I Have Never Felt Less Than

I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers a little with this post. And, I really have no intentions of using this blog as my political jumping point. But, this blog is about my struggle as a wife, mother, and caregiver of my elderly grandmother. So, a good deal of how I feel on the issue below is a result of all those things. And, greatly an influence of Gran teaching me as I grew up. So, if you’re willing to venture with me onto a dicey topic and not send me any crazy negative, irrational feedback (because I just don’t have time for that right now) come along. One more disclaimer, I love Jesus a whole lot, but I tend to cuss a little. Especially when I am operating on very little sleep and I get real passionate about something…. So, you’ll probably need to be able to overlook that too in order to keep reading. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s carry on…..

I need eight hours of sleep, like really, really need it. My alarm goes off at 5:00am every day. I used to spring out of bed by 4:30 without an alarm, these days I need help. So, that being said I am usually in bed  by 9:00. Last night I was negotiating an offer on a hot property after 11:00pm. So, I wasn’t super chipper when my alarm went off. Jeff had to bring my coffee to bed, fix the kids lunch, and tell me to get my act together. I was beat. Well, when the national news came on at 7:00 and told me I wasn’t even supposed to be working today, I was PISSED. Why didn’t any of you fools tell me this yesterday? If I knew women had the day off work today, I wouldn’t have interrupted my sleep pattern with a freaking 5:00am alarm. What is this sisterhood we are marching for if we can’t help a sister get some Z’s?!?!?

Oh, that’s right, the rest of you were too busy getting shit done to realize you weren’t supposed to be working either…. International Women’s Day, lovely! I am super proud to be a woman and who doesn’t love to be celebrated. Awesome, it’s March 8th, wear red, tell a woman she’s awesome. But, wait a minute? We are supposed to Protest how we’re treated- unequal jobs and unequal pay because I have a vagina- by not showing up to our work? Maybe I didn’t learn negotiation techniques well, or I missed the point somewhere along the way. But, I thought the best way to show you that I was equal on the job was to show up, show out, do a killer job, and ask for the pay I want and deserve. It just seems like I am making your point for you if I protest by sitting home baking cookies and painting my nails. So, no I will not be participating in the Day Without Women march or protest or whatever the heck is going on today. I am going to go out in my awesome woman-ness and show a few men how to get shit done.

Oh, that’s right, I am a traditional Southern Baptist girl. I follow traditional rolls and it’s okay for me to think the way I think “Bless My Heart.” Ummm, no. Just to set the record straight in our roll playing situation. I bring home more bacon in my house than my husband does. He picks up the kids from school some days, takes them to school some days, fixes their breakfast every day they plan on eating, fixes their lunches some days, washes clothes, folds laundry. Whatever the heck needs to be done, because we are freaking partners. Was I a stay at home mom for a portion of their life? Yep, but only because that was my choice. So, if you average out our incomes over the life span, he’s probably made more money than me. But, only because that is how we decided to parent. Trust me, Jeff would love to be a stay at home dad. But, I wear a big enough size pair of pants to tell him “Hell to the No.”

Will my daughter feel like I have slighted her and I wasn’t strong enough of a woman because I didn’t protest today? No, I am pretty sure she’ll never even think about it. Why, because I never even thought about it. I was not only the first woman in my family with a college degree, I was the first person in my family with a college degree. When I was in first grade, I wanted to be a brain surgeon; when I was in third grade I wanted to be a teacher; when I was in fifth grade I wanted to be a lawyer; when I was 9th grade I wanted to be a pediatrician; when I graduated high school I wanted to be a math teacher; when I was in college I just wanted to freaking graduate because I didn’t really want to grow up and do any of those things. But, never once did I think that because I was a female I wouldn’t be able to do any of those things, or that I wouldn’t be paid fairly to do them. I just knew that whatever I wanted to do, I was going to have to work for it. I had to go to school, I had to make good grades, and I had to go to my job. I didn’t decide not to be a doctor because I was a girl and wasn’t good at math and science- no I love math and science and I was really good at it. I decided not to be a doctor when I shadowed one at the hospital at they talked about 24-36 shifts during residency and I realized I would probably kill someone if I had to go without sleep that much. Again, I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to put in the effort it was going to take to get me there.

I graduated college and went to work in retail management. I was paid exactly what I asked to be paid. I went to work, I showed up, I did a great job. I was offered a pretty serious promotion within just a couple months of working to be the Regional Human Resources Director. I actually ended up turning it down because of some corporate restructuring coming down the pike and I didn’t want to have to move. Again, not because I wasn’t qualified for them job- I just didn’t want to make the sacrifice.

In another job I found out a boy was making more money than me, and I knew I was better at the job than he was. I was ticked. I went to my boss to pitch a fit. You know what he said, “I’m paying both of you exactly what you asked for.” He wasn’t making more money because he had a penis, he was making more money because he asked for it. So, what happened, I got my crap together and argued for a raise- and I got it.

