All of My Flaws Forgotten

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I never had the privilege of experiencing the full effect of the mother/daughter dynamic as a girl…

Before I got a chance to enter puberty and encounter those turbulent years (where I would heave sighs, slam doors and wage wars over what to wear) my mother had died.

I was nine when she passed and was only left with memories that would eventually fade over time. But even after all of these years there are still a few memories that cling to me.

I can still smell the oranges we ate every afternoon while we watched Little House on the Prairie. I remember sitting by the window watching a thunderstorm roll in and being taught to be exhilarated by it instead of scared of it. And I remember the way her body molded to mine and the warmth I felt when she held me.

All of her flaws forgotten.

Now as I enter the years of raising a teenage daughter I’m encountering uncharted territory. I don’t have my own experiences to look back on in terms of dealing with the struggles mothers and daughters encounter once they enter these years. I’m left questioning myself and wondering if I’m good enough.

What does she see when she looks at me?

What will she remember when she looks back on these years?

It was Saturday and motherhood had worn me down this previous week. Brent had been in Breckenridge all but two days during the week. I had worked long hours and still had more school work to complete before the night’s end. All week long I had looked forward to coming home to spend quality time with my girls, to catch up on all that I had missed. Instead of being greeted with smiles and hugs I was greeted with temper tantrums, tears and arguments.

I was drained and exhausted and pushed to the brink. I was ashamed, because in the midst of all of the chaos I had a few temper tantrums myself and the guilt of it all was weighing me down.

I felt guilty for losing my patience. I felt guilty for being so busy during the week. I felt guilty for wanting to lock myself in the bathroom where I could take a long bath, drink a bottle of wine and read a book in an attempt to pretend like I didn’t have kids or responsibilities.

That night as I tucked Penelope, the little one, into bed I started to close the door when I heard a sweet little voice say, “Night night Momma. Love you.”

It was the sweetest thing I had heard all week, I wanted to live in that moment forever.

I closed the door behind me and walked past Bridget’s room where she was engrossed in a conversation on the phone with a friend. She looked so grown up and it made me miss the years that I had with her when she was little too, the times when she actually liked me.

I made my way through the kitchen where a stack of Bridget’s school work from the week sat. I was sorting through it when a paper she had written caught my attention… It was about her role model.

“When most people say their mom is the best role model, they are probably wanting something like an xbox or the latest cell phone. But not me! My mother, Nina Nevada Gwyn Chapman, is the best person to look up to. Although we’re exactly alike-in looks and brains- I sometimes feel the need to be like her even more. Want to know why I think my Mommy qualifies for Best-Mother-of-The-Year? Stick around and you’ll see!

One of the reasons I believe my mom is a good role model is because she is energetic and understanding. My mom has the kind of temper that makes her blunt. Also, she will not let other people step on her, which is one of the best traits she has. My mom doesn’t give in to gossip, and she’s never rude unless you do something to someone she loves. That’s when Momma Bear comes out! Mom is also the funniest person alive, partly because she doesn’t care what other people think. She tells jokes and things to me and my friends that other mom’s usually don’t say. But apart from her spunky side, she is really down-to-earth and very helpful in listening to other people’s problems. I would like to be as understanding as she is. My mother can be very un-predictable in her motives, but it is something I hope to achieve.

Another reason my mom is a good role model is because she loves anybody no matter what. She always makes me smile, as I would like to other people. My mother is always willing to give 2nd and 3rd chances. She believes that no matter what mistakes you make, there is always a seed of hope inside, a light of forgiveness. If others understood this, I think the world would be more peaceful.

Overall, I believe my mom is a great role model for the reasons listed above. She is kind, forgiving, and always makes people feel better, like everyone should. Even though someone has done something wrong, my mom forgives them, and that can make a person feel better. If everyone was like my wonderful mother, perhaps we would live in a better place.”

She walked into the kitchen while I was reading it, my eyes were rimmed with tears threatening to spill over. She looked at me and said, “Momma don’t cry.” She hugged me tight snuggling her head under my chin.

After a while she took in a deep breath and said, “Ahhh, you smell good.”

I was tired and ragged and in need of a shower so this was news to me, “What do I smell like?”

