Counting My Blessings

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Three years ago, all of this was nothing but a dream. I was in a toxic on/off again relationship and renting a 950 square foot condo for me and my two kids. Then, in August, I decided to look online at houses in the area. I figured it was a pipe dream and I would, once again, be left longing.

But there is was, an awkward 187 year old bright blue house in my price range, sitting on the market just waiting for me. Three months later, I was moving in and on with my life. Two months later I met my husband who brought with him my bonus son.

The house is in constant disarray with half the neighborhood running in and out and all the animals living in various areas on the property. Laundry piles up and dishes sit in the sink. Corners fill with dirt and dog hair magically appears in the bathtub. The kid’s rooms smell like feet and their are turkeys living in their playroom. Even with all this, I couldn’t be happier.

We live an amazingly full life where we are constantly attending activities and school functions. Some weeks we aren’t home except to sleep, which only make days like these a welcome reprieve.

Days like these I can sit in the backyard, overlooking everything I have created and feel truly blessed. None of this was because of luck or because it was given to me. It all came about because I persisted. I refused to accept that what I had was all I ever would have.

Today, and every day, I count my blessings. I list them off in my head and thank each and every one of them. Because life is what we make of it, and it will never get better unless we allow it to. Allow yourself to let go of all the negative holding you back. Allow yourself to be independent and confident, to forge your own path. Allow yourself to do all the things, but don’t forget to be thankful for every little thing because those little thing build up to be big things and I’m living proof.

Our Lives Revolve Around Our Children

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In the past week I have driven 850 miles, only 118 of them were for work. Why? Soccer. My oldest in on two different traveling soccer teams. Each week we drive hundreds of miles, spends hours in the car, hours in the cold and rain watching games, and eating various meals made either in the back of the car or bought at a drive through because French fries. For the past two years, this has been our spring.

Our fall season is even more chaotic. Three kids going in three different directions because heaven forbid anyone was on the same soccer team. Winter slows down with only one playing basketball although a second one is threatening to play next year and a ski/snowboarding program on Fridays. One would think that maybe summer would mean some sort of reprieve, but it doesn’t. Summer camps, family trips, holidays, and soon jobs.

As parents of school aged children, this is our job…our main objective. We juggle housework and alter work schedules to be able to get our kids to their various activities and school functions. When we can’t get them there, we beg family members and other parents to shuffle our kids around for us. There are late nights and early mornings, especially on the weekends. Long days with junk food for dinner because there wasn’t even enough time that morning to prepack anything. In short, our lives revolve around our kid’s schedules. We may be the adults, but their lives are dictating what we do.

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with an acquaintance about schedules and kids, and how they were upset about having to revolve their schedule around their children’s. At the time of the conversation I didn’t really address the comment in detail. Maybe it was because I was distracted, or maybe it was because I wasn’t expecting a comment like that. Either way, I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but the more I drive my kids around when I could be home doing “things” think about it, the more I realize it bothers me.

I am 39 years old, arguably the prime of my life. There are so many concerts I could be going to, lady’s brunches I could be attending totally not a brunch person, camping trips I could be on, bars i could be dancing on, and so much more. But you know what? I can’t do all those things I “could” be doing. Why? Because, as a parent, my world completely revolves around my children. Their sports schedules dictate my work hours. Their summer camps tell me when we can take a family vacation. Their school plays show me when I can stay late at work. Their sleepovers with friends as random as they can be make my date nights. Even my kid’s bedtimes tell me when I can watch “my” shows and go to bed. Every morning I have to get up earlier than I would of I weren’t a parent because I have to get myself and three other humans ready for the day before I leave for work.

Even with all this, I still find time to myself and quality time with my husband even if the kids are convinced our dates consist of going to the animal feed store and shopping for power tools. I’m not a stranger to having a girl’s night out, enjoying date night, or even going to get a massage. To me, as a parent, it’s just something we do. We understand that our children’s schedules dictate everything we do. From the moment they are born and demand to be fed when they are hungry even when we are sound asleep at 2am, we automatically start to mold our lives around theirs. We may be the adults but they are in charge. And you know what? We do it without even thinking about it unless we really need a nap or want them to finally stop talking about Fortnite. We do it because we know that our time with them is so limited in the long run.

