The COLD HARD TRUTH about a Lifestyle Change

I’ve talked about working out. I’ve talked about being healthy. However, now it’s time to talk about the thing everyone tries to avoid and wishes weren’t true. If you truly want to change your health, your weight, your lifestyle…it is is MAINLY about what you put in that pie hole…and unfortunately it’s not pie. This is where I struggle for me.

Guess what? I just lost 4 pounds. After a month of consciously logging everything that I ate and even adding vegetables to my breakfast, I see some results. I may or may not have given myself a high five early Saturday morning. So what did I do to reward myself? Had the worse weekend ever of eating. It started with movie theater popcorn…then jelly beans…then more candy….then Burger King (ew)….then more jelly beans. I probably gained my 4 pounds back in 5 minutes. It is the most frustrating thing ever.
imageLet’s be honest here for a second. People probably look at me and see fit, Crossfit junkie who is in amazing shape for having two freakin’ kids grow in my body. Yes…there may be some truth in that. I’ve come along way and I’m proud of my journey. BUT…when I look in the mirror at night, or when I am dead out of energy by 10:30am, I am not 100% pleased with where I am. There’s some curves in places I wish there weren’t and extra padding where I would like a little bit more muscle tone. I have a little pity party. I whine and complain to my friends. I have pep talks with myself about how I am going to be AWESOME….starting Monday.

Just because I have the “fit mom” look, doesn’t mean there isn’t real struggle going on every day. It would be so much easier to get a coke at McDonalds on the way home from preschool, give into those countless sugar cravings, and just say “I will start again tomorrow.” Tomorrow never gets here. I have to make decisions every single day to eat right and be healthy to get to the goals I want to achieve. Even though there is no one holding a gun up to my head forcing me to grab one more handful of jelly beans, it’s hard to turn away from the poisonous sugar that is lying to my brain about how great it is.
imageThis little blog post is more like an intervention for myself…and for anyone else that may be going through the same thing. If I want to achieve my fitness goals, I am the only one standing in my way. I know my limits. Some people can give themselves a little treat and that satisfies their cravings. I know for me, one treat equals a handful, which equals me…starting all over again to fight those strong, evil voices in my head reminding me of how good those jelly beans were. It’s a hard fight. WHY DO I DO IT TO MYSELF??

This is what I’ve learned during this health journey. Change is only going to happen if you take yourself out of your comfort zone. True change isn’t easy….or everyone would be doing it. If you slip up and give yourself that treat- don’t beat yourself up. Don’t make it a, “I’ll do better tomorrow” (after you eat the rest of the pizza and the entire box of cookies) but make it a healthy choice with the NEXT thing you eat. It’s not a quick fix. You cannot have the best of both worlds…or better yet, have your cake and eat it too. You can’t want a healthy lifestyle and still eat and do all of the unhealthy things. Change will never happen that way. If you have things tempting you…GET RID OF IT! Throw it away. I just poured an entire 2 liter of coke down the drain that someone gave me…because if I just let it sit there, I will finish it in 2 days. Do what you have to do to help yourself achieve the goals you want. Stop making excuses for yourself!
imageI have to make a decision every day to go the healthy route. It’s something I am no master at and still working to get better at every day. If I am upset with the way I look, feel or perform, I just need to look in the mirror and blame that girl staring back at me. No one is in charge of how my goals turn out, except me. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Your tomorrow can start today…it’s your choice.

Five Reasons Why Crossfit Has Changed My Life

With all the haters in the world bashing Crossfit on a daily basis, I tend to keep to myself about how I feel. Most people that are haters have never even participated in a Crossfit workout so there’s no point in wasting my energy on their opinions. I’ve read the numerous “Crossfit Sucks” articles and just smile because they have no idea what they are missing.

My best friend/WOD partner and I were chatting this morning and I was giving her a hard time for her plan on working out for 6 days straight. Her first excuse was that “she only went twice last week.” I laughed and gave her a hard time…because I know she would hate herself if she did too much and couldn’t participate in the last Crossfit Open workout this Saturday. However, she then said something that made me instantly reflect on my life since I started Crossfit. So….I (easily) came up with this top five reasons why Crossfit has changed my life…for the better.

1. It made me get uncomfortable
I am a person who likes to stick to what I’m good at. I tend to steer clear of things that are too hard….I know, not the best motto for life. The mac and cheese and chicken nugget diet was working perfectly. The “I’m feeling fat so I’m gonna go for a jog” exercise routine was boosting my self-esteem for…20 minutes. And the “I’m gonna go to the gym and throw around some dumbbells and hop on some machines” occasionally worked also. But let’s be honest. I was unhappy. Crossfit made me try things that I would have NEVER even attempted because of my fear of failure. And I fail…a lot. Whether it’s being upside down or lifting heavy weights over my head or eating asparagus…the feeling it gives me for trying something that’s GOOD for me is well worth the failed attempts.
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2. It made me realize how strong I am
Most people think that lifting weights will bulk you up. False. In the past two years of my Crossfit journey, lifting weights has become one of my favorite things to do. I have woken my husband up to ask him how much he weighs just so I can yell, “HA!!! I CAN DEADLIFT YOU!!!!” I feel more comfortable in my own body now that I have a little bit of muscle tone. Strong is without a doubt the new sexy…and I embrace it!
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3. It made everyday functional activities easier
This one goes along with #2. Crossfit has helped me become stronger and fit in a way that has also made me ENJOY LIFE. I no longer get tired after running after my boys. If my hands are full and I drop something, I can easily squat down or get into a lunge and pick it up. I feel confident when people ask for help moving out of their apartment or rearranging furniture…because I know I can help! One day right after a workout, one of the many kids we have running in and out of the gym with Mommy or Daddy came to Kelsey (the best friend/WOD partner) and she instantly picked her up to say hello…right after she finished working out! One of the guys said “you know you’re a mom when you can pick up a kid right after a tough workout.” Most of the time our “adult duties” don’t stop just because we are tired or had a tough day. I’m not perfect all the time….but I love that I can pick up my kid and go through life a little bit easier because of Crossfit.
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4. It made me make friends
Let’s be honest…making friends as an adult is never easy. It’s a task that I think expires after your college days. However, the Crossfit gym is such a tight community. Of course, these friendships didn’t happen overnight. But when you’re struggling and sweating beside someone who is doing the same thing…you have no choice but to lean on them for that much needed high five. The next thing you know, that simple “nice job Kasey” turned into a conversation about how much Helen sucked (the WOD….not an actual person named Helen, of course.) or how you just reached your goal in pull ups. Then the next thing you know, play dates have been scheduled, hours after class are spent talking about your nutrition struggles, and inside jokes are made. I love my Crossfit friends. I get excited when they achieve their goals and I am bummed when they get one less rep than they wanted to. The box is my home away from home.

