Day 40: 40 days and 40 nights of not interacting with social media

After 40 days and 40 nights of not interacting with social media, I don’t think I’ll be adding it back to my life. I woke up and checked my notifications. There was nothing that I truly missed. There was nothing on any of the apps that required my attention. I added the apps after Easter dinner and deleted them before midnight.

I finished reading book two of the new series I started last week and picked up my phone. Instead of checking to see if I turned my alarms back on. I opened Instagram and Facebook. I didn’t even really interact with the app. I just cleared my notifications. It all just felt like an empty habit. I got no enjoyment from what I was reading, and as I scrolled through my timeline and saw people’s pictures pop up, I felt sick. Everything about it felt voyeuristic and empty.

I discovered a friend of mine had a baby while I was on my detox. I also learned another friend had been pregnant and delivered the daughter she so desperately wanted this Easter morning. Out of the two women, I only knew one was pregnant. I thought it was strange how I felt nothing while looking at their tiny cute babies.

However, I’m not a cold-hearted ice queen. One of my longest friends gave birth to twins a week ago. I knew they were due on a Monday; however, I couldn’t remember what Monday. Time slipped by, and I texted her about the babies on Thursday morning, asking when they were arriving. Instantly bombarded with pictures of two adorable faces and a phone call. My friend apologized for forgetting I gave up social for lent and not letting me know the twins arrived. It baffled me. If anyone should have been apologizing, it was me. She just brought two tiny humans into the world. The least of her concern should have been the weird person breaking away from social norms.

We talked. We caught up. She sounded amazing. It felt real and meaningful. Nothing like I felt when I reconnected with the thing marketed as the best way to communicate.

My time away has been healing. I don’t feel the need to always have my phone on me. I am less anxious when I see my notification light go off. One of the biggest things is I feel my interactions are more human. What I know about my friends is what they want to share with me, not what I stalkers learned about them while silently watching their lives through a screen.

I’m not deactivating my accounts, but apps aren’t going on my phone. I will randomly check things on a web browser, but nothing like I used to. For the short time I had the apps on my phone; they were trying to occupy my time. I turned off notifications. However, whenever I opened an app, it asked if I wanted to turn on notifications. I don’t need that kind of bullying in my life. I already told it no multiple times. It was forcing itself on me.

So here’s to newfound freedom. I hope we all can break away from this false reality someday.

Lent, Teaching

Day 38: The danger of misinformation, especially with school safety

Today was a shit show and a half. But the chaos started the day before. 

We were in code red before the first period was over. Only this time, it wasn’t a drill. My students were outstanding. We all went to the secure location, and everyone was silent. While we waited for a clear, all I could think about were the students out filming. Not even five minutes after the code started, the all-clear was called. 

When my students returned to my class, I asked them where they had gone. Some entered other teachers’ rooms, some entered the bathrooms, and others headed to grade-level offices. Two students told me they left the camera rolling when they ran off. I said that’s fine; maybe you captured something interesting. However, a few told me they were worried about the equipment. I reminded them I could always buy new cameras. I couldn’t purchase their life back if the unthinkable happened. 

Finally, the last three students returned to class. And boy, did they have a story. They were recording as the incident began. A male student had become hostile and was verbally threatening a teacher. The girls were packing up. They didn’t want him to break the camera. He was punching the doors and shouting at any and all authority that came near him. Before that could return to class, the code red started. They left the gear and went to a secure location. They could still hear the student yelling and threatening as the Administration detained the hostile student. Two of the three girls said they were concerned about his behavior, and my third said she wanted to stay and get footage because it would be a good news story. I joked and said, “Well, we know who the future newscaster will be. But in all seriousness, your safety is the number one priority.” 

We all went about our day, and aside from thinking about how well our students handled the situation, I gave little thought to it. 

This morning we had our monthly faculty meeting, and we found out the teacher didn’t mean to activate the code red. Although I think it was good, who knows if the Hostile student could have lashed out at an unexpected student walking in the halls? We learned that pressing our emergency badges three times, pausing, and then pressing them three times again counts as six times. And if they were pressed after that, it activates a code red. We all assumed that pushing it three times would alert the administration that they were needed in the room, and if we waited a moment or two in between that, it would just reactivate the administration call. Most of our teachers didn’t realize that even if there were moments between the three punches, it would activate a code red, which is what happened. 

When we arrived at school today, there was more police activity on campus than usual. Most of them chalked it up to the code red. That was until the principal told us the suspended student had posted a threat on social media. The principal wasn’t even aware of the danger until he arrived on campus. We have an extremely good system where parents and students can report social media threats or any threat. However, our local police force was on our campus faster than the reporting system this time. Somebody had notified them about the student making a threat to our school. Our principal had just found out this information not too soon before our meeting started. Our principal is amazing and very transparent with the teachers, the students, and their parents. He composed a message to inform us that there was a report and that the police were already handling the situation, which he sent out once our meeting was completed. However, that wasn’t soon enough.

Students were already making their way to campus in the morning. Those who travel by bus leave insanely early, and many parents drop off their students before school hours because they have to go to work. So while we were in the meeting, students were already on social media sharing the post that the student had threatened the school. And they panicked without knowing that the situation was being handled. They did not give us a chance to calm the storm before it took place. The rumor mill had already begun. 

This was probably the most dangerous part of the day. Teenagers gossiping. Students are not talking to adults but to each other, exaggerating and making the situation worse. Kids were already calling and texting their parents, asking to be picked up. Parents calling the school jammed the phone lines, limiting communication. 

But while there were kids that were worried and calling their parents, those who wanted to be sure the Administration saw every single post made. They wanted to ensure everyone was aware of the situation, and I was so proud of these things. They wanted to make sure that there was no possibility of anything wrong. Unfortunately, things became worse when rumors grew.

