Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something


Guest Posts

Let’s Be Honest – Having a Baby Changes Everything

Today’s guest post comes from a family member – my sister Natalie.  I was going to type an intro, but I think I’ll let her explain: 


“Having a Baby Changes Everything.”

Humans are naturally creatures of habit. We don’t like change; we don’t want things to change even if we won’t admit it. That makes life more difficult and complex. With many of the changes in our life we don’t have the luxury to feel in control. We don’t have a choice in the matter. Things happen, and we must adapt to get over the change. But then, there are those moments when we get to choose how our life changes. The first major change in my life was selecting and going to a college. What seemed like a difficult choice at the time, quite frankly wasn’t all that difficult at all. I knew I wanted to be close to my parents and my friends. Naturally, this meant I would select a school in my home state. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, this meant I needed to go to a school with a good reputation for producing quality teachers. The final component was applying and getting accepted. Done. Okay let’s try this again. Choose a graduate school. This should be a difficult decision and big change in a person’s life, right? Never mind, my undergraduate school offered me a full ride scholarship. Done.  Choose the man I would spend the rest of my life with, again done. He always felt like my soul mate and planning the wedding with him was a joy and almost never a stress. I’m seeing a trend here, all the changes in my life that I thought were going to be hard were really not so hard after all.  Alright, last attempt, choosing a career path. And this, my friends, is where the challenging changes began.

Choosing a career path wasn’t going to be so easy for me. I knew I really didn’t want to work in my home state but it’s where my parents, my husband’s family, and our friends lived. How could I leave them behind? How could I ask my husband to leave everything he has ever known? How could I leave everything I had ever known? Then a miracle happened, a work of God. My sister’s fertility battle was over, she had won. Not only did she win but she did a victory lap and was pregnant with twins. I thought the saying “having a baby changes everything” was only really geared towards the new parents but almost a year later, I realized that saying goes to everyone. I bet at this point you’re asking yourself, what in the heck does this have to do with choosing a career path? It has everything to do with it.

I knew my sister would need help those first few weeks with the newborns. So, I volunteered to spend the first month of my summer with my sister.  This meant being over 10 hours away from home, while trying to finish planning my soon to be wedding.  Still, this did not worry me and then plans were made. Not long after, I got a phone call. A school close to my sister’s home wanted to interview me. I accepted the interview offer and set the date during my long visit. The interview was a major success. In fact, I ended up having four interviews that day.  I was quickly offered a position. I declined to sign on the big black line until I could think it over. This decision would change everything.

Two days later, my sisters C-Section date arrived. I was going to be an Aunt. Instead of focusing on the miracle, I was dwelling over my decision. What was I going to do with my life? I had hours of conversations with my soon to be husband at the time.  Still, I (we) were undecided.  I sat in the waiting room, excited for my sister and nervous about the big decision. Then the babies arrived. I still remember the first moment I saw them. I couldn’t believe I was an Aunt. I couldn’t believe my sister was a mom! I had no control over this change but I loved it. Then, I held those little boogers for the first time. How could I ever leave those babies? How could I pass up what could be the only chance I get to watch my niece and nephew grow?  How much would I regret turning the job down and never give it a fighting chance? It wasn’t long before the decision was made for a handful of reasons. My soon to be husband and I would pack our entire lives and take the biggest change WE have ever taken in our lives. Having a baby changes everything. That first month with screaming babies all night wasn’t easy. I was feeling out of control as I had to make life changes and fast. New apartment, new state, new job, new new new new new! Nothing would ever be the same. It has been the most difficult change in my life. But we made the big move, the big change.

The job has been an amazing challenge, an amazing change. I have stretched myself further than I ever had in my life. If you know me, I am always stretching myself to the breaking point. Sometimes I would sit in my apartment with my husband on a Friday night with a heavy heart, thinking about how I could be with my friends or with our families. I’d think about how this home didn’t feel like a home, my childhood home wasn’t a home anymore, my college town wasn’t a home. I have NO HOME! Saturday, I would work all day; clean the house, lesson plans, run errands, and the typical routine. But then Sunday would roll around. Naked Baby Sunday! Yes ladies and gentlemen, I said it, Naked Baby Sunday! My husband and I would load up in the car and drive a short distance to my sisters. This first thing you would see walking in her door is two babies, in nothing but a diaper rolling around on the floor.  My nephew would giggle as we walked in the door and my niece would get a big smile. Then, finally the moment I wait for all week: holding them and never wanting to let go, except when they scream! (Here you go mom!) Having a baby changes everything.  Those babies changed my life.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not all the babies fault. Mom and Dad were planning to move to my sister’s hometown soon. I didn’t want to stay in my home state. My husband was willing to take a chance because it would be now or never. But when I hold those babies I am home. When my husband holds those babies, it all their fault. It’s all their fault that I love my job. It’s all their fault my husband found the first job he has ever loved. It’s all their fault mom and dad are moving here sooner. It’s all their fault that I had to make new friends and miss my old but still important friends. It’s all their fault that I have never felt closer to my sister in my entire life. It’s all their fault and I don’t think we (my husband and I) would change a thing.  Yes, the times will be tough. Yes, I will still think about what our life could be like back in our home state.  But having a baby changed everything, and I would never take that back. Happy almost Birthday Abby and Miles! You have been the best change I would ever ask for. It wasn’t easy but you’re both so worth it. (Happy Tears) :’)


