Saturday, December 12, 2020

Fancy seeing you here...

Long time no see, am I right? 

For over seven years, I blogged about 3 times a week. I used this blog to keep my family up to date, as a place for me to journal/vent and as a baby book. Keeping track of all milestones, the cute moments and the ''oh my gosh'' did that really just happen incidents with the kids.

Well, let's fast-forward about 6 years, it's now 2020. For most people this year has been a colossal dumpster fire. We have dealt with pandemics, riots, race wars, elections, killer hornets, not 1, not 2 but 3 tropical storms, and a slew of other...crap (to put it nicely). 

So you might be wondering...yeah this year has sucked, what do you possibly have to write about? What sunshine and rainbow cuteness are you going to throw this way? 

Well, while I am blogging again, let me be the first to's not that kind of blog anymore. Have you heard the expression "shits about to get real?" Y'all it has been over six years since my last post....six YEARS people. A lot has changed. Life, like it has a tendency to do, didn't go the way I had planned. If you read any post on this blog prior to 2020, you'll notice:
  • I had a husband (I am no longer married)
  • I was a stay-at-home-mom (I went back to school, now have my BS in Elem. Education and I teach 1st grade)
  • My kids were little (they tend to grow up...they're now 14, 13, 12, and 10)
  • We moved...a lot! (We have now lived in the same house for 7 years!)
  • I had a lot of time for crafting, blogging, tutorials, and photography (not so much anymore...)
I will be the first to admit: there have been a LOT of changes in my life. And wanna know the really crazy part? Most of those changes happened in just the past year. 

But you know what hasn't changed? The loveable chaos that is my life. My life is still loud, fun, messy, hectic, loveable and chaotic. These four kids still keep me on my toes! If you read this blog from 2007-2014 and you thought things seemed crazy with four kids under the age of four...well buckle up and wait until you read about what life is like as a single mom with four kids ages 10-14. Those "munchkins" that I used to blog about...the ones that couldn't pronounce their "r" sound, that loved to hug each other and pose for pictures? Well, two of them are taller than me, one of them is for sure smarter than me and the littlest one...she's exactly like me. 

I know, I know it's a little terrifying. Time moves so quickly. 

So yes, it's 2020 and this year has pretty much been a shit-show of epic proportions but as I was sitting there this morning looking at the Christmas tree, thinking about this past year while drinking a cup of coffee that I couldn't taste because oh yeah, I have Covid, I realized that while this isn't the life I planned, I absolutely love it. This past year has shown me just how strong I can be. 

For real, if you want to really test your own strength...go ahead and decide to go back to school full-time at age 33, while raising 4 kids and then in the middle of your last term of school (while spending 12 weeks student teaching) go ahead and get a divorce. Make sure none of your family lives in the state and then for good measure...right after you graduate (Dec 2019) have a global pandemic hit that keeps you out of work for 6 months. 

Seriously, not planned. But guess what? I did it! We survived. Not only did I live through it but I got a job, my dream job, teaching first grade at the same school my kids attended for first grade (in the very same classroom as two of them!). These past 2-3 years, I have made new friendships and strengthened old ones. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned to make mistakes (sometimes I make them twice, just to make sure) and I have learned to be myself. To embrace my quirks and my flaws and to accept myself for who I am. 

These past six years have been a trip and I wouldn't change a thing. Okay, okay, maybe I wouldn't have caught Covid but even that (so far) is manageable and it's shown me: my kids are amazingly self-sufficient, my friends are the kindest humans on earth and I have the best parents possible. 

So yes, I'm going to try blogging again. (Does anyone even still do this?). But this time, it's not going to be all sunshine and rainbows. This time it's going to be real because while my life is usually loveable chaos...sometimes, it's just total chaos.

Welcome back. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

That didn't go as planned.

Maybe my goal should be posting a monthly wrap-up instead?

Maybe I should realize that my blogging days might be over?