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5. It made me feel normal
Now…this is the comment that made this whole idea come about. And for me…no truer words have been spoken about Crossfit. When I walk into those doors, all my troubles are gone. For one hour of my day, I’m not a mom. No one is asking me to get them a snack or a tissue or a bath. No one needs me to do anything except cheer and give my all. The only thing I get asked at Crossfit is if I can spot them on a lift. I’m not a crazy, nagging wife who is bugging my husband to fix the bathroom floor. For one hour of my day, I don’t care about how messy my house is, the laundry, or the bills. My mind is cleared and I instantly get an extra boost to be able to be all of those things I am for the other 23 hours of my day. When I am in the gym, I am KASEY. The girl whose running form is terrible, but is pretty darn good at double unders.
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My family at Crossfit Bezel has been one of the best things that has happened to me in the last two years. I’m going to end with this….don’t judge something until you’ve experienced it. I hope everyone can find something that makes them feel free, healthy and confident like I have in my Crossfit world.
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Also….shout out to my partner in crime and literally partner in all of these work outs. Not only does she help remind me to fix my squat form, but she also helps me write a blog:) She’s pretty awesome. Did I mention she had a baby 6 months ago?! You rock, Kelsey!
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A Special Kind Of Love

I have been blessed in my lifetime to love a lot of people. I have had some fantastic friends that have come into my life and left when their season was over, and some that have stayed for almost 20 years. I have the best family in the world where even something as simple as their laughter or hug can cure a broken heart. I was even blessed beyond measure to be married into a family who loves me like their own. I have loved others like they are my own mother, sister, brother or son. However, there is one love that I have experienced (besides the love I have for my children) that surpassed these loves of my life. I have loved a child with special needs.
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It all started with my first love, a little boy I met at a summer camp where I used to work. He was the first encounter with autism that I had…and I was horrified. I was told that his mother put him in this camp just to try something new, but hated most of our activities. I secretly made up my mind that I was going to give this kid 3 days and then would talk to my boss about removing him. I introduced myself at the beginning of the day, and tried to keep my distance. However, I was drawn to him. I wasn’t drawn to his reactions or the way he caused a scene when he no longer was able to swing…but I was drawn to his smile. He had a smile that lit up the world around him, including mine. The second day came around, and knowing little about autism, I went to introduce myself again. To my surprise, he looked down at his feet and said, “hi Kasey.” I was shocked that he remembered who I was…and I was hooked. Throughout the 2 weeks he attended camp, I spent most of my time with him. His aid decided he was the one that didn’t like the heat…and quit before the first week was up. I graciously took on the role of being his aid and it was two of the best weeks of my life. Fast forward to the next year….same camp, same me anxiously awaiting my favorite little boy’s arrival and doubting he would remember me. Again, to my surprise, he knew exactly who I was. I knew that this wasn’t going to be the last child with special needs that I would love.

You see, loving a child is easy. They give you a smile, they give you a big hug or say something cute, and BAM…you’re in love. However, when it comes to kids that have special needs…they don’t let you in so quickly. They want to know you, study you, and spend time with you before they let you in. They may pretend you aren’t even there and go about their business like you are a ghost in the room. But let me tell you something friends….once they open up to you….boy, your world is changed for a lifetime.

I read a quote once that said “Autism is not a disability, it’s a personality.” To this day, I believe it 100%. The day after I graduated from college, I started a job at a school for kids with autism. I could sit for days and tell stories about my 4 years working there. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Nothing beats watching a child brush their teeth independently for the first time after months of practice, succeeding at a new IPad activity, or completing a puzzle. My day could be made in an instant when a student chose to come visit me on his earned break.

Most of the kids I grew to love were non-verbal. I never heard them say my name, talk about their likes and dislikes, or what was making them upset. I had to earn their love. Even though they couldn’t tell me hello, how glad they were to see me, or they loved me…their smiles would say it all. I cannot come up with a word that wonderfully describes enough the joy of getting a hug from a child…who doesn’t like to be touched. That’s love.

Late last Friday night, my world was turned upside down. I found out that one of my old student’s had passed away. Not only was he my student, but I had the privilege of hanging out with him and being his friend outside of school. His parents invited me into their home…sometimes overnight…and I became a part of their family. Sometimes we would just hang out for hours watching the same 30 second clip of Hercules that made him laugh. And I would enjoy it….because nothing was better than hearing him laugh. Although he was so sensitive to touch, he would give me Eskimo kisses and quick, bear hugs. My heart is broken and the only comfort I can find is that I know he is now in heaven singing and dancing…..

