Collective Hope

In times of collective grief, trauma, and stress, also live moments of hope.

In 2017, I lost my mom suddenly. It seemed as though the world kept moving and had left me behind. The sadness was palpable in every breath and the grief seeped into every conversation. It felt like it would last forever.

And in those moments it did last forever.

And then forever passed.

And I caught glimpses of laughter and memories of – well, nothing, really. It was all the little moments that made the difference and warmed my heart when I needed it.

Like how she would sing to birds.

Like how she loved to take pictures of clouds.

Like how she brought circus peanuts to family potlucks.

Like how she would clean her house but never really finish cleaning. Ever.

Like how she would laugh with me. Listen to me. Hug me.

And also like James and I this morning. We snuggled and chatted. No topic in particular. Just together. Being goofy.

When we look back on this time of collective loss throughout our world and in each of our families, I think this will be one of the pieces James remembers. Goofiness and glimpses of hope.

Years ago, in one of my moments of feeling loss so deeply, I looked at this sunflower in our garden, through weepy eyes, and there it was…

A heart.

A reminder that hope lies constantly within loss. Resilience exists within enduring what feels too heavy. And love moves us forward together. The sadness comes too, but we wrap it with authenticity and love.

Today, wrap yourself in love. Sometimes sad, always, authentic. Love.

Morning MASH

Do you remember the game MASH? You write out four people you want to marry, four jobs, four numbers (amount of kids), and any other life detail you would like to wish for, and you end the list with MASH – mansion, apartment, shack, house. Then you pick a random number and eliminate all but […]

Taking a Moment

I have not written in a month. The truth about the break?

Holidays. Family. Cookies. Pie. Lots and lots of cookies and pie. Kids out of school. Parties. Days off with hubby. More holidays. Birthdays. More Family. More cookies.

Then on January 1st, I got a call from my mom letting me know that my grampy (who had been in the hospital for a couple days) had gotten worse and would probably not make it. Six hours later, I received the call that he died.

I packed up the family and headed to Denver. I find it amazing how funerals have a funny way of turning out to be family reunions. A time to be together, recount the years gone by, the good memories, some of the sadder ones, and share in each others lives. It was nice to be with my family, especially those I don’t get to see very often.

My grampy was a good man, a hard worker, and a wonderful grampy. We all had different relationships with him, but as a grampy and a great-grampy, he was wonderful! He was funny, playful, and always enjoyed seeing the boys. I will always remember seeing his head poking out the door waiting for a running-down-the-hallway hug. He’ll be there in my memory and I’ll cherish the time we spent together.

While in Denver, I was also able to visit my grammy’s grave and the spot next to her where my grampy will be burried. I had never been there before; they are on the outskirts of Denver looking up at the mountains. Very nice choice grammy and grampy.

We then traveled up to the mountains for two nights to simply breathe, to enjoy one another’s company and take a break before returning to the flat lands and the routine of day to day life.

We got back in Lawrence late on Sunday night and since then I have not been able to get back into my normal routine. It is 9 am and usually I would have showered by now and have begun if not finished my morning cleaning of the house. Not today. My mind feels heavy with thoughts of life, of family, of all the little things that I love about everyone in my life.

Sometimes when the house is silent, I think about all the sounds that fill my life, those that may sometimes annoy me, but that I will miss when they are gone – video games, feet tromping down the hallway, doors shutting and music turning on in a room, nerf guns shooting darts, cars being driven on the hallway wall, choo choo trains whistling on a toy track, toddler gibberish as he thinks he is reading a book. The list goes on and on. It is nice to do this once in a while and think of all the things I have, the things I am grateful for, the things that I love.

Take a moment to enjoy life. Enjoy the sounds around you, the messy house, the noisy game, the rambunctious children… Take a moment with them and simply be together.

Morning Ray Snuggles

For those who have been following my blog, you know we welcomed a new member into our family about a month and a half ago. Ray. The all black, homeless, loveable cat.

He is doing wonderful!

He has even gotten up enough courage to stay in the room if James is there. However, he does run and hide if James sprints towards him with toddler kitty cat excitement.

