see what that shows. In the meantime, I HAVE to lose weight. I am at my all-time heaviest and I am not happy with the way I look or feel physically.  As soon as I got home, I went online and signed up for Weight Watchers. (Again!)

I had this weird kind of epiphany though, a little while ago. When I started school five years ago, I didn’t know how long it would take me. I could only look at it one semester at a time. No more, or it was too overwhelming to think about. I knew there was an end goal and I just kept at it, slow and steady. There were days when I really didn’t know if I could do it; if I could finish, if I would make it to the end. Somehow though, every time that happened, something else happened to boost my confidence, my morale. I got validation from my professors, support from my family and friends, encouragement from everybody and I did it! I got one degree a year ago, and I’m so close to my Bachelor’s! so what was the epiphany? Well, if I could do that, why can’t I do this? It’s going to be just as hard, if not harder, BUT I still have all those amazing people who are part of my life and even more importantly, I have myself and my girls. I am proud of what I have done so far. How hard I have worked to reach this goal. I’ve shown the girls what hard work can bring you when you want it so badly! So now it’s time to do it again! It’s time to do it for me again. This time it’s for the physical me and yes, I guess it’s also for the emotional, mental part of me as well.

I realized that I have to tackle this the same way. One small step at a time. 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 25 pounds, celebrate each milestone and when things get rough, look back on my successes, not my failures. Ask for encouragement, ask for support, seek out help when I don’t know the answer, research answers on my own. I have probably more than 100 pounds I need to lose. but every 5 adds up towards that total. So can I do this? I don’t see why not? When I started school, there was no question in my mind about finishing. I knew I would, there was no other choice. It’s the same thing now. There IS NO other choice. So I’ll do it. That’s it.

Graduation is Coming!

It’s hard for me to believe that once again, a long awaited dream is coming true. The first, of course, was my beautiful, amazing baby girls (who as I previously noted are NOT babies anymore). No, this time, the dream coming true is my graduation from college, This one seemed almost as out of reach as my dream of becoming a mom. But that came true and this one will be in about six weeks! 

It’s been a long journey and one that at times I really wasn’t sure I could finish. It’s amazing though how motivating the thought of having to pay back student loans for an unfinished degree can be! Well, that wasn’t my *only* motivation! I have two people who watch my every move every day of my life and theirs. Every single thing I do makes an impression on them, so it’s imperative that it be the right one. 

Anyway to get back to the point…

At school, announcements were put out about Student Commencement speaker and to my own amazement, I considered it. But I kept going back and forth because I thought “who would be interested in what I have to say?” How much would my speech appeal to a graduating student who was so much younger than me, and hadn’t been through life yet? I was also really busy with school work, my regular work, the girls, oh, just life! The deadline passed but they extended it and the few people I had mentioned it to, responded very positively and as I was discussing it one day with someone in Student Engagement, another woman came by, saw me and asked me if I was applying for it (without even hearing what we were talking about just prior to her arrival!) That did it and I decided to go for it!

I worked on it all weekend and submitted it Monday morning. Shortly after that I ran into one of my professors and I told him what I had done. He asked me to send it to him and he also wanted me to read it to him. After reading it himself first, he told me it was excellent and when could I read it for him? I was finally able to get together with him a few days ago and I read it exactly the way I would if I were up on stage and talking to 1000 people. After, he told me that it was perfect exactly the way it is and not to change a word. He said my delivery was spot on and that it was probably one of the best commencement speeches he had ever heard. He’s not on the committee, but told me that I have an excellent chance of getting it! He said that I hit upon alll the important points and would appeal to everyone. He thinks that professors and faculty wil be validated by it, and that it will resonate with my fellow students as well as those who haven’t graduated yet. He also said that it is a huge tribute to NSCC and that will appeal to the President and Deans. Honestly, I was shocked and very pleased, but I still need to get by the Commencement committee. I’m NOT a competitive person, at least with others, but I am very competitive with myself. I WANT this now, I’m excited for it and I can already picture myself up on stage. I want my girls to see that and be proud of me!

I won’t find out if I wil even be auditioning until later this week, then auditions are being held on the 24th. Last year they had two rounds of auditions. I’m nervous,but only because I want it so bad. I’m actually not that nervous about DOING it, why should I be? It’s my story, it’s honest and if I can make an impression on even one person, then I wil be happy. If I can make a difference in one life well what else can I ask for? Once I know one way or the other, I’ll post whatever the final speech is

She’s Not a Baby Anymore

Ryleigh has always been the one to hit milestones first. Occasionally it was Brenna but even when it wasn’t, she usually wasn’t far behind. Being the mom of twins has shown me first hand that children develop at different rates, even twins. Mine are fraternal, so basically that just means they are sisters who happened to be born at the same time.

