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You make room for them all.

One of the most frequent questions that Andy and I receive from people, mostly people who either have 1 or no children, is how we share our love with each of our children.  As parents, you usually have the first child, and your entire life changes.  As the Grinch experienced, your heart feels like it grows.  You find yourself infatuated with this tiny person, trying to capture their every move or noise in your memory or to print.  You forget what life was like before that child, and you spend your time alternating between joy and worry about this life, safety, and future.  I have said before that I do not believe in love at first sight, but many people do experience this with your child.

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With all this love, devotion, and time given to one person, how do you share this with your second child (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.)?  I have talked to people who are baffled at how you can divide your love, as if your love has a maximum capacity and is already spent by your first child.  Maybe it is because I grew up in a large family or because I have never felt this divide, but I was never worried about this with my children.  I knew from my childhood that your love is not divided – it just grows.  No matter how you bring a child into this world or into your family, you love them.  Plain and simple.  I wish there was a better way to describe it or to explain how it happens.

Why am I thinking about this question that perplexes parents?  Because I miss my oldest.  She flew back to our families in the Midwest for a good chunk of the summer, and I was so happy to send her to spend quality time with the family we always live so far away from.  I feel very lucky that we can financially afford to give her this time (it was the best delayed birthday present she has ever received).  I knew that she would be gone for awhile, but I also knew that I have 3 other children to take care of and to keep me company.  It wasn’t forever, right?

She has not been gone very long, and I miss her, more so than I thought I would.  I miss her presence, her interactions, her help, and just talking to her.  Yes, I can call her.  Yes, my mom send frequent pictures of her.  She is having a fabulous time, and we are just fine here.  But this gave evidence to that truth – you do not divide or share your love for all your children, it simply grows, although I feel like I am missing a part of mine right now.  Each of my children are unique and with their own personalities, and no one of them can replace the other.  So while one is away, being spoiled rotten and snuggling all her new baby cousins, I await her return – holding that place in my heart for her from afar.

This just shows that as cool as I think I am, I’m going to be a wreck at college drop-offs.  🙂

F-word Fridays: Fear

F-word Fridays: Fear

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©️tes 2017

Fear – what is your first reaction to this word?  Is it something that terrifies you?  An event or place that you avoid?  A 90s thriller film where you fell in love with Mark Wahlberg?  I might be aging myself with that last one.  Whatever you conjure up in thinking of fear, it is something that all of us encounter.  Fear is a natural physical and emotional response to things, thoughts, places, and people that we perceive as dangerous threatening.  Without fear, we would constantly put ourselves in danger without even realizing it.  We all have at least one thing that we fear, regardless of what this thing is.

I was thinking of fear because anxiety and fear are related; therefore, I think of fears pretty frequently.  I try not to let fear dictate my life, because that is really no way to live.  The best way to help manage daily anxiety is to address what is fearful or stressful and find ways to manage this.  I like to group them into two categories:  the smaller and manageable fears, and the larger, less likely to happen fears.

Smaller fears can even be categorized as anxieties – these are things that I try to avoid or do not like interacting with.  For example, I fear spiders.  And beetles.  And really any insects.  Okay, all insects that have multiple legs and a tendency to creep around your home and personal belongings.  This is a manageable fear – I can spray for insects, I can make my family and/or pets kill them if they are in the house, and I can avoid places that are known to hold many insects.  I have even been trying to remind myself that insects are not inherently evil and have their own purpose in life; that spider in the top of my fifteen-foot ceiling can make a home there because he will kill the other bugs in my house, and I cannot reach him even with my stepladder.  See, manageable.  My other manageable fears include getting sick in public places, not having enough money to provide for our family, falling down from high places (I have a history of falling down stairs and bleachers), fear of flying, and dog vomit.  Yes, I really meant that last one.  Regardless of how you might rank these fears, I can manage them all with a little thinking, thought processing, and problem solving.

