Thursday, July 7, 2016

My Time at Hickory High

Two and a half years ago, I closed a chapter of my life and started a new one. I started a whole new career in a place I didn't know a soul. I was desperate for change and eager to learn. I traded in my DSM as a mental health counselor and entered the school counseling world! I still had to travel half an hour to work everyday, and I had to get up earlier, and I couldn't wear jeans anymore. I didn't know how much I'd love it, but like I said, I was eager and ready!

Graduation 2014
I joined the staff at Hickory High School mid-year, which I don't ever recommend for a brand new school counselor. I had a lot to learn and asked my team members a million questions. I learned quickly and there was a handful of students who I gained actual relationships with who I was able to help in my short time with them before they graduated that June. That felt nice!

The next two school years I had the wonderful experience of working with some of the best in the business, seeing how things really work in a school, gaining some unforgettable relationships with some of the most amazing young adults, and doing what I could to help my team, my students, and my school.

Graduation 2015
Graduation (morning) 2016
Growing up, going to Lincolnton High, I had Wolfpack pride! Especially after my years at Appalachian State, my "pride" colors were black & gold! For a few years I will admit that I cheered for North Lincoln High School, but that was only because my brother was playing football for them. After he graduated, that wasn't a thing. I luckily got to put my black & gold back on for a couple years when my cousin Nick played football for LHS. That felt good to pull for my home team again! (If you know me, I'm not usually at sports events unless I know the players. I'm their fan, not really a "sports" fan, ESPECIALLY if it's cold out.) So when I joined the staff at Hickory High, I have to admit, it was weird. I have never been "a part of" another school before, aside from Lincolnton High. I didn't own anything garnet & gold... sounded like Redskins colors to me!!

Slowly my wardrobe grew and I now have approximately 700 Hickory High t-shirts and random garnet & gold wardrobe staples and accessories. When people around town (Lincolnton) would see the magnet on my car of the Hickory High logo, they'd ask, "Why do you have THAT on there?" and my reply would always be "That's my school!" and I meant it. Hickory High had become my new home. I was proud of my school and my students. I loved my job. I didn't love the commute, but I loved working in Hickory, you know, near Hobby Lobby & Target. If I'm going to live in Lincolnton without sufficient shopping, I might as well work in a town that I can shop in, amiright?!

I gained some close friendships at Hickory High in  my coworkers, but what I value the most is the relationships I formed with students who (I feel) really needed me and I was able to help. I know I didn't get to "save" them all. Heck, I know some of my students didn't even graduate. But don't think I wouldn't stop on the side of 127 if I saw them walking down the road to ask them why their butt isn't in school. I love my kids. I truly care about my kids. I will be in their corner, root for them, advocate for them, and do whatever I am able to see them succeed. Trust and believe that. I love working in such a diverse environment. Hickory has it all. The low of the lows, the high of the highs. (Is that a saying? If not, you get what I'm saying.) I mean that in academics, as well as in socioeconomic status. It has students who can't read on a middle school level. We have students who can get into whatever college they want. We have homeless students. We have students who live in mansions. I LOVE the diversity at Hickory High. I think because it reminds me so much of the diversity at Lincolnton High. I'm a sucker for oneness, living together, and learning from each other.

I have learned through my time at Hickory High School that I can. I can learn. I can try. I can do. I will fail. I will learn lessons. I will succeed. I also learned that home is where you make it.

My HHS baby shower in January 2016

June 14th was my last day as a Hickory High Red Tornado. It was a very sad day for me, but it helped that I was hurrying to pack up and head out because the building didn't have air conditioning, haha!! I will obviously miss it, but am excited to start a new chapter in my career, as a Fred T. Foard Tiger! I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me there. I've heard nothing but great things about the school. Hickory will obviously hold a special place in my heart, but home is where you make it. :)

*See story below :)
*Funny story: Returning from maternity leave, I needed to pump at work to continue to breastfeed KJ. Twice a day, I had to go in my office, lock the door, pump, and pretend I wasn't there. The first time I did, I must have forgotten to put a sign on my door, so my amazing pal, Frank Pait, put this sign on my door. Now that's love!! I used it every pump session for the rest of the year. :) I am going to miss the friendships and moments such as this-- just simple signs that say, "I got your back." Poor Mr. Pait, surrounded by all those women!! Haha!! 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Becoming A Mother

A year ago today.
A year ago today my life changed forever.
A year ago today was one of the most exciting days of my life.
A year ago today I found out that I was a mother.

