It was a cold winter morning, except it was fall. I had cracked the front door to spy on the yard. A thin blanket of snow snuggled the grass into the dirt, and I felt the cool air push passed the door to assault my face. I decided to make a run for it. The power bar on my phone blinked heavily for some juice. I took a deep breath, barefoot and all, to retrieve my phone charger from the car. The prickly baby ice chips tortured my princess feet. And I thought for a moment this might be how frostbite and I meet.
Enough with the riddles, enough with the rhymes… it’s just something I’m rambling to pass the time. School has been delayed 2 hours at least and I am standing in front of the stove playing hop scotch with my feet. This can’t be real, it can’t be right. It wasn’t like this just the other night. It must have been the time change that happens twice a year. Maybe the clock tower had too many beers.
The kids are happy and filled with cheer, but as for me, I always hate this time of year. The giggles and laughter don’t bother me much, it’s the lack of sunlight and fairies and such. I like to be warm and feel free in my clothes. This winter advisor has me snuggled up tight and putting on shows. I finally see how the grinch could be mean, because nothing about this makes me beam. Bah! Humbug!
I know what you’re thinking ‘Tinman actually has a heart’. I’m not your typical crier. I didn’t know I could do that for the longest time. Growing up I thought, “well maybe I’m a psychopath because I don’t cry at funerals or when babies are born”. My oldest daughter told me once that I needed to sit in a quiet room with a lit candle and try to turn my emotions on… I think she was joking but maybe not. I’ve seen other nurses at the station after a code balling their eyes out, I feel it too girl but it’s not coming out of my eyes.
Today I cried a little, like in front of people. It was weird. I was only talking about education, how important it was and how learning from someone with wisdom is much better than learning by mistake. The more I explained it, I felt the wetness under my eyelids no matter how hard I tried to stare at the ceiling. A work pal started to cry just watching me cry… she must be an empath. My middle child is an empath.
I do have an emotional bond with education. I love learning, anything and everything. I didn’t have the privilege to attend high school. I worked hard to get into nursing school after I got my GED. I had failed my entrance exam into nursing school, studied harder and made it in, only to end up in a car accident during the final semester of school… I went to the school in my wheelchair and was told I couldn’t attend because I couldn’t complete my nursing responsibilities. Once I was able to walk again I had to start all over, entrance exam and all.
I cannot explain to you how much I cherish education. I study everyday. Not in school or for any sort of college credit, just for me and my patients. Come to think of it the last time I cried was watching a movie. It was called the boy who harnessed the wind. He wants to go to school so badly and his father can’t afford it so he sneaks into school everyday, sneaks in the library, he gets caught eventually and man oh man does my face end up flooded with tears every time! That movie is based on a true story. I think people often forget that education is mandatory in our country but in others it’s considered a privilege.
Today I was teaching about preventative skin care. I added some show and tell to the mix because that has always been my favorite way to learn.
I do this once a month and it always gets the “ooooow… awwwww” effect. It really clicks seeing the difference you can make. This is information provided for free! Learn from wisdom, from the experience of the people before you. We rely heavily on that in the medical field. I can describe nothing worse than learning by mistake in this field. It happens, sometimes you do the best you can, the best you know to do, and it’s still not enough. Later down the road you may learn the answer to that problem and wish you had that knowledge before. It will rip your heart string in half, sure you will learn, you’ll never forget that one time you should’ve done this instead of that. But when the information is there, when it’s provided to prevent those nightmares of “learning by mistake” take it!
By the way I didn’t cry while teaching. If that’s what you were thinking.
I’ve never tried on a wedding dress. Ever. Yes, I’ve been married before. It was not a planned thing. I remember riding down the road with my then boyfriend. He was covered in drywall mud and I was in a brown floral top and khaki pants. He asked if I wanted to get married, right then… I wasn’t really doing anything else. My day had been pretty boring and I’m a spontaneous person so of course I was all in. No tears or even witnesses, just me, him, and the lady at the tags office. Romantic right? Ha. That ended 7 years ago. He wasn’t the right guy, but that doesn’t make him a bad guy, just not the right guy. I’m not sure there is a right guy. I have been asked a total of 3 times for my hand in marriage but I’m a bit more cautious with my spontaneity now a days, and to be honest my hands are cold… wouldn’t want to hoodoo another persons life with these icicles.
