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Hello!  I’m Christy.

In a nutshell, I am a:

  • Mama
  • Teacher
  • Soon-to-be published author (March 29, 2018!)
  • Grief survivor
  • Podcaster
  • Over-sharer

I think you’ll love it here if you have ever tripped up the stairs, if you love to read, if you love true crime, if you have any kind of emotional baggage, if lots of people stress you out (or don’t), or if you have at least one child who is obsessed with Halloween.  🙂

At any rate, I’m glad you’re here.

XOXO,

Christy

Which Type of BFF Are You?

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So, there has been a lot of business in my life lately. If you’re new here, a book I wrote was just published and released and it was a book about a tragedy I went through. It was tough to write, tough to put out there, and overall just sucked every little bit of energy and life out of me for a while.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of this, but … let’s just say you had to write the acknowledgments page in the back of a book you wrote or write your thank-you speech for the Oscars. You can’t thank everyone you’ve ever met, but you also can’t say, “And thank you to my very best friend Judy,” because it doesn’t seem like, for most of us, we have just ONE BFF.

There is this weird imbalance in best-friend-ism that makes friendship difficult. So, for example, Judy considers Rita her BFF. But then Rita posts a picture on Facebook with the caption, “My very best friend Betty and I on the beach! Love you, girl!” and suddenly Judy’s insides are burning (you know that feeling) and she decides that Rita doesn’t love her as much as she loves Rita.

The truth is-I have more than one best friend. And they are my BFFs for different reasons, and I am here to tell you that I give you permission to do the same. I encourage it, actually!

I know that I am good at some parts of friendship and there are others that I am totally TERRIBLE at.

Example:

Friendship Pro: I’m good at remembering things-anniversaries, birthdays, sad days, job interviews, etc.

Friendship Con: I’m an introvert and don’t really like to leave my house or my family, so I don’t make a lot of plans, and sometimes I cancel the ones I’ve made because I get worked up about them.

So, you want to call me when you’re trying to think of a thoughtful anniversary gift for your in-laws, and you DON’T want to call me when you are looking for someone to go to the Bahama Mama Margarita Party on the beach with 25 of your other friends.

I really truly think that every woman should have a core group of friends (they don’t have to all be friends with each other, that’s not what I mean) that meet all our needs. So, here we go:

BFF 1: Your long-time BFF

This is the person you’ve known FOREVER. You’ve just always had them in your life. You have funny memories that you reminisce about every single time you’re together and you’ve been at every major event for each other since you can remember. This is the person you go to when you have a major life decision and don’t know what to do. They’ve seen you change and grow over the years and they know what you’re like after you make the WRONG choice.

BFF 2: Your Life-Stage BFF

So this is the person that you need because they are in the same Life-Stage as you. Your kids are the same age, or you’re both just recently divorced, or you’ve both decided to leave your jobs to go back to school. You need someone you can relate to. Who, at the drop of a hat, you can call and tell them what you JUST said, and they’ll reply, “Oh, yeah, I’ve said that today, too.”

BFF 3: Your work BFF

You absolutely need someone at work that you can vent to, gossip with (wait, we don’t gossip, so skip that), and commiserate with. This is the person that knows exactly what you’re stressed about and why you’re stressed. You spend so much time together that you know every little detail about them, like what they had for dinner last night and that their Amazon order is late and you’re mad about that. You know everything about their families and what they like for lunch and how they take their coffee and they are a constant for you.

BFF 4: The older-wiser BFF

This is the person who is at least 20 years older than you. She/he is wise, calm, and has totally gone through what you are and lived to tell the tale. This BFF helps you see that you WILL survive, and it WILL be great, and you WILL be grateful for what you have because you’re probably going to miss it (but not in an I-told-you-so kind of way, of course).

And, finally:

BFF 5: Your hobbies and interests BFF:

This is the person you just like to spend time with. They are always up to go to the concert you want to see, be your movie date, head with you on a mini road-trip. They will recommend books, and music, and movies and hardly ever do you disagree on these. He or she is easy to be around, fun to be with, and you’re just generally similar people. You don’t get too serious or talk about politics or if aliens exist because you are just hanging. Being with them is like a breath of fresh air.

Are there more?  Yes. Could some of them overlap? Yes. My point is that we may need more than one person to meet our needs because like I said before, most of us are not good at all of the friendship things all at one time.

There’s no need for jealousy or feeling un-wanted or not feeling as important as someone else just because of that tiny “best” word. I close my eyes and picture my best friends and know that they are all incredibly special to me, in so many different ways.

Just think about it, ok? And don’t forget to let your people know that you love them. Plutonic love is THE BEST but we maybe don’t say it enough. Let someone know that they are special to you. You could even tag them in the comments right here as a way to say, “I love you, yo.”