I am a firm believer that I became a mother when Karis was formed in my womb by our wonderful Creator, God Almighty. But once you KNOW you're a mother, everything changes. Your mind changes, your anxiety level changes, your body starts to change, your priorities change, your eating and drinking habits change, your prayer life changes, your marriage changes, your conversations change... you get my point.

A year ago today was one of the best days of my life.

A few weeks before this, my gal pal, Becky, was over and (of course) talking to me about babies, pregnancies, and whatnot. That was the topic of conversation 99% of the time those days. She must have been newly pregnant, because she was telling me that she found out she was pregnant with both of her pregnancies four days early (pp) on a $1 Dollar General pregnancy test. I was shocked! I don't know why, but I just always (wrongly) assumed you had to pay $10+ for a test to tell you accurately if you were pregnant or not. Well, once I found out you could accurately find out for $1, it was game on!

I knew I would be getting a visit from Mother Nature soon, so I thought, "What the heck!" For months I had been thinking I may be finally pregnant and then wasn't. If you haven't experienced this, you don't know how frustrating it can be. And annoying. And does all kinds of crazy things to your mind. I thought if I wasn't pregnant, then I wasn't pregnant, and nothing was new. But if I WAS pregnant, then I could potentially find out EARLY. For just a few dollars!! Why not, right?!

So, every morning, my ritual was to get up and take a pregnancy test. And if it didn't show pregnant, I just told myself that it was too early to tell, and I didn't get upset. It wasn't even "time" yet. I started 7 days pp, and by 5 days pp, I squinted, went a little cross-eyed, and shook it off. I'd try again tomorrow.

It was one of my first days of my summer vacation. I woke up and took a pregnancy test. It was becoming a part of my morning ritual, haha. (Call me crazy.) On this day, 4 days pp, I saw something! A super faint line. I had never seen a positive pregnancy test before, so I thought it was potentially a dud. I texted my gal pal Whitney, who knew what craziness was ensuing, and Becky. I asked Becky, "So...when you said you found out early...was it obvious or a super faint line?" I didn't even think I was telling on myself, I thought I could get away with "just asking." HA! Becky's immediate response was, "Did you get a faint line?? If so, you are for sure pregnant!!" Ummmm..... what?!?! I texted Whitney, freaked out, and went out to get a "real" pregnancy test. I needed to see the word "Pregnant" spelled out for me. I had used those expensive tests before. It's clear as day, usually that I was "Not Pregnant." I had previously vowed that I wouldn't spend money on one of those expensive tests again unless I really thought I may be pregnant. Well, today was that day.

I got home, took the test, and that was the longest minute or so of my life. I didn't want to look. It was like one of those scenes out of a movie. What if I wasn't pregnant? Now I'd really be sad. But what if I was?!?!?! I hadn't really processed what I would do or how I would feel if I WAS pregnant.

When I saw the word "Pregnant" on that test, I literally just started crying and praying - thanking the Lord for this blessing and praying for protection over this child. I had heard tons of horror stories of miscarriages and health problems and I just wanted a healthy baby.

I was expecting a child! [Enter Freak Out Mode] Only two people knew, and none of them were my husband. Oops! I had a good reason for that though. I wanted to think of a super cute way to tell Alex. No better way to brainstorm than to go walk 6 miles on the rail trail with Whitney. She had been there with me through my emotional roller coasters in the past months and was great at these kinds of things! I just knew I had to include our dog, Chloe. We decided I could go get a dog shirt, or infant shirt, and Whitney could quickly embroider it. We'd put the shirt on Chloe and the shirt would somehow tell Alex I was expecting!! I also was determined to find a way to video the interaction. Fool proof, right?? Ha....

Side note: I have to give many many thanks to Whitney. She listened to me yap about baby stuff, followed by pregnancy stuff, stopped what she was doing to make me an impromptu shirt for this momentous occasion, and just has gone above & beyond in the friend department through it all. Love ya Whitney & THANK YOU !! 

I wish I could show you the video. But if I did, Alex would kill me. He's super private that way. But I can tell you that it went a little something like this: Chloe wore her "BIG SIS" shirt, walked right up to him and sat on his lap, it took him a few seconds to even acknowledge she was wearing a shirt, then he told me she hated her shirt (he's anti-dogs wearing clothes), and didn't even acknowledge what the shirt said. It took him a few more seconds, and he read the shirt. He asked if we were getting another dog. (Ha!!) While I continued to be sketchy and video him, he asked "Why you gotta play games?" and then asked me if I was pregnant. When I said yes his first words were "That's awesome." and I said "Good answer." He was then sketched out by the camera and I respectfully quit recording. LOL

Telling everyone was so fun and memorable. I will have to share other videos in a future blog post. I videoed as many as I could. :) I will always cherish those videos... and that's why I am always shoving a camera in my loved ones' faces, to later have memories of a lifetime!!

