Change- Working again- and balancing it all.

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So the last time I had a “real” job was in 2010-2011 and I was a full-time  Para-Professional in the school system. I did get summers off and was at school by 8:30am and out by 3:30pm. So I guess technically it was part-time? Prior to that I worked for myself baking dog biscuits and creating animal gift baskets for Lucky Paw Gifts (named after our first dog), and before that I was a teacher’s aide at a school. I really haven’t had a full time job (not including the school jobs) since I was a call center operator at Alimed in Massachusetts in 2000. I have worked officially since I was 13 at the public library in Swampscott, Massachusetts, the town where I grew up. Before that I baby sat for $2.00/hr starting at age 11. I’ve worked full-time since I was 16- 40 hrs a week as a tutor while I went to the Community College (left high school early). So I worked a full time job from the age of 16 up until we had kids.

In our family we decided together that I’d stay home with the kids. It was a negotiation, like anything in our marriage. He was a Software Engineer and I was a teacher’s aide (forgot I did that just before the dog biscuit gig) and we knew that with his income much higher than mine, it made sense for me to stay home. Soon in less than 3 years we had 3 kids (Cole arrived at the 2 years 9  mo. mark since having Quinn) and there was no way we could afford to put them all in daycare even if I was working a well-paying, full-time job. So that became our normal and we liked it.

In 2010 I returned to work at the kid’s school and it went well and I continued thru the winter of 2011 just before the end of the year. Cole had begun to get sick and we didn’t know why. He required a lot of intervention from the nurse. My Principal had approached me in the late fall and suggested I take leave (at this time I was a Reading Specialist) to be there for Cole. I literally switched from working 36.5 hrs a week to volunteering 20 hrs a week doing essentially the same job so I could be in the building when Cole needed medical intervention with his asthma symptoms. It stunk. My dreams of becoming a teacher were shattered. I had been on the plan to finish the year out as a reading specialist, take the MTEL’s (teacher exams) and student teach the next fall. It was a good plan. I knew as the kids got older I could retain my Master’s degree which is required in the state of MA within 5 years of getting your teacher’s certificate. I was excited to start back at it.

All of those dreams ended in June of 2012. Cole was out sick for 2 weeks but he became well at home. Well enough to only need his inhaler at night. The last few days he didn’t need it at all. I called the doctor. It was the last day of school and asked permission to let him go in and say goodbye to all his Kindergarten friends, attend the end of the year party and thank his teacher. She said “sure” and so we went. Within about 2 minutes of being in his classroom he began this bark like cough and I started to cry. I said “I can’t believe he’s now coming down with CROUP! He’s been so well at home the past 2 weeks!” That was when the teacher looked at me and said “What do you mean? This cough, he has it every single day- that’s how I know he’s here when I take attendance!” Holy smokes- I had never spent any time in his classroom, only meeting the nurse at the office to give him his meds. We both ran to the Nurse who then ran us to the Principal’s office. It had to be something in the classroom. Before we could say too much the Principal said “There is NO MOLD in this building!” and funny thing is my response was “Um- I never said there was…”

And so an investigation on my part began. I made inquiries. I asked my other 2 kids how they felt at home vs in school and my daughter’s leg rashes she had every fall and Spring went away and Quinn’s bad Fall and Spring headaches went away too. I knew that the school was built on wetlands. I knew that the flooring was concrete and I knew that there was lots of white swirls all over the carpets. I called some teacher friends of mine who wished to remain anonymous and they said “GO TO THE MUSIC ROOM- there is BLACK MOLD on the walls!” EGADS! So I called the superintendent,no response. I wrote to the town’s health department and again – no response. I then called the Environmental Protection Agency in Boston and spoke to Mike Feeney who told me he’d be happy to come and do an Indoor Air Quality test but since he has to be invited I would have to really push the town to let him in. LET HIM IN? WHAT? Apparently the Board of Health can enter any building, school, restaurant etc but  not the EPA. Preposterous, but it was true. So I began talking to anyone who would listen to me and honestly probably just to get me to shut up they invited the EPA to the school in August. School would begin in September and I figured it’d be ok.