This was when I started getting emails from parents asking me what was happening. I told them everything was normal, and we were all fine. I asked where they heard things, and they said a teacher told their children the suspended student had returned to school. Which I knew was not true. I reassured them that everything was safe and that even though everything was safe, out of an abundance of caution, we had an excessive amount of police force on campus. Then some parents sent me screenshots of the local community input people were saying. Some parents didn’t even have children on our campus and were spreading lies. And then the thing that pissed me off the most happened. My former news station reported that we were in a code yellow. Code yellow is when teachers are still teaching but restrict the movement in the halls unless absolutely necessary. We were not in a code yellow. We were not in a code anything. It was a normal day being blown out of proportion by people spreading lies and rumors. This was ensuing chaos. One mother complained that it took an hour for her to pick up her child. Not only was there an excessive number of parents picking up their kids, but they must vet every single person who was picking up a student. The administration was not just going to allow anybody to come to pick up kids randomly. It always has to be checked, and there were parents complaining about that. 

Today was a fucking joke, and it wasn’t because of our administration. They were doing more than necessary to be open with all the parents. They did everything possible to ensure safety. And they were trying to keep the students on campus calm. Unfortunately, worried parents made the situation worse.

I fully understand the concern, but social media’s gossip mill made things awful. News stations reporting with false information made it even worse. Adults and students alike spreading lies and gossiping made things atrocious. Teachers were with the students all day. We were calming nerves dealing with those having panic attacks. This put us under a lot of stress and pressure to make sure all students were okay and safe. Not just physically but mentally as well. Some teachers taught while others, like myself, turned on a movie and tried to distract the students from thinking of anything negative.

Adults need to be smarter. They need to stop gossiping and spreading rumors, and inciting horrible comments about things they do not know what is going on. Some parents were saying how their students were telling them a different story than what the principal was saying and calling the principal a liar. Our principal is anything but a liar. The students’ safety is his number one priority, and today he took every precaution. Our administrative staff in the front office were dealing with hostile parents, who were making the situation worse than it needed to be. Parents need to remember these are middle schoolers. There is a total no chance that their precious little babies would exaggerate the situation. I heard them exaggerating the situation. There were rumors spreading that an administrator got into a fight with the suspended student and was in the hospital, and there were people that actually believed it. Which I found absolutely absurd, since the man was walking around campus unharmed and obviously not in a hospital.

I truly understand people being concerned and worried. But they need to be smart. They don’t need to make a situation worse. And that is all that happened today. Gossip, rumors, news stations sharing false information. All of this caused more chaos and is not helpful.

I can’t believe this is my second post in less than 40 days about the chaos in schools.

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 33: Tea Party

On a Sunday, Adelyn and I joined a friend of mine for her birthday. She had high tea at a cute little tea house downtown. While the other parents grabbed a babysitter and enjoyed an afternoon child-free, I took her with me. Adelyn has been my tiny shadow since she arrived in this world, and I wouldn’t start leaving her behind now. Especially after how fascinate she has become with tea parties since watching the new Alice in Wonderland.

Adelyn, who is a connoisseur of fancy dresses, had originally picked out a dress with a long tulle skirt and long lacy sleeves. It was a lot of work; however, I convinced her to pick a more stubble fancy dress. It was a pink knee-length dress with a bit of tulle and a lacy tank top. She topped off her look with a teal tulle headband. Although I’m certain she would have worn her tiara if she could have found it.

We arrived at the teahouse before everyone else. There was a Victorian-looking settee in the lobby. Adelyn excitedly sat down before quickly standing up again to inspect the tea sets on the coffee table in front of us. She surprised herself when she picked up the pot’s lid and found dry flowers inside.

“Do people drink these?” she asked, returning the lid.

“No,” I told her, pointing at the wall behind us filled with jars of tea. “But they drink these, and they make some from flowers.”

She scrunched her nose. “I don’t want to drink flower water. Can I have chocolate milk?”

Just as she asked me about the chocolate milk, the teahouse owner walked into the lobby. “I think we can do that.” She told Adelyn with a smile.

As we waited for our friends to arrive, Adelyn peaked into the tearoom. “Mommy, we don’t have a fancy hat.”

“We don’t need a hat,” I told her. “Besides, you have a beautiful headband.”

That seemed to put her nerves to rest. Also, so did Rebecca, walking through the door. Adelyn got up from the settee and hugged Rebecca. Shortly after, they guided us to the table the tea party was going to be. Rebecca, Adelyn, and I were all there early. Even with kids, I do my best to arrive at places early. Also, I blame my father and husband for still functioning like they were in the military and making sure we are always fifteen to ten minutes early for everything we do. Rebbecca used to be an officer in the Army, so she is also inflected with this same mindset.

But our early arrival allowed Adelyn to inspect every seat at the table. She chose a cushioned flower seat with a white and gold tea cup. But as she bounced on her chair, I noticed she was inspecting every place setting. Even though she was happy with her seat, she was not pleased with her cup. Especially after she looked at mine. It was a forest green cup with golden details, and on the inside was a pattern of a dragon. Adelyn asked if we could trade. As much as I like the cup, she is five, and this was not a battle I cared to have. Her satisfaction with the cup did not last. She now wanted my flowered tea cup. I told her no; we have already traded once. While Adelyn was inspecting the other cups, Rebecca claimed the dragon cup for herself.
Adelyn looked around at the other place settings and chose a pink cup with a golden handle and roses encircling the trim. Thankfully, she decided on her cup before everyone joined us. That would have made for a quiet show, having her switch cups with a table full of adults.

Adelyn’s teapot of chocolate milk arrived with the other guest. We would have to wait until everyone picked their teas before the sandwiches and desserts arrived. I felt bad. Everyone was hm-ing and ha-ing over their choices. I could hear her tummy rumble. Eventually, the pots of tea arrived, and everyone began talking. Adelyn did her best sitting still and acting like a proper little adult. She would lean in and ask me questions about the conversations everyone was having, and she made friends with the person sitting next to her. He was a dad of a little girl just about her age.

