Friday, July 8, 2016

Rage Against The Machine

I intended to blog today about the adventure the last year has been, as today is our little Lyric's first birthday.  Initially, I wasn't going to infiltrate this post with politics, but today, more than ever, it seems crucially important to recognize the division in our world and to speak about it.  What I hope for, today, on my daughter's first birthday, is that, one day, she will be a voice of activism and reason in her community.  I hope that for all of my children.  I want them to live in and contribute to a world where campaigns like #blacklivesmatter become irrelevant because, truly, black lives actually WILL matter.  It is obvious that in our world today, they don't.  I want my children to stand for big things, and fall for nothing.  I want them to see injustice and rise against.  It doesn't matter right now that white people matter because in this nation, white people have always mattered.  Black people haven't, and judging by the corruption at the hands of those meant to protect us, and the citizens who see no wrong here, they still don't matter.  This is unacceptable.  Hate will never lead to peace.  Intolerance will never lead to justice.  The political machine that feeds into us all day, everyday, the mass media - someone needs to hold these people accountable.  Hate creates division, and a nation divided is a nation collapsing.

This cannot be the world we are leaving for our children. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Free Time

Free time is a funny thing anymore.  With four kids, a husband, and a household to keep up with, sometimes I feel like there's not even a point in trying to find free time.  But then sometimes, the three older kids occupy themselves, and your husband tells you he's taking the baby to the store, and you realize that, for just a moment, you might get a little free time.  So he backs down the driveway, you turn around, and there stands one of the three previously occupied children, asking for yet another snack.  And then you hear the voice of child number two telling you that he's bored.  And then about 25 seconds later, the last of the three previously occupied children is at your feet, also begging for a snack.  Your husband's generous offer screeches to a halt.  So you do your best to satisfy the needy children, but your answers aren't the ones they are looking for - "you've already had a snack, and it's almost dinnertime" because then you get the back to back to back "how soon is dinner?" questions.  But finally, you nearly threaten life or limb because Mommy. Just. Needs. A. Minute.  So they scamper off for maybe the next 30 seconds, and you fall into the couch, and breathe.  And 30 seconds passes, so you decide to turn on Netflix, only to get the "Too many devices currently viewing" message because the only way the children could leave you in peace was if the boys watched something in one room, and the daughter watched something much girlier in another room.  Sigh.  So you coax and beg the daughter to please just join the boys in the other room so that you can please have a moment of Netflix to yourself.  Miraculously, she complies.  I mean that. Miraculously.  Because when has she ever just complied with a request?  So the stars have aligned, and you finally get to sit down for just a couple minutes before the free time is over.

Honestly, thank god for husbands.  Thank god for husbands taking little ones on an adventure to the grocery store.  Thank for god free time, even if it's just a few minutes here and there. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

This challenge.

In my own head, I am considering this the 'challenge of a lifetime'. I know that I'm being a bit dramatic, but it feels like a REALLY BIG DEAL. I was raised on processed foods and drinks. You know, like probably every single child born before 2000. There seemed to be some sort of shift around that time towards free-range, grass-fed, organic such-and-such. It was a small movement at first, but it's garnered a lot of support over the last several years, and people are finally starting to realize that they probably shouldn't be eating, and feeding their kids, the crap we've all enjoyed for decades. That's why this is the 'challenge of a lifetime' for me. You'll find me sipping on a can of soda with cheese balls and icing smeared across my face in pictures from 1994. This was great. Seriously, what kid wouldn't love that? But as an adult, it has created a serious health struggle for me as I've tried to kick the sugar addiction and discourage ever developing one in my own children.

That's why during the month of May, I am going to be doing the Whole30 challenge. The idea behind this is very simple, but the implementation of it will be much more difficult. To give you a quick rundown of what this actually entails, it means that I stick to whole, real, non-processed foods - meats, veggies, and fruits. Some have dubbed this the "dinosaur diet" or the "caveman diet". 

In simple terms, it means:

-no added sugar
-no legumes
-no dairy
-no grains
-no seed oils
-no alcohol
-no carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
-no trying to "cheat" by making junk food with approved ingredients

The hardest part of this will be the no sugar rule, followed by the no dairy rule, followed by no alcohol. I drink a couple of times a week, so no addiction there, I just enjoy it. Sugar and dairy, however, are everyday (like all day, errday) things. It will be interesting, no doubt.

As far as why I am doing this, well, I have a long list of reasons. A few of these are:

-weight loss. That seems obvious, right? I hope that through the detox of the unhealthy stuff from my body, I will shed 5 to 10 lbs.