I currently have a career in residential real estate. For many years this was a male dominated industry. I haven’t ran the statistics lately, because honestly what everyone else is making has no impact on how much money I am making, so I don’t care. But, just knowing what I know- I’d say females dominate this market. We make more money, we own and manage more brokerages, and hold a greater market share than men. In general, our pay for services is equal. All commissions are negotiable in TN, and some of us negotiate for different amounts. But, all in all, we get paid the same rate to do the same job. And, guess what, if you suck at your job, your clients will tell everyone they know and you won’t get much more business.

Another fun fact. My husband and I also own a construction company. Want to talk about a male dominated industry? Want to know something else? We also have women that work for us. I asked Jeff to make sure I wasn’t lying, but our ladies make just as much, if not more than the boys.What? Why? Because, we don’t care what is in your britches. We care about your experience, your qualifications, and the quality of work you do. And, we will pay you based on that no matter if you are white, green, red, brown, girl, boy, or elephant. You show up to work and do an awesome job, we’ll probably even throw you a little bone along the way.

So, as I shared on Facebook this morning. I am not protesting my vagina today.

It would have been awesome if someone had told me before I set my alarm last night that I was supposed to protest and not work today. However, rather than acknowledge that there is a difference between people of different sexes, races, or nationalities in the American work force, I’m going to protest such propaganda by showing my kids what it takes to be the top in whatever industry you choose. Get your ass out of bed, even when you don’t feel like it, even when someone has offended you, and show them what you’re made of. It never occurred to me that any job was off limits, what occurred to me was that different jobs required different skills and different work ethic. I chose the one I wanted and I work my butt off to be as successful as I want to be and make the money I want to make. A Day Without Women is ludicrous, as it took a woman to get each and every one of us here. And, just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I have to prove that my value is any different than the men working beside me today.

I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be raising my daughter (and son for that matter) in a society where women can work and achieve. Where women can be the CEO, and demand equal or better pay. But, I won’t be making my protest from my couch. I am going to show my kids that you’ve got to show up for this life. You don’t get more by doing less. And, if you want to do less, and sit on your couch, fine- go for it. But, don’t bitch that you aren’t making as much money as me or feel less than me because I am out working for it. Go be you and be proud! No one can make your feel inferior without your consent (I think Eleanor Rosevelt said that first).

Dear Grandma, You’re not Karma, So quit being a B!t@h

Sorry, not sorry for the language. I’ve been chanting this phrase to myself for a good 2 weeks. My husband has informed my Southern Baptist self that those words are inappropriate and I should not repeat them, and I especially should not type them. Well, come live in my world a few days and you’ll realize that sometimes normal words just don’t do the situation justice. You need a little spice to express your frustration. I once read an article that said that people only cuss because they are unintelligent and have limited vocabulary. That may be true in my case, because I swear this dementia is freaking contagious. I am getting more forgetful and dumber every single day.

Turns out, Grandma really, really likes to be the center of attention and she really, really, really likes to be waited on. And, like a 2 year old, most of the time it is just easier to wait on her than to argue with her about doing crap for herself. And, so over the course of the last 2 years we have spoiled her. Small problem- I had to have surgery. Not only could I not wait on her hand and foot, people were waiting on me and giving me attention, and she got kinda pushed by the wayside. Granny got pissed, and Granny showed out!!!!

I can’t remember all the funny stories over the last 4 weeks. Remember, that stinkin’ dementia is contagious and I am afraid I’m getting a real bad case. The first four days after my surgery I could do nothing for myself. And by nothing, I mean NOTHING. Just take a minute and imagine what exactly that means others had to do for me, and make it 10 times worse. Because even though I planned things perfectly in the month as to how things should flow, let’s just say I got an unexpected visitor the day following surgery that just made everything way worse than it really needed to be. There is no doubt remaining as to whether or not my husband and daughter love me……

Anyway, the second day I was home in bed just avoiding the world, because that’s just how I am when I am sick. Grandma comes barging in my room and proclaims that she is having chest pains and needs to go to the hospital. I question her a bit to see if she’s having heart attack kind of chest pains, or heart burn type of chest pains, or if she’s really having no chest pains at all. Because, quiet honestly, you just really never know. Gran gets testy about me questioning her, so I calmly explain that I really need her to tell me the details about her chest pains so when I call the ambulance to come get her, they know how to treat her. To which she responds something along the lines, “I don’t want you to call an ambulance! I want you to get your fat ass out of bed and take me to the hospital and sit and talk to me.” Sorry, Grandmother, I can’t drive. I’ve had surgery, the only way for you to get somewhere is in an ambulance. “You’re just a lazy, no-good liar.” Well, okay, but I still can’t drive, so tell me about those chest pains so I know what to tell 911. Needless to say, she suddenly felt great and wanted to know what my mother in law was fixing for dinner because she was there with me.