Before kids, 18 years seems like such a long time. Once you’re a parent of a 10 year old, you realize that 18 years is nothing. You start thinking about 8th grade and high school graduations. First girl/boyfriends, driver’s ed and licenses, first cars, college applications, and all the fights you’re going to have with your teenagers. TEENAGERS!!! Ypu just had a baby, and now you’re going to have a teenager!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes, your life HAS to revolve around your children. You really don’t have a choice in that now that you’ve actually had them and started raising them. In the moment, this revelation feels like such a burden. We catch ourselves daydreaming and begging for it to stop. All we want is a few minutes to ourselves!!! But you know what, we are going to get all the minutes we have ever desired when they are older. In fact, if we’ve raised them right, we will be surprised at just how many minutes we actually have once that they have flown the nest.

We’re Day Sex People

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My husband and I love bedtime. I’m not just talking about when the kids go to bed, although that bedtime is pretty kick ass I’m talking about when WE go to bed. That time when we take off all our clothes, smile at each other from across the bed, slide between the cool sheets, press our naked bodies against each other, kiss each other tenderly, and fall asleep. It doesn’t matter what time we go to bed, that is typically the routine. We love our bed. We love to go to sleep.

Fast forward to the morning. Unless my husband has to go to work early, I am typically up before him. On the weekends, I get a good 2-3 hour headstart. He loves to sleep in on the weekends and I love to enjoy a house where no one talks to me for several hours. All in all, we have a great bedtime routine. From PM to AM, we rock the hell out of sleeping. There’s just one problem, all this sleep leaves very little time for the sex.

We will joke around after work about having a little hankie pankie after the kids go to bed. We will steal passionate kisses in the kitchen and grab each other’s butts. I will deliver my best porn star one liner and he will give a little growl and pull me close. We tease. We flirt. We even wink at each other. But when it’s time for bed, we typically go right to sleep.

Every now and then we will muster the energy to compensate our marriage after the sun goes down, but it really takes a lot of energy. My husband plows in the winter. All the snow plowing leaves very little time in general to plow me. When there is time, I’m generally too lazy because…I’m not really sure why, I’m just lazy.

Either way, the chances of the night time vertical tango are slim to none. When it does happen, it’s either with the lights off or with blaring LEDs. Both are equally unappealing. That brings us to morning sex, which is even rarer.

15 to 30 minutes of stanky bodies smooshed together while trying not to breath on each other because no one likes the smell of cat shit in the morning. Then you add in trying to be active before coffee.

All in all, we fail at the whole sex thing. That is unless it’s the middle of the day. It’s the weekend and the kids are running around outside and around the neighborhood. It’s also known as the best time to sneak away for a roll in the hay. As soon as the kids run out the front door, we are naked in bed. Afternoon showers on a Saturday afternoon quickly turn into a quick vertical sport session. It’s that time of the day where the words “I did the laundry,” become seductive. Where the sounds of the dishwasher gets the juices flowing. It’s also the only time during the day where we are utterly exhausted or running around to some random sports event for the kids. Day off during the week? We are naked by the time the kids step on the bus.

It took us some time, but we finally realized we are day sex people. This means that when we are older we wont have to rearrange our sex schedule to go to BINGO or watch our programs on TV. It also means that if one of us injures a hip during our bed sheet rodeo, we will still have time to go to the doctors without having to wait until the next day. It’s all about planning, my friends. It’s also all about getting an adequate amount of sleep.

Dear Dad

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Dear Dad,

I got married. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, but I couldn’t find the words until now. I think you would really like him. He reminds me of you in a lot of ways, but at the same time, he is completely different. His name is Chris and he has a son. His son falls right between my two in age and has blended in almost seamlessly. He is a lot like Pheobe. A wild imagination and a flair for the dramatic. He would have you in stitches.

You should have seen mom at the wedding. I had asked her to be a flower girl, a role she was not immediately thrilled with but you know me, I always have to stir the pot somehow. Instead of throwing petals or holding a traditional bouquet, I decorated a bubble gun with large silk flowers. As she walked down the aisle, she covered everyone in bubbles. You can only imagine how much fun she had doing that. Although I didn’t get to watch her do it, everyone said she was the best bubbler ever.  She wore a simple blue dress and looked beautiful. She would have taken your breath away.

