2013 Was Good, But 2014 Will Be AWESOME!

For the last month or so, I completely ignored the fact that I have a blog. Oh! I haven’t given up on it,  I’ve just been rearranging the things on my Life’s plate, while vigorously preparing to storm into twenty fourteen. Sadly, the blog is always the first thing to suffer, when it comes to rearranging and prioritizing. But I just couldn’t put twenty thirteen into the books, without giving it the proper send off that it deserves from me, thus this post is being created.
Twenty thirteen is the first year, in a really long time, where I can actually see light at the end of the long booby-trapped tunnel.
During the pass year, I had a whole lot of downs. My finances have been tried, my sanity has been ran through the ringer, and most importantly, my motherhood has been tested, time and time again. But I managed to survive and surpass every single challenge. On the last day of 2013, just a few hours before the new year comes upon us, I’m smiling and I’m genuinely happy. All four of my children are safe and in the house, they’re happy too! I have my dad here, with us (I’ve written all about that for an upcoming post) and that in itself is a magnificent miracle. All I can say is, I survived again! The only difference between this time and others? I can really see the end of the dreary road. There’s a crossroad up ahead and that’s where the course of my life, my father’s life and my children’s life will take a hard left. There’s a lot of great things in store for this unit and the only way to get there properly is to send the year, that refilled all of our hope, off is by paying it, its proper respect.
I also must say that I’ve had some great support from my online blogging friends Tamara (Like) Camera, The Dose Gals!, and Jennice of Mommy In Color. No matter how infrequently I made posts and no matter how depressing a post (or tweet) that I wrote was, these ladies were front and center, supporting and encouraging me to press forward. I wish you all knew just how much your comments, replies or RT’s kept me from giving up or making a stupid and detrimental decision. At one time or another, your responses came at just the right times and when I needed them the most. I wasn’t strong enough to say all of this before, but I refuse to let 2013 go, without saying it now! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
To whomever is reading this post: I highly recommend getting to know these four amazing women via their bogs, Twitter and/or Facebook. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. There are no nice enough words to describe their awesomeness!
So here comes the conclusion of my final post of 2013: I cannot wait to bask in the prosperity and abundance that’s meeting me and this little unit of mines in the upcoming year. I wish you all, nothing short of happiness, peace and abundance, as you make your way successfully and happily through 2014.
Until next year, be safe and blessed!

 

Mariann
farewell 2013farewell last time
P.S. Excuse my last minute pics. I know the importance of having pics in every blog post, thus I took these with my cell phone, two minutes before creating an ending to this post!

Happy New Year!

P.P.S If there are any errors in this post, forgive those too. I had very little time for proofreading and quality editing!

Happy New Year, again!

Challenge to Meditate

I recently came across an email in my inbox and it made me über excited. It was an invite from Oprah. Well, not from Oprah herself, but from her website. Oprah and Deepak Chopra were inviting members of the O website to participate in a 21 Day Meditation Experience. Normally, I would just delete this email. I’m never excited about these invites or anything that has to do with meditating. Long ago, I convinced myself that I couldn’t meditate. In my mind, it was too hard and I had way too much going on in my life, to not focus on any of it. As far as I was concerned, meditating was for someone who didn’t have four children to raise by herself. It was for the chick whose life was upbeat and going just as she’d planned it, and she wasn’t me!
Just the other day I was suddenly convinced otherwise. The time had come for me to begin meditating. It’s the life change that I’d been seeking. There was no doubt.
I knew for certain that I was going to do it. Not only was I going to meditate, but I was going to be great at it. Something in my spirit told me that. Without a second thought,  I clicked on the link and was on my way to start the Meditation Experience.

Meditate

When I got to the website and enrolled, they were already on day eight of the challenge. Although I couldn’t go back to the first day, I was able to begin at day four. I grabbed some paper and a pen and pressed play.
I sat there and I listened.
First Oprah spoke. The essence of her words were so powerful. I actually understood every word that came out of her mouth.
I scribbled a few notes and reminders before Deepak took over.
Usually I have difficulty truly “understanding” his message. They always seem to go way over my head. Not this time.
I needed no decoding of the message. I got every single word of it. I was connected.