I’m kinda sorta afraid my mother in law may never come back and help because those 2 days she was here, Gran wore her slap out following her around like a puppy trying to help. We have a conspiracy theory to send Gran to live with PawPaw (Jeff’s dad) and let BeBe (Jeff’s mom) move in with us. PawPaw is starting to show some signs of dementia so they’d be perfect roommates and those of us not yet on the downhill slide could maintain our sanity. And, they both love to talk, so it would be perfect.

Anyway, our other drama has been sleep training. Gran somehow got off track again and has been up all night roaming. Let’s just say my ability to tolerate much of anything greatly decreases with interrupted sleep. So, I get real motivated to ensure I get 8 hours sleep each night. And, sometimes that means enduring hell on earth from 3:00-8:00 to make sure Gran learns when bedtime is. So, over the last couple weeks we have been forcing her to stay up. It hasn’t been real pretty. She has cussed us like a sailor. She even makes up these really funny bad names to call us. She thinks she is being super mean, but they are just really funny. When we laugh, and sometimes you just can’t help it, it makes her really mad. She has hit Jeff, nearly beat the door down with her cane, and threatened to run away to Hell because Hell would be a better place to live than here. There are times that I am not sure I disagree with her.

She’s also back to taking the kids food. I don’t know why she does this. Poor Sam eats like a cricket, he certainly doesn’t need anyone taking what very little food he does put on his plate to eat.

And, yelling at the kids and just saying super mean things to them. I don’t know why she hates the kids so much. Actually, I’m pretty sure it is because I am constantly doing things for them, which in her mind puts them in competition with her. It really is a terrible convoluted way to think. But, part of it she just can’t help. And, part of it is her just being mean. I can tell when she knows exactly what she is doing. She is so easy to trap in a lie or catch when she knows she’s doing something she shouldn’t be. Just like a little kid, they’re terrible liars.

Gran is also walking down to the neighbors and telling them that we have left her alone for days. That she was keeping the kids and they have run away, and all kinds of craziness. That is super awesome. I’m just waiting for DHS to show up when she gets in with one of our not as nice and understanding neighbors or one of the new ones that don’t know us.

My time is running out before my next gig, and my brain is flaking on all the other funny stories I had to tell from the past few weeks. Maybe my brain will remember them for another day….

Where have you been?

A couple of people have asked me where I’ve been lately. Well, I had this great idea to have bilateral carpal tunnel surgery on January 25. So, I was basically handless for the better part of a week, and recovery has been slow and steady. Typing isn’t so much an issue, so that isn’t why I haven’t written. It is just that I’m operating at about 75% and I have to chose my activities very wisely.

For those of you are interested in the journey and want to see the pictures and details, keep reading. For those of you who don’t want to see or know, stop here.

First of all, my symptoms and what got me to the point of having surgery in the first place. I have suffered with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for the better part of 10 years, getting progressively worse with each of my pregnancies. In the last year, the pain and numbness has gotten to a point I really couldn’t deal with it anymore. I would wake up at night with sharp shooting pain from my shoulder blade all the way to the tips of my fingers. And, when I got up each morning, my hands were completely numb. During the day I would have some pain, but the primary problem was burning and numbness. I had gotten to the point that I couldn’t even dry my hair because I couldn’t maintain grip on the hair dryer. I would be drinking and drop the glass. When writing, I would get 10-15 words done before I had to stop and wiggle my fingers and shake my hands out before beginning again. It was just time to get some relief. The initial plan was to have one hand done, then the other 4 weeks later. I talked through it with my surgeon, and all things considered in life, we just decided to knock it out and do them both at the same time.

The first 4 days were totally brutal. I could do NOTHING for myself. That made for some super bonding time with my daughter and husband. And, I couldn’t have survived without my mother-in-law’s help.

The surgery in and of itself was relatively easy. I was in and out in 2 hours. I felt immediate pain relief from my CTS symptoms. However, my hands hurt like a mother after the surgery. They gave me hydrocodone for the pain. Fun discovery, I’m allergic. Nothing like having hives and feeling like you are on fire inside out when your hands are useless and you can’t scratch…..

Pictures from surgery day…. Surprise, you get to have an IV in your foot when you are operating on both hands. The hands themselves really didn’t hurt that bad. The foot, it hurt like crazy. My other foot hurt too, because they tried 3 times to get the IV in that one before I told them I was done.

Three days post surgery, I got my bandages off. The pain was starting to subside, but the “healing itch” factor was an issue. The pain was starting to change from incision site to recovery of the muscles that were relearning how to work.

Did I ever mention that I tend to bruise really badly? I mean I looked like I had gone 12 round with Mike Tyson. This was 6-8 days post surgery.

Three weeks post surgery, I am looking and feeling much better. Scabs and slight bruising remain, but in general I’m all good. I still can’t lift over 5 pounds. I haven’t mastered the squeeze and twist motion. The biggest problem with this is that I can’t open bottles of water or any twist top that isn’t already loose.

 

I don’t want to undermine the surgery at all. It is a big deal. Especially if you’re doing both at the same time. However, three weeks post surgery I am truly thankful that I did both of them at the same time. Total recovery is 6-8 weeks, so I’m half way there and I’m not forced to be thinking about going in for a second round.

