Monday, March 4, 2013

She Works Hard for Her MONEY!

SOOOO hard for her money..dun du..dun du !

 I have great expectations to take you touring around the great sites of DC once the weather is much better. As you would know it, Winter is rearing his ugly head. UGH! 40 degrees and the threat of a winter storm with up to 6 inches of snow predicted for Wednesday. I am making the best of it and taking you on a tour of my life instead, lucky you, and definitely staying inside... well kinda.

So my newest life quest is to re-learn what I am all about. Since my kiddos threw my prince and I into immediate adulthood at a relatively young age for our generation, Ive realized that I need to be reintroduced to myself. I am in this, pseudo midlife crisis, what you see is what you get, no apologies necessary quest. When I figure it all out, Ill let you know how things are going. So far, and there's really a lot more to it then what Ive described... but for now...the two of us, Me and Me, are getting along....

OKAY...;) Its getting a little too deep in here so I'm abandoning this subject, and I'll go to the next one. Yup cooking. I have never thought of myself as a cook, nor have I really ever enjoyed it but I do really enjoy saving money and being resourceful. Recently, excited about paying off our debt, I delve back into coupons, meal planning, and shopping with a purpose. I started investigating some of the really great blogs that help you save money and meal plan. I hate planning meals so, being the resourceful (lazy) person I am, I found No I'm not joining the million of coupon bloggers, but I'm very thankful for them. I am just sharing (and documenting) my adventures. I am sure a lot of you have seen or heard of this amazing website, there is so much to explore there is no way to tell you about it all. But what I will tell you is that one of the most helpful tools on the site, aside from the weekly meal plans she provides, is her blog about baby #4's freezer stock up plan. I love the idea of freezing breakfast for your family so that Pop-Tarts and Cereal are not the go to...*remember this*. This morning I made and froze about 24 Potato Egg and Cheese breakfast burritos (she calls them tacos). Here is her recipe and link to the stock ups

...I also started dinner, one of the awesome $5
Dinner Recipes...

Family Portioned Chicken Tenders
1 Jar of BBQ sauce
Chopped onions...

Thank you Miss Crock Pot, I always like it when you cook for me :)
On to bigger and better, the actual shopping part. YAY! Ok, after burning 300 calories in the gym... Wait, before you congratulate me I already ate those 300 calories, in the not-so-healthy way *Cereal and Pop-Tarts*. Remember, no apologies!! It was awesome! :)
 I armed myself with my grocery list, coupons and store circulars. I am now on my way to Shoppers and Target with a little detour to Pier 1. I love shopping! It is one of my most favoritest, yes Angela Pinkard-Hale I know that's not a word, things to do in this WHOLE WIDE WORLD :) I had every intention of walking myself straight into the grocery store but that wind just blew me right into Pier 1. I did however resit the temptation to buy this really cool papasan swing chair for my balcony but could not pass up these cute measuring spoons that were on SALE from $14.95 to $7.48. This was not a frivolous purchase, we are still trying to save, I don't have any of these...well anymore, I think they were lost in one of the moves. Last week when I made freezer blueberry muffins it was a little tedious using the only one I had left, the 1/4 of a teaspoon. Yeah that was fun.

STORE #1...well# 2 :) Shoppers...

One of the best places around here to shop. Its really expensive here, ask my mother-in-law. Its not just that we live on the East Coast, its the actual area we live in. Everything is way more expensive. Shoppers and Target (with coupons) is the most economical for me. I've shopped Shoppers many times before and two places I have to check out before leaving is:

*1. the day old bakery section
*2. the dent and scratch basket.

