Saturday, December 24, 2016

You Touched My Heart You Touched My Soul. You Changed My Life And All My Goals.

    The title of this post was taken from the song Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt.

      I think about Mike everyday, but this last week I've thought about him in almost everything I do. Mike hated being wasteful. I remember us wrapping Christmas presents together and he would constantly get on me about how much tape I used. He'd seen a documentary on gift wrapping and how if you wrapped a gift perfectly it could be done using one piece of tape. I always called bull hockey. I like using a lot of tape. This week every piece of tape I placed on a gift kept him in the forefront of my mind. He would also organize things so that they would take up the least amount of space, including trash. As I organized our recycling, I broke down boxes and put boxes inside of boxes so that it took up the least amount of room. He would have been proud. In December 2009 I graduated with my second Masters degree. Mike threw a party for me. He was so glad I was done with school because it consumed so much of my time. He was not amused when I joked about going back to school. Nine years later he's gone and I passed my BCBA exam. I had a panic attack the other day, because I just can't fathom not being in school. My self worth is so tied to my education that I can't imagine not formally working towards some kind of educational goal. I can picture Mike rolling his eyes.
      It's Christmas Eve and I've also obsessed about not having enough gifts for the kids to open tomorrow. I do this every year, and every year I yell at myself for giving in and thinking that it's the gifts that make Christmas important. Yesterday my family got together. It was incredibly crazy and my house isn't nearly big enough to hold everyone, but we had such a good time. Dad brought a Christmas movie for us to watch and it was just what I needed to remind me of the true meaning of Christmas. I'm so grateful for the memories I have to cherish and the future I have to look forward to. I'm really looking forward to watching It's A Wonderful Life tonight as we finish wrapping gifts. I'm looking forward to going to church in the morning and listening to Sebastian and Tyler sing with the church choir. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Only One Thought Of Mine. Only At Christmas Time

The title of this post was taken from the song Only At Christmas Time by Sufjan Stevens.

     It's been an incredibly stressful couple of months and I've struggled with all of my insecurities about everything I do. Sebastian has struggled with Governor's School and I have worried that maybe I pushed him into it when he wasn't ready for it. Tyler has struggled with her honors English class, but I'm the one who pushed her to challenge herself. Jaxon is three and when he tantrums I wonder why in the world I can't handle my own child. It's just been a long couple of months.
     On November 29 I finally took my BCBA exam. My original goal had been to take it in May, but I didn't get my paperwork ready in time. I could have taken it in August, but I was terrified and felt totally unprepared. I pushed it all off until the November testing session and then took it on the last possible day. I studied in spurts. I would do really well for a few weeks and then life would happen and I would slack off a little. I'd beat myself up for being a slacker and then study some more. The test was on a Tuesday. There were 160 questions and I had four hours to complete the test. I walked out of the exam feeling really good about how I had done, but as I analyzed questions I started to second guess myself. I was then sure I had either passed or failed miserably, but honestly I was okay either way. I knew I had given it everything I had and if that wasn't enough I was okay with it. I was expecting the scores to come out the week of Christmas so I've kept myself busy with other things. I've been focusing on the kids, work and catching up on things I had let slip through the cracks. This week I had a lot going on and I've been extra stressed. Sebastian has his final exams, Tyler had an SOL test, I had several things going on at work, and I haven't done much Christmas shopping. Yesterday, I picked up my phone to see I had six emails. One of them was from the BACB. I had passed my exam. I immediately went to my desk and opened up my BACB portal and sure enough it said passed beside my test date. I cried. I called John. 

"Hey, guess what?"

"What?"

"I passed my exam!"

"I know."

"No, seriously. I just got the email. I passed it...it's official."

"I knew you would. I'm not surprised."

