August 4, 2015

From Workaholic to Stay-At-Home-Mom

Workaholic to Stay-at-home mom

Stay-at-home mom, SAHM, WAHM

 

It was a perfect Arizona night. Monsoon season brought a breeze with it as we watched the fire glow. As we sat there listening to the flames crackle and pop, it reminded me of a time that seems so far away now. When we lived in Augusta, Andy was in Dental school and I was a Journalist, we spent many nights around the fire pit, dreaming about where life would take us.

I told Andy that I remembered those fire nights, I remember the few trips where we scraped every last dollar together to take, but I don’t remember much else from those 4 pre-kid years. He said to me, “That’s because we were always working. Your weekends were spent doing errands and alone. My weekends were spent studying and alone. We worked really hard.”

This month marks 2 years as a stay-at-home mom for me. 2 years. I can hardly believe it. What I thought would be a quick break from news as we spent 12 months living in Las Vegas for Andy’s residency, has turned into a way of life. I love this way of life, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

I love watching my babies turn into toddlers and my toddler turn into a little girl. But I feel inadequate when I tell a stranger that I’m a stay-at-home-mom. This week alone, Anderson has 3 appointments with different doctors and therapists (not to mention the work I do with him in between appointments), but I still some how feel that I don’t contribute enough to my family and the world beyond our homes’ walls.

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I took this picture a few months back. It was my second interview at a Television station that week. It felt weird putting that anchor lady jacket back on. It also felt great. Neither station had a position I was interested in. It would take the exact right job for me to give up this life-for my kids, my husband and myself. But I still find myself wanting, wanting something greater.

But as I sat there listening to the wind through the palm trees and feeling the heat from the fire, I realized that I never want my life to be how it was back then. I lived for the highs- the high of the exclusive story. But if you were to ask me what my favorite stories were, I’d have no idea what to tell you. Not because there were too many-because I can’t remember them.

I can’t remember my life when life was about work.

I’ll tell you what I will remember. I will remember how each time I put Violet in her crib, I give her a big kiss on the cheek and how she responds with a giggle and says, “Thank you, Mommy.” I will remember how Anderson smiles with his entire face each time I walk into a room. I will remember Violet waving her finger in the air saying, “um, excuse me, this isn’t chocolate milk” and giving me a full tooth grin hoping that I’ll change what’s in her sippy cup. Most of all, I will remember how they make me feel-meaningful.

Yet, there is this uncomfortable feeling that lingers in the midst of my comfortable life.

But if this last year has taught me anything it’s this: life isn’t meant to be lived comfortably. It’s too short for that. There is no growth in comfortable. You don’t become who you are meant to be when comfortable. As I was wrestling with what to do with the few free hours I have in my day, I read this:

“The desires of your heart are not to be ignored, they are to be consulted. As the wind turns the weather vane, so God uses your passions to turn your life.” –Max Lucado

My passions are these: to give my family everything and my passion is here in this space. I find myself thinking in blog posts and other writings. So, I will do something that doesn’t come naturally to me, that does not feel comfortable and I will try to make this space bigger. Even though my technical skills are lacking, I will try to reach more people, because I feel that God has given me a story to tell and a pen to write it with.

 

 *I hate when I feel like I need to qualify something at the end of a post. Some of the closest people I have in my life are working moms. I feel that these moms give and give and give to their families. But I feel like for me, with Anderson’s needs and my personality type, working outside the home is not in my family’s best interest right now. Maybe one day it will be! But right now, I feel like it’s best to be Violet and Anderson’s mom (and a therapy mom) and an advocate and hopefully a writer, too. Also, I am exaggerating when I titled this post with “workaholic”, but I’d be lying to myself if I said work was not at the top of my priority list prior to getting pregnant!

July 27, 2015

6 Ways We Improved Our Marriage (Improve Marriage)

6 WAYS WE IMPROVED OUR MARRIAGE

Improve Marriage

This past weekend we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. Since we took a trip to Sedona earlier this month (our first kid-free trip by the way) we just had a normal day at the house…it was perfect. We had some time to reflect on the last 6 years and how we’ve become better as a couple. We’ve come up with 6 things we do that enhance the quality of our marriage the most. Every couple is different, so there are probably things in here that just don’t fit your marriage, but everyone can benefit from number 3!

1) Travel > Gifts

We actually started this pretty early on in our marriage. We’d rather create memories than have another outfit hanging in our closet. By traveling for birthdays, anniversaries, etc., we get to see and experience amazing parts of the country and it’s a time for us to connect, too. In the last 2 years we’ve gone to: San Diego, L.A., The Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Santa Fe, Taos and Sedona. These adventures have drawn us closer together. And to us… they are worth more than gold.

2) Teeter Totter

Anderson’s diagnosis was without a doubt the hardest thing either Andy or myself have ever been through. We were both distraught and grieving. But we realized we did something amazingly well together. Whenever one of us was having a really low day…the other one would step up and be the encourager. It wasn’t that the other wasn’t upset that day, but just knew that someone needed to be strong. We realized we couldn’t both be down at the same time. This goes for arguing too. We can’t both be angry, one of us needs to step up and be the rational one when problems arise or nothing will get accomplished.