I believe wholeheartedly that I was meant to be a single mom. Even as a child, when I’d picture my future life, I always saw myself with children but never with a mate. Sometimes now when I’m planning for retirement, or even what I’ll be doing in 10 years from now I see the same thing, mateless… just me and a garden, my one million projects lined around the yard, maybe a medical mission or 2, the company of friends and my kiddos. Perfection. My mom says that the way I’m feeling right now is exactly when my dad found her… well come and find me dad because I’m not going anywhere!
I recently went to a local thrift store to drop off donations. As I walked in the biggest, most poofy dress I had ever laid my eyes on caught my eye. It looked like the wedding gown donned by Barbara in beetlejuice. I snatched it up as my kids laughed saying, “mom no, oh man that’s hideous”… girls this is a work of art. I teased that I needed to try it on to wear to their first ball game at school.. want to look my best right? I slipped the dress on, unaware at the time it’d be my “first time” ever trying on a wedding gown.
Everyone talks about that special moment when they find their wedding dress. Some even cry. I understand that feeling now. The broken mirror, the puffy lace sleeves, kids cackling from the door way, the thrift store find… I’m saying yes to this halloween dress 😭. It is perfect. I can picture it now, Maleah as Lydia. Kali as beetlejuice. Hailee as Harley Quinn… I can’t picture an Adam in all this so if that’s where your mind was going, sorry, no husband for me, just the creepy dress please. Thanks.
We go big for Halloween in this house. We plan out the houses we are going to hit. Extra bags in the car for the candies, what time we are going to the Halloween party, what time we will hit Main Street before the neighborhood homes. The book character day party and time it will take for a costume switch… it is all mapped out as if we are preparing for war. My girls make great soldiers.
I took my littles Halloween shopping yesterday. I usually know what to expect with each kid except Maleah. I know Hailee loves all things frilly and Princess related, Kali is somewhere between drag queen attire and full blown Disney Character (I know what you’re thinking but there’s not much difference), and then there’s Maleah… Maleah is that kid in your school who shows up in a hot dog costume when all the other girls are dressed as Cinderella. Try to pick her out in the above picture… if you picked the granny then you’re correct. This year Maleah was holding a cheerleader costume and something polar opposite from it, I don’t even know what to call it, but after heavy contemplation she chose the thing which I will now picture:
The other two girls refuse to let me snag a picture until they’ve gone through hair and makeup so I’ll have to update on Halloween! Divas. I couldn’t get them to go along with my beetlejuice plan so I guess I’ll just be Miss Havisham and sit it my wedding dress at home. I still think it’s perfect.
I’ve heard that death is as easy as walking into another room. That there is a veil between this mortality and immortality. There is a sacred symbolic meaning behind the veil, it can mean obedience, modesty, concealing, humility or all of the above. I want to share the oddest dream I had the other night that changed the way I viewed the veils of our mortality.
I dreamt I was walking into work. It was quiet which is unusual for a nursing facility, there were no other employees, no call lights ringing off, and every patients room had a white veil hanging on the entrance to the doorway. In most of my dreams I can not talk, rather I feel what’s happening. I felt at peace in this one and continued to prepare myself to treat my patients. I approached a doorway and felt a voice ask me who I was. I’d describe it as a telepathic conversation as my mouth never opened but I answered with, “I am Annabelle”. The voice responded with the same question, “Who are you?” After a revolving Q&A with the same results I finally took a step back and thought there is a patient in there who needs my help and I am a nurse. The mystery voice said, “You May enter”. I stepped through the veil and only found the patient inside, no security guard at the door… it was odd but I didn’t question it. The patient was angry at me, he was asking why I took so long and why I hadn’t come to see him sooner. I wanted to respond with, “my child was sick and I’ve had a stomach ulcer so I’ve been out of work” but the voice in my head said again, even louder this time, “WHO ARE YOU?!”. I answered silently, “I am a nurse”. I felt a change internally, the stressors that control my time outside of that room quickly dissipated. I was no longer a woman who had only 4 hours of sleep, a sick child, a crippling stomach ulcer, or a single mom with bills racking up. That woman was not permitted into this room, only the nurse in me was extended an invitation. My response to the patient changed to, “I apologize for my absence but I am here now, how can I help?” The angry mood shifted as the patient allowed me to treat his wounds. I finished up and stepped back through the veil. As I entered the hallway I was Annabelle again, I was a mom, a painter, an adventurer, and a nurse all in one. But each time I approached the door to another room the same question was asked before entry was granted, “Who are you?”.