So thanks for being patient in my absence. Just wanted to let you know where I’ve been. I have lots of stories to tell from the last few weeks. I’m just hoping they stay with me long enough for me to get caught up on life.

Why do you want to “go” so much?

We love birthdays at our house. We don’t make a huge deal out of Christmas gifts for the kids, because in my mind Christmas is about Jesus not my babies. Birthdays, that’s a different story- all about my kids. I’m that mom with the ridiculous party every year that ticks you off because you didn’t rent a jumbo waterslide for your kid and now your kid is ragging you about it. Sorry, has nothing to do with trying to one up you. It just has to do about family traditions and celebrating my kids. Anyway, I just had in my head a couple years ago, instead of doing a birthday party for my kids 8th and 16th birthdays we would do a trip. We took LK to Chicago for an American Girl experience. Sam’s 8th Birthday was this December, and without question, I knew we would take him to Legoland. I shopped for cheap flights and deals at the Legoland Resort to get it affordable. Just over $950 for everything we spent for the weekend for our family of 4. And, considering a Chucky Cheese birthday party would have cost me $500, I think it was a steal. We don’t buy the kids presents in addition to the trip, the trip is the party and the present. Anyway, I digress.

On Wednesday, I was dropping Grandmother off at Belvedere to stay while we were gone. And the caregiver asked me, “Girl, where are you headed now? You travel more than any person I’ve ever met. Why you want to go so much?” Huh? I don’t travel much at all. Or, at least in my little world I don’t. Then, I realize my reality isn’t everyone’s reality. We are blessed and we do get to “go” a good deal. This year our “going” will include Legoland in Florida, Spring Break in Destin, FL, Disneyland/Universal in LA. And, a quick anniversary trip for Jeff and I if I play my cards right. 😉

All of these trips are about one thing to me: investing in my family. Our daily lives are nothing short of the Tasmanian Devil whirling through Franklin, TN. Everyone in my house is up and going before 6:00am and at 8:30-9:00 pm I am throwing the kids in bed still going at full speed. While I am working every day to be more present and an active participant in my kids daily lives, we’re busy. We are pulled in one hundred different directions, and even when physically present we aren’t always in the game. But, vacation changes that. When we “go” we connect. I took 2 phone calls in the 3 days that we were away: the hotel telling us the room was ready and my neighbor frantically calling me from Mexico telling me her daughter was in the hospital and they needed one of our workers (who was at their house) to text us a picture of their insurance card. I had 3 text conversations: my business partner kidding me about being in Orlando instead of the Franklin snow, wishing 2 of my clients and friends who are twins a happy 40th birthday, and reminding my carpool group that LK would be missing dance. The only other thing I used my phone for was capturing memories of my babies. In comparison, today it looks like I’ve taken about 15 phone calls already, and had about 30 text conversations- and it is only 1:00.

So, yes, I will always “go” with my family. I can buy my kids all the latest gadgets and gizmos and toys that will go to Goodwill before the next holiday rolls around. But, I don’t. Their grandparents do a very fine job of that. I choose to invest my time in making memories around the world that we will all hold in our hearts forever. I totally understand that this isn’t the right choice for every family. And, in some sense it seems like I “go” to escape my reality. Maybe there is some truth to that. But, taking 3 weeks a year to be gone and totally connect to my family is something I will never apologize for. And, to be honest, a whole lot of things will come out of our budget before I am willing to cut family travel. It’s just our thing. I will never be the person that tells you that you are screwing up because you don’t take your kids on family vacations every year. But, annual family vacations were one of my best memories from childhood- even the cheap hotel in Branson, MO where I cut my foot on the bottom of the swimming pool. And, if I can find a way to afford it at all, multiple family vacations and memory making experiences will be part of my children’s childhood.

May none of us take our opportunities for granted…….

Reality check

I’ll be honest, a week into Christmas break I was quiet certain I was rocking it. I haven’t once wished to send the kids back to school. I’ve balanced work, entertaining kids, celebrating with family, have all my inside Christmas decor down, and no one has died. Most days I complete my checklist (except today I didn’t get the outside decorations down before it started raining again- bummer). What more could I ask for?

Gran has been a lot more confused and agitated lately. I’m trying to have a kinder heart toward her and not be so frustrated, because she feeds off my frustration and truly, it only makes things worse. Yesterday, I offered to let her go to the grocery with me. She went to bed instead, at 3:30 in the afternoon. She was back up by 6:30 and I kept her up until a little after 10:00 and then pretended like it was bedtime of a new day.

