mrsmomdragon

Sharing my adventures, thoughts and occassional jokes. Sorting through laundry, and a little bit of life…This is How I Train My Dragons…

Lessons in Cross Country: Going Beyond Your Comfort Zone

comfortable–adjective: 1.  providing physical ease and relaxation  2. affording or enjoying contentment and security

 


A few weeks ago, Elijah’s cross country coach approached us as we were waiting for practice to be over. I assumed he was going to tell us something about the upcoming meet, but the words that came out his his mouth were, “How has Elijah been these last few weeks?” My mind scrambled to find an answer because I was honesty getting a little nervous about how this conversation was going to go, so my response was simple…he had been sick. His coach knew that, but it was more than just Elijah being sick. He shared that Elijah was doing well this season, but not as well as he had hoped. He had expected to see some growth since is his second season of cross country, and it just wasn’t there.

Ouch. His words stung a little. But yet, isn’t that what the truth does?

As the conversation continued, Ray worded it perfectly. It’s not that Elijah isn’t enjoying cross country because he loves it (seriously, he didn’t get the running genes from me)… he is just comfortable. You see, Elijah has been running long enough to know when it hurts and gets uncomfortable. So, he knows how hard to push himself before his body crosses the line from comfortable to uncomfortable.

The following week, we spoke with Elijah about what his coach said. Honestly, I was unsure if it was a good idea because there were tears…but again, sometimes the truth stings a little doesn’t it? We just asked him if he thought he was running his best race. Could he honestly say he was doing his best? The answer was no. It wasn’t an easy conversation to have because we don’t ever want any of our kids to think that we aren’t proud of them. Elijah could run a 50 minute mile, and we would still be proud of him…but, we know that he is capable of doing better. And, his coach knows Elijah well enough to know he is capable of so much more too. I don’t think I have ever seen a coach so passionate about the sport and genuinely wanting each child to succeed and run their best race.

Well, that next week, he ran his best race of the season. Actually, it was his best race ever. He pushed himself harder and realized it really was possible; that he was capable of feeling uncomfortable for a bit.

That night I went back into Elijah’s room to put him to bed, and as I was going to turn the light switch off, I noticed he had decorated his wall. He put up all of the race bibs that he has saved, one of his favorite quotes, and the last meets time with his name circled with “BEAT IT!!” written next to it. He made a little inspiration wall so every time he turned on and off his lights he would see things that mattered to him…a goal that was on the other side of his comfort zone.

The following week, he actually didn’t get to run in the meet because his knees had been bothering him during the warm up. After so much anticipation and excitement, he just had to watch. Again, there were tears because he not only wanted to run, but he felt like he was letting his team down.

Fast forward to this past Thursday. The cross country team had their League Championship meet…2.5 miles. I get tired just thinking of running that long. Anyway, after two weeks of seeing the inspiration on his wall it was time to run again. I was wrong, the previous race was not his best race–this one was. Elijah came in at 18:43 which was 25 seconds faster than his coach had predicted.

But wait, there’s more. (Sounds a little like an informercial right?) On the same card that the coach writes his predictions for the kids, he writes their times from the previous year. Last year, Elijah ran the same race in 21:03…if you struggle in math like I do, that means that he beat his time by 2 minutes and 20 seconds!! He felt SO stinking good at the end and seeing the smile on his face was amazing. If it felt good for us, I can only imagine what it felt like for him…

Sometimes, we are so comfortable in our life, that we don’t allow ourselves to ever go beyond it…Can I encourage you (with the help of my sweet son) to push yourself a little harder this week. No one likes to feel uncomfortable. But, it is in those times where we feel the most uncomfortable that we tend to experience the most growth! So, step outside of your comfort zone because you might surprise yourself!comfort zone

 

 

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The End of My Favorite Chapter

I’ve been a little emotional these past few days. I mean, I’m always pretty emotional, but my heart is spinning in my chest with emotion–especially today.

Is it because I turned 36 last week? Not so much, although yesterday Emaleigh told Ray and I that we are “on the downward slope to 40” and she isn’t lying! Is it because my first niece is headed to move into her dorm today? That may actually be a little sliver of it…but I am more excited to see her bloom, because that’s who she is. Is it because I’m seeing all of these back to school pictures on Facebook? Again, this probably plays a bigger role in my emotions because, you see, I’ll be posting a similar photo in a few days.

Not of my kids…of myself.