OMGsh I feel like I won the supermarket lottery today...Green beans for $0.35 a can, peaches for $0.65 a can, stuffing for $0.75, Mini Spooners for $1, and Brawny for $0.75 a roll. Is it sad that I get this excited about beat up grocery goods? Really for me, this is the best part of the dinner prep. I did think about taking all of the cereal and canned goods in the basket but realized that if I let the hysteria take over, I might have the impulse to beat the sweet old lady next to me over the head with the really cheap paper towels I just scored...walk away Steph, walk away! lol I seriously get these visuals, oh I so entertain myself.
Ok back to reality, I did strategically buy some other items, and used coupons. My total tally of all of this heart stopping shopping is... 21 items and a total savings of $6.48. Everything else was on my "Shoppers" list. Now on to Target where the shopping game resumes, and its a little more tricky. Do any of you see gambling tendencies in you future after grocery shopping like me??...I also think, thank goodness saving a dollar for me is like winning a dollar at the casino, except I don't have to smell cigarette smoke, run the risk of catching a serious illness, or give total strangers all my money.
I had a plan, I knew that select breakfast foods were on sale at target today. Also if you purchased the certain breakfast foods, 5 at a time you receive a $5 gift card. Before you judge me for the quality of the food, I know that Pop-Tarts aren't breakfast so to speak, and right now all three of my kids are eating me out of house and home. In our house these items accompany "real food" or are only eaten alone as snacks. we usually do not have chips, or soda. Our junk food is Pop-Tarts and empty calorie cereal.:) My kids eat almost anything.  Even Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts...the list really does go on. OK so here's the low down on the damage to the pocket book.
So much easier to show than to tell so here is what I am talking about....

 The best part about this is...Target will allow you to use your coupons, both manufacture and target, in combination with the gift card deal. I have a few rules about coupons. I don't ever buy something just because I have a coupon and just because I have a coupon doesn't mean its the cheapest brand. I had multiple coupons for the General Mills Cereal and Pop-Tarts so here's the tally.

3 Corn Pops @ $2.75 each
- $1/3 Kellogs coupon =
$2.41 each

3 Poptarts @ $2.75 each
-$ 1/3 Poptarts coupon =
$2.41 each

$14.46 total

Part of the Buy 5 get $5 gift card so the cereal and Poptarts

After the $5 gift card each item is a little over $1.50 per item....

The coupon guru's do it much better than I do...and yes, Target allows you to stack your manufacture coupon with your Target coupon for each item...Lots of savings!

This is a match up from $5 Dinners website.
Kellogg's Cereal, 10.7 - 16.7 oz - $2.751.00 off any 3 Kellogg's Cereals listed
$1/2 Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Cereal, exp. 3/31/13 (Package Insert)
$1/2 Kellogg's Rice Crispies, Cocoa Krispies, Crispix or Kellogg's Corn Flakes Cereal, exp. 3/31/13 (Package Insert)
$1/2 Kellogg's Krave, Raisin Bran Cinnamon Almond or Crunchy Nut Cereal, exp. 3/31/13 (Package Insert)
$1/2 Kellogg's All Bran, Rice Krispies, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, or Raisin Bran Cereal, exp. 3/31/13 (RP 02/17/13 R)
$1/2 Kellogg's Cinnamon Jacks Cereal, exp. 3/24/13 (RP 02/10/13 R)
$1/3 Kellogg's Cereal, exp. 3/17/13 (RP 02/03/13 R)
$0.70/1 Kellogg's Cinnamon Jacks Cereal, exp. 3/24/13 (RP 02/10/13 R)
$0.70/1 Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Crunch, exp. 3/24/13 (RP 02/10/13 R)
$1/2 Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Crunch, exp. 3/24/13 (RP 02/10/13 R)
$1/3 Kellogg's Cereals, exp. 4/14/13 (RP 03/03/13 R)
$1/3 Select Kellogg's Cereals Target printable
$1/1 Kellogg's Rice Krispies (Ibotta Deposit)$0.50/1 Kellogg's Corn Flakes (Ibotta Deposit)
$0.50/1 Kellogg's Raisin Bran Original Cereal (Ibotta Deposit)
$1/1 Kellogg's Corn Flakes (Ibotta Deposit)
$1/1 Kellogg's Raisin Bran Original Cereal (Ibotta Deposit)

Read more:

On top of all of that, each box of Corn Pops and Pop-Tarts had this coupon insert. So really, I can do this over and over again until the 5/$5 gift card promo is over. Its Krazy Coupon Lady bliss..

