Why I Share My Story

My two year blogging anniversary is rapidly approaching. It’s hard to believe that it’s been this long. I talked about writing a blog forever but it took a long time to muster up the courage to do it. We’ve come a long way since that first post. You can read it here. My second post is hands down one of my favorites and one of the most ridiculous experiences I’ve had in my life. I still laugh my butt off when I think about that story.

When I started writing I had a different vision for the blog. It would be a funny escape for people. A way for Moms to see that they weren’t the only ones struggling. It has evolved into so much more for me and for my readers. Together we’ve delved into topics like mental health, racism, and religion. I never ever thought that I’d share my mental health journey so publicly. I’m a super open person but I didn’t think I was THAT open.

So why do I share? Why let people in? The truth is I would never have had the strength to keep going and sharing without the support of all of my readers. I run into old friends and acquaintances all the time who read my blog. People who haven’t seen me in YEARS stop me and say Oh my gosh I love your blog! That part is awesome but the follow up is what keeps me going. So many people open up then and tell me how they can relate to what I’m going through. Can relate to my message. Find strength in my words. Find strength in my words? It blows my mind and is incredibly humbling.

The idea that sharing my journey has the possibility to make just one person’s day a little better makes all of the awkwardness and nervousness and work that I put in so worth it. We all need to be reminded that we are not alone sometimes. You guys have been that for me and I pray that I can continue to return the favor.

Thank you so much for being such a loyal and amazing audience. Thank you for hopping into the Mom Van and sharing your triumphs and tears and laughter. I feel blessed to be on this journey with all of you and look forward to the miles of road that we’ve yet to cover.

Our Lady of Perpetual Chaos

Birthday Adventure!

I’ve written here before about one of my best friends, Hillary. She’s great. She shares her crayons with me and appreciates the fact that I’m a total dorky weirdo. She rocks and so does her family. Unfortunately, a couple of months ago, out of an abundance of caution, her Mom had to quarantine herself right before her birthday. They were all understandably upset about not being able to see each other. That’s when my super friend had the awesome idea to drive to her Mom’s house after she’d gone to bed and cover her yard and porch with birthday decorations to surprise her. It was a fantastic idea! Fortunately for me, she was kind enough to ask if I’d go along for the ride. I made arrangements with The Hubs and eagerly awaited our departure time.

Clearly the first of my Red Bull’s have kicked in.

Because it was meant to be a surprise, we had to leave late in the night to make sure her Mom would be asleep. Did I mention that her Mom lives about an hour and a half away? Yep! I was heading on a mini road trip with my bestie to decorate her Mom’s house at 10:30 at night with NO KIDS. I was beside myself with excitement! I even made sure to wear my “Chaos Coordinator” hat as it seemed appropriate. Unfortunately I also decided to wear sandals, but more on that later. My other preparations included putting on stretchy pants and a panty liner (because my kids ruined my body and you never know when you’ll sneeze pee), buying three Red Bull and some candy for the trip, and stealing my husband’s head lamp. She loaded up her car with presents and decorations and picked me up for our wild ride.

During our drive the conversation ebbed and flowed between serious discussion and laughter. It felt so wonderful to spend time with another adult who I’m comfortable with but not married or related to. I’d almost forgotten what that felt like between the demands of work, motherhood, and The Rona. There were a couple of moments of excitement along the journey there as well.

First, we were almost run off the road by two jacked up trucks racing down the road to get to the nearest bar. (Open clearly in violation of COVID rules.) Then she drove me across a pontoon bridge that looked like something straight out of a slasher movie. The whole thing shook as we drove across and I kept waiting for her to tell me about some scorned lover who hung themself from it. It was a one lane bridge that allowed two way traffic and you couldn’t see over it. The full moon made it even scarier.

