Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lucky's Story, Part 2

This is a long story. It does not have a happy ending. I don't know how many parts it will have or how often I will feel like writing it. But I'm writing it anyway in the hopes that getting it all out will help me. If it helps someone else in the process that'd be gratifying too.

Finding out you are pregnant at 38 when your youngest child is almost 6 can be quite a shock to the system. We made a chart and discovered that there would come a year when we'd have one kid in elementary school, one in middle, one in high school, and one in college. That was a heck of a realization. We laughed a lot about that one.

I was really starting to come to terms with how our life was going to change. We already knew we needed to move, but this baby was a good kick in the pants to get started. We had talked about it for so long, but never made any actual plans until I just decided it was time to "fish or cut bait." The move was on! (and the storage unit was rented!)

I had an incident near the end of April with some bleeding, but we went in for an ultrasound and everything checked out. We went back for our "official" ultrasound on April 28th (Benjamin's 6th birthday! Another laugh!) and things looked good. We were given a due date of December 6th, but I chose to just hear "December." All three of my babies had been late so far, and I saw no reason to think this one wouldn't be too.

Because of the bleeding issue I had had, I had told my mother we were pregnant before I had originally intended to. My mom came up to be with me and got to see her first ultrasound with me. We were both excited, especially when they told us that everything looked good.

We were making plans to tell other people and trying to get the timing right. It was important to us that the kids know first (or nearly first) because they were old enough to understand the process. We had a number of family events going on in late April and early May, but we didn't want to piggy back on one of those, so we waited.

Frances had a dance recital coming up and we knew Ken's dad would be coming to see it. It seemed like a great time to be able to tell him in person. Ken and I talked it over and decided that we would tell the kids the Thursday before and allow them to tell Papa.

I was nervous about telling the kids because I had no idea how they would react. I was pretty sure Frances would be excited. I was also fairly certain that Ben would be mad. He's told me more that once that he doesn't like babies because they "make too much noise." Henry was a toss up. As the middle kid he's already been usurped as the baby and he was used to having siblings around.

I set up my phone to capture video and set the kids down for an interview.

"Frances, what is your favorite part about being a big sister?" I asked.

"I get to play with my brothers." she answered. Then the boys both reached over and hugged her.

"Henry, what is your favorite part about being a big brother?" I asked.

"I get to take care of Ben." he replied. And Ben reached over to hug him.

So far, so good.

"Benjamin, what do you think your favorite part about being a big brother will be?"

At this point my phone stopped recording, but I remember the pause as all three of them tried to figure out what was going on. Frances' eyes flashed to her brothers and then to my stomach. They got really wide. "Are you pregnant?" she yelled?

And then all three started in with the excited questions. I got out the ultrasound picture to show them and they laughed at how silly it looked. I got out my app I had been using to track my pregnancy and showed them their their baby was the size of a Lego mini fig. I also showed them a comparison of a baby's hand at birth and their baby's hand at that point in time. They were looking at the app and noticed that I had nicknamed the baby "Lucky."

That was meant to be an inside joke between Ken and me. The baby was conceived on or about St. Patrick's Day, so I jokingly used the nickname Lucky. After the kids noticed it, it stuck and that's what they've called the baby ever since.

Friday morning as we were all getting ready for school and work, I noticed that the kids had dug out their infant hand print casts from the buffet behind them. They were excitingly talking about Lucky. I even went so far as to tell them not to tell people yet. I explained that family needed to know first and then they could tell people. I was still expecting at least one surprised phone call from a kid who couldn't keep a secret.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Lucky's Story, Part 1

This is a long story. It does not have a happy ending. I don't know how many parts it will have or how often I will feel like writing it. But I'm writing it anyway in the hopes that getting it all out will help me. If it helps someone else in the process that'd be gratifying too.

On Saturday, April 2, I woke up very early and couldn't get back to sleep. It was a crappy day for that to happen because the kids were with my parents for Spring Break and I had no plans until I had to leave to pick them up at around 11 am. If ever there was a day that I could have slept in, this would have been it.

Something was nagging at me and I just didn't feel right. I mostly attributed it to the fact that I was waiting for my period to start. I had actually been waiting a day or two already, but sometimes my cycles can run a little long. I decided to take a pregnancy test just so I could laugh at myself and try to go back to sleep. Alas, that was not to be.

The test was positive. I stared in shock at the test and most of my brain shut down. We weren't trying for a baby. In fact, we were quite happy with the way our family was. We had moved out of the diaper/nap/neediness phase and were happily settling into parenting elementary school and middle school aged kids.

