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crazy {dog} mom

Being the mom of a senior dog, I have found it to be more work than the puppy years. When we picked Champ from his litter, I couldn’t have imagined all the life he would bring into our home, all the memories he would be a part of, and how many Meyer Babes he would welcome into our family. I also couldn’t have imagined how difficult these years could be.

He’s 13. That’s ancient in dog years, I know. If it’s true that dogs age 6 years for every human year, that’s 78. My vet’s number is saved in my phone like a pediatrician’s number in a new mom’s phone, and I call my vet more often than I call my doctor for myself, or my kids. If I notice a change in his behavior or habits, I’m on the phone with my vet.

“Hi, it’s Champ’s mom. Can I get him in for his allergy shot?”

I don’t know why I say “it’s Champ’s mom”. I could just tell them my name. They know who it is. I’m just a crazy dog mom, I guess. Crazy dog mom, human mom, cat mom. So, maybe just shorten that up and generalize it to crazy mom now.

Champ is allergic to everything. He’s always had to take allergy medicine, but in his older years, he’s graduated to getting them more regularly, and stronger doses. He eats special dog food that we buy at our vet’s office, it’s crazy expensive, and super bland for him (nice adjectives, Meyer). But, it really helps with his allergies, so it’s worth it. This also means that since it’s so bland, and his body is used to it, if he gets into any table food, watch out. I mean it. Watch. Out. It will end up in scrubbing the floor, because it doesn’t stay in his body very long. Making sure he doesn’t get table food is no easy task when you have kids, but we’re all getting better at it.

Champ has heart disease that he takes medication for. This is probably my fault, I used to be very YOLO about Champ’s diet. Plus, we have kids. So, there were years where he survived off of goldfish crackers, and half eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because his overly exhausted mombie of a mom forgot to feed him, or forgot that he was out of dog food. He had my back though, and took care of it himself by snacking on whatever he could find.

Arthritis has set in for him in his hips, and he takes medication for that as well. He struggles to do the things he loves to do. His games of fetch are slower, don’t last as long, and followed by a lot of sleep. He asks for help to get where he wants to be. Yeah, he asks, I’m his crazy mom, remember? I know which whine is translated to “I want up there with you.”

He can’t hear. He doesn’t come running when we open the bread bag, or when someone is at the front door anymore. Some doggie dementia has set in; he recently started answering to Jerry. I was telling Andy a story about my friend Jerry, and every time I said Jerry, he turned his head like I was talking to him. So, of course, the Meyers aren’t letting this one go, and we occasionally call him Jerry the Geriatric.  He can’t remember where his food and water is, on a daily basis. He searches the house for it, barking at all of us, until one of the kids takes him to it, and he happily eats his food, or drinks his water.

With all of these obvious changes going on in my Old Man River, I know the inevitable is upon us. He’s still happy, and his health is managed with our vet. Andy and I have had hard conversations about his quality of life, and what we will do if and when Champ lets us know that he’s ready to go. In a perfect world, Champ and I will have a heart to heart, and he will let me know in no uncertain terms that he has lived a beautiful life, and he is ready to go. I also know that it’s completely possible that I will come home from school to find him gone. And, I don’t know which one would be worse.

He has always slept at my feet. Whether I’m up late working, or on the couch watching TV, or in my bed, Champ sleeps right next to my feet. This morning, I woke up to find a suspicious amount of foot room. I was confused when I didn’t see him there, but in an awkward position on the floor next to me. With laser, crazy mom focus, I looked at his tummy, to see if it was moving. It wasn’t. I said his name, and he didn’t wake up. Panicked, I whispered to Andy, who was just waking up for work, “I think he’s dead!” I scrambled to the light, and fell to my knees next to him, patting his tummy to see if I could stir him. Nothing. His eyes closed, I cupped his face in my hands, talking to him, asking him to please not be dead. Devastated and tears in my eyes, I buried my face into the side of the bed. This, finally stirred my sleeping dog.  Confused, and annoyed, he laid his head back down and went back to sleep, and Andy was fully awake now, and laughing at me from bed. My insides felt like Jello, and I crawled back into bed, laughing at myself, but thankful that Champ is hard of hearing, and not dead.

