2015

A lot sure happened for a year I barely wrote about. One of my goals is to be much more productive with the blog in the coming year, but I’ll write more about my Resolutions tomorrow. For now, I’ll just list some of the Big Moments from this year…

  1. We lost our dear Scarlett. I still miss her. It was a traumatic and painful experience to go through, but we made the most of our time with her and we made sure her suffering was limited.
  2. We adopted a new dog, Hazel, in the spring. She is part German Shepherd and part something else (Drew insists she is Husky, but she looks Akita to me). She is sweet but still a puppy (albeit a BIG puppy) and, as it turns out, I am not much of a “puppy person”. I really hate the bad and destructive behavior (chewing, jumping, nipping) that comes while they’re still young.
  3. My Uncle Rory suddenly passed away in March. He had nearly fully recovered from a minor stroke he had several months prior. He had stopped drinking and was starting to exercise… and then he was gone. I’m still not exactly sure what happened- but it left my 3 cousins completely parentless within the span of 5 years. I flew home for the funeral, and while I was so glad to be there with my family, to support my cousins and dad, it was a profoundly depressing experience. Thankfully my brother and Heather were there along with the rest of my family. We all had each other’s backs.
  4. We took our first ever Family Vacation at the end of April! It was a 10 year wedding anniversary gift to ourselves. We packed up the kids and the car and toured around all the places in Colorado we wanted to see. We started in Glenwood Springs with an incredible hike and a soak in the hot springs. Then we were off to Telluride with the most stunning alpine landscapes we had ever seen. Next was Mesa Verde and Durango where we had dinner (and sipped whiskey) at a legitimate saloon. And we finally wound our way up to the Great Sand Dunes where the kids had a blast playing in the sand and the water before we headed home. It was truly a bright spot in the year when we really needed one and we made memories we’ll keep forever.
  5. I went to two national conferences for work- New Orleans for NASPA and Las Vegas for NACADA. They were amazing experiences and they truly helped me to grow in my practice. I look forward to attending another in Montreal this spring.
  6. I went paragliding!! Drew bought me a flight last Christmas and I finally took the leap off Mt. Zion in June. It was one of the most liberating, spiritual, exciting, and yet peaceful moments in my life. The flight itself only lasted for about 6 minutes (you’re at the mercy of the winds) but the memory of those feelings will last a lifetime.11050782_10153096962474234_4551004901042795063_n
  7. Griffin played his first ever team sport! For an entire season he was a football player. His skill really ended up improving by the end of it and he LOVED the experience. It also showed us just how big he’s getting. I can’t believe we’re already hitting these milestones.11856300_10204715250943584_1793502467357104146_o
  8. Drew and I got to attend his cousin, Meredith’s stunning wedding in New Mexico. We had so much fun and we were so glad we could be there to support his family and spend time with his mom. It was also like a mini romantic getaway that gave us some much needed kid-free time to regroup and feel like our old selves again.
  9. I fell in love with my body again. In the summer I started a bootcamp class targeted at mothers trying to “get their body back”. It was a grueling twice a week workout that often left me sore and emotional. The end result wasn’t the skinnier me I was aiming for. It was a much stronger, toned, and happy me that got consistently drunk on the endorphins from exercise. Once the class was over, I took up running and I absolutely adore it. I ran 4-5 times a week all summer and I ran a 5k at a pretty decent pace, hills and all! I also joined the gym at work where I take yoga and strength classes, work with the free weights, and do tabatas.
  10. Griffin started Kindergarten! Since he’s still 4 he’ll go through Kindergarten at his elementary school again in the fall. Daycare has a fully licensed and accredited kindergarten program though and they had space so they asked if we’d like to join. Griffin has blossomed in this class. I think it is just the challenge he needed to keep his brain and body active, yet he catches on quickly so he still feels a sense of accomplishment. He comes home daily with the most amazing facts- and he’s able to read small words on his own! We are so very proud of him and hope this is indicative of a love for school going forward!
  11. We went on all kinds of fun day trips and outings with the kids- the zoos, Children’s Museum, Aquarium, Manitou Springs, Estes Park, Georgetown, the El Dorado Springs pool, Steamboat Springs, Heritage Square, the Renaissance Festival, Casa Bonita, Chatfield Reservoir, Tiny Town, and so many others.
  12. We gained a family member! Mae Kubie, Jake and Angela’s daughter, was born in November. But there’s more! Then we got the awesome news that my cousin, Dan is having TWINS in May! My cousin, Erin, is having her first in June. And my cousin Pat (finally) just proposed to his long term girlfriend! But best news ever? My brother and Heather are having a baby too! They are due July 15th!