I will be headed back to school tomorrow. But, this time, I will be working there.

Twelve years ago, I was pregnant with Elijah, and Ray and I made the decision that it would be best for our growing family if I stopped working. At the time, I worked at the service desk at King Soopers, and I had  for almost 6 years. It was a hard, but very exciting decision. After Elijah was born, I never went back to work and we never looked back.

Actually, there were many times that we questioned if it was the right move. Yes, financially we struggled. Being a single income household has not been easy and there were times that we weren’t able to do things because we simply couldn’t afford to. But, the struggle is where the growth happened. It was through the trials that we faced, that Ray and I leaned closer on each other, and closer on God. Our kids never got “all the things” but our kids also never went without. I learned to “ball on a budget”…sometimes the kids would ask what was for dinner and the answer would be, “pantry surprise” because I would literally have to figure something out with what we had in the cupboards. Honestly, I still make pantry surprise and each time gets more exciting than the last. It’s an adventure in itself!

But, more importantly than all of the financial stuff, I learned so much about my life in these past twelve years…through the eyes of my children who I have been lucky enough to watch grow right in front of my eyes.

I was able to watch all of my nieces and nephews throughout the school years as well as during summers. Now I see them all growing up, and can’t help but look back and smile knowing that they have memories of  “that one time at Aunt Caiti’s house”.  I also watched other children on and off which was an added bonus. I was surrounded by kids…and I loved it.  Sometimes, Ray would get home from work and all he wanted to do was have quiet for a few moments, but I wouldn’t shut up because all I wanted to do was have an adult conversation! I can also remember times where I would get on the defense because people would say, “What do you DO all day?”…trust me, it wasn’t all  bon bons and Days of Our Lives.

The last twelve years of the diapers, crying, car rides, library trips, time outs, laughing, spills, fevers, firsts, cuddling, blow outs, splash park trips, learning, visiting Daddy at work,  grocery getting, bandaids, laundry, crafts, arguing over naps, ABC’s, kisses, chauffeuring to practices, cleaning up messes, volunteering, first days, lunch dates, walks, singing, apple slicing, and, meltdowns are all  memories that I will be able to hold on to for the rest of my life. Knowing that for the past twelve years, I have been right where God wanted me to be–Being a stay at home mom was definitely a privilege that I never took for granted and I never will. I pray I did it justice because it was worth the struggle.

Now that our kids are in school full time and I graduated from UNC last spring, we decided (again, together) that it is time. It’s time for me to go out and find out more about myself…but this time, as a working Mom.  BONUS, I will be in the same school as my youngest and will have the same schedule as my kids, which was very important to us.  I am extremely excited about this new adventure, but I am also so sad to be only a day away from the end of my life as a SAHM. (See, at least I can still be hip mom). But, I am going to take the advice I have always given my kids on their first day.
“You go be yourself. Shine your light for everyone to see. Be a friend, especially to those who need one the most. Work hard and learn lots. I can’t wait to hear about your day!”

It’s the ending of an era. It’s the end of my favorite chapter. But, you know what’s neat about coming to the end of a chapter? It means that it’s also the beginning of a new one…and all of the pages are blank. So, here’s to making this chapter as good as the last. IMG_3160

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In That Moment

So, tonight the kids and I were driving home from an afternoon at my in-laws. I put on my Worship playlist and throughout the 45 minute drive home, we probably listened to a total of about 3 songs because I kept having to turn down the music. I found myself getting frustrated because all I wanted to do was listen to music, yet here I was listening to the kids giggle about farts, talk about Jurassic World, and repeatedly ask what our plans were for tomorrow. (It’s summer miniature people…we have no plans!)

About the 14th time I turned down the music it was because Eydan (my 7 year old) had a question. He said, “Mommy, do you ever wonder if it’s you talking in your head or if it’s actually God talking to you?” After a moment of thinking about conversations I’ve had in my own head wondering if it was truly God’s voice, I said,  “Yes buddy I do. Sometimes it’s hard for me to decide who is talking. So, how do you know if it’s God or you?” Without even skipping a beat he said, “Well His voice is WAY deeper than mine!” I told him that would be very helpful and then asked if they talk and if so, what kind of conversations they have?  He said, “We talk about lots of stuff, but He really likes it when I tell him jokes.” Now, if anyone knows our Eydan, you know he is our little comedian always making us laugh, and always keeping us on our toes. So, to know that not only does he make God smile every day, but the kid gets Him to laugh.

