Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Night & Thanksgiving Leftovers (Black Friday edition)

I'm mixing Friday Night Leftovers with Thanksgiving Leftovers this week, friends.  Through in some Black Friday action and this is lots of random thoughts...
  • I've done Black Friday shopping exactly one time in my life.  Thank God it was with one of my most favorite people in the world - my sister - because that craziness just ain't worth the headache.
  • This year, I've been window shopping and making Christmas gift purchases from the comfort of my own cozy, warm, sane couch all while wearing my slippers and drinking hot coffee and cocoa. 
  • I've now come to the realization that no one, NO ONE, in my immediate family likes green bean casserole except me.  As you can imagine there was a lot of leftovers.
  • I also realized the my 3 little Turkeys said their favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner was the canned (not homemade) cranberry sauce that took exactly 5 seconds to prepare.  Hmm.  I'm not even sure how I want to take that compliment.
  • Best Smart-Alex comment from Thanksgiving day goes to Brian.  After getting out of the shower, blow drying my hair, putting a little makeup and perfume on and then coming over to the couch to snuggle up with him, he says, "Sweetie, you're covering up my Turkey smell in the house" and pulls away gently with a sly smile.  He's lucky I didn't knock him out cold right there in the middle of the living room floor.
  • Today was too cold to go sledding and frolic in the snow - we only hit 6 degrees.  Brrrr!
  • We are the verge of December - this is the month that a certain CEO of the family turns the big 4-0.  And just for clarification, I'm the younger CEO so it's not me.
  • Every day I'm reminded that this is our "last" of everything up here in Alaska - last winter, last holidays, last time we will be wearing snow gear, etc.  I'm trying to savor & cherish each of these lasts but also look forward to where we will be next.
  • I can't decide if Marilyn is more sassy or more rotten.  Maybe she's 50/50.
  • For the first time ever, we cooked our Thanksgiving turkey in a new self-roasting oven.  Wouldn't you know, our turkey was cooked to a delicious golden brown... 2.5 hours early.  Seriously, who has this problem?  Wouldn't you know though it was absolutely wonderful.
Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with those people that mean the most to you!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Blessed and Thankful

As each of us are, I'm beyond blessed and thankful for so much in my life.

I'm thankful for my husband, who is my rock and always, always helps me to see the brighter side of things.  He lets me cry & be irrational (and that happens more often than I'm proud), then rationalizes things & hugs me.  He most certainly has seen my crazy and has stuck around for 10 years.  Thank goodness he is my voice of reason.  He's a keeper.

I'm thankful for my children.  All three of them, each and every day - through arguments, tantrums, giggles and squeals alike.  They are flexible & resilient, grateful & humble, and thoughtful & compassionate.  They continue to make me such a better person than I was before being a mother. They make me feel like I've done something good in this world.

I am thankful for my parents.  They gave me wings & let me fly, but still allow me to come around the nest when I need to.  I'm thankful for my one and only sister who always seems to know how I feel, know what it's like to walk in my shoes & doesn't ever judge me for who I am and the choices I have made.  I'm also so very thankful for my in-laws who love me like I'm their own daughter. 

I'm thankful for the opportunities I've had over the last year up here in Alaska - finishing my 2nd Masters Degree, an internship at a local high school despite not having any connections, and the chance to stretch my legs & take the next step in my career as an Assistant Principal.

I'm thankful that my husband is home this Thanksgiving, unlike last year and many other years.  I know there are so many families who will not be with their loved ones this holiday as they are serving our country from 1/2 way around the world.  All those families are in our thoughts and prayers.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Two of my Turkeys

In preparation for one of my favorite holidays,
here are two of my turkeys, acting like turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Family Connections - Explaining it the kids

In today's day & age, family dynamics are more complex than ever.  Blended families due to divorce,
2nd marriages and adoption are far more widespread and considered the "common norm" in our society.  With that said, discussions with our own kids about our family dynamics and the connections between everyone in our extended family has taken a different turn now that Thomas has started to ask more questions.  And when there are more kid questions, that also means all three of the kids are listening more and grasping a more real idea of how our family really looks.

Recently, the family connections discussion moved from the standard & familiar questions like "Nana is your Mom, right Mommy?" and "Is Aunt Jenny {sister} younger or older than Daddy?" to ones that clearly indicated curiosity of and concern for our family.