These are the years that are hard, and honestly, I don’t hear much about from other dog owners. Andy and I have joked about finding him a old folks’ home for dogs, because sometimes he is so much work. This is the snippet of Champ’s life that I couldn’t envision when we watched him play with his litter mates, and he had all of his teeth.  Sometimes seeing Champ age hurts my heart so badly, that I think I could never go through this all over with a puppy again. But having a dog, a companion, a family member like Champ, means going alongside him through ups and downs that 13 years of a dogs life brings. Getting old isn’t easy, but Jerry, err, Champ, is aging as gracefully as he can, and his crazy mom is embracing the senior years.

Teacher Gift Ideas for Any Budget

Maybe you’re already out of school, and if you are… shh. Go away, Don’t talk to me. Let’s pretend for a moment that everyone is still in school, like me. Also, we’re under the assumption that you’re all procrastinators. Awesome, you’re my tribe. Carry on.

As a mom, music teacher, and entrepreneur, I’m usually taking care of my kids’ teacher gifts, oh… like the week before Christmas break. But, I’m working ahead and getting them done 4 days early, THIS WEEKEND! #GOALS

I know it can be kind of overwhelming to try to navigate through what to gift to your child’s teacher.  Thanks to pinterest, maybe you’re hiding in the closet with a bottle of wine after a failed crayon wreath. If you’re like me, you have an amazing appreciation for everything they do for your kids, and you’d like to give them a billion dollars, or a nice boxed wine. But some schools frown on bringing liquor onto school premises, and maybe you don’t have an extra billion dollars laying around. Rest assured, I’m about to give you some epic gift ideas that won’t break the bank!

  1. Gift cards, in any amount. Some of my favorites have been to Hurts Donuts (duh, you guys), Panera, or other places to eat -especially close to school- Target, Walmart, movie passes. Another great place to pick up a gift card is TeachersPayTeachers.com. It’s a website that teachers use to buy great stuff for their classroom, and they often use their own money for these purchases. What’s great, is most of these places, you can chose the amount based on your budget. I’ve had gift cards anywhere from $5 to $25 and have appreciated every one of them.
  2. Expo markers. No really, trust me on this one. LOVE GETTING NEW EXPO MARKERS!
  3. Stickers/loot for the prize box
  4. New idea this year! A girlfriend of mine is bringing us LUNCH! She emailed us and asked what our order was from Subway, and insisted, otherwise she promised us ugly sweaters she would force us to wear.
  5. Anything personalized! Now, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that I happen to have these sweet name plates for sale. You can find them here in my Etsy shop.
  6. In lieu of a gift for the teacher, ask if they have a student in their classroom that has any needs (snacks for snack time- {sometimes students can brings snacks to eat during a designated time, and low income families can sometimes feel alienated for not having a snack} school supplies, gloves or hats for the cold weather, just to name a few ideas).
  7. I still have all the handmade ornaments, magnets, notes, handmade bracelets and necklaces that my students have ever made for me. Those gifts are always so sweet and thoughtful!
  8. Books for the classroom library.
  9. Homemade goodies are always a hit! And since I am always in zombie mode getting ready for my big school wide assembly on the last day, I usually live off of popcorn treats (with the almond bark, peanut butter, M&M’s and peanuts… YUM!) banana bread, various candies, and some of the Young’s homemade salsa, with or without the chips.

Let me sum this up for you… don’t stress. Your teachers are going to love whatever you come up with. These are just some ideas that have been hits with myself, and other teachers I know throughout the years.  Remember, your teacher isn’t expecting anything, and are always truly honored that you thought of them.

