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Show Me The Money!

I survived Thanksgiving! Now I just have the stress of Christmas looming over me. I will feel SO much better once I have all my money for presents dealt with and the majority of my shopping done but I am not as close to that point as I would like to be. Just don’t think about it, Crystal. Don’t think about it. That is my new mantra. It is sorta helping.

Side note: Michael’s boss man is trying to close a big deal right now and if it happens would mean a VERY Merry Christmas to me! So send some positive, hopeful vibes our way.

Well, other than holiday excitement around here and a big family gathering that I luckily DID NOT have to cook for… We have added 2 new additions to the family. My parents spent Thanksgiving week in Myrtle Beach and came back with 2 Red Eared Slider Turtles for the kids. You would think they were for me though, since I seem to be the one that is overly excited about them.

Aren’t they so stinkin’ cute??!! The bigger one is Cooper and the smaller one is Bailey. I can’t wait to make their terrarium badass. To do that I need MOOLAH! Sheesh. It is never ending. Our house is turning into a little mini zoo and honestly I would like a couple more additions. I have some books that will hopefully be ready to pick up from the library soon about turtles, snails and fish so that we can learn more about our newbies.

A little sneak peek at a project we started working on this week…

We have started working on a wind chime! We are using our sea shells from MIL and some acorns and sticks from our recent Sweetwater trip. We managed to get 3 of the strands done and we want to make 6 more. I can’t wait to see the finished product. Hopefully we will get some work done on it today.

Registration for classes opens up on Tuesday! My financial aid is all squared away. Mostly. I just need to register on Tuesday and send in some paperwork and I will be set! Classes start on January 9th and I will be starting with English Composition I. I am excited and very nervous still. Reading the syllabus fuels my anxiety and there is a part of me that is sure that I am going to just struggle through this whole thing. Not just this class but my whole college experience. I am trying to have faith in myself that I can handle more than I think I can but I suspect that I probably won’t feel better about this until I get there.

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Getting Back to Basics

I think I may be getting addicted to blogging. For someone who used to really not like blogging and writing in general but decided to give it a try anyways…. it is becoming that one thing that is helping keep me grounded and keeps consistently making me feel good.
Anywho…
As of late we have been running into some issues around our house with technology. It has OVER infiltrated my house! Let me preface this with saying that I really am not overly against children watching TV or gaming even though there is a part of me that feels like I probably should since it seems to be stamped everywhere about how horrible it is for them.
The problem that we seem to be running into now is that I have come to use TV and video games as a crutch. It is that way for me to keep them out of my hair and get some breathing space, which all us full-time mamas definitely need. It has reached a point though where even in between TV times or gaming times, I am being harassed about getting to watch this. Or play that. It has literally been driving me crazy. Haden would rather sit around and whine about what he can’t do at that particular moment than to do something fun with me and his sister. It doesn’t seem to matter much what I throw at him in way of alternatives.
So today I called it quits on technology as a means of trying to kill time and numb the brain. 😛 For the kids anyways….
I made Michael promise that for the next week we would not watch TV during the day or play any video games so that we can have a period of detox and then we can see about slowly bringing the tech back in but never at the quantities we have been reaching as of late. I feel like all the time spent with our technology is working towards pushing us farther apart. So that is my plan. It sucks like hell. Just thought I would share.
So on our first completely tech free day… well almost tech free anyways. I won’t go into the 2 TIMES I caught Michael trying to break the rules today….
I think I just got distracted. 😉 Today we actually went on a family hike at Sweetwater Creek Park, which is no easy feat. We love Sweetwater but I have only been by myself with Haden a couple times since Addison has been born because I just couldn’t imagine trying to go with her. It honestly went better than I thought it would. The nice cool weather worked to my benefit, especially since I ended up wearing her on my back for half of it. I don’t foresee myself going without Michael on a hike anytime in the near future but I am considering trying to work in a State Parks Annual Pass in with our Christmas presents for the kids so that we will feel inspired to go more frequently. Especially while the weather is nice and cool. We are so out of shape!
Throwing rocks in the water.
I thought they looked so sweet holding hands.
Climbing up on some up high rocks.
So in other news, Michael bought two new friends for Namey to hang with so he won’t be lonely. 😛 We got a Gold Mystery Snail and an Algae Fish. I asked Haden what he wanted to name them and he said, “The Friendly Good Snail and The Friendly Good Fish. ” I suggested maybe shorting that up to Fishy and Snaily but he didn’t agree with that idea. He however did decide later that he wanted to name the fish – Jason and the snail – Haden. So Namey, Jason and Haden it is.
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Get Real: “Perfection” Part 2

Wow. The amount of support I have had in regards to my Get Real post has been amazing and very touching. You guys have no idea how much it means to me.