Now, the larger fears – the fears that keep you up at night, that you have no control over, that you would pay any amount to have never occur.  As I said before, everyone has a fear.  There is something that even the bravest of people fears.  If therapy has taught me anything over the years, it is that everything can be broken down into steps or processes that are easier to manage.  This is how I address the bigger fears, by analyzing the cause and effect, the who/what/where/when/why/how, the real reason for the fear and how to face it.  This often helps (at least in the moment) and by looking at a fear from a analytical perspective, it helps to separate myself from it and to view it more objectively.

Let’s take the big one:  death.  I am absolutely terrified of death.  I have experienced death with relatives, classmates, friends, etc.  It is not a foreign concept, and I know that every living being and creation on this planet lives and dies.  When I think of my own death, I panic.  The idea of not existing anymore is petrifying.  Even if you believe in an afterlife or reincarnation, you are still not a living “you” in this world, no matter how screwed up the world is.  I know it is going to happen, hopefully much later in my life, but it is something that I am very fearful of.  On the other hand, I am married to man who has accepted the idea of death and is at peace with this.  Nothing he says can make me feel better about it.  Death is my biggest, most unmanageable fear.

How do I deal with this?  I was in a group therapy about two years ago, and we spent a whole session talking about death.  Apparently, this is not an uncommon fear among anxiety-ridden people.  We all had questions, thoughts, and concerns ranging from mild to extreme.  Our therapist explained it this way – there is nothing you can do to stop death.  Not one thing.  No matter what religion you practice, what you believe in, if you are cautious or reckless, fearful or fearless, you can count on one thing – we will all die someday.  The best way to handle this is to realize that it WILL happen to you and to live the best life you possibly can, in any way or form that materializes for you.  I initially brushed this off as another cliche, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is true.  Death is something entirely out of my control, and all I can do to prolong it is to live a healthy, fulfilled life.  I would rather go out of this life with a full, happy life to reflect on than one lived in fear.  As simple as this statement was, it has really helped me to let go of that fear and think of it less than I did previously.

The fear my kids like to harp on is my fear for their safety.  You might say that this is manageable, and it sometimes is.  They laugh at how I am a nervous wreck when we are on heights (the sparsely railed trails along Cinque Terre were not as enjoyable for me).  They roll their eyes when I insist on knowing as much about them as I can.  They tease me when we hike and I remind them constantly to “be careful.”  This might be just Mom 101, but I am especially fearful for them.  Part of my anxiety is a lack of control, and I cannot control everything (nor should I, because that is crazy).  When your children are teetering over a ledge that is miles high, you tend to stress.  When you are one person with four children who all tend to go different ways in public places, you might freak out.  When you are already afraid of death and your children try to drown themselves in the Pacific Ocean, your nerves are shot.  I try to remind myself that the worst case scenario, always playing in my mind, will not happen.  I also remind myself that my children are smart and pretty well-behaved, and they do tolerate my quirks about heights and public places.  Regardless, I am pretty sure that fear for my children’s safety will be an unmanageable fear until they move out for the rest of my life.

Fears – no matter how small or large – are real and a challenge for everyone.  I did not even scratch the surface of the fears I downplay regularly (vomiting at work?  getting fired?  becoming obese?), but I think you understand what I am driving at.  Fear can be found everywhere, but it is up to us to negotiate and manage fear.  Living in fear is a horrible life, and I do not want to be crippled by things that I cannot control or cannot change.  I choose to be daring – haha!  No, I choose to manage fear.  Daring is not in my personality.

What are you fears, big or small?  How do you manage them?

My husband is better than yours.

My husband is better than yours.

Ooh, controversial – you read this and either thought, Your husband must be amazing! or You are full of crap, or Um, you haven’t met my husband.  But this isn’t your blog or your post, so I’m talking about my husband today.  He left today after 3 weeks of family time, swimming, sun, food, exploring, hiking, arguing, debating, and laughing.  I was watching him yesterday with the kids and couldn’t help but remind him of how lucky I feel to be married to him.  He reminded me that he is the lucky one (which he is) but I meant what I said.  I am lucky to be with this man for so many reasons.

