Monthly Archives: May 2016

Brilliant Things I Never Did Before a Child

Lil O has brought such change in our life, like literally running him (and me) out of energy so he’ll go to bed. And never peeing alone. (The struggle is real.) But I’ve found a few gems along the way. So here are a few brilliant things I never did before a child:

TV closed captioning is always set to “on.” Between O being a noisy toddler banging pots in the kitchen (seriously, the child LOVES to cook)13245420_750266384471_1675643150726498912_n, me banging pots while I make dinner, and J trying to talk to me, I can’t ever hear what the characters on TV are saying. So the closed captioning is permanently “on.” I actually really like it, and we keep it on even after O goes to bed and the house is quiet. It is pretty funny when company comes over and they’re all like, “You can’t even see the faces of these characters because of the words on the screen.” Oh, I don’t notice. Because I just read my TV. It’s called survival, people.

Put EVERYTHING in the dishwasher. But by everything, I really mean dishes. Because we have accidentally thrown other things in there, and…it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but…just don’t. I used to hand wash big mixing bowls and cutting boards. But ain’t nobody got time for that anymore. And if it doesn’t all come out clean because I over packed it? I thrown in another Cascade dishwasher pac and run that puppy again. Then it usually comes out mediocre-clean. It can’t always be a win, people.

Just say “screw it.” It’s Memorial Day weekend. J and I spent all spring working and we’re ready for a break. So we’re heading to the grandparents for a fun weekend at the cabin/farm – and dodging the crazy amount of rain and thunderstorms that have been prgreen rain bootsedicted (bright green rain boots? check!). Then I’m taking all next week off of work to spend time with my boys: going to the zoo (zoo, zoo), exploring a couple new parks, and since “duck” is lil O’s new fav word, we’re gonna check these birds out at a lake nearby. Plus, I’ve promised J we’re going to research and make healthy homemade breakfast burritos and/or sandwiches (any recommendations?).

J is more concerned the week is going to consist of projects (mostly for him) and deep cleaning (and rightly so of him to worry, based on previous experiences where I have a complete melt-down and subsequent cleaning frenzy as a result of stepping on one too many squishy or crunchy things on the kitchen floor in my bare feet. I just can’t even, y’all.). But I’m determined to “Mary” it and live large with my boys for a few days! Pray for me. Because I’ll likely have a couple Martha-like freak outs and have to pull through.

Prep meals the night before. Oh, Lord! If only I had energy to do this more often! I try to have my crap together at least once a week to have meat out of the freezer a couple days before I need it. Then I might brown the deer meat (apparently now J thinks we’re calling them “sloppy does” thanks to a Tim Allen “Last Man Standing” episode) and put the meat in a container to warm up the next day, or assemble the enchiladas or casserole right then. And pop it in the fridge with a lid, to go in the oven tomorrow night. It makes my next night’s evening so much more enjoyable and less exhausting.

Buy things online. While on maternity leave, it was so much work to prep Baby O to go out and me to pray that I wouldn’t start leaking more milk like the cow that I was. (TMI? Well, it just happened, so can’t take it back!) And then I discovered online shopping. Cue the Hallelujah chorus. Most places offer free shipping on a minimum purchase and that stuff appears a few days later! I don’t shop online as often now because I’m usually unprepared and can’t wait 5-7 days for it to show up (and I’m not willing to pay the price to overnight it). But I do it often enough to learn what a blessing it is to buy anything. Because, sometimes, I just don’t have the time and energy to drive across town and hope for the item I need. We did nearly all our Christmas shopping online this past year, and avoiding the crowds in the stores was worth every penny of shipping for some of the specialty places.

Kegels. If you’ve never had a child and you’re a woman planning to have a child some day, do these. Lots of them. Especially post-pregnancy. Because you’ll never be able to control your bladder. ever. again. And I’m reminded of this every time I have a massive sneeze, have to furiously blow my nose, or do jumping jacks (which I don’t do. It’s just good policy.). YouTube a “how-to” kegels video. It may feel weird or awkward, but you need it in your life. You just need it. (And I don’t know how “brilliant” this is. More just necessary.)

