Family · Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

Goodbye

Tough tough week.

Amongst the normal chaos of trying to be places on time with stacked meetings and schedules, there was also projectile vomiting, water spraying a basement wall, and having to say goodbye to our cat.

I always kind of scoffed at the idea that a pet could bring out such deep feelings of grief. I lost a lot of cats and dogs growing up on the farm. As my sister pointed out, having a pet for 15 years- daily feeding, brushing, petting, snuggling, interacting at every point for 1.5 decades- makes that animal more than a pet. It makes him family.

He was stress relief for my husband after a long day and late night company after the kids and I had cashed it in for the evening. He was wordless comfort when my  husband experienced the loss of loved ones.

He was always on the floor or furniture right next to the kids. In the middle of our Candyland board game, sticking his head over the edge of their infant/toddler chairs when they were little, being ‘accessorized’ by my little girl- tolerant and engaged. Touching them with his nose to check on them. Licking their hand or forehead to say “you are my kids.”

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He was my early morning reading partner. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the indoor cat idea, I grew protective and wanted him safe from the plethora of outdoor threats.

He never had enough fight in him to keep him alive outside. 13 years ago, my father-in-law found him half dead in the yard with a nacho Doritos chip bag stuck on his head. Presumably, he was trying to get the last cheesy crumb. Tugging the end of his tail softly brought him down and he’d just lay there looking peeved.

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He was adamant about his small feedings three to four times a day. Voicing his frustration if we missed one, he would expect a bonus feeding later to make it up.

All the way to the very end he was social and loving. After his initial trip to the vet for his diagnosis and return home, his first instinct was to go find the kids. He searched their bedrooms for them and then assumed his place in the sun until they walked in the door from school.

We spent our last evening and morning gently and genuinely loving on him. It was clear that he wouldn’t have much more time before we needed to take him back in to the vet. He had quickly dehydrated (complete kidney failure). I’m grateful we were able to say our goodbyes and provide him that pain-free care.

Rest easy. We miss you.

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I didn’t mean to make this a long post, nor a sad one. This is part of life. It is a blessing to be able to love a person or a pet. It is a gift to love and be loved.

Much love this week-  Jen

Creativity · Perspective · Uncategorized

New on Friday- Top 10’s

Friday Top 10’s. A bit cliche with the number 10, but I’m going with it.

The month of November is all about what people are grateful for.  To me, being grateful is all inclusive and not just what creates happiness.

Focusing in a bit, I’m going to start posting on Fridays my top 10’s. Generally, these will be things, events or people that make me happy, bring joy, or just otherwise lift me up.

Today I’m focusing on smells. The vast majority of people have a sense of smell. I grew up with a friend that did not. It is a very rare condition called anosmia. She has never smelled anything- good or bad. Makes me think- what would my life be like without smell?

Better when next to the person with a gastrointestinal issue… Worse if I’d miss out on all the things in my list.

Jen’s Top Ten Smells
(not in any particular order, just as I thought of them)

  1. Rain
  2. Earth or dirt after a rain
  3. A warm alfalfa or prairie hay field
    view from tractor
  4. Blooming lilac bushes (not the fake lotion/ candle smell – BIG difference!)
  5. My sleepy kids when I’m snuggling them at night. Is it just me or do sleepy kids smell better?
  6. Fresh baked bread
  7. Coffee  (I actually like the smell more than the taste!)
    qnjsbtqaifsuc
  8. Cedar trees or a cedar chest
  9. My husband
  10. Freshly cut grass

 

Perspective

Educate Life.

I am sitting at a crossroads. To teach again someday or not to? To renew my license or let it go?

This is a decision I’ve been kicking down the road for at least two years. Do I take the Master’s hours to renew my teaching license or just let it expire at the end of 2018? I haven’t been in the classroom other than a long-term sub since I turned down a new contract in 2009.

My quitting was complicated, but in retrospect, the correct choice for my physical and mental health. I was offered a contract for the following year. I was promised more administrative disciplinary support for a small, challenging portion of the population I was serving. He said I could have another prep and it would be ok to back off on the clubs and sports I was sponsoring and coaching.

“If you send them to the office, we won’t send them back during that same class period.”

And yet, I still told them no. I was done at the end of the school year.

I had another opportunity with health insurance, less mileage, more flexibility, and less stress. I took it.

So why is this decision to let my license go so difficult? Why not just cut the cord? Does this mean that all that money and time I spent in college is null and void?

I think this is a decision that many people face when they change careers. Does a change of this proportion negate any type of impact I made previously?

Last Friday, a young man stood at the elementary school with his family. I walked up to him and his wife and started a conversation. In the spring, I visited with another young man at a wedding reception. My son’s kindergarten teacher. The cashier at our local store. The marketing director at a local dealership. The guys who fix tires and do re-alignments.

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These examples speak to me. Successful, intelligent, caring people who I had the privilege to work with. Although I stepped out of the education field after only a few years, I cherish the students I worked with – the successful ones and those who caused me anxiety. Stress not for myself, but that I wasn’t able to reach deep enough in them for their future success as human beings.