IMG_1322Let me start by saying every marriage is tough – it takes a great deal of work, patience, cooperation, forgiveness, and the ability to maintain all of this while dealing with everything else in life.  This is true whether you have children or not, but children add another element to all of this.  If you are religious, marriage is more than just a civil agreement between two people to share their lives, property, assets, and incomes.  At it’s most basic level, a marriage is a contract with plenty of emotional loopholes to navigate.

I married my husband at 18 years old.  I met him at 16, knew I wanted to marry him at 17, and tied the knot at 18.  This is very young to marry and live with someone else – now complicate this by knowing that half of our dating time was spent apart, and my husband was sent to Iraq after only 3 weeks of marriage.  I knew that marrying young was going to have its challenges, and we were living in an unfamiliar place and had a child within our first year of marriage.  I was thrust into military life after no previous experience, which is also overwhelming.  I would like to say that we endured just 1 deployment, but that is not so.  If I added up all the deployments, years alone in Korea, and TDY’s (this is traveling for training in the military), I would say we have spent more than half of our time apart.  All of this, including moves, children, life changes, deaths, etc. make a marriage challenging.

Yet, here we are.  We have to work at our marriage all the time.  We had to learn to communicate effectively in person and long-distance, and we are still figuring it out.  We have grown and changed, which happens when you marry young, and we are still in love with the people we are today.  We have argued, cried, laughed, threatened to leave each other, battled trials and tribulations for ourselves and our families, nursed each other to health, called each other out for weaknesses, and traveled the world together.  I love my husband.  I love that he not only loves his job but is good at it.  I love the father he is and still grows into.  I love the way he supports this family, as my income and career is dependent on our moves for his career.  I never knew what our life would look like, and I still find myself shocked at what we have encountered and lived through.  But I always knew that he would be this wonderful, dependable man.

This sounds ridiculous, but there were a few moments in the past weeks that reminded me of why my husband is the best for me:

– I have been to the beach a ton while living here, but I never get to do the “fun” stuff.  Snorkeling, paddle boarding, swimming on my own, etc. – I cannot ever do it because I have to be watching the kids.  While Andy was here, I could try some of this!  I tried snorkeling the other day.  I ended up swimming back only a few minutes into it.  He asked me what was wrong, and I admitted that I freaked out.  It is so quiet under water, and I panicked with breathing a little.  In short, my lack of control and anxiety got the best of me.  In typical Rachel fashion, I admitted defeat and said I could never snorkel or dive.

Instead of agreeing with me or pushing me, he gave me space.  About 30 minutes later, he explained the gear again to me and gave it all back.  He told me to try again, to just relax.  I resisted at first, but he was persistent.  I went back out, remembered his instructions, and voila!  I could snorkel.  It was so cool to see the fish and underwater life.  But I could not help by smile because he handled the entire situation perfectly – because he KNOWS me.  He knew that it wasn’t something I couldn’t do, I just needed some space and some guidance.  He knew that pressuring and pushing me would not work – just tell me I am doing it.  He has to do this when we travel, as I hate flying, and when I have to do medical things I do not like (childbirth is a big one).  When we travel, I am the planner and he is the navigator, so he trusts me when I point out places and things to see and do.  My point is – he knows me well enough to help me.  This does not seem like much, but it is huge to me.

– We have reached the point in our marriage where we are honest without being hurtful.  If I look like a slob, he tells me.  If his breath smells terrible, I can tell him.  So when he tells me I am beautiful, I can actually believe it.  I may not admit it to him, but it makes me feel wonderful.  It is also helpful when dressing or doing makeup, as he would not let me leave the house looking ridiculous.

– He tries so damn hard.  I think it is easy for dads to phone in their responsibilities at times, especially if they are the only income earner or if they are gone frequently.  After all these years of marriage, I have a man that will clean the house when I am gone, watch his own children without calling it “babysitting,” discuss bras and boys with our teenager, let me sleep in or take a nap without a guilt trip, play with the kids, and will acknowledge how hard it is to be the single parent.  Small things to some, but huge things to me.

