What’s Love?

10 years. 10 months, 10 days, 10 minutes. It all feels the same to me. Mom passed away on this day 10 years ago. It’s staggering to think it’s been that long, let alone KNOW how much has gone by without her.

I’ve tried to write this post a few times and just couldn’t put the right words together. Truthfully I wrote this on Sunday and just waited to publish it in case I needed a few more modifications.

I’ve written about this before but I can still hear, see and feel when Sean had to tell me the news. In the one sentence, my world changed forever. I never pictured a day when Mom wouldn’t be here. I knew it would happen “someday” but it felt so far off that it was not something I’d ever thought about. Especially with a 2 year old and one on the way in a month.

Without mentally reliving everything that followed that week (including buying funeral flowers on Valentine’s Day), I look at some of the things she’s missed. Everything Jakzr. Oh how I know she’d have laughed herself silly when I changed his diaper and a stream flew over his head. Oh the joys of having a baby boy.

Big things, little things. It’s all the same. A permanent hole in my heart for all the things she’s missing. 10 years. It almost takes my breath away.

I miss her laugh. I miss her advice. I miss the life we had as a family. It has all changed.

Often, I wonder what she’d think of me as a mom. I know she’d be full of her usual criticism when I didn’t necessarily do it her way. When things happen with the kids, I miss being able to ask if I had the same struggles as a kid. Tests, learning, stubbornness. So instead I blame my husband and say they get it from him! That works, right?

The need to pick up the phone was so great when she was first gone. It doesn’t happen much now. But I still find the need to do it sometimes.

10 years.

It’s not all bad. Even with her unable to talk to me, I’ve found my way. I’m proud of the mom I am now. There are weeks, like this past week where Jakzr was tardy 3 days, where I think I suck at this mom thing, but it’s fleeting. My kids are good people. I watch the small things like how they help friends, or how they’re genuine with concern for others or that they have empathy incertain situations. I know that’s in part because of me. Instead of only focusing on what I’ve lost (and it’s a big one!), I’ve harnessed my energy to focus on what’s in front of me.

I’m grateful to my mother for showing me her struggles. I clearly didn’t understand them then, but as I’ve matured and gone through some myself, I’ve seen them from a new perspective. I wish I could have done more. Mom was happy, but I know she struggled with a lot that I know she never said aloud or wanted to admit. She’s taught me that someone is always observing- it was me! So I watch what I project for my kids.

I’ve woken up with anxiety all this week. Typical for me. I just call it “February”. When it was worse and I’d see my doctor, he even knew what that meant. It does get less each year, but the dates on the calendar still manage to play mind games with me. This year’s was different, coupled with work stress and life stress. I can honestly say that I haven’t been dwelling on it, but it still manages to find a way to remind me. But I’m ok. I am still able to dust myself off, and take another step forward.

I still believe that everything happens for a reason. Except this. Maybe she had completed everything she was meant to do. But she was still ours. Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Grandmother, Friend … and gosh, I wish we had more time.

So today, 10 years later, I just say Thank You to the woman who made the most significant impact on me. Thank you for still figuring out ways to teach me.

I love you Mom.

Mom & Me

What’s in a Month?

January 1 is usually the day we all start fresh, making ourselves better people. So I started my health journey with weight being my #1 focus. Having struggled all my life, I found something that I thought would work for me. You saw my first week posts and some small updates since. Let me tell you, it’s working!

In December, I remember talking to my health coach. I remember giving her my credit card and turning to my incredibly supportive husband and said “I think I just made the first step in changing my life.” It was such a BIG statement for me. I’ve dieted so many times in the past that I feel like this is the one area of my life where I am a failure. It’s such a hard thing to say aloud, not to mention admit to myself. F-A-I-L-U-R-E. I’ve gotten to that almost 30 pound mark and something always happens. Maybe I lose motivation. Maybe it’s fear. I won’t psychoanalyze this now, but you see where the mind goes.

So I started this journey. After day two, I was so insanely skeptical. I was hungry. I was grumpy. I was sick. My coach was on the phone with me every day telling me to hang in there. I remember fighting back and complaining. How she didn’t dump me right then is a testiment to her dedication. I was practically (well, in my head), trying to make adjustments to what I thought was best. She persisted. “Your taste buds will change.”, “Give it at least two weeks.”, “The first week is the hardest!”

