Life lessons

Why ‘This is Us’ is Bad For Your Health

I swore up and down I wouldn’t start watching the show, ‘This is Us’. After all, I felt as if our own lives had enough drama without watching someone else’s family go through their own difficult life situations. And really, did I want to watch a show that was just going to make me cry? Nope, not me. No matter how many people loved it, I was stubbornly against the idea of opening the door to that show. 

But, winters in Michigan are long and workouts can feel even longer if you don’t have something good to watch while you pound out miles on a treadmill. So, by about February I had already managed to rewatch all my favorite old movies for what felt like the hundredth time. I know many of us can really never get enough of ‘The Wedding Planner’ though, am I right? But, I still had a lot of cold weather to get through and I’ll admit, I must have been feeling a bit weak. So, one day I quietly gave in and started ‘This is Us’, all the while telling myself that the first time I cried through an episode, I would stop watching immediately. Ha! As any of you who have watched the show know, that goal was never going to happen. 

The Pearson family is a hot mess, it’s true. But they are also so real. It’s as if I’m watching the family down the street (or many times, watching my own family). How could anyone not become completely invested in them? They love fiercely and mess up constantly, but all the while manage to grow on you until you feel as if you know each of them personally. In one episode, Kate tells her mom, Rebecca, “you aren’t in my way mom, you ARE my way”. This was perhaps the moment that sealed the love of this show for me. I mean really, how could a line like that not just seep into your soul and rip out your heart?! And the creativity of the writers is phenomenal. I have no idea how they manage to keep all the complex back and forth timelines of the show straight. 

So, after all my unwillingness to watch the show, I’ve managed to continue watching all the way to the 4th season (yes, it is still too cold to exercise outside, and yes, it is almost the end of April..ugh.). Wait, I should clarify. I’ve managed to bawl my way through the first three seasons. Now, this wouldn’t be much of as problem except for the issue of watching it while I’m working out. Have you ever become a bit emotional while running, riding a bike, or doing any cardio whatsoever? If not, let me tell you this…it doesn’t end well. There have been numerous times I’ve had to completely stop the treadmill or bike while watching ‘This is Us’, not because I’m just to distraught to continue (yeah, we’ll go with that). But for the mere fact that I simply couldn’t even breathe! It’s impossible to do cardio when bawling your eyes out because your throat closes up and you just can’t catch your breath. See what I mean about this show being bad for your health? I could quite literally pass out while watching it.

So, now I’ve learned to have tissues strategically placed near both the treadmill and bike.

I also make sure if the episode coming up looks like it may be pretty emotional, that I’m prepared to stop and just cry it out instead of trying to continue my workout, blurry-eyed and gasping for breath.  I’ve also implemented a, “mom needs to workout without any interruptions rule” so no one will happen upon me as I’m an emotional wreck blubbering my way through a particularly touching scene. Thinking about it now, perhaps I should have opted for something a bit easier to watch, like, ‘The Tiger King’ or ‘Superstore’. Nah, I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment. 

Consider this your PSA for the day. I feel it’s my civic duty to warn you about the potential risks you may be facing if you choose to watch this show. You are now in the know that ‘This is Us’, is a fantastic show but could also be potentially bad for your health if, like me you choose to foolishly watch it in order to entertain you during your workouts.

Since I’m almost caught up with the show, I might need to start considering a new one to watch. I’m thinking maybe, ‘Call the Midwife’ since I now consider myself fully prepared for whatever that show might throw at me thanks to the training I’ve been getting with ‘This is Us’. 😉

Life lessons

School’s out for Summer

School’s out for summer.

School’s out forever.

-Alice Cooper

The executive order came out last week. 

In person school has been cancelled for the remainder of the year. 

Although I’ve known it was coming, the blow still hit me hard. Reality often does hit hard in this day and age, doesn’t it?

I braced myself to tell the boys, figuring it would be a difficult conversation. But they took it surprisingly well. I asked them if they felt sad or disappointed and they said they didn’t. I asked for some feedback and all I got was, “well if it means less work in the end, then I’m all for it”. Yep, that’s my introverted, homebody son for you.

