Blog Posts – From HE Double Hockey Sticks and Back

hockey sticks & pink bows: adventure #2

You may disagree with me but I live in the greatest state in the US. We have so much at our fingertips – everything from the beach, to the greatest theme parks known to man, state parks that we can visit year-round, hockey (it’s really great in August & September), some of the greatest college football teams (go Gators!), awesome fishing, unparalleled vacation destinations, and boats – lots of boats. And these are just some of my favorites.

So when I planned our second adventure, it was an easy decision. The beach is my place of peace…and after the year I’ve had so far, I think it’s fair to say that I definitely need some! My little redhead had never been and my two boys are my beach babies, especially my #2 baby boy. He could stand all day and let the waves hit him and never tire of it. His next wish is to learn to surf. I won some brownie points for choosing the beach as our next adventure. And lucky for me, as I would come to realize, my mom was able to join us too.

I was so excited to take Finleigh to the beach for the first time. In my fantasy (and that’s a huge keyword), she would love to feel the sand on her feet and would run to the ocean, giggling the whole time, chasing her big brothers and sitting for hours where the water crashed on the sand. The reality was something totally different.

So the reality…she hated every second of being at the beach and I decided that there probably won’t be anymore beach trips for this kid until at least next summer. I couldn’t get the kiddos out of the door as quickly as I wanted that day so by the time we got to the beach she was ready for her nap but I persisted, crossing my fingers that she could make it. I lucked out and found a parking spot that was close to the beach entrance, everyone grabbed a handful of stuff, and headed down to the sand. The sand was hot so the kids complained, I wanted to walk to an area that was a little further down and the kids complained, and then it was like wrangling bulls to try to get them to stand still so I could spray them with sunscreen.

When I was a kid, I experienced sun poisoning so frequently that I gave up trying to avoid it, so you can imagine my fear with a red-headed Irish daughter. I sprayed her body and covered her face with the newest sunscreen that is supposed to dry fast. Well…when you put any kind of lotion on a sweaty little girl that doesn’t stand still it’s a guarantee that it’s not going to soak in. Then when she gets mad at you for trying to hold her down, she cries, rubs her eyes and then gets sunscreen in her eyes and mouth and nose and then more in her eyes. And that was the recipe for disaster. I couldn’t do anything but laugh.

I took her down to the water, thinking that it would be a great distraction, and she screamed bloody murder even more. So we went back and finally my mom was able to calm her down and get her to fall asleep laying on her. My mom is a champ because my little red-head is a hot-box to begin with and then add the fact that she was super sweaty and covered in sand and sunscreen, and she let her lay on her for about 45 minutes.

Thankfully, my boys are great at entertaining themselves and they played, ate lunch and played some more. And then when they couldn’t find anything else to do, they asked to head home and with the little red-head getting red and more irritated we decided to pack it up and head out. That was an adventure in itself. The sand was hot, my #2 boy didn’t want to put his flip flops on because he didn’t want sand to get on them, and my little red-head just decided to stop walking.

We finally got into the car, got snacks for everyone, pulled out and the kids got quiet (aka slept or played on technology). And then I got my peace. I was frustrated because I had the perfect day planned out in my head and it ended up happening nothing like I thought.

I was disappointed because I thought the boys didn’t enjoy the trip…but I was wrong. My oldest looked at me before we even left and said, “Mom, that was a nice day” and my little man has asked to go back this week. So the lesson that I needed to learn was that while I was so busy trying to make it peaceful and stressing myself out, my boys made the best of the situation and enjoyed the moment, the adventure; they looked at the glass half full.

How did I do it?

#1: Get them excited! Excitement is contagious – if you are excited, they will get excited.

 

#2: Materials: I printed each of the flyers above and then slid them into sheet protectors and hung them on our fridge. The boys are quick to get the redhead her juice in the morning so they read it before I was even awake and started to get excited right away.
During our time together, I took pictures and then printed them onto a third page, in a collage form. Our next adventure will repeat this process – print out a description of the adventure, print out a collage of pictures from the adventure. Then add it to a notebook/folder so that when the year is over we can go through and relive some wonderful memories.