Long story short (if that’s possible) is that the school prepared well for the visit. They painted hallways that hadn’t been painted in years. They put tile in the foyer,ripping up 22-year-old carpets. They made it look all shiny and new and they cleaned the air ducts. They also opened up every single door and window for a week prior to the testing. I got a call the day of the testing. “They prepared for me. They went again my request to leave the building as it has been to get accurate information. My recommendations will only be that, it’s not enforceable by law..” He went onto say “The school has definite issue, there is a higher than State average using inhalers and most of them began using them after entering Kindergarten. He said the Kindergarten wing in particular had a mold problem but it wasn’t a public health hazard.” Well, well. Since finding out about Mold we had gotten Cole allergy tested and sure enough he was allergic to Mold and Latex. Mr. Feeney suggested I pull all 3 kids as he would not allow his 3 kids to attend the school even though the air quality wasn’t alarming. I wasn’t sure what to do but we made a decision about a week before school began, to home school all 3 kids.

So unbeknownst to me I’d have my dream of becoming a teacher, just not the way I imagined. I worked as a homeschooling teacher/mom for 5 years. I provided resources, researched educational opportunities, and provided guidance as needed. It was hard but it was fun. Meghan asked to go back to school in the winter of 2016/2017 and she asked to start in August of 2017. The boys soon followed and I had 3 kids going into 3 different schools and the Spring of 2017 was probably our busiest homeschooling semester ever. They had to take placement tests over several days (at 3 different schools at 3 different times), they had to go to orientations and meet everyone. It was arduous but it was worth it. They all began in August and we haven’t looked back. It’s been great for them and now I have some time to do something for me and I have found it.

I am now a Research Assistant at the WWII Research and Writing Center. I get to work from home and meet in person about once a week and I get to do something new and exciting and work that will never bore me. I can utilize my degree in Anthropology and African-American studies finally to get some other vantage points to the research and I can utilize all of my other skills as it’s clear I am more than a Research Assistant. The new job title will get sorted out over time but meanwhile my life is full and I am excited. But I wonder- how do I manage a part time job, a 5 hr a week driving job, 3 kids, dropping 3 kids to school daily and a return pick up later in the day and all of the house-hold chores that are normally on my plate. ???

Yeah that is what I have to figure out and I know I will. I only started my job on March 26th so I am slowly working up to figuring out how to juggle my time and I give all you full-time working Moms credit. I am not sure how you juggle it all. I know some of my friends have cleaning ladies and some do take out at least once a week, if not more. I know some have helpers who do this and that and maybe their Spouse works 40 hrs and they take on some of it too. My husband works about 60 or more and he travels so I don’t get a ton of help. To ensure he gets quality time with the family we hired a lawn service about a year ago. It’s worth the money to spend time with John instead of losing him to “lawn time.”

So now I felt it was a good time to begin again and I feel good about it. I didn’t even truly apply for this job. I wasn’t looking and one morning I was on Facebook (like every morning) and I was on for like 15 minutes and I saw a job posting on another FB friend’s timeline and I was like “cool” and that was that. I posted under the job posting and got messaged about it and the rest is history. I am excited and I am renewed and I value my family and my free time way more than I did a few weeks ago.

Now to figure out how to get more help around the house (all the kids are old enough to do their fair share and we will figure out what that is). I think I’ve got to learn to juggle and balance and I’m up for it. I honor all of you who have to juggle life, kids, working and more. In truth, my new job is not much more work than homeschooling (actually that was a lot more work without any concrete deadlines) and I think that’s the big difference here- I have accountability to someone else and I know I will figure out how to manage that. So that’s the big CHANGE that is going on in my life. But I feel good about the direction I am taking and that makes all the difference.

What to do next?

Life can my mysterious, and life can reveal itself to you. This Friday I am sitting here as the Easter weekend is here and I am listening. I am listening to the kids playing in the living room- very loudly- laughing, singing and having a grand time. I have been catching myself listening a lot lately- to the Universe and to the signs it is giving to me. I have been watchful of the opportunities that have made themselves known to me and am excited about the new journeys I get to take.