*This one even has coupons for eggs and milk

Here's a pic of the boxes that have the coupon inserts, not all of them do... Another plus side to using these specific coupons is every time one of these coupons are redeemed, Kellogs makes a donation to school breakfast programs...for some kids, that's good news. CHA-CHING....and the tickets at the arcade keep coming...

 I had a quick stop off at the house to unload all the loot and look who I found...Doing homework..Cutie Pie

Now off to the Local library...I love the library, it makes me feel smart, and cheap...wait I don't feel, that almost took a wrong turn.
So here is our awesome, lovely local library. It looks cold outside, right, UH! Lately I have been renting movies for the girls. The girls are in that stage where all they want to do is watch girl movies a pint of ice-cream cause my best friend is no longer my best friend, until tomorrow, I never look right and my hair is always crazy and all I want to do is look at my iPhone and listen to music, draw crazy pictures and no one is as interesting (or as pitiful) as me stage...everyone got that...yeah, me neither...

  The BEST part of the library...I'm addicted! The $0.10 paperbacks...Does anyone know if there is a cent sign on the keyboard???  Anyway..I never get out of the library without buying something from this cart. There is also a $1 hardback section too.. 
 Today I scored almost an entire series of inspirational romance, christian based, the best thing for the girls now since everyone in their peer group is still obsessed with overly dramatic vampires..BLAH!
 Back in the car, home sweet home there on the left. My day is almost getting to the really busy mommy stage of my elementary and middle school goblins. It's 4pm and the, "MOM!!! So and so said this, and so and so said that, and now my life is ending as we know it!!!!. I'm hungry!..My legs and arms hurt!!!! Can I go to so and so's???? Can so and so come over???"... "OH MY GOSH JUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!"... part of the day is coming! Seriously, I love my life and I love seeing it unfold, chaotically, in front of me.
 But before I go to bed for the night and leave you all to wonder why you've waisted 10 minutes of your life that you cant ever get back...I have to give you the grand tally for today's awesome shopping excursion...and here is the recap!

Burned 300 + calories 
Saved $6.48 at Shoppers
Saved almost $25 at Target
Bought 10 books for $3.70
All in a days work...All in a days work...Until next time, love you all!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bicycle! Bicycle

"I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike..."

"Bicycle Race" released in 1978 by Queen, my birth year by the way, has been running through my head ever since we set out on our bicycle adventure today. With every turn of my pedal, and new scene upon the horizon I thought of so many of you today. I am so glad it is 50ish degrees outside I really thought I was going to have to commit myself soon. I am not all too fond of the climate around here and really, I'm trying really hard not to pack up and set out for my mommas! :)So psychotherapy by way of bike and city was a great remedy for my winter pity party I've been attending for quite some time now.

The DC/metro area  has a bikeshare program so for about $15 an hour you can rent a bike in one part of the city, and drop it off in another. So today we decided to go down to Old Town, Alexandria, one of my favorite places to go. To be honest when Michael said, very enthusiastically, "Hey! Lets go rent some bikes!" I was a little reluctant when I saw his running gear come out of the closet and the neon fanny pack being prepared. I was a little afraid we would be huffin it up the hills Tour de France style.  You see this is when the fond memory of "skiing lessons" with Michael and Timothy Tidwell, two springs ago, came to mind. Both Tim and Michael convinced me that I could learn to ski by doing the "pizza wedge and french fry" and I would certainly be okay with ditching ski school and I should come with them on the first run. Sandwiched between the two of them, I was thoughtfully coached all the way up the lift assuring me the hardest part was getting off. So it was a great surprise to me that after I had successfully gotten off the lift I tumbled head over feet twice, then slid down what seemed like 10 seconds face first with my poles and feet buried in the snow, as everyone else was upright, crying and screaming, I CANT STOP! Well I finally did stop, but I couldn't get up...I struggled so long, and it must have looked bad because ski patrol was alerted and paid me a visit. Someone helped me up but by this point the pizza wedge and french fry had no meaning so I took off one ski and walked down the mountain...for 2 hours...whew...    Anyway after some convincing, I agreed.                          