Lets Be Honest – My Boobs Are Sore and That’s OK

First, I’d like to apologize for my absence – we were fighting yet another round of illness in the house this last week. :p

Today’s guest post comes from my friend Pricilla who blogs at Fashion and Fishing.


My Boobs Are Sore and That’s OK

At the end of this month, it will be two years that my husband Will and I have been trying to get pregnant. And while most anniversaries are commemorated, this one will not be celebrated with a toast or a bottle of champagne. On Sunday afternoon I noticed that I was spotting. This was day 12 post ovulation. My boobs were sore, I was angry with every ridiculous comment my coworkers were making in emails, and I cried for 10 minutes after watching a Subaru commercial (You know the one where the puppy turns into a dog, then the young dog turns into an old dog, and all the while the Subaru stayed the same. It just got me). But these symptoms were all to familiar to me. This was not implantation bleeding. This was not a random occurrence. I was getting my period. Just like clockwork. The Priscilla of a year ago would of sulked in the bathroom for 15 minutes.  But not any more. I cleaned myself up, walked back into the living room, gave Will a big hug and told him what was going on. Then I smiled and asked him what we should do for lunch. Because that’s what the Priscilla of lately does. I smile and keep moving on. And for those of you who are in the same infertility boat as me, I know what you are thinking. After years of trying, how do you do it? How do you smile and pretend that the past month of acupuncture appointments, hormone shots, vitamins that taste like glue, gluten free only menus, not-so-romantic pre-scheduled intercourse, and countless hours of watching the days ticking by and crossing our fingers that it will work out…how can that not even matter? And it does matter. But at the same time, in between the acupuncture and the hormones there were road trips to see old friends, long walks holding hands under an avenue of oak trees, laughing at our clumsy puppy attempting to jump off a dock, and listening to our favorite bands at music festivals. Our journey to parenthood is made up of more then just tears and sorrow. And while the finish line of our journey seems far out of sight, there are so many amazing things going on at the same time, more than enough to be grateful for. And maybe the journey to our baby was meant to be long so that when he or she finally gets here, it will mean that much more. It will mean that we put all our love for months and months and months to bring this baby into the world. And this baby will be made from more love than I could ever imagine ever sharing with someone else. And a baby made of that much love must be extra special. Heck maybe he or she might cure cancer or end poverty! But the odds are that it’s not going to happen next month or even the next.  And right now as I type this, I know its not going to happen this month. Because my PMS’ing boobs are really sore. But that’s ok. Because I’ve got a movie cued up on Nexflix, a big bowl of popcorn mixed with M&Ms, and a tall handsome man warming up a spot on the couch for me. And my wish to everyone else who is on their journey to parenthood is that you find laughter through your tears. And even though trying to get pregnant will always be there on your mind, don’t forget to stop and enjoy all the other fun, silly, crazy, romantic, exciting moments that life has to offer.
*Always looking for more guest posts – blogger or non blogger!

Let’s Be Honest – Burnout

 Today’s guest post comes from a good friend who isn’t a blogger but wanted to share her story:

This guest post has been a long time in the making and I want to thank Theresa for being ever so patient with me. I met Theresa when I was a foreign exchance student attending her high school for one school year. First, we became friends and then sisters when I suddenly found myself in need of a new host family and she persuaded her family to give hosting a foreign teenager a try. That must not have been an easy decision and I am forever grateful that they welcomed me into their home. Over the years, we have kept in touch and have had opportunities to visit each other as well. Our friendship is very important to me, even though we are miles and time zones apart.