As I woke up I started pondering the dream with the veils. I thought about all the doors I walk through each day and the person in me who was permitted on the other side. When I come home am I bringing the stressors of work with me? Or am I stopping at the door and asking myself who am I with the response, “I am a mom”? Am I doing the same at work? It’s an interesting concept when I sit back and think about all the mortal doorways we each have in our own lives, with that invisible veil that only allows a part of us to enter. What have you come to that doorway to do? If it’s to give excuses when you get to the other side then take a step back and remind yourself who you are before you cross.
When I walked into work yesterday I couldn’t get the image of the veils out of my head. I believe the dream came about to remind me of who I needed to be in that room, and who I needed to be at home because I couldn’t be both. The hard days I have at work do not belong in my home with my children and the hard days I have with my family at home do not belong in the room with my patients. I thought to myself yesterday before I entered each room, “Who are you?” and that changed my entire day.
You’ve got the glow. Everything is exciting and it should be. The veterans wants to give you their opinions and tell you what you need to prepare yourself. You haven’t hit the nesting stage yet, you’re still in the honeymoon phase. I can tell because I just read your baby registry and there are multiple car seats, pack and plays, cribs, themes. I’ve always withheld giving my opinion, usually I’ll just give an eye roll at the other veterans who tune in and want to tell you exactly what products they used to care for their little one and that it’s the “right way”. Don’t believe that trash. The right way to do it will be the way you do it. I do however want to tune in to your baby registry and give you some dos and donts to save your nesting self from your honeymoon self. Go ahead and open that registry, look at the car seats (do this on both your registry’s), decide which one you want and eliminate the others. This may be the part where you post on Facebook asking why people like them or their opinions, I don’t have an opinion on that… as long as the baby has a car seat that is safe then kudos. Next do the same with the cribs, and the pack and plays.
Now let’s chat about the bottle and pacifiers, I see you’ve got multiple brands. Pick one. Preferably one that will provide gas relief, they will be more expensive. You can go with the cheaper brands but you’ll have to add manual labor and time in its place because you’ll have to burp the air the bottle doesn’t filter out of your babies tummy. I don’t know about you but my time is more valuable than money. You may think why do I have to pick one? Because these little babies are picky suckers, literally. Once you give them a bottle or pacifier, that’s the one they will want forever and if you want to change brands revisit my sentence that talks about manual labor and time. You will have to rock and soothe the little addict as they make the transition for days sometimes weeks. Some will not even attempt to eat if the nipple isn’t right and then you’ve got a hungry addict on top of that. Again do your nesting self a favor and narrow down that baby registry to the brand of bottles and pacifiers you want and add multiples of the same brand. Look at the nipples on the bottles and pacifiers and try to match them… trickery will be your saving grace while you prep those 2am bottles.
The honeymoon phase isn’t all bad for your registry. Go crazy on the clothes and sizes, add all the diapers you want, wipes, the decor and neat little inventions mankind has created for the new babe. Those are the things where it’s okay to be extra, but when it comes to the essentials know what you need so those things get taken care of first. As a veteran myself, I, like I’m sure other moms do, look at the essentials that are still left on the registry and then go from there. That’s hard for me to do if I see multiples of the essentials on your registry so narrow it down momma! This will be your greatest adventure yet, let me help you prepare for it 😊.
It’s would be a good idea to remember all these things are temporary. Buying the most expensive brands and products should only come into play when it is beneficial to your child’s wellbeing, like gas relief bottles and car seats that are safe. Sure we all want the stylish outfits and accessories but they only last a season, choose where you spend your money wisely because unexpected cost WILL arise when your child gets sick, loses their bottle, diapers, the formula you use and have stocked could be the wrong brand for the babe and you may not produce enough breast milk, etc… so keep those hidden cost in mind when you want to splurge on the expensive nonessentials. Like the baby baths… non essential. A towel in the tub with a little water works way better than any bath and your child will never out grow it. Of course these are just my opinions and I’m a frugal mom so to each his own.