 

Love Big. This little human forces me to enjoy the IMG_0971beautiful things I’m so used to: snow, rain, grass, butterflies. At least every other day I have a 5 second moment where I stare and smile at lil O because he is so beautifully inquisitive. (I mean, just look at this car wash curiosity.) And I can’t get enough. They always say the love you have for a child is unlike anything you’ve ever felt. Those people are absolutely right – and brilliant. And all the feels.

It’s Not Cocky; It’s Confidence.

I was asked a great honor this past week by Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska. I know a few contacts there as a result of requests to offer a presentation via my job. I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the Omaha area Girl Awards Ceremony, where girls in middle and high school are recognized for earning the highest honors in girl scouting, by age level. I put a lot of thought and time into this speech I gave to 700 people – girls and their families. And I wanted to share with you all. It’s called: Its Not Cocky; It’s Confidence.” Enjoy!

——————————————————————————————————————————————Good evening. I’m grateful to join you tonight as you celebrate your incredible accomplishments as Girl Scouts. Every time I hear about a scout project or meet someone connected to this organization, my heart skips a beat because of the many memories I have related to it. And then I brag about my own experience. But it’s not cocky; it’s confidence.

I began my Girl Scout experience in the second grade and continued through high school. But my memories of scouting really begin in middle school, which consisted of painting playground equipment at a couple parks in town, December holiday craft night (which I hated. I want to be crafty, but I tend to be deficient in making my crafts look good.), and a trip west to view the Sandhill cranes – but none showed up. Our troop loved staying in Indian Village at Camp Catron near Nebraska City. Someone would always get stuck in a mud pit while creeking (many shoes were left behind), we climbed the rock wall (we even challenged a local sportscaster to race us up; he lost, miserably), and once we invited a younger troop to join us and they learned the highs and lows of snipe hunting.

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canoeing with my sis & mom

As our troop entered high school, our numbers thinned considerably as girls got involved in other activities. But for those who stayed, we took our Girl Scouting experience up a notch. We planned and funded our own week-long trips: in the mountains of Colorado (with a makeshift outside shower) and another time to Minneapolis, where we spent at least one full day at the Mall of America. My home was the cookie house in town for many years; the semi showed up to our front door in February with the whole community’s cookies, and troops would bring a couple pick-up trucks over to grab their goods. I remember one year, the cookies came on a school closure snow day. And we made the front page of the newspaper, which should tell you a little about the size of my hometown and the lack of news there.

My mom was the leader of two troops and always pushed us to step out of our comfort zone to take a lead in the community – whether that was talking to residents at a retirement home while we picked up their recycling, or leading games for younger girls at a scout event. Eventually, it meant guiding us toward earning the Gold Award. Several opportunities have opened up to me because of my experiences tackling scout-related projects, and people tend to look at you with confidence when you share those experiences – simply because those experiences give you more confidence.

Earning badges, pins, and awards is a driving force in Girl Scouting. The Bronze Award didn’t exist when I was a Junior Scout, but I remember taking on the Silver Award project with my troop members (we hosted a special event for fellow Girl Scouts in my hometown). It was in my junior year of high school that the Gold Award project really pushed me to the next level. I organized and hosted an outdoor event for girls in my community, called “Butterflies in My Garden.” Girls were able to use their construction skills to build their own butterfly house among other related activities that day. From the creation of the idea to the development of the day’s agenda and activities, to finding supplies and creating a budget, many of the skills I learned through the project itself gave me the confidence to tackle other big jobs.

As a high school senior, I applied for over 50 college scholarships using the same organizational system and Excel spreadsheet to accomplish my Gold Award. And I got over half my education paid for with scholarships. My high school hosted a recognition night every May, where they recognized National Honor Society members, honor roll recipients, and announced senior

Girl Scouts

Two of my best middle & high school Girl Scout friends: Jessica & Carly

scholarships and college intentions – including surprising students who received local scholarships with the announcement right then. That night, my name was read, and I stood to make my way toward the stage. I knew the first set of scholarships, including an academic leadership scholarship and a theatre scholarship from my intended college, Doane. But imagine my surprise when they kept going…and going…and going. I had earned a handful of scholarships that I had applied for. They were still reading by the time I got back to my seat. I felt a little embarrassed that they kept going, but mostly, I was proud. I worked my tail off to earn that cash for college. I knew if I could organize a Gold Award project and earn those scholarships, I could tackle anything college was going to dish out. It’s not cocky; it’s confidence.