“What are they doing?” Adelyn asked when the tea staff returned and started moving pots out of the way.

I leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “I think they are going to bring the food.”

“Finally!” She sighed dramatically.

Three-tiered tower filled the sports on the tables that were once taken up by the tea pots. The first tier had hot cranberry & orange scones with clotted cream and preserves, they filled the second with small sandwiches, and the third held desserts. Adelyn’s eyes got big, and she reached for the desserts.

“Um, no,” I told her as I placed a cucumber sandwich on her plate.

She sniffed the sandwich and turned up her nose to it. “No thank you, I’ll just have a brownie.”

“What are you talking about? You like cucumbers.”

Adelyn lifted the bread and scrunched her nose at what she saw. “But it has the creaming stuff on it.”

“It’s just an herb cream spread.” As I peeled the cucumbers off the bread.

She ate that no problem and before she could reach for another dessert, I already had grabbed a turkey & cranberry sandwich.. She nibbled it up and asked if now she could have the better food. I finally relented and filled her plate with sweet treats. She ate them all and emptied her chocolate milk from her teapot.

After two hours of being a sweet angel baby that I barely had to correct, she leaned into me and whispered. “Can we go home? I’m tired.”

I leaned down and kissed her head and said soon.

Every wrapped up their meal shortly after her request. Not because she asked to go home but it was closing time. We hugged everyone and said our goodbyes. She held my hand as we walked to the car and I looked down at her and smiled.

“Did you have fun?” I asked opening the door for her.

“Yes!” she beamed, climbing into her seat.

“What was your favorite part?” I asked once I started the car.

She thought for a moment. “Spending time with just you.”

It made my heart feel good to hear that. It’s what I wanted for her since she has been so good with her little brother. I wanted her to feel special and the tea party did just that.


Day 34: Between the pages of a book is a wonderful place to be

It’s funny what the love for a good book will do for your mood. I usually know within a few pages if I’ll enjoy the book, and because of Kindle Unlimited, I’ve certainly read some books that I may never have taken the chance on if I had to fork over ten bucks. It’s probably why I keep my book on Kindle Unlimited. It allows readers to take a chance on my book. While my blog gets pretty regular views, that doesn’t mean that readers will like my fictional writing.

However, I know the last book I read probably should have joined the very few DNF pile. It took me three months to force myself through the 350-page book. Usually, I’ll finish that in a night or two, depending on how much sleep I’m willing to sacrifice. However, this book made me look at my Kindle and sigh. Reading this book felt more like homework than being enjoyable. The plot was something that interested me, the angelic world and the human world intermixing. But the author’s writing style was not my favorite. I love dialogue and there was nearly none. I managed to get through a rushed romance that was very hard to believe and the dialogue was quite stiff. It took a sleepless night to finish it.

Stil unable to still my mind, I started reading another book. Not by the same author, but another indie author. I had forgotten what the story was even about because I added it to my Kindle library so long ago. When I started the book, the clock read midnight and the next time I looked at my phone it was nearly 4am and I was halfway done with my new book. Begrudgingly, I fell asleep. I could have stayed awake until the sunrose but I wouldn’t have been in the best spirits as a mom or a teacher. For the last few days, the characters have haunted me. I haven’t wanted to watch tv I’ve only wanted to read. I love the feeling of diving into a fictitious world and never wanting to leave.

My husband knows when I am reading a good book. If I don’t have a good book, we’ll stay up after the kids have gone to bed and watch a few episodes of whatever show we are binge watching. However, if i have a book to read, I have a not-so-subtle cue for him.

Either while we are cleaning up dishes or settling down after putting the kids to bed, I’ll say. “You should play a game tonight. I think I’m going to go to bed early.”

“Uhhu, you aren’t going to sleep.” He’ll tease. “You’re going to read. Why don’t you just say that?”

I’ll just give him a big smile, to which he’ll head into his office shaking his head. “I always know when you have a new book. It’s the only time you’ll ever suggest that I play video games.”

I love my husband, and how well he knows me. I don’t always have to say things and he’ll just know. However, what has surprised me the most about him is how much he loves to read books. I’ve dated other men who read, but it was magazines or articles mostly for knowledge, not entertainment. Sometime in January, we were talking, and out of nowhere, he talked about different tropes within the books he read or shows we watched. I just stared at him and in mid-sentence he stopped talking and asked me, “What?”

“Did you just say tropes?” I could feel myself flush. I don’t know why him saying that word suddenly made him even more attractive.

“Yes,” he laughed at him. “Why you think because I was in the army that I don’t know why tropes are?”

“I mean, not the army, but more of the fact that you skated by your senior year of high school because everyone knew you were going to war.” I teased him. “I just never expected to hear you, or well anyone bring that up.”

As much as I love reading, movies, and tv, I never really had someone in my life before to discuss them at a deeper level. It’s just been wonderful to share that enjoyment with someone else.

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 35: Downward Spiral

Last week I didn’t have the energy to write. We returned to school from Spring Break, and all my students were going insane. While I spent the week paying attention to my students’ needs and trying to get them back into the swing of things, I should have been paying attention to my mental health. I didn’t want to write and couldn’t focus. I was just diving deeper into a darker space, and it wasn’t until Saturday did I get a slap in the face. 

On Saturday morning, we finally took a break from baseball…so of course, that mean we headed to the baseball fields to support friends who were playing against each other and later met up with a group of boys so they could have fun, practice a bit and just be ten-year-olds causing chaos. I would never have questioned our Saturday plans if I were mentally sound. It was a beautiful day. There were daughters at the games that Adelyn is friends with. I would have never had a moment of uncertainty. However, that was not the case. 

When Tyler came into our room to ask me what I wanted to dress Bennett in, I just stared at him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

I fidgeted with whatever was in my hands. “Are you sure I’m not intruding?”

“What? Why would you be intruding?”