Recently I learned about a job opportunity and I decided to go for it. I wasn’t looking for a job, I wasn’t looking for a life change but there it was- right there- waiting for me to grasp at it. I did and luckily it went forward and it is a great fit for me. I am excited that I stopped and decided to start listening about a month ago. Cole’s health had improved, we had some steady days and things were back to “normal.” It was time to start something new. Kids have been successfully back in school since August 2017 and the days were starting to clunk by hour by hour. I filled most of them well enough but I needed more. I needed to engage my brain, utilize my skills and start to fill my days with more than just laundry, dinners, and taxi rides.

I started my new job this week and it’s going great. I love what I am doing and I am good at it. I think that life has proven to be good and I can continue to contribute to society at large. Sometimes as a Mom we feel like we aren’t contributing enough. Mind you I worked darn hard for 5 years providing educational opportunities to the kids while they were homeschooling. I researched curriculum and resources for them to keep them engaged. So my new job as a Research Assistant for the WWII Research & Writing Center seems like the perfect fit. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.

Calories and life

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Do we have to count our calories to make our life better? I sure as heck hope not but have learned after going to the doctor with some complaints that now that I am in my mid-40’s my calorie requirement is lower than it once was. I had been able to maintain a 145-150 lbs on my 5’6 frame for years- over a decade in fact and then all of a sudden- I turn 45 and go up to 171.8. Yes- the .8 is in there because it annoyed me. Round it up but NO the damn scale was 171.8 last week and I was ticked off.

My doctor recommended a lower fat diet (I don’t eat greasy stuff but I had some salmon with a cream sauce and it wrecked me). I am being sent for a gall bladder ultrasound tomorrow but meanwhile I had been steadily gaining and had gained 21 lbs since my last doc visit in June 2017. HOLY SMOKES. I knew it was bad but didn’t realize how bad.

My husband had major jaw surgery in July and I don’t think I ate more because of this but maybe I did. He was unable to eat a lot of the things we cooked but we managed to consume them as if he was eating them. Maybe I had 2 dinner portions a night instead of my normal one? I don’t know what I did but last week I did a calorie count of a normal day and egads it was 1800-2000 calories. I actually didn’t say EGADS til the doctor said “Um- you do know that are your age and level of exercise (I lift some free weights and use the exercise bike and walk on occassion) you should only consume about 1600 calories to maintain your weight. To lose you need to go down to 1200 or 1400 calories, depending on how fast you want to lose it.” Holy crap- really? So starting last Thursday I have been measuring and counting and tracking it on Live Strong’s My Plate app. I have not edited my meals so I could see how much each one was. I have been more thoughtful though and added a salad for lunch each day. I so far have done 1600-1700 calories and one day I was able to do 1450.

This week I am going to try for 1300 a day and see how I do. Even with this slight change I am down to 169.6 as of this morning. I realize one can fluctuate so I’m not really counting this weight loss as a real loss but if the scale keeps going down I’ll be pleased. I’m not into being skinny- 145-150 lbs on me still leaves plenty of squish and fat on my body. According to the chart I’m supposed to be 130 lbs, yeah that’s funny. I was 131 lbs in 2013 due to an illness for about 2 months and I looked anorexic and horrible and I had no boobs. So no- 130 lbs is NOT going to happen nor do I want it to. I had an eating disorder as a teen and although it was never officially diagnosed I know I chose to drink several glasses of skim milk at each meal to fill up and I ate very little. I will not go back to that.

So now I have to see what I eat every day and make good choices. I need to choose to walk daily despite the fact my doggie friend is no longer with us. Part of me wonders if that’s how I gained it all. I stopped walking a dog (she died this fall) and the pounds packed on. I didn’t realize that naturally I am not a walker but when a tail wags and you get the nudge – you’ll go out despite the weather. We are not in a position to get another dog just yet so for now I have to walk myself or walk with a friend. I need to get better at making it a daily habit vs whenever the mood hits me, as it never does.

Calories and life- we need water and food to live yet we eat too much and we become unhealthy. We have to manage things in regular life too- we need to manage our stress, our anxiety, our job requirements, our responsibilities, our family life. It’s all a balance. It’s like taking care of your car- you get oil changes and you make sure it gets the best fuel to run well. Our bodies are the same, we need good quality food and we need to exercise in order to run well. I know this- we all know this but it’s a struggle.