In that brief moment, I was giggling thinking about God laughing at Eydan’s jokes with a jolly, low, Santa Claus-ish laugh. But, now looking back I am in awe of a God who has conversations with my 7 year old and laughs at his jokes making him feel so very special inside. In that moment, I was glad I turned down the music for the umpteenth time so I could hear my sweet boy share his heart with us. It’s a conversation I know I will remember forever, and I hope he does too.

In that moment, I realized that it’s ok to just sit in quiet. Although it was good music I was listening to, sometimes we need to be quiet in order to hear His voice. Life is so busy and loud that it’s ok to just be still. Sometimes you won’t hear His voice in your own head…sometimes you’ll hear it in the sweet voice of your 7 year old.

 

 

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The Simple Smell of Dirt

Last night I went for a run. Yes, me…a run. When I got the urge, it wasn’t because I’m trying to get fit (because I am), it was more so because I needed to clear my mind. I had just spent an hour on the internet looking at different positions that are open within the school district. All of which I kept coming to the same conclusion…”I’m not qualified”.

As I was looking, a little voice in my head kept telling me, “Nope. There’s no way you can do that” or “What makes you think you should even be looking” and even “You’ll never be more than just a sub…nothing more.” My favorite one is, “You graduated a year ago…why don’t you know what you want to be when you grow up?” “Loser”.

Let me rewind a little. On Sunday, our pastor spoke about spiders in our life. Not real spiders, but the ones that cause destruction in our lives…the ones that constantly spin a web of lies. He said, “If you are unsure of what your spider is, ask your family.” So, at the end of church I asked Emaleigh what my spider was and she said, “Doubt and negativity getting the best of you.” How could I disagree with her when I knew that she was right. I am a very “glass is half full” kind of person with everyone around me, but when it comes to myself, I tend to have this fear and doubt of feeling inadequate with things I pursue. It’s kind of funny because once I complete certain tasks that I originally had doubts about (starting a blog, getting my college degree, joining worship team) I come to realize that these things are the most rewarding in the end because I see how God uses those who feel this way.

So, let me rewind a little more. The last day of one of my long term sub gigs I had a student tell me (after a few other choice words) that I “wasn’t even a real teacher…I was just a sub.” I did my best to blow it off and not let it get to me, but I guess I have let it sink a little deeper than I thought. I allowed a young, naive girl to determine my worth. As I was telling Ray why I was going for a run, he even said, “Honey, do NOT let that girl get to you!” (My husband and family have always been my number one fans…when I doubt myself, they push me because they know I’m better than believing the lies.)

So, back to last night. (Do you feel like you have whiplash from all of the back and forth?) To get my mind out of my stinking thinking attitude, I decided to go for a run. Don’t let the word “run” fool you because I definitely didn’t run the whole time. I put on a worship playlist, made it just down our road, took a turn on the dirt road in between two field and got an huge whiff of freshly plowed dirt. Immediately, the words, growth, renewed, and beginning came into my mind. Fresh dirt is one of my favorite smells, but it’s less to do with the scent, and more to do with what it means. It’s getting prepared for a new crop to grow and eventually be harvested.

As I was thinking about the dirt (weird thing to think about, I know) I began to pay close attention to my playlist that I had set to random. The first song that came on was, “I Will Rise”, then “Speak Life”, and then “You Never Let Go”.

So, now I began thinking about the songs which is nice because I wasn’t thinking about how much my legs were burning. The first song talks about rising when you are called by God (I actually think it’s about passing away, but my interpretation last night was more of a rise to fulfill your calling). The second songs reminds us to speak life into everyone around you. You never know what words you speak to someone will eventually become their “spider”…so instead, be the light and speak life! The third song reminds us that God will always have our back and He will never let go.

God is so good. Through these songs and a little run/breath of fresh air, He simply reminded me that I am qualified because He is the true qualifier and I will not let others put restrictions on my life because of words they speak to me. He is the voice of truth, no one else.

I was able to return home with such a different mindset. I know I may be “just a sub”, but this past year I have done some serious growing and I feel like this is the beginning of where I am supposed to be. I also know that being “just a sub” is a lie that I have allowed to try to rob the joy I have found in it. I am more than just a sub. I am a woman who cares so deeply for the children that I have met throughout this year. I am a woman who gets a huge smile when the kids run up to me with arms open wide and say, “Mrs. Mondragon!” I am a woman who at the beginning of the year was a little uncomfortable in a class room, but now I don’t even think twice about it. I am a woman who has made some really good teacher friends being in the schools.  I am a woman who has a lot of growing to do to figure out what I truly want to do in life…but I know my soil is in good hands.