   I love the repetition of the bikes lined up along the city streets. I feel like such a big girl :) but all I could think before getting on is... well there it is...I hope we get along little bike...Its been about a year since Ive been on a bike and never in the city. All I could think of is falling into the other bikers on the trail, you know the very serious ones. They whiz by you at what seems like 40 MPH as they ring their bell and scream "ON YOUR LEFT!"... very neighborly. Anyway, after disclosing that I would NOT ride on the street, only the sidewalks, we set out for Mt. Vernon's Trail.

                                                                                                     There is so much to see, amazingly we live only about 3/4 of a mile from the airport so its the first thing we pass on the trail. I don't know if any of you have actually flown into Ronald Reagan, but its really exciting to land since it is on the bank of the Potomac. Fourth of July this past year "AJ" Aunt Jessica and the rest of the Poche clan walked the same trial in the other direction toward Gravelly Park. You can actually see the planes take off and land from this park. Its a hot spot for family's because the runway stops at the edge of the Potomac just at lift off and the planes fly over, roaring engines and all, a couple hundred feet above you. It IS really fun.

After you pass the airport the trail becomes more open the the city life just melts away. We cross multiple bridges and get to see many views of the Potomac in more of a natural state. I love seeing the sail boats and wild life. Just as we were passing, this family of ducks started to venture out into the more open part of the river. I couldn't help but think of Ben and Theresa...Ben loves birds, he works at the Audubon in Dallas. He spent last summer teaching the girls all about birds and the bird calls, they love their time with Uncle Ben and Resee!!  I also think its interesting to see the airplane on the horizon. I always think of Michae'sl dad and Beth Ann when I see sailboats. We went to visit them on the Gulf of Mexico two Christmases ago and loved every minute of it...It's also when I finally snuck the check from the waitress. Robert has this way of always paying when we go out and I really wanted to pay this time...I really think it was a shocker when I looked at him, giggled, and said "Too slow old man!"...Oh the look on his face...and by the way, it has never happened since. I really love Robert and Beth, we always have such a good time with both of them when we get to see them!
 Well we made it the first 5 miles of the trip to Old Town. We decided to go to lunch and walk around a bit so we parked our bikes at a bikeshare station and ventured into the nearest bike shop. There is so much to offer by way of the pedestrian lifestyle, restaurants, boutique shopping, piers off the Potomac, farmers market, etc. After having a chance to gain some confidence and let my skin soak in some good ol' fashion vitamin D, I decided that I really like riding the bike. I mentioned I thought I might want a bike for the spring and summer to go back and fourth from the farmers market.
We also found a really nice place to eat, great paninis! I love paninis! I really love this guy, he always seems to get me going in the right direction. We have explored so much already in the almost 14 years we've been married. Now that the kids are a little bit older we are seeing what being just a pair is like...I am enjoying the freedom but I love my babies! Old Town is so fun. You get to experience the best of the city but its also historic and quaint with a little boho feel.

Trolleys are a great way to travel in this area because there is a lot of traffic, both pedestrian and automobiles. You also have to pay for parking everywhere and it is rarely cheap. Everyone was out spending time with family and walking the dogs. It was just warm enough to enjoy walking but cool enough that there was no threat of sweat while riding the bike :) perfect combo!

xYup! I even ventured out on the street and I was also taking pics while riding...probably not too smart. I was really proud of myself, as long as Michael was leading. Plus its not often that I fully become part of the urban lifestyle so I had to have proof. Traffic wasn't too bad in this area. After a great lunch and time away I was ready to go home with all of my biking experience in tow. I was able to take all the scenery in now that I have skills so we ventured out a bit on the trail.
Of course with all the wind time of bike riding I thought so much of Connie. Connie and I would spend all day on our bikes adventuring in the neighborhoods. Even into our early teens, the bikes and skates were our way to a little freedom. We took many a trip down the bayou too. We were the female modern version of Huck and Fin...hiding food and water in plastic containers in old hollowed out logs, "falling" out of the boat, and sometimes pushing each other out of the boat...visited great memories today while spending time with my favorite person. Cant wait to see what our next adventure will be...hopefully we have more of these bike rides.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