Moral to the story:

Live in the moment, the actual moment that’s happening, not the one you think should be happening because as much as excitement is contagious, being a downer will affect the kids or others around you.

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god has put me here for some reason

I love country music…with a passion. If I was a songwriter, I could have written the next greatest country song using the events of my life from the last three months. I’m looking for a new house and job, I lost my dog, and my husband is gone. Perfect subjects for a country song, right?

I can’t believe I just typed that, out loud. The more I say it, the more real it is to me, the more I don’t want it to be real. My marriage is over. It sucks. Life is a little tough right now in my household.

My husband has made some pretty poor life choices lately and one of them is cheating on me…twice. The man that I still love, still want, has decided that because I’ve been unable to ‘get over it’ (the affair) in the time frame that he feels is appropriate, that the next step is to bail. To run when things are tough, to run from responsibility, to run from his commitments, to emotionally destroy another human being, to financially quit, to emotionally hurt children, to end a marriage that had just started. To run from a woman that gave up her career, run from a woman that was committed to getting past the affair the first time and the second time, that centered her life around him and his schedule, that helped him grow his business, that gave him everything.

And when I say ‘get over it’, I mean his expectation was that I was just supposed to not bring it up, ever again. Sorry, not going to happen – at least not within 12 weeks. Cut me some slack – but I guess I didn’t deserve that. We needed to work on this together, and like everyone reading this, I’m sure you are thinking, “he just didn’t want to face what he did” and you are absolutely correct. The most frustrating part is that I barely brought it up. I had one day that I had a ton of questions because I wanted to understand why. And then, because of the way that I’m ‘wired’, I just needed to move on because if I dwelled on it then it would have consumed my thoughts and I just wanted to take the next steps toward improving our marriage and moving past the affair. Yet, that still wasn’t good enough…how I handled it…how I was moving forward…it wasn’t acceptable to him. It was his excuse…because I was human and needed to deal and he didn’t want to deal…so he ran. Sounds like the grown up thing to do, right??

Even our counselor looked at him and told him that he needed to answer every question I had and then looked at me and emphasized that this was not my fault. The issues that we had in our marriage were small and could have been dealt with (as told to us by our counselor). But it was easier to go back to this soul-less girl, to escape from reality, from responsibilities, from his flaws, to forget that he had a family, a marriage, commitments, responsibilities, that he wasn’t 25 any longer. It was easier to make immature decisions that have affected more than just him and me.

I’ve never felt so alone in all of my life. The man that I am so in love with, even after all of this, is gone. My family has been incredible. My friends have been incredible. The irony is that the one person that has surprised me with support more than I ever thought possible out of him, is my ex-husband. I broke the news to the boys which was so incredibly painful and he was there afterward to help me remind them that we were both in love with them and would help them get through this. He stood and talked me to me about how I was worth more than what E had done to me and our marriage. And he never threw it in my face. And I was shocked but thankful all at the same time.

My boys reactions killed me. My #2 man is heartbroken but he’s been so tough and that’s heartbreaking in itself. He doesn’t want to see his step-dad and it’s only because he’s so hurt. My #1 man is at a loss because he had so many dreams of what our life would be like as he grew up and dreams of the life events that he would experience with his step-dad and those dreams are all gone. And it kills me because I can’t protect them from any of this. My husband is gone out of his own selfishness.  All I can do now is scramble to try to keep life as close to ‘normal’ for the kids as possible because my husband has left me to figure everything out on my own with his only focus being on what he has to do to take care of himself.

