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I am one step closer!

July 25, 2015

What has been my dream my whole life, besides having kids and finding a wonderful husband? I have wanted to be a teacher my entire life. My life has lead me down various paths that have prevented that from happening. Until Now!

In May of 2014 I left my job in the automotive industry (20 years), to become a stay at home mom. The goal was to go back to school and get my teaching certificate once and for all. I ended up taking a year off and just enjoyed my family. Then I went and found part time work at a big box store. It helped us get back on track after some poor choices, but it put us back into a pattern of me not being home for family time. I worked both days on the weekends and three nights during the week. I knew something had to change. After all I left a really good job because I wasn't seeing my family. Why would I want to do the same thing making $9.00 an hour?

This summer I decided that I would take a leap of faith and apply for any position I could at my daughters school. I discovered they had a daycare/pre-school for employees of the district for my youngest to attend. I thought, what the heck, if it works I get a foot in at the school and we have found a way to pay for pre-school for our 3 year old. Less then a week after I applied, I got a call from the principal at my daughters school. They wanted to interview me for a paraprofessional position. 

Paraprofessionals are educational aides, that fill different roles in a school. You might be working with a teacher as an assistant of sorts. You work in the classroom, helping plan and keep things running smoothly. When you have 30 second graders, you need all the help you can get. There are also aides that work one on one with students who do not require special education services, but need a little extra help. You have a lead teacher who does all of the assessments and planning and you do the teaching. Sometimes you work in small groups of students as well. There are also aides who are do more secretarial duties. 

I went in for the interview nervous as all get out. I saw this as my dream coming true. The interview went smoothly. This was a Thursday and on Monday morning I got the call from the principal letting me know that she wanted me as the Title I aide. It is an aide that fulfills the No Child Left Behind Act. I was beyond excited. However, I had a hurdle to jump through. I now had to become certified.

For a week I waiting until HR contacted me. She was wondering why I hadn't responded to her email to apply for my certification. It turns out she had left the 'e' off of my email address. I set off to start the process, not sure if I needed to take a test or what hoops I had to jump through. It turned out that I did not have to take the test, because I already have my B.A. I just had to complete the FBI background check and finger printing. Me being me, was terrified. I had no reason to be, but you know me. I tend to worry sometimes when there is no need. 

I could not help myself from checking the website and my email every day to see that I had been certified. Finally today, I got the email. I am officially certified as an Educational Aide III. I go in for my meeting with HR on Tuesday, to give her my paperwork and receive my official assignment. I start work/training on August 10th. Thanks to my family and friends I have the two weeks before school covered for child care. Then once school starts, both of my girls will be going to the same school that I work. I could not have asked for better.

I feel that this whole experience is me coming full circle. Yes, I still have to work toward my full teaching certification. Yes that will be hard work. But I get to teach NOW. I get to work with children every day and gain valuable experience. As I look back on what has lead me to this point, I realize that everything happened for a reason. I needed to go through all I have to make myself a better teacher. I am more patient. I have learned how to teach more effectively through my experience as a trainer. I am a different person. I am so proud of myself.

Thanks go to my husband for helping me this past year. He has worked so hard to help me get to the point where I could leave my great paying job, for one where I make so little. I get to be with my girls when they are out for the holidays. I get to be with my family on weekends and at night. I get to finally accomplish a life long dream.

Now onto the hard part! LOL 

Weight Loss Update

July 11, 2015

Since November I have been on this journey to lose the weight I gained during my battle with pneumonia. Nine months of being on steroids and not feeling well had me balloon from about 215 to 278. Granted, 215 is still a high number, but I was comfortable in my body. It has been slow going, but I am continuing to lose weight.

I have found that my body likes to do things in stages. I will start a month and start losing (on average 2-4 pounds), then it will stay stable for a week or two. After that the dreaded part of being a woman shows up and I seem to go back up to a couple of pounds. Once that is over, I go down to the month's beginning weight and lose another 2-4 pounds. 

For example: Week 1 - 255 lbs. Week 2 - 251 lbs. Week 3 - 251 lbs. Week 4 - 254 lbs. Then starting week one in the next month I start at 250 lbs. Week 2 has me going down to 247-8. So as you see, it goes up and down through the month, but overall it is a downward slide. That is all that really matters, isn't it?