– This may be too personal, but here it goes – he still thinks I am physically attractive.  I’m not a monster of anything, but let’s be real:  I’ve had 4 children in front of this man.  My body, mind, spirituality, and personality have all fluctuated through the years.  He has witnessed and heard some horrifying things.  Despite it all, he really does think I am beautiful.  How lucky am I?

– I love him.  Love can be so many things to people.  I do not believe in true love, soulmates, destiny, etc.  I do believe that love evolves and has to grow, and long-lasting relationships are rare in modern society.  I feel incredibly lucky to have found someone to love so early in life.  He is perfect for me – funny, smart, handsome, caring, and supportive.  We are very opposite but also very similar.  We can debate politics, life goals, child raising, movies, books, comics, blah blah blah…we have nights where we are talking constantly and not even watching the movie we intended to view.  We argue about small and big things.  Some of his habits make me crazy, and vice versa.  And I love him, every part of him.  I cannot imagine being with anyone else, even though we are constantly apart.  I cannot imagine anyone else watching me in my most vulnerable moments and knowing my most shameful secrets.  Andy is my husband, and I’ll be with him until the end.  I’m hoping that medical science advances so we can live for a really long time, but we will be together no matter how many years we live.

This post ended up being pretty mushy.  I blame the post-“my husband just left” emotions.  I think it is nice to reflect on your partner occasionally and remember why you – YOU – may be so lucky to be with that person.  It is easy to take someone for granted, but I never do in our time together.  Perhaps it is because we spend a lot of time apart, so we really value our time.  As I write to you, after a day of airport traffic, tears, hugs, and explaining to a toddler that Daddy will not be walking through the door, I encourage you to reflect on your partner and their value.  This person is your partner for a reason.  Do not ever take it for granted.

Now, I am off to soothe a sad, storm-anxious dog.  It never ends…

The thing about Military R&R…

The thing about Military R&R…

…it’s a nice point to look forward to in long separations.

…is that it is never long enough.

…is that you spend half of that time knowing that with every day that passes, you are one day closer to having that person gone again.

…you will spend way too much money on food, entertainment, and other things that your spouse cannot get while gone.

…the first week will be joyous but also full of frustrations, irritations, mixed sleep schedules, and changes in routines.

…the last week will be the countdown to “the last day,” and it will dictate most of your moods and actions (positive and negative).

…you will always wish that it was not R&R and that it was the final homecoming.  Until the next separation, at least.

The husband has been home for about 3 weeks, and he is due to return in a few days.  R&R is wonderful – it is something to look forward to, something to break up the long months, and something to enjoy.  As the date of return approaches, we all have mixed emotions about the day.  It is hard to say goodbye yet again.  The kids have grown accustomed to having their dad back, and it will be another readjustment.  It takes a couple weeks just to get used to living together again, and then your spouses leaves AGAIN.  You almost want your spouse to go back, just so you can get the remainder of the separation period over and done with.  But you think about being alone, not having that person physically there for comfort, companionship, guidance, support, and all the other wonderful aspects of a marriage, and you want to chain them to the sofa.  You both know that neither of you has a choice in this, but there is a part of you that still wants to be angry about this.  No matter if this is the 1st time or the 20th time, a few days or a year, hours away or countries away…it never gets easier, and there is no magic way to make it better.

So I have been spending my time with my husband and kids – the beach, eating, exploring, relaxing, and often doing nothing but talking face to face – and will continue to do so until I drop him off at the airport yet again.  The real truth about military R&R is…it’s a blessing and a curse.  But I would take any time together during this long year, no matter how short or costly.

F-word Friday: Failure

F-word Friday: Failure

Hey, it’s not Friday!  It might be for you, wherever you are or whenever you read this, but I am fudging the date a little.  Our weeks have been hectic and dominated by baseball, volleyball, meetings, end-of-year events and celebrations, allergies, appointments, random bouts of vomiting, and many other mundane but busy elements.  In other words, I have not written, and I already know I will be too busy and tired to write tomorrow.  Alas, you get your post a little early.  There are multiple reasons for this, including many of the things listed above, but it all leads to my word for today:  failure.