And on Day 4, it did. Suddenly the foods I was eating weren’t so bad. I was feeling full. My daily check-ins shifted to twice a week. I was doing this. Coach told me that it was ok if I wasn’t perfect, but I was honestly amazed that I was doing it! Coach K told me early on that the most honest I can be with her, the better my results (I could lie, but that doesn’t hurt her!). OMG. She’s so right. Almost like my personal therapist at times! Week 1: Down 9.6 pounds.

Week 2 was easier. I figured out my plan, and how to work it correctly. The bars I was eating are “tiny”. Yet I find myself surprised that it keeps me full. Oh, there were definite foods on the “gross” list, but thank goodness for returns! LOL.

Week 3 and 4 turned into day 30 and 31. By that point, I was down 18 pound. One Eight. I look at the scale on weigh in day and am amazed. My coach doesn’t take enough credit for the support she gives me. She said that I’m the one doing the work. Well, she’s right, but she is my go-to for all things food.

At lunch today, we went to IHOP. It was hubby’s breakfast after working overnight. I very easily ignored the pancakes, the hash browns and watched Miss M and Hubby eat regularly. I saw the food as carbs and sugar and ate my steak tips and eggs sans carbs or sugar happily. It’s quite amazing how much I’ve changed. It’s a mental thing. I finally feel like I can succeed this time. I will be a success.

So in one month, I’ve lost 18 pounds and gone down a size. My pants were too big on me after two weeks. Thank goodness for hubby ordering the wrong size two months ago. I’ve washed the next size pants and have them on standby. It’s great when I wake up and feel like something has changed.

I have a long way to go. I’m not doing it for anyone but me. I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I’m DETERMINED. I shared my initial success on my personal facebook page. I was amazed at the over 50 comments and over 100 reactions. Part of me expected the reactions, but not the comments. Heartfelt and genuine. From all of the many stages of my life – grade school, high school, college, work. Family, friends and acquaintances. The support pushes me forward. Once, I would have done this for them. Today, I still focus on me. I have my week-to-week goals for myself. (Don’t F-it up as one past boss used to say).

I don’t write this for the praise. I write this because it’s my journey… and it’s my blog so why not be completely honest? But for anyone to read this and feel any similarities, I hope I can give them a crutch to push them forward.

What about me?

While driving to work, I heard something about self-care. I don’t remember if it was something the morning show was talking about, or if I flipped stations and caught a commercial. Either way, it came to the forefront today. I’m notoriously bad at it. But aren’t all of us moms? Honestly, I’m surprised that I’m sitting here drinking my diet cappuccino as I type this. #day28andgoingstrong!

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so tired all the time. That’s when this commercial/chat really came to mind. For the longest time, I did everything I could to be a good mom, good employee, good boss. I worked what felt like a million hours a week to be there for everyone. Except me.

At night, we have our nightly routines. The kids don’t seem to want to watch tv as a family (we all have our distinct opinions about each others shows). So I get to watch mine mostly uninterrupted. During commercial breaks, I think about how lovely it would be to soak in the warm tub, dissolving a bath bomb next to me. Ahhh…. But it never happens. Why? By the time I take my pills, get the dog out before we go up and get everything else ready, I’m too tired. Crawling into bed with my awesome weighted blanket (my personal hug each night!) is really the only thing I want at that point. I can’t be alone.

This weekend, we had the Pinewood Derby with my Cub Scout pack. It’s always a fun event that we always look forward to. Due to unforeseen circumstances this year, we were down to the last minute and this mom was painting it the night before …. at bedtime. Luckily, we had decided our design weeks ago, but the heavy lifting, beyond the cutting, was on the to-do list. But, at check-in, we hit our 5 ounces on the dot and the width and wheel alignment was perfect. He made 5th place in his den. That’s a success in our book!

Our Derby Car with the Scout Law on it!