American Soldier and Our Friend-Dave VanCamp

We visited a friend today.
It’s truly amazing here in Virginia. It’s early enough in the day that the tour buses haven’t made their way through the streets and the shadows are still cool and dark. We walked streets lined with the most beautiful Weeping Willows and tulips; the reds, pink, greens, yellows and purples are so vibrant and true it’s almost surreal. Warm breezes brush our face and arms and the robins sing as we are reminded spring is making way for summer. I am thankful for the time I’m spending with my family and reflect on life, freedom, and tradition.
The poignant sight of the final honorable ride of the fallen with the Caisson Section is a perfect depiction of sacrifice. Military life is filled with many opportunities to be part of all types of ceremonial acts, traditions and events. American military traditions are handed down to carry on the honor and respect of those that served before us in the name of freedom and democracy. Just as the passing down of family traditions emphasize the historical and genetic map of those who gave us life, the Salute, Spurs, Stetson and Anthems sung in the name of American freedom reinforce the respect and reverence symbolized by the American flag.
As far as I can see there are tombstones outstretched across these beautiful rolling hills, history floods our senses. Reveille and Taps so appropriately run through my mind as this was etched in my memory daily the last 7 years at Fort Carson. Conflict arises inside; I have a sense of pride and grief all at the same time. I search deep for the appropriate words to explain to my children what these Soldiers and American Patriots mean to us as a military family and a Nation as a whole. As a wife of an American Soldier who has served three tours overseas, the reality of such an event is present but thankfully not a reality. I’m proud to be part of such a great country and I feel grief for all those who have lost due to the untimely, but profound, death of a service member.
We came to visit a friend laid to rest here in Arlington. My girls and I were honored to know him and his bride. Dave and Chelsea were our first neighbors at Fort Carson and we served together in the 2nd Squadron 9th Calvary; we later followed them to Fort Knox for Captains Career Course. Kaley and Mari Katherine can remember the night Dave took them trick-or-treating the afternoon Evan was born. We have a picture of the girls and Dave, with “his scary mask”, we occasionally look at when we rifling through the box of family memories. As a couple, Dave and Chelsea were a refreshing reminder to Michael and I of a newly married couple. I have many memories of Chelsea talking about their trip to Disney on their honeymoon, and I watched their relationship grow with excitement. I was always in awe of Chelsea’s strength of a newly married Army spouse; she always walked around with an undeniable honor to serve along with Dave.
Thank you Dave for your giving spirit to our girls. Thank you for the wonderful memories of our new life in the Army and for sharing your wife with us.Thank you for reminding us that life is precious and fragile and that we need to cherish every moment. Most of all thank you for the ultimate sacrifice to our Country and our freedom. Chelsea, thank you for your continued picture of grace and strength, thank you for sharing your life with us and for showing us that we can face our biggest fear as a military spouse.~ hugs and love from the Poche’s

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No Doubt He Is A Boy!

It is amazing to me how much you get to know your child when you homeschool; no doubt a blessing in disguise. I have learned so much from my wild man in the last two weeks. I definitely enjoy playing more not to mention the recall of the many memories I have with my mom when she stayed home with me my kindergarten year. I have armed myself with the many interviews of other homschool moms, research from the computer and library. We eased into the first week completing short spurts of school work until our goals for the day were completed. This week we have become more diligent in longer work periods. Adapting to his amazingly high energy and need for kinesthetic learning opens my eyes to the many reasons traditional school did not work for him. Therefore the reason I am blowing off the dust on my ever so neglected blog. So now on to what I have learned about my son…in a word, BUSY!

