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Outside of Your Comfort Zone

It’s so comfortable to do things that you’re familiar with, isn’t it? It’s easy to hope (read, make) your children have the same experiences you did as a child (or maybe the exact opposite), to dress the way you think he/she should dress, or to become who you think he/she should become. The truth is, though, if we only allow our children to have the experiences we are familiar with, we are holding them back. You can argue with me, pretending that’s not the truth, but it is.

I was a dancer. I have always been a dancer. I remember being exposed to other sports, mostly by my childless-at-the-time, sports-loving aunt, but it was never my thing. One of her favorite stories about me was finally agreeing to go play basketball with her at the end of the court after years of being asked. We walked down there, I stood behind the basketball goal in the grass. She asked what I was doing and I told her I was cheering for her while she played. Yep, that was my experience with basketball and it had nothing to do with the basket or the ball. I remember hating (almost) every single gym activity, except that one unit that was country line dancing. That was something I could be enthusiastic about! For the most part, I was your very typical girly girl. I can honestly say that I don’t think it was from lack of exposure, that’s just who I was.

Given that dance was who I was, I searched high and low for the gymnastic and/or dance studio that had the lowest age minimum for Ella because I just couldn’t wait for her to be part of that world! We landed in a mommy and me gymnastics class. While she had fun and gained coordination skills, I knew we would switch to dance as soon as we could. When we reached the minimum age for dance classes, we did trial classes and a lot of internet research to find the studio that fit us the best. We’ve now just finished up our fourth year there and just signed up for next year’s performing company. Obviously, the dance thing is working out for her and Callie is following in her footsteps.

I could have stopped there. I could have ignored her request to try basketball three years ago, t-ball two years ago, and softball again this year because it was all foreign to me, but I didn’t. Basketball three years ago was, um, interesting. One of my best friends was stuck being a coach with no basketball experience herself. She’s amazing with kids and Google, so she actually did a really nice job. Let me paint the picture for you. Ella was a whole 2 years younger than most of the players and had just that year made the growth chart at the pediatrician, coming in at a whopping 0.6th percentile! These two factors put her at about a head and a half shorter than the next shortest teammate. She didn’t let that stop her. She tried hard and kept up with the running. This was a 3-5 year old team, so of course the baskets were significantly lowered. When you’re a mere 2-feet tall and weigh about 21 pounds, even the lowered baskets and “power” behind each attempt didn’t help much. She put so much effort into each throw that even the opposing coaches started to feel sorry for her so they started lifting her above their heads so she could make a basket! This is no joke, and I really appreciated it. The smiles on her face after making a basket were priceless.

T-ball was a little less eventful. This was a co-ed team, she had grown a little bit, and was a little more coordinated. Overall, it was a good experience. I, on the other hand, hated being outside! Unless it was about 75 and sunny, I was complaining of being too cold, too hot, or too wet. This is why me and dance got along so nicely. We were always in a temperature-controlled, dry environment. I felt ignorant about the game, was uncomfortable in the weather, but loved the experience she was getting and loved watching her do something she enjoyed doing.

This spring, Callie expressed interested in softball. Upon researching, I found that she was too young for the league that our new home was close to. She was disappointed but Ella decided to try again. We are two weeks into practice and she’s doing really well. She’s really enjoying herself and has learned a lot. Her and Callie are both excited to practice throwing, catching, and batting at home almost nightly. Callie will be so ready next year when she’s old enough.

Again, I’m totally outside of my comfort zone. I’m lucky enough to have Ella on the same team as a girl she dances with whose mom is a softball player. I tell her all the secrets of dance life and she’s letting me know what the “cool kids” do for softball (like wear socks up to their knees). Having her on the team with us makes the unknown a little less daunting.

I could have said no. I have that power as MOM. I could have made a million excuses and made myself believe them so I didn’t even feel bad about it, but I didn’t.

I started this post with sports because softball and dance are currently running my life. This is so much bigger than sports, though. This is allowing them to wear dresses or athletic gear, clothes you think are “cool” or clothes they are comfortable in. It’s allowing them to have the birthday party they want, within reason. It’s allowing them to choose their Halloween costume even if it’s not what you imagined. It’s about providing love and support through their college or other after high school journey, even if they aren’t going down the career path YOU feel is right for them. Later in life, it’s about being happy they found love, even if it’s not someone you imagined them being with (obviously as long as they are in a healthy relationship). It’s about supporting their choice to have kids, how many kids, or embracing their decision to have no kids at all.