This year definitely had its ups and downs. I hope for far fewer rough spots and losses in 2016. But writing about the good things help me look back on the year with fresh eyes- there is much to be thankful for.

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It’s been about 3 months since I’ve posted, and a LOT has happened in that time! We’ve gone on vacation, adopted a pet, spent some quality time with family, and about a million other little things. I’ll try to do some catch up posts over the next few days. In the meantime, I figured I’d write about where I’ve been.

Starting about 3 or 4 months ago- maybe a bit longer- I lost a bit of myself. I was always tired. I was self conscious about things like my weight and my work that had never bothered me before. I stopped taking time to read and write for myself. I wasnt excited about anything. I was confused, but just mustered the energy to do what I had to (take care of the kids, clean the house, feed the family, get things done at work) and then I’d just collapse. More and more, I understood I wasn’t happy. I blamed my weight. I blamed being in a rut. I blamed our finances. I blamed the weather. I blamed the kids. And then I realized that it wasnt any of those things, really.  I was depressed. That simple. That epiphany was actually the best thing that’s happened to me in awhile.

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I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. It was most prevalent in my late teen years and early adulthood. I am lucky that my bouts of depression have really dissipated the older I’ve gotten, whether it’s because of chemicals and hormones working themselves out, the time and effort I have to devote to the kids (leaving me little time to think about myself), or maybe the anxiety medication I’m on. I actually thought I may have completely rid myself of it forever.

But clinical depression isn’t something that comes because you’re expecting it. It’s not always linked to “sadness”. Like any other hereditary disease, it just IS. You can control it, you can treat it, but it’s never really GONE. So when I realized I was depressed, it was actually a relief. I’m not miserable. I’m not trapped in a rut. I don’t dislike my life or my body. I have chemicals firing in odd ways, and I CAN WORK WITH THAT. I’ve been here before. I have coping methods, there’s an end in sight.

Two things really helped me get a handle on things and work through it this time. The first was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I acknowledged my struggles to people outside of my immediate family. At work, we were each in charge of designing a small team building lesson for one of our staff meetings. My turn was a few weeks ago and I presented on vulnerability.

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As part of my lesson, we did an activity where we shared a hero, a highlight, and a hardship. And for the first time, I was open with others about the fact that I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for most of my life. I told them about how I’ve never seen it as a disease, in fact I think it has made me a better human. I am able to empathize with others and see the beauty in things that other people take for granted. I told them how I thought it was gone for good, but that I learned an important lesson in always keeping an eye out for it. And I told them about how I’ve kept it hidden for my whole life because of the social stigma attached to it. My team was AMAZING and incredibly supportive, and I felt so liberated in being my true self. It was a great experience.

The second thing has to do with a random act of kindness. During one of my lows, that at the moment I was tying to body issues, I texted Cory about feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. We had a good conversation about why I shouldn’t feel that way, and various things I could do to alleviate that feeling, and that was sort of that.

Only it wasn’t, because just a few days later, I got a book in the mail: Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons, sent lovingly and thoughtfully by Cory.

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Brittany is one of my favorite bloggers, and she writes extensively about body positivity in addition to other (usually hilarious) things. I loved the book and I devoured it (the first thing I read for myself in MONTHS), but more than anything I was so touched that someone cared so much. It is helpful to be reminded occasionally how valued you are.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s depression is different. For some people the only thing that helps is time. For others, nothing works. For some it’s purely medication, for others it’s exercise. There is no quick fix. For me, it’s recognizing it. Saying “oh, hello- it’s you again” and then slowly crawling out. It helps me to recognize the people in my life that support me. It helps me to remember that each area of hurt (feeling fat, feeling tired, feeling insignificant) is a SYMPTOM, not an issue in of itself. And then, I need to start forcing myself back into the world.

Three or four months later, I’m feeling much more myself. I am reading, writing, laughing, and going places. I am eating nutritious food, exercising, and appreciating all of the different parts that make myself ME. I am learning not to take depression for granted, and I’m learning that I can be more open about my struggles. Vulnerability really is a GOOD thing. No one is perfect. Everyone has issues. In the grand scheme of things, mine are fairly insignificant.

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(L)ittle Challenge

Griffin has been having problems in school again. We’re very disappointed, as we really love his teacher and we know that she is tough, but fair. And it is the same old issues: not listening, not doing what he is told, not sitting down to learn. It isn’t only affecting HIM (he is starving because he refuses to sit down to eat lunch, he is missing out on learning outcomes since he ignores the lessons) but it is also severely inhibiting Ms. Mona’s ability to teach, and he continually tries to grab the attention of the other kids in his class, affecting their learning too.