“I don’t know… like mom,” she said as she hugged me tighter.

All of my flaws forgotten.

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Smuggling Fruit In My Pants

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Why yes… you have been neglected.

I’ve been so busy lately, that I haven’t been able to take the time to really enjoy the little things that make life so grand! Instead, I’ve been doing school work, mounds and mounds of school work. On top of that I’m working around 9 to 10 hours of day in the classroom… for free.

If I get a free moment I spend it trying to catch up on sleep. (Which is boring.) So, basically I’m either passed out or stressed out.

Therefore, when I got a three day weekend, I completely ignored my obligatory weekly blog post and chose to spend the day playing outside with my family.

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I took the time to workout, take a few long showers, paint my toenails and read a book. I also went grocery shopping and picked out lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy. Penelope chose to eat an entire carton of raspberries as I shopped instead of the cookie she got from the bakery. So, I made a mental note to add more raspberry bushes to my garden this summer.

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In fact, I’ve been thinking about my garden a lot lately. I’ve even been dreaming about it. I’ve been dreaming about enormous multicolored heirloom tomatoes, giant pumpkins and sunflowers that flourished in the shade.

I made a pot roast for dinner on Sunday and went out to my shriveled up garden to see if there were any remnants of herbs left to include in my meal. That’s when I found a little thyme that had turned purple but was still fragrant waiting for the weather to get warmer so that it could come to life once again.

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It turns out that my garden isn’t the only thing I’ve been dreaming about lately…

I’ve also dreamt about how out of shape I have gotten. I had a dream that I looked in the mirror to find that my hips and thighs were unbelievably lumpy. I couldn’t figure out what would make them look like that so I just assumed that I had apples in my pants.  I was sorely disappointed when I reached in my pants and there were no apples to be found.

When I woke up I walked straight to the mirror to see how lumpy my thighs were. Luckily, they weren’t lumpy, rounder and softer maybe, but it definitely didn’t look like I was trying to smuggle fruit in my pants.

That dream is what convinced me to refocus on the kind of foods I put in my mouth. I can’t control a lot right now due to my time restraints but I can always make time to eat fresh healthy foods that will nourish my body.

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I was stunned to see just how much processed crap we’ve let enter our pantry since I’ve started student teaching. I’ve slacked on the kinds of foods I’ve allowed my kids to have too because I was too tired of fighting them on it. That’s the worst thing I can do as a mom.

The things that I feed my kids today sets the standard for what they will choose to eat when they grow up. I want them to be healthy happy adults… so that means I have to raise the standard for myself and set that example.

After I woke up from the lumpy thigh dream I weighed myself to see what kind of damage had been done during a week of not caring what I ate. The scale said, 186.6… not what I expected at all. I thought surely the scale would say that I had gained weight. My body is so unbelievably mushy these days. So even though the scale is being kinder I know better.

The down side to having already been an athlete is the all or nothing mindset you can find yourself trapped in. I think athletes suffer from this because they go super hard during the season and then lay off a bit during the post season. There’s never any balance about it. I’ve actually found that my friends who never played sports at all tend to have a healthier mindset when it comes to exercise. They just plod along fitting in exercise when they can, no ego involved.

The athlete in me feels like I’m not accomplishing anything if I’m not murdering myself in the gym. I feel so defeated if the only workout I can fit in is a walk around the block. What I forget is that any exercise is better than none. I think my pride gets in the way if I can’t workout the way that I want to.

“If I can’t be a badass then I’ll just be a couch potato because I’m way too cool to count an evening walk as my main source of exercise.”

How dumb is that?!  If I can’t make it to the gym because I feel the need to spend quality time with my girls at the end of the day then I need to be active with them…. play at the park, dance in the house, jump on the trampoline. And if I find an opportunity in which I have the time to workout then I need to pounce on it and fit it in when I can.

I still have ten more weeks of student teaching to undergo and I’ve decided that I can’t wait another ten weeks to be proactive about my health. I may not be able to do everything that I would like to do but that shouldn’t prevent me from doing what I can.

The 5 Stages of Bettering Yourself

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My schedule has been so grueling lately that there are times that I wonder why I agreed to put myself through this in the first place. Then, in the same moment I’ll envision where all of this hard work will get me and how I will feel when I’m done with the task at hand.  That’s when I decide that all of the work is worth it and I get that extra boost of motivation to carry on as best as I can.