When I wrote that blog last night it felt incredibly freeing. The emotional release was so strong that I cried the entire time. And even though I had felt so sure in my motives going in, I hesitated to actually publish it and put it out there when I was done. After I did, I started shaking. From nerves, I guess? Or fear? I wanted to be brave but in the end it was really hard.

I have spent so much of my time wearing my mask of normal. The more I confronted my imperfections, the more I realized that I have been setting up others with the same insecurities that I feel. I think I have overcompensated for my weaknesses by taking on more and more so that I could prove that I can handle it all. Pretending to be supermom, who can handle anything.

It actually wasn’t until late August that I acknowledged that the OCD/anxiety thing as a problem. I have literally joked it off and pretended it wasn’t a big deal for almost 5 years. I however reached a tipping point in having repeated manic moments in late August that made it hard to ignore. Since then I have been making a lot of changes to my life. I have been trying to take a step back from things and make everything easier on me in an attempt not to let myself get too overwhelmed. Most days it is still hard even while having less responsibilities.

I feel like just acknowledging the problem has gone a long way towards working through it. Talking about it with Michael has really helped me. It is helping our marriage and he tries to step in when he sees that I am back tracking. I am forcing myself to “do” less. Waiting longer than I want to clean things up, whatever it might be. Inside it it still hurts to do it but I feel like every day that I push my limits it get easier.

People have been sending me great advice and words of encouragement and I completely plan to use them to move forward. I just wanted everyone to know that I am thankful and that although I acknowledge my weaknesses that I don’t plan to let them rule my life and that I do also acknowledge my strengths too.

We definitely all have the good and the bad. 🙂

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Get Real:”Perfection”

This morning I read this awesome blog called The Disease called “Perfection”. I cried like a baby while I read it. It was bluntly truthful and really resonated with me on something that has been bothering me a lot lately. The sense of guilt that I constantly feel at not being “good enough”. Looking at everyone around me and thinking that they seem to have it so much more together. Better mothering skills. Better behaved children. Happier marriages. The list could go on. 

It is long but really worth the read. I just wanted to highlight a few things he said in the blog here so the context of this blog makes a bit more sense for those that haven’t read it. You should REALLY read the whole thing. 
“What is the disease called ”Perfection”? Perhaps a list of its real-life symptoms will help you better understand it. We live in communities where people feel unconquerable amounts of pressure to always appear perfectly happy, perfectly functional, and perfectly figured….”
“Here’s your wake-up call: You aren’t the only one who feels worthless sometimes. You aren’t the only one who took your frustrations out on your children today. You aren’t the only one who isn’t making enough money to support your lifestyle. You aren’t the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people. You aren’t the only one who feels trapped in your marriage.” 
“Perfection” is a hideous monster with a really beautiful face. And chances are you’re infected. The good news is, there is a cure. Be real. Be bold about your weaknesses and you will change people’s lives.”
Then he asks, Will you help me spread “Real”? 


So here I  am. Spreading the real.

I joke a lot about my OCD type tendencies. Most people don’t know that I have had anxiety/OCD issues that started right after Haden was born and they have progressively gotten worse over time. I obsess over 2 things. I can’t stand to see messes, everything has its place. And I don’t like to see any kind of dirt, food crumbs or dog hair on my floors. This sounds like such a simple thing typing it out. The part that makes it sucky? I literally feel anxiety and stress when I see the kids pulling out toys and I rush to clean them up as soon as they are done with them. I don’t feel better until everything is back in its place. I do the same with cleaning the floors. I sweep and vacuum throughout the day. If the dog loses a clump of dog hair, I HAVE to pick it up. There have been days where the stress of looking at my house has made me cry in frustration. And when I say cry. I mean a full on sobbing mess. I have taken it out on my husband and on my kids in raging fits because I feel like they are fighting against me instead of helping me because don’t they understand that I need help??!!