 What started as a great way for me to journal the day, get some ''me'' time and talk (write?) like an adult at the end of a day spent at home with very small children...isn't needed near as much these days. When I started this blog in July of 2007, Ryan was 17 months old and Logan was 2 months old....they're now 8 years old and 7 years old. Every day is now full of the go-go-go life that I was craving 7 years ago. I spent a lot of those first few years feeling under-appreciated and lonely (yet never alone). I blogged in the evenings because it was something I could do that was for me.

When you're a new mom, at the age of 23 with two children under the age 18 months, you're isolated not just by choice but practicality. None of my friends (at the time) had kids. No one I knew had breastfed, no one I knew was juggling two babies. I had two in diapers. Two who couldn't feed themselves. Two who couldn't dress themselves. Two needed at least one nap a day. They were both in cribs, both in rear-facing carseats, both waking at night and both needing me 24/7. Obviously Ron was there but initially, it was  a huge time of readjusting for both of us. Ron had returned from a 15 month deployment in Iraq in January of 2006 and immediately returned home to a six month pregnant wife who was put on bedrest, he started a new job, lived in a new house (I had moved in while he was deployed) and within 3 months of returning home he became a father. We were both in a blur, going through the motions and doing what needed to be done. Oh and did I mention we were newlyweds? {Married/Eloped in May of 2004, he deployed in Oct 2004 and returned home in Dec 2006). Boy were the odds stacked against us!

But we did it! And we didn't just get by, we succeeded. We asked for help, when we needed it. I supported his career and he supported my (often zany) parenting. We moved when it meant more pay. We took it day by day and while it certainly wasn't easy, we had each other, we had family and we had our kids. We made it because not making it, wasn't an option. We voluntarily chose to live in a 2 bedroom duplex with 2 kids and with one on the way, just so we could stay near family when the alternative was facing a move to Wisconsin that none of us wanted. We then had four kids in that house and lived there for 2 years, before we moved from Kansas to Texas to follow his job, with our three boys and a newborn who was seven weeks old...because it needed to be done. When an opportunity to move overseas presented itself, I surprised myself by wanting to go. Everything I had ever known was going to be so far away and yet I realized it was something that we needed to do. Not just as a career move but for us. For our family, for us to grow.

When I look at this blog, I don't just see the pictures and the milestones, I am flooded with memories. I am reminded of the days of no sleep. The weeks where I had a child attached to my hip, one on my boob, and one jumping off of the kitchen table. The days where my house was a mess, the nights where the laundry was piled up, I felt like I hadn't seen my husband in weeks and yet I spent the evening making baby-food and superhero capes. I was often asked "How do you do it?" and the answer was "I don't know, it needs done and I don't know any differently". I have always wanted to be a mother and in those early days, it wasn't always what I had hoped for.

In the beginning, it's thankless. You are spending every waking moment caring for this amazing child who does nothing but eat for hours, cry for hours and sleep for even fewer hours. You get peed on and pooped on and getting dressed in something other than pajamas, is an accomplishment that no one else seems to even notice. You love him with a feeling that you didn't know even existed and it's exhausting. I wondered if being a stay at home mom was what I really wanted or something I "had" to do. I debated getting a job, or in my eyes: admitting failure. That I was wrong, that I wasn't good at this "being a mom" thing, that this wasn't for me after all and that I needed to get a job.  (I am NOT saying that moms who work are failures, not at all. But I had been told from the age of 16 that I would likely not be able to have children and being a stay at home mom, at least for those early years, was literally all I wanted to be.) But then your baby grows. That eating/pooping/crying machine suddenly starts to smile and giggle.

One morning you finish feeding him and he clutches your finger with his tiny hand, and looks right into your eyes. He recognizes you. One morning you wake up find him standing in his crib, clapping from excitement to see you. One night you wake at 2am and realize that he isn't awake. So you sneak into his room and check to make sure he's breathing. Your baby starts to sleep through the night and you wake more often, with worry if he's really okay. The day that he finally starts yelling "Mama!" you bawl to the point of startling him. When a second and third child come along, you wonder how you will have enough love? You question if you're being unfair to the others, by having another baby who is going to need so much of your attention, your time and your heart. I can remember pushing Ryan in the stroller to the park while pregnant with Logan, and just bawling that he didn't get me to himself for very long. Wondering if he was going to resent me. (Spoiler alert: He was fine, is fine and loves me still 8 years later).