Today, I went to work before the kids got up. I came home at lunch to bring Sam and Grandma lunch and take LK out to lunch for her reward for meeting her AR goal. As we were in the car, LK asked about another one of my friends who is a PTO volunteer, has 3 children in 3 different schools, and owns her own yoga studio. She said, “Mom how do you and Ms. Keleah always manage to do it all? Why does everyone call you guys instead of someone else? How do you have time to work, take care of kids, and volunteer?” Well, LK, there are different kind of people in the world. And, Ms. Keleah and I tend to be “make shit happen kind of people.” MOM!!! You shouldn’t say that to me. Oops, you’re right. Bad choice of words. But, people call on people who say “yes”, and busy people just get more done. You better get used to it, because I can already tell that you are a make crap happen kind of girl. You’ll be President of the United States, Room Mom extraordinaire, volunteering at church, and catering dinner for congress all on the same day. Again, feeling good about all I manage to get done in a 24 hour day. My daughter thinks I am a rock star. Not once this week have I been called the worst mom ever- I am totally killing it.

And, then I get served a piece of humble pie for dessert. After lunch, I took Gran to the mall with me to pick up a couple more serving trays for our Bowl Game tailgate party. I was totally rocking the multi-task today. Working, taking care of kids, preparing food for our tailgate party, entertaining Grandma. I could just hear the angels singing my praises. I should have stopped just before trying to make Grandma happy. I know how this rolls. Every. Single. Time. But, not today. I am dominating today, and Grandma won’t knock me down. Enter car conversation at the red light at Mack Hatcher and Royal Oaks. For those of you who know where I live, you realize this is about 2 minutes into my make Grandma happy adventure. “Misty, you’ve got to do something different. You must quit your job. It just isn’t right for you to work and go and do like you do all the time. You are ruining your kid’s lives. They are hostile and stressed, and they just need their mom at home all day taking care of things at home.” What, the what, what?!?! My kids are not hostile and stressed by my activity level. I am always home for them when they need me. I take them to school, I pick them up from school, I fix their lunches, I run their car pools, we have family dinner together. I am all they need me to be! Or, are they? Am I?

The stay at home, working mom internal battle has plagued me for years. I’ve been a full time stay at home mom. I’ve stayed at home/ worked part time. I’ve been a full time working mom. I know the quandary of it all. I tried to dismiss Grandma as having another one of her crazy rants that make no sense. And, honestly, my life pace is probably harder on her than it is on my kids. But, the truth of her words did sting a little. Although I am always physically present when my kids need me, I am very rarely mentally present when anyone needs me. I sit and listen. If I am truly sitting, you’ll notice I am restless. Hurry up, get it out, let’s move on. My brain is always churning on what is next. What project can I go to as soon as I finish this one? It is probably my biggest character flaw, but it is the one so many other people depend on. If you want something done, call Misty. She may try to say no, but in the end she will say yes. And, she will not disappoint. It will get done no matter the cost.

It turns out, that cost is pretty high. It is taking a huge toll on my health. My cortisol levels are through the roof, playing a huge factor in my weight gain over the last 2 years. I had to get glasses. I just had 3 teeth repaired where I grind my teeth so bad they have cracked/broken (and yes I have tried guards). I am going to have to have 3 surgeries in the next few months. I have to slow my roll. I am reading “Present Over Perfect” for a second time this year. The first time I read it, I was all into it and saying yes on every page. But, I didn’t put any of it into practice. I continued on my pursuit of perfection and making everyone else happy. And, my sweet kids, I don’t want to miss another second of their lives. I truly want to slow down and listen to them. Every time they come to me at home, I don’t want to respond. “Sorry, I can’t mommy is working on something right now.” I want to play ball. I want to do toe touches on the trampoline (after my March surgery that will work out much better for me).

So, Gran is right. My kids do need me at home. They don’t need me not to work. They just need me to be truly present when I am physically at home. They need me in the moment. I need me in the moment. I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions. But, I am one to make a promise to someone and keep it. So, I’m making a promise to myself and to my family to be present. Some practical steps in that for me are: putting my phone away in the car, choosing instead to listen to the people in the car with me; no electronics at the dinner table, we already eat dinner together but Jeff and I are both very guilty of distracted dinner; no social media when the kids are up with me; not saying “yes” to anything I haven’t prayed about, and saying “No” to the things God isn’t calling me to do. Just because I can do it doesn’t mean I should do it. These habits are 38 years in the making, so they won’t die easy. But, it’s out there on the world wide web. And, my 10 year old reads my blog- so she’ll hold me accountable if no one else does.

I love a good party

Well, kinda. I’m an introvert. So, going to a big party at a strange place with a mixture of people isn’t my thing at all. But, hosting a small intimate party at my house where I get to plan, cook, and decorate. Where I control the guest list, and I know the people coming intimately and we can just sit around the table and break bread together- totally my thing. It energizes me in a way few other things do. But, over the last couple years we just haven’t had many parties at the house. The kids were at a weird stage where they demanded so much of my time and I couldn’t really prepare the way I want to prepare for taking care of them. And, having Gran here adds a whole other level of chaos to things. She hates the noise and people in the house. But, I needed this Christmas party and I was going to do it if it killed all of us. So, we arranged for Gran to stay at Belvedere and we started planning.