Disappointment
©️Tiny Buddha, LLC

Why failure?  It is such a downer.  No one wants to think about failure of any kind.  The dictionary has multiple meanings for failure:  a lack of success, falling short on a task or goal, an inability to function or thrive.  Failure can be different things for people.  It may be a simple as sleeping through an alarm or losing a business deal.  Some optimists try to spin failure into a positive action or occurrence (something to be learned or to grow from), but most people associate failure with negativity.  No one like to fail at anything, regardless of what that failure may be, and everyone experiences this.

I’ve been feeling failure for some time now.  There are the small things – forgetting a birthday, not spending enough time on a project or idea, neglecting housework – and there have been bigger things – not finding the right job or any employment, struggling to manage life here, feeling exhausted all the time.  As I said, everyone experiences failure.  You rise from it, you learn from it, and you try again or move forward.  Sometimes, the failures weigh on you.  The struggles, the exhaustion, the emotions, and the loneliness piles on and on, and failure becomes more than what it is.

If I’ve never talked about it, I have anxiety.  It’s awful, embarrassing, and something that can impede both mine and my family’s lives.  I manage it as well as I can, and I’m pretty successful on a daily basis.  The past several months, I have felt like my anxiety was growing harder to handle.  I would have ups and downs, and I found myself falling back into older patterns:  avoiding things and places, trying to come up with excuses to stay home, forcing myself to take deep breathing moments more frequently, and using my emergency meds to avoid or quell an anxiety attack.  I have also noticed that I am exhausted, the bone-deep, could sleep for days kind of exhausted.  Yet, I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, which only compounds the problem.  Finally, I was down – really down.  When I caught myself wondering if I could just stay in bed all day and pay Anya to watch the kids, I knew I had a problem.  So, I went back to therapy.  I’ve used therapy intermittently over the years, and it always helps.  I have had different counselors and therapists, each with new perspectives that either worked or did not work for me.  Even if I think it is not helping, it usually is.

I HATE admitting that I need help.  Do you know why I’ve never talked about my anxiety?  Because I hate admitting it.  I hate knowing that there is something that is vulnerable or weak about me, even though it isn’t a weakness.  I hate the way it makes me feel and act.  But as the husband likes to point out, when I know that something is wrong and should go back to therapy, I should.  I’m usually stubborn about it, of course.  And part of working on all this is admitting that yes, I have anxiety and yes, I’m working on it.  I’m always working on it.

Where does all this tie into failure?  I talked about this with my therapist as we were trying to determine what was happening to make this all flare up.  It is easy to blame the usual stressors (husband gone, 4 kids, new home/country, usual life), and when laid out before me, I could see that my life is a little stressful.  I always brush this off because this is the life I live, and everyone is busy and overworked, right?  I grew up in a big family that was always busy, so this is all I know.  She remarked that all of this is fine, but she really honed in on the word “failure.”  I use it too loosely.  Why does being unemployed make me a failure?  Why is ordering pizza for dinner because I’m too damn tired a negative?  Why is turning down an event something that is wrong?  Why does feeling overwhelmed or sad make me a failure?  It doesn’t.  This is something in my head that correlates all this to failure, which leads to stress, then anxiety…and that is the part that I need to work on.

She asked me to make a list of things that are good and successful in my life.  I listed some – the kids, a stable life, a loving husband, a beautiful place to live, a supportive family, intelligence – and as I continued, her point was clear.  Failure is a relative term.  When one takes all the successful, important, and happy elements of a life, the failures should diminish.  Everyone is allowed to feel tired and worn out, to feel sad or lonely, and to feel like things are not perfect.  This is normal and NOT FAILURE.  I find myself repeating this a lot to myself, and it’s slowly helping.

I have been enjoying therapy again, and I have some new opportunities in the works right now (nothing that pays, unfortunately, but I’m excited for them anyway).  I have stressors, worries, and fears, but I also have plenty of good and stable things to focus on, too.  My brain tends to lean more negative, and I need to continue working on this.  No matter how the day evolves or how I feel, I am not failing at anything but keeping my mental health stable – and admitting that is the most difficult yet most important thing for me.