Ray has made our home his own. He eats well – very well! – and he uses his litter box. We have three boxes, but at least its better than the alternative of cleaning the carpet every day. He even has his own stocking hung for a hopeful Santa Claus treat.

Welcome home Ray. And thanks for the morning snuggles.

Ready for a Cheat Day

I have been on my diet, or as Casey says, lifestyle change, for 12 days now. I have lost a few pounds, learned how to get creative with salads and snacks, and learned the importance of planing my meals.

If I don’t plan my meals, I am more likely to look for something easy, which in my cabinets means easy mac, chicken nuggets, and cereal. If I plan my meals, I have them prepared and easy to eat. I eat healthy, but I eat good, delicious food!

And I eat a lot of salads, but I top my salads with beans, veggies, meat, and I eat a reasonable portion. If you think a salad only fills you up if you eat a full bowl of it, then you are not using your salad to it’s potential!

Overall, I lost about 5 pounds and have stabilized over the last few days. This is good for me and I would not want to lose more weight. What I am working on now is keeping on my diet plan and exercising. Keeping it going is the hard part.

My advice to those wanting to make diet changes?

1. Find a diet partner. I know if I was doing this alone, I would be eating Poptarts and Cap’n’Crunch everyday. Casey is doing it with me. When I know he is eating a salad and working out during his lunch break, it pushes me to do the same. When we talk about what to eat for dessert and agree on sugar free popsicles instead of ice cream with syrup, we do it together.

2. Exercise. Walk. Move. Maybe I don’t get a workout in every day but when I take James to open gym I run with him, play ball with him, and keep moving. If you’re not familiar with Fit Mama Training, get familiar. She has great advice, steps, and encouragement. ( It doesn’t matter where you start or how much you do, just do something!

3. Allow for flexibility and cheats. No normal person can eat like a robot and never give into their cravings. Eat your cake, cookies, pie, just don’t do it every day. I know I’m excited for my cheat this weekend, maybe pizza, ice cream, beer… Yummm…

So I’m still in the beginning phase of my journey, but for those who are interested, for what it’s worth, that’s my two cents.

Keep checking in for a recipe blog – roasted veggies, delicious chicken and fish, and alternatives to sugary desserts. Il try to post my favorites soon.

Now, go start your weekend, and enjoy your cheat meal!

Drinking coffee in big pants

Nothing compliments today like coffee.

If you know me at all, you know I love my coffee. At least a cup after breakfast and often a cup after lunch. And there’s nothing I love more than drinking coffee on a chilly winter afternoon. It looks freezing cold outside. I haven’t gone out since I was out this morning and it was below 30 degrees. I’m boycotting the cold, sitting at my table looking outside and drinking coffee.

If this were a normal week for me, I would have baked some type of bread or cake with lots of butter and sugar in it to enjoy with my coffee. But its not. This is my 5th day of the South Beach diet. So far I am succeeding with my goals. I noticed yesterday that my pants are starting to feel a little big, or at least not creating an obvious muffin top. I feel healthier and have worked out three of the five days this week. I do not end or begin the day with sugary sweets, and am beginning to retrain myself to think about what I am eating before I devour it.

I will say that it is very hard to feed my 9-year-old bowls of Cap’n’Crunch cereal without wanting to bury my face in it. But I do it and that’s what makes this work.

I may have given up sweets and breads, but there’s no way I’ll ever give up my coffee.

So back to my coffee I go, in big pants, looking at chilly weather, just waiting for my baby to wake up from nap and ask to watch Dinosaur Train for the millionth time today. Maybe I’ll make some more coffee too.

Beginning the “Diet”

It has been awhile since I wrote anything. The last month has been filled with appointments, basketball games, family gatherings, and food – all the glorious food.

I hesitate to even say this as most people know me as very little, and everyone has their own opinion about diets and body types, but for the sake of a blog being my space to share, here goes. Today is the first day of my South Beach diet. Yep. It’s not that I want to lose crazy pounds or become stick figure thin, but I want to eat healthier food, portions, and cut back on the things I am addicted to: bread and sweets. And who doesn’t want to tighten up that tummy pooch? Between now and Christmas I will be trying to change my way of eating for the better. I will try to work out every other day (although everyday would be great!) And I aim to feel better about myself altogether.