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Let the Nudge Budge You

A little over two years ago, I felt a little “nudge” in my spirit. It caught me off guard because this quiet whisper in my soul was to do something that I never thought I could do.

At the time, I was serving in the church nursery where I had served since we began attending Mosaic. I was comfortable there. One day, there was a tug on my heart and I heard, worship team. Haha, right. The girl who is extremely uncomfortable in front of others? The girl who never went for the solos in high school? The same girl who was currently struggling in college with the amount of oral presentations that she needed to give? The girl who immediately turns red when asked to pray in a group? No way would God have been talking to me. That little nudge must have been directed at someone else and I just happened to get in the way of that. There is NO WAY that God would call me to do something that would make me so uncomfortable…I mean, He knows my fear of public speaking right? Being on a worship team ON STAGE can’t be too far from that!

Anyway, with a little encouragement from Ray, I decided to sing a duet with him to ease into it a little bit. Although I felt like my legs were spaghetti, my face was as red as a tomato, and I am pretty sure that I sped up the song just to get it over with…I did it. A few weeks went by and the worship leader, Caleb said, “Hey, I think you’re ready to lead a song!”

Whaaaaaat? (In my best minion voice) “God, I was totally ok with being a background singer, you know that right?” Ugh. Of course He does. But, I listened and I actually led some songs. I remember one week Caleb scheduled me for a song that normally another girl sang. A girl with some serious pipes! I mean, she was good.  All of the insecurities and unworthiness began to creep in and I remember messaging him saying that I wasn’t sure I was comfortable singing her song because she was SO GOOD and I didn’t want to mess it up! I will never forget the text that I got back from him that said, “Caiti, we all have different voices, but everyones needs to be heard. You’re going to do great.” Isn’t it funny how with just a little encouragement from your friends and loved ones, your whole perspective can change?

Although originally, the thought of the worship team scared me to death, I thank God for placing me on that team. I have made new friends, grown as an individual, and have been able to be a part of something so much bigger than me.

I’m not going to say that it has been a piece of cake because I’m learning so much about myself as I go along, or that I don’t second guess myself sometimes (like when I forget a complete verse of a song)…but, I will say that it has been easier because I know who is within me, and I know Who these songs are being sung for. Yes, public speaking still ranks #1 on my list of Caiti’s Scariest Things, but being on stage during worship is nothing like that.

As I was thinking about this, I thought about another time that I felt a similar nudge. I had all of these stories to share and I felt a stir-start a blog. Again, I let all of the doubt settle in. Who am I to write a blog and really who would read my silly stories? But guess what, starting this blog was one of the best things I have ever done. Not only has it been healing for me, but I truly believe that through these words, others are able to heal a little as well…even if it’s just through laughter.

I’ve learned that God wants to push us. Not to embarrass us or make us uncomfortable…but because He knows we can do it!God has a really good way of revealing things within us that we never knew were even there. But with His nudges and whispers we slowly learn what we truly are capable of doing.

If you feel like you are being nudged, don’t ignore it because you don’t feel like you’re qualified or because you may feel that there is someone else better for the job. He knows what He’s doing…pay attention to those nudges and trust the process.

 

 

 

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Chicken Mommin’ Aint Easy

Ever since we moved out to the farm, I casually talked to Ray about “someday” having chickens. I’m not sure when or why I decided that chickens needed to be in our life, but I knew my “someday” would come. Who wouldn’t want an animal that poops breakfast?? Kidding…kind of.

Back in May, we had some friends of ours offer us their 3 chickens as well as their homemade coop! I was over the moon excited, or as one might say, pretty clucking stoked. Anyway, the day before I graduated the chicks were dropped off. Since there were 3, obviously each of the kids picked one. Emaleigh picked Nugget, Elijah picked Ash, and Eydan picked Hei-Hei.

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I still giggle because when we put them in their coop I remember my sweet husband asking if we needed to let them out “to go potty”. We are so used to how dogs operate, we still needed to all familiarize ourselves with how chickens work.  The kids and I would sit outside in their little pen for hours watching them and (eventually) holding them. After a few weeks, I decided to make them a shady area in their pen. There was some wood on top of the coop that I used to hold down a corner piece of a tarp that I had tied down on the opposite side of the fence. The kids and I were all in the pen when all of the sudden the wind picked up. Seriously, the next 30 seconds were like in slow motion so I’m going to tell it just like that.