I just can't believe a whole year has gone by that I've been thinking of this baby, praying for her, and doing what I can to be the best mother I can. She now comes first. She's so precious and dependent and seriously the best baby that I could have dreamed of. I now can't imagine my life without her. The Good Lord surely knew what He was doing when He picked her for me, or me for her. Either way, she's an awesome baby who loves to eat, sleep, smile, and be happy. Just like her Mama. :)

A year seems like such a long time but I can remember this day like it was yesterday. It was one of the best days of my life and I will never forget it!!

Pregnancy blows my mind.
When you think about it, something this small...

...turned into this 7 lb. 14 oz. bundle of pure love. 

Praise the Lord!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Karis Jane: 3 Months!

I gave you all a little update at one month, and here we are, two months later. Time is FLYING by and it's super bittersweet. While I can't wait to do certain things with KJ once she's older and more able, I also am going to, and already, MISS MY BABY! I swear she grows every night in her sleep.

I can guarantee you the Lord knew what He was doing when He made me her mama. He knew I had no idea what to do with a baby and gave me as low maintenance of a baby as possible.

Karis Jane is such a happy go-lucky baby. She is happy from the moment she wakes up and will just sit happily, kicking her fat little legs around, in her crib for a while before crying for someone to come get feed her. This may or may not happen in the middle of the night since, you know, I'm sleeping. Speaking of sleeping, Karis is still doing a lot of it!! While she is definitely awake more than she was, she still loves a nap! She get it from her mama! Since I returned to work, we tried to move the time we put her to bed from 10:30-11:00 to more like 9:00-9:30. Again, she's a super easy baby so we just put her pajamas on, nurse her, and she's out like a light 99% of the time. Thank goodness that cluster feeding has calmed way down! While she's nursing before bed, Alex reads her a Bible story & we pray over her. This is probably my favorite time of the day.  She'll sleep for about 5-6 hours before she wants to eat. Not bad! Since returning to work, Alex shares some nighttime duties with me, which is definitely helpful. I wake him up (do men not hear crying babies?!) and he goes and gets her out of the crib, changes her, and brings her to me in bed. I'll nurse her for about 20 minutes and she'll pass out again. Then she'll sleep for another 3-5 hours! I'm telling you, my baby loves her some sleep. Dear Lord, please let this last. 

I returned to work after 13 weeks of maternity leave. Going to work wasn't THAT bad. Knowing me and my love for my job and my work ethic, there's no way I wouldn't be making appearances at the end of the school year anyways, so I might as well be getting paid for it, amiright?! I had to return to work with two more school weeks left, then work the following workdays. Again, not bad. God DEFINITELY timed my pregnancy & subsequent maternity leave PERFECTLY. Alex's mom could watch Karis Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and my mom graciously took off work Mondays and Tuesdays while I am back at work a few weeks. Then I'll have my summer off with my baby girl!! I am super excited to spend the time with her. She's growing like a weed & is such a joy!

3 month stats:

  • Size 2 diapers
  • Wearing 0-3 or 3 month clothing
  • Probably 13ish lbs now... She was 12 lbs 1 oz at her 2 month appt. 
  • She has been sleeping in her crib full-time for a couple weeks now. 
  • She can ALMOST roll over. She sleeps on her side. :) 
  • Starting to use her hands for things.
  • Still sticks that tongue out for pics and smiles A LOT. :) She is starting to baby laugh too and it's THE MOST precious thing. 
  • She doesn't gag EVERY time we offer her a pacifier. She prefers her hands right now!
  • She loves bath time, watching the ceiling fan, to ride in the car or just basically always be moving, and her swing! Her swing is still her favorite thing. (That was the best investment.)
  • She still hasn't lost her hair & her eyes are still blue. We may end up with a blue-eyed baby after all! 
  • Still nursing! Getting better all the time... but still takes a bottle like a champ! Woo-hoo! 
  • Usually just cries when hungry, but starting to teethe and fight sleep a little... Nana purchased an amber necklace in hopes it helps!
I get it now. The overload of pictures. The missing your baby. The pure pride and joy. The bittersweetness. I get it. Motherhood is going to wreck me, but it's a pretty awesome job! Again, thanking God Karis is who she is. While I can, I also can't wait to see her grow into the little girl and later young woman God has created her to be. 