That’s key number one for me. A well executed plan. Lists, lists, and more lists. For this party I made a list of what to cook, when to cook it, and what I would be serving it in. I had this list made over a week ahead of time. I made a grocery list a week ahead and shopped 2 days before. I minimize stress by exerting control. img_0331The day before the party, I set out all the dishes and put labels in them to remind myself what to plop down where.

And then, on party day, I cook and serve. I wish I had remembered to take pictures of everything, but I of course forgot because that wasn’t on my list. All of the dishes were from the December or Christmas special edition Southern Living magazine.

I also did a couple “Plain and Traditional” dishes for the kids. I’d say the Crumb topped Spinach Casserole was the surprise delight. I wasn’t expecting much, but it was delicious. Jeff did the smoked turkey breast for me- they were absolutely amazing. We’ve been eating on the leftovers all week. The kids loved the Fondue and Smores bar with Christmas shaped marshmallows.

This party was for my work team. As many of you know one of the ways I decided to pair down my life was to merge my brokerage with another company. So, I had my principal broker, my personal business partner, and all of my mentees over. They brought their spouses and children. It was important to me to have the entire family with them. The reason I chose to switch to a real estate career was the freedom and flexibility it afforded my family. So, it didn’t make sense to have a party celebrating my career without including the reason I am in it in the first place. I gave each of my guests a book. My mentees got a book encouraging them success in their new career. My broker and partner got “Present Over Perfect”. It’s been a great book for me this year to focus on less and encourage toward depth. Each of the kids got little gifts as well.

Super fun night for me. And, then, when everyone left, my hubby helped clean all these dishes. A successful night: good food, good friends, and the house is clean and everyone in bed by 10:30.

That was Sunday. On Wednesday, we had 3 more parties… Each kid had their Christmas party at school. I was in charge of Lexi Kate’s. When she was in kindergarten, I did cute decorations, themed food, and decorated water and juice bottles. Now, they are in fourth grade and don’t care much about all the fluff. So, I spent my money on Chick Fil A for the class. They were way more impressed with that. We also made ornaments commemorating their graduation from Moore Elementary. I took a silly picture and a serious picture of each kid. Then, we had a “decoration buffet” for them to add different sparkly things including “2017 confetti”.

And, because I am a glutton for punishment, I also scheduled Sam’s “friends” birthday party after school. This party is a distraction from his real birthday celebration. But, I wanted to let him have some time to celebrate life with his friends. Sam is easy to do parties for. He cares little about intricate details. He just asked for a dinosaur themed cookie cake and plates, and to play at Goofballs. Easy peasy. The most important part for me in celebrating Sam’s birthday is to not let it got lost in Christmas. A man in Target asked me why I thought it was a good idea to have a baby on December 26. Seriously dude, you think I planned on being miserable pregnant through the holidays? No, my mom offered to keep Lexi Kate one weekend so Jeff and I could rest and things just happened. Calendar planning never came into it. But, I wouldn’t trade my little Christmas baby for every present under a tree.

And, now we are on to celebrating Christmas.

How About A Funny Story For A Change?

Okay, let’s be real. I don’t really care if you want a funny story or not. It’s my blog and I can write what I want to. And, if you don’t want to hear my funny story, you can quit reading. And, if you read my story and don’t think it’s funny, well, that’s okay too. Because, I’ve felt down and out for a few weeks and today I feel funny and sassy and that’s my prerogative.

Before I start my funny story, I feel the need to clarify a couple things. Only because for once I actually read my blog before hitting publish and felt like I should give a little preface. If you don’t really know me, you can’t judge me. Let’s be real, we shouldn’t be judging each other anyway. But, seriously, if you haven’t known me since way back, or you don’t know my phone number or where I live, or some important details about my life, you are dismissed from judging my character. Because, these are words on a screen and you can’t see my face as I say them, or most certainly my heart. So, if you’re okay with that and taking me at my word, here we go. I am not a racist. If you know anything about me or my family, you would know this for a fact. As a matter of fact, if you have seen my baby pictures, my backside, or heard me talk, you would question whether or not I was 100% caucasian. But, I am in fact, a little (well not so little anymore) white girl, living in a predominantly white world. Grandma, who this story is about. She is a racist. It’s just who she is and how she was raised. I’m not proud of that, but I can’t make her put on clean panties every day, I certainly can’t change her character. If she had any clue this house was built by brown skilled people and paid for with primarily the fruits of the labor of brown skinned people, she’d probably sleep outside. I’m serious. It’s just how she was raised.

Anyway, back to my story. As I said, Grandma prefers white people. Jeff and I have found it so very odd that she loves going to Belvedere because her care givers are all predominantly dark skinned people. The only thing I can figure is that she thinks they are her servants. They cook for her, help her with chores, and clean up after her. And, we pay them to be there. I don’t know what it is, but she loves them. At 6:15 this morning she was standing on top of me asking if I was ready to take her yet. Keep in mind, I can’t take her before 7:00am. And, she hadn’t even remotely brushed her hair or teeth. Grandma was looking rough, but she was ready to go see her people. I told her it wasn’t time to leave and she needed to freshen herself up before she went. “Ahh, shit, I ain’t worried about that. Them old hags they all look worse than I do on their best day. They won’t be dressed at all until after dinner. And, ain’t a one of them got sense enough to pour piss out of a boot.” Sam is wide-eyed and says, “Gran Gran, be nice!” She looks at him, and say “Well, that’s the truth I tell you.”

