Irish Road Bowling & Saint Patrick’s Day fun ☘️

Another weekend has come and gone. Dyl & I finally got a weekend away from the kids and it was nice to spend time together and refresh. We traveled to St Patrick, Missouri and played road bowling, which was something I had never done before. My uncle did it last year and had told me about it, so I told him last year that I had wanted to do it. He invited us on him and his wife’s team, so we had a really great time. Basically, there is a mile and a half stretch right out of town that you roll shot puts down, in attempts to have the least amount of rolls to the finish line. It was really fun because the course opened at 11am and everyone could just kind of go at their own pace whenever they wanted. I

t was a cold 30° day that spit snow off and on, but when we were walking and moving it wasn’t bad. We finished the course in just 23 throws, which seemed to be one of the lowest scores I’d seen. It was fun because people were dressed in all sorts of St Pattys Day costumes and the course was fun because you just shouted “Ball!” before you threw and also had to watch as people rolled their balls down the road from behind you. Apparently, Irish road bowling can be dated back to Ireland in early 1600’s. It’s a pretty fun game and an annual tradition in St Patrick, Missouri. I’m thankful for my uncle, stepmom, and husband. It was great spending time with them! If you ever get the chance to give Irish road bowling a try, I highly recommend giving it a go!!

Me & the hubs 💚
My uncle & his wife in front of the shrine of Saint Patrick
Loved the creativity & spirit here!

The Letter I Never Sent

A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting at my desk in a whirlwind of emotion and in need of letting some things go. I have been physically and emotionally drained for months now. I am partially convinced that this is a normal annual occurrence that normally takes its toll on my body the most intensely around this same time of year every year. By February and March I am usually a bit more irritable, bored out of my mind, and ready for the sun to come and refresh all of the life that just laid dormant for the winter.

Have you ever been sitting in a completely quiet and empty room and found yourself lost in wonder and contemplation? I mean, lost so deep that it feels like life is so raw and intense and full of ways to break your spirit? I probably sat there for a long while just letting my mind wander before I snapped back to reality. I was looking out the window – perhaps I was wallowing, or perhaps I was just relishing in sane human emotion after heartbreak – but I kept feeling this deep pit in my stomach telling me to just let it all out. I sit at my desk all day on the computer, so instead I pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, and I started writing to my mom in prison. The letter sat on my desk under a pile of other papers for a couple weeks before I finally decided to toss it in the trash.

When I write these letters, I never really feel like I am writing to my Mom. Our relationship is so estranged that the word ‘Mom’ feels like it has a different meaning. Like, I understand what the word means to other people, and I know that I am an absolutely wonderful mother to my own children, but as it relates to the woman that birthed me, I identify with it differently. Mom feels like a label. Like it’s her name.

What else am I supposed to call her?

But it doesn’t feel like a term of endearment, nor do I see her as the same kind of person as several of the amazing Moms that I have had the pleasure of looking up to throughout my short time on this planet. When I write these letters, it feels like I am writing a letter to the person that caused me pain and changed my life indefinitely, but not to a person that I know. I am going to be 27 years old this October. I was taken from my mother at the age of 7. Let’s put that into perspective. At this point in my life, nearly 75% of my life has been spent without my mother. When I say without, I mean no calls, no texts, no visits, nothing. Poof. Like she didn’t even exist, yet I knew of her absence and the pain it carried. And the one quarter of my life that I did spend with her, I was from the ages of 0-7… so you tell me, how much of that time frame in your life do you remember? Because I remember some good times, and some bad times… but mostly I remember the LACK of times we shared together. I remember all of the times she wasn’t there. My childhood is tainted by flashbacks of being so sick from missing her on holidays that I’d have to lay in bed most of the day. I remember scanning bleachers of basketball games looking for a face that never came. No documentation ever came forward with her making any effort to get me back or to even set up visitations.