I’ve heard numerous friends say “Menopause and getting older sucks!” and I think that is part of it too. My doctor mentioned that as I am walking into Menopause that my metabolism takes a real hit and that activity needs to increase, calcium intake needs to increase along with Vitamin D, and our food intake needs to go down. Ugh- I don’t feel super old or anything and at 45 I’m not, but man I want my waist back. I want to fit into my bathing suit from last summer -it’s cute- but I had to buy another one just in case. So to all of you who are struggling- you are not alone. I

t’s ok- and I hope to share this journey with you. I am not planning on counting calories for long- that’ll take me back to old habits. I plan on eating the foods I like but in moderation. I know I can get back to my old self and regardless of what happens I know I need to choose to love myself NOW because NOW is who I am – 169.6 pounds, 5 foot 6 inches and salt and pepper hair. All of me isn’t my appearance or my weight. I am a writer, mother, friend, daughter, sister, and wife. I am more than calories and it’s going to be just fine. Sharing this helps. I hope that you accept yourself for who you are today too. We all have flaws and that’s ok- our goal is to improve ourselves to be a better self and that is my plan too!

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Resumes

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Resume- A place to summarize your work experience, your skill set and more. To put your life onto one piece of paper is daunting. How do you go about it? What jobs do you choose? Some of us, like myself, are in a new phase of our lives. I was a stay at home mom for years, homeschooling mom for 5 years and now looking for employment opportunities. It’s daunting.

I look at my life and I have a ton of skills that are not affiliated with any formal job. I am a writer, author (of 2 books about to be self-published), mom to 3 kids (that’s a whole lot of organizational skills right there), former homeschooling mom to 3 kids from grades 1st to 7th, wife, medical researcher, hobbies galore that all access a skill set that is job worthy. Part of me is excited about putting my life onto one piece of paper and the other part of me is scared out of my mind.

I wonder how other moms feel who are in the same boat? Do they doubt their life choices? Do they wonder what if? Do they think about their husband’s career spanning decades and wonder, why not me? I sometimes question my life choices and then I see my kids as they successfully navigate their first year back to school after homeschooling and I think- yeah I did the right thing! It’s not always easy and it hasn’t always been easy. Life has been a challenge. Homeschooling meant one income and a huge load on me. In addition to managing a family of 5 and dogs along the way, it was my job to educate 3 kids and keep them busy and research educational opportunities throughout their homeschooling journey. It was a full-time job and I think I did a good job of it.

Life is about to change. I am about to dip my feet into the job market. I am not going to go gung-ho and do a full-time corporate job. No- I am looking for niche jobs that highlight my unique skill set. I am organized, I am a research geek, I am thoughtful and caring and I want to help people. I can type well and write well and communicate well. I am inspired by others and I find myself inspiring others as well. I am in tune with the universe and I listen to opportunities that avail themselves to me.

I heard such an opportunity recently. I am excited, genuinely excited because this job seems like the perfect fit. It will utilize my research skills and organizational abilities. It will require me to be organized and thoughtful and it requires great care. I can do all of that and it’s interesting.  I began my working career as a babysitter at age 11 and quickly by age 13 realized I could work at the local public library. That provided me a great opportunity to be with books and boy do I love books. I was able to learn how to organize and file and I learned great communication skills when working at the front desk. By age 15 1/2 I quit high school to venture to the local community college. Illness had prevented me from fulfilling the proper amount of school days to matriculate so I was bored and didn’t want to stay back. I went straight to the community college and earned college credits for my schooling. While there I worked at the tutoring center and by my 2nd year was working 34-40 hours a week in addition to taking 5 classes. I worked various and sundry retail jobs over the years and learned a variety of skills there as well. When I went off to Northeastern University where I studied African-American Studies and Anthropology I worked at the media center. I never knew of a time I didn’t work.

When I graduated in 1999, I was ready to work full-time. The problem was that no jobs were willing to hire me for my majors from college. I was able to type, and was well-organized so I found myself working at one of the dean’s offices at Northeastern as an Administrative Assistant. It was a good job, paid well and it was an honor to work there but I was bored out of my mind. The work was easy and the typing was immense but I handled it well. I answered phones, filed documents, and worked on managing patents and more but I was bored.