-kick the sugar addiction. It is in everything, and its addictive property is why I have a lifelong habit of snack, snack, snacking all day long. 

-more restful sleep. Hand in hand with dropping the sugar habit, I hope to achieve more restful periods of sleep that will have me waking up much easier (before the earliest rising kid, perhaps?!). 

-longer periods of sleep for Lyric. This is not backed up by any science (at least that I have heard or researched), but I feel like if sugar and dairy and grains can cause me to have restless sleep (which IS backed up by science), then surely the same could be happening to my breastfed infant. She wakes up 2-3 times on average, but sometimes more, and she has never been a good napper. More restful sleep for the baby could be life changing for the whole household.

-learning actual hunger cues and the feeling full sensation. When my body learns to operate the way it is actually supposed to, I look forward to knowing what it feels like to be full because your body has taken in the appropriate amount of nutrition, and not full because my jeans suddenly feel tight and I'm starting to sweat. ;)

-decreased or eliminated joint pain. When I am properly nourished, I look forward to greatly diminished aches and pains in my back and knees.

-increased performance and results from exercise. As a result of a healthier body, and less joint pain, I cannot wait to see how this plan for nutrition will affect my performance in my Beachbody workouts. I have high hopes, and I don't think I will be disappointed!

-diminished or eliminated tinea versicolor. I have splotches across my abdomen and neck that I've had since puberty. They sort of come and go a little with pregnancy, but overall, are always present in some form. I'm curious to see if the Whole30 will reset my body to a point where this could potentially be eliminated.

Other than the general difficulties that will come from a drastic nutritional change, like finding compliant meals and snacks, planning ahead for times when I won't be at home for a meal, and lots & lots of meal prepping, I, somewhere along the line, thought all of this didn't sound difficult enough, so... I am also taking my 4 & 6 year old children on this journey with me. My 4 & 6 year old very picky children. Like, when I say "picky", I mean like PICKY. I offered my 4 year old son a beater from the mixing bowl to lick when I was making a gluten-free Oreo & cream cheese cake about a month ago, and he looked at it in disgust and said, "no way, yuck!". My kids are weird. They are stubborn and frustrating when it comes to new or healthy foods. However, I feel like there is no better time than right now to instill better eating habits in these kids. My hope is simply that I do not pull all of my hair out in a screaming, raging fit after day three because my children are on a hunger strike. They won't be 100% compliant as I plan to be because we have 4 kids and a very busy lifestyle, so sometimes I just need to be able to throw a pouch of applesauce into my dauhgter's lunchbox and call it good. I do however plan to completely eliminate the sugary crap they so often eat, and the non-compliance will be severely limited. Chances are, they will spend the whole month of May in my home; however, if they do end up at their father's house, I know full well they will not at all be sticking to this plan. That will only be for a day or two, tops, though. My 4 & 6 year old children have celiac disease, and occasionally still experience stomach issues or low energy levels, as well as joint pain in my 4 year old son. I am hopeful that this will be severely diminished or completely eliminated on the whole30 plan.

So, that's that, folks. That's about the long and short of it. I am nervous, and I am excited, and I am pretty damn determined to see this thing through. Wish my family luck! I plan to document our journey at least weekly, if not more, and I look forward to our final update at the end of May. Peace & good health to all. :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The thought of failure

The first thing that I would do would be to finally sit down and start (and finish) writing a novel. And then, it would be getting it published. The thought is terrifying. It is daunting, despite the long lasting desire I have always had to do such a thing. But even more than those things, the idea that I could do that is thrilling. I think that I am a good writer, and I wonder what sort of story I would pull from my brain if I dedicated the time to actually writing. 

Secondly, I would eat healthier. I would rid my body of grains and rely solely on meats, vegetables, and fruits - ya know, the dino way. I took gluten out of my diet and saw many positive reactions to my body, but I am a human who oftentimes has little self control, and I have cheated myself with food on multiple occasions. 

I would pursue Beachbody coaching more fervently. I believe in the products and believe that I could help people turn their lives and their health and their bodies around, but I do not believe that I am capable of handling the negative responses I would get if I did such a thing.

I am unhappy with my current position in life, and I know that I am capable of changing that, but I am scared to try. I love my husband. I love my children. I am hopeful for the future, but I am disappointed that I have no direction. Mostly, I would find that. I would find my direction and I would go wholeheartedly towards wherever it led me.