I want to share my story about burnout with you because it is something that has changed my everyday life quite a bit, even though it happened many years ago. I had been working as a Psychologist for a couple of years when our clinic got a new Head Physician. His managing skills were not the most advanced and, while things seldom are that simple, it was pretty much because of him that our whole staff soon became a mess. Everyone was stressed, each trying to understand what was going on and why. There were smaller cliques forming, many got defensive because their whole careers, ways of working and professional expertise were suddenly being questioned. I never did find out if that was the intention of the new chief but that’s what he made it feel like. Many suffered from various physical symptoms as well as growing more and more stressed each month.

Prior to all this, I was already tired like many are at the beginning of their careers having a lot of work to do and many things to learn. And, as an idealistic, enthusiastic newbie that I was, I strongly believed that the mess we ended up being tangled in, could and would be solved. So I did my damnest to do my share: I listened and consoled my co-workers and mainly tried to understand what was going on, why things were the way they were and what could be done to make it better. I am a Psychologist, after all 🙂 The thing is, though, you shouldn’t try to treat professionally something you’re emotionally too much involved with while trying to manage your everyday tasks, too. Again, not to make things too simple, my husband was between jobs at that time. The whole situation was what eventually caused me to burn out.

The problem was, that while I felt and knew that I wasn’t at my best health anymore, the changes had occurred so gradually that I didn’t realize the extent of the situation until I found myself on a sick-leave, looking like a skeleton with all the weight I’d lost, unable to sleep or relax and pretty much unable to eat anything because of the constant nausea and IBS symptoms. It was, in fact, my husband who told me to go to the doctor who instantly put me on sick-leave. I ended up staying home for six weeks, underwent some medical tests, e.g. EGD which is not the most pleasant of procedures, and just tried to manage eating something and getting my sleep back. All the tests came back negative which meant there was nothing wrong with me physically. I was diagnosed with depression even though I didn’t have the clinical symptoms of depression. Burnout is not accepted as a valid reason for sick-leave but since I was nowhere near healthy enough to be at work, my doctor and I agreed depression was a close enough diagnosis to give me the rest I desperately needed. After returning back to work, I applied for a professional mentor and met with her once a month for about a year. Otherwise, I was left on my own devices. I did see a fellow Psychologist who is also a trained Hypnotherapist, for a few sessions, to try to find ways and skills for relaxation.