F-Word Friday: Friendship

F-Word Friday: Friendship

I spent nearly an hour talking to one of my best friends this morning, and it made my day even better.  We live in different time zones and have 7 children between us, so talking on the phone can be challenging.  What I love is that even if it has been awhile, we can pick up and just talk.  I do not have this kind of friendship with many people, so I really value this.  For this Friday, I want to talk about friendships.

“If you have one true friend, you have more than your share.”   – Thomas Fuller

Why do we make friends with others?  Humans need interaction with others to survive and thrive.  We are given our family by genetics and birth, but we choose and make friends for companionship.  According to Psychology Today, there are 4 characteristics of friendship:  common interests, history, common values, and equality.  When I see this, I think of this as acquaintances more than friends.  I have many acquaintances:  we like the same foods or books, we have known each other for an extended period of time, we see each other frequently or have kids the same age, etc.  To me, calling someone a friend is defining that person as someone you can spend great amounts of time with.  With social media, it is so easy to define ourselves by our friends or followers, and these numbers are not reliable indicators of your number of true friends.  This is a person who you would tell more intimate details about your life to or that you could share you emotions with.  You could see yourself planning elements of your lives together or including that person routinely in your life.  A friend is someone who is loyal, trustworthy, and empathetic, and you must be willing to give these same things to that person.  Friendship must be reciprocal and shared.

I have some amazing friends, but the number is not astronomical.  In every place we have lived, I have connected with at least a few people who impacted my life, struggled with me, supported me, and whom I still maintain contact with long distance.  My first military friend, Becca, was amazing to me.  She taught me everything I needed to know about being a wife and TACP spouse.  She let me sleep at her house when I was locked out of it on the weekend, and she drove me to the hospital when I was pregnant and in pain.  She even flew me down to Texas to see her after she moved!  My friend Lauren is nearly my clone.  The first time our families had dinner, we had so much in common that it was quite scary.  She and I can be sarcastic and borderline offensive to one another, and we get it.  We share a love of books and coffee, and we’ve seen each other in some pretty vulnerable points.  She’s also my favorite person to random text things.  🙂  I have other friends, too many to name, that if I called and needed help, they would do whatever they could feasibly do to help.  These people become like family to you, especially when you all live far from family – you make your own.

Now, for the big one – BEST friends.  It feels weird to talk about this as an adult, as if this is something reserved for childhood.  However, I have learned that best friends are rare and a special kind of friendship.  Best friends are the people who know you the most.  You can let your guard down with them and be vulnerable/honest/scared/a hot mess.  This is the person you can call at 3 a.m. and they will not only be there to help you, they will do whatever it takes.  They know your entire family, they know what you are thinking even as you do, and they are the people you just cannot imagine your life without.  As a kid and young adult, I was hesitant to even assign the term “best friend” to anyone.  I tend to keep my feelings and thoughts to myself and do not like to feel vulnerable.  Call it pride, arrogance, or a defense mechanism since I am never in one place for long, but it is difficult for me to really let someone into my whole life.  However, there are a few of them, and I feel lucky to have them:

– my mom:  I’ve been saying she is my best friend since I was 14 years old.  I can tell her nearly anything (because there are always a few things that no one tells their mom), she has known me since birth, she has seen me at the highest of highs and lowest of lows, and she’s watched me give birth.  I can call her for anything, and she would be available. I love her dearly.