These things. These are the things I would do if I could not fail.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Marriage is really freaking hard. I'm not kidding. I have a hard enough time knowing what the hell is going on inside of my own head most of the time, but in a marriage? I feel like I have to also know what is going on inside of somebody else's head. It is probably... No, definitely... the hardest thing I have ever done. Parenting comes semi-naturally, I think. Sure, I may be screwing them up in the long run, but I at least feel confident while I am making the decisions. In a marriage, I feel like I am always guessing, like one of those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. It is scary, and most days I feel like I am failing at making the 'right' decisions. Marriage takes a lot more than just loving someone, that's for sure. It is scary and real and it will make you feel like you have no fucking idea what you are doing.

Clearly, tonight has been one of those nights where I have no idea what happened or why I am up right now with no idea of what the last two hours entailed. But ya know what? I fucking love him, and I will go to the ends of this Earth to figure out how a fully functioning marriage works because by God, I can't imagine life without this wonderful, sexy, incredibly smart & talented man by my side because I don't want to. 

I feel like I have never been married before because marriage has never felt like 'this' before. 'This' means scary & real &, did I mention, scary? It means stupid arguments over text messages and completely misreading each other some nights. It means screwing up and having no idea how to push the reset button, but trying (and failing) to push it anyway. It is all of the hugs and kisses and love you could ever possibly want, but maybe not all in one night. It is not knowing what the fuck I am talking about, but absolutely loving and appreciating the man fast asleep beside me because there is no other soul on this planet that I would rather do this life with.

Marriage: it's funny and terrifying and completely fly-by-night. Spencer, what the hell are we doing? I don't know, but I want more. I know I am crazy and confusing and you know what? I love you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Honoring A Hero

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

In the last six days, I have seen my community come together in love & solidarity amidst a tragedy. Our beautiful little corner of the world here in upstate South Carolina was dark but for a moment last Friday, March 18, when an officer of local law enforcement lost his life at the hands of a criminal, a gang member, a child. I cannot begin to fathom what his friends and family have felt over the last week because I know that even with the sincerest use of my imagination, what I muster up cannot come close to the sinking reality of losing a friend or family member so tragically.

When I first heard the news that an officer had been fatally wounded, I felt the automatic sadness that comes from hearing such news. I flashed back to life several years ago, when fear of my ex husband not coming home everyday was very real in my world.  My ex husband is a former police officer, and I remember the feeling I had for his position as the spouse. It was fear mixed with pride, and I spent many nights in my younger years praying, to who I'm not sure, but praying that I would never have to explain why Daddy wasn't coming home anymore to my two young toddlers. If you have never been a part of a LEO family, I'm not sure you can adequately understand the bit of fear you feel when you kiss your significant other, or son, or mother, or father, knowing that there is a true reality of them meeting a fateful end when they don that patrol belt and bulletproof vest. So in the middle of the night last Friday, while I was up to feed the baby, I read the news that turned this nameless officer into a very real person, and one that I had actually met in passing before. I felt compelled to share his identity with my husband right then & there, at 4 in the morning, and we shared the sadness in the dark of our bedroom.  For the next several days, the news of his passing, thoughts of his family, and questions about what we could do to support those left behind, all stayed at the forefront of our minds.

Officer Allen Jacobs left behind in this earthly world two young sons, a beautiful, loving wife, and a sweet unborn baby girl. What I have witnessed from my community since his passing has been nothing short of beautiful. I have seen love and solidarity come out in droves. We have all watched Officer Jacobs' patrol car become beautifully adorned in flowers, cards, pictures, little pieces of memories that people felt compelled to share. 

When I told my four year old son of the news, he immediately was concerned for the two boys close to his age. He began asking lots of questions about why God would let them lose their daddy. These were questions I was unable to come up with any answers to. His answer to the sadness, though, was to make a card for the boys. He was sad that they were sad, and he told me that a card would make him feel a little bit better if he were sad, so he set to work. He later approached me to tell me he was sad about their unborn baby sister too. "When will she be born?" he asked me, and I told him she was expected to be born right around his own little sister's birthday. He immediately got very excited, and said to me, "I hope she's born on Lyric's birthday, and you know why? If she's born on Lyric's birthday, they can be friends always and she will never have to be sad on her birthday because she will have a friend for life." My heart ached with love and sadness and pride at my young boy's response to this entire tragedy. 

