Was My Diploma A Waste of Time?? SLM Collective Post

When I went away to college at The University of Tennessee, I didn’t know a soul.  At my mama’s urging, I went through Sorority Rush.  I was hesitant.  I didn’t want to feel like I was “buying” my new friends.  However, my mama’s argument that it would be a good way to meet a lot of people quickly was compelling enough for me to look past my naive notions.

And how glad I am that I did!  On the first day, I met my friend, Becky.  I don’t know if we hit it off so well because we were both from Kentucky or our mutual love of Days of Our Lives.  Nonetheless, as I sat with her on Preference night with tears running down my face, I knew I had a friend for life.  Of course ours were tears of muffled laughter while others surrounding us were much more serious 😉

I am lucky to have a lot of strong women in my life that learn from every day.  Becky is one of those people to me.  I have selfishly been looking for something for her to write about for my blog, so I could share some of her wisdom and wit with my readers.  She posted something on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and it was my aha moment!  As a Stay at Home Mom, it really resonated with me.  Enjoy!

Recently, an older gentlemen asked me what I studied in college. I answered in a humble manner explaining my degrees to which he replied “How does that help you raising kids?”

Awkward silence.

When he asked me this question, I just made a face and shrugged it off. I am not one to engage or confront.  His question insinuated that I wasted my time going to college. I allowed this thought to rent space in my head for a few days. Now, I am thankful he asked me.  It gave me the opportunity to put words to my convictions.

There is so much to say. Where do I start?

Children are sponges.  Ever heard that phrase?  Well it is true.  You pour more into those fast changing little beings with your actions and example than with the lectures you give them.  Want them to be kind to others, be that kind person.  Want them to work hard?  Show them your hard work, past and present.  Want them to have skills and succeed?  You continue to build your skills and help those around you doing the same.

Example to Pursue Learning – I hope I never stop learning.  Of course it may have started in the classroom, but those habits to follow my interests in a meaningful way are still very much alive in me.  Never stop learning, folks!  It doesn’t have to be at an expensive college, but never stop moving your mind forward. It is invaluable for your kids to see those efforts. Who wouldn’t want their children to love learning?  They are more likely to follow that path if you go first.

Discipline to Achieve Goals – School was not always fun and certainly not always easy. I had bigger goals. I set and achieved those goals.  My kids know that I worked diligently to achieve my goals and with hard work, they can too!

Equipping for Employment – I provided for our household while my husband pursued his higher degree full time.  My income bought our first home and helped us save for the flexibility to stay at home after our first child was born.  We worked together on a seemingly endless path to make a better future. I consider it a tremendous blessing for my kids to understand the partnership of hard work and mutual support involved in those early years of pursuing degrees. Unfortunately, that future we build towards is not guaranteed to be easy. I have two friends who became young widows in the past two years. Life can change so quickly and dramatically.  If I had to go back into the work force to provide for my family, then I would be better equipped to do so. It is about creating better opportunities for ourselves and our families.  My kids will understand this more and more as they mature.

Community – The future we were building was for our family, but also for friends, church and community.  We serve in different ways inside and outside our home.  Was my college education part of preparing me for that? Absolutely. If I can teach my children to place a high value on serving my community, then I consider that a huge win. My pursuit of higher learning showed me the larger communities out there to serve in ways that I never would have realized otherwise. I have friends of various backgrounds and cultures. I was blessed to see perspectives outside my immediate circles.  That sense of community holds value in the way that I influence my young children.

I do not currently earn an income outside the home. A person’s education should not be considered irrelevant base on that fact. I may never get another paycheck in my life.   I have no regrets about the time and money I spent to get those little pieces of paper called diplomas.  The whole experience shaped me for the better into the Mom I am today.

Countless blessings can come from a lifelong dedication to learning for my family and myself.

~ Becky Thomas

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My Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day PIc“Watch out for that first step it is a doozy!!”  – Ned Reyerson.

That is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies when I was little. Why don’t they make movies like that anymore? Bill Murray plays Phil, who must relive the same day over and over. There are several times in my life where I felt like I was smack dab in the middle of “Groundhog Day.” In fact, when I was reading back through my book, Full Heart Empty Womb, I had to take that analogy out because I used it more than once!

My most meaningful Groundhog Day experience was when I was in the hospital on bed rest pregnant with my twins. I had been through a rough couple of years prior trying to conceive. When I finally was able to conceive through IVF, I had a high-risk pregnancy. I went into pre-term labor that landed me in the hospital on bed rest at only 22 weeks.