– Andy:  I’m going to put a strong opinion out there – your spouse should be a best friend.  He or she does not have to be the only one, but they should be one of them.  This is the person you chose to spend your life with, and they should know you as intimately as possible.  I’ve been with Andy since I was almost 17 years old.  He’s watched me grow and change in every possible way, he’s supported me in school and life, he isn’t afraid to be honest with me and argue back when I’m being difficult, he’s not only given me 4 children but been there for all the joyful and awful parts of their births….there are a million reasons why he is my best friend.

my person– Meredith:  I hope everyone gets a friend like Meredith.  Do you ever have a person that you just cannot imagine not knowing?  You know, your person?  That is Meredith to me.  We met in Italy and were acquaintances.  I liked her, she liked me, but we were in different places in our lives.  We reconnected a year later, ended up moving to Germany together, and the rest is history.  We can nearly complete each other’s sentences.  She knows how I think and feel, even the things I do not want people to know.  She’s seen me having an anxiety attack and did not run away, and I’ve seen her with a bad hair dye job (for girls, that is pretty serious).  She and I have welcomed 4 kids between us and have been supportive through good and bad.  She lived right up the street from me, which was amazing.  We’ve been lost in foreign cities, taken care of each other, fought with each other, and we are still here.  I miss her all the time.

– My sisters:  I’ve said this before – I love all my siblings more than I can even say.  I’m the oldest, so I have the best memories of all of them.  They are all crazy, but so am I, so we fit together.  However, my sisters and I are very close.  When you are all close in age, you can either love or hate each other, and I’m happy to say that we love each other.  We did so many things together growing up, shared good and bad experiences, and fought like WWE Divas.  We borrowed/stole each other’s clothes, schemed against our parents, saved each other from punishments, laughed and cried together, and we still do.  My sister Jessica was the first person I called when I found out I was pregnant at 18; my sister Elizabeth and I would quote “Wayne’s World” to each other at night to fall asleep.  We even have a sister tattoo!  No matter where I am or what is going on, they are my sisters. I love them no matter what.

My best friends and my real friends are amazing – yes, I said it again.  It is important to have people in your life that you can love and who can love you.

My point, and something I have pondered many times in my adult life, is that real friendship is not easy.  It is frustrating, difficult, time consuming, but rewarding.  Humans need friendship and companionship to better learn about the world and cultures, to empathize with others, to connect with and to share with.  I find friendship to be challenging but so worth it, even if my friends are not necessarily close in proximity.  True friends are rare, and those are the ones I value.  If you are my friend and reading this, thank you!

Tuesday Thoughts

Tuesday Thoughts

Not much new to tell lately.  More job interviews, more volunteer opportunities, more days that pass until the husband is home for a visit (eek!), and more everyday life in the Carpenter house.  I have been driving a lot lately, and I think about many things while driving.  I present you with some Tuesday Thoughts, and perhaps you will consider these as well:

– Every parent has a favorite child.  Before you protest and tell me you do not, I want you to stop lying to yourself and to the world; we all have a favorite child.  It is the same way that you may have a favorite actor/actress, teacher, friend, store, song, book, etc.  There are moments where one child is favorable over the other.  I feel no shame in admitting this.  My siblings will tell you that I was my mom’s favorite child, but I think she, like me, had different favorites at different times.  There are some days where Leo is my favorite because he is the great age between baby and terrible-toddler.  He still likes to snuggle, thinks I can do nothing wrong, and is happy nearly all the time.  Then Addison is my favorite another day because she is so selfless and sweet.  She always tells me how wonderful a mom I am and tries very hard to behave.  Lorelei can win favorite of the day with her wisecracks and humor; she is so on point at times, it kills me.  Today’s favorite was Anya though.  Not only did she babysit for me tonight, she switched laundry, emptied the dishwasher, and ensured that everyone was in bed.

It’s okay to have a favorite child, so long as that child is not the favorite ALL the time and you do not show obvious favoritism to one over the other.  If I’m really honest, there are days where I’m not fond of any of them (I kid, I kid).

– I’m going to say something that I never thought I would say:  I am starting to understand how people grow to love Crossfit.  No, I’m not attending any classes.  I feel like an imposter just stepping into the functional fitness area at the gym – I really just want the kettle bells.  I started using a HIIT app called Keelo; it offers multiple workouts depending on your time, intensity, and areas you want to work on.  It is great for someone like me who needs to utilize the short amounts of time available to get a workout in, and it also feels like you are truly using your time beneficially.  Anyways, the first day I used a workout was brutal.  I hated all 9 minutes of the allowed time, and every part of my body was on fire.  After some time, I am starting to look forward to the challenge of either beating my time or doing more reps than the previous workout.  Today, I had 9 minutes to do a 21-15-9 of squats, supermans, knockouts, and jumping jacks.  Those minutes went by quick!  I can see my form and strength gaining and improving, and the challenge is keeping me motivated.  I’m not flipping tires or joining any classes, but I will say – this is a motivating workout method.