This is teaching me to not be so concerned about a pound or two gained. I focus on where I am in the month and don't panic. For some, losing only 5 pounds a month isn't good enough. But for me, I am losing the weight steadily. I am learning how my body works and being patient. 

When you have PCOS, it is very difficult to lose weight. Your body likes to hold onto everything you eat. The only way a lot of people who have PCOS lose weight is while on medication. I made a choice to not take that medication anymore, but to treat the causes of my issues (low vitamin d levels). I eat pretty much what I want, but in lower quantities. Yes, that includes fruits and veggies, but if I want a burger I get a burger. I have a physically demanding job at a big box store and I run after two kids all day. All of these are helping me in my journey. 

So far, I met my first goal of 20 lbs and am working on my second goal of another 20 pounds. 

Rethinking Dinner

June 30, 2015

Lately, we have been struggling with dinner. I am working a lot of evening hours, so I am not cooking dinner as often as I like. Often when I have a night off, I will make several dinners at once to have on hand for a few days. While this works for a few day, it doesn't work for the entire week. 

More often than not, Hubby is cooking eggs, serving cereal or macaroni and cheese for dinner. I end up having a lunch-able or sandwich. Needless to say, our diet hasn't been as good as it should be. My weight loss has stalled and I am returning to a life of headaches and body aches. Something has to be done to get us back on track to a life full of lean protein and tons of vegetables.

I had an epiphany today. Last night I had intended on making spaghetti for dinner, before heading to work. I ended up with a migraine and was unable to. I decided I would make it today for dinner. Then I was looking in my cabinets for something for lunch. There was nothing. It is the day before payday and our pantry is pretty bare. That is when I thought, heck, I will just make the spaghetti for lunch. Then we can do something light for dinner before heading to the pool for a few hours.

That is when the epiphany hit me. Most of the time we head to the pool in late afternoon. No one WANTS to cook when the temps are at the highest for the day. It occurred to me that if I make dinner at lunch time, I solve the problem of making sure my family has healthy dinner options (now in the form of left overs). We don't have to heat up the apartment in the height of summer heat. We are also freed up to spending as much time at the pool without having to worry about leaving enough time to cook dinner. We have a nice light meal waiting for us. 

So starting today, I am going to start cooking dinner for lunch on the days that I work at night. That way hubby can serve left over's from the day before for dinner. I will be able to pack a good dinner and eat it on my break on work. On the days that I am home for dinner, I can do quick things on the grill. 

My girls were very happy today to get spaghetti and meatballs. They are so sick of eggs, mac n cheese, fish sticks and cereal. It is a bad habit we fell into for a few weeks, but I am happy to now have a solution. I look forward to having less headaches, less tummy issues and more happy family. I will start posting my weekly menu again, starting for the next week. Just see my "Menu Planning" link to the left.

Priorities

June 29, 2015

Everyone's life is different. We all have priorities and we have different one's from those of our loved one's. For example, my sister relies on her horses to keep her alive. Horses are her Xanax. They are what make life work living for her. Does a non-horse person understand this? No, they do not. To them, the expense for her horses are stupid. When she struggles for money, the first thing a person does is tell her that if she would just get rid of the horses, she would be fine. It might solve the money issue, but it would create a whole slew of other issues. To my sister, horses are what makes life worth living.

For my whole life I have wanted to be a teacher. I have made some poor decisions that has made that dream difficult. I had to put off that dream to attain my other dream of becoming a mother. It didn't come easy to me, having to use fertility treatments to have my girls. Because of this, I kept having to push off my dream of getting my certification to teach. But having these two beautiful girls, I am OK with that.

When I became a stay at home mom, it was with the goal of being home with my girls until they were both in school. During that time I wanted to take classes and work toward my certification to teach. It has been a year and I am still not taking classes, but that does not change my intention. We have had to work on other issues first. That is what life is about. A car needs to be fixed or replaced. Someone has a medical emergency. Life happens. But that does not change my dream. 

I always had the intention of getting a part time job to pay for returning to school. Two months ago, I found such a job. I work nights and weekends allowing me to have time with the girls and not pay for daycare. While I wish this extra money was going toward school, it is going toward car repairs and a saving to move into a house. Once again, this does not change my goal. 