For 11 weeks, I felt like I was relieving the same day. I would wake up. Order my breakfast from the cafeteria (blueberry muffin, cheerios, sweet acidophilis milk – which we affectionately called my sweet ass milk ;). Pee. Lay and wait for my breakfast while I watched The Today Show. Pray. Sit Up. HOORAY!! Eat. Lay back down. Wait for my morning nurse to give meds. Drink water. Pee. Nurse comes gives me meds in my IV. Shift to my other side. Drink water. Pee. Finally the doctor comes to round on me. Tells me the same thing as the day before. “Every day we keep them in you, is four days less in the NICU!!” Pray. Then the best 10 minutes of my day – SHOWER!!! Lay. Drink Water. Watch Talk of the Town. Order lunch. Pee. Drink. Shift positions. Sit Up. Hooray!!! Eat. Lay back down. Crap. Gotta pee again. Get hooked up for my daily monitoring. Shift and try to get comfortable with all the cords. Stare at the contraction monitor and wonder why I can’t feel a single contraction. Pray. Shift. Count the flowers on the wallpaper. Drift off to sleep. Wake up when the nurse comes to turn off the monitor. Pee. Drink Water. Pray. Watch “Everybody Loves Raymond” in Spanish because I am that desperate for entertainment. Drink water. Shift. Stare at the clock. Eric is here with supper!!!! Pee. Sit up!! Eat yummy take-out. Lay down. Pee. Choke down chalky Mylanta for heartburn.  Watch TV with Eric. Shift. Pray. Watch Eric make his fold out bed next to me like he does every night. Drink water. Pray.  Take my Ambien. Pee. And fall into a peaceful sleep.

Southern Lady-7

It was a treat when Eric would bring our dog, Majors, to visit me in the hospital!

Thankfully I was blessed to be able to do that for 11 weeks….or 77 days….or 1,848 hours…or 110,880 minutes. And because I was able to relive that same day over and over and over, my babies not only survived, they thrived.

Count your blessing on your Groundhog Days.

You are gonna blink, and they will be grown up!

“Oh you will blink, and they will be all grown up!”

I usually hear this in the check-out line in Publix. After I have battled my way through every dang aisle with my three children.

Put that back!

Don’t hit your brother!

Don’t hug your sister. That always ends bad.

Stay by me and the cart, so they can pass by.

OUCH!!! You don’t have to be on top of me!

Don’t stop in front of the cart!

OUCH!!! Don’t hit me with the cart!

For Pete’s Sake! Don’t put your mouth on the cart!!!!!!

Although I offer a sweet smile and nod to the little old lady, inside I may be gritting my teeth and spewing a few choice words.

But even deeper down, I know she is right.

IMG_6522Then there has been this week. We had two bursts of snow in Tennessee that has amounted to over 7 inches of snow and 6 out of the last 7 days stranded at home.

Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE snow days…. until I don’t 😉 I loved every minute of it until about hour number 96 of not leaving the house. My kids and I are all social creatures who get to a point where we long to be social with someone who doesn’t share the last name. And the homemaker in me is ready to let Chik Fil A cook a meal and give my dishwasher a break from the two loads a day it has been doing the last week. I just need a day for my sanity and, honestly, theirs too.

I know when my kids are off to college, I will miss it. I may see some sweet neighborhood kids out building a snowman and say to the mother, “Oh you will blink, and they will be all grown up!” They may force a grin with their tired, snow day weary bodies. And I hope I remember. I hope I remember that, although, there are fabulous memories being made, it is a lot of work.

This is what getting three kids ready for a snow day at my house looked like this week:

  1. Run around the house to gather a hodgepodge of snow gear for each kid. Crap! Where is the matching glove!!!
  2. Start to dress first child who promptly turns into a limp noodle – long johns, long sleeve t-shirt, hoodie, socks (help me out child!!), snow pants, gloves (one in each hole!!), coat, and finally 15 minutes later – toboggan.
  3. Repeat with each child.
  4. Start to try to get yourself dressed then….
  5. Child #1 comes in and needs a new pair of gloves, because the other ones make her fingers feel funny.
  6. Start to get dressed then….
  7. Child #2 comes in and asks has played long enough to get Hot Chocolate. NO!!!!
  8. Attempt to go to the bathroom then…
  9. Child #3 comes in and asks if you are ever going to come out…
  10. You finally get your own hodgepodge snow gear on minus your boots and gloves because your daughter is now wearing them.
  11. Repeat at least 3 times a day.