Being a mother makes you selfless, worrisome, tired, crazy, lonely, patient, tired and a slew of other emotions...but most of all it makes you a better person. A slightly neurotic and tired, better person. I went from being a 21 year old newlywed who was worried about what would happen on this week's episode of "The Hills" to being a 23 year old mother who was worried about colic, teething, if that shade of green was normal for poop and why my 18 month old wasn't talking. I went from worrying about what style of jeans to buy to fretting over car seat brands, baby-carriers and if that bottle I was using was made with BPA and if I was causing ever-lasting damage by letting my son have a binky.

Being a mom makes me a better person. It defines who I am today and the early days of this blog, remind me of how far I have come. I was so nervous I was doing something wrong, or that I'd forget something cute they did. That I would miss a milestone or that I would miss an underlying illness. So much of those early years was spent second-guessing myself and a lot of it was spent proving myself. To whom, I don't know. Myself, others, family, strangers...the world I guess? I will forever be grateful for this blog because it is my journal, my proof that I did okay. It's my reminder to trust my gut. It's that lesson that ''this too shall pass'' and that ''shit happens''. It's my ups and my downs and it's pretty entertaining. It has videos and pictures of milestones and everyday boring occurrences. This may be "just" a blog but for me it's so much more.

Seven years ago I needed to "blog". Today, I need this blog not for writing but to serve as a reminder. A reminder that it's all going to work out, that it goes by SO fast and a reminder to trust my instincts because despite my often internal doubts, I am a good mom.

And my hope is that if you're mom, especially a mom still in those early years that you realize: You are Amazing. You are doing a great job. You are allowed to fail, you are allowed to cry, you are allowed a break. You are human. You get yourself up, dust yourself off and remember that tomorrow is a new day. Find your outlet. Find that thing that makes you feel like you and not just "Mom". This blog, let me be Shannon for 20 minutes a night back when I needed it the most and for that, I will always be grateful.

So yes, I have to realize that I may be done blogging. If you came here looking for a new post, do me a favor: choose an early year off to the left, click on a month and select a random date and read. Realize what's petty and what's important not just right now, but seven years from now. Take nothing for granted and realize that despite the cliche, it will go by very fast. Appreciate it and LIVE it. Will there be more posts? I can't say. Do I feel the need to blog? Not near as often these days but I don't know what the future will hold, only that I'm along for the ride with or without blogging about it!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

3 DOWN, 1 TO GO...The boys are ALL in School!

Yesterday was the end of Week 2 into the 2014-2015 school year and so far, everyone is doing really well!

Connor is loving kindergarten. Amazingly enough, no tears were shed by either of us on his first day (yay!) and every day he excitedly bounds out of the school doors to tell me all about lunch. Lunch is his favorite part of the day. What can I say, he loves to eat! And apparently, he really loves to eat the ''vegetarian'' options. He's had salad, salad with pasta noodles, a special tray that had cracker chips, yogurt, cheeses, celery and carrots. He usually tells me all about lunch, then all about PE or Recess and then something completely random and off the wall.
We did have a little hiccup when on Wednesday when I received a call from the school nurse. Connor had puked while skipping in PE but felt ''much better'' and had wanted to continue to play. Unfortunately for him, I had to pick him up. A quick doctor visit confirmed that all that running, got him to coughing and that the cough combined with a slight 'crackle' sound in his lungs earned him a preventative inhaler for the next two weeks. As bummed as I was, I have to say to go an entire year without an inhaler was a huge milestone for my little peanut. 