After high school, I spent my college years leading a couple troops (meetings were held in a conference room at my residence hall), summers leading camps at Catron where I had camped as a girl, and planning, recruiting volunteers, and facilitating Lincoln Day Camp week. I wanted to be a high school social studies teacher and was – for three years in Omaha. But I felt a calling to impact students in a non-traditional setting. Cue a move to Lincoln (where my husband and I married and bought a home) and applying for a position with EducationQuest Foundation, my current employer. EducationQuest is a non-profit organization that helps students with their journey to college, by helping them explore careers, find the right college fit, and find the cash to pay for it. I oversee our middle school programming. I work with middle school counselors and career teachers across the state to provide engaging content that informs and encourages students to make wise choices at a young age to prepare for college. And it’s a cool job. I mean, I’m a pretty big deal. Just ask my co-workers. They’ll tell you I’m not cocky; I’m confident.

Girl Scouting has taught me how to lead, how to speak, and how to be confident. And that all starts with the power of positive relationships. Relationship building is central to growing my work of providing early college planning resources to students. As a scout, I learned compromising skills – but also how to stick up for myself. Many people I know struggle to say “no” to projects that they’re not passionate about or too busy to pursue. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered a balance of work and family time, but I’m definitely not afraid to pass up opportunities that may hinder me from doing a really great job on a current project that needs my attention. While earning my Gold Award, that meant a few Saturdays not hanging out with friends. It was difficult at the time, but the payoff of being a Gold Award recipient far surpasses those memories.

Girl Scouts forced me to not stand on the side. I had to take a public speaking class in high school as a graduation requirement, but I was already growing in my skills before then. These experiences led to me holding the president position in a faith-based organization on my college campus, and current requests to speak to students and adults in my job. I learned how to take initiative. I was proud of the organization I was a part of and the woman it was helping me to become.

But I didn’t always feel that way. Throughout middle and high school, when classmates learned I was still involved, they’d almost talk down to me and say, “You mean you sell cookies?” In middle school, I shied away from them. I was embarrassed. But as I left the awkward middle level years, I learned the importance of finding my niche in high school – and to not be embarrassed to be a Girl Scout. And as a 31-year-old, I’ve learned that while high school may have seemed like the epitome of life at the time, I’ve learned it’s so much better to be an adult. The challenges you face now are preparing you to be a difference maker. And I continue to take on new challenges every year. I’m a mom now, learning how to keep up with my almost-two-year-old, and I started sharing my spiritual journey on a blog, recoveringmartha.com. I wouldn’t be in the place I am today without a solid scouting foundation, and I look forward to how I will continue to impact my sphere of influence.

My high school graduation gift from my mom was a Girl Scout lifetime membership, which I thought was kind of lame at the time. But I know my mom was making a statement about how the role of Girl Scouting impacted my life so tremendously – and how she wanted me to continue living that legacy.  And I’m proud to be in a room of fellow scouts celebrating your great achievements. You have so many skills that you’ve already obtained as a result of tackling a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award project. But know there are more skills to come. And you’ll be a driving force in the groups you surround. And when you feel like you really are doing an awesome job, just remember: it’s not cocky, it’s confidence.
Thank you.

How do we find this key to a successful marriage?


J and I will have been married for six years next month. And we are coming off of an exhausting spring of working in our jobs. Lots of working, meaning we haven’t really connected as a couple for a few months. So we finally had some time to chat as the school year is winding down for my teacher husband and we couldn’t think of anything to talk about. So I asked what we had in common that we could do together to reconnect. And…we came up short. Here’s what we like to do together:

  • sleeping (we wasted so many nap opportunities before we became parents)
  • cooking (the kitchen is one place we are nearly guaranteed to get along in, so we tend to go there when we’re struggling to “be on the same page” with just about anything)
  • people watching (ok, really it’s just judging, but we’re trying to be all Christian about it)

Oh, that is real rough, y’all. J and I were struggling to find common interests. So I thought about for another day and came up with two more:

  • going on walks (with lil O in the stroller and looking at the landscape and shouting at passing dogs, it gives us time to talk)
  • rodeo (no, neither of us had rodeo, or frankly, any ranching experiences as children. We’re just into it. It doesn’t have to make sense.) – and we’re planning to attend a rodeo in July and another in August

But we used to have common interests, right? What did we do on dates pre-marriage and pre-baby? What did we do!?