It doesn’t just have to be a snow day.  Sometimes just a Tuesday can run you ragged.  Last week my husband was working late, so I was putting my three kids to bed by myself. My older two children read to themselves before bed. I was tired after a long day and ready to trim our 30-minute going to bed routine to 20 minutes. I asked my 7 year old, Matthew, if he wanted to read to himself instead of me reading to him before bed. He was SO excited to be a big kid reader. By the time I finished snuggling, chatting, and praying with Ethan and Ella, Matthew’s light was turned off.

I couldn’t help myself as I went back in his room, snuggled a little more, and got a book to read to him.

Because I am going to blink one day, and he will be all grown up.

Relish reading books, snuggles and the snow days. But give yourself a little grace if you need a minute to recharge your batteries because being a mom is hard work.

On the SevenFREAKINteenth Day of Christmas Break

On the SevenFREAKINteenth day of Christmas break, I was busy giving myself a pretty good guilt trip.

I need to get out in the sub-zero weather and peddle some Girl Scout cookies with Ella.  

I really should take the kids somewhere fun on one of their last days of break.  

And then after looking at Facebook…Oh look at the super fun trip they are on!!!  Geez my poor kids don’t get to do anything fun.

Alas, my nose was running like a faucet, and I had a ton to do to get ready before my Daddy’s surgery on Wednesday.  My sweet friend, Rheanne, gave me a pep talk when I was having a mini breakdown.  She reminded me that the kids were going to be just fine and that I just needed to focus on taking care of myself and my daddy.

So I allowed myself to remove “Entertainer” from my Mama job description and let them entertain themselves.  And guess what?  The day was pretty awesome.  Sure we stayed in our pajamas all day.  And Matthew played his Lego Dimensions WAY too much, but he also colored an entire dinosaur coloring book.  No one fought (excessively that is) and I didn’t have to take anyone to the ER.  Score!

When I found the below video on my iPhone after the umpteenth low storage message on my phone, I decided we need to have a lot more days like this where the kids can just be kids.

Too many quotes that I love to even pick one!  Of course I had to find the original one that they made a couple of years ago…

We (me included) spend so much time trying to make sure our kids are involved in the right activities, getting good grades and all the other absurd pressures for kids today.

We need to just let them be kids, have fun, use their imagination and record a talk show in their room with their big sister  🙂

 

 

How Daddy Prepared Me For His Cancer Diagnosis – #Pray4PaPa

Brian lesion.  Growth.  Cancer.  Rare.  Malignant.  Cancer.  Aggressive.  Surgery.  Cancer.  Stage 4.  Chemo.

These are the words that have been bouncing around in my head like a pinball and have me struggling to catch my breath at times.

No. Not my Daddy.

It started a couple of months ago when I got a call from my Dad, and he told me in a way too calm voice about a suspicious growth behind his ear. That started weeks of biopsies, CT scans, appointments with various specialists, and waiting. Waiting for insurance, waiting for phone calls, waiting for appointments, waiting for test results. Waiting, Waiting, Waiting.

Getting a Cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. I went from worst-case scenario to complete denial in my head. No. Not my Daddy.  So many questions and often no answers…or a long, painful wait to get some half-answers…or even incorrect answers in some cases.

Now we have an almost complete diagnosis and a plan of action, which puts this control freak somewhat at ease. I am extremely thankful to be living in Nashville, which is quickly becoming the healthcare capital of the world. Dad has the best medical team that is trying to identify and fit all the pieces of his complicated Cancer puzzle.

He didn’t know it at the time, but Dad has raised me with the tools that I need to face his cancer diagnosis and any other trial that comes my way.

Hugs Give Instant Comfort. My Dad has always been very affectionate which he has passed down to me and I to my children. I treasured the time over Christmas that I had to just sit with my Dad and snuggle. I will never take any of his hugs for granted. Even though I have kept my emotions somewhat guarded around my kids, they have a 6th sense and have showered me with hugs, kisses and “I Love Yous” at just the right moment.

Music Soothes the Soul. I remember listening to Three Dog Night and Deep Purple with Dad on his record player for hours when I was a kid.

When I pray for people going through hard times, I pray for Jesus to wrap His arms around them. Jesus wraps His arms around me through music.

When we were waiting for the diagnosis about what type of cancer he had, it was excruciating. God sent me the opportunity to write my first music review. For the days leading up to his appointment, I had MercyMe’s Christmas album on in a constant loop. God blessed me with the ability to be in a constant state of praise in a very uncertain time.