My brother Jo and I were talking about my skills one time so that I could start a business. I asked him what he thought I was really good at and he drew a blank… he finally said, “the only thing I think you are really great at is being a mom”. I could’ve been offended by that, as I value my other creative skills, but if being a great mom is my top skill then that is possibly the best compliment I have ever received! I am here for you if you need generalize advice but if you come at me with monogrammed momma problems then insert eye roll here and move along.
I wanted to be a ninja when I was growing up. My inspiration came from The power rangers, Mortal Combat and anything Jackie Chan related. For some reason I swore up and down I could kick Chuck Norris butt if we ever went to battle. It probably didn’t help that my dad was also a karate guru. He used to tell me that if I ever saw anything ordinary out of the ordinary that it was a bad sign. Like a perfect coke can sitting in the middle of the road or a match box sitting centered in a chair. If you’ve followed my blog post until now you know that I don’t carry a purse because it makes it harder to run if I have to, and I don’t wear jewelry in case I have to fight someone. Thanks dad. I’m a paranoid weirdo who is always prepared for a sneak attack.
This past week I went on a mini vacation. I stayed at an Airbnb and on our last night we returned late at night to find a package on the front porch of the cottage we were staying in. It looked perfect. Too perfect. We all sat in the mini van staring at it and discussing how this package looked suspicious. Against the protest from the other passengers I got out of the van to inspect the box… I had trained my entire life for this, if Chuck Norris was in that box, we were going to throw down and get this internal childhood fantasy over with. There were several steps up to the porch and while slowly making my ascend I noticed a hole in the side of the box. I thought to myself, this must be where they’ve put the laser. I needed to jump over it, trust me I’ve seen this in movies. I jumped as high as my chicken legs would take me and landed right where the laser hole was crafted. In my defense only people who do parkour daily could’ve made that jump successfully, it was an upward incline so there’s that. Luckily, no explosions set off. I took out my flashlight and peaked through the hole to find a box filled with q tips… that’s even more suspicious if you ask me.
Who orders a box of q tips this big? I nudged the package with my foot. Nothing. My kids were giggling from inside the van. They laugh now but I guarantee as they get older and discover the wicked ways of the world they too will be ready to fight an inanimate object. I wonder if the Lord was watching me the same way people watch cats play with boxes. I’m crossing my fingers hoping the Airbnb host didn’t have cameras set up. We had already discussed the conspiracy of the google home box hiding behind the couch and with this box interrogation, I couldn’t imagine what the host would think replaying the events that went on in that house. Just know Chuck wouldn’t have stood a chance.
I am no good at hiding how I feel, I wear it on my face in every situation. I haven’t even been successful at training my face to match a pleasant affect when I’m upset in a professional setting. I can’t seem to find the power cord that connects my brain and facial nerves to disconnect during times when I’d like to fake a smile. As a matter of fact, on my yearly review at work I was told the thing I needed to work on was smiling more… I could do that, if someone says something funny. I actually smile and laugh a lot but there is a stimulant behind that, someone has made me feel happy or I’m laughing at myself. I told my boss I could work on smiling more but that I felt she was robbing me of my feelings. Then this morning I was reading something one of my favorite women had said, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.” -Marjorie Pay Hinckley
That is great advice! Finding the joy in every situation could be the key to a happy life. I want to share one of my most embarrassing moments in life where I was able to find humor in an incredibly uncomfortable situation. I was shopping with my best friend when I was a teenager. I was wearing underpants that were 2 sizes to big. Don’t ask questions… just follow along. I started trying on jeans and when I zipped the zipper up it embedded the oversized underpants into it. I tried everything to undo the tragic mistake but no amount of butter would’ve loosened the grip of the teeth on that zipper. I told my friend I’d just take the tag off and buy the jeans. So here I stand at the counter, with my new all in one jeans telling the clerk I want to buy these jeans I’m wearing. She giggles and says there’s an anti theft magnet on the pants that can only be removed on the cash counter. To my horror this magnet was not on the waist lining like they typically are now a days. It was up one of the pant legs. So I had to climb the counter and lay sideways as this clerk stuck her hand up my pants to remove the magnet. I don’t believe I have ever laughed so hard in my life. I could have chose to cry and be upset in that situation but Marjorie Hinckley was right, I prefer to laugh too.