3)  No TV Tuesday

This has been one of the most fabulous things we have done for our marriage! The first time I heard of a girlfriend scheduling sex with her husband…I thought it was totally weird. Once we had kids…I got it. On Tuesday nights, after the kids are in bed, we go to our bedroom and spend the entire night there. It’s not always just about sex either. It’s a time for us to talk, reflect and also to be intimate too. No, this is not the only time we have sex…it’s just a way to make sure that no matter how busy the week is…there WILL be sex during the weekdays. Guys, you’re welcome.

4) Find Common Hobbies

Every couple is different, but for Andy and I it’s important that we spend time together. We don’t even watch separate TV shows because we consider unwinding together at night important. We also love hiking, trying new restaurants and entertaining. We don’t share all hobbies. I’m never going to get into Crossfit…it just ain’t happening! But we enjoy spending the majority of our free time together rather than apart and we think it’s a great thing for our relationship.

5) Speak Up and Shut Up

Andy and I have always been good about communicating. Even in the beginning of our relationship we were very open and honest with each other. But, when we got married and started living together, I got a little too honest about what I was feeling. It’s one thing to point out to your spouse a habit they have that either hurts or annoys you, it’s another thing to point these things out on a daily basis. Yes, confessions of a former nag! I think we’ve both gotten better at knowing when to speak up and when to shut up.

6) Learn Each Other’s Love and Hurt Languages

There’s a reason The Five Love Languages is such a popular book. We all have different ways of feeling loved. Thankfully, both of our love languages are the same: quality time (see #4). But we have different secondary love languages. Mine is Acts of Service. Now that Andy knows this, he knows that it actually hurts my feelings if I ask him to do something and he forgets. His is touch (I have a feeling this is probably pretty common for guys!). And I realized that I had let cuddling and kissing fade away a bit in our marriage. Now that we know these things, we are better at loving each other. I mentioned “hurt language” everyone processes tough moments differently. When we were in the diagnosis phase, I wanted to talk all of the time. Andy wanted to NOT talk about it. We realized we had to meet in the middle to meet each other’s needs.

We have been through a lot in 6 years: Dental School, Working Morning shifts, Working Weekends, Residency, 2 kids and a life-changing diagnosis. We are not experts, but we feel that we are getting better at loving each other all of the time and that’s because we work on our marriage all of the time. I can’t wait to see what the next 6 years bring!

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Cheers to 6 years from Sedona!

 

 

 

June 30, 2015

Who I Want to Be (Down Syndrome Parents)

Down syndrome, Tim Harris, down syndrome parents
Me with Tim Harris-restuarant owner and self advocate

down syndrome parents

“Use your superpower.”- Tim Harris

Every inch of me was exhausted Saturday night. I spent the entire day meeting new people, attending classes and was operating off of vending machine food when I sat down for the main event. Even though I was tired and had family waiting on me, there was one person I really wanted to hear speak at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention.

If you are in the Down syndrome community, you most likely know about Tim Harris. Tim is a restaurant owner in Albuquerque…he also rocks an extra chromosome.

When you get a Down syndrome diagnosis for your unborn or newborn child, people send you loads of encouraging stories. Tim’s was the one I couldn’t forget. My doctor told me that my son still growing in my belly, would either never feed himself or -at best- flip burgers at a restaurant one day. Well, here was someone who OWNED a restaurant.

Tim didn’t disappoint. His energy rubbed off on the thousands of people who were in the seats surrounding me. He was funny, dynamic and heart-felt. He said so many note-worthy things, but as a mom, there was one statement that brought tears to my eyes and will forever impact how I parent.

When he talked about how he got to where he is today, he pointed to his parents and said, “They’ve always seen the light.”

I don’t know Tim or his parents personally (I did have the pleasure of meeting them all that night) but what I think Tim meant, was they always saw beyond his diagnosis. Tim’s parents would not allow his diagnosis to define or limit him. And if I had to bet, I’d put money on the fact that they treated Tim just like their other sons.

 As I looked around the room, as I sat in classes the next day with dozens of parents, I realized people who saw the light for their children surrounded me.

Yes, there are challenging things about a Down syndrome diagnosis. Many of our children (like mine) require heart surgery. Our children have more therapy and doctor appointments than most. But with advances in early intervention and other programs we are starting to see just what people with Down syndrome are capable of accomplishing. If kids with DS have parents who, like Tim’s, expect the most out of them, who encourage and love them unconditionally…I think anything is possible.

I started this post with another quote from Tim. He said, “Use your superpower.” I decided I know what mine will be- I will always see the light for my kids.

 

I want to thank Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress, David Tolleson, who after reading this piece, gave me a scholarship to attend this years’ conference. I will forever be grateful for this wonderful opportunity and I highly suggest attending a conference to any DS parent out there. I also want to think Tim and his lovely parents for the “Timsperation”. Thank you for paving the way.