Today when I went in to drop him off, Ms. Mona had a two page letter for me written from Griffin’s perspective. It basically documented his day yesterday up until nap time.

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How humiliating.

Part of it is that he’s a 4 year old boy. I get it. They are routinely challenging and full of energy. I’m not asking that he’s perfect. But part of that is just him. It’s not like we don’t notice any bad behavior at home- we totally do. We just try to deal with each individual situation instead of the “problem” as a whole. And some of it we assume he’ll grow out of, or we ignore because we’re so tired of being the disciplinarian. But all of that has to change. We need to do it so that his school life is easier (I want him to LOVE to learn like I did!), so that his home life is easier (I want this to be a safe, happy place he can relax in!), so that his family is happier (we don’t like feeling like things are ALWAYS a struggle), and so that his teachers have an easier time- because their lives are hard enough as it is.

I think I have it narrowed down to a few key issues.

1. his attention span is minimal. I’m not sure how to improve this other than limiting his screen time (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/health/views/10klass.html?_r=0) and maybe playing learning games with him. This is an area I definitely need to do more reading on (since I’m clearly not a child psychologist). But where we’re going to start is 1 hour of tv a day- that’s all screens including tv, ipad & phones, and that includes before and after school. I will also designate one hour of time every night to playing learning games with him, or working on his writing. I’ve never really structured our time that way before, but I’m thinking having a fixed schedule might help him.

2. he HAS to be the best/ the first/ the winner/ the most important at EVERYTHING. This is a challenge at home (for example, he has to be the first one done getting dressed and if anyone else is done before him, he FREAKS OUT and has a huge fit) and i is also a challenge at school (during circle time if Ms. Mona calls on someone else instead of Griffin, he gets very angry and says it’s never his turn, it’s not fair & he storms off). I am no longer going to entertain this behavior at home. There will be no “racing”, or “being first” and he & Evvie are going to be treated exactly the same.

3. he refuses to help with chores (at school and at home) when it wasnt his own idea. If Ms. Mona asks him to help his friends clean up a center, he’ll run away and hide. If I ask him to pick up his toys, he’ll sit on th floor and play while he attempts to ignore me. Part of this is his stubborn nature, but I wonder if part of it is the fact that he has no real chores or set responsibilities at home yet. So as of today, he has a chore list. He will now pick up his own toys, put his dirty clothes in the hamper, put his dirty dishes in the sink, and help fold his own laundry. Doing his chores will get rewards (a quarter!) not doing his chores will get consequences (no screen time).

This will all have to be modified as it does/ doesn’t work, of course. And we’ll need to still deal with things as they come. But it’s a start. I know the first few weeks will be rough for all of us. But we’re doing it for HIM. He’s so smart, sweet, and funny. All he needs is some support so that he can always have good days.

(K)id President

I try to surround myself with joy, positivity and kindness on a daily basis. Having consistent positive affirmations around reminds me how good I have it, and to look at the bright side. Work might be stressful, I may not feel well, the kids might have their own agendas, but at the end of the day my life is pretty amazing.

One of my positivity go-to’s is Kid President. I follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and his posts are an immediate reset button in my mind. I mean, how can you argue with this?

I know it’s silly- than an internet video could make that much of a difference. It’s not that it removes my problems, or fixes anything. It’s more that it reminds me that my happiness is a choice. What happens to you is sometimes out of your control. But how you deal with those things is within your control. I always prefer to be positive. Happiness is way more enjoyable. This was one of yesterday’s posts from Kid President:

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I mean, RIGHT?!?!?! And, wow. Then there is this: inspirational videos online could help lessen prejudices. That’s just the epitome of positivity if you ask me.

And here is one of my favorites:

it's ok to disagree- grumpy cats are gonna grumpy

it’s ok to disagree- grumpy cats are gonna grumpy

Grumpy cats are gonna grumpy. Meaning, to me, when people are rude, or mean, or disagreeable- most of the time it’s not about ME. It’s about THEM. And if they want to roll that way, it’s their sad lives.

How do YOU press the positivity reset button?

(J)ust Me & My Kids

Drew went snowboarding with his friends yesterday, so the kids and I had the entire day to spend entertaining ourselves. I was worried about it at first. Normally it feels like Drew and I need each other to keep the kids behaving, entertained and fed. I still think two parents is best! But we ended up having a GREAT time!