It may be hard to find the joy in every situation but it is there. I don’t mean for you go to a funeral and laugh at your deceased loved ones, but in most situations when things seem to be going terribly wrong, look for something positive to cling to and smile about it. Don’t fake it, find the joy in it. Laugh through the horror.
This photo of my 7 year olds feet has nothing to do with this blog post at all. I just went to wake her for school and found her wearing my socks that I laid out for work and thought it was so cute. Apparently she got cold through the night hahaha!
I’ve got a question for anyone who is divorced with children, does it feel weird to spend time with your ex for family functions such as birthday parties, holidays, cookouts, whatever the case where your children might be that the other parent may also be? If yes then why? I get asked this question a lot, “isn’t that awkward?”… well no, why would it be? You know what would make it awkward? If we were still married. I mean, how awkward would that be if I was still married to this guy that I only see once every other weekend, show up to a birthday party with another wife and kids, now THAT would be awkward… but I’m not. It’s not awkward because we aren’t married anymore, and haven’t been for 7 years. I’m trying to dip inside the mind of someone who would find the situation weird. Is it weird for you because you are not on good terms? Do you argue a lot? Do you harbor unresolved feelings? Bad blood between the new member to your co parenting team? Your problems are not my problems. I’ve known this fool for 15 years, he’s my kids dad, and yes I can call him a fool because it’s just a playful term of endearment. His wife is good to my kids. And here’s the thing, we live separate lives with the same children who we each love and they love us. So spending time all together is not “awkward” because I’m at the point in my life where they are just another part of my family. Sometimes it’s funny, like when we all went up the mountain to take the kids to see Anakeesta, they take a photo before you go up with your group. Imagine 3 adults and 5 kids, my kids dads laughed and said we looked like a bunch of Mormons… I laughed even harder because I am a Mormon, but not that kind 😂!
Every situation is different. The kids are the most important aspect of our lives and as I see it they are not from a “broken home” they are from an expanded home, we’ve built on to what we already have. This is a very positive situation, my kids have more parents to love them, more siblings, more grandparents, more everything. We are not the stereotypical divorced parents. I despise the negative connotation that follows that term around. You are what you make it. We choose to make it right.
We did not start here. So yes I understand the scary looks on the faces of people when I mention I’m spending time with the kids and their dad/stepmom. We worked to get here. There used to be a lot of bad energy surrounding the situation. There typically is in the beginning. It takes a lot of growth, forgiveness, acceptance, and love to get here. We are not perfect but we are better than we were yesterday and that’s all that is important especially for our children. I can say that I know that in 10-20 years when my kids look back on their childhood they will remember feeling loved and being raised in homes by parents who get along, and that to me is NOT broken.
Murphy’s law is a cute nickname my kids have gifted to me, especially on vacations. I secretly love it. Kali, my 13 year old, says what’s weird is that when things go wrong like way wrong, I laugh about it. Yeah, I guess I do. Why not? I think it’s funny that crazy weird stuff happens… I’m the person who tries not to laugh when you trip in public but I am also the person that would help you up. Balance baby.
The girls have already started in on chanting “Murphy’s law” this fall break. Mind you, last fall break beat the books for all my cursed vacations. We were scheduled for a beach trip which at last minute we had to cancel and rebook for another beach because the red tide showed up, we arrived at the new beach and upon booking we were evacuated for a hurricane… decided to then drive to North Carolina to flee the hurricane where we were met with a tornado. It was like a sequel to final destination.
This time around we booked a tipee and vintage camper for our fall break just outside Gatlinburg. Little did I know my girls have never been camping in their lives. They were terrified. I had 3 kids stacked on top of me during the night, spooked about every little noise in the woods, and spiders… no ma’am. I made a fire around 4am to keep us warm and get some water boiling. A dog who lived on the camp site loved to run full speed at us anytime he heard us going to the outhouse. Full speed. Pitch black night, 7 year old walking in the woods, full speed running dog. She thought we were being attacked by a bear and clinged for dear life against my leg. There was also a kid on the site. He wore a black suit. In the woods. I didn’t have a good feeling about that… why was he wearing a suit?!