Pheobe has grown so much since you last saw her, you would hardly recognize her. She is a true beauty inside and out. She was my maid of honor, a role she gladly took on.

I wish you had been there, Dad, but because you weren’t, Theo walked me down the aisle instead. He was a little confused at first as to why he would be the one walking me down the aisle, but soon got used to the idea. He stood so tall and was so proud as he waited to give me the sign that it was our turn. I had considered other people, like my brother, but ultimately I knew you would approve of Theo taking your place.

I wish you could have been there, Dad. I wish you could have been the one to give me away. I screwed it all up the first time I got married by eloping. An act I know you and mom were very unhappy with. I wish I could have found Chris sooner. Maybe then, I would have had my father there by my side. It has been hard without you here. You were on my mind every day leading up to the wedding. I don’t know if you heard me or not, but I tried to talk to you every day leading up to the big day. If only I could have heard your voice just once that day.

I know I’m not a little girl anymore, heck, I’m pushing 40 already, but being an adult always seemed easier when you were just a phone call away. I could talk to mom about things, but you know how she is, always quick to have an opinion. She means well and I value her opinion but you always knew that what I really needed when I called was to talk myself through the issue, finally coming to my own conclusion. Then you would give me some sort of advice most people wouldn’t expect from you. Somehow, you always made it better.

In any case, I could ramble on and tell you all the things I’ve wanted to tell you over the past three years but there isn’t enough time and I would never be able to get the words out the way I would want them. Just know that your little girl grew up a little more and you are missed by all of us. Although you aren’t of this physical world anymore, I know that you are here in spirit. I know that if you were still with us, you would be proud of all I have accomplished, who I have become, and the family Chris and I have created.

I will miss you always but I know you are always here with me.

Love, Foof

dad

In memory of my dad, Jimmy Fossett.

Touch Me And You Die

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Most people wouldn’t look at me and say, “Wow, you’re fat.” Actually, most people wouldn’t look at people in general and say that. Unless, of course, the person saying it is a complete asshole with no compassion or verbal filter. I was casually dating a guy a few years ago and he creatively told me I was fat. His exact words, “You’re not exactly the most petite woman. You  know that, right?” Shortly thereafter I casually dumped him. Regardless of how big I actually am (pushing 200 pounds on a 5’6″ frame), my weight, coupled with my Northern European bloodline, make me and summer not the best of friends.

As soon as temperatures hit 80 degrees, my mom thighs stick together and rub like a Japanese Sumo Wrestler competition and my body swells as it retains all the water it can on the off chance I find myself in the middle of a desert. I look at the summer sun and sob. I will sit there and curse that yellow bastard until I realize I’m still standing outside like an idiot when all I have to do is walk five steps to go inside where the AC is waiting to greet me with open arms.

My fiancee hates driving me anywhere in his car because he doesn’t usually put the AC on. This means he has to put up with me moaning in agony as if I were on my last breath after a horrific, life-threatening accident all because I’m fucking hot. I’m sure this makes the three-minute drive to the store feel like an eternity. I’m not even sorry. This also explains why he looks at me with panic in his eyes before we go anywhere, and asks me which car we are taking. I know his internal monolog is saying, “Take her car, please God, take her car. Don’t let her say my car.” We may actually be one trip away from him making me take a separate car altogether. Which is fine, as long as I get to have the sweet cold air of the AC blowing on my overweight body like a chocolate fountain.

When you’re a bit overweight like I am, summer helps you discover all these hidden parts of your body you didn’t even know had sweat glands. Like my belly apron. I had no idea I could sweat out a shot glass of sweat from there just by looking at the sun. You want me to sit in a lawn chair…outside…at the beach? There are another 2 ounces. Walking in the sun makes the back of my knees sweat. Suddenly it feels as if my armpits have moved down to my legs and I spend the entire walk wondering why I didn’t put antiperspirant behind my knees…again. It’s not long before my shoes start to fill with sweat droplets, causing them to squeak and cause blisters. If I were to lay out in the sun, after 5 minutes you would think someone had snuck up on me and sprayed me with the garden hose. 10 minutes, I’ve basically melted into the chair, never to be seen again.