There are some people who are going to read this and have no idea what I’m talking about. Others, however know exactly how it feels to love and be loved by someone who has special needs. It is a love so pure and sacred that will last forever. It’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Rest in peace sweet Tyler…I can’t wait to sing with you one day…
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Reflections of Raising an “Almost” 5 Year Old

For anyone that knows me, it has been no secret that the age 4 and I do not get along. 2 wasn’t too terrible, 3 had its horrible moments…but 4 is the worst. 4 comes with attitude and eye rolling and limit pushing and magical loss of hearing. I feel like I am getting a glimpse into the teenage years.
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However, my days with 4 will be over sooner than later. I feel like I have a mental calendar that I cross off daily each of the days I have left of this dreadful age. (Will probably repost this blog in a year and a half) Today I caught myself reflecting on the past year and the different ways things have changed in the past month or 2 as we embark on the next age group.

1. The constant vocabulary quizzing makes you feel very stupid.
School is our favorite part of the week. He is a little sponge that loves to learn and I am the mom that gets to drive away and leave him with someone else for 3 hours. Since “big school” is approaching the super smart and curious switch has been flipped on in my child’s brain…and never turns off. Ya know those words like random, judging, or simple that you just know what they mean because they are…well, simple? Try being asked “what does ______ mean” ALL THE TIME. I think I was even asked what time was the other day. Thank you Jesus for Google…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put a word into that search engine just praying for a simple (easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty) definition to help me explain what the word means. It’s enough to make you question if you were ever smart at all…and how on earth are you going to be able to help in the future when letters start appearing in math problems?   image

2. Time is measured by “when I go to kindergarten”
Ever since we sprung the news on him that next year instead of going to preschool he will be riding the bus and going to kindergarten, time has a new way of being measured. “When I go to kindergarten will I be 5?” “Will I play tee ball before I go to kindergarten?” “Will my brother use big boy underwear after I go to kindergarten?” Although I am very excited for him to go to school, that first day I will probably be wallowing in a pile of dirty, snotty tissues. How can he be that big to ride a school bus? I miss the simple days (reminder- the definition for simple is above if you’ve forgotten what it means) where time was measured by the length of his favorite movie or a Ninja Turtle show…or even his birthday.
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3. Split personalities
The biggest battle we face daily is whether or not we are dealing with a 4 going on 15 year old child, or a 4 going on infant child. One moment, we are snuggling and he needs me to hold his hand while we walk into a dimly lit room. The next minute, we have our sassy pants on INSISTING that he is old enough to fix his own breakfast, swing by himself, wash his own clothes, or drive a car. The back and forth between independent kid to needy toddler can sometimes be exhausting. Who am I kidding….it’s always exhausting.
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4. The honesty is outrageous.
We all love an honest kid. “Out of the mouths of babes” we always say. Well at this age…sometimes the cuteness is replaced with the cold, hard truth that you just aren’t prepared for. I’m going to leave you with this one example: Daylight savings time. Worst day ever for a parent. I told the boys that I needed to go get a Coke because I needed help staying awake. The 4 year old instantly said “MOM! I don’t think you should get a Coke. If you keep drinking them, you’re going to get fat and I don’t want you to get fat.” Well then………….

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Who’s getting fat now…

5. I have never been cooler to anyone else in the world.
Since 4 has been a time of transitioning to that big boy stage, he is more aware of what his dad and me are doing. Now…when you’re a stay at home mom who gets fat by drinking too much coke and makes you clean up your toys…it’s hard to compete with Firefighter Dad. I mean, what’s cooler than your Dad being a fireman? Let me tell you, nothing. However, lately he has become more aware of the lady in his life. He takes notice and tries any exercises I do in the house or he is fascinated when I play a cool song that he has never heard before. A few weeks ago, the boys were going to stay at my parent’s house for the weekend and I suggested that he bring his chapter book to read with Nana. He was very concerned and asked “are you sure Nana knows how to read the chapter books like you?” For a split second I felt like the smartest, best reader in the world…that was until he asked me what sure meant…

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A few months ago, which I’m sure was after a meaningless tiff with the “almost 5 year old,” I had an epiphany about the constant head butting. I realized that I am raising a child that is ME in male form. You put a pony tail on this kid and ask him if he wants to go join the superheroes and capture dragons outside and you will have a glimpse into my past. Every quirky, imaginative, big hearted, photogenic, nerdy part of me. And although sometimes I get nervous thinking about dealing with mini-me in the future, I wouldn’t want to spend it butting heads and fighting monsters with anyone else.
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Just two more months until 5……

Reflection in Grieving

This past week, my family lost a wonderful woman. My mother in law’s mother, who I knew as Mom Mom, passed away peacefully after her fight to recover from a stroke she had last year. Although I was only honored to know her for 5 short years, she loved me like I was her own blood. She would call, text, and email me frequently and always made me feel special. She loved my children so much and I was always welcomed in her home. This past Christmas, even though she couldn’t speak, she lit up and smiled when I walked in the room and squeezed me with all of her might when I hugged her. I will never forget her kindness and love…or that last hug.

When my 2nd son was born, Mom Mom happened to be in Virginia Beach and was on her way home. She was able to stop at the hospital and hold her great-grandson when he was first born. I will never forget her excitement and love.
When my 2nd son was born, Mom Mom happened to be in Virginia Beach and was on her way home. She was able to stop at the hospital and hold her great-grandson when he was first born. I will never forget her excitement and love.

A natural part of grieving the loss of a loved one is reflection. You find yourself sitting around a table late at night telling your stories of the past and the special times you had with your loved ones. There is always some tears, but the laughter usually overshadows them. I was lucky enough to be apart of two of these reflection times on Saturday. One time was when all of the cousins sat around and shared, laughed, and bonded. The second opportunity was around midnight with my mother in law, my two sister in laws, and Mom Mom’s husband of 56 years, Pap Pap. A man of few words opened up with stories of past vacations, friends, trips, and his late wife. We sat around soaking up everything that came out of his mouth. My heart was so full and ached all the same because it reminded me of my late grandfather and how we all hung on his every word. I came to the realization that their generation lived such a full and fabulous life. They didn’t have the distractions of social media, technology, or entertainment that we have. They remembered friend’s reactions to expensive restaurants 40 years ago…instead of having their faces buried into their smart phones. They remembered numerous conversations….because they actually had them instead of text messages. They worked really hard and made something big out of what little they had. It doesn’t matter if we have heard these stories for the first time or 500 times…we still sit, listen, and laugh like it’s a brand new tale.