At the end of the verbal lesson is where the meditation takes place. I think it lasts about ten or fifteen minutes. Deepak gives us several examples of how to apply the lesson to our lives before giving us the mantra.
If we find ourselves distracted any time during meditation, we’re to repeat the mantra over and over until we’re in a relaxed focused state again.
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my moments of meditation. Ninety-five percent of the time, I’ve been focused and haven’t had to rely solely on repeating the mantra to bring me back. Technically, it’s only day four for me, but yet I feel the change already. I swear it was instant! People can see, and they can hear the change in me. One of my girlfriends came over for a visit and complimented me on how beautiful my skin was looking (by the way, no knew that I’d embarked on this meditation journey). I can’t tell you the last time I heard a compliment about my skin. My face carries all of my daily stresses and it has been dull looking for several years now, so to get that specific compliment was totally unexpected.
I feel lighter and focused. For the first time in a long time, I’m not overwhelmed with life and life choices. I learned from one of the lessons, to enjoy the journey.
If this is where I am four days in, I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in two weeks, or in a month!
I’m sharing this post because I’m always in search of a positive outlet. When I find something that works for me, I share it because I want us all to be happy and free. Plus, it never hurts to have some extra armor as we make the journey through life.

I hope you find just as much success in meditating as I have…..so far! If you’d like to join Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Meditation Experience, it’s not too late and it’s free!
What are some methods that you use to stay positive?

Namasté

The Price I Pay to get Back

photo

Swollen raggedy cuticles are a tell-tell sign that all is not well in my universe. Under normal circumstances, I’m not a nail biter or a cuticle nibbler. Only when I become overwhelmed, nervous, fall low or feel anxious, do I unintentionally become obsessed with gnawing at my cuticles and finger nails. I was sitting and trying to compartmentalize my thoughts yesterday, when I noticed my jagged cuticles.
They looked horrific!
I gasped when I “saw” what I’d done to them. They were slightly discolored from the rest of the skin on my fingers and scabs were beginning to form in the areas that were attempting to heal. It wasn’t until that moment, while I was inspecting the damage I’d done, that I became aware that I was in a total state of crumbling. I only brutalize myself in this way when I’m, in fact crumbling. Almost immediately I started working on bringing myself back into the moment.
*breathe slowly Mariann
deep breath in
now breathe it out
repeat, repeat, repeat*

At that point, I wasn’t conscious and hadn’t been in about a week or so. Things were not well in my head and I’d punished my poor cuticles for it. I needed to get back to being fully conscious. I started repeating Affirmations over and over
*It’s easy for me to control my thoughts
I am in control of my thoughts

I am living in the moment
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me
repeat, repeat, repeat*

It took a while, but I finally made it. I fought hard to lift myself up and to get back. I was greeted by a tear streaked face, no free edges to speak of, and slightly swollen and moderately raw cuticles — but I made it.
I studied my destroyed fingertips for a bit, before grabbing a bottle of nail polish from the caddy in the bathroom. Never mind that I’d jumbled the last week of my entire world into a big ball of BLAH! I made it back and hopefully with very little to no damage imposed upon my offspring. I sat there and painted each of my nails while silently thanking God for allowing me an easily recognizable trigger — which prompts me to fight my way back.

Do you battle depression? How do you control or cope with it

Raising Polite Children In An Impolite World

Blue Bell Ice Cream
There’s no denying southern hospitality. If you’ve traveled to or through any part of the southern states, nine times out of ten, you’ve gotten yourself a taste of some of that good ol’ southern hospitality. Southern hospitality has always run rampant in the southern region of the United States. The south is literally bursting at the seams with excessive kindness. There’s just a general friendliness that a lot of southerners seem to naturally possess. It’s almost like it’s etched in their DNA to be nice, charming and so welcoming.
2968133096_3089e5ccd7_o

There’s nothing unusual about a true blue southerner yelling good morning across the street to one of his neighbors or to wave a hearty wave to complete strangers, as they pass by. It’s normal for a southerner to “never meet a stranger”. Indulging in a lengthy conversation in the department store with a person who they’ve never laid eyes on before, happens all the time for the hospitable southerner. The unreal part is this, as welcoming as some southerners are, there are some who can be just as rude!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARedneck sticker 2