I’ve covered every emotion that God ever created, in the last couple of weeks. Angry, hurt, mad, peaceful, more anger, sad, numb, emotionless, happy, satisfied, more anger…everything. If you’ve ever had an emotion then I have experienced it. And I’m sure that I’ve dealt with everything in the wrong way but…I’m imperfect and my life has been turned upside down – I think I have a ‘pass’ to go through this with emotions that are all over the place. I was even told at one point that I needed to humble myself to be civil towards him (this was my husband’s brilliant suggestion). That was a day that I actually laughed out loud.

This morning at church, the topic was excellence and understanding excellence and authenticity from a church. There were a few points that the pastor mentioned that hit home with me that I wanted to share with you, in case you are in a place that you just want to pull yourself out of, just want to escape from, want something to focus on, or help you deal with because you have no other choice.

#1: How am I honoring God through my story?

#2: God has put me here for some reason.

I think that subconsciously I’m writing this whole post to keep myself accountable to myself so that the next time that I see my husband I don’t lose it on him, even if he may or may not deserve it. But otherwise, I need to ask myself these questions everyday, multiple times a day…not because my husband deserves anything more than anger from me but because I deserve a life without someone abusing me or taking advantage of me in some way.

#1: How am I honoring God through my story?

So #1…this is a hard one. Because right now, I just want to be angry. I just want to hurt. I just want to cry. My husband has been so selfish, I’ve done nothing wrong and I still lost my family. But I need to show grace…somehow. To the one person that has destroyed my life. Destroyed my self-esteem. Destroyed everything I know because he wants to act like a 25 year old with zero responsibilities. I need to forgive him, even though he hasn’t asked for forgiveness, ever. I need to show grace because God does that to me every day. I need to show that I am the bigger person and can see through his ‘tough’ persona to who he really is, which is not the man that can be a husband but instead realize that he is a human being that is imperfect like me. I need to let go somehow. And I need to depend on God to work on him, even if it isn’t to my benefit. I need to show God through me, as hard as that will be, with every interaction, because he’s so far from being a person that has a good soul, yet I have to let that go. To see him as God sees him…and he’s flawed just like me, just in different ways. And I have to find it deep within to cope, to deal, to let God work in my heart, to let God work in my newly defined family, to be someone that others can lean on in their tough times, to deal with things in a godly manner so that I can be a bright spot for someone else. I want to honor God through my pain, through my heartache, through my suffering, through my story.

#2: God has put me here for some reason.

So #2…For some reason, I am where I am at. Everyone keeps telling me how strong I am, but I feel so weak. I just want my family back. My life. My husband. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon, if at all, so I need to be strong for the three hearts looking at me. I don’t know why I am at the point in my life where I’m at, but I’m here. I have to deal with it. I have no choice. I’m the one emotionally, physically, and financially supporting these kids and I have no choice. I have to buck up. But I just really want there to be a reason. I will feel so much better in the end if there is a reason that I’m going through this. Even if it is to help someone else have the strength to leave someone abusive, or to take solace that they aren’t the only ones going through hell and back.  I just want there to be a reason. And I hope that soon there will be a reason because it will give me a boost…it will give me a reason to push forward. But until then, I push forward because of the six blue eyes that look to me for stability. And because I have no other choice. The man that I thought was my partner in life was just faking it. Just putting up a façade. And now I have to figure out the reason that I’m in the crappy place and trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

So if you have a moment, say a little prayer for my new family and say a prayer for my husband. We all need it. And say a prayer for yourself that you may be the bright spot for someone today that really needs to see hope in their world.

 

it’s hard to be an adult

Dear lord…I wish I could go back to high school or college…start all over. But I would only do it if I knew what I know now.

Naps, snack time and glitter glue were the best. Responsibilities, feelings, coping with feelings, dealing with other peoples feelings…not really the best.

Then one day you wake up and realize that YOU run your life…no one else. And it happens at different times for different people. For me – it happened about eight weeks ago. You see, my marriage is going through some very tough times. Tough times that aren’t necessarily my fault, but it’s still my marriage. Choices have been made, feelings have been hurt, emotions have been all over the place, lives have been changed…in an instant.