Next, she drove me past a gorgeous oak tree lined drive. She told me the story of a wedding that was held there. In 1800’s St. Martinville a wealthy man’s daughters were to have a double wedding under the oaks. has it that a man’s daughter was set to be married under the oaks. He was determined that the wedding decorations be unrivaled in their beauty. He had one million spiders put into the trees and they spun webs all through the branches. Then he covered the webs with gold dust. It’s a really sweet story even if you don’t like spiders. You can see the children’s book made about it here.

After that we drove by the town square where you can see the memorial to the Acadians. We didn’t get to go inside (because it was midnight by this point) but we could see some of it with our flashlight. I plan on going back one day when I can see it and take a better look around. You can learn more about it here. She also showed me the tree where the real Evangeline from Longfellow’s Evangeline waited for her love.

I was so excited to see the Evangeline oak.

It was finally time to decorate her Mom’s house. The Red Bull had 100% kicked in along with the excitement of what we were doing. We pulled up to the house and got to work. Within the first five minutes I realized that sandals were a mistake and that I was not good at sneaking quietly. My feet got wet from the dew on the grass. After I nearly walked through a GIGANTIC spider web I regretted the shoes even more because I just kept thinking about spiders crawling on my feet. It made me super jumpy.

I swear it wanted to eat me.

Thank God her Mom slept through all of our giggling and running around. I was sure that I was going to completely blow it. We hung streamers from the trees and put an awesome bee hive that the kids made on the front porch. About this time things started getting a little uncomfortable. You remember that panty liner I put on? Well it’s made by a company called The Honey Pot. It’s an awesome brand and the liners have aloe, lavender, and mint on them. They are the best. At least until you realize that sweating profusely in July Louisiana heat is really bad when combined with moisture activated peppermint. Suddenly my entire crotch was both frozen and on fire at the same time. I finally had to admit to Hillary what was happening and we couldn’t stop laughing.

Sassy Hillary and our awesome decorating!

We were almost finished when my dumb ass decided that jumping the fence to wrap her Mom’s car in crepe paper was a good idea. It seemed like a good idea right up until the point where I was straddling a giant wrought iron fence with spikes on it WAY higher off the ground than I thought I would be. Of course, by that point there was no going back.

Head lamp plus phone boob light.
Here’s where I realized yet again that sandals were a mistake.

Jumping the fence turned out to be worth it. I got the car decorated and somehow managed to get back over the fence without impaling myself. (God looks out for fools right?)

Her Mom was so surprised that she cried. I was so happy to be included on such a special caper. It’s not every day that you can commit vandalism with your friend and spread joy at the same time. It was definitely one of the high points of 2020 for me. I’d even jump that fence again.

My Failures

I have been struggling to write. Somewhere along the way a crippling anxiety about my writing and myself in general took hold of my heart. “My life is not interesting enough.” “Why would anyone read about the storm that I’m trudging through right now?” “People come here for funny and inspirational and I have no humor or light to give.” I have started and stopped this post six times since August. I have tried and failed to capture what it is that I want and need to say. As I sit on my bed tonight frustrated with tears pouring down my face I know that the time has come.

The anxiety and lack of confidence I’m feeling is no ones fault. The people around me have shown me the same amount of support they always do. The change is in me. I see myself struggling and living a more fearful life than I have in a long time. My soul has become corrupted by worry. How can it not be? The worries pile up and threaten to drown me.

I’m working still but my job feels incredibly insecure because of the economy. I’m struggling with my identity in my position because we’ve had to lay off all but one person from my staff. Staff that I’ve worked hand in hand with nearly every day for almost three years. People that have watched my children grown and made our organization the wonderful place that it is today. People who have made an indelible mark on who I am as a person and as a manager. My heart is broken because I know that while some will return when things reopen, not all will. They should have left on their last day with celebration and fanfare as thanks for all of their hard work and I can give them none of it. And what of me? Who am I without my team? I’m here to guide and lead and advocate for them and I feel as though I’ve failed miserably even though there is nothing that could have been done. I’ve kept my job when I couldn’t save theirs. That feels awful too even though I know it wasn’t in my control.