After all of the good southern hospitality hype, doesn’t seem like being rude would even fit into the same blog post, eh? Living in the south these last two years, I’m overwhelmed (in a good way) with southern hospitality, but I’m just as overwhelmed (in a bad way) by the rudeness of people. As an adult, who was born in Ohio, raised in Detroit and visits Chicago often, the impolite and rudeness doesn’t bother me. I know just how to handle rude people, but it’s my mommy side that’s having trouble dealing with it.
It wasn’t even an option to raise my children other than how my parents raised me —  be polite, courteous, considerate, respectful and kind. Most importantly, be helpful whenever you can and treat everyone fairly. What I’m finding is that everyone hasn’t had that kind of home training, nor are they raising their children that way. From school staff, school administrators, school bus drivers, fellow drivers on the road, all the way down to kids on my son’s football team, we’ve crossed paths with some extremely rude individuals down here. It’s almost unreal, as to how rude and nasty people can act towards other people. Remember I’m the mother who raised her sons to hold doors open and told her daughters to lend the neighbors a helping hand. Am I suppose to continue to teach my children to be so nice, when it’s evident that they aren’t respected for it? In fact, it’s more like they’re being disrespected because they use their good manners and home training. Being polite in today’s world seems to be an open invitation for people to walk all over you. Today the polite kid is deemed the weak kid, and the courteous adult is seen as having no backbone. We’re living in a society where kindness is seen and treated as a weakness. It makes me sad, to know that my children and (one day) grandchildren may live in a world where being polite and courteous will be phased out. Earth and North America from Space - digitally restored What are todays parents, who don’t want to contribute to a mean and rude society yet they don’t want their children to be punching bags either, to do when it comes to teaching their children manners and how to treat other people?

Balance

Danbo The Gymnast

Balance.
Does it still exist in the twenty-first century?
Are people, particularly moms, expected to have everything in their lives, and their children lives, all balanced out?
If such a reality exists, then go ahead and label me a complete and total balancing failure!

For the last three years, not a single thing in my life has been “balanced”. No matter how hard I try, the art of balancing has found a fool proof way to evade my world. I have literally been flying by the seat of my pants, when it comes to living, being a mother and trying to get stuff done. To put it plain and simple,  I am a disheveled, unorganized and the furthest thing from balanced– mess!
Am I the only one? I seem to be the only one!

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but why is it that EVERY mother, woman or person that I come across (whether it’s at the park, mommy and me, football practice, in the blogging world, etc.) seem to know how to work the heck out of each and every available second of any given day?
How does everyone have it all so together? Are they born that way?
I really need to know! I need a clear understanding — how does one manage being a great, hands-on, physically and emotionally available, working, blog building, social media managing, novel writing, extreme couponing mother while still looking completely sane? And what about doctor appointments, emergencies, or when one, two or all the kids have a bad day?  How are you navigating through all of it?

I don’t want to turn into the super scheduled to the tee Suzie. I don’t want that headache either. I’m more so, looking to use my time more wisely, and not to get off track and fall into a frenzy, if (and definitely when) a problem/issue arises with one of my children.  At the end of each day, I want to smile at the fact that I’ve made the most of it and it’d be great to accomplish anything.

What’s your best tip for injecting some form of balance into everyday life?

 

 

Toodle-Loo September and Good Riddance to Ya


Dream Pool

Usually I look forward to the month of September. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful and busiest months of the entire year.
September’s are filled with so many of my “bestest” days — both of my daughters were born in September. My gram (and last living grandparent) was born in September, as well as one of my aunts and a slew of cousins and friends.
September also has the best transition of seasons – from summer to fall. I absolutely love how the weather changes at this time of year. People go from wearing as little as possible to wearing jeans, long sleeves and hoodies; from flip flops to boots; from vacationing to five day a week work and school schedules. I’m one of those folks who gets that natural high from all of the hustle and bustle of back-to-school and Fall festivities. I LOVE SEPTEMBER……usually.
September 2013. What can I say about it?
With the exception of honoring the birthdays of the people I love and appreciate most, I despise every single thing about September 20-13.
This past September met me with a huge unforgettable bang and it didn’t let up, not even for a second. The petal was completely put to the metal throughout the entire 30 days.
I was met with challenge after challenge after challenge. And every time I thought it was finally over…BOOM!