Growing up, I felt like I was the only kid experiencing what it was like to have their mother in prison. And in my case – my mother was a single parent, so I had to be placed in a completely different home altogether. I didn’t know anybody like me. My best friend all throughout Junior High had happily married parents that went on ornate family vacations every summer, and my other girlfriend lived on a farm with happily married parents who owned horses and a brick fire oven on their back patio. They could offer their deepest regards to my pain and emotions as we matured, but ultimately, no one I knew had a home life that seemed anything other than perfect in my eyes. And no one was ever really able to offer me the deep understanding and empathy that I felt like I needed as a young girl making her way through life. Not that that burden was ever to be beared by my friends, but it just led me down a path of extreme loneliness and separation from my peers that I still struggle with today. I had to grow up a lot faster than anyone around me and I had to pave my own path to success and family that is often much more easily reached by someone with a supportive and loving home life. My aunt and uncle did what they could at the time to give us everything we needed, but there is never a replacement for a mother. It is just different when you have got that bird in your ear reminding you that you have been neglected and rejected by the one woman you want the most. Sometimes the pain is too much to bear, but I suppose it’s never really too much – because here I stand. Fighting my way to every inch I have ever gained.

I was doing some research on this to gain some background on how common it is for a child to have an incarcerated parent and just how it affects the child of the offender. I think one of the most surprising facts about this is that it’s reeeally not that uncommon at all.

Today in Illinois, nearly 200,000 children—or one in every 20—have
had a parent in jail or prison.

Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents, December 2020

It is estimated that 5 million U.S. children have experienced the incarceration of a parent – with the average age of 8 years old. Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to experience poor health and unmet health care needs, greater exposure to mental health symptomatology such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression. They are more susceptible to lower educational attainment, higher rates of aggression, substance abuse, justice system involvement, and more likely to disenfranchise from civic and political participation (Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents: Final Report and Recommendations).

The affects that the incarceration of a parent can have on a child is insurmountable. I have experienced hurdles in all of the aforementioned categories and was never offered mental or emotional rehabilitation or counseling to help me cope. If we want to change the direction of society and fill it with children that grow up to be dependable, happy, healthy, and innocuous adults, we must do something about the care that we offer to the families affected by the judicial system. There is responsibility to be placed on offenders, but we cannot forget about the people that their decisions directly impact. I was a child, lost and lonely. I overcame the statistics that are made out of people from families like mine.

I guess my main point is this: If you are struggling with an addiction or a decision that keeps you from offering the love to the children you created, just stop. There is no excuse you could offer that will console or mend whatever destruction your situation is causing. I still feel an immense sense of disassociation with reality and division between myself and those that have never felt rejection, abandonment, and loneliness to this level. I aim for a world where no child ever has to wonder if their mother cares about them, for it is a lonely and desolate journey forward.

A New Battle

A few weeks ago I was really struggling with a heavy chest and not being able to catch a full breath of air. I could not get a yawn to catch, and just felt like an elephant was sitting right atop my breasts. This pursued for several days, leaving me exasperated and irritated. One night I sat on the edge of the bed while my heart nearly beat out of my chest. I was up and down out of bed for several hours and even worried if I should call the hubby home from work. I was petrified that I was having a real health concern, so I decided to get into my PCP – just hoping that it was due to anxiety.

Luckily, my PCP was very friendly, listened intently, and even ran tests on my heart and blood to confirm that the heavy chest wasn’t due to my heart or lungs. Labs came back good, so that was a relief. She put me on anxiety meds, gave me an inhaler because of my history of asthma, and sent me on my way. A few days passed and much to my relief, my heavy chest went away.