And that’s when it hit me. Sometimes news like this is harder on the parents than on the kids. Not always, many kids do take it hard I know, but many times parents are left with the feeling of loss as well. I’m not even talking about the difficult logistics of having kids home all the time, trying to homeschool, keeping them busy, etc. That’s a whole other ballgame. I’m just talking about the loss of what was to come. 

This year we have an 8th grader and a senior. Needless to say, these are two milestone school years. 

Our 8th grader will be a (gulp) high schooler next year. He was looking forward to a spring track season to help him prepare for cross country in high school. He was having a great year and had formed some fantastic friendships. It really seemed as if he had found his place. Unfortunately, since his school this year is a small private school that ends in 8th grade, all of his friends will scatter to different high schools next year. I personally have loved his school. The nurturing environment and small size were really what he needed after a few years moving around internationally. I truly appreciated the support given freely time and time again by staff and parents. I can’t even begin to convey what an overall great experience it has been. 

Then there’s our senior. Now that school’s closed he clearly won’t have the opportunity to experience all his lasts as a high school student. He won’t go to prom. He won’t have his last class. He won’t even have a graduation ceremony.

These are things that I’ve realized mean more to me than I would have ever realized. I appreciate life’s milestones very much. Celebrating all the lasts and firsts in life are a really big deal to me and many of these experiences come into our family through our kid’s lives. 

So, are the boys ok? Yes. Am I ok? Not really, but I’m getting there. Every day gets a bit easier. I took down their school schedules. They’ve emptied out their backpacks. And we’ve gotten into a new ”normal” routine. But waves of sadness do still hit me. I suppose I need a bit of time to mourn. 

Life will go on. New firsts and lasts will happen. Our world will recover and these times will turn into a history lesson for the people of the future. But right now is hard. We will all be faced with disappointment and change in our life circumstances. Sometimes we may just need to lick our wounds for a bit before we pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. 

I am so proud of my boys and their resiliency. May it be a lesson to me to focus on the here and now instead of the what could have (or should have) been. We are blessed. We are together. And this too shall pass. 

But oh how the type A, hyper-planner in me hates every minute of it! 😉

Stay strong!

-Laurie

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Life lessons

Joining the Sweatpants Revolution

I usually have pretty high standards about what I consider an acceptable level of self-grooming that I need to complete in order to leave the house. A shower is a must. A decent outfit, also a must. And make-up, well I just won‘t leave home without it. That’s the way I’ve been since pretty much the time I started dressing myself. I don’t think any less of people who don’t go to the extent I do in order to go out into the world, unless of course they didn’t even bother to change out of their pajamas. It’s really hard not to get a bit judgy about that. But for me, my level of comfort is not fancy, but does take some effort.

So, I’ve been feeling a bit rebellious over the past week-and-a-half over the fact that my make-up drawer has remained closed, and my outfits have become a bit redundant. I’ve quickly grown tired of picking my good, “out of the house pants” in order to wear while only wandering around from the bedroom to the kitchen. Are they just jeans? Yes. But even a good pair of jeans has a wear life and if you’re like me, it’s challenging to find that perfect pair.

All this led to me finding myself shopping online for…dare I say it? Sweatpants. It’s true, I actually sought out and bought two pairs of sweatpants. Because, while I don’t want to wear my good jeans on a homebound day, staying in my pajamas all day just doesn’t feel right either. So for now, my alternative has become a comfy pair of sweatpants. 

Isn’t it funny in today’s world the new things we get worked up about? Many of the things that bother us are completely different than the issues we had a mere two weeks ago. Some silly, some not so silly, but unique challenges all the same. 

Sometimes this means we have to step outside our comfort zone a bit in order to maintain our sanity. Even if it means joining the sweatpants revolution. 

So for now I say, viva la sweatpants! 

Just do me a favor, please. Don’t come knocking on my door unannounced because in a week or two, I might just get to the point where I decide to exchange my sweatpants for pajamas and begin to think showers are optional. And if, when this all blows over, you see me in Costco in my pajamas, please don’t judge. I will have gone through a long time being stuck in the house with two teenagers and a husband working from home.

Stay comfy, my friends!

-Laurie

p.s. This post is not in any way knocking sweatpants. In fact, I’m surprised I haven’t owned a pair until now. They’re amazing!

p.p.s. And just to feel a bit more classy, I decided to buy joggers over the traditional grey sweatpants of old. Why are they more classy? I have no idea (and in all honesty, I’m sure they’re not), but my conscience somehow feels better about it, so I’m going with that. 😉

Life lessons

Tea Time

Hi Friends! It’s been a while but things have been a bit crazy around here. Know what I mean?

