Friday, November 29, 2013

Gobble til ya wobble

I think Christmas starts earlier every year and Thanksgiving is forgotten, so I wanted to make sure I took a moment to say thanks for all I have. Last year at this time I was barely getting out of bed and worrying about almost everything. Today I am thankful to say I was up a little too early finishing turkey cookies, checking out online deals,and helping feed calves. I am also so thankful for the family and friends who stuck with me along the rocky road - I can never thank them enough.

As I have said before Pinterest is one of my biggest time wasters and I found these fun turkey shaped cookies made with oreos the other day I thought the girls would love to help make. I pinned them and bought the supplies.

The first one we tried were from Our Best Bites (click on the link to see the steps we followed)
I cruised the baking and cookie/candy aisles and found -

  • Chocolate and vanilla (the girls decided not to use these) sandwich cookies -for back and base
  • Cookie icing (white and red was what I found) - for holding things together
  • Cake icing (in a squirt can) - for holding things together
  • Candy corn - for the feathers and beak 
  • Chocolate assortment (Rolos, Peanut Butter Cups, and Kisses) - for the body
  • Malted milk balls - for the head
  • Confetti sprinkles - for the eyes
Here is a Smilebox of us putting these and the next recipe together

If you can tell from the pictures it took like three change of clothes to get them done as we waited for the icing to hold. Gretchyn prefered to take the sandwich cookie apart and out the frosting on the cookie - then the candy corn on the frosting - then frosting on the candy corn -then top of cookie back on, but you can also just put frosting in and stick the candy corn between the two sides. The tutorial said to put the cookies against a wall after you frost the back to the base and that advice was very helpful to getting them made. I also found it helpful to wait inbetween steps to give the back, body, and head a chance to set a little. The tutorial called for peanut butter cups for the body, but we used Rolos and Kisses and they worked fine too. The tutorial also said they used the cookie icing for decorating purposes. We found this icing wasn't quite thick enough for holding things together so we used the cake icing for holding the cookies, chocolates, and candies together and the cookie icing for keeping the feathers in the cookie. The tutorial also said to use chocolate frosting, but I guess I missed that when shopping so I bought white. It worked just fine, but ours don't look as clean as the ones in their pictures, but we had fun and that is all that counts. I also did not pick up the yellow icing or chocolate sprinkles for eyes so we used the white confetti sprinkles instead. We also did not add the feet or gobbler, because it was enough to do the other parts. 

The other turkey shaped cookie we tried were from The Krazy Coupon Lady (click on the link to see the steps we followed)

The ingredients we used were - 
Chocolate covered pretzels - for the feathers
Sandwich cookies (they used fudge dipped ones, but we did not) - for the head/body
Candy eyes - for the eyes
Candy corn - for the beak 
Chocolate chips (melted with 1/2 TBSP oil) - for holding everything together

These were super simple to make and put together. I would suggest it for any quick cookie get together, to make with kiddos at daycare or school, or to send to a party when you need a quick treat. 

Now we are all ready to take to grandma's house and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

The 'tail' end - share any fun recipes or traditions you have for Thanksgiving in the comments. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I do not regret the things I've done, but those I did not do - via Lucas in Empire Records

Maybe I am just a little nostalgic after my girls pulled out my senior scrapbook the other day or because I started to reminisce as I did 8 things you may or may not know about me on Facebook, but this is a thought that has been weighing on my mind lately.

I remember very clearly in high school a teacher telling us we would not be as close of friends with our high school friends in 20 years as we were then. At the time I remember not believing her and wanting so badly to be able to come back in 20 years and prove her wrong. But as I just celebrated my 15 year class reunion this summer, I realized even though I wanted her to be wrong, there was some truth to her statement.

With the changes in technology it is easier to virtually connect and keep track of friends in our lives, but I can not remember the last time I actually went out with my friends from high school as a group like we used to.

I put no blame on any of us, life changes and gets busy as we grow up.  We have work, meetings, a husband and kids to take care of, activities to attend and plan, health and life issues to deal with. We no longer have as much free time as we used to, the space between us is much greater then three lockers down the hall, and new friendships have been added over the years.