I'm glad he was so confident :) I keep logging into my account to make sure my pass hasn't changed to a fail. I'm still in shock. Now I'm nervous about being able to say I'm a BCBA. I still don't feel like I know enough. I never feel like I know enough.
     On top of this good news Sebastian texted me yesterday to tell me he got a 568 on his history SOL. He passed with an advanced score. He also made an 82 on his college chemistry final and will finish with a B in that class. I'm so proud of him. Tyler got in the van yesterday to tell me she passed her algebra SOL. She was so excited. I'm so proud of both of them. We all had something to celebrate yesterday.
     I'm ready to wrap up these last few days of school before Christmas break and then enjoy some family time. Maybe now I'll let myself relax a little.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What You Need And Everything You'll Feel Is Just A Question Of The Deal

     The title of this post was taken from the son Gravity of Love by Enigma.

     It's been over three months since I've posted. There have been things I've wanted to share but sometimes I feel like if it's not profound it's not worth writing about. I forget sometimes that even the small moments in my life are insightful and worth recording. 
     For the last month Jaxon will stop at random moments during the day and say "Mom, why do we live here?" or "Mom, why is this our house?" He says the funniest things. This week he has randomly run up to me and said "You are the best mom ever!" How can I not smile when I hear things like that. Today we've had this conversation multiple times

"Mom what makes you happy?"

Honestly this made me stop what I was doing because I often ask myself this same thing.
"My family makes me happy."

"But why does your family make you happy?"

"Because I love my family."

     My answer was the truth. My family does make me happy. I don't always feel like a whole person though. I feel like I'm whatever I need to be at any given moment, but if I strip those things away I don't really know who I am at the core. I've struggled with this for a really long time. It gives me great pause every time he comes running and says "Mom, what makes you happy?" 
     Life has been extremely crazy these last few months. School started, I've been studying for my exam, classes have been harder for the kids, Sebastian just started working, my sister moved and will be moving again this month, and it never ends. I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas will be right around the corner. Where has the time gone?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Everything Will Be Just Fine

The title of this post was taken from the song The Middle by Jimmy Eat World.     

Yesterday Jaxon and I had the following conversation multiple times.

"Mom, I need fruit. I need a banana."

"Sweetie, we are out of fruit until I go to the store later on."

"WHAT?! No fruit?"

"No, I have to go to the store."

"But mom, I NNNNNEEEEEEEEDDDDDD fruit!"

I wasn't able to make it to the store yesterday and so I went around 3 this morning. Jaxon got up around 6:30 and as I was getting him dressed this happened.

"Hey, guess what I bought at the store this morning."

"What?"

"Bananas and strawberries."

"What?! Those are my favorite! Thanks mom you are the best!"

After he ate breakfast he climbed up on the piano and grabbed a picture of all five kids taken last fall.


"Mom, these are my brothers and my sister. I just love them. They are my friends."

"Jaxon that is so sweet."


"Can you tell me who is in the picture?"

"Here is Sebastian, and Tyler, and Mason, and Jaxon, and Blake. They love me too."


"Mom, I just love them so much. They are my best friends."

     There are moments, especially when things are really crazy around here, that I question our decision to have two more children. Don't get me wrong I love them terribly, but if I'm being honest, I often question my capability to handle five kids. Then, there are moments like these...Jaxon just climbed in my lap and was looking at this picture as I'm typing this post. He said. 

"Oh mom! That's me with my picture. It's so cute. I just love this house and my family."

Now, I just need to read this post every time he does something that drives me a little nuts...like smear peanut butter on the walls. I really do love this life that I'm building for myself.

Friday, July 29, 2016

I Hope My Children Come And Visit Once Or Twice A Month

    The title of this post was taken from the song 7 Years by Lukas Graham.