A couple of years had passed, including a marriage crisis and buying our first own house after the said crisis, when I was spending the weekend home alone. I was on the computer when I randomly stumbled on Youtube and a long-forgotten TV series that had been my utmost favorite when I was a teenager: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman starring Jane Seymore. It is hard to describe what happened at that moment but as I was watching clips of that old favorite of mine, it felt like my world which had been black and white suddenly got lit with colors. It took a long time to realize it but at that moment, I got my emotions back. Sure, I had been living my life and been back to work, and I even tried to revive my old hobby with playing music which didn’t last long. I had been on a robotic, survival mode without, once again, realizing the situation. I had been performing the necessary tasks of the everyday life but everything else had been cut off to save energy, which I still didn’t have enough. I never thought I’d be telling people that an old TV-show saved me but that’s exactly what happened. I started to crave the feeling of feeling something again which gave me the much needed boost to slowly start looking for the things that used give me energy. I gradually found books again. For many years, I had been in too bad a shape to have any energy to be able to follow a narrative story. I went back to the TV-shows, movies and music that had touched me as a teenager. I found new movies and music that made me feel. The internet has it’s risks for sure but to me, it gave my world back. With colors.
Two years ago I had a setback when my IBS syndromes got worse and I lost my sleep again. After finding myself, again, on sick-leave, I finally got too angry with it and started to actively work on the why’s and how’s of myself. My doctor referred me to a nutritional therapist / a Dietician who introduced me to the FODMAP diet. I am now eating gluten-free and mostly dairy-free food with lots of limitations to different sugars including fructose which is why I am also skipping many fruits. I eat simple, home cooked meals with different meats, cheese, rice or potatoes, green salad, tomatoes, berries, some fruits etc. It is not as limited as I just made it sound like. Thanks to this diet, my stomach is in better condition than it had been for years and I’ve gotten back the weight I had lost and hadn’t been able to gain back because of the IBS problems. I am thrilled to be able to live the everyday life again without having to stay at home and close to the bathroom all the time. Of course, I have good days and not so good days with my tummy and it most likely will never be what it was before I got ill, back when I could eat pretty much anything I wanted, but I am glad with what it is today, too. The biggest discovery is that I now know for a fact that my stomach is wiser than my mind: it is what makes me stop and listen to myself when I have been ignoring other warning signals that have tried to tell me to rest more. My stomach is my most trusted advisor, although I am still learning to take the time to listen to it with my full attention.
Two years ago, my doctor didn’t see it necessary to refer me to a Psychiatrist but I went to see one on my own and after a full assessment I got a referral to psychotherapy. I was also diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Interestingly enough, the medications he started me with are Lyrica / pregabalin (yes, you read it correctly) for the anxiety and sleeping problems and nortriptyline, an old drug for depression, for my IBS symptoms. Both with a mild dosage. Nortriptyline can cause some gastrointestinal side effects e.g. constipation for the people with normally functioning stomachs, which is exactly why I am now on it: to make use of that side effect! Sometimes it is very much needed to think outside the box, which is exactly what my Psychiatrist did. I am now on my second year of psychotherapy, going to sessions twice a week. It is a slow process but this second year seems to be quite a lot more productive than the first. On my own, I have also made the discovery that I belong to a group of people who are so-called Highly Sensitive Persons, a concept by Elaine Aron, PhD. I don’t like labels but the description of a HSP does explain many things about the way I live my life and react to things, e.g. why I am more prone to exhaustion than some other people. I am also ‘a good girl’, trying to do what’s right and expected, which is another reason why I am vulnerable to stress.I have made the decision to cut back my working hours by 20%. Some have called me courageous for it. To me, it’s not being courageous, it’s what I needed to do in order to take care of myself. Some are envious that I have more time off than themselves. That time is spent on recovering from the week’s work load, to give my stomach a break and to rest and sleep if I haven’t been able to sleep as much as I needed. I don’t meet my friends as often than some other people do, because socializing on my free-time after spending my day taking care of others at work has proven to be too taxing. Sometimes I have to decline invitations to social gatherings during the weekend as much as I would enjoy attending them because rest is what my body and mind need more at the time. I need a lot of peace and quiet in my free time in order to be able to take good care of others as my profession.
I have spent quite a lot of time trying to come up with a good way to wrap this guest post up with. Since I seem to be unable to, I have decided to respect that and interpret it as a sign that says I am still on the road to recovery and thus, a nice wrap-up is not yet possible. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years, Theresa might do another round of Guest Posts and I might well be able to write a more conclusive ending to my post then 🙂
I am a rather private person, by my personality and because of my profession. There are not that many people even among my close friends that I have shared my full story with. Reading this, you have helped me come to terms with what I have been through these past few years. I thank you for that. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. As you all go about your own lives, please take the time to take good care of yourselves because it truly is the best gift you can give both to yourselves and the people you love and care about.
Wishing you all blessings, smiles and good health,
yours, M.
Still looking for more guest posts! Leave a comment if you’re interested or visit here. You don’t have to have a blog to submit a post!

Let’s Be Honest: Running Through Infertility

So my guest posting idea kinda went by the wayside for awhile and so I’m hoping I can use this post to start again. Today’s post comes from a good blogger friend who blogs about her struggles with infertility at Dog Mom Chasing the Stork. I was particularly excited about her post because running was a way I dealt with infertility myself.

Running Through Infertility

We all know how stressful and all-consuming infertility tends to be, so I’m not going to explain the toll it takes on your emotional health. I will tell you what infertility did to me and how I chose to regain my sanity. My story is slightly unique in the IF World. I have known for years that having a biological child would be difficult for me. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my early 20’s and told that I had a maximum of 5 years left before my chances to conceive naturally would diminish.  Then at age 26, I no longer had a period and after testing, I learned I was not ovulating. Even with that information, the month that I married Hubster I didn’t refill my birth control pills and we “tossed caution to the wind,” thinking there might be a slight chance that I would get pregnant right away, like so many couples do. Eve though I knew better, I still hoped. Months passed, yet I still hoped and hoped and hoped…and continue to still hope that we’ll make a beautiful baby each and every month we have been trying. However, along with that hope I carry an intense amount of guilt, frustration and anger. I feel guilty for making this process so hard for Hubster, because he is such an amazing man who yearns to be a parent as much (or more) as me. I don’t need to explain the frustrations, but I think mine mostly stem from my lack of ability to control the situation. And, finally, I have felt so much anger. I have been angry at myself, Hubster, God and people who become pregnant easily or on accident. Sometimes I have even become angry at those who dealt with infertility and got their miracles. I was also very angry with my body. My body let me down every month over and over. Not only was it losing the battle against IF, but the fight made it start getting fatter and my fight against adult acne became a losing battle. Finally, I was at the end of my rope.