But as I get ready to give thanks for all I do have and continue to grow as a person, I want to think about how to keep in better touch with the people I grew up with - the ones who could share some silly stories about me or remind me of a lesson I have long forgotten. These are the people who shaped me and helped make me who I am today, how can we so easily let our lives get so busy we forget that? Should we just let that go because we have a time crunch? What can we do to keep in touch?

I know it will never be the same as when we were sharing classes, books, lockers, pencils, and back packs,  but can we do better then an occasional Facebook post, text message, or holiday card? I am not asking for every week or even every month, but why couldn't two or three times a year we pick a location and get together for a few hours. It could be a group supper with the spouses, a night at a wine bar, an afternoon at a coffee shop or bakery, some time at a bounce house building or park (and bring the kids). Could it be done or is that asking too much - are we just to far removed from each other?

Thought I would through in some fun pictures the girls found in the scrapbook!

The  'tail' end - Share any opportunity you use to keep in touch with old friends

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sometimes the simplest things can be the most fun

I was out looking for supplies for some thank you gifts I am thinking up and I was told about this new mini loom that makes rubber band bracelets - which I guess I am a little behind on knowing about
and you can make without the loom and with small hair ties, but I knew instantly my girls would love it. So I bought it and showed it to Gracyn when I got home (Gretchyn was taking her sometimes Kindergarten is so exhausting I still need a nap) and she couldn't get the package open or directions read fast enough! She did get a little 'tired' in the middle and asked me to finish, but that is just her seven year old attention span. Gretchyn woke up from her nap and was so excited she made two when she was supposed to be sleeping last night. They are also back at it this morning. (guess I should have sprung for the extra rubber bands too!) The only problem we are running into is we have misplaced the small plastic brackets to connect the two ends so I suggest you find a safe place for those when you open your package. And unless you are hopeless at knot tying like me you can tie the ends together.

Here is a Smilebox slideshow of Gracyn making her bracelet -

You can find ordering and video instructions at

The 'tail' end -please share any simple crafts you have done with your children - we would love to try them!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Singing the song again

I apologize that this post is so long, but all of it is necessary to tell my story.