Any time that I really push myself, whether physically or mentally, I go through the same process…

Stage 1- “I can do this!”

Stage 2- “Oh shit, this is hard!”

Stage 3- “I don’t know if I can do this.”

Stage 4- “Why did I do this to myself?”

Stage 5- “Yay! I did it… What’s next?”

Apparently, I’m addicted to this process. I felt the same way during my undergrad years, I feel like this during a tough workout and sometimes I just feel like this about life in general. But the feeling you get when you push through a tough process and make it to the other side is priceless.

There was a time when I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to even get my bachelor’s degree. Knowing that I was smart enough to accomplish great things but wouldn’t get the opportunity to utilize my skills was stifling. Now, I’m almost done with my master’s degree and as nerdy as it sounds. It’s a dream come true!

That being said, I’m pretty sure the only muscle I’ve been exercising is my brain.

I can feel my body turning to mush and all of the hard work I put into building a strong capable body is slipping away.

I complained about this to my husband as I went over our schedule again to try to figure out a time to fit in some exercise. Brent’s a fire fighter and he relies on his body to get him out of sticky situations so he always gets priority for choosing workout times. Then I have to contend with the girl’s schedules.  I mentioned leaving Penelope at daycare while I worked out after school but Brent pointed out that I would be leaving Penelope with the babysitter for 11 hours if I did that.

“Besides, you look fine. In fact, I think you’ve even lost weight.”

I wanted to hug him and punch him at the same time.

When I weighed myself this morning I weighed 187.2. I’ve lost muscle mass and the only reason I look like I’ve lost weight is because I wear flattering clothes and get dressed up on a daily basis. Besides, it’s not about how much I weigh, it’s about how I feel. I felt ten times better when I weighed 200 pounds but was in good shape. Plus, my mental health needs exercise just as much as my body needs it. Some of my most genius ideas hit me during the throes of a good endorphin boost. But most importantly, I miss it. I need it!

Yesterday, a group of my friends were lifting together at Crossfit Bodywerx in the woman’s strength training class. This is a group of amazing, encouraging, strong women. This class is like a good ladies night out but instead of bonding over wine you’re bonding over your squat technique. The wine comes later. Oh how I wanted to go!

However, both of my girls were sick so I stayed home like a good mother should and tended to them instead.

I spent the day in my pajamas and could feel the walls of my house closing in on me. When I took a break between loads of laundry I looked outside and saw the sun shining for the first time in days. We had the kind of week where you couldn’t step foot outdoors without the inside of your nose freezing instantaneously. Therefore, the  sun was a welcome visitor, even if it was accompanied by a bitter breeze. I looked out the window longingly, I would have given anything to run through that cold breeze letting it sting my face. Brent was at work and my little running partner was drowning in her snot. So if I had tried to strap her in the jogging stroller she would have ended up looking like Dumb and Dumber.

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When I turned away from the window I could feel the crazy starting to set in. I had this uncontrollable urge to climb a tree or do a cart wheel so I settled with turning up the music and having a dance party while I cleaned. Bridget looked up at me from her perch on the couch with blurry eyes like I was an idiot but Penelope joined in.

In that moment I decided that I was tired of simply surviving it was time to start thriving!

Within an hour my house was clean and my toddler was worn out and fast asleep. While she napped I took the chance to curl up with a good book and a hot mug of tea to spend a moment with myself.

This upcoming week isn’t going to get any easier and I realize that I’ve been wasting my days waiting for this particular time to pass. I’ve been waiting until I’m done with my student teaching. I’ve been waiting for Winter to shift to another side of the planet. What a waist of life!

I’ve come to the realization that I’m going to have to push through and make the best of where I’m at. Before I know it the time will have passed and I will have graduated from graduate school. I’ll be able to celebrate by going on barefoot bike rides with my family and tending my garden while Bridget reads in the hammock and Penelope digs for worms. In the mean time I’m just going to have to tuck my chin and trudge on.

I just have to keep my eye on the prize…

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***Do you ever feel like you are just waiting for a certain time in your life to be over before you can actually start living? What do you do to get out of that rut?***

You’re Winking at Me!