That’s all just because of heat. Add in the humidity and I basically turn into a Disney villain on crack. Don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, and sure as fuck, don’t TOUCH me. Touch me and you die. I am not afraid of going to prison because someone touched my skin or tried to hug me when it is humid out. I don’t even let my children touch me during these times. I will look right into their dark brown eyes and tell them to piss off. They can touch me again in October.

The only time I enjoy the heat is when I am in the water, preferably a lake, river, or the ocean. Even then, you won’t typically see me above the water. I am usually the one floating, doing my best impression of a Sunfish or Harbor Seal. I have actually reached a body size, mainly because of my monstrous breasts, where I am able to float upright without the use of a floatation device. I don’t even have to spend money on a fancy river tube, I could just float down the river using nothing but myself. I have basically become a buoy and I am ok with that.

So, until the air grows crisp again and I can wear clothes without feeling like I’m wrapped in plastic wrap, I’ll be sitting in the AC or shade, dreaming of the days where I can build a snow chair. One I can sit in throughout the day with my Bailey’s and hot chocolate while wrapped in a winter jacket, snow pants, and my latest crocheted scarf. If you need me, I will probably be in my room talking to my jeans and sweaters, telling them how much I miss them and how will be together again soon.

Do What You Love

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As adults, why do we keep settling for jobs that don’t make us happy? My father used to tell me that your job wasn’t supposed to make you happy, and for the lonegst time, I believed him. I kept pushing through jobs tryong to figure out if they make me happy or not. Then I would remember that my job wasn’t supposed to make me happy. So, I would settle into different possitions and be miserable because that is what I was supposed to do.

 

As I sat miserable at work, I would try harder and harder to fill my home life with things that made me happy. I found an amazing man who agreed to spend the rest of our lives together. Happy. That man came with the best bonus son anyone could ask for. Happy. My two kids have grown into resposible, mature young people. Happy. Rooster crows and duck quacks are my alarm clock. Happy. I get dog snuggles whenever I want them. Happy. I have FIVE goats. Happy. My homelife has made me happier than I could ever imagine. But, no matter how happy I am at home, I am still miserable at work.

For the past five years I have spent 40 to 50 hours a week sitting at a desk with minimal face to face interactions with people. I have become complacent, overweight, and miserable. It used to be only Monday mornings where I would be filled with anxiety, dredding to go to work. Now it’s every day. My complacency has caused me to faulter on my attention to detail and work ethic that I’ve always prided myself on. Despite all that, I keep pushing along.

About a month it hit me. I spend half my time at work and commuting. That means half of my life is spent in misery. Is this REALLY how it’s supposed to be? Was my dad really right in what he said? Am I really destined to be in a job I hate for the rest of my working career? I love my dad with all my heart, and he taught me some amazing life lessons, but I’m going to cal bull shit on this one. There is no way I am supposed to be miserable in my work. Therefore, I am going to do everything I can to change my current situation.

I have no idea what I am going to do, and I know it won’t happen over night, but I am going to get my shit together and find something I am passionate about. Maybe it will be working in retail again. Maybe it will be working in healthcare, dealing with patients. Maybe it will be wokring for myself. I have no idea. Whatever it is, I refuse to be miserable doing it. I need be working with people and having face to face interactions with clients. I need to be active. I need to be HAPPY at my job. I WILL be happy at my job. I am going to do what I love.

All Of These Emotions Are Normal: Getting Your Child The Help They Need

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Having the suspicion that your child has a learning disability can be nervewracking. Having your child tested for learning disabilities can be emotional. Getting the confirmation that your child has learning disabilities can be a straight kick to the gut.

As a parent, all we want is for our child to do well in life and school. As they are babies, we dream of the day they get the “Good Reader” award in Kindergarten, make the honor roll in Junior High, and win a science scholarship in high school. We somehow manifest this perfect child in our minds where nothing bad can ever touch them. Then school age hits. You notice your child is struggling but you don’t want to see it. You start to see a trend in their grades, notes from the teacher, chats with the teacher’s aids…but you still don’t want to see it. You even start to see them struggling in the same areas you did when you were in school, so you look away even more. All of these emotions are normal.

