A Year in My Life

2016... This year was one full of challenges. Don't get me wrong, there were positives, but  it seemed as if every positive had one or more negative that came along with it. 

2016 was the year I finally went to the doctor and talked to somebody about my depression. I was vocal about the fact that I was/am battling depression and anxiety. The biggest negative in regards to my medications is the 20+ pounds that I've gained since January and the way that mentally impacts me. I included the Carrie Fisher quote above because the desire for beauty and the way I view myself is tied directly to my depression. Gaining weight makes me feel like a failure. Then that thought takes hold and I see myself as a failure in all aspects of my life: wife, mom, friend, worker, human. But Ms. Fisher is right and I hope to remember that in 2017. 

I struggled with loneliness this year.  You know that feeling when your best friend is someone else's best friend? 2016 had me feeling that a lot. I spent a number of evenings at home crying over perceived loneliness mixed with jealousy. Jealousy that others had so much more--more friends, more fun, more fellowship. How much of that is real and how much is in my head is what I hope to work through in 2017 as well.

One big positive was that I finished grad school with a 4.0. The downside to this is that now my student loans are due. (Money struggles were a reoccurring issue in 2016...) 

Additionally, I gained a wonderful new coworker but lost people I never thought would leave-- including people I considered mentors. One of my biggest struggles has always been dealing with change, so it has been a very different and difficult transition. I have to trust that things will work out, keep my head down, and focus on what I do, but I can't help but mourn the loss of knowledge LE suffered this year. 

Money. Oh, money. This year we discovered that perhaps we bought a bit more house than we really needed. In reality it's not the house that's the problem, it's me and my shopping... My spending is a replacement for other issues, and recognizing that is key. Money stresses cause strife though, and I always want A to have everything she needs or wants. So having to cut back has been hard for me, but it is absolutely something I am working to improve. 

For 2017, I want to work towards my own happiness. I want a decluttered home and more importantly a decluttered mind. I want to make sure I spend time with my family and friends. I want to look back on 2017 as one of the best years of my life. 

From the Dust...

I haven't blogged in well over a year. Maybe even two. The reasons are varied...Time, life, fears, lack of interest, and so on. My blog has always been all over the place. A peek into my life. Then I stopped.

I can honestly say that my life has been full of good and bad during my absence. I've changed jobs, moved, struggled with my weight, started grad school, and had my family rocked by illness. Some of these things are well known among friends and acquaintances alike, some are not.

Job Change: In February I moved to a position as a digital learning facilitator in my same district. While I love my job, I don't love not being good at it. I guess I had forgotten what it was like to be new. Now knowing the answers or what to do when new challenges arise...I've gotten very used to saying, "I don't know the answer, but let me see what I can find!"

Grad School: I am just over halfway through my Masters program in Learning Technologies. The good news, I will be done around my birthday in May. The bad news, I am taking two classes at a time while also navigating a new job. My evenings are filled with assignments. The time away from my family has taken an emotional toll. I am home but not always present. It is an area I am working to improve.

New Home: We moved in July. I love my new house. As with all things though it has a plus and minus. The market was incredibly crazy this summer, so we had to fight for a house. But I am glad to be here. We moved in one week before I went back to work, so there are still many boxes needing to be unpacked.

Personal Issues: As always I struggle with my weight. I am not ready to discuss it beyond that.

Illness: May was a month from Hell. J was in an accident that totaled our car (So this summer we picked up a new mortgage and a second car payment) and we found out his mom has cancer. Here we are now in October and things have progressed very quickly. The cancer was at a late stage when it was diagnosed and in August she moved in with us. It is a heartbreaking disease that impacts not only the one diagnosed but everyone in their life as well. J, his mom, and his sister have all been very brave in the face of what has transpired. Each day is different and no one knows what to expect. Prayers are always appreciated for anyone that is battling cancer.