I really spent a long time thinking that I’d adjusted well to this whole “new normal” thing. (Except the work part I mean.) I ignored all of the things that I missed and pretended I didn’t miss them. I was so wrong though. Another failure to add to the list. It hit me like a slap in the face the other day when I saw a video of people dancing at Mardi Gras. I completely lost it. Ugly cried. It sounds so stupid. Crying over a video of watching people dancing. There has been so little of that this year though. Festival season is my favorite time of year. I love seeing all the beautiful art, hearing the live music, eating all the fried food, and watching people dance together. In a time where we are more divided than we ever have been in my lifetime, it would do everyone some good to dance again.

I miss being able to go places and not worry that I’ll bring the virus home and hurt someone that I love. I miss leaving my house without feeling fear in the back of my mind. The stress of this new lifestyle is taking its toll on my marriage and motherhood too. I’m short tempered. Quick to cry or yell. I’m struggling to focus even more than normal. I vacillate between wanting to hold and snuggle my children all day and feeling like one more touch will literally make my spirit fly out of my body. I’m not really sure how to do self care right now. I wasn’t awesome at it before but now leaving the house isn’t really a thing unless I’m going to the three stores I go to, work, or visiting my parents. It’s impossible for me to not feel guilty about working on crafts or reading a book when I’m surrounded for most of the day by a house that reminds me of all of the chores that I haven’t done. All the reminders of where I tried and failed. I feel like I do a lot of that lately. Try and fail…Fail again and again.

This morning as my family slept I decided to stop scrolling Facebook and open my TED App. The first suggested video was called The Beauty of Being a Misfit by Lidia Yuknavitch. I found myself moved by her story. I watched it twice. It helped me to find the courage I needed to share my feelings with you today. So this is me sharing the story that I know how to tell. This is me giving voice to what’s written on my heart. It’s not profound or inspiring but, at least for me, it must be written. This is where I’m at right now. A little broken. Wobbly legged and unsure. Ill fitting in this current phase of life. Failing. I can only hope that, like in Lidia’s story, these seeming failures of mine can become “weird ass portals to something beautiful.”

MOMMA’S BACK!

After what feels like an eternity of not writing I’m finally back! Whew! Did you miss me?! I missed all of you!

It’s after midnight on a Thursday and I’m exhausted and surrounded by art supplies while my Husband and the dogs snore.

All the colored pencils and all the dark circles!

I’ve been working hard on my submission for The Sketchbook Project. Back in November of 2019 The Hubs sent off for my sketchbook so that I could be part of an awesome collaborative art exhibit. In true Mom Van style I procrastinated the hellllll out of things and have spent the last month pushing myself to make beautiful art.

I’m incredibly proud of the results and the work that I put in. It has taken up a ton of my time and forced me to back burner both my blog and my soap company. Reconnecting with my art was amazing though and I’m so thankful that The Hubs believed that I could do this even though I doubted myself about a thousand times along the way. He and my whole family encouraged me to keep pushing and creating. They helped me with ideas and feedback. My friends and colleagues even helped.

I’ve titled the Sketchbook “Wild Dreams of 2020.” As an ode to one of my favorite books of poetry, Wild Dreams of a New Beginning by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It’s filled with fun takes on nature, bright colors, wild patterns and fanciful design. I’m going to mail it off tomorrow and and pretty sad about having to give it back. I’ve poured so much of myself into it. The really awesome part is that I’ll actually be able to access a digital version of it and so will you. Once it’s been received, scanned, and uploaded by the team at The Sketchbook Project, I’ll post the link for all of you to check out the whole thing.

In the meantime, thank you so much for being patient with me. I appreciate all of you sticking it out. Here are a couple of my sketches. You’ll have to forgive the photo quality, it’s after midnight and I’m too tired for fancy editing. Let me know what you think!

Bugs in the System
Dreams of Adventure
Hidden Beauty.