We left early morning and headed to their dad and stepmoms hotel to brush our teeth and get ready for the day. I decided that camping is clearly out of their comfort zone and since it’s vacation for these ladies it should be fun. So I cut my losses and rented a cottage instead. The kids have never been so grateful for running water and electricity in their lives!
We are settling into the new place. I even made breakfast this morning! And I only dropped the food ONCE. Tonia made it in late last night and after a night in the woods I barely had the strength to greet her while I was sunken into my memory foam mattress hahaha. I’m hoping the curse of Murphy’s law that follows me so closely will be lifted for the remainder of our vacation,and if not it will make for a great story 😉
I love how my parents always made me feel free. I know right now if we were able to pick our own parents before this life that I would have picked mine over anyone else on this planet. They always made us kids feel like we could do anything we wanted as long as it was legal and not too dangerous and even then during the teenage years we walked on the edge of that line. I never realized how amazing the feeling of freedom was until I went through relationships and roommates and such that had rules and regulations… those are the worst. I don’t like rules. I don’t like waking up and feeling like ‘this is what you have to do today, and this is how you have to do it’. Have you ever heard that phrase, “choose your battles” when raising your children? My parents were experts at this. They didn’t focus on a military uniformed household, they instead chose to step in when it came to our safety. I could’ve woke up in the morning at 10 years old and decided, ‘I think I’ll give my wardrobe a make over’, start painting my shirts, cutting my sleeves, bedazzling my shoes… and my parents would’ve smiled and told me it was interesting. Mind you if I didn’t like my artistic work, I would’ve had to live with it because we only went shopping for clothes once a year haha. And that is something I have actually done.
When I would tell my friends at school some of my daily activities their mouths would drop open and they would say things like, “your parents let you do that?”. Well yeah… I mean I didn’t ask, but I didn’t get in trouble either. My 7 siblings and I used to do all sorts of things that you’d probably bust your kids hind end for. We used to make biscuit dough and throw it against the chimney to see who could get theirs to stick the highest, play volley ball inside, collect random animals, cut each other’s hair, paintball and firework wars, build forts and zip lines, make a slip and side in the kitchen floor with dish soap and water, carry our mattresses outside and jump through the windows onto them… you know things that would give your parents nightmares. Nanny McPhee would’ve needed some extra magic to subdue us. I didn’t feel like I ever had a bedtime. I didn’t feel like I needed permission to go out into the woods or walk to the neighbors. I didn’t ask if friends could come over or if I could have this dog I found. Sure we had chore lists and the consequences for our actions came from themselves and not my parents, like cutting our own hair was humiliating, no need for further punishment there, or having the chore of cleaning a room we just massacred. The freedom of choice did not come with the freedom of consequence but I’m glad my parents allowed us to learn from our own mistakes instead of forcing us to learn from theirs.
Perhaps it’s why I live the way I live now. Spontaneous trips and random projects. Creative and free. I planned to spend this week in Salem learning about the witch trials, only my flyer mile points don’t come in until the end of the week… meh. So instead we decided to visit with family and do a road trip, which at the last minute turned into a trip to the smokies. I don’t mind what we do, as long as my girls and I can spend time together, I’m sure we will make whatever we do interesting. I’ve been to the smokies countless times, that’s one of the reasons it wasn’t my first choice. I don’t want to relive the same vacation time and time again. I’m an adventurer. I need to explore and do new things. Then I started thinking, we don’t have to stay in the same cabin/hotel, eat the same breakfast and have the same vacation just because it’s the same place we’ve been before… we can do something different in this place. I’ve asked my sister in law who is meeting me there to brace herself for what we are about to do. It will push her comfort zone to the limits… it will test our survival skills… it will be glorious. It is camp grits. Our home away from home for the week.
The girls and I will start our journey today and Tonia will join us tomorrow. Gives us an entire day to set up booby traps to keep things interesting for when the gang arrives. The facilities are probably my favorite part, you have to ask the host in advance to bath in this bath tub that’s out in the woods… that way they can light a fire to warm the bath water 😂. Stay tuned for an update on how to not only take a last minute trip with your family but how to do it on a budget! The total cost for this beauty is less than what the average nightly rate is in the Pigeon forge/Gatlinburg area. Even with the added cost of bug spray and fire wood! Let the adventure begin.