Starting High

Another challenge would rear its ugly head.

I’ve never cried, cursed, vowed to throw in the towel, used the word hate, panicked, thought bad thoughts or said so many bad things, in all of my existence, than I have in September 20-13.
I questioned myself over and over again. I questioned my parenting. I questioned any decision that I ever made. I questioned God. I even stooped to questioning my sanity.
Basically, I had the typical human response when every single thing in your life is going wrong.

The point of this post is, I’m glad as heck that September 2013 is in the books. I’m sure there’s a lesson that I’m suppose to walk away with, but for now I’m too busy trying to catch my breath. Maybe one day I’ll sit back and take the time to reflect on why September 20-13 was so trying for me, it just won’t be any day soon. Instead I want to look ahead to all of the brighter days that October has to offer me.

How fine has the day been ! how bright was the sun .....

Have you ever gone through an “everything is going wrong” slump? How did you get through it.

The Pep Talk

A Conversation with Phillis Wheatley

Just finished having a pep talk with my Biggest Boy, which took both of us by complete surprise.
Those of you who follow my mommy madness are aware of the fragility of our relationship. I’d pretty much thrown the towel in and allowed the complexity of “growing up teenager” to beat me. I’d vowed that there would be no more talks, threats, compromising or anything with him. I just was going to bide my time with him (I was pretty much counting down until his eighteenth birthday). But yesterday, something changed.
Even though our relationship has been severely strained, when he came in from school and his body language wasn’t right, my motherly instincts kicked it. Before I knew it, I’d called him into the dining room and inquired about his day.
As usual, he answered every question that I posed very dryly and with one word answers. In spite of his smugness, I found myself encouraging him to better his grades and to always put his best foot forward. I kept the talk really light and short, as not to bore him.
This morning when I woke him up for school, he protested going: “I don’t like that school and I don’t want to go back. Can you withdraw me?”
Instead of responding with an answer, I retreated back to my bedroom and prayed.
The Biggest Girl got off to school, while he stayed in bed.
Instead of getting irritated, I spoke affirmations and prayed. Once I was sure that I was calm and on a path of positivity, I called him into the kitchen. Before even I knew it, all the right words just started spilling from my lips.
I told him about finishing what he starts, having a plan, taking advantage of all the resources that I’ve given him and that he has at his disposal. Most importantly, I told him how much I love and believe in him. I also told him that I’m in his corner and I got his back…..no matter what.
For twenty minutes or so, I was back to being his number one cheerleader. I encouraged him and encouraged him some more, while remaining honest and truthful about where his current path will lead him. Overall, it felt good to care again, and to step back into the role of being his mom.
The pep talk not only did him good, but I benefited from it too. It was just what I needed, in order to continue investing in my child, as he weaves his way through this teenage stage of life. He is my firstborn and as much I as I want to give up on him sometimes, the motherly love that I’ve had for him since learning of his conception, just won’t let me. Truthfully, I’m glad that it won’t.

Yoga hug?

No matter how old they get, they’re always your Little Boy

I Won’t Say I Told Ya So

Yesterday and today I’m happier than usual. I know that I really shouldn’t take pleasure in the demise of a “relationship, but I can’t help myself. Most parents, especially those with dating teenagers, will be able to understand my happiness. After nearly ten months of “dating” my Biggest Boy and his girlfriend have broken up! Yippppeeee!!!!!!

