Category Archives: Hard Reality

What’s Next?

 

It’s been ages since I posted and this year has been filled with twists, turns and unexpected trials and triumphs.  With my son moving up to 1st grade and my daughter going into her last year of nursery school, I found myself at a crossroad with no idea of the next direction I would go.  Being a stay at home mom for seven years was a gift that I am lucky to have had.  I started my role as “Mommy,” “Mama,” and “MOM” after teaching 1st grade for eight years and loved my new identity.  Time has flown by and I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been home almost as long as I was in the classroom and can’t imagine jumping back into a teaching career when I’ve been out of practice for so long.  So…where does that leave me?  I’m no longer a first grade teacher, an identity I cherished and was proud of, but I’m also not a mommy of babies and toddlers anymore which is what I came to love even more than my previous role.  I felt like I was slowly becoming NOBODY.

Bigger kids means bigger financial needs and the strain of a single income was becoming apparent.  The obvious solution would be going back to teaching.  However, there are no words to describe the anxiety I felt when even thinking about returning to teaching.  Being out of the classroom for so long makes it that much harder to imagine going back.  If I had taken a maternity leave and gone back right away my kids wouldn’t know any different and neither would I.  Problem is I know how much I love bringing them to school and picking them up.  I love “Mommy and Abby days” when she doesn’t have school.  I couldn’t imagine giving it up.

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Conflicted with finding an answer that would be best for our family I had one of those MEANT TO BE experiences that has changed the path from uncertainty to determination.  I have always believed that certain people come into our lives for a reason.  There is no doubt in my mind that Tracy was one of those people.  My husband went to high school with Tracy and we have been facebook friends for a while.  She lives in Georgia and was a marine biologist, but is now a division leader with lia sophia.  For those of you who are not familiar with lia sophia it is a direct sales company that offers gorgeous jewelry at affordable prices (Think Tupperware party, but with jewelry)!  One day Tracy sent me a message asking me if I would be willing to host a facebook virtual jewelry party so she could show her team that it is possible to connect with friends from out of state and build your business through technology.  I thought about it and mentioned it to my husband and he said to me, “Maybe you should talk to Tracy about selling lia sophia, she was a marine biologist and is now really successful doing this and is home with her kids.”  That was it…I talked to Tracy once and signed up!  That was two months ago and boy has my world CHANGED for the BETTER!  Through friends and family who volunteered to host parties I have been able to get my business started and already recruited a customer to join my “team”!  I am on my way to promoting to Unit Leader and am still in awe that this practically fell into my lap.  Tracy has guided me EVERY step of the way and has been my biggest cheerleader.  It is AMAZING to work for a company that encourages women to be their own boss, set goals and attain them, and live their dream.  My dream has always been to be home with my kids.  My fondest memories are of my mom being home with me and my sister.  I completely understand that this is not an option for many and that there are many women who even if staying home was an option would choose to continue with their career.  The choice we each make does not DEFINE the type of mother you are.  It does not make one of us better than the other.  It is simply the path that each mother takes on the road to raising their children to be the best they can be!

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In the past two months I have gained a new level of confidence and am proud of the work I have done to build my business.  Dressing up my “Mommy” clothes with all of my new jewelry has added an element of fun to my days.  I LOVE being my own boss, making my own hours, and helping our family out with finances.  People do come into our lives for a reason…Tracy came into mine to be the light on this exciting new journey that I am on.

Visit my business Website!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under Dream Big, Finances, Good Life, Hard Reality, Inspire, Life, Marriage, New Jersey Robyn, Relationships, Self Image, SelfImprovement, You

iPhone Mommy

I admit it…I spend WaY ToO MuCh time on my phone.  It is a habit I have been saying I am going to stop for a long time, but have yet to accomplish.  It would be bad enough if I was taking time away from my kids by just talking on the phone, but we all know that is not what I am doing.  I hop around from email, to Facebook, to Pinterest, to Twitter and sometimes throw in a game of skee-ball.  The problem is…NoNe of this is more important than my kids!  If you are hooked  on your phone and have been trying to stop, this letter written by Tonya Ferguson on her blog 4 Little Fergusons might just be what you need to finally put it down.

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Dear mom on the iPhone,

I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids: You work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.

But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now …

Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her long hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.

You aren’t.

Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.

He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.

Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing.

Talk to her. Tell her about the clouds, Mommy. The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you, and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.

Put your eyes back on your prize: your kids.

Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not OK to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User beware!

Play time at the park will be over before you know it.

The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.

They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish. They won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”

There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time.

Because they know …

You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime.

I know that’s not true, Mommy.

I know your heart says differently.

But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.

May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.

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~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under All-Or-Nothing, Family, Friends, Getting Real, Hard Reality, Kid Stuff, Life, Parenthood, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships

50 Life Lessons to Live By

My sister shared this list written by Regina Brett on facebook and I was amazed at how many of the lessons we have already written about on The Suede Sofa, but also how many we have yet to learn!  I’ve already gone out and purchased the book that corresponds with this list titled, God Never Blinks, 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours.  I can’t wait to get started!

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You can find lots of great information on her website…

www.reginabrett.com

Regina Brett’s 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on

by Regina Brett, The Plain Dealer

May 28, 2006

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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When You Know Your Family is Complete

I’ve had friends tell me “You’ll just know when you are finished wanting to have more babies.”  It seemed some vague to me…you’ll just know.  How will I know?  Will the two kids I already have drive me to the point of insanity one day and the image of a newborn swaddled in a receiving blanket will no longer seem appealing to me?  Or will I wake up one day and realize the indecisiveness over wanting a third child just isn’t there any more and I can finally get rid of all of the baby stuff that is piled to the ceiling in my basement?  I’ve wondered this since the birth of my daughter for over 3 years and can finally say I understand the “You’ll just know” feeling.

My Baby Boy Nicholas

My Baby Boy Nicholas

This past month has been swamped with baby news.  Friends have been giving birth left and right and pregnancy announcements have been popping up all over the place.  All of this baby news of course made me think, “Maybe we should try for a 3rd.”  I went back and forth with it in my head for days even though my husband had put the idea of a 3rd to rest long ago but I just couldn’t come to peace with it.  Then it hit me, as I was daydreaming about the possibilities of expanding our family, the black cloud of postpartum depression loomed over me.  I suffered from severe postpartum depression after the birth of both of my babies. (Click here to read my postpartum story, Baby Blues to Baby Bliss).  It was to date the most difficult thing I have had to face.  I started to feel the tightening in my chest and the ache in my heart.  I thought of the two beautiful and  healthy children that I was lucky enough to give birth to and how I would never want them to see me go through that nightmare again.  At that moment I JuSt KnEw that I was done having babies and that my family was complete.

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My Baby Girl Abby

I am sure the “You just know” moment is different for every woman.  Whether it is the decision to not have children at all, or to not add any more children to the family you already have.  I suddenly feel a sense of peace knowing that my decision is made and will live each day loving my family of 4.

Please share your “I just knew” moments in the comments section!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Get Your Posse and Get Your {Exercise} Groove On!

Source:  girlgetstrong.com

Source: girlgetstrong.com

If you read Robyn’s post The Weight Is On yesterday, you can probably relate.  As spring approaches it is just natural to want to get in shape whether you have gained excess winter weight or you’re just feeling like you’ve been stuck inside for way too many months and are needing a ChAnGge oF sCeNeRy.

Sometimes it can be hard to get started when you see the long road ahead to reach your WeiGht-LoSs GoAl.  Afterall, overcoming the inertia can be a difficult thing to do.

On Monday we had a little pep talk and we decided that we would overcome the inertia together.  So we made a 2-MoNtH pAcT to exercise consistently from now to mid-May, basically, the beginning of summer.  It is actually quite motivating when you look at it in the context of  summer being right around the corner.

One thing that really motivated us in our new goal was this website from the National Institute Of Health that can help in your weight loss efforts.  Here’s the link:  http://bwsimulator.niddk.nih.gov/ .  It allows you to put in your weight, goal weight, and a few other items.  It will then tell you how many calories you need to consume each day to reach your goal.  We played around on it and found it quite addictive.

(You do need to have Java installed on your computer.  You can install a free version by going to www.java.com ) Here is what the simulator looks like:HWS

Overwhelmed by the idea of tracking your calories?  No worries!  Check out this quick, easy and free calorie counting website:  http://www.myfitnesspal.com/  They also offer a free app for your phone!

So, if you’re like us and you need to overcome inertia, GeT yOuR PoSsE - a group of friends, an exercise group, your neighbors, or family members and get your exercise groove on.  After all, there’s only about 60 days until summer!