Thomas asked, "Why do Nana and Grandpa live in different houses?" and "What do you mean Dad has two daddies?"  And even further surprising me, he asked why his cousin doesn't have any brothers or sisters (like he does) and why another aunt & uncle have no children at all.  It's fair to say that Thomas has reached an age where he really gets the dynamics and wants an explanation he can hang his hat on.

With three sets of ears wide open & eyes fixed on me for answers, I decided not to tip-toe around the questions and just simply & gracefully try to offer them answers:
  • Some people who are married & love each other, eventually fall out of love and are no longer happy living together.  Sometimes those people decide that it is best for them to live in separate houses.
  • Sometimes when people end up living in separate houses because they're not happy anymore with each other, they choose not to be married anymore.
  • Just because a Mommy & a Daddy don't love each other anymore, doesn't mean that they don't love their children anymore.  They love them just the same, maybe even more.  And they will always be their mom & dad.
  • Sometimes people find another person that they love and want to spend the rest of their life with.  Sometimes that also means kids get to know and love another mommy or daddy who comes into their life.
  • Not everyone has a brother and sister.  Some people have lots and lots of them, others have only a few, and still others, like your cousin, do not have any.  He gets all of his Mommy & Daddy's love to himself.
  • Just because two people are married doesn't mean that they have children.  Some people are waiting for the right time, some people are choosing not to have any, and still others are hoping to one day have a baby.
I don't know if I handled their new questions the right way, but all three of them seemed satisfied and even pleased that they were provided an explanation that they could wrap their head around.  They were reassured that their family members are both loved and give love to those around them, which is one of the most important things they need to hear.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mommy's Twin

No denying my Abbigail Grace.
Space between the teeth.
Button nose.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers (warm is relative edition)

  • This weekend has warmed up significantly from what we have been dealing with for the last week or so.  We are up to double digits (upper 20s) as opposed to the negative digits we have felt all week.  See... warm really is relative.
  • As we go into the weekend, I'm wondering how great it would be if this was the start of a week long Thanksgiving Break. *sigh*  Unfortunately, we have school on Monday & only get 2 days off for one of the best holidays of the year. *sigh*
  • I did something unprecedented this week.  I have created and ordered my Christmas cards as well as my 2014 Family Calendars that the kids send out as gifts to many family members.  Normally, I'm scrambling to make this happen in the finally two weeks leading up to Christmas.
  • 7 months to go until we PCS home.  On one hand it feels so close; on the other hand, time is dragging on.
  • Speaking of moving, I've already started to think about how wonderful non-military housing will be.  Don't get me wrong, we are blessed with a  large home, big yard and lots of space; but the early 1980s feel has worn on me.
  • I'm ready to decorate for Christmas already.  I have no idea why, but I'm ready for the holiday spirit.
  • Brian and I actually had an all-day date earlier this week (we played hooky from work); we enjoyed both breakfast and lunch out as well as spent the day Christmas shopping for the kids.  It was awesome, just awesome.

Ballin' Shot Callin'

#21 Heck
Ballin'Shot Callin'

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cozy boy

A 6-year old boy who:
is busy non-stop,
is working hard at how to handle his demanding sisters,
loves to play with his friends - especially his little buddy next door,
has some serious basketball skills for only playing for 2 seasons,
works hard at being a good student,
loves books about science, dinosaurs, & racecars,
is an excellent reader,
has a gift and love of drawing,
is an eating machine,
and loves the opportunity to lay down, get cozy and just watch some videos
on the iPad all by himself.

Admin 101: The Power of "Hello & Goodbye"

Every morning I have the opportunity to see and greet the majority of the 1,700 students at my high school.  It is my personal goal to say "good morning" to every student.  The typical response I receive from students is a somewhat bewildered, reserved, and hesitant look that makes me think it is almost painful to simply say "good morning" back to me.  I have trouble understanding why this is, because I usually don't have any trouble getting my students to talk in class, and it is interesting that they seem so hesitant to speak with me in any setting outside of the classroom.  Although I have to say, so many of them have come around with their "hellos" back to me since the beginning of the school year.

The second part of my day takes place in the afternoons as school is letting out.  I get the privilege of doing parking lot duty & helping direct traffic for our school buses.  To my astonishment, I really enjoy getting outside each day, even in the chilliest of temperatures, and seeing everyone off for the day.  I get the opportunity to see my students heading to their cars, as well as leaving the school grounds.  Perhaps the most interesting thing is that my students seem so excited to say "hello" and "goodbye" as they are heading to their cars and/or pulling out of the parking lot...I can honestly say I feel really good about myself when I walk back into the building each afternoon parking lot duty.