I crawled back into bed and woke Ken up. I gave him the news and waited for his reaction. He pulled me close, and in a rare moment of optimism he said, "We'll be okay. We'll figure this out." Then I cried for a little while and went back to sleep. When it was actually time to get up, Ken got in the shower and got ready for work. I went out to the couch and, still in shock, texted my best friend.

She was uplifting and encouraging and I finished our conversation feeling a bit more prepared to face the future. And I also began to find my predicament somewhat hysterical. "If you want to see God laugh, tell Him your plans."

I did some laundry, washed some dishes, and puttered around the house cleaning up in general; a move totally out of character for me on a Saturday morning. At around 11, I left to drive south and pick up my kids. I packed a snack for the van in case I got hungry and tried to imagine how I was going to get through the day without telling anyone.

We met at our regular swapping restaurant and headed in for lunch. The line was incredibly long and we waited over an hour for a table. At that point I was more than hungry, I was nauseous, but I couldn't tell anyone why, so I just kept my mouth shut (literally) and laughed inside my head.

I got the kids back home and tried to go about our normal daily business as much as possible. I stocked my drawer at work with crackers, just in case, and I hid the gummy pre-natal vitamins in a rarely used drawer.

Ken and I were still nervous about how things would work out: money, jobs, housing, etc. and how the kids were going to take the news, but we were feeling hopeful and excited. We made pregnancy jokes over the kids' heads and he rubbed my belly at night just to say "hi." We had never planned on having four kids, but when faced with the option, we chose to go into it with joy and excitement.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Beardsmen Spirit Beard Shampoo

I've used shampoo for most of my life. I don't use it every day, but it's my go to product when I want to clean my hair.

I grew up in a house with hard wood floors. We had a few rugs, but no carpet in most of the house. I didn't know you could shampoo a carpet until at least high school, maybe older.

I've recently discovered a new kind of shampoo: beard shampoo! Don't worry, it's not for me!

Ken agreed to be my guinea pig again and try out this beard shampoo from Beardsmen Spirit. He has previously used their beard oil and mustache wax, so he was interested in a beard shampoo too.

This product is intended to clean and soften your beard using nourishing natural oils and a soft refreshing fragrance. It comes in a large 8.45 oz. bottle that will last a long time, especially since you don't need to use much for your beard.

Ken still follows up with his beard oil, and I must say he rarely complains about an itchy chin anymore. And I find him to be quite kissable these days! Bonus!

You can purchase your own on Amazon. Let me know what you think!

I received compensation (free items and/or cash) in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission should you choose to click through and purchase something. Your purchase price is not affected. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Do's and Don'ts of Teacher Appreciation

I've had some great teachers in my life. I like to think I was a pretty good teacher when I served my time in a classroom. I am thankful for the wonderful teachers my kids have had so far. But how do you adequately thank a teacher for what they do?

I surveyed some of my teacher friends to help you answer that question. From there I came up with a list of Do's and Don'ts for Teacher Appreciation.


  • Show your appreciation in some way. Teachers work hard and deserve a thank you.
  • Think about teachers as individuals. It might be easy to buy them all the same gift, but does that gift suit all of them?
  • Give from the heart. Teachers love to receive notes that specify the ways in which they have helped your child.
  • Let your kids get involved. Child made gits are often kept for years. I still have a magnet on my fridge from an Emily I taught my first year of teaching 13 years ago.
  • Think about the classroom. Lots of teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. You could, instead buy something they might need for the room and let them save their own money. And Teachers Pay Teachers offers gift cards!


  • Assume everyone drinks coffee, or wine, or uses other specific gifts cards. Sometimes a generic gift card (or cash) that a teacher can use in lots of places works better.
  • Overwhelm the nose: lotions, candles, etc. Not everyone likes every scent, and some people have issues with all scents.
  • Buy clutter. Every teacher I know has at least three "#1 Teacher" coffee mugs that they really don't use. Knickknacks usually equal clutter.
  • Forget to include the resource teachers that help your kids. I know it can get expensive buying gits for the music, PE, art, foreign language, and other teachers. Maybe you can let your kids pick the one who has impacted them the most this year.
  • Get too personal. A monogrammed necklace might not be her style, and she's probably not going to be able to re-gift it either. 
Remember, teachers spend a huge chunk of time with your kids through the week. A parent's job can be pretty thankless, and teachers are next on that list. And if you're really at a loss for ideas, try this one on for size:


Need some other teacher appreciation ideas? Check these out!

Summer Orzo Salad from Karen at Baking in a Tornado

What Teachers Really Appreciate from Lydia at Cluttered Genius

Dollar Store Wind Chimes from Southern Belle Charm

A is for Apple, T is for Teacher Appreciation from Spatulas on Parade

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