And the other boys? They are loving third grade and second grade.
Logan was actually assigned the same 2nd grade teacher that Ryan had and while he likes Mrs. G, he usually tells me all about how she called him ''Ryan" x amount of times today. His patience is a little thin but I explained how when she sees our last name, she naturally wants to say Ryan when calling attendance. And how they do look a little alike, so to give her some time. His best friend from first grade is in his class, so the two always choose to sit by each other (oh and he loves the ''open seating'' option that his teacher has). So far he hasn't had any homework but he is concerned because he remembers how much Ryan had last year. (Not a lot at all but Logan has never had a teacher who assigned much!).
Ryan was a little anxious about starting 3rd grade. When the class lists were posted, he realized that he didn't have any friends in his class (he did recognize a few names).  But now at the end of week two he is much more at ease. Apparently he is mostly in his class with his teacher, but for language arts they swap with another class so he has a different teacher. Then for block/specials (PE, Art, Music, Computers) they are the ''rainbow'' group so the entire class splits up and goes with other classes on different days so he is getting the opportunity to meet a lot of kids from other classes. I'm hoping that Ry might come out of his shell a little bit this year.  I know at home he is much more verbal and opinionated! The attitude of an 8 year old can be shocking some days.

And little Sis? She's loving all that time to herself. The first few days were a little rough; she missed her brothers. She would ask if it was time to pick them up. She would talk non-stop. But by this week, she was loving that alone time. Last Friday Ron had off so we took just Maggie and headed down to Galveston. She loved it. She got to walk on the beach and pick up shells, she got hold our hands and do the 1,2,3 swing. We went out  for seafood at lunch and she got her own steam-pot of crab, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. And she behaved so well and helped clean the table at lunch, so the waitress gave her a plastic shark toy...her day was totally made. She was telling people ''I'm just one kid today!". Totally adorable and such a different dynamic.
Overall, it's been a really smooth transition. They all wake and get ready pretty easily. Connor has had a few mornings where he really wanted to just stay home with me (not because he dislikes school but because he ''just loves me so much''). Those mornings are rough because of course I want to say, "okay you can stay home and snuggle" but I don't, I walk him to school and he does great. His teacher actually approached me after school yesterday and wanted to let me know that she is so impressed at how well he is doing, both academically and socially.In fact, they earn tickets each day but can lose the tickets for bad behavior/not listening...Connor had the most tickets out of anyone in the class; he has never lost a ticket. He got to "shop" the prize wall on Friday and gets to bring a stuffed animal to school on Monday. He was elated to hear that!

Monday, June 30, 2014

After a 4 month hiatus we now return to regular programming...

Whew, was that a blogging break or what? It wasn't really intentional, life just kinda got really busy, really quickly and I think we've fallen into a little groove here in Texas. Back in March we had been stateside for about six months and I would say we have definitely settled down. We've met neighbors, made friends, started new hobbies. I started scrapbooking with Project Life so my blogging has lagged as I try to scrap our time in Italy. We also have had a slew of visitors and generally kept really busy. 

Lets see if I can sum it up:

March- Let's see, in March was I post-op from my surgery and finally allowed to resume normal activities. About that same time, the kids had spring break from school. This was the first year in quite a few where we decided to plan nothing. We went nowhere and it was sort of amazing. We relaxed. We played xbox, drew with sidewalk chalk and blew bubbles. We explored thrift shops and playgrounds in our town. The following week B's niece, nephew and nephew's girlfriend came to visit so that of course meant visits to Kemah, crawfish dinners and fun. Frozen came out on digital download so we watched a lot of that and at the end of the month, Ry turned EIGHT years old!
He chose a dinner at Chili's and received the two things he wanted the most: a Kindle Fire and Lord Business Evil Lair lego set.

April- Ron's youngest brother came and stayed with us for a few weeks so it was a different dynamic having seven in the house instead of six. The weather finally started to warm up without so much rain and allergens and we spent most evenings outside. After my surgery I had made it a goal of mine to make some lifestyle changes. I had given up soda back in January and after having my surgery, realized just how much weight I'd put on (roughly 15lbs while overseas and then getting settled here). I started out walking with an end goal being running (but in April I was nowhere near running yet!) We bought the kids a basketball hoop and the boys kept pretty busy ''shooting hoops". Easter came and went. Ron took the kids fishing a few times and discovered new areas around the bay.
Overall the month passed by really quickly!