I looked over at the coop and the wind picked up the tarp (remember the wood on top?) Yep, you guessed it. A piece of the wood flew up and before I could even catch it or reach for it (I’ve been told I have the reflexes of an elephant) it landed…on top of Ash’s neck. As quickly as I could, I picked up the wood and she began to hop up and down with a very loose neck. I ran inside to tell Ray, thinking he might have a great idea. Nothing. So, I ran back outside and within 10 seconds she stopped jumping and just died. I looked up at the kids and we all just started bawling. By this time, Ray comes outside and says, “Well, shall I get the crockpot ready?” For those of you that know Ray, you know he likes to joke…but, we weren’t ready for any yolks quite yet. So, Ash got a proper burial and Ray got a kick to the shins. Sad day. Down to 2.

A few weeks later, I came out to see Nugget eating her food and noticed drops of blood around the coop. Lots of feathers, but no Hei-Hei. I wish I knew what happened to her, but maybe it’s best that I don’t. We suspect it was fowl play. Down to 1.

A friend had told me that we should get more chickens because they need friends. So, like any other woman would do, I found a chicken on a group on facebook and met a lady to swap money and a chicken at a gas station. Seriously, I felt like I was part of some underground chicken on the down low type of swap. I literally brought a box (with no lid) to bring her home in. As Eydan and I were leaving for the cluck deal, Ray said, “Really? You’re not taking something with a lid?” Being the professional cluck dealer that I am, I assumed I would be ok. Eydan may or may not have had to put his feet on top of the chicken on our ride home, but we made it, and we welcomed home Patty. Back to 2.

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The previous owner said that Patty laid eggs so I was pretty excited. Her first egg was as big as a little robins egg…but I was still pretty pumped! I was able to make 1/2 cupcake with that egg! Totally kidding (it only made 1/4 cupcake). IMG_8170Well, we had Patty for about a month and at the beginning of the school year, we came home to find Patty sleeping behind the coop. Not a clue what happened to her, but she also got a proper burial. Back down to 1.

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 7.44.46 PM.pngNugget. The lone survivor. The kids joked around and said that maybe Nugget was actually the killer of the other birds because she enjoyed being by herself. She’s the bird that would get out of her pen during the day, and then when it got dark, she would put herself to bed. Such a responsible chick. Every time I would go outside, she would follow me around (always chicken me out…get it?)

Just within the last two weeks, she even let me pick her up. She started to get a little nosy and walk up towards the road, so if I was home, I’d pick her up and bring her back by the house…15 seconds later she’d be waddling as fast as she could back by the road. Unfortunately, yesterday she made it all the way to the middle of the road and died. Down to 0.

(I know, I know, -insert “why did the chicken cross the road” jokes here). As crazy as it makes me sound, she was seriously the coolest chick around. She had quite a personality and we were so used to her greeting us outside that it’s now weird to not have her out there. She was my costar in some of the silliest videos I have made…honestly I make myself laugh alot harder than I really should.  A few days before she died, I made the joke that this ugly duckling was the reason that she was going to the road.IMG_8172.jpg

So yeah, my first time at this whole chicken mama thing was kind of rough. I get attached to animals and maybe you just shouldn’t with chickens because you just never know when the wood will drop. (Face palm). But, Nugget made all of the frustration and tears worth it. We enjoyed having her around for the short time that we did. She may have been a free loader who never laid any eggs , but she was a legit mother clucker.

Next spring we will give it a go again… Tender, Molè, and Mary Poopins comin’ in hot.

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America’s Gift To My Generation 

     This blog was written by my 13 year old daughter, Emaleigh.  It was written as an essay for class and she presented it in front of her school. Thank you to all of the veterans

     Joyce Grenfell once said, “There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy. ” America gives us many gifts, and one of them is the pursuit of happiness (or should I say the discovery of joy). Joy can mean many things; a good job, money, family, or even just a nice house. America gives us joy in disguise. To one person, joy can be money and a good paying job. To another person, joy may just be family. We can all pursue happiness and fail because with true happiness you don’t have to pursue it. Or, you can discover joy. Discovering joy could be having your first child, or getting a dog, heck it could even be getting married. America gives many gifts to our generation, but what I think that the most important gift that America could have given us is the discovery of joy.  