This is why we’re always late

In a blatant attempt on Bruce’s life, Steve knocked over Bruce’s fish tank, leaving him lifeless on the floor and Landyn screaming. We quickly scooped Bruce up, and delivered him to some water. We all cheered when he started to swim happily in his temporary home, a plastic Chiefs cup. Meanwhile, Ruby scolded Steve for trying to kill Bruce, and Champ, the thirsty old man that he is, started drinking the leftover water from Bruce’s tank (don’t worry guys, he threw it all up on our blanket five minutes later). Landyn found her clothes she laid out for school for today and tomorrow, covered in smelly fish tank water, and Davis, who’s been sick, missed all of the action because he was snoring away in our bed. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

A List of Shi…stuff I’m Not Doing Anymore

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it til my face turns blue, mommin’ ain’t easy. And what is so unique about moms is that A) we ALL know that’s true, but B) even with that knowledge, we surpass our common sense, and give into this overwhelming sense of needing to do it all, and be amazing at it.

Sometimes, moms are {secretly, and sometimes not-so-secretly} competitive with each other. Not every mom is going to admit it, but it’s definitely true. If you’ve ever seen Bad Moms, there’s a group of women that do it all, and turn their noses up at those other moms that don’t, and go as far as bringing store bought donut holes to a bake sale (GASP!).  Obviously, that movie takes it to the extreme- but it does a great job of painting the picture of the different tribes of moms that exist.

In the last couple of years, our role as parents has changed. We don’t have babies in the house anymore; no more late night feedings, diapers, folding little tiny onesies, or carrying around a diaper bag. Things have evolved for us, and I’m embracing that change. And that has brought me to an ah-ha moment in my role as a mom. They aren’t at the age where I need to be doing it all for them anymore, and in fact, I’m doing them (and society) a huge disservice by doing so. In order to keep my sanity, and raise strong, independent kids- I have made myself start doing less. Hence, my list of stuff I’m not doing anymore, that grows, almost daily. PS: My kids aren’t fans of this list.

  1. Bailing them out and/or solving Every. Single. Problem. Forgot your lunch? Enjoy that school lunch! Your agenda isn’t signed? Well, I guess you’ll have to talk to your teacher about that. You left your toys at home that you wanted to take to daycare? Sorry, I’m not turning around to go back.  Sounds mean, I know! And, it’s harder than you might think. I don’t like disappointing my kids, and I don’t like them to experience sadness. And it would be really easy for me to go grab whatever they need. I teach at the same school they attend, and our house is 4 blocks away, and daycare is just a couple miles away.  But, if my kids never experience a little discomfort brought on by their own irresponsibility, they have no reason to ever become more responsible. Why would they if they know they’re always going to get bailed out?
  2. Pairing and matching socks. Done. I don’t do it anymore. And, apparently it isn’t on the radar of anyone else in my house, because that hamper of single socks that we dig through isn’t getting any smaller. It’s like a giant singles only party for socks. It’s lit, as the kids say. If they’re close to matching, we wear them. And if your name is Davis, if they’re not close, you wear them anyway.
  3. Putting the lid back on the blasted blue sparkle toothpaste and/or cleaning up the globs of it that end up all over the bathroom sink and counter. Nah, I’m not doing that, either. I used to do it, though. And, I was very good at it, if I do say so myself. However, I’ve recently retired. Like, yesterday. I’ll just wait for the culprit to do the right thing and clean up the sticky, sparkly, blue goo. *update* this plan has backfired. I’m still putting the lid on, but definitely griping about every second of it. I got paint on Andy’s favorite shirt, and went to soak it in the sink, but I had to clean it first because blue sparkle toothpaste struck again. I’m putting that lid back on like it’s my job.  
  4. Always say No to the kids. This is the one they like. And, I feel like there has to be some balance here. If they want to play with friends after school, or a sleepover, or paint their nails, I try to say yes as much as I possibly can. Special requests for supper, staying up past bedtime to finish watching a ballgame with us, sure… brownies, duh. YES. I mean, it’s for the kids. It has nothing to do with brownie batter being one of my main food groups.  But what I’m getting at, is I try to say yes when it matters. There are times I have to say no, sometimes the week has been hectic, and I feel like they need to be home chilling out with the family, instead of going 100 mph with their friends. Because yeah, I’m old school,  I think kids need some down time. So, saying yes when it counts, is a way of filling their bucket, that way the times when I must say no, it doesn’t completely deplete them.
  5. MOM GUILT. I complain about putting the lid on the toothpaste, I’m rarely caught up on laundry, I hate to match socks. I space out saying “uh-huh” when hearing stories about fourth grade recess drama, and I mumble bad words under my breath. Okay, whatever, I don’t always mumble them. Fine, I rarely mumble- rather, I enunciate clearly and let them fly out of my mouth with great flair and eloquence. Busted. I’m overweight, I’m always putting my hair in a ponytail instead of fixing it and leaving it down, I don’t always do a full face of make up, like some of the other moms that I see (but my eyebrows are always done, so there’s that). I have anxiety. Not just the situational kind of anxiety that you get when you have a review coming up at work, I have the clinical kind that, thank you Jesus, I take medication for to keep me from hiding under my bed with a bottle of wine.  I’m not a perfect mom, but I’m a mom that loves the hell out of my kids and constantly reminds them that perfect is overrated. I’m living proof of that, and no, I don’t feel guilty about it.