So I ran. Literally.

I used to run when I was younger, because while I loved all sports, I was too uncoordinated to be very good at them. But you don’t have to be coordinated to run. You just do it.  I excelled at running, and at times, I found it to be the only thing that made me feel good about myself. I thought it was the only thing I could even remotely brag about. It was the only thing that I could do better than most. In retrospect, I am not really sure why I stopped when I got older.

After struggling with weight gain while in the pits of Infertility Hell for several months, I decided to start running again, and a funny thing happened — I could breathe. Running released endorphins that reminded me that life can go on and I can be happy.

So I continued to run.

Well, as long as my ovaries weren’t being stimulated to actually produce mature eggs, since apparently, the weight of a stimulated ovary can cause it to flip over on itself, which is all bad As long as it was physically possible, I tried to run. I realized that running was saving me from my obsessive, demeaning, frantic, and catastrophic thoughts. When I ran, I could think through my worries and start finding the silver lining. The negative and greatly oppressive thoughts that overtook my mind constantly were released and my mind would return to the optimistic place it usually was. I would focus on my form instead of the week’s drug protocol. I would feel the strength in my legs and forget about the Clomid Chub I had inherited. I looked for my next landmark goal to keep me running when I wanted to quit and remind myself that I can also continue our babymaking journey.

After a while, I began to feel the need for a bigger challenge. Yes, I was proud of my body for losing weight while still taking Clomid and trigger shots, but I could always run enough to lose a few pounds. Anyone could. No, I needed a real challenge. Something that would make me fall in love with my body again. Something that, while in the deepest depths of Infertility Hell, would remind me of all my body is truly capable of. Since I had already run several 5k’s, 10k’s and even a half marathon with little training, I decided to go for the gusto and sign up for my first marathon. I know it’s a seemingly overwhelming feat most people don’t even attempt, but my opinion is that people just don’t realize what they’re capable of. And if my mom, at age 52, could run her very first marathon, so could I!

And that’s when I realized training provided me the perfect distraction during my TWW and a healthier outlet for my obsessive nature. I was no longer obsessing about cycle days or syringes. I was fervently researching marathons and planning my training schedule. Instead of constantly checking my calendar for possible conflicts with Baby Dancing days, I was looking for conflicts with my scheduled Long Runs. And then Hubster and I went through a 2nd and possibly 3rd chemical pregnancies so we decided to take a break from TTC. At this point we had been actively trying (with treatments) for almost 2 years and we needed some time off – as a couple and as individuals.

Training for my first marathon required commitment, dedication, strength and sacrifice. All of these were the same components necessary to battle through Infertility, so I did well. I missed training runs here and there, but for the most part I did a great job preparing and the day before my period was due, I ran and completed my first marathon. It was hard not meeting my target time and felt very discouraged with my lack of mental toughness.

Once I got over the disappointment of missing my goal time, I gradually realized why so many people don’t run marathons — It is hard. It’s the hardest on your mind. Especially those last miles that you don’t run in training and at the race I competed in. I would literally go a mile or two without seeing anyone. No runners and no spectators. It was me alone with my tired mind and body. But I finished. I didn’t give up and that reminded me that I didn’t really want to give up on TTC. I needed that short break and the race to remind me how tough I truly am mentally and how well my body was truly made.

That was almost one year ago.

We still have no baby, but we are still trying and I am still running. In fact, Hubster was inspired to train for and compete in his first triathlon. This allowed him a release that he needed and gave our relationship more balance. We didn’t realize our relationship needed this, but it did. I felt guilty for always being too tired, crabby and sore to do a lot of chores around the house while on Clomid and after triggering. And then I felt guilty from being too tired and sore from training to do those chores. But once the focus was on Hubster’s triathlon, the tables turned and I was able to take better care of him. He felt more cherished and I felt more useful. We also began to run and ride more often together, which became a nice way to bond without the pressures and worries of TTC.

I also noticed I was feeling better emotionally and my PMS Rage was gone. And then I noticed my cramping, headaches and breast tenderness that came with the onset of my period were absent. After a couple of months I began to worry that the supplements I began taking in lieu of Clomid were no longer working and I would have amenorrhea again. But all of a sudden a light bulb lit up in my head and I researched whether running was soothing my crazy Endometriosis PMS symptoms, and sure enough, it was!