May- May was a BUSY month! At the beginning of May I pre-enrolled Connor into KINDERGARTEN!

What? This little guy is already going to school? Yeah I can barely believe it. He's also already reading a lot of signs, captions, etc as well as spelling and writing notes up a storm. That first weekend in May we so excited to go to San Antonio to visit Aunt Debbie and Christoper. Chris was graduating from his tech school in the AF and it was our chance to see him before he moved to his first duty assignment: Japan! It was so much fun getting to spend the weekend with them and to see our ''old stomping grounds". We went (of course) down to the Riverwalk and the Alamo as well as the Quarry and the Japanese Tea Gardens.
Sidenote...this was the last time my kids were at the Japanese Tea Gardens:
Yeah, that was THREE years ago. Seems insane huh? Anyway, I digress. So we had an amazing Mother's Day weekend with family (yay!) and returned home to a busy week of Mother's Day brunches at school, Field Day, and because we are completely insane and....we got a new puppy! Yes, yes we just got a puppy last year (Can you even believe that Lucca is almost two!?). But we're settled now. We're in a home that we own and we have no intentions of moving EVER, we won't need to worry about an overseas flight and I wanted this puppy. Now I'll be honest, I had asked before, several times throughout our marriage and was always met with a ''are you insane, you want that now? Maybe when the kids are older and can help take care of it". Because you see, I got a puppy but not just any puppy either. I got a Great Dane.
That is Stella, at 8 weeks old meeting Lucca (who weighs 14lbs). Now Stella was nervous and timid and so utterly adorable and tiny when we got her on May 15. She is very smart. She learned her name in less than 2 days, her and Lucca became instant BFF's, she got house training and crate training down quickly. The "issue" of course with Great Danes is their size. And because we've always rented and always moved, we have always had little dogs. We wanted the kids to be comfortable with a big dog, not afraid. Well little Stella was born into a litter of 12 pups and her owner wanted a re-homing fee but wasn't asking any sort of outrageous price. This was the perfect opportunity to get a Dane; the kids would see her grow day to day and know her without a fear of her size. With summer right around the corner we would have plenty of time to leash train her and play. Well as I sit here and write this, my now 36lb Stella is snoring. Here is a picture from last week:
Why yes, that is my husband carrying/hugging our now 13 week old Great Dane. 

So anyway, back to May. We got Stella and that same week Logan and I celebrated our Birthday's. We had a small party with friends and a taco bar here at home. The following week Auntie Michelle came to visit! YAY! Of course we went to Kemah and Galveston and downtown Houston and hit up the outlet mall a few times. We went on Dolphin tour boats and ate Tex-Mex and grubbed on s'mores in the evenings. We basically had fun for a week.
And immediately following Michelle's visit, we had more visitors. Nanaw and Papa and Grandma Phyllis came down for a week too! They arrived end of May and stayed into the first week of June. We did much of the same activities (Kemah, Galveston, Dolphin boat tour, Outlet Mall) with them as we did with Michelle but we also spent evenings chit-chatting and staying up late with Grandma watching Criminal Minds :) Grandma was diagnosed with Parkinson's while we were overseas so while she gets worn out a little easier these days, she's still a night owl and still keeps up with the kids!
It was a lot of fun having them here. While I often wish we lived closer, I love living here and I love having so many visitors (and that we can accommodate them). They stayed until June 8th, then had to head back to Kansas.

June- It's summer break! With suddenly no visitors and Ron back at work, the kids and I found ourselves with entire days needing to be filled with fun. We initially bought a kiddy pool for the backyard but have since grown to love the neighborhood/community pool. I was extremely nervous to take them to a big pool by myself. One mom and four kids who don't know how to swim real well, is totally nervewracking. But we loaded up their arms with floaties and tried it out: so. much. fun! It's a big pool and is never crowded. The kids took to the water like little fishes and the lifeguards are attentive. If it's not raining, we head to the pool every afternoon loaded down with snacks of course.