On Thursday mornings, they do a live radio show at the care facility. Every. single. time she busts in the door hollering at them, “Hey, y’all. I am here!” Every time I try to get her to quieten down and keep walking past the room. She just grins and waves and dances a little jig. This morning I get her to the hallway where she stays. We walk in, she drops her cane and says, “Heeeeeeeyyyy Miss Lady (she can never remember the care givers’ names), are you ready to parrrrrtaaayyyyy?!?!” They all 3 look over at me like “Holy Crap! Please tell me you are not leaving her here today.” They asked if she would like breakfast. She says, “Nope. I’ve already eaten. I am ready to rumble.” At this point I am trying to run out the door as quickly as possible before they tell me she can’t stay today. Gran tells me she loves me and not to worry because she’s hanging out with her favorite N-er ladies today. I really wanted to die a quick and brutal death. Right there. Mortified. It isn’t the first time she has used that word to refer to people. But, it has always been strangers and I am living on the prayer that I never see them again. It’s that situation you don’t know whether to correct her and apologize, or pretend it didn’t happen. And, even though Grandma is racist, she would have never said that word in her pre-demenita mind. But, the girls didn’t act offended. It was just like she’s one of our own and that’s how we roll.

As I am leaving, the wing director catches me. She says, “Guuuuurrrrrllll. I don’t know how in the world you do this every day! Ms. JoAnn wears us out! From the minute you walk out that door she starts asking us what she needs to do, where she needs to sit, how long until you will be back, does she have to spend the night, what we’re cooking for dinner, how long is she staying this time, what activity are we doing today….. She asks us when is Misty coming back. When we tell her that you’ll be here after work she says. Shut up, you don’t even know who Misty is. She doesn’t work, she went home to take a nap!” Trust me, I know. I deal with it the 5 days a week she isn’t here. It somewhat validates my exhaustion to think she wears out the people that are trained to do this every day. It’s a memory care facility. Everybody there has some form of brain disease. Even the people that like working with crazy little old ladies can’t handle Grandma. I’m not the mean terrible one after all. She drives everyone bat shit crazy. I think the difference for them is that she is still highly verbal, and most of the patients no longer speak. And when I say highly verbal, I mean if a word even remotely tries to form in her brain, she says it. She talks non-freaking-stop. Her tongue is rolling by 5:30 in the morning, and it doesn’t stop until it is pushing Z’s. And, I’m not beyond admitting, sometimes I do come home and take a nap after I drop her off at daycare. It’s like when my kids were toddlers in MDO. Tuesday and Thursdays are the only time I have my quite house to myself. And, sometimes I just need a freaking minute to enjoy it.

Picking her up today should be very interesting. I’m wondering whether or not it is safe to bring her to the kids performances tonight. I can just see her taking the stage with them and dancing a little jig. Sam Woodford would totally crawl under the risers. He would probably pretend we weren’t his parents.

So, maybe my little story isn’t really that funny after all. After I read it back to myself it doesn’t sound that funny. But, trust me. This morning as it was all playing out, if you had been here in person you would have thought it was funny. And, after several days of crying my eyes out because our life is just hard right now, I am thankful to have found a little joy.

We need a Christmas Miracle

The past couple of weeks have by far been the hardest on this journey so far. I feel like my stress level has boiled over and I have lost all control of my sanity and composure. No less than a dozen times a day, I find myself screaming at an 82 year old dementia patient who couldn’t respond to my demands or expectations if she wanted to. I hate losing control of any situation, and the worst of all is losing control of myself. I know better. I know that she has a disease and 85% of the stuff she does, she can’t help. But, for the love, I have no idea how to keep from getting so frustrated and angry.

The one thing I was hoping to be a positive out of all of this was to teach my children about caring for your family. Treating your elders with respect and dignity. Honoring those we love. I wanted this to be a good learning experience for them. I am not teaching them many positive lessons right now. I hear the words my kids say to Gran and my skin crawls. Not so much because they are being kids and acting out of their own frustration, but because I know for a fact they are repeating learned behavior. They have seen me model impatience and disrespect. And, I hate myself for it.

Tonight I broke down in tears, I just can’t do this anymore, but I know we have to. We truly don’t have another option. Well, short of dropping her off at the police station and letting her become a ward of the state. And, although I know my salvation is secure. I feel like I’d be boarding the hell express for doing something so terrible. We truly need a Christmas miracle. We currently have Gran in daycare 2 days a week. And, she is much better the days that she is there. We’ve applied for some benefits that would allow us to send her 3-4 days a week. I’m calling a new facility tomorrow that is a research facility. I’m praying they have better pricing where we could afford to get her more care. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know we have to pray for a better one.