Researchers have found that running releases dopamine, which is the “feel good” chemical in your brain. This combats mood swings since your dopamine levels drop before your period starts. Also, it increases progesterone, which low progesterone levels is the culprit for breast tenderness and headaches. Running also helps to kick your PMS-depression, ease cramps and prevent excess weight gain. This meant that I found something healthy and productive to distract me from my obsessive symptom-spotting and stick-peeing for the last several days of my cycle. I focused on running.

Now that I’ve told you some of the reasons I run through Infertility, I do feel I should mention some more obvious reasons. Running is good for maintaining healthy bodies. Even those IFers who are blessed with naturally thin bodies find themselves taking on a fuller shape after beginning treatments. Running can help combat those hormonal weight gains. Some of us come to the Infertility Jungle overweight. Less sensitive doctors may come right out and encourage IFers to lose weight at the get-go, but others don’t. They test and encourage IFers to TTC for several months before gently sliding down that rabbit hole. Running can help get your body into optimal Babymaking shape. Whatever your body type, I guarantee after going through at least a few months of fertility meds, your body is probably not where you’d like it to be and running can help with that.

So how do you start? If you’re already in good shape and have been following a regular cardiovascular routine, I would start with the Couch 2 5k program. There’s a smart phone app with audio coaching that is really helpful. The program has you walk/jog a few times a week and slowly increases your running duration throughout the training cycle. Within 9 weeks, anyone will be able to run 3.1 miles.

If you haven’t followed any exercise program recently, start with walking. Slowly work up to walking one hour a day at least 5 days a week. And then you can gradually increase your pace. When you feel comfortable and your doctor has cleared you to walk/jog, start the C25k program and start noticing the positive changes happening in your body and your mind. Encourage your partner to join you for some of your workouts and notice the intimacy that follows.

Thanks for reading and let me know how running has affected your journey. I’d love to hear from you!

I’d still love more guest posts! For more info, visit the Guest Posts tab!

Whatcha Reading?

One of my 2014 resolutions was to read more. Its honestly an odd resolution for me as I love to read, but somewhere in the mix of pregnancy and parenting its taken a back seat to other things, namely diaper changing, spit up clean up in aisle 4 and running. After this latest injury, though, I figured if I can’t exercise I could at least begin reading more again.

So far this year  I’ve read , Where We Belong by Emily Giffin and the Divergent series and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. In fact, I’ve read every book Jodi Picoult has ever written (with the exception of the one she wrote with her daughter). She even wrote a book called Sing You Home that touches on infertility. No, its no Shakespeare or The Great Gatsby (which I read in high school and did not like), and you probably won’t see me perusing the top 25 New York Times best sellers either.

Overall though I’d say my favorite type of books are Memoirs. There is something about knowing the author overcame the hardships or lived the hilarious stories that are written in these books that makes it easier to relate and find parallels in my own life (maybe once day I’ll get a chance to write one about the hilarity of twin parenting). I honestly wish we could have read more of this type of book in school, as I personally just could not get into what many think of as classics.

If you happen to be a teacher looking for good books to use in your classroom:

3 Great Memoirs for High School Teachers

Tired of assigning Huckleberry Finn year after year? These three memoirs will shake things up in your classroom while still providing age-appropriate learning and parent-friendly stories.

1: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This autobiographical tale chronicles the lives and struggles of the Walls family, a nomadic, unconventional group of poverty-stricken hippies who move across the U.S. with no great purpose. Jeannette Walls was only three when it began, and by the time she ran away from home and went off to college, she’d learned quite a lot about life, love and perseverance through every kind of obstacle. Use this book to highlight the importance of goals and dedication through adversity.

2: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Written and co-authored by Malala, the young teenager who defied the Taliban in pursuit of equal learning opportunities for girls, this memoir makes for a thrilling narrative and an even more important lesson. Buy it in bulk from a mass retailer like BookPal and pass it out to every young female student.

3: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

A favorite of classrooms and high school curriculum, Maya Angelou tells the story of her childhood with humor and grace, even as she’s describing the racism and prejudice that haunted life in the 1930s. If you’re looking for a personal, memorable account of growing up in the early South, this is it.

Bookpal has books for all ages, certainly not limited to high school.

What kinds of books do you enjoy? I am open to suggestions for the remainder of the year in order to meet my resolution 🙂

Not Your Average Cup of Joe

I was contacted by Nescafe and asked if I would be interested in a guest post. As a fellow coffee lover, I couldn’t really say no 😉

Not Your Average Cup of Joe

We must make a stand against the growing trend of average coffee.

As autumn mornings take a turn for the chilly, no other daily tradition has the power to jumpstart your day like a cup of caffeinated goodness. Yet, with tasteless coffee filling the cups of so many, mornings are off to a rough start.