Evan has an amazing way of bringing noise and action to a room; now I’m feeling very sorry for his ex-kindergarten teacher. Talking and spontaneous physical outburst are a given. No doubt he is a boy. We usually start off the day with a set of push-ups, not so much because his dad is in the Army, mainly because it is what works to realign this strong willed child. Skating and scootering in the house is allowed and often while doing schoolwork. He is allowed to fidget in his chair when he is at the computer completing his lessons on Don’t get me wrong, I do ask him to practice sitting still daily and remind him about the importance of manners and kindness. I thinks he is eating twice as much and I’m pretty sure he has grown an inch since the beginning of our time together. Evan tires himself out by 3pm and I often find him asleep on the ride to pick up the girls from school. Disciplining Evan is nowhere close to the experience I have had with my girls. Unfortunately because I am an only child and our Soldier has been overseas off and on, I think I was a little behind the curve on setting him up for success his first year of school. Oh well, never too late right?

I have read about these creatures just recently in Hal and Melanie Young’s book, Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching, and Appreciating Boys. I had no idea that attempting daring and challenging feats were developmentally and behaviorally crucial to a boy’s development. Evan walks this line all too often pushing the boundaries to find where the limit is and where my patience ends. There is no doubt my child may be ADHD but I don’t know how I feel about labeling him so young and personally I am not in favor of medicating a young developing brain if I can get away with it. Our latest activities have included skating while wearing a cap over his eyes, to increase the difficulty of course, while labeling the house with sight words. Don’t be surprised to find a sight word or two in the fridge. Singing is a must! Evan is not only a kinesthetic learner but primarily an auditory learner; he is constantly talking to himself. It is very interesting to me that when a sight word is presented to him that he is unsure of, he will spell out the word under his breath and that helps him to recall it. His rote memory skills are amazing if you present him with a list of 15 or so sight words on note cards lined up on the table. He most often can recite them after reading through them three or four times, the trouble is when you mix them up he may only know half of them so you have to change up the method of learning often. Book work is completed in less than 10 min if you have given him a start and stop page, he lives for the completion of a task…AH HA! I have conquered it type attitude.

This journey is amazing and I don’t know how teachers teach a room full of children if my one child is this diverse in his personality and learning styles. Kudos to all of you out there who take an interest in teaching anything at any level. I can’t wait to get to know my girls the way I have only begun to know my son. Please PRAY for me EVERYDAY lol  that has been my number one tool of the day. God has given me amazing knowledge and insight while wearing my mom and teacher hat and I am very grateful.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

His Staff, My Thorn

After hearing a sermon this past Sunday about Moses and his staff turning into a snake, we were asked as a congregation to think, what is our staff? The question implies that whatever is in our hand seems like an everyday tool, but it is in actuality a tool of the Lord. While sitting, listening to him, I was literally holding Evan. Evan usually likes to go to his class but he was especially tired that day. I had visions of being a mother holding babies, babies in Africa and just loving them. After several failed attempts at employment I seem to still be looking for my “calling”. Today I read in Exodus about Pharaohs failed attempts to believe God sent Moses and Aaron to prove to him God was calling him so he could worship Him in the dessert. I feel like Pharaoh, not remembering the book I’ve read that set me on this oh so familiar path of confirmation or the many other confirmations God has sent my way confirming I am Mother and Wife, this is my calling. I for some reason still struggle with the acceptance; is it my calling for just now, or for the duration of his career? I have continually stepped in and out of this assured place of knowing, is this temptation, is it rebellion, I’m sure it’s a little bit of both.
Later I read Hebrews 12 and was reminded of the persistence it takes to rise to a specific calling. 1….”Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence and appointed course of the race that is set before us.” Encumbrance stuck out to me as a word to meditate on. In the past while reading this scripture I never noticed encumbrance, I assumed it all to be sin that was a distraction. So now I think upon not only what my staff is but also, what is my encumbrance? I will have to really think and pray about that specifically.
This entire chapter is especially powerful but as I read on the other passages that stand out… I will paraphrase.
He is our Source of faith and also our finisher. He endured the Cross so that I may not grow weary in my MIND. I have not struggled agonizingly against sin to the point of pouring out my own blood.
Uhh so this is really heavy. In context to my calling and compared to this Holy selfless calling written about above, my calling is a privilege for some that I take for granted. It is rewarding to be the heart of God and experience the level of love out poured from such a Source. Everyone has a thorn, something(s) they struggle to overcome, this thorn for me is so mind boggling. I pray that I continue to be pliable, and patient and grateful for His provision and His grace is sufficient for me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dad, Ducks and Such