One of my biggest hopes for my girls is that they become exactly who God intended them to be and that they are confident in that person, even if I have moments of uncomfortableness along the way. Who am I to interfere with God’s plans?

Until next time…

“Being a good parent requires knowing when to push and when to back off, when to help and when to let them make mistakes, and then being strong enough to watch them go.”

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BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad – A Must Add to Your Lunch Rotation

If you’re anything like me, you’re always searching for something somewhat healthy and easy to pack to bring to lunch every day.  If it’s cheap, that’s a huge bonus!  I tend to go through phases with the same few things.  Recently, I found a new favorite and I wanted to share it with you!  You only need to purchase two items from the store:

Dole’s Chopped BBQ Ranch Salad Kit
A can of shredded chicken

I used one kit and made three day’s worth of lunches.  Sometimes making salads ahead of time is tricky because the crunchy stuff won’t stay crunchy for long if you mix it all together.  To keep my salads fresh until the third day, follow these steps:

  1. Find a Tupperware container that will fit two small containers in it.  Split the lettuce portion of the salad into thirds and put into three of these larger containers.
  2. Use three snack-size Ziplock bags to even distribute the bag of crunchies that came in the salad kit.
  3. Split the canned chicken evenly between three of the small containers.
  4. Split the salad dress evenly between three of the small containers.
  5. Place both smaller containers and Ziplock bag inside the bigger container filled with the salad mix.

Now all you have to do is grab a container and go.  Mix all your containers and bags together and have a healthy, full of flavor, filling salad for lunch!

Share your favorite go-to lunches you pack for work.

Until next time…

“Some days you eat salad and go to the gym.  Other days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants.  It’s called balance.”

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To My Nephew on his First Birthday

Charlie Boy,

How in the world are you ONE today?!  Just 21 months ago, your momma called me randomly to ask if she could come over.  When I offered to feed her dinner as well and she said no, but was still driving past her house out of her way to “just stop by,” I knew it meant one of two things.  Either she was showing me an engagement ring or a positive pregnancy test.  When she walked in the front door, I immediately looked at her left hand and saw no ring.  She walked to the back bedroom with me and told me she needed to tell me something.  I asked if she was pregnant.  She was shocked I guessed it so quickly.  She expected me to freak out, cry, be nervous for her, and give her my typical what were you thinking talk.  I did none of that.  You see, Charlie, I was secretly excited!  I was excited to have another baby in the family and I was excited to finally become an aunt.  Of course, we had real conversations about how her life was going to change, how her priorities needed to change, and how much you were going to cost her.  She was scared because you were unplanned, but certainly not unwanted.  You were the best surprise we’ve ever gotten.

Watching you make your grand entrance into the world forever changed me.  I already had birthed your two cousins, but witnessing my little sister find the strength it takes to birth a baby was more empowering than I imagined it would be.  Seeing her hold you on her chest for the first time brought streams of tears to my eyes.  For me, it was love at first sight.  I took the whole next day off work just to sit in the hospital room with you, your momma, and daddy; to feed you all, snuggle you all, and help however I could help.

Watching you grow this last year has been just as exciting as it was watching my own kids grow that first year.  Seeing you grow from a tiny baby who didn’t want to latch properly to a big piggy boy who loves nursing; from a squirmy, curled up newborn to a rolly polly crawling, standing one year old; and from a happy newborn to an even happier one-year-old, you never cease to amaze me.  You love your Aunt Chelle so much.  You love your cousins and Uncle Chad, too.  You spend your time with them laughing at them and they couldn’t love you more.

Watching your mom turn morph into her new role made me burst with pride.  She was so strong during the tough times.  She persevered when things got tough.  And, most importantly, she loved you every single day a little more than the day before.  She began to form her own parenting style and she turned into a mentor for all her friends who had babies shortly after you were born.  I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Charlie, my promise to you as you continue to grow older is to always be here for you like my Aunt Glenna was always there for me.  I promise to support you in your extracurriculars, be a listening ear when it seems like no one wants to listen, and give you honest advice when you ask.  I promise to spoil you and to never stop giving you kisses (just get used to it).  I promise to keep your secrets safe and knock sense into ya when you need it.  I promise to love you like my own forever and ever.

My wish for you is that you become exactly who you want to be. I hope that all your dreams come true. I hope that you realize how lucky you are to have the family you have. I hope you are confident and that you never lose your handsome smile and your easy, laidback personality. Most importantly, I hope you always love me as much as I love you.   I am so darn lucky God chose ME to be YOUR Aunt Chelle.