Lara, Robyn, & Robynn

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The Weight is On

As we are approaching the warm weather I once again find myself having to deal with the excess weight that I have put on over the winter.  Every year I say I am not going to gain weight during the winter, and every year I find myself in the same predicament.  Last summer I reached my lowest weight since having my kids.  I was so proud of my achievement, but did that stop me from over indulging during the month-long Christmas festivities…NO!  Then once Christmas came and went there was New Years, the Super Bowl, and I can’t forget to mention my new obsession with Golden Oreos.  I watched the numbers on the scale creep up until yesterday I realized I had put on a full 15 pounds since the summer and am once again miserable with what I see in the mirror when the clothes come off.

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I decided to take out my camera phone and take 3 pictures of myself…front, back, and side views in my bathing suit.  What I saw in the pictures was even worse than the image that had been staring at me in the mirror.  As I said in a past weight loss post (Put On Your Big Girl Panties and Deal With It), to many friends and family members it may not seem like I need to lost weight, but I know that I can do better.  Weight loss isn’t about how you look compared to other people, it is about how you feel about yourself.

Using my pictures as a starting off point, I am excited to get my butt in gear and start working towards the Robyn that I know I can be!  With today being the first day of spring…NOW is as good a time as any to change the eating habits that have crept up through the cold.  Any readers who can relate…GET OUT YOUR CAMERAS and let’s go!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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I Lost My Kids in Disney World

It has taken me months to start this post because of  sheer embarrassment, but if my story can provide insight to someone else…then it is worth sharing.  Last summer we went to Disney World for a family vacation.  My sister had planned the trip from wake-ups to bedtimes and we had the time of our lives.  That would be minus the 15 minutes of terror when I realized I had lost my two kids in the park.

My husband had taken the kids on the train-ride around Magic Kingdom and I was shopping on Main Street.  We were planning to meet at the train stop at the front of the park and continue our day.  When the three of them got to the train stop my husband realized he had left our empty stroller at one of the other train stops and was staying on the train to go back to get it.  The kids came off the train and started walking down the ramp that they thought was going to bring them to me.  As I watched them exit the train I realized that the train exit ramp and the platform I was standing on did not meet in the same location.  Before I could yell to them they were gone.  I ran down a set of stairs hoping it would end where the kids came off the ramp, but the ramp was nowhere in sight and neither were Nicholas and Abby.  I ran around like a maniac trying to find them, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.  I found a young “cast member” (that is what they call the people who work in Disney) and told him I lost my kids.  He didn’t really seem to jump with any urgency and I immediately knew I needed to find someone else to help me.  The next cast member that I found was a woman who immediately sprung into action.  She got on a radio and asked me what the kids looked like.  She assured me that the kids would be found and that they would not get out of the park.  Like a scene out of a movie I watched all of the cast members leap into action…as I kept saying “My son is 5 and my daughter is 3, they are blonde as blonde can be, she is wearing a red and white polka dot dress and he is wearing and black and red Mickey Mouse shirt.”  My heart raced as I cried picturing how scared my babies must have been.  The woman kept me calm by telling me that she lost her own son in the park a little over a week ago and that an undercover cast  member had found him.  I wish I had gotten her name…she knew how it felt to be a mom who was missing her greatest blessing and hugged me as we watched the scene unfold and wait for what seemed like an eternity.  After about 15 minutes I heard a voice say, “We’ve got them.”  I looked at the top of the train platform and ran to the steps to see my scared little ones walking toward me.  They were holding hands and Nicholas (my mamma’s boy) was crying.  I hugged them and never wanted to let go.

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I am beyond grateful to the cast members who went above and beyond to find my kids and keep me calm.  I wish I could have thanked them all, but the moment was so overwhelming that by the time I got it together everything had gone back to normal in The Magic Kingdom and they were all scattered about doing their jobs.

When I look back on this I really can’t BlAmE this on anyone.  There was no way any of us could have known that the ramp and stairs didn’t meet up.  It wasn’t like my kids had wondered off and weren’t paying attention…they thought they were walking and meeting me after getting off the train.  What I did learn is that there are things I could have done PriOr to this incident that could have made finding them a little easier.

Before our trip we had purchased tattoos for the kids arms that said, “If lost call XXX-XXX-XXXX.”  Did I have the tattoos on the kids arms that day?  NO!  What good were they doing in our hotel room?!!!  My husband and I also realized we had never had a discussion with the kids telling them what to do if they got lost.  We should have pointed out what cast members look like and told them to find one if they were lost.  Someone else gave me a great suggestion to take a picture of my kids each morning on my phone so that if they are lost you can see exactly what they are wearing in case you forget and you can show the picture to anyone who is helping to find them.  I also found a great idea on Pinterest where you make a bracelet with your phone number on it so that if they are lost someone can call you.  Bottom line…if you ever get into the situation that I was in act fast and find someone who you feel can help you.