I am a control freak. I think this is linked back to the other stuff above as well. But I want everything to be done my way and on my schedule and when it doesn’t happen that way, I get angry. When I do get angry, I am not a nice person. I generally say or do things that I regret. The way that I express extreme emotion is not good and now my children are learning that from me. I feel on many days that I am damaging them.

My marriage is not perfect. And not just from my craziness. Michael has his own issues. In the 8 years we have been together we have had our up times and we have had some REALLY shitty ones too. We don’t do that responsible “save your arguments for when the kids aren’t around” thing. Our fights tend to be loud and uncensored at times. I guess that is the “white trash” in me coming out.

If I take off my clothes, my body is not overtly attractive. My butt and the inside of my thighs are covered in cellulite and stretch marks. My ass is quite jiggly. Nothing is firm anymore. My boobs are droopy and weird looking to me, especially now that I am not making as much milk. I don’t like the way they feel when I touch them.

So there is some REAL. I hope anyone else who decides to read this will spread “The Disease of Real” around. 🙂
Follow up post: Get Real 2
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My Vision Board

My sister is currently taking a speech class, so she has been giving weekly speeches to the family for her assignments. This week her speech was on using Vision Boards. I Love this idea because it makes me think of things that I talk about in my childbirth classes and the labor vision board I made while I was pregnant with Addison. A vision board is a tool, and when used properly can provide inspiration and motivation to drive you towards reaching your goals. Think of them as daily visual affirmations of what you want to accomplish, and attract them to you.
I hear your messages Universe! Now hear mine. 😛
Here is a link to make your own online! It is super easy. http://www.oprah.com/spirit/O-Dream-Board-Envision-Your-Best-LifeTM 
Thank you, Heather for sharing this with me! 
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Talk ME Down

For some reason today I have an overwhelming need to be doing something. As in SCHOOL.  This would be the real me creeping in through all the hard work I have been doing on myself lately. That person who wants to control everything and I keep thinking about all the things Haden probably should be doing and learning and how I am not doing enough to facilitate that. This then leads me to try and I have already had one FAIL for the day because I surely know how to suck the fun out of everything when I start thinking more about what I need vs. what is really going to work.
It is just one of those days where I am simultaneously disappointed in myself and at odds with the person I want to be and the person that my compulsions strive for me to be. I really could just use some positive reinforcement that it will all be ok.
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Experiential Homeschooling ;)

It seems that I may have finally worked past my feelings of stress and unease in regards to homeschooling and Haden. Within the past couple weeks I have really been seeing Haden grow into himself as an unschooler and I am starting to feel as if… Dare I say it? I am not ruining him. That he really will learn without me planning it all out for him and if I give him the freedom… he will thrive in his independence.

It makes me smile to see him get excited about things he finds interesting. To ask questions about EVERYTHING. To repeat something that we talked about some time before.

My children today have alternated between making a fort out of all our couch cushions and blankets. Repeatedly jumped from a mattress onto a mattress topper like a million times out in the garage. Explored trying to get up on high objects and jumping. Jumped over each other and on each other. Played outside. Dug in the dirt. Got way too messy for my tastes. 😛  Looked at pictures of superheroes on the internet. Looked through birth books at pictures. Listened to music and danced. And they fought!  I swear I spend half of my day refereeing between them.  I think the thing I appreciate most about homeschooling is the opportunity for togetherness. Strengthening our relationships and growing together, even when that means not getting along sometimes.

Snuggling on the couch earlier while Addison drank some boobie milk, I talked with Haden about being thankful. I told Haden that I was thankful for him and Addison because I love them and they keep my life interesting. I told him that if Addison could talk I think she would say she is thankful for boobie milk. 😛 I asked him what he is thankful for and he said, “Love.”

Recently there has been a couple of really great pieces on Unschooling in mainstream media. I am always happy to see anything about homeschooling in a positive light, so I thought I would share them.