Sometimes…

Sometimes…

Sometimes even in the midst of chaos,

When the world is bleak and scary and too much,

When I question everything and doubt myself ,

Sometimes…

Sometimes there are moments,

Brief moments that make my heart slow down it’s pace,

That still the noise in my head,

That fill me with peace,

Sometimes…

Sometimes just for a moment

The world is perfect

Soap Galore!

After weeks of dragging my feet and doubting myself and chickening out, I’ve finally made a Facebook page for my soap company so I can start selling to more than my friends. I’m so appreciative of those of you who’ve reached out with encouragement along the way. I couldn’t have done it without you cheering me on! It’s nerve wracking trying to start a new business and it’s a little scary to finally go live with it even if it is just in a small way.

It feels so great to have something that requires me to be creative but still allows me to spend lots of time with my family. I’m even reaching a soap making class at work next week. I’m super excited about sharing my passion with ten kiddos as I teach them how to make two different kinds of soap.

When 2020 started I could never have imagined all the things that would happen. It’s only July and it’s been a wild ride. In the midst of all the insanity, starting The Lucky Ducky Soap Company has been a spark of joy.

You can check out my page here. Be sure to comment and let me know what soaps you’d like to see me make!

Watermelon Explosion!

Alright so obviously I haven’t written much lately about my family’s crazy antics. Life has been hectic and weird. We’ve definitely been on a weird ride though. The good news is, this time I can actually SHOW you what we did.

The Hubs has been working hard to build his YouTube channel Donny Duct Tape and the kids have been begging to be a part of it. When we were looking for kid friendly video ideas we came across the “exploding watermelon” and decided to try it. It took us almost two hours and soooooo many rubber bands but we did it! The kids were hilarious and did such a great job. It was fun to watch them tackle such a crazy experiment for so long.

You can check out our video here. I hope to share more of our family videos. If you have any ideas of what we could do next please let me know!

Morning Whispers

They’re in our bed again.

What I hate in the night I love in the morning.

I wrap myself in it like a big snuggly blanket,

Soak up their sleeping faces and cute tiny toes.

I tickle her feet and snuggle up next to her.

She pushes her feet back against me and whispers softly…..

I can’t hear what she says.

I smile, thinking that she’s being sweet.

I’m being sweet, why would she feel any different?

I move my ear closer to her to listen.

She again whispers….

“Go Away!”

Parenting in a nutshell.

Love Everyone.

Today’s post is going to be a little different. I don’t normally post here about my faith or morality. I started out writing to create a safe place for people to come and read and laugh about the weird life I lead. It’s become so much more than that. I’ve kept relatively quiet about my faith and I promise that it’s not something I’ll continue to talk about here often. I’m just not that kind of person. My heart is hurting though, and I feel myself called to put my money where my mouth is so to speak.

I am a cradle Catholic. Baptized at birth and spoon fed the teachings of Christ. I spent 13 years in Catholic school and then went on to study world religions in College. My faith life has been rocky. Even though I identify as Catholic I have always seen the value and beauty in other religions. Unfortunately, I have for most of my life held the belief that Christ really wouldn’t be interested in me or want to be my friend. That he didn’t come here for me because I wasn’t worthy. This distresses my mother who worries that she did something wrong. That’s never been her fault. Other people did it and I bought in.

You see in Catholic school I was picked on. I was cast out. Why? Because in a rich private school I was one of the poor kids. We lived in “the wrong part of town.” I didn’t have a big house or loads of fancy things. In fact, four of us lived in a two bedroom, one bathroom house built in the forties so that paying for Catholic school tuition would be possible. I was and am damn proud of the sacrifices my family made. It wasn’t until my classmates at this privileged school began to spout racist rhetoric, homophobic ideology, speak with ugliness about the poor, and treat my fellow “weird” friends like trash that I began to doubt that Christ would have wanted me. Years of learning told me that Christ came for the poor and down trodden, for the different and weird and yet here were his followers, claiming to be Christians, going to Church every Sunday, and hurting the types of people that Christ intentionally befriended during His time here on Earth.