We woke up and lazed around in bed for awhile while watching cartoons. Then I packed them into the car (still in their jammies and slippers) to grab breakfast. They thought going out in public like that was hilarious and they giggled all the way to Starbucks. Once we were back home and fed, they played an intense game of chase (which, confusingly, required a toy shopping cart) while I vacuumed and mopped. And then I did the unthinkable. I TOOK THEM BOTH GROCERY SHOPPING. Normally my most feared of all two-child errands, this actually went AMAZINGLY well! Griffin was super helpful, and Evvie saved her shrieking to get out of the cart until we were nearly done! Success!

But the best part came after grocery shopping. Griffin had been begging for a picnic for weeks, so I packed up our picnic bag, grabbed a blanket and some toys, and we were off to Parfet Park.

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IMG_2421The kids LOVED it. I have never seen them so excited to eat their lunch! And in between, they climbed some rocks, ran around like crazy people, and went down the twisty slide. And the weather was absolutely perfect, so I was just happy about soaking in the sun.

After our picnic, we took a walk into downtown Golden, and I let them each pick out a toy at the general store. Again, this had the ability to go drastically wrong, but they were both just genuinely thrilled and well behaved. It made me so proud. Griffin walked away with a shield and pirate sword, and Evvie got a kitten in it’s own cat carrier. Adorbs!

Once home, Evvie took a nap while I read a book and Griff had some quiet play time. It was during this time that Griffin drew the most epic portrait of Evvie ever:

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the resemblance is uncanny

And then, of course, it was time for more playing, porch sitting, cartoon watching, and occasional screaming.

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It wasn’t without stress and annoyance they’re not perfect. But no one is! And overall, we really had an amazing day. By the time Drew got home at 5pm, they were so excited to see him, but they were also excited to tell him about all the fun things we did- and that made me super proud!

(I)nstitution

This post is late because yesterday was insanely busy. I was out of the office all day helping Student Activities put on E-Days a true Mines institution (since 1934)! 

I assisted the crowds at the Capitol building downtown following the orecart pull, and later I got to basically be a bouncer at the beer stand on campus. I had a blast though and I think my students really enjoyed seeing me outside of the typical staff context. 

        

 

E-Days continued today with the cardboard boat race. We took the kids down and they were absolutely amazed by what students could put together with some boxes and duct tape! 

   

   

Tonight we’ll finish out by watching E-Days fireworks from our house. I love this tradition!

(H)afiz

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I’m sure you’ve seen a quote by Hafiz. They’re everywhere lately, permeating everything from Facebook to Pinterest. I wondered why the sudden popularity, but then again- why not? Hafiz’ poetry is timeless, powerful, and honest. It grabs you by the heart and forces you to look at what matters. He pokes fun at religion and power, stripping everything down to human and soul. Maybe in this time of violence, unrest, illness and financial instability, people take comfort in being confronted with what really matters.

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I studied Hafiz in college during one of my poetry classes. I remember being amazed that the words of a 14th century Persian man could feel so magical, yet so necessary. That I could identify with them and be moved by them. There is something otherworldly about his work- it buzzes around in my head and pins itself to my heart

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But this is one of my very favorites. I think about it from time to time, when I’m struggling with the words or actions of someone else, or even considering my own thoughts and actions:

Dropping Keys

The small man

Builds cages for everyone

He

Knows.

While the sage,

Who has to duck his head

When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping keys all night long

For the

Beautiful

Rowdy

Prisoners.

All my life, I aim to be the sage.

(G)riffin

IMG_1740Dear Griffin,

With everything going on, I didn’t write your birthday letter on time. It’s pretty par for the course, I suppose. And I think you’re getting used to how things roll around here- they happen when they happen. What matters is that you’re loved. And loved you ARE. Your dad and I say all the time how lucky we are to have you. And it’s amazing just how much we love you. More than we ever knew our hearts could hold. That is, of course, in between telling each other about how tired and frustrated we can be because of having you in our lives too, but that’s all part of the package. We’ll take it.

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I am amazed at just how much you’ve matured over the past several months. All of a sudden you’re my little buddy. We can have whole conversations, I can seek your opinion on things, we talk about the meaning of things and how events might make someone feel. You’re exceptionally attuned to the feelings of others. When I dropped you off for school before leaving for my Uncle’s funeral, you said “I’m sorry I can’t go with you, mommy. Who will hug you when you’re sad?”

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You’re getting really good with your writing. The other day you wrote “Drew” on a card all by yourself. Although, you should know that Daddy actually prefers being called “Daddy” and not “Drew” or “Doodie-Butt” as you have taken to doing recently.