My Poppy and Me during our cruise in 2004. One of the greatest weeks of my life.
My Poppy and me during our cruise in 2004. One of the greatest weeks of my life.

How will we share stories with our grandchildren one day? Will our conversations be filled with LIFE? Will we discuss travels with our loved ones and times where we didn’t have a lot and we worked hard to get where we are now? Or will our conversations be more like an email or a facebook status…no laughter, tears, or even eye contact. Just emotionless updates on life that most of it we missed because we were too busy checking online for how others are living instead of getting out and creating our own life, our legacy.

I am obsessed with this picture. So classy. So much love.
I am obsessed with this picture. So classy. So much love.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live. I want to truly live. I want to be able to look back and reflect on my life and think “there’s nothing else for me to accomplish because I have already done it all and so much more than I could have ever imagined.” Mom Mom passed away with 56 years of marriage, over 35 years of being a wonderful nurse, 4 children, 12 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren under her belt. Wow. Can you imagine the stories and the memories she created in that time? I hope and pray that I may live a fulfilling life that’s full of memories and adventures.

In closing, one thing that I took from my reflection this weekend is this: family is everything. I come from a very small family and married into a big family. And yes…holidays took some time getting used to and birthday parties are instantly tripled when my in-laws come. But when you are all together and you need a hug, a laugh, or you just need to sit around in a circle and share stories…it doesn’t matter if your circle is big or small. Family is family. And there is nothing better than your family.

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January 13, 2015- My God Moment from Meg

This was written January 13, 2015…


Today was one of those days that my husband worked a 24 hour shift and I was home alone with the kids. There are moments throughout the day where I wish he was at home, but today the need was much greater. More than anything, I wanted him to be home because I wanted to mourn. On January 13, 2014, a car hit and killed my old friend Meg while she was jogging with her husband. She was a mom of 3, had a beautiful smile that matched her heart, and came from the best family. Her death hit me hard because she was like me. A mom, a wife, an athlete, a Christian. There hasn’t been a time these last 365 days where she hasn’t been on my mind. Today I wanted to listen to sad songs, go for a run, maybe take a nap, and just think of Meg and all the people that love her and miss her in this world. But Meg had other plans.

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Let me start by saying that I am a woman of faith. I don’t believe in chance…I firmly believe that things happen for a reason. I believe that special moments are created for each of us. You’re having a bad day and your favorite song comes on the radio? Not a coincidence. You walk outside on an early morning to take the trash out and a hawk swoops down from a tree right before your eyes…not a lucky chance. I usually call these my God moments.

So far in 2015, I have had the holiday blues. I haven’t been feeling like myself, not very happy, very little patience, and just a grouch to be around. However, on the anniversary of my dear old friend’s death, something changed. I don’t think I raised my voice one time today. I never felt tired and was on my feet the majority of the day cleaning, playing, laughing, cooking…all these mom things that I am so blessed to be able to do. Today I enjoyed being a mom.

At the end of my accomplished day, I decided to clean out the bathroom drawers. Lately, we have used several band-aids and had noticed the drawers were getting out of hand. As I was up there with my 2 year old son who was surprisingly helping me, I began to think about Meg. I started praying for her family and thanking God for all the times she has been running beside me in this last year. My New Years resolution last year was to find a church home. After Meg’s death, I have never taken a resolution so seriously. I wanted to raise my family in a Christian home and be the Godly example to my family and friends like Meg was. Nothing was more important to me. I was blessed enough in a very short time to find that church home. I dove right in and wasted no time in getting involved and finding my niche. If God chose to take me from this world sooner rather than later, I want to try and leave at least half the legacy that Meg left….and most of it was in her church. What an amazing woman.

Today, a year after her death as I was cleaning out the bathroom drawers and thanking God for Meg, I found my cross necklace that I have been looking for for almost a year now. It was tarnished and had lost it’s shine, but there it was. I smiled and my heart skipped a beat. Tears filled my eyes because I knew this was a God moment. I needed a little reminder that I am so blessed to be a mom, have a family that loves me, and to know the Lord.

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Meg, thank you so much for being a fantastic example of a woman who’s heart belongs to her family and the Lord. I can’t wait to one day run with you in Heaven…but until that day, I’m so glad to have you running this race called life beside me. I am so glad that I knew you.

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I’m In Timeout And I Like It!

I have currently locked myself in the bathroom. Yup, you read that correctly. I am in the bathroom to 1. Use the bathroom without being bothered or asked what I am doing. 2. To eat some of my snack before little tiny vulture hands come and steal it. 3. To put myself in time out. Because if I don’t have a time out….the hulk may smash. Am I alone here?
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I love my kids. I really do. The oldest is my mini-me. It’s so cool seeing someone grow up and feel like you are looking into a mirror….the good and the bad qualities. The youngest is such a little trouble maker and has such personality that it could entertain me for days. These boys are the best. Now…that I have covered all of the “really, I am not a bad mother” points, I can continue.
This is why I needed a timeout:
I have learned in the last week that there are certain stores that you should NEVER take your kids. One place is Dicks Sporting Goods. This is because there are no shopping carts. Why, Dicks, why?? There’s lots of cool equipment and lots of shoes! Do you think that just because you sell workout clothes it means that everyone who shops there is strong enough to carry all of their purchases??? No no no. Let’s just say it was a big mistake taking my children there with me so I could “look around.” Never again. This is why I shop online.
Second place is the post office. Firefighter hubby was working and I desperately wanted to send a quick package to our very close friends who just had a baby. The boys had a great day so I figured we would run in and out…no problem. Well, of course my sweet little angel babies turned into crazy, psycho heathens right as we enter the post office. Oh and please Mr. Postman…could you get some restrooms in your building? Just one? We walk right in and I hear “I gotta go potty!” Reaaaaalllllllllllllyyyy? You. Are. Killing. Me. Smalls. Thank you mini vans and big bushes outside of the post office to hide my 4 year old peeing outside of a federal government building. Anyways…this was the beginning of my timeout.
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We go back into the post office and the heathens returned. They forget that they promised me with big (deceiving) grins that they would use their inside voices and stay with me the whole time and instead, turned into little monsters. Their voices were loud. They ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. They tried to start a wrestling match IN THE LINE that, thanks to my awesome referee skills, I quickly squashed before it began. They managed to forget their manners and make me look and feel like a mom who has no control over her kids. I felt like there were 10 people watching my every move and judging what a terrible mother I was. I couldn’t get out soon enough. We walked out of the post office, passed the pee bush, and I took their two toys that they were holding because “they were going to be good and listen in this store!” (Insert sarcastic, stupid mom face) I explained why I took their toys away. I got a sweet, innocent little apology from the 2 year old a few minutes later but other than that, the post office incident was forgotten 10 minutes after we got home.