Then I remembered one time we got a Groupon for a martial arts place to try kickboxing. I got the pink gloves and Jim got black. The first session was an hour long. We get in it, and it is not easy. We are breathing hard, sweating – and it’s only the warm-up. Good Lord, help us. We haven’t even touched the gloves or punched somebody and we’re already dying. Then we start doing some up-down movements and Jim looks at me, practically green in the face. He whispers that he’s sneaking out to the bathroom. I figure, he’ll be gone 10 minutes. HE WAS GONE THE REST OF THE SESSION: 30 MINUTES. OMG. I figured he had to be lying on the bathroom floor, dead from a heart attack. I was seriously freaking out and about ready to run into the men’s room, when he shows back up. I ask if he’s ok. And he very calmly explains that he just lost his entire dinner – and not via vomit. I want to be empathetic, but I just barely hold in my burst of laughter. We try to get out of that place real quick, with staff calling out, “Don’t you want a schedule for when we host classes?” Uh, no. No, we don’t. (LOL – I’m in tears from laughing so hard as I write this.)

Alright…so enough of that. Let the common interest brainstorming commence!

J: Do you want to golf?

K: No. Do you?

J: No.

K: Then why did you offer it?

J: I’d be willing to suck it up if you were interested.

(insert heartwarming moment here – and laughter)

 

J: Do you want to take a cooking class?

K: Sure!

J: Ok, here’s a list of classes they’re offering this summer at the community college.

K: (looks) Um…I don’t like any of these.

FACE PALM.

 

So I realize my husband is offering all these suggestions and I keep shooting them down. Which makes me the issue. How can we find common ground? Well, I could shut up and suck it up. But that’s easier said than done (mostly because I obviously have a bad attitude). So whenever I’m stuck and struggling to change, I search for support. And on this day, I searched for Bible verses about compromise and submission (voluntarily choosing to be led) in marriage. (I love the Internet and Google search.) Here’s what I got for guidance:

  • Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
  • Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:24
  • Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
  • Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
  • Let each of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33

So here’s to me taking a cooking class that, while the description doesn’t necessarily excite me, will probably turn out to be just fine and give us some quality date time and conversation guidance. But we need some suggestions. So, what things do you and your spouse like to do together? (I’ll try to not be judge-y and actually consider them viable options.)

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A fav photo of us – at our wedding rehearsal. J gave me his hat to keep the sun out of my eyes.

I’m so freakin’ Sick of Being Sick

The flu hit a kid at daycare last Monday. Then took out our daycare provider on Wednesday and Thursday. We thought we were in the clear until I woke up at 4:15am on Sunday. Cue the doomsday music and a trip to the bathroom every 45 minutes (yes, that often.) So I spent my Mother’s Day completely away from my baby, in the hopes that I wouldn’t spread it to him. It was horrible, y’all. I mean, H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E. I would have rather been in labor because at least I knew when that hell was going to end. But this? This was one of those, “Why have you abandoned me, My God?!?”

I normally pride myself on being a fairly independent person. I love my husband and need him in my life, but…sometimes he doesn’t know how to load the dishwasher the correct way. However, there’s nothing like the flu and your need for 7-Up and crackers to break your need to do it on your own and send your hubs a zillion text messages identifying the next food or beverage you hope you will actually stay down this time.

But I’m so freakin’ sick of being sick! I’m seriously the most sickly person I know. How did I get the flu, but my kid, who went to the daycare all week, not get it?! (knock on wood) So now I’m just praying and waitin’ on some Bible verses to come true:

  • Jeremiah 33:6 “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
  • Proverbs 3:7-8 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
  • Exodus 15:26 “He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I Am the Lord, who heals you.’”

Lord, consider me a most obedient child. And help me to stop being so freakin’ sick! Amen.

(P.S. I’m also accepting all pity prayers any of my readers want to make on my behalf as well.)