I have come to realize that more of my role as a mother of 10 year old girls is that of damage control. Many times in the recent months after school I have to explain to my girls why their teacher responds in the way she does. For all you teachers out there, we do acknowledge that they are responsible for some of the reactions the teacher gives to them, but the manner in which she responds is hurtful to them. This specific teacher responds with yelling and sarcasm. Sarcasm is not a stranger to my world, I often would use it to prove my point until the first argument I had with my Soldier just a few weeks after we were married. I don't remember what we were arguing but I do remember his responce after I delivered what I thouhgt was a sure fire way to get him to see my point...I soon realized at that point sarcasm was not such a good idea. He said, sarcasm is just meant to hurt. I never thought of it that way until that day and from then on never used it to prove a point. Anyway my point is that its not used in this house and is appreciated in avenues of play or fun, not anger or frustration. Kaley came home yesterday to tell me that her teacher made her cry, that she knows she daydreams and forgets often but that what her teacher said to her made her cry. Kaley was sent to the office to calm down and was able to explain to her teacher that she made her mad. She then told me that she told her teacher that she often hurts her and her sisters feelings, all of which is true. As a mom of a deployed Soldier things like this seem a little more difficult while they are gone. I never realized how often my Soldier was involved in their everyday lives when he is here. I guess I am so busy I don't pay attention. Anyway, I told Kaley that I was very much like her and I could tell her what not to do but that I really didn't know what to say. Michael and I agree that we should teach our children how to respond to life and not hide from it, but for some reason yesterday I couldn't come up with the words. I think I was so hurt ;) by the things my little girl is navigating I couldn't get past my own feelings. Good thing because it gave Michael a way to parent overseas. I told Kaley to write dad an email and ask him what to do and she did. The response from Michael was so reassuring... such a gift he has to comfort. He told her his experience with people, told her this would not be the last person to upset her and told her a story:

"The expression is, "Like water off a duck's back." You know that ducks have oil in their feathers so when their feathers get wet the water just rolls right off their backs. When someone says something that's hurtful or mean, in your head pretend you are a duck When your teacher gets angry and starts yelling, she's just a rain
cloud and you are a duck. It's not that the rain cloud doesn't like the
duck. The rain cloud is just doing what it thinks it needs to do - letting
it rain and water the earth. The rain cloud is letting it rain because
that's the only thing the rain cloud knows how to do. Sometimes the thunder
and lightning from the rain cloud may be a little scary, but it's just noise
and light. The rain cloud may not realize it's getting the duck wet, but in
the end the duck will be okay because the raindrops just roll off the duck's

As I read it to her and her sister this morning all I could see is smiles from ear to ear and a little mimicking of ducks and acknowledgement of her teacher as a rain cloud. :) What precious words of wisdom for my fast growing 10 year olds...
Dads way of comforting is like non other.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Trusting becaue of His Grace