I want to start by saying I am a very sensitive person. I come by it naturally, I have been told my great grandpa would cry at anyone's wedding, even if he barely knew them. My mom would send me away for the afternoon when she cleaned up the artwork cupboard because I would cry about throwing things away. I once got so upset and homesick my mom had to drive to another state to pick me up from my cousin's house. I am a natural worrier. I was always afraid my dad would not come home when he traveled to build car washes. I was so convinced a trip to the dentist would result in cavities and the drill my mom had to give me medicine and carry me in for check ups. I also had a very active imagination. I organized and married my brother and the neighbor girl in a mock wedding when they were six. I just thought all of this was part of who I am, but after my third daughter was born all this came together and became too much.
I should have known the depression was coming when the tears just started to fall the day we brought our third daughter home, but I am generally a glass half full kind of person. At least until the dark cloud pulled me under and followed me around whispering negativity in my ear.
I am no stranger to depression and anxiety, my hormones had formed a staggered formation and pulled me under just before I got pregnant with our first daughter. I knew all about not being able to get out of bed and the tears just coming (and not stopping) for no reason. It also showed its ugly face and made me wonder for awhile after our second daughter was born.
I couldn't ask for a better medical team that help me to live my life with depression and anxiety. They gave me all the information about PPD being likely to happen to me again, but we knew we could manage it. We had a plan, we were monitoring the situation, we were prepared, we thought.
What I was not ready for was the thought of ending it all. The thought of taking a few too many pills before I went to bed. The thought of not turning the wheel of the car as I came to a curve in the road. The thought that clearly my family would be better off without a mom who couldn't even take care of herself. There was one morning my 6 year old got up, got dressed, and got to the bus without any help from me. I was frozen in bed. Another morning my husband came in at 11 AM to me still in my PJs, unshowered, rocking in the chair, with the baby crying in my arms, starring ahead at nothing. I couldn't even remember if I had done anything that morning.
Then there was work. Not only do I have children at home, but I taught 6th grade. I also had close to 50 preteen children needing my attention all day. I stumbled through a couple weeks trying to make it all work. I am no stranger to work, I started my first part time job when I was 13, I finished grad school in a year and a half, my husband is the hardest working dairy farmer I know. I was raised to know what work meant, my mom worked 60+ hours a week and my dad traveled on the road running his own concrete business. But as silly as it may sound I seriously believed that I had no idea what I was doing in the classroom or with my life for that matter.
The best way for me to describe it was as if life was moving forward, but I was stuck in the mud. I could barely function.
As I have stated I tend to think on the bright side, but I was under a dark cloud with no sign of lifting. A couple extra weeks of sick leave and the caring of the people around me at work got me to summer. I still wanted to wave my white flag in defeat of being a middle school teacher. Most of my negativity seemed to focus around my job, but also the things I felt I wasn't getting done at home. I started looking into other job options. I talked to people and told them I was not happy where I was. My husband talked me into trying to let the medicine work and relax over the summer before I made any harsh decisions about my career path. I had after all had these feelings before after our middle daughter was born and I made it through it then.
I shoved all my papers, thoughts, and feelings into the cupboards of my classroom and tried to focus on the wonderful family I had at home for the summer. I was determined to love every minute of extra time with my girls I was blessed with in the summer. It started to work and I was even getting out of bed some mornings without a wake up call from my husband. I thought maybe the worst might be behind me.
I had good days sprinkled in with the bad ones. So I jumped back into work and home, but the dark cloud crept out again. I tried to push it under. I was a fighter, not a quitter. I was not going to let this win. I believed I could do it. I pushed on. I put on my brave face. Most days I thought I hid it well and made it from 7:45-3:45 with only one round of tears at my desk. When I got home I was so exhausted by my day I had no energy for my life and spent some afternoons in my chair just starring at nothing or taking naps.
My friends at work listened to my off beat thoughts, made suggestions, and said all the right things. My mom and grandma came to help around the house, played with the girls, and said the right things. My husband tried to keep me busy, helped out more around the house, and said the right things. My doctors listened to me, adjusted my medicine, tested me for other problems, and said all the right things. But all I could hear was this LOUD doubt in my head that I was not good enough or smart enough to be a wife, teacher, and mother. All I could see was everything that was going wrong. It didn't matter what I tried or what people said to me, I felt like I was a failure. I was not meant to be an educator. These fifty preteen kids were going to be scarred for life because I was their teacher. This was all I could hear and believe.
I began to isolate myself. I hardly ever left my classroom. I didn't get on social media, talk on the phone, or go out with my friends. I didn't tell anyone how I was feeling anymore because it sounded so ridiculous. It was easier to be alone then deal with the questions or try to explain something I did not understand myself.
It all became too much one day and I could not hold the tears back anymore, they came out in the middle of class and would not stop. I never understood exactly why they happened, they just did. Luckily 6th grade students are pretty self absorbed and did not notice, but I knew it was time for a break before something bad did happen. I had a very understanding administration and was given two weeks off and time to make a decision on what I wanted to do.
In those two weeks I tried to be strong and figure out how I could make it all work, but all those doubts were still in my head. To give a little more context, I had been hired at my school to be a middle school teacher-librarian and I most days loved every minute of it, but due to some state budget cuts I had been moved to the sixth grade classroom. The move was not what I wanted and (even if it was never told to me, it truly felt to me) not what the administration wanted either. I was convinced being a classroom teacher was not for me and I was not what the kids needed as a teacher. Despite what others may have told me, I was sure all my problems would go away if I was not a teacher anymore. True or not, I honestly believed educating children was not the place for me.
The one thing I was sure of was I needed to get out from under these feelings before I took myself up on the thought of not waking up the next day. To do that I felt I needed a change, so I made the tough decision to resign from my teaching job. I am lucky to have parents that would do anything for me. My dad stepped up this time and allowed me to help him out at his antique store while I figured things out. I no longer had the stress of school and I was able to make it through some days without tears, but everything was not instantly better like I had convinced myself it would be.
I was still not me and it was starting to wear on my husband. I remember one night he even said it might be better if I was not around. (I am sure I was no fun to be around daily) I was beginning to wonder if I would ever come out of this. But I had three smiling faces who did not understand why mommy was so sad. Mommy did not understand. This had been a happy occasion in my life, how will I react if something tragic ever happens to me?
I wish I could say there was a magic moment when I instantly felt better, but I can't even pinpoint the exact moment it happened before I was feeling okay enough to function and be the mom and wife I needed to be. I did not just wake up one day and feel better like I wanted, but I began to be happy with what I had and enjoy time with my family.
I still wonder about stepping down from my job even though I know I was not the best I could be for my students at the time. . There are people who are physically sick or have had tragic things happen to them and still push on and live productive lives. Why couldn't I? It is still hard to talk about and I have tried not to, but I have found writing this has been very helpful.
It was not until not long ago in my car when I was singing along to a song on the radio that I truly knew I was feeling better. Not everyday of the past 22 months have been bad, but the good days come more often and are easier to hang on to.
I still wonder if I could be a classroom teacher again, so there are some days I take a crack at it and substitute teach. I decided to take the classes I need to add a reading endorsement to my teaching certificate. I have been updating my resume. I look back and see all the great things I used to do with students and believe in myself a little more.
I can not change the past, what is done is done so now I enjoy every minute of extra time I get to spend with my girls, they truly grow up fast. I also get a chance to be on the farm to help my husband when I can.
I interviewed for a couple library jobs, but wasn't quite ready to believe in myself yet (I even said in the interviews that being a classroom teacher was not for me because I still believed it wasn't) so I think it came through in the interview. But I can finally see myself working with students again, I miss that ah-ha moment when the light clicks on and students understand what they have been taught. I am not 100% sure I could be a classroom teacher again, but I am no longer afraid to try.
I am lucky, I have a family that loves and takes care of me. I have a husband, who was stressed at times, but never gave up on me. I have three little girls that make me smile everyday. I have parents who support me for me and still try to help in anyway they can. I had a great work family (I miss them everyday) that even though I could not hear it at the time gave me encouragement daily. I have friends that listened to what I had to say and did not judge. I can never thank everyone enough for all they did even when not realizing they were doing anything.
I did not sit down and write this for anyone to give me pity (I have enough of my own). I wrote this because I found I am not alone in this and if someone else out there is struggling I hope they can find some help in my words or anyone elses.