Holding on to Hope

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This week, my heart goes on sale.

This week, years and years of work compiled into a few hundred pages will be in the hands of strangers and loved ones alike.

In just a few days, all the things I am proud of and ashamed of and just don’t know even know what I think about will be spread as far and wide as one could hope.

A book. My book. Art. Feelings. Love and pain.

Years and years and years of work and anguish and re-hashing and adverb splicing and sentence length and missing quotation works.

It will be out there. With hope.

I have hope.

Hope that this book will find itself in the hands of the woman with empty arms, looking for support, looking to know if they are crazy or what to do next. I want this book to end up in the hands of someone who loves his/her best friend and doesn’t know what to do or say.

Those of you out there reading this, THANK YOU. Thank you for being a part of this journey. Thank you for sharing my posts, and commenting on my status updates, and for believing in me.

This week, I’m going to need you! I’ll need your love when I’m reading reviews by strangers who may not love this book. I’ll need you to leave reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and share, share, share, just especially this week.

I may even need you to hold my shaking hands while my friends and family celebrate with me on Thursday night–literally and figuratively would work.

But, before all of that, thank you. Thank you for coming and thank you for reading and thank you for noticing me and my dream of helping.

XO

Christy

 

 

Best of La Crosse County 2018

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Hey, there! If you are here from the Explore La Crosse page, Hello!  I’m Christy and I’m a writer, and somehow I got on this list with Randy Erickson and Sue Hessel, who have been writers in this community for MUCH longer than I have, and who are excellent role-models and WAY more talented than I.  Top 3!  Craziness!

I am SO honored, and I’m sure it was with a little help from my friends. 🙂 Love you, guys!

Anyway, I’m a 4th grade teacher, a mama, and a published author. My book, Almost a Mother: Love, Loss, and Finding Your People When Your Baby Dies, will be released on March 29th. It’s a book about grief, and humor, and love, and all the other things that come along with loss.

I also have a Facebook page: where I try really hard to make you laugh and brighten up your day. You can keep up with everything I’m doing over there! I’d love it if you go and “like” my page.

Lastly, you can find me as a regular on the podcast Friending and a regular contributor to Still Standing Magazine.

I’m so glad you’re here. Stay a while!

XO,

Christy

 

A Gun in My Classroom? As if.

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Photo by David Levêque on Unsplash

*Note: These examples are not from my actual, current, class, just examples that I have experienced often as a teacher. I don’t want my students’ families to think I’m sharing sensitive information. XO*

5:24 a.m. The alarm goes off. My alarm ringer is an Eminem song. The only 10 seconds where I get to listen to the music I actually like rather than the soundtrack from The Lego Movie.

5:40 a.m. Stumble downstairs to walk on the dreadmill treadmill. Listen to serial killer podcast. Be constantly on alert for someone to bust through the door and kidnap me.

6:20 a.m. Shower. Within 5 minutes, one child will be awake. They will either:

a)attempt to get in shower

b)tell me at length about the dream they had

c)crawl under the bedspread on the bed I just made and wrangle it all up.

I’ll spare you 6:40-7:40, and we’ll just call that “The part where I repeat directions a lot, talk about how I’ll lose my job if we’re any later, and find ‘the other sock’.”

7:40: Walk into work. Chat with the custodian. On the way to my classroom door, the guidance counselor sees me. We chat about a student who we are trying to help.

7:55: While working on getting my instructional materials ready for the day, putting my lunch in the fridge, shoving my purse in my desk drawer (since I don’t have a place to lock it anywhere), the phone rings. It is a parent who wants me to know her child is constipated. I need to let him use the bathroom at any time, no questions asked.

8:10: Pull up e-mail. Topics include:

*a fundraiser for a district family with cancer

*a staff member’s family member has just died

*an agenda for a meeting that is after school until 5:00

*money I owe for dues

*5 questions from my 4th-grade team about one math lesson we are trying to iron out.

*An e-mail from a parent telling me that their son forgot their homework last night and could I please not be mad at him or yell at him because he feels really bad

*An e-mail from a colleague that tells me one of my students has been written up 3 times in a month and I need to email the parent.

8:25: The kids come in. I am bombarded with stories. I get 4 excuses for why their homework is not done (I had dance last night, I forgot, did we have homework last night? and I had to watch my brother’s wrestling match). I get shown a Harry Potter shirt, a new container of slime, a pencil-topper that blinks, and that someone is now on page 69 already of their book.

8:40: as I begin to teach math, the phone rings. There is a lunch bag in the office for one of my kids. As I hang up, a student approaches, “Mrs. W, my lips are bleeding because they are so chapped.” I point to the vaseline I always have, with Q-tips, just for this reason. I pass out a bandaid. I send a kid to the nurse, who comes back up to go home since he has a fever.