These are incredible times we’re living in, that’s for sure! No one living today has ever lived through anything quite like this. Every day brings change. Everyone is glued to the latest news. We are all learning a “new normal”. Countries are coping with many obstacles and it’s been crazy how quickly life as we know it has changed. 

For many of us, last week was the first week of us being home more. For a homebody like me, this wasn’t too unusual but having everyone at home with me 24/7 was. Adults had to try and figure out how to work from home and parents had to try and figure out how to support their children when most of us had very little direction from schools as to what we should do. 

I would say our first week was a success but it wasn’t easy. Right off the bat, I made a daily weekday schedule for the boys so they wouldn’t be walking around on their devices all day and night. We certainly had our ups and downs. Jack’s school has been very proactive with remote learning but Elijah (our senior) has still not received any direction from school. I’m not blaming them. These are unprecedented times and everyone is trying to figure things out. However, it has made my job “Momschooling” a bit more difficult. That being said, we’ve managed to figure things out. Both boys watch documentaries, read, help cook, do chores, and projects around the house. We’ve all had more family time, and Elijah and Jack are spending more time together which is all a huge blessing. 

But, perhaps you were like me last week, and experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I was laughing and the next crying. I found that often times I woke up with a great attitude and ended the day in frustration. I’m worried about our parents and our kids who are away from us. We are worried about Brett’s job, about our house build, and bills. Now don’t get me wrong, at our core we know that God is always with us and how incredibly blessed we are. Those are the things that always carry us through. But emotions run high through volatile times and we have all learned that prayer, patience and flexibility are key.

So, overall last week was a success. Honestly it was a peak and valley kind of week and I’m sure you can totally relate. I am so grateful for this time we’ve been given where we can slow down and just get to know each other again. Where we can have lingering conversations over a meal, or I can teach the boys basic skills that we are usually just too busy to do. Have I had waaaaay less time for me? Absolutely! I’m working on that. But when I step back and remind myself that I am investing in my family even more than I usually do, I feel really good. I hope the boys will come out of this knowing how to cook a meal, and make a bed. They will understand how much work goes into keeping a house running smoothly and how to shop for a family. But most of all, I pray that by the end of this, they will know just how much their mom loves them. Because if that happens, my heart will be full.

Hang in there, my friends!

Do as I do and take this one moment at a time. Try to see the good before the bad. There are so many blessings that can come out of this. Turn to prayer and trust God that He will bring us out of this stronger and closer than ever before. Sit back, treat yourself to a cup of tea and a handful of M&M’s and just enjoy the peace of home. We may never have this opportunity again to invest in ourselves and to invest in those we love.

A goal of my more “me time” is to write more. If I can swing it, expect lots more updates in the next few weeks. They may be short, they may be happy, or they may be sad but I hope you’ll join me through this journey.

Together we are strong, and we can get through this!

-Laurie

Life lessons

A Tough Mom Day

Today was a tough mom day. Well, let me clarify that a bit. Today for the most part, was actually a pretty good day. I worked out, had lunch with a friend, and ran some errands. Yes, today was a good day-until dinner time when my good day came to a screeching halt.

During our delicious meal of beloved tacos (classy, I know), our conversation turned to relationships. It was during this time that my 17-year-old (soon to be an adult, out in the world on his own) told me that he thinks, and I quote, “respect is overrated”. The sad thing is, he is drop dead serious in this opinion. He thinks I’m living old-school when I say women (and people in general) should be respected. When I told him my opinion on respecting women he responded with, “well I think I should be respected”. I sat there dumbfounded at where he came up with this nonsense. Silly me, I know exactly where he got it-from media and popular social opinion. His dad and I certainly never taught him any of that nonsense, that’s for sure! After 26 years, my husband still opens the car door for me and that’s the way it should be, for Pete’s sake! If that makes us old-school then I certainly never want to be new-school.

So that was bad, but he’s been known to spout off his ridiculously progressive teenage opinions from time to time, so I was able to shake my head and blow it off. Well, blow it off as best I could. I am a mom after all, and of course tend to blame myself for every wayward idea or action my children have.