I will never get it all done and I will always wonder if I am doing it right, but I now know I am just me and I need to be happy with that. I am still sensitive, a worrier, and have an overactive imagination, but I have learned to take each day and live it, no matter what happens because at least I have a tomorrow.
The ‘tail’ end - I have been inspired to tell my story because of the stories I have found online of women who have learned to live with postpartum depression. If you or someone you know has a story I would love to hear it - please share in the comments!

I really do not care for this picture of me, but I keep it and share it because I think it bests shows how I was feeling.
At the time I could barely smile and that was no joke...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gone trick or treating, be back when my bag is full

I meant to get this posted before Halloween, but we got a little busy creating :)

I have always loved to create things. I loved making paper bag puppets to tell stories when I was young and I remember learning to draw bubble letters at a summer day camp and spending the next months of summer putting bubble letters on anything I could write on. I have what my husband calls a 'crap' room in our  basement, Pinterest is one of my biggest time suckers, and I think I have passed the crafting on to my daughters.

The girls wanted to make something to take to school for Halloween to share with their class so we created pencil witches to share. Below is a Smilebox slideshow with materials and steps to make them.

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We may have bit off a little much in making 46- my kitchen counter turned into a crafting bonanza for about a week, I burnt a few fingers with hot glue, but the girls had fun helping (most of the time) and they got some nice thank yous when they handed them out on Halloween.

The tail end - Share some things you make for Halloween tricks or treats