     Another gift that America has given to us is liberty. Liberty, in the dictionary, is defined as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” So basically, it is having freedom. Freedom can have different meanings, but to make it short, it is having the right to do or say what you want. I believe that liberty is sort of like this and America has given us the amazing gift of it. In the pledge of Allegiance, we say at the end, “… with liberty and justice for all. ” This shows that we all have liberty and justice. 

     One of the last gifts I believe that America has given us it the gift of life. We have the right to live however we want. Whether it is pursuing your happiness, or using your liberty to live your best life, you need to get out there because it is life. Life doesn’t last forever, so you need to take care of it while you can. If pursuing your happiness is traveling the world, then go travel the world! If your idea of liberty is running for president, then run for president! 

Live the best life you can live; it doesn’t last forever! 

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Didn’t Know I’d Find You Here

It’s not easy leaving my Dad. The visit part has gotten much easier, and although I hate to say it, pretty routine.  But, leaving? I don’t think that will ever get easier.

This weekend we went to see him and on the way home I had some time to think as everyone else was fast asleep.  I was thinking of the excitement that we all experience when we visit…and then it’s time to leave and so many of the original emotions flood my mind. I get angry wondering why this happened. I get sad and feel sorry for everyone involved. I want to shut down.

I never knew I’d find myself here. I never knew I’d be the daughter of an inmate. I never knew that my kids would know what it’s like to go through security to visit a prison. I never knew I would sit in a room full of families, just like mine, visiting their loved ones. I never knew the hurt that could fill a room. I never knew the pain I would feel to hear my youngest ask why Grandpa never comes to visit us. It hurts. And, although leaving will never get any easier, there is now a peace in my heart. There are many things that I never knew I would experience in my life, but…

What I do know, is God has met me here. Every single feeling, God has felt with me. Every tear I have cried, God has wiped away. Throughout every part of this chapter of my life, He has been there right alongside me as each page has turned. It was in the darkest and saddest point in my life that I felt God more than ever. The part of my life where I found it difficult to get out of bed because I was so sad. The part of my life where I didn’t want to answer the phone because I was embarrassed. The part of my life where I was so afraid of what was going to happen to my family. He was there, and I know that now.

As I was driving and thinking, a song called “Find You Here” came on the radio and I couldn’t help but just cry and be thankful for everything He has done in my life. My Dad being sent to prison was never about me, and I’m not trying to make it be…but, going through this, God has shown me things about myself that I never even knew existed. The part of my life where I realized the importance of grace? Again, he met me there.

So, whatever storm you are going through, He is with you. It might be the last place that you’d ever think He’d be…but He’s there. You just have to look…and listen.

“It’s not the news that any of us hoped that we would hear
It’s not the road we would have chosen, no
The only thing that we can see is darkness up ahead
But You’re asking us to lay our worry down and sing a song instead

And I didn’t know I’d find You here
In the middle of my deepest fear, but
You are drawing near
You are overwhelming me, with peace
So I’ll lift my voice and sing
You’re gonna carry us through everything
You are drawing near
You’re overwhelming all my fears, with peace

You say that I should come to You with everything I need
You’re asking me to thank You even when the pain is deep
You promise that You’ll come and meet us on the road ahead
And no matter what the fear says, You give me a reason to be glad.”

 

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You Just Do…

I’ve always wanted multiple kids. Ever since I was a little girl, I had it planned that I would have one boy and one girl; Tristan and Shelby. Shelby was the name of my great-great grandfather and Tristan…well, that was one of Brad Pitt’s characters. Don’t judge.

Anyway, right after Emaleigh (yep, my childhood dream names went right out the window) turned a year old, we found out that we would be having another child the following June. I was excited, but I was so scared at the same time. How in the world was I supposed to split my love between my kids? I pray I’m not the only mom who had those thoughts go through her mind. Opening my heart up to our first child seemed so seamless and so easy and since we loved her SO much, how could I possibly have more love in my heart to give to another child? “Sharing my love” seems so trivial and silly now, but I can honestly say that I lost sleep over it as we prepared for our 2nd child’s arrival. We hadn’t been a family of 3 for too long, but long enough for it to be our normal.  Would Em feel less love? Would the baby get more love? Would the baby get enough love? Would Em feel left out? Would the baby feel left out? Crazy, I know.