Like the example of the horses and my sister, people do not understand this strong desire to attain my goal of teaching. It has many elements and levels. Number one, I need to prove to myself that I can do what I set out to do all those years ago. Something is unfinished. I honestly could not live with myself knowing that I didn't try to at least finish it. Number two, it is a real calling. Some are called to police work. Some to the Church or to becoming a doctor. My inner soul is made for teaching. It is something I have to do. Finally, it is not going away. I have tried to move on. Do something different. I always feel like something is missing. I have tried to teach in other ways, in other venues, it is with children I wish to work. 

So yes, we have our priorities. We NEED to get the car fixed. We DESIRE to get into a house. In the end, teaching will always be one of those priorities. No matter what you say or do to convince me otherwise, this is my dream. My life. It is what I NEED to do, it might not be today, or even tomorrow, but it will happen.

 

 

Update: Ch-ch-ch-changes!

June 26, 2015

The last you heard, we were starting a business. While it started with a bang, we soon found that we needed to take a step back and find a way to get some money together to make it a success. I ended up finding a part time job for the evenings and weekends. This has allowed us to get caught up again. 

As in life, there are always things that pop up. Once we got caught up, we found out that our car needs about $2500 worth of repairs. Then our TV went and died on us. So once again, the business is going on hold until we can get those things taken care of. But that is what life is about. It is about adapting. Sure, we have a little pity party. We complain for a bit. Then we pick ourselves up and move on.

It has been good going to work. I am meeting a lot of people and it is nice to get out of the house for a bit. However, I do miss doing things on the weekends with the family. Once my oldest returns to school this fall, I am going to cut down to one day on the weekends. As a family, it is important to still be able to do things together.

Hubby and I have made sure to have date nights once a month. We have been introduced to the world of Groupon, so we have been enjoying a lot of good deals. We have been lucky in the past to have someone watch the girls for free, but we will have to go back to paying for a sitter. Although, I do have another friend who has offered to watch them for our next date. These date nights have been really good for hubby and me. We are finally getting back to being husband and wife and not just two adults trying to survive in this crazy house together.

We are still on a strict budget. Food gets thin before payday comes, but we do eat. We have kept going to Costco once a month to buy our meat, frozen veggies and pull-ups. The rest of the time I shop at Walmart for fillers. Roughly, we spend about $450 a month on groceries for our family of 4. This includes detergent, dog/cat food and other household stuff. 

We are not looking forward to the repairs on the car, but after looking to see if we could get a replacement car for him, we decided it was the best thing. This means our dream of moving into a house this fall has to be put on hold for at least another 6 months. This was a huge disappointment at first, but knowing we have a safe place to live and we will not have to add another car payment, we are feeling good about our choice.

I will end this post with this, life is hard. Sometimes you need to let people know what you are going through. You need to be aware though, that people will give you all sorts of opinions of what you should do. Take it with a grain of salt. Some advice is excellent. Some not so much. Above all, stay true to yourself, your goals and your life. They never know the whole story, they never know truly what is in your head. So listen, thank them and then reflect on what is best for you.

 

Starting a Business - It's Hard But Worth It (I hope)

March 11, 2015

My husband and I have been working hard (in the background) on starting a new business. It came time for us to stop planning and start doing. Let's say that it is both the most wonderful thing we are doing right now and the most stressful. Our ultimate goal is for me to be able to continue to stay at home, but also have something that is financially and emotionally rewarding. We want to be able to get into a house and not just live on the edge, but firmly on the other side of stable. 

Out of desperation I made a mistake that I thought was right at the time, but turned out to take me away from what was our ultimate goal. I decided to take one of my other passions (essential oils) and turn it into a business. The promise of all that money, turned my head from being on track to a complete derailment. I ended up dividing my time between two businesses and everything suffered. My house fell apart. My three year old wasn't getting enough of my time. Money invested in one business should have gone toward the other. In general, we went backward in our goals. 