I’ve come to realize that you have to make the best decisions for YOU. For your family. Even if no one else agrees. This is you living it. No one else. YOU are the only one that has to answer for your life. But it takes a while to figure this out for some (like me)…to stop caring what everyone else thinks is acceptable for your life, for your relationship, for your world.

And then you realize in an instant that you want to escape…escape being an adult. Because this stuff is hard. Being the one responsible for making important decisions. You just want to escape being the one that can make or break a situation, a family, a marriage, a relationship. For just a moment you want to run. But then you look at six blue eyes looking to you for stability, for security, to make everything alright and then you find it somewhere deep within to make it happen for them.

“Them” that you live for, breathe for, do everything for…you want to fix what can’t be fixed because you don’t want them to be hurt but you really don’t know how to fix it.

And then in the next instant, you remind yourself that you need to decide what YOU want…not what others think you need…but what YOU want. And that’s an unnatural thing, at least it was to me.

I’m a people pleaser. I always want to make people around me happy. Until eight weeks ago. Then I just wanted to get through each day with sanity. I just wanted to rewind to good times, to easy times…and I couldn’t do it.

My brother in law is amazing. I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned it but he really is just that awesome. He looked at me the other day and asked, “Staci, what do YOU want? Don’t tell me what you want for the kids, tell me what you want.” And I had answers about where I thought my life would be at 37 years old and the things that I wanted for my life and in my life, but that question has haunted me for the last week. In a good way. It’s really made me think about what I want…not what I think everyone else expects from me or what I think is the right thing to do because that’s what everyone else has said is right or wrong. It’s pushed me to consider what I want to fight for, regardless of what everyone else thinks. I’m the only one living my life and until someone else is exactly in my shoes, I have to stand on my own two feet and be confident that I have a good head on my shoulders and know how to handle my life, my marriage, and my kids.

It’s amazing what God can do when you let him. I’ve had no choice but to be dependent on him. I’ve had to put my big girl pants on and find a way to make sure that the three blue-eyed lives don’t change, regardless of what happens in the future in my love life.

It’s scary having their lives dependent on me because I’m not even sure that I can be dependent on me but I’m sure I’ll find a way. That’s called adulting. That’s called life. And I’m so thankful I have the life I have. And I will make something of it…in a big way – I just know it.

the two jars

A few years ago, a beautiful friend explained to me how she made the tough decision to ease her doggie-child’s suffering and put her to sleep. She kept two jars – one for good days and one for bad days – and would then put a bead in the appropriate jar depending on how the day went for the dog. When there was an abundance of beads in the “tough day” jar, she knew she needed to make a tough decision.

She was telling me this story at the perfect time because I had been so engrossed in reliving every tough moment of each day during my divorce, with anyone that would listen, that it seemed that every day was getting worse by the minute.  So I decided to employ her tool and pulled two jars and beads out of my craft bins.

I found out two interesting things: I was forced to reflect on every moment of the day not just the bad days and that my days really weren’t as bad as they seemed. I discovered that I was making the once or twice-a-day bad moments much bigger than they really were.

At the time, being a single mom to two boys that had activities out the wazoo was really hard and dealing with my ex was at the pinnacle of rough. When I started using a tough-day jar and an awesome-day jar, I realized that my boys were really cool and much more entertaining and fun than they were draining and that my friendships were helping me focus on other things than just my ex’s tantrum of the day.

What I had previously thought was the toughest day ever because my oldest threw a huge fit about doing homework was really only a blip on my radar because I started seeing the awesome-day jar fill up much faster than I expected. Having that visual reminder of really how great my days were, kept me going and with a better attitude.
Since then I’ve used this technique for a few different things like losing weight (which I did) and trying to decide if I needed to change jobs (which I did). It’s become so engrained in my head to first ask myself “was it really that bad or was it something small” that I now do it subconsciously in my head with almost every tough moment that I run into.