“I don’t know.” I felt uncomfortable even voicing feelings, which is something I rarely have a problem with. “You’re just going with the dads, and I don’t want to feel like-”

“Stop,” he interrupted me. “Have you taken your pill?”

I shook my head no.

“Okay, well, take that.” He watched me and waited until I did. “You’re not interrupting. We’re going to Jeffery’s and Reese’s game. Their moms will be there, and Deanna will meet us afterward and bring Hailey. You need to get out of the house. You aren’t staying here. Alex, you never intrude, ever. You know this. If I wanted just time for Mark and me, I would have said so.”

He was right. He has never had a problem saying he felt, and until I had our youngest, I never experienced this issue either. I thought I was getting better, and I was feeling normal. But this weekend just proved that the medication wasn’t a miracle drug. I mean, logically, I know antidepressants don’t fix things immediately. I’m not even five months postpartum, so I don’t know why I would think everything is fine. 

All I can be grateful for right now is how attentive my husband is to my mental state. I appreciate how well he knows me. Even if it can be annoying, especially when I think I can hide that I am irritated by a situation. But I will forever be grateful that he knows me well enough that I might need‌ help, especially when I may not see it. 


Day 32: Reflecting on Biblical verses: Writing Prompts

I didn’t know what to write for today and was looking through different writing prompts for March. I couldn’t find the original chart that had the prompt about my classroom, so I kept searching. Everything that I was finding felt empty to me. It wasn’t until I found the prompt asking me to reflect on Matthew 6:14 – 15 did I feel compelled to write. This compilation was strange since I usually dislike reflecting on just one verse. Knowing the entire chapter the verse I was reflecting on came from was important to me because a verse on its own can be taken out of context. 

I will not pretend to be a biblical scholar who can recite scripture. I had to look this one up just like I had to do for the other two suggestions of Isaiah 53:9 and Ephesians 2:10–12. Matthew 6:14 – 15 in the NIV (the New International) bible says. “‘ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  I was curious how the NIV version differed from the Catholic Bible. “* If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Not much of a difference, just an easier understanding for some readers of what a transgression may be. 

I think the reason Matthew 6:14-15 stood out to me over the verses from Isaiah and Ephesians has a lot to do with where I am in my life. The older I get, the harder it is to have the energy to hold grudges. I see no point in wasting my energy and time thinking about those who have negatively affected me in life. The perfect way to rub it in their face is that they have power over me, and my decision is to live the best life possible.

It was difficult to get to this point. There are plenty of ex-friends and boyfriends that I have wished ill on. If people would mention their names, I’m sure I’d spit just at the thought. However, I gained nothing from this besides a sour mood. It wasn’t until I got divorced from my first husband that I put this thought into action. If people would bring him up sometimes, I would discuss things, and other times I found myself saying, “I wish him nothing but to find happiness.” It was an odd way to think. My marriage had fallen apart, and I vocalized that my ex would find health and happiness. It was a much different way of thinking from wanting some of my ex-boyfriends to get run over by a truck. You would think that I would want the same for someone I thought I’d commit my life to. But how could I ever heal if I held onto hateful and negative thoughts? 

“14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I remember the first time I went to confession and the lightness I felt after admitting my sins. Even though the sin was something I committed, I had never forgiven myself for what I had done. I held on to that pain for nearly a decade, and it did me no good. It just filled me with pain. 

After understanding how freeing it was to truly forgive myself, I never wanted to live with that toxic pain in my soul again. 

Until reading that verse today, I never gave it much thought. However, it makes sense and still makes sense for those who don’t believe in God. How can you let go of that animosity and pain if you never forgive the person who inflicted the pain upon you? You can’t because it will always linger in the back of your mind. 

Another reason this verse stood out to me over the one from Isaiah and the Ephesians had a lot to do with how digestible it was. I could read the verse and understand what it meant without reading the entire chapter.

The NKJV of Isaiah 53:9 reads, “And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.” Since it was only the verse, I looked up the Catholic Bible chapter to see the differences and try to understand what was happening before and after the verse. “He was given a grave among the wicked, a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong, nor was deceit found in his mouth.” This verse varied more than Matthew’s did, depending on which bible you read it in. I also found the King James version harder to understand without reading the entire chapter. In my opinion, the verse from Isaiah is a lot harder to reflect on as a standalone verse. The book of Isaiah is from the old testament, and because of that, it has a Christian and Jewish interpretation. Isaiah was a prophet, and while Chapter 53 never identifies the suffering servant, many believe the chapter is prophesying Jesus. I am not really sure how anyone could just reflect on the verse without reading the entire chapter. 

I could have reflected on the other two verses from the new testament, just like Matthew.  Ephesians 2:10–12 from the NKJV reads, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” VS Ephesians 2:10–12 from the Catholic Bible: “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by those called the circumcision, which is done in the flesh by human hands, were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel* and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.”

To me, the verses from Ephesians are lacking as standalone verses. You could read them and say, “yes, I understand the meaning of these words.” However, out of context, these verses are only a gentle reminder from Paul about our life before Christ. It doesn’t really stress the love of God and what the darkness was before salvation, which was the meaning of the chapter and the letter Paull had written. 

I guess I ended up reflecting on all three verses, though only truly relating one to my life. It’s not just the verses that I relate to but all of chapter six from the book of Matthew. It has always been one of my favorites, especially when we get around the time of lent. Matthew Chapter 6: 1 – 8 

1 “[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. 

2 When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites* do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 

3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,

 4 so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 

5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 

6 But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 

7 * In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.* 

8 Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

After the verses, it leads into the lord’s prayer. 

While I share my faith here on my blog, I speak little about my faith in person. I don’t need to share it with everyone I meet. Everyone has their own relationship with God, and in south Florida, there are a lot of different churches with their take on Christianity. If the conversation comes up naturally, I will have no problem discussing my faith and how it has affected my life, but I will not scream it from the rooftops. I will not shove it down others’ throats because I don’t find it to be effective. I find living my life naturally and letting my actions show beliefs to be a lot louder than forcefully demanding those to listen to me and my journey in Christ. 