Happy Birthday, buddy!

Love,

Aunt Chelle 💕

Until next time…

“Every birthday counts…especially the first.”

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Are You the Same Person Now as You Were as a Child?

Just the other night, Chad asked me to sit down with him and help him complete a personality test. At the end, the test showed you graphs which grouped you into four different colors and showed your dominant color. The interesting thing about this test was that it asked you to consider the answers as they best described you as a child, not as an adult.

As we were reading through the test, I could answer most of the questions about him with no hesitation, based on how he’s been since I met him (at a young 16 years old), and based on the many stories I’ve heard about him from his siblings, parents, and other family and friends from his early childhood. Aside from the natural progression from childhood into adulthood such as added responsibility and the need to be a little more level headed, he is the same person he was as a child: easy to get along with, spontaneous, always up for adventure, a leader, so full of energy, and pretty stress-free. These qualities in him are the exact opposite of anything about me, which is why our marriage works.

As I was reading the questions and thinking about my own answers, I couldn’t help but to realize that I am a completely different person than I was as a child. As a child and teenager, I had no self-esteem. I would let people walk all over me to avoid confrontation. Although I’ve always had leadership qualities, I preferred to blend in to the background to avoid drawing attention to myself. Several of the questions were about friends. One thing I can say has always been the same about me is that I’ve always only had a handful of close friends who accept me for me. I’ve never been one to have tons of friends. I find a few I can trust and who treat me well and accept me for who I am and I stick close to them.

Anyone who has only known me in my adult life would probably be shocked to hear how I described myself up there. I am now someone who is confident in my skin and in my roles. I’m a confident wife, mother, and teacher. I have learned to put my leadership skills to use as a mentor teacher at my school and to blog, hoping to inspire and help moms. I also don’t allow people to wrong me anymore. If someone upsets me or hurts me, I’ll have a conversation with them about it. It’s not my favorite thing to do, and sometimes it takes days for me to muster up the courage to do so, but it will happen in my own time. I’m no longer a doormat, waiting for the first person to walk all over me with no repercussions.

Is this normal? What makes this happen? Chad and I have our opinions. I think much of my personality as a child was formed by the circumstances of my childhood. When I met Chad, he literally made me feel (and still makes me feel) like the most important and most beautiful person in the world. He gave me the confidence I never had. He didn’t like when people hurt me. Some of his personality rubbed off on me, giving me the tools I needed to not be walked all over anymore. I also learned very quickly that if I were going to survive in his family (of two loud, but amazing parents, and three ruthless brothers) that I was going to have to be able to hold my own. It’s often a joke in the Langdon family how I came into the family a sweet little thing and now I’ve been converted into a “true Langdon.” Most importantly, he balances me out in every aspect of my life and has genuinely made me a happier person.

I’m not sure which of us is more “normal”: Chad being the same person he was as a child, or me being a completely different person than I was as a child. What I do know is that every single life circumstance I experienced has shaped me into the person I am today.

So, which are you? The same person you were 25 years ago or someone much different?

Until next time…

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ.”

Blog, Congenital Heart Defects

Why Awareness Walks Matter

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If you’re new around here, you probably have no idea who Riley Marie is.  Riley Marie is my best friend’s daughter.  She would have been just over three years old, dancing next to Callie at this year’s dance recital.  Sweet Riley Marie was taken from us the Monday after Thanksgiving a year and a half ago.  Riley lost her battle with a severe heart defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, or HLHS.  When she was born, she had an additional issue.  She had an intact septum.  This made the very first seconds of her life critical.  Her mom was one of a handful of women who had a scheduled c-section in the local children’s hospital so that Riley could be immediately taken to the cath lab for a heart cath.  This was necessary for her survival and to get her to her first major heart surgery.  After dozens of surgeries, procedures, heart caths, setbacks, and time spent in the hospital, Riley Marie’s body finally gave up, but not before seriously positively impacting every single person who crossed her path.  You can read more about my experiences with Riley here.  You can read more about her passing here.

Before Riley’s diagnosis and birth, I never really understood the point of the different awareness walks.  Call it selfish, call it uneducated, call it whatever you want.  It’s just that no one in my life prior to Katie was ever involved in specific walks.  Once receiving Riley’s diagnosis and trying to be there for my best friend while she and her husband attempted to navigate uncharted territory, I began to realize just how important these awareness walks are.

The main goal of these walks is to raise money for research and to raise awareness.  The idea is that affected individuals and all their friends, families, co-workers, and acquaintances rally together, raise money, and talk about the particular illness.  Thanks to social media, awareness is the easy part.  It’s also pretty easy to collect money these days with just a little bit of effort.