We were hoping to move this summer and we are wondering if that will be a possibility or not. Going back home to pay my respects to my Grandmother, who passed in October, is not going to happen. My bill paying schedule is all out of wack. Things are getting paid, just not to avoid the dreaded late payments. I find myself not eating lunch in hopes of keeping a little more food on the table for the girls. 

So there you have it. I messed up. Me and only me. Now how do I fix it?

Fixing It

With our finances being pulled to extremes, we are doing everything we can to make up for our little detour.

Attempt One: I am trying to sell shirts to make up the few hundred dollars we "lost". I am hoping that if people will buy some of the shirts, they will be getting something, but also helping my family. So far we haven't had any luck at all. However, the good thing is, if the shirts don't sell, we are not out of any money. They just don't run the campaign. 

Attempt Two: I decided to swallow my pride and launch a gofundme campaign. I have gotten a horrible response on this one. Friends are telling me that of course you will go into debt to start a business. No way will I see a profit in the first year. So on and so on. But here is the thing; if there is a chance that I can get some funding without going the loan route, that is what I will do. I will either have to build the business slower (using cash) or not at all. I will not under any circumstances get a business  loan. It just isn't going to happen. I have too much debt already to add to it.

Attempt Three: We are forgoing everything and anything extra. We didn't go out for Valentine's day. My 40th birthday will go by with nothing special. We are selling anything and everything we can on our website (launching it earlier than expected), in hopes of bringing in any kind of money. 

In the end, we have once again learned a really good lesson. We are moving forward and trying our hardest to come up with ways of fixing what went wrong. The important thing is to keep moving forward. Keep trying. Have faith that everything will work out as planned.

Progress for February

February 28, 2015

I have worked hard this month. My goals were to eat healthy, find some time every day for some sort of activity, get out and be with people, and try to stay on budget.

Eating healthy:

By shopping at Costco and getting frozen vegetables, stocking up on healthy meats and transitioning to buying as much organic foods as possible; I was finally able to kick-start my weight loss again. I starting at 278 and got down to 270 and hung out there a pound up or down for awhile. I have finally gotten down to 263. That is wonderful progress for me.

Years ago I had a basic formula for how my meals were laid out. For Breakfast I have a protein, a carbohydrate and a fruit or two. For lunch I would have a fruit, one or two vegetables, and a protein. For dinner I would have two to three servings of vegetables, a protein and a small amount of carbohydrate. I would fill in with snacks of nuts, rice cakes with peanut butter, or some fruit. I have worked hard this month to get back to that way of eating and it is working.

Activity:

My daughters are helping me in this respect. Beside doing my chores around the house and walking the dog further than before, my kids are keeping me on my toes. Every day we have dance-a-thons. We turn on music and dance and dance. My oldest tries different gymnastic or ballet moves and I help her and show her.

I am also adding a few planks here and there throughout my day. I wish I could do squats, but they are forbidden with my knee the way it is. I do knee and leg lifts in the kitchen while I am cooking. The girls think I am nuts, but heck, it gets some activity there.

Organics and Natural Living

The more research I do, the more I realize that I need to eat organic. My family needs to eat organic. I cannot wait until the day that I have my own plot of land where I can grow my own vegetables and fruit. Have a bunch of chickens, a cow and a pig or two. Until then, I am at the mercy of my grocery store.

Each month I switching over from traditional to organic on a few items. By doing it a few at a time, I can ease into it financially. This month I bought organic flour. I love to make my own pizza's, so this will make me feel like they are a little bit better for us.

I have also stopped taking pretty much all over the counter medications. No more anti-histamines, acid reducers, pain relievers. I am still taking over the counter vitamins as I am extremely deficient, but I am on the search for some that are more natural based. I am doing research to see if the one's provided by doTERRA, will give me what I need.

In the end, I am feeling a lot better. I am not in such a fog as I used to be. I am losing weight. My PCOS is more under control than it ever has been before. Eating better, exercising and using my essential oils have gone a long way to improving my life.

Until next time....

 

How to stop a panic attack.

February 3, 2015

I am stepping way out of my comfort zone tonight. I used to love hosting parties. But as my world of panic attacks closed in on me, I stopped doing stuff. I stopped going out. I stopped wanting to talk to people on the phone. I felt like I needed to create a big bubble around myself, so that no triggers were around me.