In June of 1999, just before graduating from Northeastern, I met my boyfriend, John (now husband). He was lovely and he was a software engineer and he was smart, and witty and we had a great time. By October, 1999, we were living together and managing a newly formed household and we began to plan our future together. I was working at Northeastern and it was the beginning of a journey that would change my life forever. John’s job changed and we moved to central Massachusetts and I began to work at a school. We were in the process of buying our first home in September 2001 and I worked at the school as a Para Professional and substitute teacher until I became pregnant in December of 2002 and began to have pre-term labor in the Spring and I quit my job.

Since 2002 I really haven’t formally worked that much. We moved a lot for John’s work. We moved from Littleton, MA to Shirley, MA to Seattle, WA and to Somerset, MA and in 2013 we moved to Illinois. During that time in 2011 I began working at the kid’s school as a Para Professional once Cole, our youngest, was in preschool and in the fall of 2012 we began homeschooling our 3 kids and that became my full-time job until August of 2017 when they all returned to school. Since August I have taken up a part-time driving job (5/6 hrs a week) and not much more. Health related issues for one of the kids made it impossible to work full time but things are back on track now and I am excited.

For the first time in my life I am bored again and I can’t wait to fill that void. I am constantly online researching this and that. I tried a while back to have a website called Allie Knows, but it just didn’t take off. Instead I get calls from friends, relatives, friends of friends to do research projects and I do them for fun. I don’t charge anyone because I feel like I can find information so easily why not just do it for the joy of doing it. But I realize that out there in the universe is a job for me. A job that will allow me to work from home (most of the time) and allow me to utilize all the skills I have acquired over the years. I just hope I can fit it all into a one page resume.

Locker Room Talk

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I assumed that Locker Room talk is all that well – boys talk about. I figured it’d be where my 9th grader would be exposed to all that “talk” we didn’t want him to hear. Ends up the locker room is the best conversation. He said that they talk politics, sports, about their classes. Sex, and girls are never a topic of conversation and Gym class, which he has daily, he said is one of his favorite classes and an opportunity to relieve the stress that has built up from his academic classes. I was in shock- the locker room isn’t what they say it is. Or is it just his locker room?

So we began to talk further. Ends up the sex, the girls, the relationships, the rude conversations do happen, just over lunch. He sits at a table that he found the first day of school. He doesn’t have any friends at that table. I think routine is so important for his anxiety that even though as he calls it- he sits with the “asshole” table full of jocks and popular kids who talk a lot during lunch, he remains sitting there to keep his daily routine the same. Meanwhile “the weird kid” (he called himself that in this context) sits at the corner alone doing his homework. I asked him why he didn’t want to change tables and he said it was “interesting to hear what people talk about and it’s a good way to know what is going on at the school.” He also said “Mom- it’s good to know what people spout about. The sex, the girls- it’s just bravado. It’s all bull-shit!”

I am prouder than proud. The “locker room talk” I was worried about does happen but my kid hasn’t fed into it thus far. He’s a respectful young man who I hope will continue to be just like his dad, quiet, thoughtful, with a good heart. I am happy that he enjoys Gym class (I hated it and it was the worst class of my day). I grew up being bullied in gym and made fun of as I was not the most physically gifted person. Quinn is really tall and built like a football player and he is well respected in Gym. I find this so interesting. He’s also like his Dad in this respect. John is tall, and looks like a very sports oriented man but inside he’s a nerd through and through. Quinn is the same and it’s great that he manages to socialize throughout his day, just not at lunch.

So I am not sure what I need to be worried about but what I am glad about is that we have open communication at home. We invite friends over and we hear what they talk about. We are a pretty easy going family and I am open to talking to kids about pretty much anything as long as they bring it up and they are comfortable with it. So far we’ve talked about Sex, politics, Girls, relationships, marriage and parenthood. I haven’t asked my daughter about her locker room yet and I just might and my youngest isn’t there yet. But when he is, I hope he can talk to us about what goes on at school and that he feels comfortable to share it with me or his siblings.

School is just a microcosm of our society. It reflects real people and real life opinions. It’s where we can shape and help our youth to be tolerant and kind. I know my daughter is very vocal about her opinions at lunch with her friends. She has friends of varied cultural and religious backgrounds and she studies about children with disabilities using Ted Talks and You-Tube documentaries. I am very proud of her. After homeschooling for the past 5 years, I am proud that Quinn, Meghan and Cole have integrated into their school communities and that they are willing to share their experiences with us at home.