The latest milestone is puberty. Ryleigh has started on her journey within the past year, and it looks like she will be hitting the first big milestone soon, probably within the next 6 months or so, her first period. It’s a good thing this isn’t public, she’d probably kill me for writing this! But as I told her, EVERY girl has gone through it, is going through it, or will. It is special, but more than special, it’s unique to each person. She’s asking questions and I give myself credit, I’m being honest and upfront with her, and not having a mini heart attack inside.

But I look at my sweet baby girl, and I see the pre-teen she is becoming. I can foresee what the next few years will bring and I’m happy for her but sad for me. Somehow I wish I could stretch out my time with her, and her sister for a few more years, as my baby girls, not my big girls. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my girls and they are my world. More than ever, it is becoming increasingly important for me to show them the best person I can be. It’s who THEY will become.

What about Brenna though, you may be asking. She sees what her sister is going through and wonders when it will be her turn. Little signs are there. I tell her, don’t worry, it’s coming! You’ll catch up to her. Ryleigh on the other hand, says “Why me first?” The only answer I can give her is “That’s just your body. Everybody is different.” She doesn’t always like being first, even if she won’t admit it. Don’t get me wrong though, she LOVES being first. Sometimes I think Brenna feels like she’s in her sister’s shadow and so she tries to impress me and show me that she is special too. (Guess what my beautiful girl? You don’t have to impress me! You do it every day!)

We have been dancing around the subject of puberty for awhile now. We talk about it sometimes and I go as far as I can talking about it with them. But I back off and let them lead me in how much they are capable and willing to hear. The most important thing I hope I do for them is lead by example. I try to make sure that there is nothing I do, that I wouldn’t want them to do.

I bought them a book to read a year or so ago. It sat around for a long time, neither of them reading it. But when the school nurse told Ryleigh that she thought it was “that” time, I knew it was time to pull it out and let her read it. Reading about it is easier for her than hearing it from me. It lets her take it in, then she can ask me whatever questions she has. All I can do then is hope that I have the answers for her, or if I don’t, then I find them.

She’s moody and sassy, she talks back to me, gives me her “cool girl” attitude, has her own fashion and hairstyle ideas that don’t always go along with mine, but not inappropriate, just different than me. But she still wants to crawl in bed with me and if I let her, would sleep with me every night.  (So would Brenna for that matter!)

I try to take each day, one at a time. I don’t ever wish away today, the days go much too fast and they seem to be speeding up even more as they get older. I walk a fine line with trying to keep them my babies, but I also have to let them grow up and become responsible, strong, smart women.

Gotta love this time of year

This time of year is tough for everybody. The holidays are over, and winter is settling in. We still have to make it through February, most of us hoping for maybe ONE snowstorm but beyond that, nope, we’re good. Come on if you live in New England you really need to have SOME snow! ahh, but also what comes at this time of year is all the illnesses. In my house, it usually rotates from year to year with only one of the three of us getting something. Not this year, we went for a twofer! Ryleigh got strep and I’m not exactly sure what I had but it was bad!

After R was diagnosed with Strep, I decided I better call my doctor (I have to be careful because of my Chronic Bronchitis). I had been feeling a little off for a week or so but just couldn’t put my finger on it, nothing I could call anyone about. My doctor suspected pneumonia but a chest x-ray ruled that out. That night, though, some freight train came through and slammed into me full-on! Wow, I was down for the count for the next two days in bed, fever, cough, fatigue. Probably a combination of Flu and Strep. I missed classes all week because of it. Luckily it’s only two classes and it’s still early on, so I didn’t miss too much and will be able to catch up.

I’m feeling better now, but this darn cough will end up hanging on for awhile. Usually it can last a month or more, but I’m hoping because I got on antibiotics so quickly that maybe it will be better this time. When I was able to get up and clean the kitchen, Iknew the worst was over. (Sad huh?) The girls hate it when I’m sick, but I hate it when they’re sick too. You never like to see someone you love hurting in any way.

It’s quiet in here this morning. The girls are at Daddy’s, they’ll be home later. The house is realtively clean, which is nice. I put Dixie out this morning and she’s limping. Something is wrong with her back leg. She didn’t cry when I touched it, so I’m thinking that maybe she pulled something, she doesn’t seem to be in pain. She’s getting older though, she’s almost 9. I haven’t been able to bring her to the vet like I should but I think I really need to now. Many years ago, we had a Doberman, and when she was getting to the end, we knew it was close. One day, she collapsed and it was awful, the look in her eyes as she looked at me, I could see she was so scared. It turns out she had cancer and it was all over her body. The best thing we could do for her was to let her go and not be in pain anymore. I just read that cancer is very common in Boxers and it’s one of the leading causes of death. I really hope it doesn’t happen to her.