I’m not doing that shi…stuff anymore.

The Big Deal About Shopping Small

One of my favorite things to do is support small businesses. It’s a crucial part of local economy. Living in a small town, I support our grocery store, general store, gift shops, hardware store, our post office, as well as home based businesses, just to name a few. And, when I’m shopping in cities, I still try to frequent local, small businesses, rather than the big box stores. That doesn’t mean that I don’t do it, I’m human. I buy big packages of off brand toilet paper at The WalMarts. Yes, I said The WalMarts, that’s another blog though. But, I always seek out local, and small, first!

Something I have learned this year, as an entrepreneur, with a family and a full time career that I love, is we live in a society that has become obsessed with fast and cheap. Wherever people can get it the fastest and cheapest, that is obviously the better deal, right? WRONG! People, I get it. We work hard for our money, and you want to spend it in a way that is smart. But, are you supporting locally? Or, did you spend your money on a knock off to save money, but ended up wasting that money because your knock off didn’t last, or LOOKED like a knockoff?? I’ve learned that lesson a few times!

Shopping small adds so much value to the community.  The revenue is staying local, and you’re making a real live person do a happy dance. It’s a win-win!

I’ve compiled a list for you of small businesses run by moms that are worth your time to check out! These women are makers, entrepreneurs, business owners, and also going to their kids’ games, or changing diapers, meal planning, running kids around to practice or preschool. They’re making it happen. They believed in themselves and took a leap, and I for one, would much rather support that, that a billion dollar company that doesn’t know me from Adam.

Tonight, I feature, the Mom Bosses.

Lily Rose Candle Co.

Lily LaSala makes soy wax aromatherapy candles and pours them into these beautiful vintage glasses! She’s an essential oil mad scientist with an eye for making ordinary things absolutely stunning. She is brilliant, and everyone loves her candles. Since she uses soy wax and essential oils, her candles have a nice clean burn. You can find her on facebook, she does a lot of craft shows in the KC area. Local Cheney friends, you’re in luck! I am going to be carrying a limited supply of her beautiful candles at the Home for the Holidays event on November 11th!

Unleashed Paint Parties and Purple Moose Printing Company

Oh, that Sherri Ahlberg. She’s so talented and I’m a lucky girl to have her on my team. She and her husband have Purple Moose Printing Company, and they do all of my shirt printing for me, and I highly recommend them for any printing needs you might have. But, she also does these amazing traveling paint parties!! You guys, I am not a painter. I can make some pretty letters but that’s a totally different skill set. I was so nervous to do this paint party with my girlfriends last year but she made it fun, and stress free to make something that I would actually hang on my wall! She has tons of amazing paintings to choose from, and she travels to you and brings all the supplies! Book her, you’re guaranteed to have so much fun!

Loni Griffin, Rodan+Fields

Loni is a wife and new mom, and has brought pretty skin back into my life, and the lashes are a plus, too! All the years I spent making sure the Meyer Babes had sunblock on, I was neglecting my skin. I started noticing in pictures that my skin just wasn’t what it used to be, and it made me so sad! I honestly thought pretty skin just wasn’t in the cards for me, and justified it with the fact that I use good makeup, so I’d be fine. No. There was a better way! I have been using R+F for about 9 months now, the Reverse Regimen and Lash Boost, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. And I know I”m just one of many of her happy customers! Oh, also, she’s my best friend. So, there’s that. If you can tolerate me for 11 years, and keep coming back for more… well, that makes you a saint in my book! You can find her on Facebook!