Here’s to a brighter day with a better beginning!

We want to sip something frothy, rich and creamy. A Cup of Joe that really puts a kick in our step!

Is that too much to ask?

While we’re on the subject, where does ‘Cup of Joe’ come from exactly?

‘Cup of Joe’, also commonly referred to as Cuppa Joe or Cup o’ Joe, is derived from the word “jamoke”, a mixture of the words “java” and “mocha beans”.

Java, a densely populated Indonesian island known for its abundant coffee plantations, happens to also be a commonly used term for this beloved beverage.

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Let’s Be Honest: I’d Like to have Harry Potter(ish) Powers

Today I’m happy to share my second (woo hoo!) guest post, courtesy of Valerie. You can check out her blog here: Atlanta Mom of Three

First off, a little about me…

I’m am happily married with three children; we hope to eventually make that five children, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens! We homeschool and it’s really just a way of life for us. We enjoy it but it’s a lot of planning for me, because I am stubborn and refuse to buy a boxed curriculum – haha. We live just south of Atlanta, Georgia in a home far too small for our growing family, but it keeps us “together”. 😉

Oh! Did I mention I am Harry Potter fan?! Well, not the books. No, sadly I’ve only watched the movies, but maybe one day I’ll get around to reading the outstanding novels. Anyway, I love the movies (mostly), and I thought it’d be fun to put myself in the story, so to speak, and choose some powers that I’d use if I had them.

As much as I love being a stay at home mom and homeschooling and all that, there are some days I’d love to cast a spell and change things!


For example, at 2pm or so each day, I’d love to make a potion with this and that plus one of Samuel’s little two year-old’s hairs and POOF! I’d get to be him and take a nap! Right?! Skip additional school lessons, and dinner prep. Naptime, it is!

And what about Hermoine’s spell to be in more than one place at once? I could SOO use that one! I would be taking a constant shower, as well as watching Downton Abbey and writing blog posts. And then, of course, there’d be the me that does the laundry, teaching and cooking. We’d “all” be happy.

Harry got treated for a broken (well, dissolved really) arm; he had to have a new one grown for him! Wouldn’t a magic boo-boo fixer spell be amazing to have as a mother?! Oh, it would be great to be able treat cuts, bumps, and even breaks. Oh well, guess we’ll have to stick with kisses and bandaids.

What about a spell to make junk food healthy? That would be ideal. Junk food is cheaper, more convenient and – come on, YUMMY! But, we all know it’s terrible for the body, so we’ll just flick the wrist while holding our wand and Voila! a healthy Big Mac. Are you with me?

And lastly, I’d love to be able to do what Voldemort did and place pieces of my soul in different things (I believe he called them horcruxes?) Yeah – Oh wait. I’ve already done that! My husband Stephen definitely has part of me, and our three children do too. Well, I guess that’s a magical power we all have, even if we are only muggles. ;

Let’s Be Honest: Acting Like A Kid On Halloween

Today we have our first post on honesty by someone other than me. Hooray!

Let’s Be Honest: Acting Like A Kid For Halloween

Hi guys! Some of you know me as almostbatten over at “If You Don’t Stand For Something“, but for those that don’t I thought I would introduce myself. My name is Kim, I’m 30 and I’ve been married to my husband Chris for the past 4.5 years. We started trying to build our family just before our wedding and have since been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (for me) and low sperm count (for the hubs, obviously). I’m a crafter, baker, gamer, a Brownie leader affectionately called “Fluffy Owl” and a lover of all things owl and cupcake. I also have a soft spot for just about anything the BBC airs for my viewing pleasure (seriously guys, my ringtone is the Doctor Who theme and my background is Jack and Ianto from Torchwood).

But the thing I wanted to talk about today is the holidays. Halloween in specific. Since this post is all about honesty, I’m just gonna tell you that I’ve been on both sides of the infertile Halloween. I’ve hated the holiday and didn’t want to have anything to do with it, but over the years and as I’ve gradually moved out of the angry infertile stage, I’ve grown to love Halloween again.

Growing up, I was the first of my friends to stop trick or treating. I realized that I loved to pass out the candy and see all the cool costumes. As I grew up, I realized that I wanted somewhere to go where I could dress up. But when we received our infertility diagnosis, I couldn’t really bring myself to enjoy Halloween anymore. Envy and jealousy took over. I helped my mom at Halloween, but it was no longer enjoyable. I wanted to be the one taking my child out for their first Halloween in an adorably nerdy costume.