The main point of this post is to help recognize the importance of acknowledging the people in our lives.  When I greet students before school I think they are shocked and surprised because it is something they do not expect.  They see being greeted at school as an abnormal activity, and this is something we should definitely attempt to rectify.  If the students arriving at school get half of what I feel when students say "hello" or "goodbye" to me, then it could be an extremely powerful tool in developing and growing a school culture.  It is crucial that students see us as more than just their teachers and principals, but rather as humans that appreciate their existence.  It is so easy for us to put our heads down and walk by, but think about how you feel when somebody greets you with a "hello" and smile.  If you are like me, this simple gesture can have a huge impact on your day.

Please take this opportunity to make sure you are saying "hello" and "goodbye," because these simple phrases can have a positive impact on somebody else's day.  More importantly, the person you positively impact with your "hello" or "goodbye," has the potential to positively impact another person, and from here the snowball begins to grow.  You want to make a positive is much easier than you think!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers (the My Mom & My Dad edition)

  • I got to see my first hockey game this week as I needed to be the Admin on duty.  Thomas has already hit me up to tag along to the next game. I know he'll love it.
  • I have heard Marilyn say (at least 2 dozen times this week) in conversation that she gets to ride in "my mom's car" and that's "my dad's tools."  The funny thing is she was talking with Thomas & Abby.  Like they have different parents or something... too funny!
  • Now that the snow is here for the long winter haul, Brian has made room in the garage again for my car to be parked in there.  You have no idea how blessed & lucky I feel each morning when I leave in a warm & cozy car;  meanwhile, Brian's frozen truck hardly warms up even by the time he arrives to work.
  • Have I mentioned that the indoor trampoline we have is freak'in amazing?  Seriously.  It absolutely helps expend kid energy on the cold & dark days that we are in.
  • With the fluffy white stuff all around us now, I think I'm ready to enjoy all the fun winter stuff for our last winter here - sledding, snowshoeing, snowball fights, shoveling, dog sledding riding, learning how to cross-country ski, and maybe even snow machining (although the last time I drove one, it wasn't pretty at all).
  • Thomas is most certainly an accelerated reader - he easily reads books that at a 3rd grade level.
  • Abbigail is preparing for kindergarten and it is blowing my mind what she is learning.
  • Marilyn is a talker.  No, really.  If you didn't know that she was only 2.5 years old, you would think she was at least 35 years old based on her pronunciation of "xylophone" and "Mississippi" and of course how she can talk your ear off about anything.  Hmm.  I wonder if this is a Sullivan trait?

What you may or may not know: Michelle Version

Here are 15 things you may or may not know about me:
1.  I love to do wash and fold laundry.  It's therapeutic.
2.  I had brain surgery.  And yes, I'm fixed.
3.  I consider myself an introvert.

4.  I have a fear of heights. Being in glass elevators & ski lifts make me almost throw up thinking about being in/on them.

5.  I am highly scheduled and a creature of habit. You can find me doing the same thing everyday at any given time of the day. 
6.  I feel like I'm so much better at expressing myself in writing rather than verbally.  This is not always a good thing.
7.  Brian & I have been together 10 years. 
8.  Since being married, I've had 5 addresses. Soon to be 6!
9.  Some of my past jobs were lifeguard, TCBY, waitress, and car insurance sales rep.
10.  Despite an ACL injury early in the season, I was a team member on the 1992 Division III Women's Soccer National Runner-Ups.
11. I'm a dishwasher Nazi.  There is only one right way to load the dishwasher for maximum loading and uniformity.  I've been known to empty it completely if someone didn't do it correctly.
12. I have been an Air Force dependent (child & spouse) 31 out of my 39 years.
13.  I have ugly feet.  They are in a constant state of despair.
14. Whenever I am driving in my car alone, I blast country music.  I'd like to think I'm pimping in my Mommy minivan.
15. On the off chance I get a pedicure/manicure, I always get a bright color on my toenails and clear on my fingernails.  The moment I decide to "get fancy" with my hands, I will walk out & chip my nail polish.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Winter is finally here!