Grandmother prays daily for God to take her out of this world. And, honestly Jeff and I constantly question why in the world she has to continue to live like this. We’ve come to the conclusion that God is waiting on us to get our heart right. I want to have a joyful heart in all this, I promise I really do. But, being woke up all hours of the night takes its toll. I was a terrible newborn mom for this same reason. But, at least they were super cute, I knew it was just a phase and they would grow out of it. And, absolute worst case scenario I could just stick my boob in their mouth and we could all go back to sleep. Gran is not cute and cuddly anymore, she isn’t growing out of it, and let’s be real it would be totally awkward if I tried to nurse her. She wanders all during the day and we just pray she doesn’t get lost or walk into someone else’s house. It’s getting cold outside, she could get pneumonia fairly quickly. And, I worry that she’ll burn the house down. Today she put PB on bread and then tried to put it in the toaster. Thank goodness we were home. But, now I have to remember to hide the toaster on the days she is going to be home alone. I don’t think she tries to use the stove, but I still worry that she is going to burn the house down while we’re gone. And, I can’t even talk about how awful she is to the kids without losing my mind all over again. True, they aren’t super kind to her. But, for the most part “she started it”. If she ever connects her cane upside one of their heads like she tries to do, somebody is going to have to bail me out of jail.

I’m usually pretty good at saying don’t worry about us. We’re blessed to be a blessing. We’ve got this. We’re all good. It’s no big, I am superwoman and I can do everything. Tonight, I being brutally honest. I just can’t continue to go on like this. I’m mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I’m praying and begging God for a better solution. I  don’t know what that is. But, I just pray for wisdom in knowing what to do next. The greatest Christmas gift we could receive this year is notice that some of the benefits we’ve applied for are coming through…..

What are your dreams?

Today I did an interview with a couple local writers who do a blog about inspiration/influential women in our community. One of my friends who thinks way more of me than she should told these gals I should be one of their people. I love meeting new people and just chatting over coffee or lunch, so I agreed.

We went through all the basics: where are you from, what do you do, who are your people, what influences you, what’s your favorite quote or scripture, how do you do it all…. As we were wrapping up, one of the ladies asked me, “What are your goals and dreams from here?” If you know me, you know I’m rarely speechless. But, this kinda caught me off guard. I didn’t really know what to say. All I could come up with was “to finish well.”

Then, as I drove to my next appointment I got all introspective on myself. What? No more goals, no more dreams? That’s awful! I do have business goals every year, and ideas of what I would like to accomplish. But, my thought around the table was, my life has already yielded more than I could EVER dream. If you had asked my smart-aleck, know it all, had the world by the horns, 18 year old self what my dreams were, it would have probably been something like this:

1)Dominate college

2)Travel the world

3)Move to a big city

4)Have a successful career

5)Have an awesome husband and adorable kids

6)Have a ginormous house

7)Own my own business

8)Maybe– do mission work. That probably wasn’t a dream until college though.

Check, check, check, check, check, check, check times three, and check. Seriously. By the time I was 35 I had accomplished more than all I had ever dreamed of having. Now, in today’s terms I probably wouldn’t consider my house ginormous. But, I remember thinking when I was in high school that one day I was going to have enough money to pay $250,000 for a house. I was going to have a house much bigger than the one I grew up in. Well, let’s just say our house costs significantly more than $250,000 and it is more than double the size of the house I grew up in. Is it the biggest, nicest house in town- not even close, especially in this town. But, it is more than I ever dreamed of having.

So, what now? Do I just quit dreaming because life has gone pretty well for me? Do I want my kids to have an attitude that you can do enough and quit. Well, it isn’t about quitting for me. If you know me, you know I’ve far from quit on life. But, all the things I dreamed about aren’t my focus anymore. I’ve learned to be content with having more than enough. My little life perspective change in February 2014 probably has a lot to do with that. But, this Earth is not our home. We’re just passing through, tending to the resources God has given us.

One of my biggest beefs with society is that it (society, media, peer pressure, etc) tells us that we can never have enough. Contentment is always just out of reach. If you achieve one goal, you need a bigger better goal. What if we quit focusing so much on bigger and better goals, and living out more elaborate dreams, and instead started focusing on being the best version of ourselves and serving and loving those around us well. My goals and dreams are now centered around giving more and doing more. I’ve had my hey day. I could die tomorrow and not be dissatisfied with myself or my experiences. I want to pass it on. Equip my children to achieve their goals and dreams. But, more importantly equip them to live out the life God has planned for them…..

Because for real people, if we are focused on our own goals and dreams, we aren’t dreaming big enough. People often quote Ephesians 3:20, but I really just love the whole 3rd chapter. God has bigger plans, bigger power, bigger dreams. So, go ahead and settle with what you’ve dreamed and be okay with achieving enough. Then, just sit back and ask God, “what’s next”?

Ephesians 3: 16-20

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,