However, I didn’t forget. I swear sometimes I feel like I am the only mom in the world who doesn’t like taking her kids ANYWHERE, yells, loses my temper, let’s them watch tv for more than 30 minutes and eat pizza (sometimes) more than once a week. I hear all these stories and see these posts on Facebook how their child says the most sincere things, isn’t selfish at Christmas time, and is reading novels at age 2. Sometimes it’s so easy for me to get down on myself when it comes to my full time, 24/7, mommy job.

Lucky for me though, I have had some amazing moms who have been honest with me and let me know that I am not alone. It’s so easy to be hard on yourself. You have people who roll their eyes at you and who haven’t been in the mom shoes before and don’t quite understand the crazy, wonderful, chaotic world you live in. Those same people laughed when I said my main goal for 2014 was to have a working dryer or to go to the bathroom by myself. But then there are the people that keep you going and make you feel like you are NORMAL! The nice guy in the grocery store that let you go in front of him or the young woman who smiles and chats with your kids even when they call her “Nana.” (My mom looks great for her age…you should take it as a compliment.) My New Years goal is to not be so hard on myself. I’m doing a damn good job and it is alright if every now and then I need a time out or two or four. I’m human. And I am not alone.

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned From my Kids in 2014

I remember when I was younger thinking people were crazy when they would say things like “time just flies by” or “don’t blink because your kids will be grown and you will miss it!” These old people that said this were crazy…clearly I wasn’t growing up FAST enough and especially during months like December when I was anxiously awaiting Santa Clause, time did everything but fly by. However, now that I have kids of my own, these “old people” were exactly right. First of all, I can’t believe I am writing a blog about the END OF THE YEAR?! It seems like yesterday I was in my pajamas bringing in the new years at my parent’s house watching a movie…errr…I mean dancing and partying the night away in my cute little black dress? And my kids…wow…who would have thought in less than a year I will have a kindergartner? Also, that tiny baby that just sat there crying and pooping is now contemplating potty training and talking a mile a minute. I am now one of those “old people” that tells all the young folks that “time don’t wait for no one!”

See??  Time flying is super fast
See?? Time flying is super fast….holy cow…

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I know it’s not the end of the month just yet, but I couldn’t help but already begin to reflect on what this year has brought me. I’ve made some new friends, accomplished things I didn’t think I could, had sad times, lonely times, wonderful times, growing and maturing times…I really can’t complain. 2014 has been good to my family. The best part has been watching my kids grow up. Since they are still young, they are learning and discovering new things every day and it is so exciting to see them learning all the time. The other day while I was watching my kids run around, I realized that while they are learning something new and exciting every day, they are also teaching me things as well.

1. Don’t let fear stand in your way of accomplishing something awesome. If you fall, get right back up and try again.
My youngest has become a jumper. I swear he will one day be into parkour (if you don’t know what this is…look it up…these people are nuts!) He is always jumping and climbing and running over things. The other day we were all outside and I see him climb on top of this little jungle gym house we have in our backyard. I’m thinking to myself, “holy crap, that is high! He’s not going to jump is he? Wait…he’s going to jump…oh my…” Boy, did he jump! And quite frankly, he ATE IT! I mean this was not a graceful fall. I instantly become the sidelines cheerleader to try and distract him from the fact that his face and butt should be broken. Does he cry? No. He wipes the dirt off of himself…and climbs back up again. WHAAAAAT? And he jumped. Again and again and again and again. Until finally…he stuck the landing. I was so proud of him! Then I realized…I wish I could be so brave and fearless to conquer something new and FAIL over and over again until I succeeded.
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2. Playing outside is always more fun than playing inside.
A few days ago, the kids and I had to run some errands in the 30 degree weather. When we got back home, the boys instantly ran to the slide and the sand box. They did not care that snot was running down their faces and their little noses were red because it was freezing. Why have we let video games, television, and other stupid technology trick our children into forgetting what they ACTUALLY enjoy? Nothing is better than going outside. The world is so much more exciting outdoors and we should all enjoy that more often.IMG_0028

3. Laugh at yourself, others, and the little things in life.
As an adult, this one is hard for some reason. We have…feelings. We start caring about what other people think and are uptight. Last week, we were lucky enough to get a spontaneous and surprise visit from my nieces, nephews and their parents. We don’t get to see them that often and I wish that this wasn’t the case. My sister-in-law and I were trying to squeeze in months of catching up in 45 minutes, when all of a sudden we hear what seemed to be loud screams and jumping from upstairs…where the two 4 year olds and a 2 year old were playing. It sounded like the house was falling down! She went up to check and when she returned she said, “Everything is fine. They are all laughing hysterically because the boys are saying ‘booty’.” So ask yourself the question the Joker asked everyone…why so serious? Just laugh!