As I got older I learned that these kids didn’t come up with that stuff on their own. They were raised that way. (Seriously if you can’t drive on your own how the hell could you even know what “the wrong side of town” meant?) Their parents lead by example. Their Christian parents. I forgave my bullies and their parents and moved on. The damage was done though.

In High School, I was blessed to find myself in a community of Christians (and even some non Christians) who accepted me and others as we were. They lived the values of Christ. It was there that I learned and truly came to believe that all human life has value no matter it’s form. To me this value is rooted in my belief that we are all made with God in our hearts. These people weren’t perfect. I met some jerks along the way, but over all, the Christians I met did a great job of showing me Christ’s love through their words and actions.

I don’t often use people’s real names in my blog but as I write this with tears pouring down my face so many names come to mind. Mrs. Shaffett and Mrs. Wintz who taught me about the love of Christ in religion class and outside of class too. Mrs. Cowgill who saw potential in each and every one of us and loves us BIG to this day. She was and is unashamed of her Christianity. Joy Thomas who invited this crazy white girl to come dance and eat and laugh with her big, beautiful Black Christian family. (Her Mom gave me the best hug I’ve ever had in my life as soon as I got there and immediately made me feel welcome despite being one of only two white people there.) My wonderful friends, too numerous to name, who accepted EVERYONE despite their oddities because it was the right thing to do and because that’s the kind of people they are. The list could go on for days. I learned more about being a true Christian in those four years than I had ever known before. No one was condemning me or speaking hate to me or the people I loved. We weren’t super popular kids but we were allowed to be who we were. I was surrounded by Christians who cared.

When I was a high school senior my faith journey took a leap forward as I participated in The March for Life in Washington D.C. I belived then, as I do now, that all human life has value. ALL HUMAN LIFE. I marched with so many people who believed the same. It was a moving and transformative time for me. With me marched people from all over. Christians and non Christians. My faith grew stronger and a foundation was laid. I began working little by little to see the beauty of God in everyone around me. (Let me tell you it’s not easy and I still struggle with it.) Books like Love Does by Bob Goff and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller were instrumental in my journey.

Try as I might it wasn’t until recently that I truly believed that Christ would have wanted me to sit at His table too. That He would have loved me too. Why? Because I had to separate the actions of so many Christians from the teachings of Christ. I had to remember that we are all human and that it was unfair to judge Christ by the actions of the flawed humans who profess to follow Him. It breaks my heart to see my news feed filled with self-professed Christians spewing hate. Hate for the LGBTQ+ community. Hate for the poor. Hate for immigrants. Hate for People of Color. Hate for those who have different beliefs and lifestyles. Christ didn’t come here to teach us hate, we had that already, he came to teach us love.

I often wonder how many people out there are like me. Drawn to Christ but chased away by his followers. Told by actions that they must look and speak a certain way to deserve the love of Christ. To deserve love. To deserve to be taken care of. To have value. As Christians, we are called to LOVE EVERYONE. We are called to stand up and defend those who are oppressed. We are called on to befriend and care for everyone because by denying them we are denying Christ. When we reject others because they are different than us we are rejecting the spirit of God that lives in them.

It is our duty to fight for equality for all of our brothers and sisters. It is our duty as Christians to defend the rights of all human life. For me that means becoming an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. It means fighting for their rights to be treated equally. It means checking my white privilege and washing the scales from my eyes so that I can recognize and fight systemic inequality and racism. It means supporting better healthcare for everyone. Better programs for those facing addiction and mental illness. It means doing what I can to make sure that people get the help they need so that we can all live with dignity and respect. It means raising my children to respect all human life and to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I won’t always succeed. I’m not perfect. But I’ll be damned if I let myself become someone’s reason for feeling like they are unworthy of Christ’s love or mine.