Kelsey Shackley, Life Coach

Kelsey has been killing it on the Beach Body scene for a couple of years now. She is a wife, and a mom of 3 girls, including twins! She can help you make goals for yourself, and reach them. I cheered with her in high school, and I can tell you, this is the girl that you want cheering you on in your life! Her passion is to help others reach their fitness and nutrition goals, and she is gettin’ it done! She is genuine, and hard working, and you’ll love her. You can find Kelsey on Facebook and Instagram.

Paula Sears, Younique Make-Up

Paula is a wife, new mom, and a third grade teacher. I have had the privilege of working with her for several years now, and saw her bloom into her new role as an entrepreneur with Younique Make-Up. I have watched first hand, her confidence soar, and the joy she gets out of seeing happy customers find their own new confidence. So, let’s talk about lashes. They’re kind of my thing. I started using R+F Lash Boost, and I saw incredible results. Then Paula told me about her Epic Mascara and shut the door, it was a game changer. You can find Paula on Facebook!

Kelsey Baker, Monat

Kelsey is a wife, mom, a fitness instructor, and she has AMAZING hair. Seriously!! Oh, and Kelsey just earned her first CADILLAC as a market mentor with Monat. You read that correctly. That blows my mind. But, I have heard incredible things about these products, even from my HAIR LADY! Yes. My own hair stylist said this stuff is the real deal! Kelsey says that her favorite part of what she does with Monat is watching and helping the members of her team see more success than they ever dreamed possible. She says “So many of my team members are able to provide a better life for them and their families because of this business. I love that by bringing them on board I’ve helped make that happen and lessened their burdens.”

And truthfully, I think that could be said about all of these moms featured in this post. Not only crushing their own goals, but they are coming alongside others, and bringing something amazing into their path. And that’s something that I’m glad to get behind and support!

 

Hide Your Crazy, We’re Out for Dinner

I LOVE going out to dinner! As a busy wife and mom, I really appreciate the fact that I can sit down somewhere, order whatever sounds good, eat it while it’s hot, not having prepared anything at all, then leave and not clean anything up (side bar: I was a server for 10 years and always do a little pre-busing, it’s in my veins). It’s almost like a vacation. Unless, we’re going out to dinner as a family. Then it’s just a circus.

In my first blog, I talked about how important meal planning is for my family, and that one reason was to help us stay on budget. Welp, here’s the second reason.  And, almost as important. Eating out with our kids, at this point in the game, is chaos. Even with all the meal planning I do, we still end up eating out at least once every week or two. Here’s how our last excursion went down this last Saturday.

  1. Davis stands up in the booth to turn around to see who’s behind us.
  2. Ruby promptly yells at him to sit down.
  3. I give the kids a choice of water, lemonade, or milk.
  4. Davis says pop.
  5. I repeat. Water, lemonade, or milk.
  6. Order food- my brain is so filled with what the kids are ordering that I’ve repeated to myself in my head 7 times what I’m ordering, so I don’t forget.
  7. Landyn orders sewers. She thought the “k” was silent because it was French.
  8. Tic-Tac-Toe, x20 because all four of them have 5 brackets to play.
  9. The cheap, waxy crayons break.
  10. Davis chugs his milk, drops his silverware, then hits his head on the table trying to pick them up, burps, then needs to go potty.
  11. Food comes, Andy and I start cutting food up for the littles while the bigs start eating.
  12. Ada needs out to go to the bathroom.
  13. Davis and I get out so she can go to the bathroom.
  14. I finally start in with my first bite, that is now room temperature.
  15. Send it back so be heated up, after assuring our server that it came out hot, I just let it get cold… because, kids.
  16. Davis covers my shoulder up with his napkin so I’m not cold, because he’s a gentleman.
  17. Now he’s wiping his face on his shirt, because he’s four.
  18. There’s a heap of trash and plates in the middle of the table, so we tip generously.
  19. 30 minutes after we get home they need a snack.