      I have a fear that my kids will grow up, move away, and I won't see them more than once or twice a year. I have two brothers and a sister and none of us have ever lived more than an hour away, from our hometown, for longer than six months. Don't get me wrong I want my kids to experience new things and go where they can get jobs they love, because there aren't a lot of opportunities around here. I just don't know how I would handle it. 
     Sebastian, Tyler and Mason saved me from myself after Mike passed away. For almost the first year after he died I hated going anywhere in my car without at least one of them with me. There were so many times that I thought how easy it would be to run my car off the road and into a tree. I often felt so overwhelmed with grief and sometimes I just wanted it to end. I knew I would never ever hurt one of my kids and so I tried really hard never to go anywhere without them. They were my reasons to keep going, to put one foot in front of the other. I just can't imagine them ever being very from from me.   
     One of my favorite songs right now is 7 Years by Lukas Graham and I love to sing a long. Every single time I hear/sing this song I tear up at the line "I hope my children come and visit once or twice a month." There have been many times that I've had to stop singing because it made me so emotional. My kids are my life. So much of what I do is for them and I can't imagine them not being around. 
     Right now Tyler is away at camp, Sebastian is hanging out in his room, Mason is playing his DS, and Jaxon and Blake are taking a nap. My house is really quiet at the moment. I keep picking up my textbook to try and read but I can't concentrate without the noise. I finally turned on some cartoons and played some music on my phone. I was finally able to study a little. What in the world will I do when all five kids are out of the house and living on their own...I guess by then I'll have grandchildren so maybe it won't be that bad.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Seasons Are Changing And Waves Are Crashing

The title of this post was taken from the song Your Guardian Angel by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. 

      Vacation. It was hot, we stayed tired, we fought, but we had so much fun. This year we decided to go to Atlanta, GA. We wanted to take the kids to Six Flags, Six Flags White Water and the Atlanta Zoo. Mom, Dad and my nephew Owen went with us. Here are some pictures. At the end of this year I want to have my blog printed, just for myself, and I need to do a better job of writing more often. Funny little things pop up in our day to day and I hate that I haven't recorded any of it. For example, the other day I told Jaxon to hurry up and eat his sandwich and he answered "Be patient mom, just be patient." We laughed so hard. 
     Sebastian and Tyler spent a week at EFY and Mason went to 4-H camp. Tyler is at girls camp this week. I go back to work next week. I'm a bit anxious about this school year, but only because I have so many things I want to do. I worry that I won't get it all done. I'm also studying for my BCBA exam that I'll be taking in November. I was going to take it in August, but I just don't feel ready so I'm studying several hours a day to make sure I'm prepared for November. There's a lot going on and daddy always taught me that a job worth doing was worth doing right. Here's to hoping it all works out.



Jaxon doing the sign for I Love You.


Mason and Owen at Olympic Park.


Dad sitting on a spinning chair at the park.


Six Flags


Jaxon riding a ride. He loved it.


Owen, Mason and Sylvester


Tyler feeding the birds.


Jaxon was exhausted!


Tyler, Blake, and Papaw!


Checking out the animals.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

As I Fight For One Last Prayer

     The title of this post was taken from the song Defeated by Breaking Benjamin.

     I feel almost guilty even writing this post when one of Sebastian's very best friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor in December, had surgery and is still recovering from the effects. The local news station did a feature on Ethan and his family. If you could please keep them in your thoughts and prayers I know they would greatly appreciate it. They are a wonderful family and Sebastian and Ethan have been friends since elementary school.