4. Always be genuine.
Now, we all know that the best answers/comments/questions come out of the mouths of babes. For example, while putting up the manger scene my 4 year old asks “who are these guys, Mom?” I answer, “These are the 3 wise men!” Then he asked…“well where are the foolish men?” (At least I know he pays attention in church choir singing the wise man and foolish man song.) When a kid loves something, you and everyone else knows they really love it! If they don’t like something…everyone knows that too! Every emotion they have is written clear and in bold on their sleeve. This morning my oldest was not being very nice to the other boys, which is pretty uncharacteristic for him. I finally looked at him and said, “Dude!! What is the deal today?!” and he looked at me and said “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. That’s why I am so grumpy.” Sometimes I wish I could admit so freely that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. One more story: Yesterday, my oldest and I were coming back from the dentist and I was going to stop and pick up a late lunch from Cookout (only the best fast food restaurant ever). I said he had a choice between the bag of cookies he had or some French fries…and he picked the cookies! A few minutes later, he asked me if he could have both the cookies and some of my fries. I said in my best parenting voice, “no, you made a choice.” A few seconds of silence from the back seat occurred and then I hear, “it’s the season of giving Mommy…”
Kids are honest, sincere, and so genuine. We need a little more of that in this world.

5. Running around naked is a good thing! Love your body!
Anyone that has kids or knows kids…knows that you can take their clothes off and those kids run wild and free without a care in the world about their figures. Then when you become adults, you can’t even breastfeed a child in public without someone freaking out about it. Be proud of your body. If you don’t like it…then fix it. You have to be happy with you before anyone else can be. I’m sure lots of husbands would be quite pleased if we ladies ran around in our birthday suits more…

6. Don’t let petty fights get in the way of playing with your bestest friends. Forgive and forget.
My 2 year old is…well…he can be a bully. Things have gotten better (slightly) since he’s gotten older, but he is not afraid to just go up and smack someone just because he can. Every day he’s abusing someone…his brother or one of the other boys that I watch during the week. Sometimes there are tears or some hitting back…and then seconds later they are hugging, laughing, and sharing toys again. There’s no grudges being held for 5 hours (years) or talking to Susie about Jenny behind her back. They are the best of friends…no matter how much hitting, toy stealing, snack grabbing, or nasty things happen. This is a very hard concept for some of us “old people” to wrap their heads around…IMG_1447

7. Coloring is a fantastic stress reliever.
One night I was coloring pictures with my boys to send to Aunt Kristin overseas. After they finished, I put them to bed and decided to finish coloring. There was no music or television on…just me, my Crayolas, and a Frozen coloring book. An hour later, I finished my masterpiece and realized that I was so relaxed!!!! I went to sleep that night and slept better than I had in weeks. Holy cow…could you imagine if I added a glass of wine with this?! When was the last time you colored?

8. Getting messy never hurt anybody.
Having boys, this is something I encounter all the time. However, what I have noticed is that there is joy involved with the messes. When the boys come inside and are all muddy, wet and gross…I know that they enjoyed their time outside to the max!! When I fix my sons a pancake breakfast and I hear “ALL DOOOOONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and I have to wipe syrup off of their mouths, hands, hair, shirt, ears, toes, his brother…to me, that’s their way of saying “this was the best breakfast ever!” So you uptight, clean adult…go splash in puddles, find worms in the dirt to use as bait for fishing, lick the brownie batter bowl by sticking your ENTIRE face in the bowl…and who knows, maybe you will have some fun!IMG_0011IMG_0035

9. Don’t be so uptight- roll, dance, jump, be goofy…it guarantees a smile on your face!
My little guys love to turn my house into a giant, jungle gym. I have almost given up on getting them to stop jumping on all the furniture! I never want them to stop climbing trees, jumping around or dancing silly…when did this become not cool anymore?! This needs to change, because it is very cool. Lately at our Crossfit gym, we have been given opportunities to try just this. I had forgotten how fun it was!! The other day in the gym, I practiced swinging from a rope like Tarzan and hanging from the monkey bars…and it was awesome! When was the last time you did a forward roll? Or a cartwheel?IMG_0170

10. Use your imagination often.
My whole world consists of getting out of bed, making breakfast, getting dressed, and saving the world. There are constantly bears, monsters, lions, bad guys, ghosts, wolves, villains, grinches, snakes, black widow spiders, or sharks in my house. Luckily for me, there are also super heroes, cowboys, soldiers, fire fighters (you get the point), helping to fight these evil beings. I think Hollywood should start taking notes from children on their latest movies…maybe then we wouldn’t have so many prequels, remakes of remakes, or Scream 47.IMG_7658

Bonus…
One of my very best friends had a baby in September that was a preemie. He was in the NICU for a few weeks and after lots of prayers and tears, he is now home and extremely healthy. One day last week we were chatting and I asked her this very question trying to get ideas for my blog. She replied separate answers for both of her children. What she said about her learning experience from her sweet new boy, not only made me cry but touched my heart and I had to share…
I learned what true heartbreak feels like. Just to have your heart ache and ache. I also learned that if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. He gives His toughest battles to His strongest soldiers. Prayer is where the action is. Have faith. Let go and let God and just live…some things are out of our control and that is okay.