I’ve been worried about what I’ll do with Dixie when it come time for us to move. She’s not fixed so I can’t bring her to the apartment complex. I could get her fixed but at her age, it seems a little unneccesary. John had said he would take her, but I’m not sure that he meant permanently and even if he did, she is getting older and now is when she could potentially start getting more expensive. I have a lot of thinking to do. I guess the first thing I need to do is find a vet and get her checked out.

The sun is out today. Two years ago we had just had the first of many blizzards that winter. Snowmageddon 2015. Almost 106″ of snow that year. Think about that: that’s almost 9 feet of snow! I got into a car accident and my Camry got totaled. That sucked. It sucked even more when they said *I* was at fault! I fought it though and luckily I won and it was reversed. Talk about serious anxiety that winter, just constant snow for almost two months, driving was awful, the streets were not plowed well and there was nt a lot of wiggle room anywhere. My street was literally ONE car wide for awhile. The state had to have the National Guard come in and help do cleanup! One night I listened to front end loaders all night and the next morning the street was once again two cars wide. Still not ideal, we had HUGE snowbanks and it was really hard to see to get in and out of the driveway. I thought I would have snow in the yard till August that year! (I didn’t, but it lasted quite awhile! I think the last smnall snowpile went away in late May?)

Luckily so far this winter, it’s been much milder. We got through January (almost, 2 days left with no snow forecasted right now), then it’s just February to get through. I’m slowly clearing out the house of all the extra STUFF, I have two classes to finish until graduation and I need to start talking to realtors about the house. It’s getting there, it’s all coming together.

This is Me, Part Two

This me, part two. There are way more than two parts to me, but for right now, these are the two biggest parts. First: Mom and student. The second part is me. Huh? AS a mom I don’t always put myself first, hell, I’m lucky if I’m third, fourth, or fifth! Even being a student, yes that’s for me, but it’s also for my family and my future. Today it’s about me personally and the things I need to do for myself to be happy, healthy and satisfied.

Sometimes I buy myself treats. Nothing extravagant. One: I don’t need it and two, I can’t afford to anyway! So it’s things like a new purse, a little nicer than I usually buy, or maybe a nice teapot and some really good tea. My latest thing was deciding that I need to take care of myself, my body. Ugh, I got on the scale the other day for the first time in awhile and oh dear Lord, TEN pounds more than the last time I weighed myself! No wonder my jeans are really tight lately! I realized something very eye opening, at least for me. When I went back to school, I couldn’t look at how long it was going to take me, I had to just jump in and do it. When I got done, I got done. My weight has always been a struggle for me. I’ve had minor success along the way, but I always put the weight BACK ON, and then some. Today I weigh almost as much as I did just before I delivered the girls. That’s scary. I was carrying TWINS!! The ironic part of that though is that while I was pregnant with them, I was personally losing weight! Yup. I gained 30 lbs while I was pregnant with them and lost 60 when I had them, which means I lost 30 pounds WHILE I was pregnant. I lost another 20 or so after that, but as I just said, sadly I have put ALL of it back on plus. Not good.

What makes it easy for me to ignore (unfortunately) is that what I see inside my head is not nearly as bad as what is really in the mirror, and also medically, my health is actually pretty good! My numbers are all in the healthy range. Sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, all good. Luckily there are some signs telling me that things aren’t as good as my brain thinks. I get tired really easily. Energy? Uhhh, no. Knees? Oh crap, if I have to bend down, it is torture to get back up! My body gets sore easily and my back hurts (Uhhh, yeah! It’s from the ALL that extra weight you idiot!)

I had somewhat of a revelation the other day. It’s been four years since I started school. I’m graduating in May. I didn’t think about WHEN that would happen, only that it would. I got frustrated along the way and wondered if it was all worth it. I needed pep talks from friends, family, faculty, advisors, anybody who would help, and I got through it. The revelation was, WHY couldn’t I apply this to my weight loss journey too? Weight Watchers tells you that all the time and I heard it, but I didn’t HEAR it. Do you know what I mean? Going to school, I really don’t do well with online classes. I NEED that interaction, the immediate feedback, the ability to ask questions and get answers now. THta’s how I felt about Weight Watchers too. I do much better when I go to meetings. Unfortunately, that’s just not an option right now. Just not in my budget. But, with a little rearranging, I can do the online program. I’ve done this program so many times that I know what I have to do but doing it on my own, there is no accountability to anyone but my brain and I can trick that very easily. My brain got smart though and said, Nope, not this time! This time you’re going to take it a step at a time, just like you did with school. Do online for now and if you can, go to meetings later. Hold yourself accountable, track the food, honestly and completely, the only one you’re lying to if you don’t is yourself!