Preparing for and attending my first Congenital Heart Defect walk showed me that walks are so much more than money and awareness.  These walks give affected individuals and their support systems a huge network of people.  People who they can vent to, find comfort in, ask opinions of, and form a new kind of normal with.  None of these people asked to be there.  But once they are there, they find hope through other stories.  They find inspiration to make it through the next day.  They find the courage and persistence to advocate for their child.

I will never pretend to know everything about CHDs, and I will never pretend to know anything about raising a child with a CHD.  What I will say, is that Riley taught me a lot.  She taught me the importance of understanding what others may be going through.  She taught me that life is vulnerable and unpredictable.  She taught me that sometimes the bravest people in our world are some of the smallest.

If this touched you at all, please consider following this link to donate money to this year’s upcoming Indianapolis CHD walk.  Our team for the last two years has been Broken Hearts Walking Together.  It’s a huge team of people walking in memory of CHD angels, who no longer walk beside us, but fly above us. No parents deserve to be part of this team. I’m glad they have each other. They experience a pain that no one who hasn’t walked in their shoes could ever fathom. By contributing to the CHD Walk, you can help prevent more children, babies, from leaving their parents far before their parents are ready.

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Until next time…

“Sometimes, real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.”

Blog, Mom Life

My Family’s Sleeping Arrangements Are None of Your Business

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If you’ve been a parent for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve been asked, “Is he/she sleeping through the night?”  I cringe when I hear this question; whether it’s to me or a friend.  People ask this question with such a tone to their voice.  It’s as if that’s step number two to determining (in their brain) whether or not you’ve reached “good mom” status, generally preceded by “are you breastfeeding?”

This irritates me because whether or not your child sleeps through the night has nothing to do with how great of a mom you are or aren’t.  And quite frankly, there is so much research shown that it’s not even biologically appropriate for your infant to be sleeping through the night.  This isn’t to say that some don’t, but parents shouldn’t expect their baby to be sleeping through the night 4 weeks, 4 months, or even 10 months after being born.  Please realize that infants, especially under 3 months, who sleep through the night are not the norm, they are the exception.  In fact, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, only two-thirds of infants under the age of 6 months sleep through the night regularly.

This tends to be even more true for nursing babies.  This is for a couple different reasons.  Number 1: Breastmilk is exactly what a baby needs with no extras, therefore it is generally digested faster than formula, meaning a baby would be hungrier sooner.  Number 2: Nursing babies crave that physical touch from their moms.  This need for physical touch was heightened when I went back to work.  If you think about it, that makes perfect sense.

If you do genuinely want to know if your friend’s baby is sleeping through the night and you decide to ask them, please do not offer them “solutions” unless they ask.  I personally didn’t care that my babies didn’t sleep through the night until close to 15-18 months.  Yes, I was a walking, talking, barely functioning member of society during those sleepless nights, but I birthed my babies fully expecting that to be the case.  Crying it out was not for me.  Changing something that was working for us, wasn’t for me.  Hearing all the ways you added formula and cereal to their bedtime bottle so they would sleep longer, wasn’t for me.  We were just fine in our current situation and I didn’t want or need anyone’s “help.”  Maybe I’m in the minority, but once I got over the initial thought of you’re awake again, I always enjoyed the time where it was just me, baby, and breast, all alone in the world.  If your friend, relative, or coworker is asking for suggestions, then by all means, help the lady out!

Where my babies and kids sleep also doesn’t have anything to do with you.  Again, we have figured out what works for us and have stuck to it.  One of my very good friends, who I think is an amazing momma to her 6-year-old son, had him sleep in his nursery since day one home from the hospital, even though she was nursing.  This worked for her, her husband, and her baby.  Hearing that a newborn was sleeping in their own room since night one gives me anxiety.  I knew I needed the baby to be right next to me.  Guess what?  Both of us are pretty good parents if I do say so myself.  Now that our babies are no longer babies, some of my friends don’t allow their children in bed with them at all.  We allow the girls to sleep with us if they come to our bed in the middle of the night.

Honestly, I love when they come to bed with us and feel a little offended when neither one of them make it to my bed on a given night.  I love that they find so much comfort between me and their daddy.  I love that they know they are safe and loved, even in the middle of the night.  I know that this won’t last forever, so I plan on soaking in every single snuggle while I can.  The idea of bedsharing is so bothersome to some people, and while it may not be their thing, there’s nothing wrong with doing so.