Being a stay at home mom has one major drawback, I am always at home. Not only am I at home but a home with carb and sugar filled snacks everywhere! Cereal, juice, pop tarts, candy, ice cream, chicken nuggets, eggos, etc. No more of these until Christmas. My stocking and Christmas dinner will be my first excuse for sweets. Hopefully I can make it that long!

The good thing about the diet is that I don’t really feel like I am on one other than needing willpower to stay away from sweets. I had vegetable quiche for breakfast with V8, had a salad with tuna and vegetables for lunch, and will have chicken with vegetables for dinner. I don’t think I usually eat this many veggies in the course of a week! But they are full meals, and good for me.

So, for those of you who are interested, I will update every once in a while to let you know what meals were tasty, if I had any cheats, and how difficult it does or doesn’t end up being. More importantly, I will update to keep tabs on myself. Knowing that other people know will help me stick to it. And I’ll have to be good this month cause I want some presents under my tree!

Cats, Kids, and Social Work

This is Ray.

He’s not too cuddly yet, prefers outdoors to indoors, and will need extra TLC. He’s a cat from a hard knock life that needs a home. I offered to provide that. We were supposed to get Ray last week, but it didn’t work out. He got a bit freaked out from the vet visit, the few minutes in the car, and the several attempts to catch him. So we let him be. No need to traumatize an already traumatized cat.

We are going to try again tomorrow. James and I will go up and spend some time with Ray, give him some food, and attempt to bring him home. I have my work cut out for me. Not sure he’s really house trained or will ever be really cuddly towards the kids. I already bought Resolve for the carpet and am prepared to search our house to figure out what corner of what closet he is hiding in.

Most people would take a cat who is cuddly, trained, and easy. I’m excited to get Ray. Every cat deserves a chance, right? I am looking forward to helping him, getting to know him and getting him used to cuddles and love. It may take a while, but I have a feeling he will get there.

I’ve always had the idyllic idea that all people – and animals – of all walks of life deserve a chance to be happy and understood. That’s why I love working with kids, to give them the best possible start in life. To provide them with opportunities for imagination, creativity and love. That’s why I’m a social worker, to empower people to speak up for themselves, to fight for what is right, and to advocate for those who can’t or don’t know how to do this. And that’s why I’m taking Ray.

Everyone deserves a chance. Especially Ray.

Weekend Redemption

Saturday started as one of those days. A “mama told me there’d be days like this” kind of day.

I was tired when everyone else wasn’t. They slept when I just had some coffee. I had a garage sale and was haggled by grumpy people. James has been extra clingy – no one does it like mom, therefore mom must do it all. He hasn’t been sleeping in his bed, so that means baby arms and legs in my face all night. Miles was grumpy cause he stayed up late with his cousin. Our house was a complete disaster from getting all the stuff out to sell at the garage sale. There was pee on the couch and James spilled yogurt everywhere. Etc etc etc…

I am usually very easy going, and if one single incident had happened, it would have been no big deal. But take a sleep deprived Suzy and give her a series of incidents and you get a grumpy mom who had a crummy Saturday.

I apologized to my family for being grumpy and told them I had a really bad day. We all apologized for being grumpy to each other and went to Sonic for ice cream. Miles unbuckles, leans forward, and starts giving me a shoulder rub. He takes the head rest off to be able to give me a better one. This was my weekend redemption. The whole day simply melted away. What mattered most is this moment right now. Us together, crabby or not, one half naked baby covered in sticky yogurt goo, and all of us being kind to one another while eating our ice cream.

Life doesn’t always go as we plan it to. There will always be bad days. We can all be crabby and stressed out every once in a while. But when you share it with the people you love, they step up to the plate and help you out, whether that be with an apology, a shoulder rub, or maybe a night time cuddle before falling asleep in their own bed.

Themes and Widgets

So I just realized I have been sitting at my laptop for 45 minutes playing with the theme of my blog. Not blogging, not doing anything slightly productive, but looking at different themes and fonts.

And as someone who is not a computer pro, I have also spent the time educating myself (in a “For Dummies” book sort of way) on what the heck a widget is. Still not sure I understand, but I like the way my site looks.

Goodbye computer. I’ve had my fair share of you today.