Last night I made dinner for the three of us and made a Weight Watchers chicken recipe. The girls loved it. (Ryleigh’s throat is sore so she complained that the spices “burned” her throat but there wasn’t anything in it that was “spicy” in it!) The trick this time for being successful at this program is to make it something we all do, we all eat the same food, not a special meal for me and one for them. It’s finding the things I like and trying them in new ways. For now, it means avoiding my trigger foods: crunchy, salty, fatty chips and soft chewy candy.

The other thing I really need to watch out for is getting to the point where I just don’t care and I want it NOW and I want the chips or the Twizzlers. I have to be stronger than that and make sure that I have good alternatives on hand to get myself past that urge. I want and need to keep myself accountable. I have to take this one step at a time. The goal is there. I just need to remember that and at least keep it in sight, but not worry about how long it’s going to take to get there.

This is me

This is me. Today, January 22, 2017. Well, the picture wasn’t taken today, it’s from a few months ago in actuality. But it’s still me pretty recently. But I really like it. I don’t always like my selfies. Takes me about, oh ten or so pictures to decide on one.

I am a mom and a student. I guess for the time being I’m a graphic designer too but that is slowly going away. I’ve been a graphic designer, officially for more than 30 years, since before I graduated from high school. But I really started to become disenchanted with what I had always loved doing. It just wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. On top of that, a few years ago though my life was in chaos, I wasn’t happy personally or professionally. My personal life was a complete mess, separated for almost eight years with two young girls and no idea what was going to happen. Looking back, I did know, I just couldn’t and wouldn’t admit it to myself. Or anyone else for that matter. Eventually of course I had to not only admit it, but face it. Once I did though, there was no looking back for me, only forward.

I went back to school to complete what I didn’t the first time around, only this time I had a totally different outlook, different reasons for going and a new profession to look forward to. I decided I wanted to teach. In the space of only a few short weeks, I applied to North Shore Community College (NSCC) and started classes. Four years later, I will be graduating in May. Yup, two year school took me four years. But I had to do it part time so it is what it is! Most importantly, I’M GRADUATING! When I started that first semester I decided that I couldn’t look at how long it was going to take me, I just had to take it one semester at a time and just do the best I could. And that is exactly what I did.

So why am I writing this? Who am I writing it for? Well, right now it’s for me. I’m writing this so when I look back on it later, years from now, I’ll know what my mindset was. I can’t imagaine I’ll ever forget what this feels like but in time, memories do fade, or the details get fuzzy. We lose the day to day feelings, the big stuff, we remember that but the little things get forgotten. I try to take time every now and then to just take in an ordinary moment and imprint in into my memory. When I was younger, I used to keep a journal and now I like going back and reading what the 12-, 13-, 17-year-old me had to say. Maybe this is for my girls, so that someday they’ll have a record of things from my perspective. Who knows, maybe I’ll even put this out there for anybody to read.

I have two classes left this semester until I graduate. The girls will be graduating from elementary school. (My God, I am going to have Middle-schoolers??) Our house is going to be sold. Aside from the girls it’s the only thing left of my marriage and I’m finally at a point where I’m ready and eager to let go of that. We’re moving to New Hampshire hopefully in early July and we’ll be starting a whole new life.

I’ll be going to Southern New Hampshire University to finish my degree and become a teacher (still debating, it’s between Middle school ELA and Middle School science, leaning towards Science right now). The girls will be in 6th grade, middle school. We’ll be living in an apartment and I can’t wait!

My girls…they are my world, my love, my LIFE. Plain and simple. Ryleigh and Brenna. My amazing, beautiful, smart, funny daughters. AlI ever really wanted in life was to be a Mom. I wanted my career too, but being a mom…that was number one. It didn’t look like it would happen for awhile. That’s a whole other story for another time, but the end result is, I got to be a MOM and that’s what drives me everyday. Raising them to be responsible, self-sufficient, confident women is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it has been the one challenge that I just say “Bring..It..On!!!” I went back to school, not only for me, but for them too. I want them to know that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. It takes hard word and determination, no one just hands it to you, you have to want it and work for it.

Part of me could just keep writing and writing. But I need to stop for now. When I write, I want to stay focused on one thing. It’s far too easy to go off on tangents and lose the original point.

So, this is me.