What’s going on in your kid’s locker rooms? Talk to your kids today, and be sure to ask about lunch conversation! 🙂

Fight for what you believe in

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When you think something is unjust, when you feel you need to advocate for your child, do it. Don’t hesitate. Pick up the phone, put pen to paper or send an email and fight for what is right. Recently I got myself in hotwater doing just that. I fought for equality within an organization that is currently all boy and is transitioning to more of a family approach and including girls. Slowly at first but by 2019 sometime it’ll include Girls. I have 2 boys in the All-Boy program and was excited that my daughter could join her brothers. As a family it would be a tremendous opportunity to be in once place on one night at one function, together.

Last week that all changed when news came out that in fact my daughter can join the organization but that we as a family, as a sub-organizational unit will have to start a whole new group that will be all-girl. I was beyond upset. My daughter was beyond upset. She had wanted to join her brothers, be equal to her brothers. That was not the message sent down from the heads of the organization.

This is how I found myself in hot-water. I wrote a letter and I included some loose quotes from the local head of the organization who I had heard in a public forum mention that in fact my daughter could be with her brothers and that this organization in it’s future (years down the road) would eventually become more progressive and would someday be co-ed. I wrote that in my letter. Mind you I had written 2 letters previously to the local head of the organization with no response. So a few days later I composed a letter to the National organization and hit send. No sooner had I done that, I suddenly got emails from the gentleman I quoted. He wanted to sit and talk with me.

I was being called to the principal’s office and it was not a good feeling. I felt awkward and fired up and defensive. I did nothing wrong and I know I didn’t even today. I, out of courtesy, sat down with him and brought a friend who is also a parent in the organization and we sat and we talked. It actually went quite well. I am purposefully not stating what the organization is because I was asked NOT to mention the man I spoke with in public ever again. I still may but for now I will be respectful of our conversation because it turns out- he agrees with me but has to as a professional “tow the company line.”

I want my daughter to be fully included in clubs and organizations. I think the time has come to stop having genders be separate. Apparently there is a lot of research for girls and boys at the teen years to be separated but all I have found is that this research only applies to academic learning and I value that. Girls do learn differently than boys and vice versa but in a youth program that is not academic centered, I don’t understand why boys and girls need to be separated to benefit best from the program.

NO matter what, I will continue to fight for the rights of my daughter and also the rights of my sons. I value my sons having formed great bonds with other boys and that will not change if their sister and her friends join the organization. So whatever your issue is- fight for it. It will get you invited to the table, it will get you involved in the conversation and that is all I wanted. I wanted to be heard.

The Bra Fairy

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Well in our house, having a teenage daughter means the tooth fairy gets replaced by the bra fairy. My daughter is 13 and began wearing a simple sports bra a year ago. She’s still able to just wear that type of bra but clearly needs a larger one. Will she try them on? NO.

So my solution, I gauge her size, I give her a hug, I measure her waist for pants (or so I say and maybe just maybe I miss and the measuring tape leaps further north…) and I manage to find out what her size might be? She’s in a women’s large top or medium even though she’s small. She’s got really broad shoulders and is 5′ 3″ tall and 122lbs. She’s in a size 6 pant. I figured that part out at least.

So now, I scan the clearance racks for sports bras. I found some great ones by Jockey. Now the tricky widget is they have to NOT be padded. So I find the ones you can slip the cups out of. I scored last week with 2 – marked at $14 each on sale and they rang up at $1.92/each. This was at Kohls, where I regularly score my bras and hers.

I shop, I drop them into her drawer in the night and the fairy has delivered. YET, the bra fairy is not sure they fit. So I have to strategically plant myself in the hallway when she’s getting dressed in the morning and barge in just as she’s about to put her shirt on. Usually I’m too late but last night, I hit at just the right time and sure enough the bra fairy was RIGHT ON!!! And she proceeded to get 3 more bras right away.

Phew- this bra fairy job is far harder than dropping a few quarters or a buck under the pillow. I’d much rather be a tooth fairy any day of the week.