“Lord, I’m scared. What about my girls. What about Evan, he is so young?”
“I am here, I will always be here. You are learning how to walk on water.”
It is July 28th, two days after my 32nd birthday. I lie in the hospital for the second night crying out to God. My new diagnosis of type 1 diabetes had not yet become a reality. I was focused on one thing; my husband is deployed thousands of miles away in Iraq and my children are alone. My husband and I met in high school in Monroe, Louisiana. I had known him for almost 16 years now and it seemed almost surreal that he was not by my side. I didn’t trust my body and I didn’t trust anyone else’s care. Trust was not something I gave easily, not even to my husband of 11 years.
Not but two months earlier life seemed so routine. After dropping my twin girls at school, aged 9, I diligently assumed my daily visit to the gym where I would run about 3 miles. Evan, my youngest at 4, loved the gym play place so he gladly became my biggest gym enthusiast. The treadmill was my best therapist; I could run through all the emotional stress of being a mom, wife of my devoted Soldier and Army volunteer. I loved being a military community volunteer, but this was my third deployment in five years and I could feel the effects of my responsibilities.
Slowly I could feel my muscles tighten in my neck and running became harder and harder. Soon I realized being tired and stressed-out was not my only need for concern. I was in intense pain and with each visit to the doctor I became more and more frustrated with the lack of solutions. I had been prescribed heavy pain pills, valium, and muscle relaxers. Along with my cocktail of drugs I also went to physical therapy; I stopped running and quickly lost 15 lbs. Even in this time of confusion and pain, I continued to do the best I could to take care of my precious brood and assumed the affects of stress in my life were the cause of my sudden aches and pains.
As you would expect, summer brings new neighbors to our military village here on Fort Carson, Colorado. I would see Carrie from time to time from my backyard; we would exchange a smile occasionally. Smiles turned to greetings and greetings turned to unannounced visits. Like I said before trust was not a word I readily used in my vocabulary. I didn’t entertain the idea of someone invading my space and quickly became annoyed, a symptom of being an only child I guess. Conversations with Carrie were confusing; she often repeated questions she had asked the day before. I also noticed she had a hard time remembering I had three children, even though all three kids rallied around me with each ring of the doorbell. Carrie began to awkwardly ask me about the medication I was on and frequently asked me to share with her. I did not feel comfortable with her easy way of shopping and from then on spoke with caution.
It was mid-day and the backyard had been over-used by our beloved 70lb female Boxer. Even though I was extremely tired, I felt it was time to clean up so not to offend my neighbors.
“Hi Steph, how are you feeling? I don’t want to offend you, but you look tired.”
“I’m okay, a little tired. I can’t see well either but the doctors say it’s a side effect of the muscle relaxers so I stopped taking them.”
“Honey” she said. “I know drugs and that’s not a side effect of the muscle relaxer.”
“Steph, are you diabetic? You should go get check out now! I’m worried for you.”
I thanked her for her concern and assured her I would be okay. I had previously had problems with hypoglycemia, only 6 months prior, and dismissed the possibility of being diabetic. I had been told many times by my primary care physician that I shouldn’t have been given a glucose meter, so I felt no need to be concerned. 430 was my glucose level, 430! If you’re not familiar with diabetes, normal is 70-120. I called a few friends; one to take me to the hospital and care of my son, and the other one to take care of my girls. By the time I was evaluated in emergency room, my blood sugar level was at 540.
Just recently I had a friend of mine ask questions about my experience in July. I told her my situation and her reply will forever stay in my mind. She said, “You’re lucky you didn’t have a heart attack, my mom was in the same situation and she had a heart attack.” Well I am not sure if I would have a heart attack because we probably have a few years between us but I do remember specifically one night feeling like I couldn’t breathe. The amount of medication in my system kept me pretty foggy but I woke feeling like I was in trouble. I started to walk around terrified and contemplated calling 911, but instead I started praying. “Please Lord, help me.” I did go back to sleep and later that day called the doctor to tell them I must have had an allergic reaction to Percocet. Looking back on the situation it could have been a different story; I choose to believe in my prayers.
Gods grace, Gods amazing grace is what kept me walking and talking at a blood glucose level of 540. God’s grace is displayed in the safety of his wings while I blindly drove my precious gifts to and from school. God’s grace is His Holy Spirit speaking though a neighbor despite my lack of trust in her. God’s grace is evident in his ability to heal a pinched nerve from the sugar build up in my muscles and the restoration of my eyesight in less than 48 hours. God’s grace is having not one but two friends at my house in 10 minutes to care for me and my children. Trust is going to sleep, not knowing if I’m going to wake up, because he has shown His grace.

Thanks to Elena, Mrs. Sandy, Mrs. Anne, my parents and the many other angels sent my way during this difficult time…