Now, this was probably going on three weeks ago. So I have been taking this anxiety medication for a few weeks now, and this is a journey that I new to. I am not ashamed to be on this medication, but I have never really been on any medications before, so it is something that I am going to continue to monitor and talk with my healthcare professionals about. I have had a lot of emotional strain and work stress lately, along with raising two kiddos, running a home, and finishing my final semester of my degree. I am excited to say, though, that the medication is seemingly making me less irritable with the kids and also allows me to fall asleep rather quickly – as opposed to lying in bed for hours worrying before finally falling asleep. The doc said it could be 4-6 weeks before I really notice the medication doing much, but I think the heavy chest and panic attack relief was enough for me to buy-in to the process and keep my mental health on the foreground. I think that this was a real wake-up call for me, because I had never had anxiety present itself in my body in such a drastic way to where it paralyzed me, made it hard to breathe, and increased my heart rate. I was miserable for several days while my attack pursued, so I can truly relate to anyone that battles anxiety or depression that leaves them physically altered and distressed. I considered going to the Emergency Room a few times simply because my heart was racing, I couldn’t catch a breath, and nothing I did seemed to help. The stress of not being able to breathe only exacerbated my fear and stress, so it was an endless cycle until I got the medication which allowed me to relax, gain my breath, and fulfill the long-awaited yawns that I had been chasing for several days.

I am glad I took the leap. It is going to hopefully help my behavior as a mother and wife be more patient and less irritable, and allow me to lead a more regular life without always stressing and worrying about what is next. These two small pills have provided me relief and hope for a brighter future. I probably should have been medicated long ago, but for now I will venture into this new part of my life and shift more focus on maintaining and healthy mental status for myself and my family.

Six Years on WP!

Today marks my six year anniversary on WordPress. This site was my beginning journey into sharing my writing and life experience with the world. Since then my content has been viewed in countries across the world tens of thousands of times.

I’m thankful for my blog friends here & the journeys we have shared together. Some of the darkest moments of my life are reflected in the poetry and writings that I upload here. It’s a very personal and honest reflection of my life that I will leave behind for my children and possible descendants to dig out. I’m currently writing a book about my family’s lineage that I hope to print and give to my siblings for Christmas to be passed to do future generations.

Not only do I share my poetry and creative writing here, WP is also my outlet to photography, gardening, vent sessions, personal interests, and self-reflection.

It’s really a catch-all.

So I appreciate the follow & engagement. Drop some love in the comments!

Thanks for a great SIX years. Here’s to another!

EOD Thoughts: 02.14.2023

Happy Valentine’s Day, loves!

Dylan sent me flowers to the office yesterday and that was unexpected & delightful! He got me a bouquet of a half dozen roses, which were beautiful! He told me that a dozen of roses was going to cost NINETY FIVE DOLLARS, so he only did the half. Since when does a dozen of roses cost $95?! I was shocked!!

So in conclusion, if you didn’t get roses this Valentine’s Day don’t feel too bad – they are expensive as ever! $100 on flowers seems ridiculous to me anyway.

Feeling very thankful for the man I have built a life with. He is gentle and loving with our children and works hard for our family. He is my best best friend and I am not sure how I’d get through some days without his words of encouragement or embraces. I hope everyone finds a home in the arms of a loved one like I have in Dylan’s.

Today my post is all about our LOVE. He’s currently at work while I lay in bed and wish he were here.

I wanted to share some photos of us from the duration of our 6.5 year relationship ❤️ Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

2022
2016
2019
2020
2021
2021
2022

Moms

Want vs. Need

I attempted to explain this difference to my daughter this afternoon. She stood in the doorway of the dining room whining for I don’t even remember what. She cried, “I neeeeeeed it!”

You don’t need it. You just want it.

Desire can be a tricky little bitch.

You see… when you really, really want something so bad it physically makes you feel ill…

and that thing never comes…

Tonight I just so happened to get on WordPress via PC instead of my mobile app. I usually draft up ideas on the go, so blogging from my phone is just easier and more convenient. Anyway, I noticed a notification that I hadn’t seen because I was on the app. It noted that I had an unapproved comment, so I clicked to see what it was.