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Evvie is still your very best friend and nothing makes me happier. You definitely have your sibling squabbles (complete with pushing, screaming, and tears on all sides) but you also genuinely like spending time with her. You make each other laugh, you love making up weird games together, you always hold her hand, and lately you’ve been putting shows she likes on my ipad so you can sit and watch them together. You’re such a good brother.

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Of course you are a strong willed four year old, so life isn’t always easy. You will tell us no and mean it. You will throw giant screaming tantrums when things don’t go your way. And we’ve found out lately that you enjoy testing authority at school. These things are NOT ok, and we struggle with it. Daddy and I have tried everything from direct talks, to time out, to taking privileges away. We’re not sure than any of it is right. But what frustrates us more than anything is that we know you ARE such a good, sweet, smart boy and that those actions don’t reflect you at all. We want everyone to see the wonderful person that we get to see.

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But we are lucky that those struggles are becoming fewer and farther between as time goes on. For the most part you are just spunky and hilarious. The other night as I was putting you to bed, you asked for a cup of milk. I told you that you could have water, but that your dentist said you shouldn’t have milk before bed. You said “ok, but how would he know? Is he watching me right now like Santa?”

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You are a huge cuddlebug. You love laying with us and watching movies, you need big hugs when I drop you off at school, and you still love to be held. This makes me so happy, since I feel like you’re growing up way too fast. Holding you lets me hang on just a little longer. But as you know, since I tell you all the time, you can get as big as you want, you’ll still be my baby.

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You’re a HUGE family guy. You get so excited when it’s time to go to Grandma & Grandpa’s. You are thrilled beyond belief that Grammy is coming to visit soon. You were so proud that Papa knew you were big enough to deserve a real Broncos jersey. You love hearing stories and seeing pictures of Uncle Brian, Aunt Heather, Aunt Cory, and Uncle Steve. And Oh, man- you think William is the absolute coolest. You know them all and you ask about them often. I love that you care about your people, near and far.

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You’re also a huge helper. You love helping me make dinner, helping me with projects, helping to get Evvie ready for school. You’ll do pretty much any small task- except clean up your own toys and messes. Apparently that is where you draw the line.

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You are the sweetest, smartest, most handsome young boy. I love you so. My every day life is better for having you in it. I’m so lucky that you chose us.

love, mama

(F)at

I feel fat.

Let me back pedal a bit. In no way to I believe our worth is tied to our appearance. I am against body shaming and won’t allow “fat talk” in my house. I am an advocate for women feeling comfortable, strong, and confident in their own skin regardless of size.

But that is just the problem. Right now I don’t feel comfortable or confident. I feel bloated, distorted, not me.

I have no delusions of being “skinny”. Its not even something I want. But my clothes have been too tight lately. Parts that are normally covered peek out. I notice that my face looks puffy in pictures. And today I found out that I’ve gained nearly 10 pounds in the past 6 months.

WOW.

I blame the holidays and stress. And for me, weight loss and gain is always cyclical. But this just cant stand. I want to ge back to the confident me- the October me.

I’m actually pretty sick right now (nothing major- just an ear infection & sinus infection) thats why I was at the doctor to begin with. But once I’m 100% it’s Operation Regular Me. I’m not going on a diet (it would only last a few days & then make me sad), but I do plan on being much more conscious of what I’m putting into my body and how often I’m moving it!

(E)aster

We kicked off our Easter celebrations on Saturday night with our annual Insane Kids Egg Dye Fest. Since the time Griffin was born, coloring Easter eggs has been a fast, messy and intense situation. I’m pretty sure the kids had a dozen eggs dyed in 2 minutes flat (along with their hands, clothes, and anything else in the near vicinity). I didnt even have time to take any pictures. They had a ball though, which I suppose is the point.

The next morning they discovered that the Easter bunny had left them baskets and hid their eggs! Griffin found all but one egg, though Evvie discovered her basket first. I’m pretty sure she can smell chocolate from a mile away.

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The Easter bunny knew that Griffin had been dying for goggles

After breakfast (bacon, hardboiled eggs, and hot cross buns), we went to my parents’ house to celebrate Easter as well as Evvie’s birthday. The kids were thrilled to discover that the Easter bunny showed up to Grandma & Grandpa’s house too!

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Evvie got lots of great presents, but my personal favorite was this doll bed, complete with a miniature version of the quilt my mom made her when she was born!FullSizeRender

We had a great time with my parents visiting and eating amazing food. I was so full, it hurt! The only downside was that the kids became so saturated with sugar, they both lost their minds & were uncontrollable spinning tops by the end of the night. I still call it a success!