7 weeks old - first REAL smile caught on camera :) :)

8 weeks old

2 months old

11 weeks old

11 weeks old

12 weeks old - Mama's last day of maternity leave

Memorial Day 2016 - 12 weeks old

still loving that swing!!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

1 Month Into The Best & Hardest Job Ever

While I have the house to myself for a little while I wanted to go ahead & jot down some thoughts I have. As important as I think journaling is, I certainly don't take the time to do it enough. That, among a million other things.

But here I am. Today marks 1 MONTH! One month of my most important job ever. One month of long nights and days flying by. One month of the biggest emotional rollercoaster I think I've ever been on.

Side note: This blog takes me back to the year 2005. Almost 11 years ago! I was just starting college & I'm pretty sure some of those early blog posts were copy & pasted from my MySpace account to preserve them forever. Which was a good idea because after a little investigation, my MySpace account is restricted & the good Lord above only knows that old account information! BUT MY POINT IS... This blog & I go way back. I really need to keep cleaning it up, just to keep what's here relevant, but - over 38 THOUSAND people have viewed my blog over the years. And I just can't bring myself to start a new one. This is me. This is my life. Hence, the name of the blog. :) 

So, this blog's hopefully going to help me document this new job of mine: motherhood.

This has been the best and hardest month of my life. ... "The things they don't tell you..."

I mean, they let me bring a BABY home, y'all. A real-life CHILD. And trusted me with it!!! For years I always said, "I don't know what I'd DO with a baby." Not like, I don't know what I'd do if I got pregnant, but like LITERALLY- when *this* happens, what do you DO?! How do you know it's okay? How do you know you're doing a good job? How do you know what you're NOT supposed to do? I had no idea what to do with a baby.

If you're like me and currently pregnant, thinking of/worrying about getting pregnant, or just think you MIGHT be a mother someday, don't worry. Luckily they do teach you a couple things in the hospital. And offer you some reading material. And offer you some classes before you go into labor. And there's some WONDERFUL Facebook groups of moms who just let you post completely random questions & they will answer you in an attempt to help (Shout out to my 16 Clovers!). And for the love of the Internet! There's YouTube videos and websites ( and anything you want to know out there. MORE than you'd want to know! Oh and there's your people. Mamas all around you will offer you support & advice....whether you want it or not. Just take it ALL in & use what you want. Everyone has a different opinion but man, I'm glad I have the love, support, & advice from all that I do. I've learned so much & still have approximately two million questions, but that's okay. I'm learning. WE are learning!

I say we because I have come to learn that Karis is new at this too! For almost 10 months she was packed tight in a warm space & didn't have to worry about or work for a thing. Now we put her in this world with all these lights and people and noises and smells and sensations and expect her to just adapt. While babies are surprisingly resilient, and some things ARE natural, but she's on a learning curve too! She is learning, and improving, and surprising me every single day. She's pretty great. :) But also Alex. While he probably does a few Google searches a day himself, he knows I've done some research & listens when I suggest new things. He's learning. He's a new dad & I am in awe of how amazing he is at it. Not that I didn't think he would be, but, you know what I'm saying.

I ended up having an unplanned c-section & was out of commission for a while after the birth. I think 2 or 3 days went by in the beginning when I didn't change a diaper, or her, or anything actually other than hold and nurse my baby. Alex did EVERYthing. And didn't bat an eye. He gets all the awards for being so awesome then and now. God surely blessed me with a wonderful husband and father to Karis!

My people have also been the best. Shout out to Danae for coordinating meals for us while we came home & adjusted to life. I can't begin to tell you how extremely helpful that was. Shout out to our friends, family, and neighbors who have provided the meals and the company. And when I say Karis has some amazing grandparents, I mean it. They are there at the drop of a hat if needed & have supported us in ways I can't even begin to name. She is already spoiled rotten & so, so loved. My gal pals have been absolutely wonderful: Coming by to bring me sanity, monogramming Carolina onesies on demand (that was all Alex's doing, y'all), wishing me well, asking me how I'm doing, and offering me support when times got tough. I truly appreciate each & every one.