Day 31: Spring break, the chance to do nothing

While many see spring break as a chance to travel and go on adventures, I took it as an opportunity to have downtime with my family. I’ve not so secretly loved knowing there were riptides at the beach and that Adelyn isn’t the best swimmer. It’s allowed me to stay home and enjoy doing nothing without the guilt.

This break from our busy schedules has allowed me the ability to catch up on neglected housework. Though I’m not where I want to be, I have cleaned the bathrooms and gone through the mail. The stockpile of mail has been taunting me since November. I hate opening mail. It tends to be bills and nothing fun.

Aside from housework, I have spent a lot of time sitting on the floor with my tiny raptor. Bennett has become very vocal and produces new and interesting sounds. Most of them come from being disgruntled that he can’t move where he wants to yet. Although today has been a major milestone, he has rolled over six times in a row. All while yelling at me.

This time at home has also let me focus on my writing. I didn’t know how well I’d be able to keep up with my lent writing challenge, but every day I wrote something new. Now I may not complete it on the day I created the post, but I do at least start it. There was a day this week when I pushed out three new posts. I’m still grinding away at posts 11 and 12. They are the most complicated for me to write. I have to capture emotions and feelings from the past while not making the post extra flowery and taking away from the truth of the story.

Adelyn has been enjoying the one and one time too. She told me the other day that she is sad I have to spend all my time with the baby. I had worried about this when I was pregnant, and now she was vocalizing it. However, by being home and actively being able to put the baby down for a nap, I can focus my time on her. We’ve read books, made cupcakes, and snuggled on the couch watching her favorite shows. During the week, I spend a lot of individual time with her. But she doesn’t see it that way. She’s five, and it doesn’t process the same as an adult. But when she sees me putting her brother down for a nap and me coming to spend time with her, it makes her happy.

One of my favorite thing about being home this week is tormenting my husband. I know he thoroughly enjoys me being here with no true task to do. This leaves me with all the freedom in the world to demand his attention while he works. Being a stage five clinger is just one perk he gained when he married me.

All joking aside, I have loved the time he and I have been able to have. Usually, we see each other for a few hours a day, most of them on a ball field. But there were only two practices this week; the rest of the week has been free of baseball responsibilities.

Last night was probably my favorite night of the entire week. While Mr. Bennett refused to go to sleep, Tyler and I started playing “name that song.” It wasn’t something we planned on doing; it just happened. He had his Spotify app open and random tunes played. Sometimes I knew the song on the first note, and there were other times when I had to wait until the lyrics started. We did this for probably two hours. Switching from song to song, talking about memories they evoked, or making us look up different things about the bands. The night was perfect.

As we went back and forth, naming the bands and songs, I couldn’t help but think about how happy I was. This was all I’ve ever wanted out of life, to feel complete with my partner. To be comfortable in our own space and enjoy each other company. We didn’t have to do anything extravagant. Peace and simplicity tend to be undervalued. I love how comfortable Tyler and I are with each other. How easy our conversations are. Even after driving him insane from the moment I wake until he goes to bed, we always have something to talk about or share. Would it have been nice to go on vacation this spring break? Of course, it would have. I am always up for a new adventure. But if we weren’t home, there would have been so many natural moments that would have been missed.


Day 30: What the fuck Government

I can’t word this correctly, so I’ll leave Angry Cop to explain it. 

Video that explains better than I can

But excellent job, government, for going after the men and women you sent to fight your battles. The people you sent to war to do your dirty work because you guys don’t risk anything for your end game. 

Yes, let’s cut our Veterans’ disability benefits to those who are productive members of society. 

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 28: The trouble with meeting a unicorn

When my daughter was turning, three Facebook-targeted ads caught me in their trap. They were promoting a photographer in north Florida that did amazing unicorn photo shoots. I shared it as a pipe dream because I didn’t really have the money to spend on something so extravagant. However, I didn’t have to. A family friend offered to pay for the pictures, and I gladly accepted. 

Adelyn and I journeyed up to the Cape Canaveral area to stay with a friend of mine. I was nervous about the trip. Not because of the length of the drive, but because this was the first time it would be just Adelyn and I going somewhere for this long without my husband. It may seem a little paranoid to some, but I was concerned about if we had to stop at a rest stop. Adelyn and I are both small, which makes for a very easy target. I worked in local news, and the number of stories we had covered over the years about distracted mothers being abducted or targeted lived in the forefront of my mind. But these worries were unnecessary. Aside from the quick drive-through stop at McDonald’s, we didn’t need to make a stop.

On our drive up, I wondered how Nikki and her husband would handle having a toddler in their home. They had married just a year before, and I wasn’t sure if they had even thought about having kids. Even though Adelyn was a very well-behaved toddler, having a small energetic human in your home is a big adjustment. When we pulled into the driveway, Jerry and Nikki were both there. I am truly grateful for adult friendships because even though it had been a year since we had seen each other; it felt like we just saw each other at work. While I took our overnight bag and Adelyn’s fairy princess dress out of the car, Nikki scooped up Adelyn and took her inside. Adelyn put on a quick fashion show for Nikki as they prepared a delicious toddler-friendly dinner of chicken nuggets and french fries in the air fryer. I’m not sure how Nikki and I had a conversation with how much my little chatterbox dominated most of the exchange, but over wine and a stunning sunset, we were able to catch up on each other’s lives. By the time we went to bed, all I could think of was how wonderful Nikki and Jerry did with having a three-year-old invade her space. I guess I was unknowingly preparing them for their little boy that would join them in a few short years. 