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Well… it’s been one hell of a week, let me tell you.

Honestly, it’s been a while since I talked to you so I’m not even sure where to even start.

Let’s see, where did I leave off? Oh yes, bitch slapping and not making excuses…

After giving myself that little pep talk Monday was going great, I started to take over a few more of the classes and I was feeling really confident about my teaching skills. I had to teach a lesson to one of the more boisterous classes but I didn’t care, I was ready for them.

I stood up from my perch in the corner and made my way to the middle of the classroom to give my power point presentation. As soon as I stood I felt a sharp stabbing pain on the right side of my stomach. I carried on as if nothing was wrong and managed to grunt my way through the lesson. I kept thinking the pain would ebb away but it never did. I couldn’t stand up straight and I couldn’t sit down. So I hunched over toward my right side clutching my stomach trying to act nonchalant about it.  In a strange way it felt like I was in labor and suffering from a never-ending contraction.

When I was done teaching the lesson the kids were left to work on an assignment alone. I tried to walk around to make sure that they were on task. One kid asked me a question and when I gave him his answer he looked at me with a puzzled expression on his face and said, “You’re winking at me! Why are you winking at me? Is it wrong?!”

I didn’t realize it but I was scrunching up my right eye as I grimaced in pain. I couldn’t help but laugh at him, which then made me wink at him again because it made my stomach hurt even worse.

I made it through two class periods like this. Determined to keep mind over matter but by the end of my last class all of the kids were giving me sideways glances wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

I was wondering the same thing.

Instead, of staying after class to help tutor the kids and prepare for the next day I chose to go to Urgent Care to see what was going on with me. I could barely stand up right. My mentor teacher offered to escort me to my car but I assured her I could make it on my own… even though I had serious doubts as to whether I actually could.

I felt like a wounded dog that wanted to hide under the porch to die alone. I seriously second guessed my decision to drive myself as I squealed in pain with every bump in the road.

Long story short… I was suffering from kidney stones.

The most awesome part about this revelation was the fact that I was expected to carry a pee strainer with me in the halls of middle school for the remainder of the week every time I had to pee. To make matters worse, I had to wait for another teacher to give me the key to the bathroom before I was allowed to go since I’m not allowed to have a key due to the fact that I’m a student teacher.

After peeing on my hand for the fifth time I finally made an executive decision and threw the damn thing away. It was officially the grossest treasure hunt I’ve ever participated in and I was done with it.

Since the initial attack the majority of the pain ceased to exist. I just felt tender like I had been used as a human punching bag and was beyond exhausted.

Then Thursday rolled around and I had to work a 15 hour day due to parent teacher conferences. Turns out it was worth it because I found out that several of the kids had talked about me at home… in a good way. Apparently I’m “awesome”.  It made me feel good to find out that they actually like me… even if I was freaking them out with my grimace/wink and was spotted roaming the halls with a pee strainer.

By the time I came home on Friday night I was in major need of some alone time.  As soon as I walked through the door everyone was vying for my attention because I had been gone the entire day before… so alone time had to happen after bedtime.

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This week as been so crazy I can’t remember a single meal that I ate, nevermind working out. My soul goal was to survive. When I weighed in this morning the scale said 187.8. I don’t even remember how much I weighed last week so I don’t even know how to feel about it.

I had three assignments due this weekend and I was just proud that I had managed to keep logging hours at school despite the kidney stones and manage to finish all of my work. (One assignment alone is 65 pages long… eew.)

Since I had finished all of my work by Saturday morning my main focus for the remainder of the weekend was to relax and enjoy my family.

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We played in the snow and I finally made that split pea soup I shared with you guys last week.

It. Was. Perfect.

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Who knew split pea soup could be so delicious?!

So, I have basically subsisted on baguettes coated in butter, dipped in split pea soup and washed down with red wine for the majority of the weekend.

I’m in desperate need for some fiction in my life but I don’t have time to submerge myself in a good book. So instead of reading my book I’m eating one.

The theme for this meal is Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.

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And now as I finish typing this post I’m going to drink some beer and pretend to watch the super bowl because I live in Denver.

Cheers! Here’s to a better week than the last one!