I have read biographies and articles and heard snippets of Allen Jacobs' life, and confidently, I can say that he led an honorable and influential life. I am saddened at this terrible loss, but I feel respect and admiration for the unity I have felt within my community. I feel certain that the family of Officer Jacobs will be wrapped in loving arms and have support from every corner.  I am grateful that from the ashes of tragedy, a cloak of love has been formed.

"Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9

Officer Allen Lee Jacobs
E.O.W. March 18, 2016

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A tale of bullshit.

I have to wonder if I will ever overcome the struggle that began 4 years ago. I find myself daydreaming (day-nightmaring?) almost every single day about being cheated on. Not in the I-think-my-husband-would-cheat-on-me kind of way, but in the let-me-create-an-elaborate-tale-of-how-he-could-cheat-on-me kind of way. And I don't even realize that I'm doing it until the stupid tale has already been spun.

It's unfair to myself to continually be in this mindset that no matter what I do or how hard I love or the passion that I try to put into being a wonderful wife, the voice inside will never allow myself to believe that who I am will always be enough. This is basically what I was getting at in my post from two years ago, when I talked about how I felt that I was Never enough.

The hardest part about the tornado that my mind sends itself into is that I have zero, none, absolutely no reason to ever feel that my husband would so much as think about another woman in the way that only I, his wife, should be thought of.  But still, time after time, my brain works itself into a long line of thought about things that maybe I should have done differently that could maybe one day lead to being cheated on again.  What I mean by that is - I question myself constantly.  I wasn't very chipper this morning, what if a random woman he works with is more cheerful than I was this morning?  I didn't put on make up yesterday, I bet he noticed and wonders why I'm not putting effort into myself.  I still have the rest of the baby weight to lose, I wonder if it took his ex wife this long to lose the baby weight.  Let me be clear, I have an unbelievably supportive and uplifting husband.  I really mean that.  He calms these unreasonable fears and never jump starts the cycle of thought by his own doing.  But inevitably and unfairly, there they always are. 

I don't know how to break this cycle, so instead I just get angry.  I divert my anger towards my ex husband who is responsible for this damage to my mind and my spirit.  In our years of marriage, the idea of a person cheating on another person - that's just in the movies, right?  That could surely never happen to us because.  Because.  So I never unfairly gave way to any thought about him ever cheating on me, and then he so kindly took my love and trust into the arms of another woman, and broke me in the process.  I truly feel from the bottom of my soul that it was for the best that I became the cheated on wife because, in all honesty, I never could have felt the happiness I feel now.  I was happy in the marriage, sure.  If anyone had ever asked,  I would have gone into a long winded speech of praise for my faithful and loving husband and our wonderful marriage.  But now that I am on the other side, I was so naive.  I wasn't happy - I was content.  I poured most of my energy into making friends online that could sympathize with my situation of displaced Army wife.  He focused his energy on work and physical training and video games and baseball.  I focused my energy on kids and military spouse forums.  We didn't spend time together; we merely spent time alone within feet of each other.  It was probably the perfect storm to create infidelity, though I never would have seen it for myself in the moment. 

My point is - what I experience now in my relationship is far beyond that.  I am happier, more fulfilled, and grateful, so grateful for what my life consists of now. But that is why the torment I put myself through is so much more terrible.  My husband doesn't deserve to be mentally placed into these situations where I imagine the countless ways he could one day break my heart.  I trusted wholeheartedly a man that would crush me, and because of that, I don't allow myself to extend this same courtesy of trust to my husband when he is someone who undoubtedly deserves it. It doesn't help that infidelity is everywhere, always planting ridiculous seeds and new, fun scenarios that I just drop myself and my husband right into.  In the middle of reading a wonderful book about a lovely couple (man, these two remind me of Spencer and me!), BAM! The man decides to cheat on his girlfriend out of nowhere.  Girl moves on from this broken heart and later gets married to a seemingly great guy.  Years later, BAM! Her husband is caught sleeping with her boss.  What the fuck, world?  Why is infidelity so fun to write about?  Why is it always included in just about every story line of every book and movie I seem to find?  (I'm looking you in the eyes, Love Actually.)

Now, all of that aside, I know I have the issue here.  I'm not sure how to overcome this.  I honestly fear that I never will.  On the one hand, I know that it is contained inside my own head and would never cause any actual doubt or mistrust towards my husband, but on the other hand, who wants to have to deal with that forever because of some jerky ex-husband's actions?  It is not fun, and I am determined to squash those nightmare bunnies (get it? like dust bunnies?) back into the deep, dark crevices of my brain.  Or better yet, I'd love to just Swiffer those bastards right the fuck out of there.  Wish me luck.