     Sebastian is a typical 16 year old teenage boy. He thinks he knows everything, and yet he has a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone. He helps his papaw with anything and everything that needs to be done. He routinely helps him mow his lawn, mow uncle Dale's lawn, and last week helped rip out brick at Dad's to help with the remodeling of his basement.  Tomorrow Sebastian is going to help cut his Aunt Mandaly's lawn. He rarely complains, but of course this is partially because his papaw is asking him to do this stuff and who argues with their papaw ;). If I had asked him it might be a different story. 
      Sebastian has taken mostly honors classes the last two school years and has managed to keep his GPA up. I stress the importance of education almost on a daily basis. Anyway, the second semester this past school year he took honors algebra II and during the second six weeks of it he had a D for the class. I. was. furious. I checked his grades almost daily and harped at him when he simply didn't turn homework assignments in. It was around this time that he started sleeping a lot in the afternoons. He would come home from school and fall asleep, get up to eat dinner and then head back down to his room. I finally took him to the doctor and come to find out he is pre-diabetic. WHAT?! How is my physically fit athletic son pre-diabetic? It runs in our family so I really shouldn't have been that surprised. Anyway, the doctor said it might explain why he was tired. So, we are working on diet changes and he managed to pull out a B for the semester in algebra II. 
     Sebastian also applied for Governor's School for his junior year. Governor's school allows juniors and seniors to attend classes at the local community college in the morning to focus on math, science, and technology courses, and then return to their home school for afternoon classes. Sebastian met all of the requirements, but he was put on the wait list due to the limited amount of spots available. I was actually okay with this. I knew how much he had wanted it and I knew he had worked hard, but I also saw this as a learning opportunity to show him that he can't just always skate through his classes. Tuesday we found out that our school board approved the extra funding for students that met the Governor's School requirements. Sebastian has been accepted and will be able to participate in the fall. There were a lot of mixed emotions for me. This is a wonderful opportunity for him and yet I worry he will think he can continue to do the minimum and get by. I want him to work to his full potential. I sound negative. He did work hard. He doubled up on classes when it would have been easier to take more electives. He is a smart kid and he's way more driven than I ever was at his age. I just hope he takes this seriously and goes as far as he can with it. Now he wants a car. He better get a job :).
     Tyler is changing school districts this year. She will at the same high school as Sebastian. I forced her to make this switch because I was not happy with the quality of education she was getting in our home district. She cried and cried when I put my foot down, but we did her scheduling on Tuesday and I think she is finally coming around. This will be good for her. She wasn't challenged last year at all, in fact at one point she had a 140 average in her physical science class. I shouldn't have to fight to have them challenge my child. Anyway, I'll be much happier having all of my kids in the same district.  
    I sometimes worry that I push them to much. Sebastian recently said he was going to take a year off after high school to work and earn money. My head almost exploded. There is no freaking way that is happening. I know how hard it was to go back. I know how hard it was to work, have a family and try to go to college. I often tell them the only way I made it through was from the support of Mike and my parents. There were many nights that Mike would be at work and I'd have class from 6-9. I would drop off Sebastian and Tyler at mom and dad's house and they would be sound asleep when I picked them up. I remember holding Mason, as a newborn, in the middle of the night with one arm and turning pages of a textbook with the other hand. I think sometimes they take the opportunity for college for granted. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

But Look, I've Been Here, I've Done It

     The title of this post was taken from the song Just Like Fire by Pink.

      Can I be honest for a minute? Don't get me wrong I love summer and I love all the extra things I get to do with my kids but I suck as a stay at home mom. Being a stay at home parent is freaking hard work. I find that my time with my kids during the school year is a higher quality than it is when I'm home all the time. I cherish it more during the school year and it seems easier. During the summer I feel like I constantly have to be doing something with them and it's stressful. The age gap between the kids also makes it a little harder. For example, I want to make a ball rack out of pvc pipe to hold all of our basketballs, soccer and volleyballs. I also want to make a sprinkler for the kids. Anyway, I showed the plans to John last night and we made a trip to Lowes to get what we needed. Blake screamed the entire way there and the entire way back. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I don't know what was wrong with him but after chasing, playing, changing diapers, feeding, listening to him and Jaxon fight, picking up their toys, and a million other things, I was not in the mood for non-stop screaming. My patience reached it's max about 2 miles into the trip. I even yelled at him once. Anyway, I feel like I fail at parenting during the summer. I'm now wondering how I'm ever going to survive taking the kids to Atlanta for vacation. I'm sure John comes home from work each day and wonders just what the heck I did all day. Usually things are just as messy and cluttered when he gets home as they were when he left. I swear I pick up toys, blankets, sippy cups, video games, remotes, and shoes ALL FREAKING DAY LONG. My hat goes off to all parents, working and stay at home. Parenting is hard work. 
     Now that I've complained it really hasn't been horrible all the time. Here is proof that I love all my kids and we do have fun :)


Mason earned his orange belt in karate.