See why we eat at home? I just ran this by Andy and asked him if I left anything out, and he said, “Nope, that sounds like our circus.” But, not in all those words. I reworded, on account of his words being more colorful in nature. And rightly so.

We still do it though. There are a lot of things we do with our kids that aren’t easy, like sitting through an hour of church, or 9 innings of baseball. We still do it because we think- well, hope- that they are learning from the experience. And fingers crossed, one of these days we’ll be able to sit down at a restaurant, and we’ll keep our crazy tucked in for an hour… I’m optimistic!

 

mommin’ & hustlin’

I’m a busy lady, and that’s how I like it, to be honest. Yes, I’m human, I require sleep and down time just like everyone else. But, for the most part, I like being on the go.

Whether I’m in the west bottoms in Kansas City for First Friday, or just talking with other moms in our hometown, the question I get the most is “how do you do it?” And they mean, how do I balance being a wife, mom, teacher, and entrepreneur without losing my stuffin’.

Well, duh. I do sometimes.

But, to try to stay ahead of that happening, here are some of the things that keep our family balanced and chill.

  1. Meal Plan. Not only does this help us out with our budget, it’s such a time saver to know what we are having for the week. I only plan for a week at a time, and prep as much Sunday evening as I can. Like washing and cutting fruits and veggies, sometimes I precook the meat, or make ahead some breakfast burritos for the freezer. I make a spreadsheet for the week, and plan out breakfast, a few lunches (we only home for lunch on the weekends) and dinner. Some meals are quick, some are in the crockpot, and some meals are easily doubled so I can freeze half of it for a quick dinner another time. I try to use as many whole, and fresh ingredients as possible.
  2. My kids do chores. And, their allowance is based on their cleaning jobs. If I have to remind them or if they have to redo a job, its deducted from their allowance. I’m mean, I know. But, there’s a chance for redemption. There’s always extra chores that can be done to earn that money back, if they want to put in the time and effort to do so. But we have a family of six, a clean house is a must. We have to divide and conquer. Plus, work ethic is important to us, and I believe that chores are a great way to lay some good groundwork for a strong work ethic.
  3. I enlist help. I can’t do it all, not even close! Luckily, I have an army of family that can help at the drop of a hat. I am one of five girls, so my sisters are always willing to babysit the kids. In fact, my older sister helped me at a vendor show recently and it was amazing. She read my mind for what I needed, and made me laugh til I almost peed my pants. Now I want to drag all my sisters to shows. Both of our parents are only 30 minutes away, and also, Andy’s grandparents. Grandma often takes Ada to her orthodontist appointments for me so I don’t have to get a sub and miss a lot of school. My friends and neighbors have always been amazing help with the kids, too. And, of course, my kids are happy as clams to get to spend time with all the people that love them. We are very, very blessed.
  4. Fill my bucket. I can’t fill anyone else’s bucket if mine is empty. My bucket fillers are running, time with my friends (with or without kids), date nights with my hubby, and my hair appointments (ahhhhhhhh…. sorry, I was just thinking about having my hair washed).
  5. I have a growing list of things I’m not doing anymore, and you should start one, too. It’s super liberating. At the top of that list is trying to please the Judge Judy’s that think I’m a bad mom and probably going to hell because not only do I occasionally travel for work, but I sometimes work on Sundays. Only second to that is putting the lid back on the toothpaste after my kids forgot. The lid will stay off for a month, it’s science. But back to the Judge Judy’s, I have a whole blog waiting to happen about them, and it’s going to be epic, so stay tuned. Want to know what else I’m not doing anymore? Judging other moms. Join me on that one, trust me.
  6. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Lordy, it’s so cliche, but it’s very true, and I’m not sorry. I accept that I’m kind of a scatterbrained mama that forgets stuff, is often running late (a bad habit I’m working on), and is currently washing the same load of laundry for the third time. I shrug my shoulders and move on. Why? Because my kids are happy, smart, and they know they’re loved beyond measure- and that is way more important to me.