Earlier this week, my oldest acted like big brothers do sometimes and picked on his little brother so epic-ly that I threatened that he wasn’t going to leave the house EVER again. (And then I thought about what life would be like with a 38 yr old son in my house and realized that may not be the best punishment.)

Then two days later, this same 9 yr old woke up early, got his brother and 3 yr old cousin up, got his cousin dressed, apparently taught his cousin how to wipe himself (I can only hope they washed their hands) and then was getting things set up to feed the three of them breakfast when he woke me up. If you knew this kid, you’d know this is completely different from his norm of “please do everything for me” attitude. He later told me the reason he did that was because he knew he had extra punishments and because it was almost Mothers Day. That morning has put me on cloud nine so much that my mental awesome-day jar is likely to be full for weeks. That full jar will help me keep my head out of the “sucky-day” blues for a while to come.

So my challenge to you, especially single parents, is that when there are tough moments, try not to focus on just that one event. Look at the day in full, at the end of the day, to reflect and keep the good stuff at the front of your memory and the bad stuff at the back. Try the jar idea or make a list…anything that will draw you out of that one rough moment and help you focus on all of the wonderful moments in your life.

hockey sticks and pink bows: adventure #1

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had to face a few harsh realities happening in my life. One thing that I’ve decided, though, is to really focus on growing my relationship with my three kiddos by just simply having fun.

I watched a TED talk by Shonda Rhimes about a year ago and was inspired. If you haven’t watched it, it’s worth the 15 minutes to listen to every word. {Here’s the link – just copy and paste https://www.ted.com/talks/shonda_rhimes_my_year_of_saying_yes_to_everything) She talks about how she decided to say yes each time her children asked for her time and about how hard it was to do and yet how fulfilling it was to do.

So my ah-ha moment came this week when I was doing some planning for my future and there was a little girl saying “Mom, Mom, Mom” and grabbing my pant-leg. I realized that I want to make sure that whatever career move I make that I make sure to just stop what I’m doing and have fun with them, pay attention to them, create an adventure with them each week.

‘Hockey Sticks and Pink Bows’ will be our adventure each week and my plan is to document and share each adventure with you. Feel free to use any of these ideas for your own adventures. Most will be no more than spending time together as a family, some will be adventures that take us to new places, and some will teach us something new.

This week’s adventure was something simple but so much fun. There’s a new show that will be on TV based off of the popular game app, Candy Crush, and my oldest has been dying to see it. So we went to the dollar store and picked out $9 worth of candy. I know $9 doesn’t sound like much but trust me – it’s a lot and it really hits you how much candy you gave them about 30 minutes after the sugar hits their system. And then we sat down and watched a different game show (because I was wrong about the start date :)) and I asked open ended questions and they answered during the commercials and I even received a “Mom, that was fun.”

That was it…a quick little game show. But it was family time. It was a good time to ask questions and for me to be reminded how smart my kids really are. It was technology free (except the TV). It was peaceful. It was exciting. It was an adventure in being still and just ‘being’.

How did I do it?

This one was a pretty simple. I listened. I listened to what the kids were saying they wanted to do. And I wasn’t directly asking…I was reading between the lines.  Listening for when they got excited or when they mentioned something more than once. And then, like I mentioned earlier, I got excited. I looked forward to fun and to family. And then I got them excited because of my excitement and then they didn’t care that it only cost $9 for this week’s adventure. They were excited because it was something that they wanted and I made a big deal out of what they wanted and communicated to them that I care enough to listen. Even the little redhead joined us and her little giggle was the icing on the cake.

Materials: I printed each of the flyers above and then slid them into sheet protectors and hung them on our fridge. The boys are quick to get the redhead her juice in the morning so they read it before I was even awake and started to get excited right away.

During our time together, I took pictures and then printed them onto a third page, in a collage form. Our 2nd adventure will repeat this process – print out a description of the 2nd adventure, print out a collage of pictures from the adventure. Then add it to a notebook/folder so that when the year is over we can go through and relive some wonderful memories.

Love these kids!

Have an amazing weekend!


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