The next morning, the three of us drove to the ranch where the pictures were taking place. It was May, and you never know what that means weather-wise in Florida. You could face sweltering heat or a monsoon. Thankfully, we didn’t have to deal with sweltering heat or humidity, and somehow we were blessed by the beautiful, breezy, cool weather. As we drove up the drive of the ranch house, we saw a horse barn off to the left. Behind the ranch house was a field with brown and white horses grazing. I was hoping to see a different set of horses in the fields because, in the winter, the ranch house hosted Clydesdale carriage rides, however, to trick people into forgetting they lived in Florida. Adelyn saw the horses from the backseat and wondered if those were the unicorns. I told her no. Those were just normal horses. 

“Good,” she said. “Because those horses are tooooo big. They are scary.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that horses were usually that big. I had seen pictures of the horses they used for the unicorns, and even though they weren’t the brown and white ones in the field, there were still a few large white horses. Thankfully, they had a small white one named Sugar. 

A little to the left of the horse barn was a wooded path. I told Adelyn to look, and there, standing in the middle of the path, was the large white unicorn. We arrived a little early, and the previous photoshoot was still going on. Adelyn squealed and wanted to run toward the unicorns, but I had to stop her. I didn’t want her to interrupt the other little girl’s magical moment. We headed to the horse barn, hoping to find something that might distract my overly eager little girl. 

While we waited, we walked through the barn, and the tiny unicorn Sugar was waiting in front of the stalls. I hung back, watching Adelyn walk to the barn. Her long tulle skirt made her look as if she was floating. Everything felt magical at that moment. Adelyn was so excited to see a unicorn that she wasn’t sure how to react. There was lots of squealing, and she reached out to touch the small pony, but instead of walking towards her, the pony shook her head, and Adelyn became wary of the pony. 

“Oh no,” I thought. “We did not drive all this way for her to suddenly be scared of horses.” 

Tentatively, she reached out a hand to pet the pony’s nose, and it snorted at her. She giggled, and everything seemed to be alright. Which was good because it was our turn for the pictures. 

I spoke with the photographer, and she asked if Adelyn would be okay with sitting on a horse. I wasn’t sure. Before this afternoon, I would have instantly answered yes. But ‌Adelyn was starstuck by the unicorns, and my adventurous little girl had become shy. The photographer said we could try, but we won’t push anything. Along with the unicorn, there were two other locations that the photographer showed me. She asked me if Adelyn could swing by herself. Adelyn had just turned three a few days ago. While she loved swinging, she couldn’t swing by herself, but she could sit on a “Big Girl Swin.” As the photographer showed me the tea party set up, a ranch hand asked Adelyn if she wanted to go for a pony ride. I don’t know where my phone was, but luckily Nikki was there to capture Adelyn at the moment.  

The photoshoot was magical. Adelyn was a fairytale princess running through the woods.  Dancing and trawling through the sunlight that poured in through the leaves. While she was hesitant about the large unicorn, she allowed the ranch hands to lift her up and put her on his back. I stood beside her and kept her calm while the photographer snapped pictures. You never know what kind of attitude to expect from a toddler, and I was so proud of how well-behaved my little three-year-old was. She smiled and laughed as she sat in the princess chair with the pony Sugar next to her. At one point, they even let her hold Sugar’s reins. Lucky for us, Adelyn just stood there with the pony instead of trying to wander off with him. 

When it was time to swing, Adelyn asked if I could sit next to her. I was elated that she wanted me with her. As much as these pictures were for her, I wanted someone to capture special moments between my daughter and me. Not saying my husband doesn’t take pictures, but he is not a professional photographer, and my day-to-day wear is not a lovely flowing dress. 

The photographer allowed Adelyn to pick a spinning tulip from the basket as the session ended. She picked a blue one to match her skirt. Sadly, the three of us piled into the car and headed back to Nikki’s. Adelyn chattered in the backseat, spinning her tulip and occasionally stabbing me with the stem in the back of the head. 

 After we received the professional pictures, I marveled at how well the photographer could Photoshop the bridle off the horse’s face. She even made the ranch hands disappear. I may be a video editor by trade; however, I have no skill when it comes to Photoshop. My husband and I printed out our favorite pictures, and Adelyn picked a few that she liked best. And soon, the photoshoot became a distant fond memory. That was until Adelyn entered kindergarten two years later. 

Adelyn came home from school one day very upset. She went into her room and brought out a picture of her on a unicorn. 

“See!” she proclaimed.

“See what?” I asked.

“Unicorns are real!” She said admittedly. “I met one, and no one believes me.”

“Oh fuck,” I thought.

While I had been so excited about the pictures and worried about things that could happen to us on the drive to and from, I never once thought about what these pictures might do. My daughter held in her hand a picture of her with a unicorn. Adelyn truly believed that these horses were really unicorns. She even saw the pictures with the bridle on the pony and said it was there because that’s where the reins go, and she wasn’t wrong. 

I did not know how to handle the situation. She still believes in Santa, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy. If I told her unicorns weren’t real, what kind of chaos was I about to unleash? 

“Not everyone may have the chance to have such a magical meeting,” I told her, trying to think of the best way to handle the situation. “You were very lucky and had the chance to have a magical moment and pictures from it. You don’t always have to make people believe you. What matters most is you hold this moment in your heart forever. What do you feel when you look at the pictures?” I asked her. 

She looked at the picture and thought for a moment. “Happy and pretty.” 

“Then that’s all the matters.” I smiled at her. “Do you feel less pretty because they don’t  believe?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“Then who cares what they believe?”

That answer seemed to be good enough because she ran off and started harassing her older brother. 

There have been times throughout the year that Adelyn has brought up that the boys in her class don’t believe her. But now the girls are saying they believe in fairies and other magical creatures. 

Eventually, I might tell her the unicorns she met were just horses. But I might not have to. Adelyn is extremely smart. Who knows, one day, she might pick up the pictures and see the bridle for something more than just holding the reins. 


Day 24: A painful journey from the V.A to the Cleveland Clinic

I am not going to lie; there are times that I forget that my husband is broken. Maybe that’s not the best way to word it. Should I say permanently injured? I don’t know. Tyler joined the Army at eighteen in the best shape of his life, and now about six months from his 40th birthday, we are spending our fifth day in the hospital, hoping to get some relief for the pain in his back. Only this time, we’re at the Cleveland Clinic instead of the V. A. 