But then came the ride to youth group with my 13-year-old who proceeded to remind me how, “dad is the fun one”, and how, “dad works harder than I do for our family because he has a JOB”. Oooh, I think the smoke was literally coming out of my ears on that comment. I quickly reminded him that his dad and I both work very hard for the family but just in different ways. He disagreed completely of course, and we spent the rest of the car ride in silence.

So that was it. Just like that, day ruined. 

Ok I know, these may seem like small issues in the big grand scheme of life. I get it. But they are really big to me. Like I said before, this is my job and I take it very personally. After all, God entrusted these kids to me to shape and mold in preparation to send them out into the world, and love the world as He loved us. When my kids say things like they did today, I feel like I have completely failed at the one job I’ve been given. I know it isn’t really as dire as that, but some days I just worry about the people I’ve brought up, who will soon be independent, active members of society. 

We mothers have one of the most thankless jobs in the world. That is, if it’s even really considered a job (I’m being sarcastic, of course). Every day we tirelessly give ourselves fully-physically and emotionally to our family’s wellbeing. We may not get a paycheck. Heck, we usually don’t even get a thank you. And although we may get thrown up on, yelled at, and disrespected, we are always there and show up ready for each new day. 

But believe it or not, despite it all I still consider being a mom one of the best jobs in the world. Perhaps I’m just a glutton for punishment, I don’t know. I do miss the days when the kids were young and would hold my hand. The days when they would look up at me with their big, bright eyes beaming with so much love that would just fill up my heart. I suppose when I’m having a bad mom day, or even just a bad mom evening, I need to remember those precious times. I need to take a step back and remind myself that it will all be ok. That, while God has entrusted these little ones to me, He also has a plan for them. He gave each of them to me knowing that I would be perfect for them, even when I fear I am not. God is allowing me to plant the seeds and He will produce the fruit. 

So, here’s to all you weary moms out there (myself included). Your job is not one that is paid because no one could put a price tag on what you do. You are valuable. You are important. And although it may not seem like it at times, you are loved. 

That’s all. 

Tomorrow’s a new day.

So give yourself a big pat on the back, and carry on. 

You’ve got this, and so do I…I think. 😉

Life lessons

The Day I Shut Down the Costco Photo Center

If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you I am a very organized person. I love my label maker and have a rather large collection of jars and baskets. In fact, our last movers actually laughed at me as they opened the tenth box of jars to be unpacked. But in my defense, no matter how many jars or baskets one may have, you just never seem to have the perfect one for what you want to get organized. Do you know what I mean? Please tell me I’m not the only crazy jar hoarder out there!

As you may know, we moved overseas and while abroad, ended up selling our house back in The States. This meant all of our Stateside belongings would go into storage for a few years until we returned. Not a problem, right?  

Not a problem that is, except for a highly organized person like me. You see, for 19 straight years I diligently put together a yearly photo album of all the wonderful memories we had made from January-December of the previous year. Every year 300 photos were carefully selected from the thousands (yes, I take a ton of pictures) of family milestones, fun trips, and special events that happened that year. It was a big job but very manageable, if it was done only once a year. 

We ended up staying overseas for almost four years and when all was said and done, I had five year’s worth of photo albums to catch up on. One year-big job. Five years-monumental task. But I decided there’s no time to tackle a big project like wintertime in antarctic, subzero Michigan since I would most likely be stuck inside every day anyway.

The big day came. I was going to sort through each year’s pictures and choose a mere 300 per year. Two weeks later, the task was done. It was so hard! We had so many grand adventures while overseas and experienced so many new things that narrowing them down was very difficult. But I persevered, yes I did! And when all was done, I had organized each year’s 300 photos in chronological order and placed them neatly into five separate folders. 

Next came the task of uploading all the pictures onto a photo ordering website. People raved about Costco’s online photo ordering system so I figured I would start there. It took two days to upload all of my photos. Finally I was ready to place my order so I proceeded to select every single photo individually and put them all in my cart. All 1510 of them. Yes, 1510. As you can imagine, the online photo center didn’t like this one bit and told me this by going completely crazy. As in, the entire system shut down. I couldn’t upload anything and what I had uploaded couldn’t be placed into my cart. “Of course,” I thought. “Leave it to me to shut down the entire Costco online photo center.” 