My kids are awesome. I am sure your kids or grandkids or best friend’s sister’s kids are awesome too. Take the time and watch how their little brains work. Get down on the floor and crawl with them or fight the evil alien shark that has just entered your house. They are truly amazing, honest, messy, brilliant, magical, and sometimes even violent little monsters. They are learning so much that they don’t even realize that they are teaching us so many things also. I hope this Christmas and holiday season, you love, give, share, hug, smile, and have fun like a child. It may be the best Christmas yet…IMG_0504<3K

Finding My Inner Princess

This time of year always requires a lot of mental and physical preparation for me.  I am not a cold weather person.  I loathe being cold.  It can be 80 degrees outside and I am still wrapped up in my blankets at night.  This cold weather change turns me into baggy sweatpants/sweatshirts/cabin fever/fatty foods lady.  The same, mundane routine can catch up to you quickly when you shut yourself in 4 walls because the thought of leaving your house in the blizzard that you are SURE is going to happen at any moment because God would never make it THIS cold without adding some snow in the mix…

A few days ago, things started snowballing for me quickly.  My husband’s work schedule left him home only 2 days and working 24 shifts the rest of the week.  I also had a moody 2 year old who thought it’s fun to wake up at random times in the night and throw a temper tantrum.  The cold has trapped me inside with 4 toddlers and my house is in desperate need of a cleaning lady.  I was in need of a mental break.  A major mental break.  During the kids’ nap times, I sat on the couch and thought that catching up on my favorite TV shows of the week (Gotham and Marvels: Agents of Shield of course) would do the trick.  After about 10 minutes of the first show…I turned it off.  My husband suggested a date night to the shooting range…and that wasn’t what I needed either.  I just needed something different.

Now, I pride myself in being a cool chick.  My date nights with my husband are anything from the latest and greatest action movies, to Wednesday nights date night at the shooting range.  I can talk Fantasy Football and comic books with any guy.  Usually I am happy with recharging my batteries at the gym.  Also…I am surrounded by boys ALL DAY LONG.  Thank the Lord the boys like movies such as Frozen and Tangled so I can have a little taste of something that’s not trucks, wrestling, and Power Rangers (I truly cannot stand the Power Rangers by the way…).  I feel the little girly girl inside of me trying to get out more and more each day.  Most of the time I ignore her…but lately she is exactly what I need.

So last week, I was talking to one of my best friends…who also happens to have 2 boys and keeps me sane most of the time.  We were discussing about whether or not we would make it to the gym and I said, “Sometimes I wish we could say we were going to the gym but instead go and get our nails done.”  Anyone who knows me well knows that I never have my nails painted.  I am very rough with my hands and I don’t see the point in painting them because they will be chipped within 3 hours and then I get lectured by my mother to not be lazy and use nail polish remover to take it off.  I couldn’t even keep a French manicure on for the prom longer than 24 hours.  When I said this to my friend, I said it jokingly.  However, even though she is also surrounded by boys in her household, she is way more in touch with the princess inside of her than I am.  She was instantly for it and got the “okay” from her husband almost immediately.  When I asked my husband, his comment was “you’re going to go now?  Usually when I’m home, you are at the gym, so this would be a night where we could all have dinner together.”   This was translated= you can make dinner for us!  It was then when I realized that I truly needed an outer body experience.

I went upstairs and shed all of my layers of oversized sweat pants and shirts.  I put on a pair of skinny jeans and they instantly starting hugging me!!!  “Thank you for putting us on and making us feel loved!”  The thought of getting out of my house on a Wednesday night for a spontaneous girly trip was all of a sudden exhilarating!  I put on make-up, fixed my hair, and felt zero guilt as I left my house.  I sat in an empty nail salon and my only stress for the next 45 minutes was which color to choose.  My friend and I talked, laughed, and had a great time.  For just a short 45 minutes, we weren’t mom/teacher/housekeeper/dinner maker/taxi driver/WWF referee/booger wiper…we were just two girlfriends getting our nails done.  I went back home and put on my real face again.  I loaded the dishwasher, fixed something to eat for the stubborn 4 year old who didn’t want to eat dinner while I was gone, helped with bath time, and put laundry away.  And honestly…I slept better than I have in weeks.

So spouses out there…here’s my advice to you.  If you notice your leading lady deserves a mental break: send her to the nail salon, the gym, Target, the mall, Wendy’s to get a frosty…anywhere.   Don’t ask her to pick up some shaving cream for you while she’s there.  We love you and if you haven’t noticed…we would do anything for you.  Sometimes we need that princess treatment to find ourselves so we CAN give our all to our family.  And sometimes…we don’t realize we need it or we feel guilty asking for it.  My husband didn’t mean to give me the “fix dinner for our family” guilt trip…he was just being honest because that’s who I am and that’s what I normally do.  I am so glad that I went out of the norm, got in touch with the little princess inside of me, and took time for myself.  And by the way…my nails look fabulous:)

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The Volleyball Season Wrap-up: A Coach’s Experiment with Success

On August 222014, I wrote a blog that was a reflection of my first few weeks as a JV coach.  After reading it, I chose not publish it and just put it on the shelf for later.  This was not a very positive blog, for the main question was “How do we teach kids the will to win, when we live in a world that teaches them that everyone wins?” I decided that I would experiment on this team and my first season, and then see if I could answer the question myself at the end of the season.  My team’s last game was this past Thursday…and I finally have an answer.  Before I get to the answer, here is what I wrote…

Most families growing up have multiple sports they are involved in.  This was not the case for mine.  For us, volleyball was, and is still a family affair.  My dad started playing when he was in the Coast Guard and has now been coaching for 80 years (small exaggeration, but not off by much).  My mom started playing after she met my dad, and played until she was 6 months pregnant with me.  I started young by babysitting lots of drunk enthusiastic players at outdoor tournaments in my playpen, and then I picked it up for real around the age of 13.  My sister came along and started kicking people’s butt around the age of 3 (another small exaggeration) and went on to play at Penn State, Sweden, and now Greece.   We have all played the sport of volleyball at some point, however the love I have for coaching the sport far outweighs the love I have for playing it.  At the beginning of every new season, I become a new mom of 14 teenage girls.  We laugh, get frustrated at one another, tell stories, discuss life decisions, sweat, work hard, win, lose, fail, bleed, win some more, and repeat.  Although I am not playing on the court anymore, the gym is still my safe haven, my safe place, my sanctuary where I can escape the world and nothing else matters for those few hours while I am on the sidelines.  Coaching is my happy place.