I hope you never find yourself in this predicament, but just in case here are some ideas to help others get your kids back to you safely.

Take a Picture of Your

Kids Each Morning

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Cell Phone Bracelet

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If Lost Tattoo

Website for Safety Tattoo

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~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under Getting Real, Hard Reality, Junk Drawer, Kid Stuff, Life, Parenthood, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships, Road Trip, Uncategorized

Snowflakes for the Newtown, CT Students Return to School ~ How You Can Help!

Everyone has been deeply affected by the tragedy that took place a week ago in Newtown, CT.  All of us at Suede Sofa were teachers prior to turning in our plan books for diapers and mommy blogging.  I was a 1st grade teacher, Lara was a music teacher, and Robynn was a science teacher and school counselor.  Now being stay-at-home moms we felt compelled to do something for the children of Newtown, CT who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School the day of that senseless act that stole the lives of 20 children whose ages are similar to that of our own.

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The following letter explains a simple snowflake project that you can do with your children or grandchildren to send to the Newtown PTA to help decorate the new school that the children will be going to after the Christmas break.  Although my children are too young to understand what took place, I was happy to make a special snowflake with each of them to send off in hopes of putting a smile on the face of another child.

snowflake~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Jersey Strong and Thankful

There is nothing that could have prepared any of us for the DeVaStATiOn that resulted from Hurricane Sandy blowing through the Jersey Shore.  My children are the 4th generation of family spending summers on Chadwick Beach so seeing homes that have been in the backdrop of photographs with my grandparents  tossed on their sides and nearly unrecognizable was heartbreaking.  Those of you who follow our blog know how much the beach means to my family.  From my seaglass collection to finding special shells with my children to make wreaths or to just paint for fun, Chadwick Beach has been our own little paradise right here in our own backyard.  Chadwick Beach is on a barrier island that rests between the Atlantic Ocean and the bay.  During the storm the water from the bay and the ocean met causing extensive flooding.  Our family home was filled with a foot and a half of water in the first floor, but thankfully it is still standing.  Others were not so lucky. Neighborhoods of houses were completely washed away into the Atlantic Ocean.  Another beach suffered a tremendous loss when gas lines exploded and blocks of houses burned to the ground.

Abby on our beach path Summer 2012

Back home we lost power from the storm for six days and lived on a generator that we used conservatively because of a major gas shortage in the state of New Jersey.  My brother-in-law waited on a line for four hours in the middle of the night to fill up his car and some gas cans to keep his own generator running.  It was a very scary week for all of us and at the same time we were trying to find out any information we could about the shore house.  Thankfully my parents had full power fifteen minutes away and we were able to drive over there during the day to watch the news, stay warm, and let the kids play in some normalcy.

My second summer at Chadwick Beach ~ Summer 1978

Now that the power has been restored, the gas lines are back to normal, and we look forward to rebuilding our Jersey Shore back to its original beauty I am trying not to focus on what was lost.  The hurricane may have washed away many of the buildings and landmarks that were symbols of our shore, but nothing can take away our MeMoRiEs.  Let’s be thankful for what we have, and not ever for a second take anything for granted, it might not be there tomorrow.

This picture shows the two houses that line the beach path that Abby was on in the above photo.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving  celebrating

all that you have to be ThAnKfUl for!

My little loves

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Just Do It – Say “I’m Sorry”

Source: momontherange.com

As humans none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes.  Sometimes on accident, sometimes on purpose.  And occasionally sometimes those mistakes call for an apology.  Whether or not we give one is completely another story.

Knowing I need to say “I’m sorry.” to someone gives that sinking feeling in my stomach because a true apology requires complete humility.  It requires that I put aside any justification on my part, any of those pathetic, “I’m sorry if I offended you.” pseudo apologies and just say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”  But when I finally do, I feel like I’m walking on air.  I guess that is because a clear conscience is as the MasterCard commercial says, “Priceless.”

Do you need to make a sincere apology?  What are you waiting for?  Free yourself from the pain of a guilty conscience and just do it – say “I’m sorry.”

:) Robynn

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