Maigc Kingdom - A Week of Fireworks Begins

I’m so happy, I can barely contain myself. Their being together seriously irked every nerve in my body, so as far as I’m concerned, this parting of ways is long overdue! Maybe now, my nerves can recuperate.
I suspected there was trouble on the home front, when her phone calls to the house became infrequent, and especially when he started hanging around home more often. Yesterday when my suspicions were confirmed and I nearly did a series of backflips!
Before I come off as “the mother who doesn’t think anyone’s good enough for her children” let me explain my position.
I know that my children are going to like people (and people are going to like them back)  and they’re going to want to date. I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is, the seriousness that these teens are approaching these fly-by-night relationships with.
As the adult, I know that these relationships are DOA, which is why I didn’t waste too much energy on breaking them up (at least not in the beginning, I didn’t). It was only after I witnessed the over investing in each other, that my radar went up.
Everything suddenly became all about her. They became attached at the hip. He’d skip his class to sit with her in the lunchroom. Whatever she said or did was “always right”. Not only that, he became overly protective of her. He was always on her side and no one was allowed to speak badly about her, without him getting super offended.
He stopped listening to any voice of reason and would only listen to the girl. In the words of my father, “He put all of his eggs in one basket”!
I attempted to warn him of the consequences of spreading himself too thinly; that he’s way too young to be getting so serious about anyone. I also reminded him that he has his whole life ahead of him and that he’s going to meet so many girls and women, in his lifetime that he may not even remember this chick’s name. He wouldn’t listen though. He swore she was the love of his life and they were going to be together for the rest of their lives.

183/365 - I'm blue for you!

He doesn’t want me to know about their split up. He’s walking around pretending that nothing happened between the two of them and that everything’s still A-OK.
I know he thinks, I’m going to tell him, “told ya so!” I won’t and I never will (not to his face, but maybe here on my blog I’ll continue to take solace). Instead I’ll be there to help him up when he gets knocked down. I’ll keep sharing my two cents as he goes through his growing pains, and I’ll continuing hoping that one day he’ll “hear” me when I talk. above taking solace in the privacy of my own mind (and blog) to rejoice  at the fact that they’re no longer an item.

Fun Contrast and Light

My Biggest Boy isn’t my first encounter of a teen whose totally smitten and over invested in someone. In fact, getting in these  way too serious relationships is pretty common nowadays.
Only advice I have is, keep talking to them. Continue to make your voice louder than everyone else, eventually something is going to get through to them.
HAPPY PARENTING

Let the Couponing Begin

 

photo (6)

The pic above is of items that I bought at full price. This is the last time that I’ll ever pay full price for items that I can get for free or close to free.
I am hard at work and determined to become one of those sensational coupon mommas. You know the ones,  you pass them in the grocery store aisles and they have their coupon binders, spread sheets and calculators atop the cart, while diligently searching the shelves for specific items. I’m striving to be just like those money saving moms. My ultimate goal is to walk out of the grocery store doors (on a regular basis) with a cart load of items that I pay less than twenty bucks for.

For the past few weeks, I’ve fully immersed myself in couponing 101. I’ve been collecting, arranging and rearranging all kinds of great couponing advice from the best of the best coupon users. I am definitely feeling confident and well prepared to for my latest adventure. Like any serious couponer, I jumped out of bed the last two Sunday mornings, ran to the nearby drug store and grabbed several newspapers.
With a cup of cappuccino at my side, I spent my Sunday morning separating, clipping and matching up coupons.
photo (5)

This isn’t my first time delving into the coupon world. I’ve been wanting to get into the whole art of couponing for several years, but I’ve always managed to back out before really getting started. It’s not that I couldn’t stand to save some money. It was more of my not understanding the whole coupon world, on top of my being a wee bit intimidated by it, that has caused me to shy away so many times.
My latest coupon excitement was triggered by one of my girlfriends and her husband. They told me about their savings after having used coupons and online deals. After discussing how much money they’d saved, my couponing light was re-lit!

To get started,  I watched several of the coupon experts on Youtube (as my girlfriend had suggested). I started with Krazy Coupon Lady and from there I click several related links. I also downloaded the following apps: ebay, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Target, Cartwheel, Ibotta, shopkick, smart source. Lastly, I took to Pinterest and Twitter and started following the severe couponing people. I’m in the process of making my coupon binder. From what I’ve seen, every serious couponer has one!
Are you a couponer? Have any tips? I welcome all advice. Or would you like to get into couponing too? We can do it together!

1 2 3 16