– I need to take some continuing education.  I was so happy to be finished at my master’s degree.  I really loved school and college, but I was ready to read normal books and not feel the stress of papers and finals.  As I continue job searching, I think I need some more certifications or training to boost my resume.  Can anyone recommend some courses?  My degrees are in English and management, so anything that could make me seem more professional or make up for the lack of professional experience would be great.

I hate the endless cycle of job searching and interviews.  You do not have enough experience for a position, but no one will hire you for a similar position to GIVE you the experience that you NEED for that position!  What do you do?  Combine that with constant moving for the military and needing to make enough money to at least cover childcare, and you can understand my frustration.

– When you do feel is the appropriate age to allow children on social media?  The husband and I have not really set an age for the kids, but as of now, they are not allowed on any.  Our oldest, at 13 years old, has a phone and can access the internet, but her apps and purchase are monitored, her phone is checked, and we have to know all her passwords.  I was around some other parents recently, and our views seemed to be in the minority.  Social media is so overwhelming for adolescents AND parents – it is a big, scary, unknown world out there that is challenging for parents to teach limits and responsibility to teens.  I do not know if I was really responsible online until early adulthood.  I was more curious as to what other people think – we could be overprotective parents, but I am not ready to send my pretty, innocent child out into social media.

– My dog is on my mind.  She is almost 10 years old; that is getting up there for a canine.  We take her routinely to the vet, she is on more meds than all of us, and she seems very happy and healthy.  There are days when I can see her age though.  Her hair grows more grey daily.  What used to be a quick walk around the neighborhood can leave her sore and aching.  She seems slower and less tolerant of the usual shenanigans from the kids (although she still tolerates A LOT and plays with the kids).  I worry about her growing older.

I am not naive to think that Emma will live forever.  All animals die at some point.  She is special though.  We have had her since she was 14 weeks old.  She has seen 3 babies come into this house.  She has moved 4 times and lived in 3 countries with us!  Yes, she eats anything you leave out, she has ruined shoes, toys, and even straightening irons, and she costs me plenty of money.  We all love her so much (she and the husband have a strangely close bond), and I just cannot imagine our house without her.  I am hopeful that we have many more years with her, as the vet recently commented about her excellent health, but the daily reminders of her age concern me.  There will never be another Emma.

– Most days, eating right is easy.  It is not challenging to eat a balanced diet, to include plenty of fruits and veggies, to watch your sugar intake, and to drink plenty of water.  I find that even when I complain about getting the kids to eat right, we usually do it pretty well.  However, there are the few days that eating right just sucks.

I think I have mentioned that I am trying to drop some weight.  I am not at my pre-pregnancy weight, and Leo is almost 2 years old.  I have focused more on eating healthy and exercising regularly, and this is doable.  There are some moments where an apple just will not curb the chocolate craving, where water does not taste as good as soda, or pasta sounds way better than veggies.  Maybe my body is craving sugar, as I’ve curbed my sugar intake drastically, but this challenge in eating right has been noticeable as of late.  *I cut my sugar intake because I have noticed more hypoglycemic reactions/symptoms in the past few months.  I’m trying to better monitor all sugar intake and to better balance it.***  Do any of you have trouble maintaining a healthy diet, and if so, what are your tricks?

– Signs you have lived outside of America for awhile:  I’ve had cable for 6 months now, and I just discovered about 100 channels I did not know I had.  Literally blew my mind.  We are still getting used to life in America after so long away.  There are so, so many things I miss about Europe, but there are days where you discover that CMT aires “Roseanne” episodes every morning, and it makes the transition a little better.

I think that will do it for this Tuesday.  Good night all, and I hope my random thoughts have given you something to ponder as well.  🙂