You’d think after almost eight years, I’d be used to his limitations. But I am not. I 110% blame him. Tyler is amazing and pushes through the pain more than he should. To give you an idea of how bad things are, he was medically retired from the Army for how destroyed his discs were in his lower back. Before thirty, he had one of the destroyed discs replaced, his back fused, and has two rods and four screws. However, if you looked at Tyler, you’d never know he lives in constant pain. 

Probably one of the worst things about his injuries; unless he takes his shirt off, there are no visible scars. I know they are there, but it’s easy to forget. Tyler still goes about his life, mind you, sometimes slower than others our age but still more active than most. 

He coaches our son’s 10U rec baseball team, and he isn’t just sitting on the side. I can not count how often I watched Tyler and wondered if his brain had fallen out because he was catching for Mark as he warmed up to pitch. I’m certain that I pray every time he squats down that he’ll be able to stand back up because I’m far too tiny to help. Luckily there are some big dads, and his assistant coaches can help if that is ever the case. 

In December, on his way home from work, Tyler hurt his back after changing the tire on the truck. When he got home, he was very stiff and was having trouble getting off the couch. I suggested that we go to the V. A., and he shot down the idea. He told me he just needed rest. So Saturday rolled around, and I did my best not to bug him, which felt impossible since he had promised to put up the Christmas lights. However, the rest did not help, and when he woke up Sunday, he told me, “we’ll go. Something is wrong.” 

The V. A. doesn’t give painkillers anymore; however, they did give him something to help manage the pain. The Er gave him two shots, one was a steroid, and the other was a muscle relaxer. A few days later, we were surprised to find out that the Er doctor could get him in for an MRI. It had nearly been two years from his last one, and no matter how many times he told his primary care doctor, they never sent him to get a new one. 

Tyler got the results of his MRI back through the patient portal with no call from a physician at the hospital. So we were left to try and decode what was going wrong with him. As he waited to hear back from pain management or anyone from the hospital, his back went out again. 

At the end of January, and the beginning of 2023 baseball season, Tyler was in pain. It was so bad that he called me and said we needed to go to the Er. I called my parents and asked if they could watch the kids as we went to the Er. Of course, they said yes. 

After checking in, a nurse came in with a wheelchair. Tyler tried to refuse it, but she was very convincing, and thankfully he took the ride because it would have been a very long and slow walk. 

We had been to the V. A. hospital nearly once a month for the last three months and it had been a pure shit show. Just trust me when I say you never want the government involved with your healthcare. It has been a nightmare of a fight trying to get Tyler taken care of. It took putting the V. A. on blast on social media, before we finally started to get somewhere regarding his health care. Only it was far too little too late. His health was declining, and the injections scheduled at the end of February were looking to be too long down the road. 

The Er doctor gave Tyler the steroid shot again to alleviate the pain. That way, we could make it to the February appointment. The nurse came out with a cane, and he outright refused it. But I took the cane and threatened to beat him with it if he didn’t use it. The nurse laughed and asked how long we were together. She also asked him to blink twice if he needed help. Tyler, of course, blinked rapidly. 

Since he likes to pretend nothing is wrong when he’s on the field, I’m a bit hypervigilant watching him during practice. And at the beginning of the season, one of the mom’s noticed that I looked stressed. Anita was Adelyn’s cheerleading coach in the fall, and that was probably why I unleashed everything when she asked if I was okay. I didn’t mean to word vomit everything we’ve been dealing with with the V. A., but I did. Anita sat and listened to all the crap we’ve dealt with the V. A., and her ex-husband listened too. I knew she was a nurse, and I assumed he was a doctor because he always wore scrubs. I didn’t know he was a neurosurgeon specializing in spines and degenerative disc diseases. 

After I explained all the shit we’ve been going through over the last seven years, Dr. Miller asked if we had a copy of Tyler’s mri, which, oddly enough, I had the write-up in my email. I showed it to him, and Dr. Miller said, “that was the worst thing he’s ever read.” I wasn’t surprised because the medical care, or lack thereof, we were used to getting at the V. A. had to trickle down and into the imaging department. So I told him we’d bring the cd to the next practice. 

So by the rec baseball season opening day, we had to visit the V. A. twice for how severe his back pain had gotten. Even though Tyler is in chronic pain and probably shouldn’t be coaching baseball, he has never allowed the pain to get in the way of doing what he loves. Because if he does let the pain stop him, then what does he have left?

I know I joked at the beginning of this blog about Tyler falling down and not getting back up, but it’s not really a joke. His bulging discs have been pressing on the nerves in his back, affecting his legs. Tyler’s right leg has lost feeling, and when he steps, he doesn’t entirely feel what his leg is doing. 

A few days after Tyler gave Dr. Miller the cd of his MRI, Tyler told me that the pain was terrible. He didn’t actually need to tell me. I could see it. He had trouble standing from a sitting position, and his legs had trouble supporting him. I suggested we go back to the V. A. He complained that there was no point since they wouldn’t give him anything for the pain, and he had an epidural scheduled for a few weeks. But I reminded him that the Er gave him a steroid shot, and it did help a little with the pain. Instead of going to the ER, as I suggested, he waited. But he did promise that if it got worse, he’d go. 

The following day was the opening day of baseball. Tyler coached, but this time he actually sat. His thigh started to pulsate, making it even more challenging to stand. I was worried and told him we should go to the hospital, but he said no because Mark had a travel game. He promised if he felt worse after the game, we’d go. I teased him a little about waiting, but I was glad to know he was toying with the idea. 

I didn’t join him for the second set of games. I went home with our five-year-old and three-month-old and started making dinner. As I cooked, I had a strange feeling that something terrible had happened. For the last hour, I had not received a text or phone call, and usually, he would text me randomly throughout the games, like stupid memes or updates on how Mark was playing. However, it had been radio silence. 