Sleep training vs allowing the baby to find its own sleeping pattern, crying it out vs comforting that baby and bedsharing vs everyone in their own beds is just about as controversial as nursing vs formula fed.  It seems you’re on one side or the other.  In reality, as long as every baby and child is fed and every baby and child gets an appropriate amount of sleep, let everyone do what works for them.  If everyone allowed people to make their own decisions without being judged, the world would be such a happier place.

Until next time…

“Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains.”

Blog, Mom Life

Morning Routine: No More Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Good morning!  Wait, who am I kidding?!  There’s no way that you are reading this in the morning because moms have serious morning duties.  When I searched “getting kids ready in the morning,” I can across several memes that all mentioned this same quote:

There is nothing that sounds fun about that!  We have certainly had our fair share of rough mornings in the Langdon household.  From about the time Callie was 15 months until she was about 18 months I think I was in tears every day by the time I made it into work.  I was sweating because I was wrestling to get her dressed, wrestling to get her teeth brushed, and my favorite – wrestling her into the rear-facing car seat (bonus points for doing this in the pouring down rain).  It wasn’t fun.  Starting the work day in tears and drenched in sweat just before greeting 20 students for the day was just no longer working for me.  I had to figure out how to start our day more smoothly.  Through trial and error, we found what worked best for us.

1. Figure out what help you have available.  Chad leaves the house well before I have to get the girls up, so I can’t count on him for help.  I knew our morning routine had to be doable by me, myself, and I.

2. Do EVERYTHING you can the night before.  This was a huge game-changer for me.  Before going to bed each night, the girls pick out their clothes: dress/shirt, shorts/pants, socks, and underwear.  They do this knowing that this is what they will leave the house in the next morning.  There is no mind changing in the morning.  I also pack my lunch and Ella’s lunch before I go to bed.  Anything refrigerated stays together in a stack in the refrigerator in our separate piles, and everything else is put in the lunch box and sat on the island.  Even my travel mug is right next to the faucet and my tea bag is out.  The dry ingredients I put in my shakes in the morning are already in the blender.  We hung hooks at the girls’ level for their book bags and coats so we aren’t left hunting for those necessities any given morning.  I literally do EVERY single thing possible before going to bed so that I don’t have to deal with it or think too hard in the morning.

3. Decide what time you need to leave your house and plan on leaving 15 minutes earlier.  If everything runs smoothly, traffic isn’t slow, a train isn’t crossing when I am, I don’t forget anything when I walk out to the van, and the kids are totally compliant with every request, I know that I can make it to the sitters to drop Callie off and to work on time by leaving my house as late at 7:18am.  I also know that the stars don’t often align that perfectly, so my goal time is to leave my house by 7:00am.  I like the extra time in case Callie is being extra clingy at drop-off or we decide to grab breakfast on the way.  I can’t imagine all of us having to start our days rushed and without having time for goodbye hugs, kisses, and I love you’s.

4. Work backward to figure out your alarm time.  I know if I want to leave my house by 7:00, we should be downstairs by 6:50 to get shoes on, pack the lunch boxes all the way, get coats on, and grab breakfast.  If I want to be downstairs by 6:50, that means I should wake the girls up at 6:30.  I know that if I start waking them up at 6:30, this will give me enough time to gradually turn on the lights and snuggle with them for a minute or two.  I hate having to jump right out of bed, and they don’t respond well to that, either.  So instead, I allow several minutes to wake them up slowly.

5. Get completely ready before waking the bears….I mean, children.  I don’t know about you, but I enjoy getting myself completely showered, fixed up, dressed, and accessorized before the girls even wake up.  If they happen to wake up early, it only slows me down.  Since I want to wake them up at 6:30, I know I have to be up between 5:45-5:50.  This is how I arrived at my alarm clock time.

Like I stated above, we haven’t always had our morning routine down, but now we’re like a well-oiled machine.  The girls know the routine and know what to expect next.  My expectations for them have also been made very clear.  Life will cause us to change this a bit every now and then.  Our routine looked much different when Callie was being nursed every morning before work.  It changed again when we moved into our current house.  I was so worried what having two stories instead of a ranch would do to our morning routine, but we were so efficient already that it didn’t change much at all.  Drop-offs will change drastically this next school year and I may need to allow for more commute time, or I might be able to push back the alarm clock time a few minutes.  We will have to see what happens when we cross that bridge.  For now, we will stick to what works for us.

Until next time…

“You’re off to great places, today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”