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Been a while

I hadn’t realized that it’s been nearly a month since I’ve been online here writing. I was pretty good for a long while writing daily but I think since Snickers passed away and my blogging buddy is gone I started sleeping in (mind you waking up at 3-5am was NEVER a good idea) but now that I am waking up at 6am and starting the day for the kids is just 30 minutes after that, I do not have time to blog in the early AM. So now I have to find a time during the day to get on here and share. Behind the scenes I have been working on 3 books. One is Advice From Allie– a simple and funny book with witty sarcasm and life tips. One is Continue to Live and Flourish- a Guide to Surviving it All, and the 3rd is How to Live with Anxiety (title subject to change). I have been feverishly writing on weekends and week nights trying to get these edited, refined and ready for public viewing and publishing in the next few weeks.

I hadn’t realized til I just wrote that sentence – that this is where I have been the past month. I have been writing daily, just not here. I hope that sharing my life experiences can help others but it is so scary to put it out there. I think part of me is working too hard at refining the books when honestly they are ready. I may add one last chapter to one of them but other than that, they’ve been read many times, reviewed and they are good. I think I am holding them back. I think I am afraid of sharing my innermost secrets, the skeletons in my closet, the trials and tribulations of my life with the world. Mind you- if nobody shares the book, nobody will read them anyway. I have to truly embrace what I have written and stand by it and share it. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will be ready.

Til then I plan to be back on here posting about what we have been up to!

Loss

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Losing a pet is a huge loss. For us it means losing the furry friend who used to wake us up in the morning. It means losing our cuddle buddy and the one who got us off the couch to walk around the block or two. For me it means so much more because Snickers was my girl. She was my buddy.  The past 8-10 weeks we bonded more than ever. She was diagnosed with a huge mass on her spleen back in November. She did not have a good prognosis. So when she started needing to go out multiple times during the night, I was her companion. At first and for most of the time, I actually walked her outside and sometimes even around the block at all hours of the early morning, 1am, 3am, 4am, I walked her. In her last 2 weeks I let her out back and that was sufficient. She still needed to get up often and the last week nearly hourly. I didn’t mind at all. I had gotten used to no sleep, extra coffee to keep alert during the day and thank goodness for the Hallmark channel as I could watch 3-5 movies a night!

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Snickers loved her friends. She went to doggie daycare at Doggie Playhouse in Palatine 2 days a week. We quickly made those days Tuesdays and Fridays so she could be with Sheila (pictured above at daycare). Sheila not only hung out with her, she loved her. Snickers began to follow her everywhere. Sheila took her to go see the other dogs, to help feed the other dogs. Wherever Sheila went, Snickers followed. This was a special place, it is a special place. It was sort of appropriate that Snickers got to say her final goodbyes to Sheila on Friday. I got a call at Noon that she wasn’t doing well. I knew from seeing Sheila and Robin at daycare when I went and got her that it wasn’t good. Snickers lingered for one last kiss and we left. I had to run and do my part time driving job while we waited for our 2pm vet appointment. The boy in the car said “oh she’s so cute!” and she was, all curled up in her blanket. I knew it was the last car ride my dear girl would have.

We arrived at the vet’s at 2pm and she was gone by 2:20pm. She walked in, tail between her legs, head down and barely able to walk. She’d lost 10lbs or more- it was hard to tell with the mass being twice or more in size from when they’d seen her on the day of diagnosis. She was pale, her gums were white. I knew, they knew. She crossed over the rainbow bridge and ironically woofed, and snickered as she went. I wonder who met her first? Tyke? Scout? Both of them? For the kids, it’s hardest. They have had 3 losses in a little over 2 years. Tyke died in October 2015, Scout at the end of September 2016 and Snickers just 15 months later. It’s tough. Meghan is angry- “Why do all our pets have to die?” Cole is understanding but said “I never want to get another dog again, we have bad luck with dogs.” and Quinn said “well it wasn’t unexpected Mom but it’s sad.” I’m a mess. I’m not sure if it’s because she died or because of the lack of sleep I got over the past 8-10 weeks. Since Friday I have slept 2 nights. 8 hours one night and 10 last night and I feel worse than when I only got 3 hrs of sleep. I wonder if the adrenaline rush is gone. The adrenaline that kept me awake and on alert is gone. I am able to now rest and sleep and my body needs to reboot.