That is not a way to live. We need people. We are social creatures.

This morning I felt a major panic attack coming on. I am so nervous for this class tonight. I am more than prepared. I am confident in the subject matter. It is just my insecurities in myself and my panic attack triggers kicking in.

As my chest tightened, I felt dizzy. I wanted to curl back up under the covers and cancel everything. I wanted to call my husband and have him come home to watch our daughter. I just couldn't handle it right now.

Nope, that wouldn't work. I have people counting on me.

I walked into the bathroom, where I keep my oils. I put a few drops of Balance and a few drops of Citrus Bliss in my hands. I rubbed them together, cupped them around my nose and mouth and inhaled deeply. I rubbed my hands on my neck and chest. I inhaled the aroma from my hands again.

Ok, I feel a little better.

I took the dog out for his morning walk. I practiced awareness breathing. Inhale 5 counts, hold 4 counts, exhale 5 counts. Inhale, hold, exhale. Ok. Its a little better. Cupped my hands around my nose and mouth and inhaled deeply.

When I got in I felt like the panic attack was about 75% gone. Time for some brief meditation and more awareness breathing. I find that if I get on all fours and do cat/cows it helps. Inhale on cat, exhale on cow. Inhale on cat, Exhale on cow. I repeated this five times.

Phew...almost normal. Still a little anxious. Finish with a prayer. "God, I release these anxieties to your shoulders. I know that you are there for me and I am not alone."

Sigh. Much better.

 

Why essential oils?

February 2, 2015

http://fromsurvivaltosucceeding.blogspot.com/2015/02/why-essential-oils.html

If you had asked me a year ago, if I saw myself wanting to do this for a living, I would have thought you were crazy. I never in a million years wanted to do "direct" or "Sales Marketing". As I have said before, I have tried other companies, but never had full trust in the product. I am an honest person and I failed miserably at those attempts, because I couldn't sell someone another piece of plastic that would just get lost in a month or two. I couldn't sell them an eye-liner or face cream, when I am happy with my drug store finds and for the most part do not wear make-up.

When I first tried essential oils, I did it halfheartedly. It wasn't until I really started using them that it made a difference. This is my experience:

I started out with samples of Balance and Citrus Bliss from the doTERRA line of essential oils. One night I was so desperate for help for my increasing panic attacks, I went searching in my drawer for a Xanax or something. Anything. That is when a little vial rolled from the back and called my name. It said, "Try me, really try me this time."

I tried it. I felt results almost instantly. I still didn't believe it. I went to the doctor the next week and got a script for my anxiety meds and Xanax. I still wasn't ready to give myself over to the oils. Those who know, anxiety meds are not an instant fix. They can take 2-6 weeks to kick in. I was given a very low dose to start, basically does nothing but warm you up for your proper dose. I was having constant panic attacks. The Xanax was supposed to be used during this "warm up" time, to help with the attacks.

I decided one day to not take the Xanax. I decided to give myself over to the oils and lay my faith in them. In deep throws of a panic attack, I reached for the oils instead of the Xanax. I put a few drops of Balance and a few drops of Lavender in my palm with some coconut oil. I rubbed it all over my feet and legs. Within a few minutes, I felt as if I had taken a Xanax. I was able to breath. To get on with my day, without fear that I wouldn't be "aware" for my kids.

This is what did it for me. I called my cousin and told her that I needed to do this. I needed to share with people how much these oils were helping me. I wanted to turn this into a business. One where I was able to fulfill my intense need to teach and help people. I wanted to do it to better my family's life financially, but also health-wise. I didn't want my loved one's to be without these "miracle's."

Tonight my youngest daughter was fit to be tied. Tired and cranky from no nap. Usually this leads to a lot of throwing and kicking and biting. Tonight I took some jojoba oil and lavender and massaged her legs and feet. Within a minute or two, she was a changed girl. She calmed down and I was able to put her to bed without screaming.  My other daughter wanted her legs rubbed down too!

Tomorrow I am hosting my first class with the help of an expert in Yoga and Essential Oils. She represents what I want to be. Even if I have one person show up to the class, I will be blessed to be able to share these wonderful oils with them. I truly believe this is only the beginning. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it is work I enjoy. After all, if I can convert my husband, who called it snake oil, to become a person who puts on oils every night before bed, I can convert anyone! I just need to give them a sample and they will see for themselves. Heck, it took me a year to come to my senses. I have time, if it means someone gets the help they need.