After a few more hours of trying different things, I finally managed to upload all my photos into my cart. Oh boy! So, once again I hand selected every photo and dropped them into my cart. Easy, right? Oh you’re funny to think so. Of course it wouldn’t be that easy. Wait, has this project been in the slightest way easy? Nope.

Oh, I sure do crack myself up!

As I scrolled through the photos in my cart, I realized they were ALL OUT OF ORDER. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way in which they uploaded. Not by year. Not by place. Not by anything that made any sense. I wasn’t laughing at myself too hard anymore by this point.

Now, I’m not afraid of hard work but this was too much, even for me. Can you imagine sifting through 1510 photos taken over the course of five years and trying to organize them all chronologically? Me neither! So I reluctantly emptied the cart that took two days to fill and started over by year. I decided it would be way easier to organize the photos if they were grouped by year so I created five different individual orders. Lo and behold they all went through and a week later, a huge bag-full of boxes filled with our treasured photos arrived at my doorstep. 

All that was left to do after that was: go through all of the photos, organize them, put them into their respective books, caption them, and voila! Just like that it would be done. 

I’m happy to say that I finished my “little” winter project yesterday, exactly one month after I started. But have no fear, we are an organized family once again (at least in the photo book sense). And although the Costco photo department took one for the team on this one, they came through and helped us preserve our memories. Thanks Costco! 

On a final note. 

If you happen to be reading this in February of next year, please don’t forget to remind me to do our photo album from last year. I don’t ever want to tackle a project this big again, that’s for sure. If I do, Costco may end up banning me for life. 😉

Life lessons

Musings of a Middle-Aged Mom

Here I go again, starting a new blog as if I have all the time in the world to kill. 

As much as I hate it, sometimes I have to admit I’m crazy. It’s not as if I have a household to run. With a million things on my to-do list, dryer humming in the background, dinner to make, kids to corral. No. All that has been put aside so I can have some “me time”. 

Ok, I know writing a blog isn’t everyone’s idea of “me time”. But has become my outlet. My chance to put my stamp on something that’s only mine. We all need something that’s just ours, right? Especially us moms! 

I’ve spent the last 26 years nurturing and loving our little brood. Bandaging scraped knees, reading bedtime stories, drying tears when life got hard. I’ve learned that motherhood is never easy. In fact most of the time, it’s just messy. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way, that’s for sure! But through it all, I’ve loved my kids and my husband fiercely and the best I can. After all, God gave me each of my four children because He knew I am exactly what they needed…right? Some days I have to tell myself that over and over again. How about you?

Our lives are never dull, but boy are they amusing (at least I get a kick out of our craziness). Here’s a glimpse of our recent adventures:

We lived an average American life up until about four years ago. A house in the suburbs, strong marriage, and four active kids. I suppose God thought our lives were getting a bit dull so He gave us a life-changing opportunity. Thanks to a job relocation, half of us up and moved to China (our older two had already moved out of the house-we didn’t just draw straws to see who got to join us-haha). The funny thing is, I always said I would NEVER move to China. I told my husband, if you ever end up working halfway around the world, you can go by yourself! Ha! Well, that didn’t pan out. I love him too much to let him live that far away. 

After three years in Shanghai, we had a surprise relocation to Bangkok, Thailand. Before we moved abroad I knew nothing about Thailand. In fact, I was like many people who thought Bangkok was actually located in China. Geese! Once we finally settled in Bangkok, we thought we would be there for 2-3 years. Well, par for our crazy course, we ended up getting relocated again after only a year. However, this time we got to come back home to good old Michigan! And it’s a good thing too since our Christmas present from our daughter and her husband was the news of our first grand baby on the way! WOOHOO!!!

And because we can never seem to keep our lives dull, we’ve decided to build a house. Now that process could be a blog in and of itself!

So now, here I sit. A million things still on my to-do list, the dryer stopped and our clothes getting wrinkled, and the chicken thawed out for dinner. I suppose my “me time” has come to an end, but I sure hope to have more of it to share some more of our crazy lives with you. 

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey. I’m sure I will keep you thoroughly amused. 🙂

-Laurie

P.S. If you want to read more about our adventures abroad, or get some great travel tips, check out my other blog:

The Bunch Abroad