No matter what, loss is hard. I’m glad we’ve had the 5 dogs we’ve had in our life. Lucky, Cedar, Tyke, Scout and Snickers. I am open to getting another dog but I shook on it with John and we will not be getting another one. I understand his logic- we have 3 kids who are active – and we are gone a lot of weekends and we just don’t have the time. Had it not been for doggie daycare we wouldn’t have been able to have Snickers. There were many Saturdays we put her in daycare for the day while we did our weekend thing or we’d board her overnight so she was able to run around with her doggie friends while we ran around. I am forever grateful to have had 5 dogs though. They really did make up a huge part of our lives. I loved them all and we will someday see them all again.

Treat Yourself Well

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Treat yourself! It’s important to take care of YOU. If you feel bogged down by life perhaps it’s because you are doing everything for everyone else and nothing for yourself. I have been busy volunteering, taking care of the kids and being a supportive wife and friend. I have sacrificed my time and my energy to care for others and with our dog having cancer my sleep has been greatly sacrificed of late. A lot of people would have put their dog down by now. She’s got cancer and a diminished life span but she’s happy for most of the day and so I can’t. As long as she still pees and poops outside she will remain with us. She even goes to doggy daycare at an expense which means I usually don’t buy anything for myself. Well that ended last night and boy-oh-boy was it fun!

Last night I was invited to a private Lularoe sale. No – I am not one of those people who can wear or wants to wear leggings as pants and if you are that person go for it- you probably have a smaller butt than me 😉 But in all seriousness, the leggings are buttery soft and the tees too so a combo of that and I’m in for pajamas/loungewear for home. I do however love their dresses and the price point on those is $65 or less. I wore one to the Christmas party for John’s work and it was so pretty and COMFORTABLE and it had pockets too! So when I had a chance to pick from her live sale and pay just $250 for a box I jumped at the chance. I was able to get 4 dresses, 2 tees, 2 pairs of leggings and much more. I can’t wait to go get my box of goodies today. I can even edit the box in case I don’t like what I chose. What a gift to ME! I opted to use the money my mom sent me for Christmas to offset the cost so it was a fun night, 3 hours online checking out different styles and items and chatting with new friends. It’s the first time I spent money without a care in the world and it was invigorating and it made me feel good to do something for ME!

So take time for you- whether it’s going for a walk you want to go on or buying a new this or that or getting a cup of coffee out because it feels good to be waited on, do it. Take the Oxygen mask first and take care of yourself. Some of us might take a few hours to read a book in the quiet of our rooms while our spouse takes care of the kids. Some of us would feel rejuvenated by going to dinner with a friend. Taking care of yourself looks different for all of us. For me- it’s buying something for myself. I do pretty well with reading a book and seeing friends but I refuse to spend money on myself.

I am taking money away from the family because I stay at home. Now before you get all mad at me for saying that- it’s a little bit true YET if you add up all the stuff I do my husband would be in the poor house if he had to pay for services rendered. Maid service, chef service, TAXI service (no joke I am in the car more than I am not), child care services, tutoring, and more, I do it all. And that’s ok. Our marriage is a negotiation and from day one we decided that we wanted to raise our kids and I would stay home until I felt the need to get a job. I did work outside the home for about 18 months until we homeschooled and let me tell you that was a huge job without any financial compensation and I loved it for 5 whole years. Now I am a part-time driver and am seeking a new business opportunity (making websites- check out my new venture Websites by Allie when you get the chance). I am contributing more than money can buy and that is good enough for me. We all negotiate differently for what we want in our lives and our marriages for me- I am happy to be here when the kids get home from school (after I taxi to get them of course) and I enjoy cooking dinners and taking care of the house although there are days that a maid seems appealing.

So take some time to take care of yourself today. Call a friend, get a coffee, buy a new dress or some shoes you’ve had your eyes on. Life is good and as long as you aren’t going to go into debt to get yourself something then by all means treat yourself. It means that you matter. You deserve it. You and I both know that if your kids needed something you wouldn’t hesitate so why hesitate with yourself? Treat yourself today!