On rainy days we watch movies. I've made it my mission to show the kids all the good movies from my own childhood. Last week it rained but it gave us an opportunity to watch 'Back to the Future' 'The Princess Bride' and even 'The Sandlot'. They also have fallen in love with "Hey Arnold". We bought a family pass to Moody Gardens, which is resort/park in Galveston. It has three Pyramids, one is a Rainforest, one is an Aquarium, and the other is a Museum and has a 3D and 4D movie theater as well as a "Beach" with imported soft sand, a water playground, a zero entry wave pool and a lazy river. The first time we went we did the Rainforest and Aquarium. Last weekend we tried out the Beach. While it started storming two hours in, we had a lot of fun before we got banished from enjoying the beach due to lightning.
Today we took to exploring a nearby Nature Center that has a 1 mile walking trail. We saw lots of rollie-pollies, ladybugs, slugs, birds, two snakes, toads, a slew of butterflies, snails, palms and cacti. It was hot (93 degrees when we started) so there was plenty of whining (both heat and snake induced) but afterward they all admitted that it was a lot of fun.

With the boys all being in school come August, Maggie and I are keeping an eye out for fun things to do just the two of us. I mentioned above that I had started working out and I'm now up to walking/jogging anywhere from 1-6 miles a day (usually treadmill in the morning and outdoors in the evenings but that's dependent on weather). I can even run an entire mile, in 11:22 seconds. I realize that is a jog to most but I am really proud of myself as I have never ran an entire mile without walking until now, at age 30. I just ordered a jogging stroller so that Maggie and I can go on walks/runs in the mornings after dropping the boys off at school this fall. She is really excited to go with me and while I wouldn't have thought I would ever buy a jogging stroller for a 3.5 year old, she is still really petite and I know she isn't in anyway up to walking 4 miles. After a great recommendation from Amy and prior knowledge with them from Hollie, we went with a BOB. I'm stalking the FedEx man I'm so eager for it to arrive!

My doctor gave me the okay to workout the second week of March and since then, I have. I walk at least 10,000 steps everyday (love the fitbit) and then mix in yoga, the shread dvd and using the stability ball as well at least 3 times a week. I've never been one who likes exercising but I really do find myself enjoying it and I love that ''me'' time. I love being outside more, I feel myself getting stronger and I've lost 11lbs without using any pills, shakes, vitamins, etc. I don't want to diet, I want to have a healthy lifestyle, be here for my kids and set a good example.  So the evenings that I used to spend sitting at the computer eating oreos, surfing pinterest and blogging...I no longer have time for. I'm usually exhausted by 10pm! So while there has a been a significant lack of blogging, that's only because we're busy living life (don't worry I'm still busy eating oreo's too!).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tooth Fairy!

Logan will be seven years old in May and prior to last night, had yet to lose a tooth. Ryan is a year older and has lost seven teeth so to say Logan was eager for a visit from the tooth fairy, is an understatement.

When I took the kids to the dentist back in September, Lo had a panoramic X-ray taken and the hygienist commented that his permanent teeth were just under the gumline and that he should lose those baby teeth "any day now". Well Lo is terrified that losing a tooth with hurt. He's our cautious child, always asking if this is "too dangerous" and he will not wiggle his teeth no matter how loose. Yesterday his one bottom tooth was so loose it was practically sideways and I had had enough. I could see the permanent tooth behind it. So we looped a piece of floss around it and criss-crossed pulled and that little baby tooth came right out!

He finished brushing his teeth, wrote a note to the tooth fairy and was ready for bed.

He was so excited I think he was laying in there awake until 10pm! This morning he awoke to find two crisp $2.00 bills, which to quote him "I didn't even know that these existed. I thought they were fake money. Like 5.00 but it was backwards". He was a wee bit excited :)

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