Next, self care falls to the bottom when you have the never ending mom-guilt. We haven’t done anything wrong, but there is always something we think we should have done better. Gosh, I remember the “talent show” I was in during the second grade. Mind you, I don’t dance. My BFF at the time convinced me to dance with her and we never practiced. Me and my little 7 year old self never thought much of it, until I got up there. I vaguely remember jumping around to “Beat It”. I think that was the moment I became self-aware and have the worst stage fright as a result. I can do it now as an adult, but in certain situations, I get blinded and forget my words…even when they’re right in front of me. But I think of my mom that day. Her embarrassment FOR me. If it was anything like what I feel for my own kids, she probably had a thought process like this: “Why did she decide to do this? Should I have made her practice when I found out? How do I tell her she did a good job when it was really awful? How do I not break her spirit?” Or my personal favorite… “Can I tell her I was there, when I wasn’t really?” Now, the last one on my Talent Show wasn’t one Mom used… I know she was there, but there were other times she told me she sat in the balcony … and I still question if that were true. Yes, there was a balcony.

There there is the time for my partner-in-crime. My Hubby. With our crazy schedules, we have to worry about work, kids and sleep schedules. On a good day, he sleeps until 2. On weekends, he’ll try to wake up earlier so we can have a full family day. But that bites us sometimes. At the Pinewood Derby, he had 3-4 hours of sleep. We caffeinated him adequately before. He was a walking zombie. I mean, you can’t blame him! But time with my spouse is high on the list over self care. Hmmm… Pedis or quality time? Quality time PLEASE!

Some days I wonder how I have any room for anything else. But I still manage to run my small business (and LOVE it BTW), squeeze time with my Besties and do anything fun. But all that is worth it to me. I guess it’s my version of self care. But I really can’t wait to just schedule that massage, float or anything else that is just for me. Baby steps, right?

Constant Healing

It’s that time of year where I never know when it’s going to hit me. Grief. When Mom passed away, it was February, days before her birthday. Since then, as February approaches, it just gets hard. Never in the same way or the exact same time. I remember my first few years, the hard times would last much longer and start before the holidays. Now, I get blips of emotion during the holidays and it hits me some time before February.

The worst part of this feeling is when it catches me off guard. Last week, I felt great. My resolve in my health plan was strong, I felt good, happy. Then it hit. The anxiety crept up, the flashbacks started briefly. I felt sad. It’s like the date on the calendar is jumping off the page.

Luckily, while I was at an event for my side hustle, I was talking to a wonderful woman and I was able to tell her how much energy I put into my kids. In a way, that became my therapy. Instead of focusing on only what I don’t have, I focus on what I do. Believe me when I say it wasn’t a conscience decision. It just sort of evolved. (Hey, when did I get that smart?!)

So as my hard month approaches, I’m focusing less on my work (it will always be there), and focus on Miss M who is only inches away from becoming the same height, or Jakzr, my ever loving YouTube-star-to-be.

Today, we met with friends at IKEA. It’s such a fun place and I love figuring out how to reconfigure the house. At one point, I had all four kids. The amount of joy that I had wheeling one on a cart, making sure they had their buddy, or just being silly (I gave one a cardboard “crown” at one point), I truly enjoyed the moment. I laughed. I found my joy. Somehow, this healed me from this week’s sadness.

I know it will come back… this feeling. It always does and will until I get past the hard days and the memories they bring back. But somehow, I feel stronger to face them. This one is a harder one. 10 years. I’m working on figuring out how to put words to that. But until I’m ready, I’ll put it on the back burner. The words will come when they’re meant to.

Until that happens, I can at least say I’m ok… anyone else think of the Stuart Smally SNL bit, or is that just me? See, I have my humor. So as I type with a smile on my face and I look across the room at my crazy family, I count my blessings. I’m the lucky one!

Winter Blues

Hello my lovely readers! You must have thought I fell into the chaotic oblivion that is my life. You wouldn’t be wrong! Between family stuff, this thing called winter, work… I’m only slightly aware of what day it is.

Then there is my wellness plan. I’m actually still holding steady! 16 days in and I can’t believe it, but I’m down 14.5 pounds already. Most people can’t see it yet, but I certainly do. I miss carbs. I’m not going to lie. The hardest is when we get pizza for dinner. I sit there with my chef salad and pretend it’s cheesy goodness on the perfectly cooked crust. *sigh* BUT it’s only temporary. I can do this. I WILL DO THIS.