Self Care With The Three “T”s

As an adult I’ve learned that self care comes in many forms. This Monday I planned the most adult day of self care that I could imagine. Through the day I tackled what I lovingly deemed “The Three T’s” for a “ground up self care experience.” (Yes, sometimes you have to market to yourself to make life more interesting.)

I started the day by taking the time to get dressed up and put on makeup before bringing The Twins to daycare. After I dropped them off I headed out to take care of the first T. Tires! Yes, after months of clenching my booty cheeks every time the road got slick I finally invested in replacing my two front tires. I had two replaced last August when I had a massive blowout on the interstate but money has been tight so I’ve been trying to wait. I went to a tire shop right down the road and they were super fast and helpful. It felt weird to sit in a waiting room with my mask on but I didn’t mind. They’d eliminated some of the chairs and there was no coffee station. It was done so quickly though that it was an overall great experience. The Mom Van is now much safer and the ride is even more smooth.

Since it finished so quickly, I was able to call in for my work meeting which I thought I was going to miss. Thanks to the power of Zoom I was able to drive home while I listened in so I could relax and see The Hubs and The Big Kids before my next appointment. Proud of my adulting for the day so far, I treated myself to a slice of key lime pie for breakfast. What’s the point of treating myself if I don’t get tasty treats? (See, another two “T”s for the day! Bonus points for alliteration!)

Next up was every woman’s favorite yearly appointment! Yes, that’s right, I had my annual exam. Which brings me to the second T: Twat! (I understand that in other countries twat means your bottom but that’s not what I mean here.) Now, unlike some women, I really like my OB. She’s a nice lady and I literally trusted her with my life and the lives of my children when she made the correct call to perform my emergency c-section. She’s the best. That being said, I still wasn’t jazzed about facing the dreaded exam again. Getting yearly exams and check ups is 100% self care but it’s not the glamorous side that everyone wants to talk about. Ladies let me tell you, your annual is one of the most important forms of self care! Doooo ittttt!

My awesome Doctor let me know that because of my family’s cancer history, my insurance would cover genetic testing for cancer risk. My only knowledge of genetic testing for cancer risk came from celebrities getting tested and then deciding to have surgery to remove their breasts. That feelt a little extreme to me but I decided not to be ignorant and asked for more information. Apparently if you test positive for the genes your insurance has to cover additional yearly testing. So if I test positive then my insurance actually has to cover more preventative testing? Sign me up! (Testing is a “T” too! Lookie there!) So I took the self care a big step further and spent extra time at the Dr.’s office to get the testing done. I nearly passed out because I’m not a blood person but I felt like it was worth the discomfort.

My day wasn’t finished yet. I went back home for a tasty light lunch and some TV. I had mozzarella with tomatoes and basil from my garden drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. It was delicious! Of course, I followed it with queso and chips while I binge watched season two of Dead To Me on Netflix. (Ooo tortilla chips start with “T” too!) It’s not often that I get control of the TV without anyone around to bother me. Beyond that, I never get to eat without sharing my food or getting interrupted. It was awesome and relaxing. It prepared me perfectly for the next step in my Three T’s.

Ladies and gentleman for the final “T” I present Titties! I told you I was taking a ground up approach didn’t I?! My amazing Lala took me shopping at Bra Genie as a belated birthday present. That damn Rona had to push back our celebration till now but the timing really turned out to be perfect. We laughed while she tried on swimsuits and I tried on like 60 bras. I learned that my sad, tired old bra was not only stretched way out but also wasn’t the right size to begin with. She bought me two bras and some panties and even some special wash to go with them. It was so much fun and my back and boobs greatly appreciate the support. Shout out to the ladies at the store who put up with my crazy comments about my droopy boobies. They were great.

Despite being on the less glamorous side of self-care it was hands down one of the best self-care days I’ve had in a really long time. I took time for myself, eliminated some worries and yucky things from my plate, was proactive about my health and future, got new underthings, saw people that I love, and ate tasty food. You really can’t get much better than that!

So what about you? What’s the most adult form of self-care that you take?

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