But over the past 2 years, I found my way back.

Last year was hectic. My parents were building their new house, I was prepping to move into my childhood home. I was ready to be finished with renting and become a home owner. But it was also my first year as a Brownie leader. I got to enjoy Halloween by having fun activities with our girls. And with 20 or so girls ranging in ages 7-9, you can’t help but enjoy it when they are having so much fun. They helped me realize that I could still have fun despite not having children of my own in my life yet.

This year though, was the real changer. We are lucky enough to have another couple locally who are also going through years of infertility. She also happens to be one my oldest friends. Throughout the year, when there would be holidays or events centered around kids and families with young children, we made a plan to do something together and still find some fun. We call them “Kid Free Adventures”. For Canada Day, instead of going to events centered around young families, we left our families behind and the four of us got in a car and played tourist for the day. We drove the Cabot Trail, a gorgeous part of my home province, and just enjoyed our time together as two couples. There was no pressure to put up with kids or pregnant women or inappropriate questions of “Why don’t you have kids yet?” and we laughed, stopped at cute shops and restaurants and explored. It is my all time favorite Canada Day. Some friends have expressed some jealousy towards our plans for the 4 of us, but the rest of our friends have children and spend that day with them, so we are just out finding our own fun because we share the unique experience of wanting kids but being unable to have them.

Since then, myself and my fellow IF’er best friend have made it a goal, along with our husbands, to go out and do stuff together and not wait for kids to be in the picture before we enjoy everything. So this Halloween season, I sewed my own Halloween costume for my Brownie Halloween party. Me and hubs along with our IF couple made the trek out to a local farm and picked our own pumpkins. Then we ran through the corn maze like we were children, fed the animals corn from the maze, and the boys even got on the see-saw together. Were we bombarded by children and families? Sure. It’s called Hanks FAMILY Farm after all, and it was a Sunday. But you know what? Parents were looking at us with envy because we were laughing and joking and clearly having an amazing time together. Kids would stop and laugh at us and we shared our corn with them when they realized they could feed the animals. Then when we came home, we carved our pumpkins together while we laughed and joked.

The day after Halloween, I leave for a guiding conference, but despite that, I’m still going to dress up and pass out the bags of candy. I also decorated our front step, the first time I’ve been able to decorate for Halloween in years. And after trick or treating is over, there will be some fireworks and my best friend and her husband are coming over so that we can watch Halloween movies, play some board games and pig out on the left over candy.

As much as we want children and as much as we are willing to do anything to have children, we learned that we can’t stop our life and wait until the good happens. So we are out there making our own happiness. We are finding fun and we are living our life to the fullest so that when our kids do finally get here, we can tell them how much we lived our life even before they came. That being said, not all days are this good. Do we still have bad days? Yes. Do we still avoid some holidays? You bet. Do I still get depressed, cry and hide away from people? Oh yeah, my mint chocolate ice cream is always waiting for me in the freezer for that special “break glass in case of emergency” situation.

But honestly, the biggest thing I can tell you after 4.5 years of infertility is that it’s OK to not be OK with holidays. It’s OK to say, “I can’t handle this.” It’s OK to say no to invites if its too hard on you mentally. Infertility is a bitch, and she sometimes takes over your life and with little notice. But I’m also here to tell you that it’s OK to also find some fun despite your infertility. It’s OK to go out and act like a kid and do family friendly stuff even if you don’t have children. No one has the right to tell you otherwise. It’s OK if you want to dress up and pass out candy. It’s OK if you want to do something kid free. But most importantly, it’s OK to act like a kid. Because the kids in that corn maze were taking a page from our book that day.

Even though we are working towards creating a family (through ART if necessary), it doesn’t mean that we are automatically excluded from events, holidays or even shows and toys that are directed towards children. I’m not gonna lie, my husband got me into My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and I’ll watch anything on the Family Channel. It’s up to each of us to make the best of the time we have. We can sit around and mope or we can go out there and find the fun. But no matter what you decide to do this Halloween, whether its leaving a bowl of candy by your door so you don’t have to deal with kids or dressing up and going out for some fun, know that both are perfectly fine options. Now pardon me, hubby wants to have a My Little Pony marathon tonight while I make some pumpkin fudge.

Kimberly Batten

*Thanks to Kim to contributing as my first guest poster! Happily taking other honesty posts. No blog or writing experience necessary. Check out my tab or click here: Guest Posts. All votes for Top Mommy Blogs also appreciated – all you have to do is click the picture on the sidebar. Thanks!

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