Clip One
Clip Two

I was chatting with my friend Stephanie the other night, about unschooling and she has coined the term Experiential Homeschooling as a substitute for unschooling. Experiential by definition means “based on observation and experience”.  I happen to think that is a perfect description for how I would like to see our homeschooling years play out. I find that there is stigma now around unschooling which has been put in place by more radical unschooling families. Even many homeschoolers seems to have a poor opinion of unschooling and most of this seems to be put in place by people taking something that is supposed to be a good thing and perhaps taking it too far. Of course that is just my opinion but I will say that I don’t particulary like being associated with that stigma.

So we thought using the term Experiential Homeschooler has a nice ring to it. Easier than saying I am unschoolerish? 😛

On that note, how awesome is the traveling unschool bus??!! I showed the clip to Michael and we both really love the idea of being able to do something like that. It would be great if life worked out to make that a possibility for us in a few years.

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Occupy Together

I don’t typically talk about politics or religion publicly unless I know I am with like-minded people. They are such sensitive topics that tend to get people feisty and I generally like to try and preserve my friendships by not going there. But I recently started waving my lefty flag more fiercely. 😉 I hope that my righty friends and family love me enough to not be offended by my way of thinking, as I try to do the same for them.So I thought I would put a compilation of my thoughts on OWS here, since so many people seem to be curious about it, weather in a REAL way or just in a way as trying to find something to use to tear it apart. 😉

The Occupy movement was started as a call to action against the fact that corporate greed and corrupt politics set our policies in this nation and the crisis that these have put us in as a nation. Most people want a more in depth answer than that though. I like this video, which is just a reading of a declaration made by the Wallstreet protesters tells you little bit more about why people are pissed off enough that they have amassed themselves in cities all over the US.
The thing that I find most interesting and also amazing about the movement is that you have people of all races, financial backgrounds, ages, etc. You have Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, Anarchists, Socialists and everything in between.
Media and other public figures have done their best to try and put all occupiers inside of a little stereotypical box in an attempt to make others take the groups coming together less seriously and to put a stigma in place to deter people from wanting to get involved. They are a bunch hippies sitting around doing drugs and beating on drums. They are overprivileged white kids that are parasites on the world with nothing better to do. They are all unemployed lay-abouts that need to be out looking for a job instead of complaining. The list could go on and on… They are anti-capatalism. They are anti-government. They are pro-socialism. They are pro-Obama or anti-Obama. They are… they are… they are… people.  All different types of people, with different agendas but the end of the day they are people that seek change. It is unlikely that they will ever agree on how that change should be brought or what changes are the most important.
Some people seem to think that is what makes the movement weak. I see it differently though. I think that alone is what makes what is happening now so HUGE and ultimately what will make it successful. And the occupation itself, which a lot of people don’t seem to understand, in my opinion is the most important part of what is happening right now. It isn’t just the protesting and the marching. Those have been done before. The actual occupation of a public space keeps the movement at the forefront of the minds of all government officials. Makes them harder to ignore and eventually, if they want this to end… Change will HAVE to happen. Because regardless of what so many seem to think… they aren’t going anywhere.

These are just some of the pictures that I have gotten at Occupy Atlanta the few times I have been able to go. Although, I don’t completely agree with exactly how things are being ran throughout the movement and in Atlanta itself… I also acknowledge the fact that I am not out there every day, in the thick of it, volunteering the majority of my time to making it work. I think it is unproductive for people to sit around criticizing something that they aren’t putting much of themselves into. Until you do, you have no standing for judgement.

I have read so many great blogs and articles recently in regards to everything that is happening now, so I thought I would share a few of my favorites. 🙂What’s Occupying Us All from Psychology Today
Why I Support OWS 
Everything The Media Told You About Occupy Wall street is Wrong
Open Letter to that 53% Guy
Ambiguous UpSparkles From the Heart of the Park

You can learn more about what is happening at Occupy Atlanta from their website, http://occupyatlanta.org/ and by following their Facebook page. There are many ways to help contribute even if you can’t or do not feel comfortable to go out OCCUPYING!