That February, we found out the 2nd baby would actually be a boy. Wait, I’ve only had a girl, so will I know what to do with a boy? Yes, I am the little sister of 2 boys, so I know how they are…but I don’t think I’m capable of raising a boy…I’ve only began raising a girl. Yes, pregnancy brain is a real thing here people.

Well, the time came for the baby to make his arrival, and let me tell you, he was ready! We had time to get up to our room, lay down for a few moments and he was ready…I was not. After Emaleigh I swore that I would never get an epidural again, but as the contractions were getting stronger with the 2nd baby, I was beginning to have second thoughts. But, it didn’t matter what I wanted, it was too late for any medication at this point.

I don’t remember how many times I pushed with him, but it wasn’t many. At 1:23am on June 29, 2006, Elijah Augustine was born.  He was such a beautiful little…who am I kidding? He was beautiful, but he was definitely not little. He was 9 lbs and 21 inches long with a single dimple…big boy! Immediately, all of those thoughts that kept me awake so many nights before, escaped my mind. How could such a fragile little baby already have taught me so much about myself as a mama. He believed in me and knew I was capable of doing everything with no meds, and at his first breath of life he proved to me how important it is to have confidence and believe in yourself. I will forever be grateful for my Bubba (yes, that’s your nickname for life when you’re a 9 lb chunk of cuteness) and the lesson that, as a baby, he never even knew that he taught me.

Today, that same 9 lb baby, turns 11 years old. I am still in awe of all of the lessons that I have learned through his sweet spirit. He is my boy who still wants to hold my hand, snuggle his family, and use his imagination. He is the best little brother, best big brother, greatest inventor, builder, and still has his adorable dimple. He is sensitive, yet bold. He’s not afraid to take chances and is always the first in our family to suggest an adventure. He’s our Bubba.

You’ll never be able to prepare yourself for the birth of your child, and even with all of the preparations in the world, you still won’t be able to completely be ready for the love that overwhelms you when you first meet your child’s gaze. Just know that you will have infinite amounts of love in your heart, no matter how many children you have…you just do. 

Happy 11th birthday, Elijah. You are SO loved, and we Thank God for you every day.

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It Was More Than a Hashtag

IMG_5422When I enrolled at UNC 2 years ago, I knew that I would be on an unforgettable journey to finish college. To get a chuckle out of others on social media, I immediately began a hashtag dubbed, #collegelifeat33. Before long, I found myself sharing my struggles, my jokes, my experience…my real life as a college student using the hashtag.  Then, I turned 34.  Now what? I simply changed it to #collegelifeat34 and kept on sharing and pushing forward.

This past week, I printed off most of my Instagram posts where I used this hashtag. As I was putting them on a display, Ray commented that he wished he had documented his college life the way that I did. I never meant to do that, but I’m so glad that I did. Looking back through all of the photos, I could remember taking each and every one of them. Now that I have crossed the finish line, it’s hard to believe that two years has already passed. But, it has and now I can look back fondly on all of these photos and remember what it took to get here.

College is hard, and college as a non-traditional student is no joke either. But I must say that college, this second time around, was amazing. The amount of support that I have received over the past two years has been incomprehensible. I don’t know how many times over the last few days I have heard, “thank you for sharing your journey with us!”. This hashtag has allowed me to share a piece of my life with many around me and though this hashtag I have received immense amounts of inspiration and encouragement in return.

This hashtag has taught me that it’s ok to be vulnerable and show my struggles and weaknesses because it’s through them that I have learned the most about myself. This hashtag has taught me that being funny helped me get through some really long and tough assignments and papers. This hashtag has taught me that being a nontraditional student really wasn’t that bad…and I can be hip just like the youngins’ these days. This hashtag has taught me that I am surrounded by some amazing friends and family who have been nothing but supportive this entire time. This hashtag has taught me that all of the long nights were worth it and that two years really does fly by. This hashtag has taught me that I CAN do it, because I DID (and so can YOU!)

So, HUGE thanks to those that have beared (see what I did there?) with me and have been with me every step of this crazy journey that I have had the pleasure of calling #collegelifeat34.  Without knowing it, you have helped me achieve this dream of mine to become a college graduate! Once a Bear, Always a Bear!

Although I’m excited for what the future holds, I must admit that I’m really going to miss this hashtag. Signing off #collegelifeat34. #crazychickenladycomininhot

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