We had our first snowfall of the year this past weekend. How lucky was it that everyone was home and under the same roof? No work, no school, no doggie daycare. It was amazing! It was the first time I didn’t have to worry about my husband going to work in it. THAT was a nice feeling.

About 9 years ago, I had a work event during a blizzard. I had to go in. There really was no choice. We would have booked a hotel room across the street from the office, but I didn’t know at the time that the hotel would accept pets and we had Mack. I wasn’t willing to leave him alone at home. So it was me and the snow plows out that day. Thank goodness for the years in Fredonia. I learned quickly how to deal with snow! Unfortunately, that weekend allowed for some traumatic moments that I won’t go into, but I still vividly remember that weekend like it was yesterday when I drive the same roads when they have snow. But at least I can talk myself through it instead of getting that paralyzing fear I once did.

Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent and I don’t remember what I was really coming on to write about. Does that ever happen to you? I feel like this far too often, especially when I juggle things! I’ve also gotten really good at DROPPING the ball. There is a book with a similar title that I started but never got back to. It said something along the lines that you have to drop a few balls in order to really be successful. Hey, half of mine are dropped. Where’s my $1 million? Am I right? (Ok, to do list item number 16, read the ball drop book).

Ok… enough rambling. If you’ve read this far, thank you! This was a total stream of conscience today!

What Day is it?

No, I’m completely serious. I can’t tell you if today is Monday, Friday or Tuesday (which I think I’m almost certain it’s one of those!). Traveling on Sundays isn’t our preferred thing to do — we like Saturdays –, but we wanted to visit my mother-in-law and her amazingly cute puppies. We weren’t able to spend Christmas with her, so this was our make-up Christmas.

But traveling on a Sunday means leave precisely on time at 6 p.m. or the kids will be cranky in the morning. Well, Jakzr got a tardy, so that should tell you everything. You win some, you lose some.

Today was much better.

So are you working on your New Year’s Resolution? Normally, I’d sit here and laugh. Knowing full well I wasn’t really serious, I would have given up after day two. Oh, and I was so close. It’s hard to admit how close I was last week. It was hard. It was miserable. I wasn’t convinced I could do it.

But I did! I was able to stick it out. Today is day 8 and I’m 9.7 pounds down! I can call that 10, right? I mean it practically is. Oh, but I’m the numbers person so it’s not really… but if I round?

Miss M had a home-ec project to do this weekend. Cook your family dinner. It was so awesome. She did an awesome job. Minus my new plan. I couldn’t eat half of it (no fruit and no potatoes). She was only a little disappointed, but I think I was more. On Sunday, I passed on Pizza. My favorite go-to. Sigh. But I sat and ate my protein and veggies. It may not have been totally pretty, but I did it.

If I get down on myself later, remind me to go back to this post. I am stronger than I think, but I forget that sometimes.

Ok, now that all of that is out of the way, I’m looking forward. We’re still trying to plan our next pup. The house is just not the same without the Big Puppy. He will be irreplaceable, so I’m thinking a slightly smaller dog, one for Jakzr to walk. We may need to do it soon. Lou is slowly putting on weight. I think it’s the begging at the table… no one to share with. Oh, and Hubby has to have final say, so we need to get him to fall in love first. Ok… It’s a plan! LOL!

It wasn’t pretty….

I’m not ashamed to say (ok, maybe I am a little), that yesterday was not my best day. I was warned and BOY did I underestimate it. The fits of “I can’t do this” and “this sucks” may or may not have come from my mouth. I can’t really recall most of it.

BUT, and this is a good one, I did not bite anyone’s head off. I will spare you the details of the day, but I can sit here and type that I feel better today and when I took Jakzr for breakfast this morning, I could smell the sugar and it told me I am doing the right thing.

What a difference a day makes, right?

Day 2

So I’m on day two of this health kick. I know the beginning always sucks. I’m not giving in the towel. That said, this sucks!

The plan I’m on has a food plan and I basically add water, heat and eat. Pretty easy, if I could stomach the food. (again, it’s day 2!) I can handle the ingredients, but it’s the sugar substitutes in it that are doing me in.