As a parent of a child with documented learning disabilities, I went through all of these. Even after growing up in a family where more than one person had documented learning disabilities, I still went through all these emotions. There was no way my child was struggling because there was something “wrong” with him. My child was going to be that shining example of a student. To top it all off, there was no way any of this was MY fault. All of these emotions are normal.

When my son was in second grade, I finally put my emotions aside and stepped up to the plate. I had to do something to help my son. I was scared shitless and had no idea what steps I really needed to take. All I knew is I had to start somewhere. I advocated for him during parent-teacher conferences and finally convinced the school to test him. Yes, I had to CONVINCE the school. That was the first moment of clarity I had through the whole processes. That moment when I realized no one else had my son’s best interest at heart. No one else was going to figure out how to make learning better for him. No one else was going to get him the help he needed. It was up to me to make all this happen. *insert superhero music*

Even with this moment of clarity and the sudden superhero feeling, nothing could prepare me for when they gave me the test results. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I’m pretty sure I just sat there staring at the teachers sitting at the table with me. This one of the few times in my life I was actually speechless. They went over what the different results meant and what measures would be taken to help him overcome these issues.

In my mind, I desperately tried to find the reasoning behind all of this. Was it something I did while I was pregnant? Was it because I wasn’t a stay-at-home-mom when he was a baby? Did I not breastfeed him long enough? Did vaccines do this? Did my divorce cause this? I wanted a reason all of this happened, but there wasn’t one. All of these emotions are normal.

At first, I met with the school twice a year. Once in the fall, once in the spring. We combed through each aspect of his Individual Education Plan (IEP) with a fine-toothed comb. Everything he did was monitored and measured. He had certain times set aside each day to meet with different specialists. They helped him with his language deficiencies and worked with him on coping with his color blindness.

Initially, I was worried he would start to feel singled out from being pulled out of the classroom. As a young boy who often came home feeling like his classmates were laughing at him because he couldn’t read as fast as them, having him taken out of the classroom was a major concern for me. Luckily, he ended up finding comfort in the space away from the other students. There he didn’t feel pressured and could take the time he needed. As the years have gone by, his need for additional help has dropped off a bit. Instead of leaving the classroom several times a day, now he only leaves once. He is more confident in his abilities, making it easier for him to ask questions in class and ask for additional help when he needs it.

It has become so much like second nature to him, the other day he asked me why he even needs an IEP anymore. I explained to him that it’s what enables him to have extended testing times, the extra help with reading comprehension, and other parts he had “forgotten” were only applicable to him. We talked about his different deficiencies and how they make his learning style unique and how it will affect him all through his school years. I told him his IEP will follow him all through school, even if he gets to go to the same private high school I had gone to (a dream of his since he was 5), even through any SSATs, SATs, or ACTs he takes.

He then proceeded to poke fun at his different learning disabilities, showing me that they weren’t a disability for him at all. He realizes that all of this has helped to make him the student he is today. He knows his strong points and what he needs to work on. He is more aware of his learning needs than most 11-year-olds I know and I couldn’t be more proud of him. I’m glad I got over my personal fears as a mother and became his advocate. Even after he looked at me with a huge grin and said, “You know my learning disabilities are all your fault, right? No one in daddy’s family has any of these.” And then I threw him out of the car and made him walk to soccer practice. My response, “No honey, daddy’s family has their own set of issues you’ll learn about as you get to know them better.”

To any parent who suspects their child is having trouble in class due to learning disabilities, you are their only advocate. You have to be the one to talk with their teachers and have them tested. The worst thing that can happen is they can find ease in learning again. Yes, it is scary but you have to remember that it is scarier for you than it is for them. They are the ones who have been living with the frustration of not learning the way everyone else does. They are the ones who have been picked on for being slower on assignments. They are the ones living with learning disabilities day in and day out. As their parent, they look to you to help them. They need you advocate for them, to be pushy about getting them tested, to make sure they have all the resources they need to be able to finish school and become a productive member of society. All those emotions you are going through, they are all normal. It’s ok to be scared. It’s ok to feel like it’s your fault even though you know it’s not. It’s ok to cry through all of it. It’s ok to have a moment where you feel helpless. All of these emotions are normal, and so is your child. Learning disabilities don’t make them different or make you a bad parent.

If you suspect your child has learning disabilities or is struggling in school, act sooner rather than later. They will thank you for it at graduation.