While it's been so awesome to see everyone come together to help us introduce this little lady to life, it HAS been an adjustment and honestly so hard at times. I am thankful for tough times because that's when I can just cry & pray & have faith that the Lord will provide. And how He has! He always does. And I have faith that He will continue to do so. The Lord knows just what you need, when you need it. The Lord has provided me with a child who loves to sleep as much as her mama, all the support mentioned above, improvements in our breastfeeding journey (LORD, GIVE ME STRENGTH), and countless other things I do and don't even realize. It's by the grace and mercy of God that I can CELEBRATE making it to this one month mark!!

Happy 1 Month Karis Jane!! You are loved!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015's Goals: Where are they now?

2015 has come & gone and man, what a year it was! Remember when I made some goals for myself for 2015? (Probably not.) Well, here they are with some updates... Just wanted to give MYSELF an update & also remind any readers that it's okay to not fulfill every promise to yourself. Did I set myself up for failure? Probably NOT, but, I definitely needed to be reminded more often of my goals in order to maintain them. I think I did okay! I'm not beating myself up at all and you shouldn't either.
Here's what I plan to do in 2015... Wish me luck!
  • I want to have technology-free evenings with my husband. At least one a week. Doesn't happen. Don't even know if I brought this up to him. Maybe I should? 
  • I want to stick with Weight Watchers and lose at least 25 pounds to start with. I worked my butt off with my gal pal Whitney & only lost 10 lbs. Then I lost another 5 lbs during my first trimester (gotta love morning sickness!) Either way, I did lose some weight, which I was thankful for when I started packing on the pregnancy pounds. 
  • I want to sew/hem all my clothes that need it, and get really good at doing it so that maybe I can hem for others in the future. Okay, I don't foresee me doing much for others, considering I currently have a growing stack of to-hem clothes. Seriously every pair of bottoms I buy (pajamas included) need hemming and it is so annoying! I promise I'm getting around to that. 
  • I want to get rid of all my clothes that are really too small. Some things I envision fitting back into in the near future, but some stuff I just need to kiss goodbye and donate to someone in need. Done and done. I am so not a packrat. 
  • I want to keep growing my hair out. This will be a challenge, as I get easily annoyed & tend to just chop it off on whims. I have not cut the front of my hair at all this year!! The back grows so much faster than the front. Am I the only one whose hair does this? I think it has to do with me wanting the front more perfect, and using heat, etc. more on the front. I did chop like 4" off the back to make it a longer angled bob. The back caught up to the front.... the cycle continues. 
  • Keep my new car clean. Inside & out. Not a chance. I am who I am. 
  • Find a way to organize all my jewelry laying around. I did but I'm not loving my system, and it has currently failed me at the moment. Or maybe I failed it? Either way, I need to find a better home for my jewelry. 
  • Create a 2014 photo book on Snapfish. Forget scrapbooking. I ultimately want to make photo books for every year and occasion I can. That'll have to be a summer project. Didn't happen. Still want to do this. 
  • 100% housetrain Chloe. She is good most of the time but if it ain't 100%, we need to work on it. Sometimes we take her out in the mornings & she won't go, but then she's stuck inside all day while we work, and of course she goes inside then. Ugh! Somebody just come take & train my dog & bring her back all obedient and well-mannered. Chloe's good 99% of the time. If she messes up, it's typically our fault. She's great, really. :) 
  • GO TO NEW YORK CITY. FOR THE LOVE! YES YES AND YES! I did it! FINALLY! I've only been talking about it for 10 years! I'd like to say I'll blog about it, but I think I know myself better by now. I'd still like to though! To sum it up: I had a wonderful time with my gal pal Elizabeth & her sister, Emily. It was 3 days of awesome. 

  • Go on a fun beach trip. HAHA!! So, I totally went to the beach. While I was about 7 weeks pregnant, and SO sick. Worst idea ever. Remind me to never do that again. Alex can leave my butt at home next time. Wait though.... we DID go on a cruise to the Bahamas this year for our anniversary!! That's a fun beach trip!!!! I totally didn't forget about that. I just hear "beach" and think of all the yuckiness from this summer. Sorry, Bahamas! 
Cruise to the Bahamas in April 2015
  • Do more couples devotions and praying with my husband. While we have improved in this area, we have a long way to go. 

You win some, you lose some. With a baby on the way, the amount of things I'm trying to improve is seriously so overwhelming. I am just trying to take life one day at a time and hope for the best!

Until next time, readers... here's a pic for the road!
Christmas 2015 & 30 weeks along with Baby Mullen

Wishing you all a very happy & healthy 2016!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...