I have written about my mom reading and occasionally commenting on my blog. Well this comment was from her from way back in the spring of 2022, but I hadn’t seen it until tonight.

I got mixed emotions reading her words, but in the end it all lead to one sad realization.

A realization I come to very often.

I want a Mom.

An actual Mom. As in, one who kisses boo-boos (both physical and emotional). One who I could call up on the phone when I need advice on parenting, or to ask how to make homemade cookies, or for no particular reason at all. Oh, how I would call this Mom up. I would tell her I loved her and I would make Mom & Daughter adult planned mini-vacations for the two of us.

Seems silly saying it out loud.

I’ve invented entire scenarios with my make-believe mother. The one not engulfed in a seemingly endless battle with addiction. One who would admit their faults and love me the way a child should be.

I want that Mom.

Again, Want vs. Need.

I didn’t say I need a Mom. Haven’t since age 7. And the one woman that swore to love and raise me in place of the woman that actually birthed me deserted some of her children, while still loving and spending time with the others. I was not one that she chose to continue to love and cherish.

It hurts me most that my children are missing out on invaluable relationships and foundations that are essential in the success and psychology of a family.

The two “mothers” in my life have brought me the greatest heartbreak, biggest feelings of being deserted, and most pain of all experiences I have emotionally survived in my life.

I don’t want to carry that burden to my own children. I am a great Mom, that I know. Because one thing that I have learned in the short four years that I have been a Mom, is that a great deal of being a good Mom is done by just showing up for them. You may not always get it right, but trying again and committing to doing better the next time is all it takes. Nobody really knows what they are doing anyway.

I don’t need a mom. I do damned well without one.

But tonight, I wish I could call you just for the sake of it.

Under the Bridge

We ran out of milk this morning so I made a solo trip to the nearest Dollar General for some more early this morning. Just my luck, the store didn’t open til 8 and I got there at 7:40. That seemed like too long of time to sit and wait in the parking lot, so I headed down to the river to pass some time and look at the water. I have always found such serenity and peace by the River.

I wasn’t there for any more than ten minutes, but after more than a week locked in with sick kids, I needed this mini-trip to town to clear my head. I guess it was a win that I showed up to the store before they opened because otherwise I would have missed out on this beautiful scene that I was able to witness this morning as the early day glow was rising on the bridge. Surprisingly, I was the only one down there so I got to soak it in all by myself, almost as if the sunlight was put there to comfort a Mom lost in motherhood much like myself.

My Smoky Mountain Wedding: The Bridesmaids Dresses

Good morning & thanks for joining me on another Smoky Mountain wedding review! Today I’m here to talk bridesmaids!

These will be your go-to gals and if you go the traditional wedding route, will be vital in staying sane on your wedding day.

It was a tall task for us to ask an entire wedding party to make a ten (or more) hour drive to Tennessee, but we have amazing friends that were down to have a mini vacation in the mountains with us. We had five Bridesmaids and five Groomsmen join us, which was great!

When planning a wedding and choosing a date for the ceremony, it’s important to consider which season and background and foliage you want. I am an October baby in love with the fall, so I always knew I wanted to be married in October. I love when the trees change color and the pops of orange, yellow, and red give the scenery a warm glow. I chose green and orange to be my main wedding colors, along with accents of red and brown. My bridesmaids all wore different colors and different styles of dresses. I actually let my girls pick their own color and style of dress so that they could pick something that was comfortable to them and made them feel confident. All I gave them was a color palette and tone to choose along the lines of, but they all chose excellent dresses!

I’ll write more about my flower arrangements later, but I accented each bouquet with the colors of each dress making the colors all flow beautifully together. I highly recommend having your ladies where an arrangement of colors or styles because in my opinion it really gives the look more definition and opportunity for expression. Although the foliage in Tennessee at the beginning of October was just beginning to really change, the collage of fall colors really made everything pop and have a real sense of autumn.