Back to math.

I notice one girl does not look well. As soon as I can, I check in with her to find that her parents were fighting all night and she’s exhausted.

Back to math.

While assigning partners, a student explodes and runs out of the room in anger.

10 minutes later, that student is settled back in, and its back to math.

At the very end of math, as we line up to go to related arts, I see a teacher at my door. She wants to quick check-in on my reading lesson for the day, because she pushes into my classroom to help kids.

Related arts is my prep time. Except, we have a meeting.

During the meeting, we all meet and talk about data.

Reading, writing, math, what are we doing for this kid, does he have enough interventions? Should we move her from reading to math? Why do we think he’s not doing so well anymore? Her parents are gone and her brother is raising her while they work across the country. His mom is in jail. She is adopted. Do we think it’s social/emotional, or is there an academic need?

I stay in this meeting until the second past its time to go pick up my class from related arts. I realize I haven’t found the time to use the bathroom yet.

10:40 Time for reading. Search room because kids are starving and don’t have snack with them. Discover some old saltines in my drawer and offer them up, shrugging. I’ve spent a hundred bucks at least this year on animal crackers. While the kids eat something quickly, I start teaching the reading lesson.

A kid approaches me on the side, I don’t have anything to read at home, is it ok if I borrow one of your books? I go into my bag and grab the books I ordered from Scholastic for my own daughter, and give those to her. Keep these, I tell her.

During the reading lesson, one of my students has her head on the desk. What’s up, I ask. Well, she says, I got made fun of yesterday at recess and now I don’t want to go out.

Stay in here today, I tell her. You can eat lunch with me and we’ll figure out a plan.

Student leaves for a behavior break. I read with a 4th grader who has a reading comprehension level of a 1st grader.

Time for lunch.

I check my e-mail while I wait for my student to return. They include:

*Dress-up days for next week

*Overdue books

*Can I do a meeting over lunch on Friday? There’s no other time

*Guidance counselor wants one of my kids at this time once a week starting now

*Parent wants an update on a spelling intervention

*Don’t forget to bring your item for the potluck, order this t-shirt

*Another teacher is upset with me because I didn’t tell her that one of my students was moving to a different level of behavior (did I even know, I wonder?)

I check to make sure I’m ready to teach writing and science and intervention when the kids come back. Realize that we ran out of time when we were planning and I was supposed to pull books for everyone. I had gone to the library but gotten called down to the office when my student had stomped out of the cafeteria in anger. Run to library and pull books, drop them off for my co-workers, and then pull out my lunch.

The student is back and by the time she’s ready to go back to her friends, we both have cried. My heart hurts. It just feels like so much, sometimes, the hurt that our kids are experiencing

As she’s walking out the door, there is a fire alarm. We race outside. While out there, guidance chats to me about a situation where a parent is no longer allowed to pick up his son, who is in my class. I need to stay on alert and if I see him, call the principal immediately and don’t let him in.

I get inside and make a quick call to a parent, confirming that she will volunteer in my classroom the next day. While I have you on the phone, she says, my kid has been having some problems with friendships. Can you help?

At this point, it is NOT EVEN 12:00.

And you.

Want me.

To HAVE A GUN?

A gun.

As if I can do one.more.thing.

As if I signed up to be in the military. As if I enrolled to defend my country, and went through basic training, and got training and free college and socialized healthcare.

As if I took this job knowing my own children could lose their mom so I can fend off a shooter who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place.

As if.

 

The other night I was at Target, all by myself. I had just gotten a cavity filled, and it was Valentine’s Day, and although I personally think Valentine’s Day is ridiculous, I still sort of felt lame to have a mouth so numb that I couldn’t even close my lips, and to be wandering around Target alone trying to find swimming goggles.

I have long since learned my reactions to stress are as follows:

*Eat my emotions

*Cry

*Buy things I don’t need

*Obsessively clean and de-clutter all the things I bought that I didn’t need

I suppose this list could be worse (I mean, jail time is probably not preferable, etc.), and I’m guessing from my experience a lot of you out there might have a similar list (kudos to you if stress makes you exercise, yo, way to be!). What frustrates me is that although I can recognize it, and I know these are my habits, I’m not “strong” enough to defeat them.

I get told I’m strong a lot. Strong for surviving. Strong for writing a book about my tragedy. Strong.

But there are things I am not strong about (which, if you’ve read me for a while, you already know them, so…) and my ability to cope with stress is not one of them. I am honestly so lucky that my husband wants to stay married to me and that my friends still love me (You do…right?).

Recently I found out that I’m being forced (well, it’s “voluntary,” but if you don’t do it, you lose your healthcare benefit) to participate in a wellness exam thing. Essentially, I get my blood drawn, and if I am not healthy enough, I have to go to classes to learn about how to get healthy.