A: 1st grade is here. I can't believe my bug is 6. She is wonderful, caring, bright, challenging, energetic, and at times down right ornery. I worry about how all these changes are impacting her. I know as an adult it has made me tired. Just tired. I have heard that kids are more resilient than adults, and I pray that is true.

So that catches you up on us. I don't know when I will post again. Hopefully it won't be another year.

Endings and Beginnings

Why hello there poor abandoned blog....One post in 2014, that is terrible! I am not making resolutions this year. I never stick to them anyway, but I am going to try and blog a bit more. I think my head was more clear when I had a creative outlet.

2014 Endings:

This year was the end of A's time in preschool. She started kinder in the Fall. She left behind friends that she had been with at King with since she was 3 months old!

This is most likely the last Christmas we will spend in this house. A's school is currently a 35 minute drive from our home. It is a sacrifice we are making, so she can go to the school that we felt was best for her, but it has been draining! The church we (sporadically) attend is about 25 minutes away. A takes gymnastics in the same area....The majority of our life is on the other side of the county! We bought this house in July of 2009, A was two months old. It has been a great starter, but I am excited about the possibilities of a new home.

I will be asking Cie to repaint a striped wall for me though no matter what the new house looks like! 

2015 Beginnings:
I have some pretty exciting prospects and projects on my horizon, including some that I can't even talk about yet. (Before you ask, no this doesn't mean babies.) Grad school is going well, and I am excited to see what my second semester holds for me. (I hope I can maintain balance!!) 

Really that's all. 2014 wasn't the greatest year, I am not going to be shed a tear at its passing to be honest. I am excited to see what my story holds for 2015.

Mid-Winter Resolutions

Well I've been away from my blog for over a month. I wanted to write, I just had nothing to say. Nothing in my head was worthy of public consumption and I didn't have the time or the energy to do a blog worthy project. So instead I opted for silence.

I did not make any New Year's Resolutions, but I am catching myself in bad habits and a bad place. So, I can opt for silence or I can opt for change.

I have been carrying anxieties and resentments. I have felt stifled and blocked. I have let old habits creep back in to my life.

I spent half a week in Austin at a technology convention and it honestly gave me
a fresh perspective on a few things. I am going to stop dragging my feet and being wishy-washy, I am going to figure out where I want to be in five years and what it will take to get me there. A good friend did remind me not to get so caught up in the future that I lose sight of right now, and I am going to work very hard to make sure I don't. However, I also want to find the path I need.

I know that work will be crazy. Feb-April means testing and tutoring and that means two days a week of J having to do pick-up and I always feel bad asking him to do that. No reason, I mean he is A's dad and never complains. But it is still hard to basically put someone else's kid ahead of your own.

I am going to find better ways to channel and deal with my stress and anxiety. I've heard running can be wonderfully therapeutic, and if I can hack it, the added benefit will address the weight I have let creep back on.

It is amazing how much of my perceived identity is tied to my weight. I believe people think I am nicer, funnier, smarter, and a better person when I weigh less. I don't actually know who feels that way, or if anyone has even noticed the 15 pounds that have crept their way back into my life, but that is my perception.

It is hard to admit that we might not be as happy as we pretend to be. And it is hard to pinpoint where the sadness has seeped in or why. I just know that I am feeling the "winter blues" but I am choosing to try and change. Especially because I have so many reasons to be happy.

The Magic of Santa

I was raised in a Christmas house. Both of my parents love Christmas. My mom shows this by over-giving. She has a hard time drawing a line. If you ask for it, you seem to get it! (Sometimes even things you say please don't get manage to show up under the tree, like a guitar.) My dad loves Christmas music and lights. I remember him telling me stories about studying by Christmas light in college. He sets up a beautiful Christmas village every year. The point is, between the two of them, my brother and I were raised in a house where Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving and lasts until New Year's Eve. And not believing in Santa was never an option.