I gave up Diet Coke two summers ago. My addiction. My one love. My weakness. And I just did without. It took me about 2 months for the desires to go away. And now, I only get a craving for it occasionally, but always lean toward my boring unsweetened iced tea. It was way back when I also gave up all artificial sugars. I didn’t like the taste so it was an easy thing to do away with. On the occasion of a cup of coffee, I used regular sugar. Aside from that, this girl doesn’t add sugar!

So here I am, eating food after food with Stevia. Honey Sweet Potatoes were part of lunch… that was hard. I took my time and got it down, but I look at my boxes and wonder how this can go. Health Coach – Help!

On the plus side, my water is good (halfway to my 64 oz minimum).

Midway through this post, my health coach called. Phew! I love that I can be honest and complain! Plus, I get tips. Ok… I think I can do this! I have dinner planned. 2 more days to go before it gets easy!

New Year, New Me?

Things I always love about the start of a new calendar year is blank pages in front of you. You are limitless in what you want to achieve. Well, it’s that way every day, but so few look at it that way.

So here it is, January 1. The famous “New Year’s Resolutions” come out. You want to be healthy, lose weight, binge less, spend less. And how long does that last? In my house, I’m lucky if I get through the week. Chaos, remember?

But this year feels different. My son will hit double digits, I’ll have a teenager in the house, we’ll get a new puppy (not giving in or up on this. Maybe in the summer) and I’ll continue to push my business further. Then what about me? That’s the part I always lack. Focus remains on the family when you’re on a mom.

So this year, I am focusing on me. You’ve seen it in writing before… and I’m not very good at it. But a few weeks ago, I signed up with a health coach. The best part is this is one that I don’t have to schlep to the doctor’s office or other location to see. I can do it when and where I am. Totally flexible for me. She has a program. Yes, that’s when the money starts to get overwhelming, but this is for me. Eating out costs money and when my coach said she had done the same thing and said “food for food”, something clicked.

It’s actually scary for me. When I committed, I was extremely excited. I wanted to start on December 26th. I only stopped myself because we still had family visiting and the kids are home from school. But today, I start my usual routines. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m excited about the possibilities I’ve opened for myself. I am limitless as long as I don’t convince myself otherwise. Oh, and that coach I mentioned? I spoke to her on New Year’s Eve. And I’ll speak with her today.

So I sit here, with a slight rumble in my belly, reminding myself that these feelings of fear, hunger and slight caffeine withdrawal are temporary. I know they’ll be replaced with excitement, gratitude, accomplishment. I took my “before” pictures today. I can’t wait to see what “after” looks like!

Bear with me in a few days and tell you I’ve eaten a pencil eraser or something. It’s the grumpy withdrawal me talking. I’ll be back to pleasant “I can do anything” me in no time!

Happy New Year and I wish you a wonderful year ahead!

Broken-hearted

Get your tissues.  This one is going to be a tough one to get through.  

We lost our beloved Mack this weekend.  Yesterday actually.  I’m beyond devastated.  The pain in my chest from losing him was worse than when I lost my mom.  No, I’m not crazy.  I was numb when I lost my mom.  I didn’t feel the pain.  I sobbed then.  I sobbed now. 

I feel guilty.  My last post said “I wish he’d tell me” when it was time.  I saw the signs and felt like I put it out there and he heard me.  I didn’t want him to go.  What I wouldn’t do for 24 more hours…

On Friday, I came home from a long day at work, with more to do.  I was working at my dining room table per my usual.  Hubby said the he didn’t like the way Mack was breathing.  I looked and realized I saw it the night before at bedtime.  The difference was that the night before, he had just run up two flights of stairs.  He was winded.  13 and tired…. out of breath.  It made sense.  But Friday afternoon, he was just laying there next to us.  

We decided to make an appointment.  Figured it didn’t hurt.  They had an opening at 5 so we took it.  We calmly waited for our appointment time and headed over when we needed to.

Our vet is amazing.  Mack has been going for years.  They’ve always taken good care of them and always follows up the next day.  We trust them.   The doctor and vet assistant came in and started checking out our old boy.  X-rays were the best course of action to see what was going on.  Our boy came back a few minutes later with only one of the three x-rays complete.  Mack was coughing too much when the vet put him on his side and didn’t want to put him through too much.  