I won’t pass.

But those classes? I mean, you guys, I’m an educator. I have a master’s degree because I LOVE to learn. I know about nutrition. I absolutely know how to lose weight. Quite honestly, I am not strong enough. I usually don’t even try because I hate what failing feels like.

And these tests, these employee “wellness” exams? Research shows they don’t even work. But I’ll tell you what they do-they remind me that as much as I work on it, my worth is always going to be valued based on my weight.

So, anyway, I was a little down, and feeling extra fat, and grumpy, and I was walking through the book aisle in Target.

Suddenly, I heard, “OMG NO way. I am totally Sophia. You are Rose.”

Giggles.

“Um, there is no way you’re Sophia. You’re so Rose it’s not even funny.”

“Well, at least I’m not Dorothy, like her!”

I looked over to see myself, 16ish years ago, with my college BFFs, Danny, Julia, and Sarah. I swear, it was like a movie moment where it flashed in front of me and I couldn’t help but smile.

There were one boy and three girls, the boy talking rapidly and almost running through the aisles, while two girls were scanning the books and one girl was yelling from a few feet back, having stopped to look at something no one else was interested in. The boy was wearing shorts and a muscle shirt and talked a LOT with his hands.

Eery, I remember thinking, how similar this is to my “past” life.

I watched them for a while, listening to their playful banter and I longed to have those days back. When we would enter the grocery store, and Danny J would yell, “Mrs. Paul’s Fish sticks, lightly battered, and…GO!” and Sarah, and Jul and I would race through the store trying to be the first to find them, screaming “SUPER MARKET SWEEP!” when we found the right box.

I miss actually getting kicked out of the Walmart parking lot because Danny insisted I push Julia around in a cart and he knocked both of us over. Getting a ticket for dancing in a fountain.

I miss staying up until 4 a.m., pretending to do our homework, at Perkins, knowing the next day I could just take a nap. Impromptu road trips. “Spring Break 2000!” when we called and set up like 8 real estate appointments on the lake to pretend like we were buying a lake house. Ice cream, and laughter. SO. MUCH. LAUGHTER.

I’m not carefree enough now. And I try, you guys. Everyday. I try to find the joy. Maybe it’s the weight of motherhood. Maybe it’s the stress of this book and everything it represents. Maybe it’s what working in a school has become. I guess it’s most likely a combination of those things.

Maybe it’s the work of trying to pretend I’m someone I’m not or the pressure of living up to everyone’s expectations.

What I know is that I need this back in my life. Maybe not tickets and getting kicked out of parking lots, but laughter. So, yeah, I’m going to fail my “wellness” test because I am overweight. I’m going to go sit in a class while they tell me to eat more protein and more vegetables and that there are “good” fats and “bad” fats.

I probably will still go buy fancy pens I don’t need at Target, and let things make me cry, and send my husband out for french fries at night when I’m feeling down.

But I am going to make it a goal to do it laughing.

You with me?

 

My daughter, she humbles me (let’s call this a poem because I didn’t feel like using normal sentences or punctuation and I’m feeling SUPER poetic tonight)

My daughter, she humbles me.

She is everything that I am, and also everything that I am not.

I couldn’t have imagined

how lovely she would be

how brave

how kind

how

resilient when I least expect it. Grateful and caring and full of LOVE

This morning, a glimpse of her walking hand-in-hand with her friend-

she has no idea he has Autism

she only knows she loves him

and she’ll tell me, “he’s just still learning, mom”

But, of course he is. You all are. After all, you are only 7.

Seven.

How much can we expect from someone who has been on this earth for 7 short years?

How much can we expect from kids who are LEARNING?

Learning to be a good friend, learning to know what to do when you’re not, learning how to be assertive, yet kind, but also slowly learning what you actually want in a friendship (and what you don’t)

Today, I had to break my daughter’s heart

I had to tell her no to something she really wanted to do. She deserved to do it. It was not about her.

Not the first time, and won’t be the last, of course

yet hearing her sobs almost broke me

It wasn’t her fault. She can’t understand. She is, after all, only 7

All this time I’ve worried about being her mother. Can I be good enough when I am so broken? Can I give her what she needs when I can’t give myself what I need?

We got home after an emotional afternoon full of tears and she hugged me.

“Thanks for being the best mom and for keeping me safe, mom. And you should know, I was not mad at YOU. I’m never mad at YOU. I was just sad. But it’s ok now. It really isn’t that big of a deal. And like you said, I’ll understand someday.”

A million pieces became my heart.

She is 10,000 times as great as I will ever be.

even with our ridiculous expectations

and sometimes downright unfairness,

she is resilient.

With her chin up and her shoulders back, she carries on.

My daughter, she humbles me.