The "I Forgot My Homework" letter

Do you see this sweet face & smile?
He's an angel.  He's my baby boy.
He's sweet, caring, fun and responsible.
Well, responsible most of the time.
There have been a few incidents recently where he has repetitively forgotten
to bring home his school work home.
I realize that is to be expected for a 1st grade boy. 
And to be honest with you, it isn't huge, but there has to be a lesson taken away.
So when Thomas came home again with no homework or fluency reading folder, despite the reminders from me at night and Brian in the morning, Mama meant business.
Introduce the "I forgot my Homework" Letter
Dear Miss Mahoney,
1 night and yesterday night I forgot my fluency folder for 2 nights ago and my homework,
too, in a row.
Thomas J. Heck
PS: My mom and dad reminded me two times.  I have not been able to do my homework. 
I am going to try harder tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Honoring our Veterans

Today is Veterans Day, which means we pause and give thanks to the brave men and women who have served and fought on behalf of our freedom.
Some have served during war time; others during peace time; some have served one enlistment; others have made a career of the military; and still more have made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us in this great country of ours.
"Thank you" hardly seems enough for our Veterans of the Armed Forces.
I eat, sleep and breathe military life but that doesn't mean I don't see the sacrifice, honor and courage that Brian, my family's hero, shows everyday.
We love you, MSgt Brian Heck.
You make us so proud!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Downtown Eats

At one of our favorite Irish Pubs & Restaurants, McGinley's, in downtown Anchorage with fresh snow falling in the background.
The excitement and happiness is high... especially with Marilyn (she is such a ham)!

The kids opted to sit on the window heaters as their seats - perfect height to the table and perfectly warmed buns on a chilly afternoon.
Abby sneaking some of Daddy's Clam Chowder (and loving it) while he was using the rest room.
 Me & my three loves

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cute Saturday Babies

Gettin' their swim on with Hannah!

The deep hurt

I've said this before and I still feel the same - Abby seems to be growing up the fastest out of all of my kiddos.  And it is Abbigail that I get the most emotional about.  It's because of the deep hurt and guilt that has been in my heart for more than four years.

Let me try to explain:

As a newborn just days old, I started to have difficulty nursing Abby.  I  wasn't able to give her enough milk so I had to supplement her with formula.  Part of me tried to reason that although not ideal, it gave Brian a chance to feed her and enjoy the special bond that every Daddy wants with his baby as he prepared to deploy out again forcing him to miss the first 8 months of Abby's life.  To this day, I have a tremendous amount of guilt that maybe that some how I didn't give her the best possible start to her life AND that this somehow played a part in Abby's speech delays.

With Abby just 2 weeks old, school had begun and even though I was on unpaid maternity leave, I agreed to check in several times a week to pick up papers/essays to grade for my substitute.  Clearly I was not thinking clearly.  I was stressed with Brian gone, slightly depressed (although I just told myself to press and keep my head up), and realized far too late that I didn't get any alone, quality time with Abby where I could just relish in the moments of being with her.  So many regrets.  So much guilt.

At just 2 months old, I was scheduled to fly to VA to be in my best friend's wedding.  Two days before I was to leave, Abby started to get sick.  Despite not sleeping well, feeling well and eventually, not breathing well, my mother-in-law and I reluctantly both agreed for me to still make the weekend trip while the kids would stay with her.  Abby took a turn for the worse once I was gone and was admitted to the children's hospital.  I'm forever living with the guilt of making that trip and not being there at a very critical time.  Despite returning just a short time after leaving, Abby ended up spending a week in the hospital as a 8 week old baby while her Daddy was 1/2 way around the world and her Mommy was stressed to the max.  There is no words to describe to anyone what that feels like.  The only one who could possibly know was Brian who sat helpless in Afghanistan for updates. To make matters even worse, a family member criticized my choices as a mother despite not knowing what it was like to walk in my shoes, check to see how I was doing through it all, or even ask if there was anything they could help with. The scars on my heart are deep.  The guilt is tremendous still to this day.

I do know that as each day that has gone by, the deep hurt & guilt does fade.  I'm reminded by my three kiddos that they love me regardless of what kind of day I have had, how bad my hair looks, how messy I might think the kitchen is or them having to be in time out for a few minutes.  I also realize that these are my feelings, not anyone else's, and they are ones that I will eventually have to let go of. 

But as I've said so many times before, I hold on to feelings.  And that is why my deep hurt is still with me.