Then the game ended, and shortly after Tyler would usually call to tell me about the game, I received a call. 

“I’m only telling you this because I know how pissed off you’d be if you heard it from someone else.” 

I don’t know what ran through my mind other than it couldn’t be that bad because he was driving. 

“My leg gave out,” he said before I could ask. 

I tried not to laugh, but I did. “Excuse me, what?” 

“A foul ball came over the fence, and I stepped to catch it, and my leg gave out.” he was laughing while explaining what happened. 

“Did you at least catch the ball?” I asked. 

“No! That’s the worst part.” 

I waited until he got home to hear the whole story. Again I called my parents and asked them if they could watch the kids as we went to the hospital. I think it was becoming routine at this point. I finished cooking, inhaled my food, and packed up things for the littles in case they had to stay the night. 

I heard the door open and nearly pounced on him. I asked him if he was okay, and he said not really. His thigh was still pulsating. It looked extremely uncomfortable and weird. He grabbed a bowl of dinner and ate, explaining what had happened. 

A ball went over the fence, and he barely stepped back. I asked if he was on the sidewalk or stairs, and he said no, it was level ground. One minute he was fine, and the next, he was on the ground laughing. A few other dads laughed with him, but I think they did it because they were equally uncomfortable with what happened. 

One dad, Larry, a physician assistant who used to work for a nero, walked over and asked if Tyler was okay. He said yes. Then Larry asked if Tyler was going to just lay there or wanted help. Tyler chose to lie on the ground for a while. 

A few moms checked on him, and one yelled at the other laughing dads and then yelled at Tyler for not using his cane. That just made Tyler laugh more. His motto is if you can’t laugh at it, then what’s the point? 

He said that after getting off the ground, Dr. Miller called to discuss his MRI, and Tyler told him about his leg going out. Dr. Miller said his nurse would call in a steroid pack for him and try to get a hold of him on Monday. She would be starting the process with the V. A. To get his case transferred to Dr. Miller because what the V. A. had planned wouldn’t help fix what had made Tyler’s leg go out. 

As he told me about the incident, Tyler rubbed his leg. It had been pulsing for eight hours, and it was fatigued. The muscle hurt, and Tyler couldn’t fully support himself. We dropped the kids off and headed to the V. A. 

They gave him steroid injections and sent us on our way. 

About a week or so after that Er visit, we were at the V. A. again, only this time for a scheduled visit. Tyler’s pain management doctor had him set up to get his nerves burned, and the procedure that he was supposed to go through was to see if he was a candidate or not. Everything seemed to go reasonably smoothly. He went in relatively close to his appointment time and was out in the approximate amount of time.  I was ready for him to tell me something had gone wrong. Nothing ever goes smoothly with the V. A. 

So when I asked him how everything went, I shouldn’t have been surprised when he said they changed everything once he went back with the doctor. 

“Well, what did they do to you?” I asked as we were walking to schedule his next appointment. 

“I got an epidural,” he told me. “the doctor said he looked at my MRI and said what the pain management doctor wanted to do wouldn’t help without doing the epidural first. And since I was already there, they just had to get a different pack.” 

I guess that’s the only bonus of being at the V. A. If they change their mind about what they want to do, everything is at their disposal. It seemed the epidural helped some with the pain. He could walk without a cane if he used a knee brace to give him enough support. The epidural worked well enough to avoid returning to the Er as we waited for Dr. Miller’s office to be approved by the V. A. 

About two weeks later, we got a call from Dr. Miller’s office. They were ready to schedule Tyler’s procedure. The nurse apologized to Tyler for it taking so long. She said there was a miscommunication between the offices. Without her even saying what the issue was, Tyler asked, “did you receive information for an R. Jenkins?” and the nurses said, “yes! I couldn’t figure out why they kept sending me the wrong person’s information, and finally, I saw that Tyler was the middle name.” 

I don’t know how many times this has happened. Tyler always forgets to tell people that he goes by his middle name. And I don’t think he thought about mentioning anything to Dr. Miller’s office since he’s so used to doing everything at the V. A. with his last name and social. 

Tyler received the call Monday, and by the end of the week, I was waiting in the lobby of the Cleveland Clinic to take him home. 

After the procedure, Dr. Miller came out to talk to me. He explained that Tyler would be a little sore and that in the next 48 hours, things may hurt slightly, but it should be better by the end of the week. He reminded me that Tyler should take it easy and not overdo anything, and I said that would not be a problem. Usually, I’m the problem asking him to do things for me because I’m too tiny. Dr. Miller also recommended lots of fluids. 

“Does beer count?” I asked. 

He laughed. “No.”

 “Well, you might want to tell Tyler.” 

When Dr. Miller left, two women sitting in the lobby looked at me like I had grown two heads. 

“Was that Dr. Miller?” one asked. 

I nodded. 

“He must really like your husband. He never does that.” 

On the way home, Tyler and I talked about his procedure. The nurses kept asking if he had wanted to be satiated, and he said no. He was used to receiving the injections with localized anesthetic when he went to the V.A., but with how many times they asked, he was wondering if he should be sedated. When Dr. Miller started the procedure, Tyler and he were joking around. The first injection didn’t hurt, but the second one did. Miller said the second injection was on the nerve causing the most pain. The third injection hurt the worst. Dr. Miller had poked him once, but Tyler’s mental rod was in the way, and he had to dig around a bit. Dr. Miller apologized for the pain, and Tyler said, “don’t worry, I’ll just make your son run, so he hurts as much as me.” 

I don’t think the nurses were ready for the banter between the two men. 

We’re four days out from the nerve injections, and Tyler says he can tell that the feeling is finally coming back in his leg. Today as he was going down the stairs, he knew his leg was still a little weak, but it wouldn’t be long before he wouldn’t need the knee brace anymore. 

I just hope we’ll be able to avoid hospitals for a while.