Another time I was trying to get some shopping in before the kids got out of school for break. I had just gotten off the phone with my parents. Dad always waits until Mom gets off the phone and we have our own “Goodbye & I Love You.” I completely lost it in the parking lot. No. Not my Daddy. I sat in the car bawling until Jesus dried my tears through Mindy Smith’s “Come to Jesus” playing on the radio.

Come to Jesus and let Him hold you in His arms.

A Positive Attitude Crushes Negative Thoughts. Dad has such a great outlook about his prognosis. His medical team at Vanderbilt is the best of the best of the best. God has placed his care in very capable hands. Dad’s sense of humor helps us all think positively too. He says he can’t wait to be bald, beautiful, and skinny when he is through all this 🙂 We even laughed last night about Eric and I finally having the time to watch “Catching Fire” during his long surgery since we can’t stay awake for a whole two hours after the kids go to bed 😉

Our Faith is a Verb not just a Noun. Of course we can do all of these things because of the Faith that Dad and Mom instilled in our family. Our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is deep in our heart and souls. I, honestly, don’t know how people deal with struggles without having Him as their rock to lean on. We do not know what God’s will is in this situation. We pray that it complete and total healing for Dad. Whatever direction we go, we know that Jesus will have us wrapped up in His arms and give us the strength to face the next step.

Now the words that I will pray over will be:

Strength.  Faith.  Love.  Jesus.  Healing.  Comfort.

Pray4PaPaSLM

My youngest son, Matthew, wanted to make bracelets for everyone in our family. They are our #Pray4PaPa bracelets. Every time we look at them we say a prayer for Pa Pa, Mimi, & his doctors.

 

When Does School Start Again??

I LOVE my kids. However, they have been out of school almost two weeks with one week to go. Here are 5 reasons I will be the first in drop off line in January:
1. I have no clue what day of the week it is.
2. At one point, I had each kid, my husband and the dog in separate corners. And they were still finding a way to fight through the air vents!!!
3. I desperately need a buy lunch option in the cafeteria
4. They keep uncleaning my Spring cleaning. (Husband included)
5. When I banish them to the backyard for 15 minutes, I spend an hour scrapping mud pies off tennis shoes from our torrential Tennessee Winter Thunderstorms.
But here are 5 reasons I will miss the 3 littles pieces of my heart the instant they step on the sidewalk:
1. Morning snuggles
2. Lazy breakfast with lots of laughter
3. Movie popcorn and snuggles
4. Random “I Love Yous” throughout he day
5. No 3rd grade homework or tears 😉

Holiday Hangover

Sweet tea and bacon grease are seeping through my pores. My skinny jeans are mocking me and saying, “Don’t even think about it until at least 2016.” I ran out of eye makeup remover yesterday, so I used my coconut oil today. Now I smell like popcorn. My ears are ringing from all the noise, Noise, NOISE, NOISE, NOISE!!!!! I am sweating through my Christmas sweater that I packed in my suitcase eight days ago when it felt like Winter instead of Summer. (Really, 75 degrees in December???!!!) My inner Introvert is screaming for some alone time for the L-O-V-E.

It is official. I have a Holiday Hangover.

Don’t get me wrong. I love, Love, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my family. God blessed me with a double portion of awesomeness in the family department. But being surrounded 24/7 by anyone for a week can drive this social butterfly into a wall. Even in college when I went on the “Best Spring Break I Don’t Remember” with my girlfriends, I was holed up on Hodges Library by Sunday night just for some peace and quiet.

If only I could lock myself in a closet and make Rainbow Loom bracelets like my 7 year old did…unfortunately, that isn’t socially acceptable for a 38 year old 😉 Instead, I am reduced to stealing a few extra minutes of peace in the bathroom on my iPhone where I can still be social but with less commitment and no electronic shaming.

Apparently, I have passed it on to my offspring. When we got home today, we all peeled off to our rooms (Eric to the garage) and shut the door without saying a word. We all needed a little “Peace Out” time.

I just need 24 hours to drink ten gallons of water, eat nothing but green leafy vegetables, walk around the block 1,000 times, recharge my socialable batteries and be lord of my thermostat (It got up to 78 degrees!!!) and my children’s plates (one is enough desserts!!!)

And then I will be ready to do it all over again.

Have the Hap HAP HAPPIEST of New Years!!

Holiday Hangover

Oh Christmas Tree…how droopy & tired are your branches.  (Just like me)