A is 4 (4 1/2 technically) and this Christmas was the best we have had yet. It had nothing to do with the presents, though they were fantastic. It had nothing to do with our lights, which looked pretty good. It had nothing to do with the inside decorations, also nice. The reason this Christmas was so amazing, a word often overused, is because of the joy and pure belief that A has.

The belief of a child. The belief that one man can travel the globe gladly giving presents and asking nothing in return is amazing. (There is that word again...) But really, think about it. We ask our children to believe this. We work to make sure their belief is fostered and supported. I think it is one of the best gifts we can give our children, this belief.

Santa is magic. Santa is hope. Santa is kind. It is not about presents. It is about the joy and amazement. The cookies are gone! The milk too! It is about the belief in something a little special, a little magic, a little too good to be true. In a world where we ask (and often force) our kids to grow old before their time, they need Santa. They need the chance to be kids. To believe.

And as a parent, I need that too. Yes, she is 4. But soon she will be 14, then 24, and so on....

But for now, she is 4. And I know the magic of Santa is real. I can see it in my daughter's face.

DIY Christmas Garland for the Mantle

A few weeks ago my mom and I went to Hobby Lobby. We were looking at the Christmas decor and oohing and awing over the giant beautiful garlands. These were not rinky dink garlands, these were massive, 6 foot long, covered in decorations, and 200 dollars. Um. Excuse me? $200!!!!! Even with a half off special, there was no way I was going to be able to get one. I told Mom, I could probably make one, but who has the time?

Well, thanks to a surprise ice storm granting me a day off I did.

Materials Needed:

  • Lighted garland (I recommend a battery operated one and will explain why)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Decorative balls
  • Additional decorative accents (I used butterflies, pine cones, and snowflakes)
  • A large clear work area (I recommend the floor!)
Our tree has been silver, gold, bronze, and white for the past 5 years. What can I say....However, this year and last I started moving away from butterflies and towards deer. I also purchased two sets of larger white snowflakes in place of the previous years' smaller gold and silver ones. So, with the accumulation of snowflakes, glitter balls, and deer I found that I had snowflakes and glitter balls to spare, plus all the butterflies left over. I also already had a 6 foot lighted garland. In the past I put it up on my mantle as is, but I found myself with the perfect opportunity to try and jazz it up. I also already had red and green smaller balls on hand (sadly my beautiful hurricanes that held them last year did not survive 2013). So really all I bought for this was one more set of a lighter gold/silver mix and the pine cones. Total cost--$10 thanks to re-purposing things I already had. I'm not a math teacher, but I do understand the huge savings in the situation!!

So now, on to the process.

  • Step 1: lay out the garland.
    • You will probably need to fluff and rearrange the branches of your garland, especially if you do buy a cheaper one, speaking from personal experience.
  • Step 2: lay out the materials.

    • I essentially did a test run where I placed everything before committing to glue.
    • The butterflies all had clips, so I started by spacing them out then I sorted all the balls I had to make sure I didn't end up with all the greens in one section.
  • Step 3: once you are happy with your layout, start gluing. 
    • I started at the end and worked section by section. 
    • I glued the pine cone for that section first, then worked from butterfly to butterfly. Once I had all the glitter balls in place I added a snowflake.
    • I adjusted and made small changes, but I can say for certain that laying everything out first helped!
  • Step 4: Place on your mantle and enjoy!
This was honestly one of the easier DIY projects I have done. It is time consuming, but the process itself is quite simple. The only issue I have is with the cord. The garland is basically the same length as my mantle, so the cord just sort of hangs there. I really wish I had bought a new battery operated garland, as this would solve the issue. However, I am working on a solution!


Just a few pics. No tutorials right now. My fabulous photog friend, CCie, asked me to make a Christmas banner for her upcoming mini-sessions. So I went to my go to for all things crafty, Pinterest. I found several links to various Etsy stores, and obviously those look much more professional than mine, but I think all said they turned out pretty cute! I actually have enough material left over to make two more banners.