The results were obvious.  He was sick. It wasn’t said, but I know it was cancer.  It had aggressively spread throughout his chest.  We knew he had a small mass in September when we got him checked for something else, but it was a watch and see.  Add that Mack had some Pleuracy (advanced pneumonia) and it was bad.  

As I type this, I vaguely remember the conversation.  Steroids, Palliative care, humane euthanasia.  The kids hadn’t said goodbye.  There was no way I was going to break their hearts and have hubby go to work.  We walked out with steroids to see if they’d give him some relief in the meantime.

The next day was hard.  Waiting to tell the kids as a family.  Keeping this secret that would break their hearts.  I couldn’t stop crying when they weren’t looking.  Then, how to do it.  It was misery.   Hubby and I went to breakfast to talk “how to break your kids hearts”.  

We got home and the kids were sitting together, not fighting.  It was calm.  Hubby took Mack out to pee (which is something the steroids were making him do more frequently) and then we sat down.  “Kids, we have to talk to you.”

I came clean.  Tears streaming down my face telling them about our vet appointment, that Mack was sick. I told them the options from the vet (in kid terms).  I watched Miss M’s eyes swell with tears.  Jakzr, in his quiet way, looked shellshocked with tears falling.  Painfully, we all agreed we could not let our boy suffer.  It was gutwrenching.  We had to say goodbye.

Jakzr did the sweetest thing.  He got up and ran right to Mack.  They were head to head having a clearly personal and sweet exchange together.  I saw Jakzr’s hand lovingly petting our beloved dog.  It went on for a good 10 minutes.  In typical Jakzr fashion, he bottled up after that and just remained quiet.  Keeping busy.

Miss M, my sweet, sweet girl, was shattered.  We hugged and cried together.  She wasn’t ready.  She never would be.  Mack and M had bonded a lot recently.  Cuddling together, which was a high honor in Mack language, was their new favorite part of the day.  When Jakzr was done with his love fest, it was her turn.  

Throughout the day, it became painfully obvious it was time.  Mack moaned a lot.  He had been doing it more as the week had progressed.  Once a sign of enjoyment as he rubbed his head in the carpet to get that one spot, it became an obvious distress sound.  We fed him a cheeseburger that night and egg sandwich the next morning.  It was good to be king.

Saying goodbye with the kids was brutal.  Tears and more tears.  The red eyes, runny noses, obvious heartbreak.  Love.  I wiped tears from M’s face.  I knew she was going to cry the whole time.  Jakzr was just as bad, uncommon for him, but we knew it was going to happen.  

And just like that, we scooped our beloved boy into the car for one last ride. 

At the vet, they were waiting for us.  There was no wait and they knew exactly who we were (tears in our eyes perhaps?).  We were brought to a private room that I didn’t even know existed.  We loved on our boy, gave him more treats then he’d ever be allowed to have in a sitting and made him comfortable.  I’ll spare you the details, but it was very quick.  It just showed us how very sick he really was.  Hubby watched his last breath while I stroked his fur and whispered “good boy” or “I love you” or a million other things.  

“He’s at peace.”

Tears flowed.  We were given privacy to do our final goodbyes.  On the floor, we stroked Mack’s fur a few last times.  We sent him off with love to deliver to mom and hubby’s dad (pop-pop).  And we cried until we couldn’t any more.  We called the vet tech back in because we couldn’t just walk out and leave him alone.  He was still ours and we were not going to abandon him.  

We walked out with all that remained.  His leash, collar and a final paw print.  I left a piece of my heart.  

By the end of the day, I had cried so much it hurt to breathe (oh, I have a cold too).  The heartache felt too much to bear.  Like losing my mother, I never envisioned a time where Mack wouldn’t be a part of my life.  My head clearly knew a time would come, but never in my wildest imagination could I picture it.  

So today has become the first day we move forward.  We’re a little bruised and sad.  Lou is clearly walking around looking for Mack, but heck, we all are.  

My beautiful boy.  2005 – 2018

Chase your tennis balls Mack.  Wag your tail again.  Breathe easy.  You have left a paw print on my heart forever.