EOD Thoughts: 01.19.2023

Moms should get extra sick time to use for their children.

I have a good job that offers great benefits. Jan 1 I was given 40 hours sick time for the year.

After today, and only 19 days into the year, I will only have 3 days left for the rest of 2023.

I have spent exactly zero hours burning my sick time on actually being sick myself. Last year I burned all of my PTO and sick time on lack of daycare or ill kids.

So when I fall sick later this year I’ll end up resorting to burning my vacation time instead of using it to spend with my family. It’s a cycle that I just have to accept, I guess. Although an actual vacation sounds pretty nice.

I wish working families better benefited from the work they put in. Of course I’d love to spend more time with the people that matter more than any job, but unfortunately society requires income and raising good humans doesn’t pay the bills.

My Smoky Mountain Wedding: The Veil

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, and I have committed to spending less time on toxic social media platforms, I have more time to commit to my writing. I got married in October of 2022 near The Great Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I did my wedding fairly inexpensively and we still had a beautiful wedding of our dreams. I spent less than $10,000 on our wedding, so I am here to share my tricks and advice on how I was able to save money and still have a wedding that was beautiful and just to our liking.

I started wedding planning right after we had our son Leon. He was born October 27th of 2021, and as a matter-of-fact, I believe we chose our wedding date while in the hospital for his birth. Anyway, it was 26 days short of being ONE YEAR that I spent planning, preparing, and readying for our wedding day. Now this was a lot of pressure! Dylan and I have been dating since 2016, had our first daughter and got engaged in 2018, had Leon in 2021, and then finally tied the knot in 2022 after nearly four years engaged. Once we had Leon, I think we both realized that it was finally the right time to focus and put the money towards officially becoming one. Raising kids in a relationship is hard and we have never really cared much about the labels. We love one another, cherish the family we have created, and it was finally time to wrap it up in a pretty little bow. I was VERY excited to finally share the same last name as my partner and two children.

So the first detail I really want to dive into about our special day is the veil.

As I was searching for photographers, I went online and looked at wedding shots that I wanted to make sure I got. I found beautiful photos of couples underneath a beautiful, long veil and I just knew that the Cathedral veil was for me. From the get-go, I knew I wanted to reenact those photos – and let me say, I am so pleased that I did because they are quite possibly my favorite shots from our wedding.

When I went shopping for my dress, I tried on several veils while at the store. Each one of them was no less than $400. Now, Dylan and I were paying for a majority of the wedding ourselves so I absolutely knew that a triple-digit price point was not going to work for me. So what did I do?

What any cheapo Mom does.

I got on Amazon.

And believe you me, I found the veil that you see pictured here. For LESS THAN $40!

I have never been one to care about the glitz and glam of name brand items, so going cheap never bothered me. If you are one that has the capability to spend the money on pricier accessories, go for it! But that won’t be what you find on this page, because I put together my entire wedding as cheap as I could and only splurged on certain aspects.

My advice on choosing the veil of your dreams:

  • Research styles and get an idea of which type of veil is best for you before you go dress shopping. If you aren’t willing to spend a ton of money on accessories, do not let the salespeople at bridal stores talk you into items that are outside of your budget. They are trying to make a buck, so be prepared to stick to your guns if you are on a strict budget.
  • Try the veil on with your dress before you buy! One thing about ordering online is that you may have to go through the return process if it doesn’t end up suiting your desire. It is best to research which veil styles work best with certain styles of dresses.
  • Don’t be ashamed if you have to stay “cheap.” I spent 1/10th of the price on a veil and nobody would even know if I weren’t writing this right now. You are wearing this outfit ONE time, so in the grand scheme of things, you have to weigh how much money you are willing to spend on something so miniscule as a veil. It is a beautiful garnish, but a veil does not define your beauty on your wedding day.
Photo under the veil
You can see the length and beauty of my veil here
Photo with my daughter under the veil; loved the embroidered details!