Blake enjoying ice cream after working in the yard.


Jaxon helped pull weeds at Aunt Mandaly's house.


We went to Megan's dance recital.


Tyler playing with Blake.


My friend Karma and I have been walking in the mornings before she goes to work. 
These little fellas enjoy it very much.


And we've been swimming a few times. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

     The title of this post was taken from the song The Sound Of Silence by Disturbed.

      My dearest Mike,
          Today brought about uncontrollable crying and panic attacks this afternoon. Here we are again. One more year has come and gone. It's been five years since I've heard your voice, felt your touch, or watched your bright blue eyes light up when you smiled. I miss you everyday, but today was different. I don't even know what to say. I felt so lost today. I don't think this ever gets any easier. I've just learned to make a life for myself while constantly trying to keep my black hole of grief from swallowing me alive. I still go through random emotions. Sometimes I get crazy angry at you for leaving us, other times I'm sad and still in shock. Sometimes I think I've come as close to acceptance as I'll ever be and then the cycle repeats itself. I wish I could see you one last time. I want to hear your voice and know that you are proud of how I'm raising our children. I so desperately look for your approval in all I do. Watch over us and know that we miss you dearly.
     

                                                              Love,
                                                                 Mel

My new favorite song.




          

Thursday, March 10, 2016

You Are Someone Else, I Am Still Right Here.

    The title of this post was taken from the song Hurt by Nine Inch Nails. 

     The other morning Jaxon was eating an orange for breakfast and he looked at me and said "Mommy! This is delicious!" These are the moments that make me feel like I'm a pretty dang good mom. Sometimes I cling to those moments to get me through the rough ones. Sebastian is mad at me right now because his grades dropped and I've grounded him until he pulls them up. He thinks I'm being hard on him. Maybe I am. Maybe I stress the importance of getting a good education way to much. Is that even possible though? If I knew he were giving his best I would have let it slide, but I feel like he's slacking off a bit. Is this stuff he will one day discuss while in therapy?
     I haven't been sleeping well. I had a dream about Mike the other night. I don't dream of him often. Maybe my subconscious knows I can't handle it. In this dream we were talking about the kids. I was catching him up on all the things they were doing and telling him about Jaxon and Blake. I don't know why but I woke up in a panic. This next month will be hard. The weeks leading up to the anniversary of his passing are always hard. I start to think about all the "lasts". I think about all the things we didn't do or didn't say.  I drive myself nuts trying to just be in the present for my kids and not drag them down with my crazy. Sometimes I just don't want to think anymore.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Honeybee, The Sting, The Little Girl With Wings

     The title of this post was taken from the song It takes a lot to know a man by Damien Rice.

     These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Mom and dad came home early. Mom felt she needed to be home to be with the family and so home they came. I am crazy excited to have them home and so are the kids. There was a lot of prep work to make sure their house was clean and ready for them, and then a lot of other stuff going on at the same time. Now that they are here I feel like I can relax a bit. 
     These last few weeks I've been able to focus on my family and what I need to do for myself. A friend, Karma, and I have been walking after school. We have such a good time just talking and laughing. It's been good for me in a lot of ways. I'm even debating taking a spinning class at the Y. I've created a study schedule for my exam. I take the BCBA exam in May and I've struggled with finding a way to study that works for me. This past week I figured it out and I've been studying for several hours everyday. John has been a huge help in keeping the kids entertained while I try to focus. We filed our taxes and have plans for our tax return that will allow us to pay down some debt and work on some household projects that really need to be taken care of. Things are slowly coming together.  
     I'm extremely proud of my parents and all the hard work they did while on their mission in Kansas. I know they made a difference to a lot of people, and I couldn't be more happy that they were able to have that experience. I'm just glad they are home. I knew how much I missed them, but I didn't know what a relief it would be to have them home. I may be 36 but in the end I am just a girl who needs her parents.




Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Wind Is Howling Like This Swirling Storm Inside

     The title of this post was taken from the song Let It Go by Idina Menzel from the movie Frozen.

Summary of this past week...

* Prepared for a huge snow storm.

* A relief valve broke on our boiler, flooding our basement. We had two inches of water covering the entire basement which is also where Sebastian's room is. We had to have someone come out and fix it, and pay emergency fees for them to do so. We've spent most of our snow days alternating between cleaning up the basement and trying to shovel snow. Such good times in our house.

* I've been trying to study for my BCBA exam that I'll be taking in May. I should be motivated to study, but not so much. By the end of the day I just want to sit down and NOT think.

* Work. I've got so many ideas for things I want to do and somehow I have to find the time to make it all work.

* The 23rd would have been Mike's 40th birthday. We normally get helium balloons and have the kids write messages to him and let them go, but due to the weather we couldn't get to the store. So, instead we told funny stories about him and shared our best memories. I managed to hold it together but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard. 

* Counting down the days until my parents come home. 


Pictures from this past week


Jaxon getting ready to leave for the babysitter.


Blake loves blankets, and sometimes he steals them from his sister :)


A self portrait that Tyler did in art class. She is so much like her dad.


Jaxon really wanted to go to school with Tyler!


Snow!


Snow!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

I Wonder Just Who Made The Rules Up For This Game

     The title of this post was taken from the song Maybe Just Once by Nine Inch Nails.

     I've had a lot of "Mike" moments this week. I think about him all the time and there are always little things that remind me of him, but this week there have been more than usual. There have also been tears of worry and frustration mixed with hilarious family moments. I don't really have a clear idea of what I want to write tonight so I'll just write some things from this week.

1) Conversation with Sebastian...


Sebastian: "Mom, can I have a cookie?"

Me: "Sure, but just a couple." As he takes four "Hey, since when did a couple turn into four?"

Sebastian: "Since when did saying 'I just need a couple things from the store' turn into two carts full of groceries?"

Well played Sebastian, well played.

2) Blake started walking more. He has taken several steps in a row, but he has really started to be comfortable on his feet and it's so cute to watch him.

3) Tyler tried out for District band, but didn't make it. She handled it with such grace. She was disappointed but knew she had given it her all. I am so proud of her.

4) Sebastian passed his honors biology and honors geometry SOL tests. He stressed and stressed about geometry and I'm glad he passed and it's over.

5) I've been getting migraines the last six months and haven't made it to the doctor yet. This week I had the worst one I've had yet. It was awful. I really feel for people who have them all the time. 

6) My parents will be home at the end of March!!!! I CAN'T WAIT!!! I have missed them so much!


Friday, January 1, 2016

It's The Little Things In Life That Mean The Most. Not Where You Live, What You Drive, Or The Price Tag On Your Clothes

     The title of this post was taken from the song Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band.

     New Years Eve 2015. I spent time at home surrounded by family. We ate good food, played games, talked about our hopes and dreams and everything in-between. It was low key and nothing fancy, but being with the ones I love was a great way to ring in the new year. As I look back over 2015 there are moments that I'm super proud of, moments that I regret, and things I would change. I set goals last year that I didn't achieve while others I worked really hard on.  This year I want to work on being okay with where I am in my life right. this. minute. I spend a lot of time beating myself up for things I haven't accomplished yet. I focus on the things I struggle with instead of looking at all the great things I do and have. I need to shift my thought process and be okay with who I am. I have a wonderful family and they love me just the way I am. Don't get me wrong, I have goals to improve upon things in my life, but while I'm working on those things I am also giving myself permission to be okay with how far I've come. 
      This morning the kids got up and Tyler made cinnamon roll waffles, and Blake curled up in my arms. I'm truly blessed.