What would that look like? Not monetary success as that is fleeting. I wanted them to have contentment, drive, passion, and mercy. To withstand criticism and turn around to use it constructively. To observe life outside the local societal box. To approach people willing to look at the other side of the coin. To forgive and move on.

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You might think “Wow. That’s a lot for a secondary science credit!” My job was to teach physics and freshman science. My mission was to teach life.

To renew or not? I just don’t know. Will I ever go back to education? I guess only time will tell.

Education Quote credits to http://quotesvana.com/quotes-about-education/

 

 

 

Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Positive – Leftovers, Strep, & Pancake Syrup

IMG_1973This is me. I just finished the most amazing taco salad for lunch at my desk.

As I was chewing the spicy, dairy-free concoction, I realized how thankful I was that my kids weren’t interested in tacos last night.

It kind of irked me as I was standing across the kitchen island with the fixings laid out, corn on the cob boiled and ready, food all hot. Nobody wanted to eat. Even my husband only had one small taco and called it done. My 5yr old only wanted 1 ear of corn and no taco. My 7 year old couldn’t eat the corn due to his jankity mouth of missing baby teeth and asked if he could have the taco later. What the what????

But in a new light today, I’m thankful. I just devoured a delicious leftover lunch.

Always seeking the positive!

My two best girl friends pointed this out on Tuesday in a string of text messages that occurred when my 5yr old puked all over herself in the car (read: hair, pillow, blanket, dress, car seat, etc) on the way down the switchback mountain roads about 9 hours from our home on Monday. 9 vomit scent-wafted hours.

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Later, my friend sent me this.

IMG_1962This is how I try to roll. I used to be a pretty serious Debbie Downer sometimes. That was what my sisters actually called me. Then, if it was Christmas, they’d make me wear a Santa hat until I pulled out of it.

I’m not completely sure when my outlook changed, but I know I’ve thrown my life into a more positive direction post-birth of babies, upon going dairy-free, taking up running and regular exercise, my MS diagnosis, and upon learning how to say “NO” to things that aren’t my best yes.

Whew… we are talking about the last 5 years here… not an overnight mental shift.

I don’t have it all mastered. Frankly, I never will. That’s ok. It isn’t my job to do it all perfectly or have everything go according to my plan. That job belongs to God.

But let’s be real. Do I want to re-live the puking and pancakes mountain pass situation? That’s a solid NO. Do I appreciate cooking and nobody eating it? Nada. Am I happy when my child gets strep throat? Of course not. I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.

In the scheme of things, those are all small potatoes, or shall I say a small packet of syrup?

Much love,
Jen

Creativity · Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Keeping My Wits

Perspective. It’s all about perspective.

This past week was a doozy! Dance dress rehearsal on 8th. Church + Dance Recital + birthday party on 9th. 1st Grade Program on 10th.

dance recital bow

Birthday treats for 20 and some mild flooding at our home (which required a large pump for almost 4.5 hours) on 12th. Birthday treats for daycare on 13th.

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Dirt – Worm pudding cookie cups

Playdate and more birthday treats on 14th plus a family party at the bowling alley to celebrate.

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My 2yr old nephew’s bowling form.

Easter egg hunt and sister-mom time on 15th. Early church service followed by fellowship with friends and Easter lunch with my family on 16th.

And a full time job during the week.

It’s safe to say I was a grump by Saturday morning. My morning run left me coughing and sputtering instead of feeling energized. This was insane. Betty Crocker I am not. Egg Hunt? Rarr….

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Perspective. That powerful thing called perspective.

Two options here: Me sitting in a corner drinking coffee refusing to talk or make eye-contact — OR — Choosing to look at this as “WOW” my family is happy, healthy and engaged in spending time together. I should make sure I’m involved!

Option 2 is ALWAYS the better option. We enjoy each other’s time and company. It makes me feel great to make others feel good with time, friendship, and yes – birthday treats and Easter egg hunts!

The aftermath: Claustrophobia began to rise up as I looked around the house last night. The dirty laundry was piled counter high when my husband emptied our three strategically placed hampers in the bathroom. At least 3 days of clean dishes sat on the counter- each new load pushed to the side and another batch washed and laid out to dry. Paths had to be cleared from the kids’ doors to their beds so we could do our bedtime routine.

Thank goodness for perspective.

We have clean water, clothes, food, shelter, and love. All are blessings that are not to be overlooked! I promise not to go Maslow on you with a chart of the hierarchy of needs, but it bears witness that if those basic D-needs are met there is little room for complaint.

 It would be easy to look at the last 10 days and curl up in panic mode. (I did come close a few times in the moment!!!)  Instead, as my mom says, I (with my two sisters’ help) mindfully “flipped” as quickly as possible to the constructive side to keep my wits and appreciate the people and situations around me. It’s all about your view.

PERSPECTIVE.

Eternal question: is the glass half-full or half-empty?

**Here’s the recipe for the dirt-worm cups. They really are a treat! If you have to go non-dairy, almond milk works better than soy. Coconut milk would probably be good too but I’m not sure how well the pudding would set? I quadrupled the recipe for his class and put 6 short gummy worms in each cup- three under the cookies and three on top. The kids had a fabulous time digging the worms out of the pudding and cookie mix before eating!