Little changes over time...Vegetables

February 1, 2015
Last night I had a conversation with Hubby about how I have been making little changes over time, that are really having an effect on our health. Lets talk about our evolution of vegetables.

I used to buy canned vegetables. I would buy one can for each day to have with dinner. Peas, green beans, corn. I would buy fresh veggies, but more often than not they would go bad before I ever ate them. This was during our time of eating out most nights. The cans of veggies were about $.75 to $1.25 a piece. One can would feed Hubby and I.

Once we had our first daughter I realized that I needed two cans of veggies. This was getting expensive! I know, not really, but when you are on such a tight budget, two cans of veggies were really putting a dent in our funds. So out I went in search of a way to get more veggies, for less cost.
I found myself in the freezer aisle. I found bags of frozen veggies that would give us the equivalent of 2 cans, for $1.00. Yippee! Back on budget.

Although it wasn't just the budget that was my concern. I started to do some research on canned vs frozen. As I learned more about health, I found out that canned food is NOT good for you. It wasn't just added sodium, but the cans themselves. (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/concern-over-canned-foods/index.htm) I wanted to get us away from eating as many canned foods as possible. Moving into the frozen food aisle was a way for us to have food on hand, that wasn't going to go bad if we didn't get to eating it that week.

The frozen vegetables tasted better and were better for us. With even more research, I decided that I wanted to move from conventional frozen vegetables to organic. The problem was, that if I wanted to expand into more "specialty" vegetable varieties, they cost a lot more. Instead of $1.00 for a bag of peas, you would pay $2-3 for a bag of "Mediterranean Mix", that has squash and broccoli. I knew there had to be a better way to get organic vegetables into our diet. Lord knows that fresh organic would break our budget.

A friend of mine told me about these great options at Costco. You could get a huge bag of vegetables for about $6.50. Most were organic and big and beautiful. Here are some of the ones I get and my reviews:

Broccoli:
The organic broccoli comes in a big bag, with 4 individual one pound bags. The perfect size for a family. At a regular grocery store, you end up getting these tiny pieces of broccoli that are more stem than anything. These are nice sized florets. Steam them and they rival fresh any day. It is also the perfect addition to broccoli and cheese noodles or soup. My girls and I devour these!

Green Beans:

These organic green beans are long string beans and once cooked taste just like they were fresh. I get one bag for under $7 and it lasts the whole month. I will sometimes add some of them to the Mediterranean mix to give more variety. My favorite is to boil them for a few minutes, then drain the water, add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon and they are fantastic!

Mediterranean Mix:

This mix contains yellow carrots, orange baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. I love this mix on its own or mixed with the green beans. I will steam these, then mix with some olive oil and garlic. My husband who hates broccoli will even eat the broccoli when I cook it like that. This one is not organic, but I like the mix.

Traditional Mixed Veggies that Kids Love:


Kids love the traditional mixed veggies, don't they? I wanted to go organic to make sure I was giving them a healthier option. These are once again under $7 for a huge 5 pound bag. So it is comparable in price to the non organic smaller bags of the Walmart brand, but better for you! I use this mixture in my Hamburger Minestrone Soup recipe and it is fantastic!

Stir-fry Veggies:

This fantastic bag is wonderful to have on hand for Stir-fry or on their own. I love the variety and one bag can make several dinners. I love that it has the water chestnuts in it along with the baby corn. Who doesn't love baby corn? Again, this is not organic, but it is a great option.

These 5 bags, for around $30 will feed us healthy meals for the entire month. I do buy a few fresh veggies and of course fresh fruit. But to have these bags on hand in the freezer, makes getting healthy meals on the table both budget and time friendly. By switching to these bags of vegetables, my family is eating a lot more veggies. In fact, my husband has lost 13 pounds in a few weeks.

I hope that this post helps those on a tight budget realize that you can have healthy veggies at every meal. I will be doing a post about saving money on meat too. You can eat well on a budget. It is something I am learning every day.

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