As a coach, winning is a part of what we do.  We go over basic fundamentals, work up to more complicated tasks, teach teamwork and discipline, and we do our best to win.  I personally don’t understand coaches out there who are okay with just “having fun” and are okay with losing.  Yes…I know there are some games where a loss helps refocus and mentally get a team ready for the next obstacle.  You need to learn to win graciously, but also lose graciously.  However, to me, this is not alright all the time.  No one is more competitive than I am.  I will race a car out of a stoplight that doesn’t even know I am racing them.  I love to win and would rather kick your butt doing it than making it a close and “exciting” game.  Those “exciting” games just make me a nervous wreck.

These days, kids don’t love to win.  I personally don’t think they know how to enjoy success, or how to work hard to accomplish something for your team.  Athletes in this day and age don’t like it when you push them too hard, or have high expectations for them.  They don’t like it when you drill fundamentals at them instead of playing the “fun games.”  Lately, it almost seems as if kids are just happy to make a team with their friends, then really working hard to improve in their sport.

In 2004, Disney released the film, The Incredibles.  It is one of my family’s favorite movies and I vividly remember laughing hysterically with my parents and sister when we first watched it.  However, it wasn’t until recently when my children were watching it one day when I heard a quote.  Mr. Incredible was talking to his wife about letting their super speedy son, Dash, compete in track.  They are bickering back and forth and Mr. Incredible says “they keep coming up with new ways to celebrate mediocrity.”  When I heard this quote I stopped dead in my tracks.  That movie came out 9 years ago and that statement is more real now than it ever has been.

The Webster definition of entitlement is:  “the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something; the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something.”  Our society has created a monster.  An entitled monster.  When I was playing sports in high school, the minority group were the kids who didn’t want to work hard.  These kids cheated and cut corners and did everything in their power not to work as hard.  The majority of the other kids, whether naturally athletic or not, were almost too competitive.  The majority didn’t mind running bleachers on the football field in 90 degree weather, and if they were on the bench, they worked hard in practice instead of getting mommy or daddy to call the coach and complain.  Today, unfortunately, it is the opposite.  The majority of the kids take the easy way out.  They only want to do the fun things and if their teammates are struggling, they would rather cheat instead of sticking to the plan and pushing them to get better and work harder.  From all of the coaches out there…thanks society.

How do we teach kids the will to win, when we live in a world that teaches them that everyone wins?

The first time I heard about this new way of life, I overheard a parent discussing field day at their child’s elementary school.  When I was in school, field day was the best day ever.  We picked 3 races that we wanted to compete in.  Whether it was the 50 yard dash, three legged race, or balloon toss, everyone picked something and it was awesome.  We got ribbons for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and a yellow participation ribbon that a competitive gal like me hated…and I got my fair share of all four colors over the years.  Looking back a few decades, I honestly don’t remember what I got 1st in or 3rd…but I remember that I did EARN some of those blue ribbons and I had a blast.  Thinking back at little 8 year old Kasey…I would have been so pissed if I worked hard and won, but someone else got the same “great job, Sport! Way to participate!” ribbon that I did.  How are these kids going to handle real life?  Do they realize that when they go for a job interview, their potential boss isn’t going to say “great job Bob, you aren’t qualified for this job at all, but here’s a pay check just for trying.”  Um………no.  The same goes for getting into college.  You have to apply to get into college.  I am a Duke fan…but just because I love the blue and white and cheer really loud for their basketball team, doesn’t mean I deserve to get in because, well let’s face it…I did more watching basketball games than studying in high school.  When you have to put your big boy and girl panties on, life doesn’t hand you participation ribbons.

So, as a coach, I have asked myself and other coaches “how do you teach kids to win and be competitive without being a Negative Nancy and a crazy person?”  I’ve gotten several answers.  Most have been simple: you can’t.  You can’t teach someone to want to win and to work hard.  Attitude and effort are two things an individual is solely in control of.  However, I can’t accept that answer.  As a coach, I will do whatever it takes to help make my team succeed.  If I could fit into those tiny spandex and pull off being a Freshman in high school, I would try.  I recently asked a coach I greatly admire this question, and his answer was simple and to the point: give them opportunities to succeed.  I know that this will be forever in the back of my head when I am on the court coaching.

When my mind is about to blow and my temper about to fly off the handle, I will think to myself, what can I do as a coach to give my girls a taste of winning so they have the desire to work hard for it…but not just by handing it to them?  Let me tell you, this is not easy.  If anyone else has an answer or tips to my question, please don’t hesitate to share.  As a coach, if I can teach my girls the skills to play volleyball and be successful in life as well, by working hard, I will go to sleep at the end of each season feeling like I did my job.  Also with some wins….because no one likes to win more than I do:)

After the season analysis:

As I said before, this was all written after the first few weeks of practice.  The first week was full of repetition, fundamentals, and conditioning.  I’m sure they hated me so much…but they learned what to expect.  They learned that if they got through the much needed boring drills, they could get to the “fun” stuff.  And guess what? As the season went on, the repetition drills became easier.  They were completing drills in 13 minutes that were taking them 45 minutes the complete in the beginning.  They also started getting frustrated when they didn’t complete a drill as well as they did a couple practices before because they had a taste for the SUCCESS that comes with working hard.  Now…was everything perfect all the time?  No.  Not even close.  However, we finished the season with a 21-3 record…only losing to teams that were in a different area of the state during tournaments.  What an amazing season these girls had!!!  And guess what…they EARNED it.  All 14 of my wonderful girls worked hard and earned their successful season.  I guess I can now get some sleep:)

So…if you are a coach and reading this and you are going through the same frustrations that I was at the beginning of the season, don’t beat yourself up too much.  If you teach your athletes that you have to work hard to get anything you want out of life, everything will be okay.  You CAN teach kids in this society to have a will to win, work hard, and be successful.  Don’t give up on them! 🙂

A Day in the Life of a Married, Single Mom