The Big Picture

In the pendulum of blogging, I’m ready for the upswing. I love that we document our crazy lives, and I honestly don’t post for anyone other than my 5 or 10 or 20 years older self. I can’t wait to look back and read and gain even more perspective or make fun of how silly we were.

I’m feeling immensely happy today. I blame it on the weather (mostly). It is officially Spring time! March is the busiest month of the year for teachers (especially ones with a kid in sports and another who’s 2), but that vitamin D is something else. I literally feel it filling me up and pouring back out in the form of annoying happiness and introspective blog posts.

I also think the key to it all is figuring out what my “big picture” looks like. I spent so much of my life trying to wipe away the (self inflicted) cobwebs and clutter so I could get a glimpse of what my big picture was. On an given day the picture looked different, so I became frustrated and fickle and my actions reflected that. I think the simple answer is maturity (coupled with making the wrong choices for so long and finally learning from mistakes. Is that the definition of maturity though??). I never knew what I wanted because choosing what I wanted meant deciding what I didn’t want. And I didn’t want to miss out on anything. I realized for me, it’s simple. I want to be happy. I want a family. I want a job that allows me to feel fulfilled while helping financially and not stealing all my time or taking over my life. I want the cliche suburban life; kids in activities and vacations to the beach. I want family dinners and big holiday meals and a best friend to share it all with.

The best part? I have it. I have that exact big picture. Here’s the fine print though. I am not happy every single day. Some days I’m miserable. Some days I’m tired and sore and broke and frustrated with the politics of my job and have zero patience for my children and nothing seems right or good or settled. But on these inevitable days, I always have my “big picture” looming over my shoulder. It’s become my role model. It’s my bully. It’s the responsible parent I never had. It’s the light at the end of my dark days that tells me not to run away or shut down. And my dark days are so few and far between now. That big picture has become a part of me and here’s the kicker. The more I honor it, the bigger and brighter it gets.

It doesn’t mean I do every single thing I want, but it means I do the things that I do, because I know what I want. It’s been a long time coming, and it feels amazing. Figure out your big picture, and fiercely follow it. You’ll see what I mean.

Tough Mudder!

We are tough mudders!!

Around Christmas time I was in need of some serious exercise motivation. Baby weight plus holiday eating was a bad combination. Ben mentioned “tough mudder” and while I never really thought I’d survive it, I said “Sure, why not”. If this doesn’t motivate me to do something then I don’t know what will. We were pumped about it. I watched YouTube videos, winced at some of the obstacles, and printed out the training suggestions to start right after the new year.

….I think you can probably guess where I’m going next. Not to the basement to train. We ran a few 5K’s, did a few small things on the equipment we have at home, and even did an “obstacle course” style 5K (which ended up being the PreK version of Tough Mudder). The event that was once 12 weeks away was suddenly around the corner. Um. What? No way I can do that. But we signed up, and were going to make the best of it. I preface our TM experience with this story to help you understand that training and preparation were NOT what got me through the 11 mile/21 obstacle course. Not by a long shot. What got me through was my husband, the other mudders I was running with, my fierce stubbornness, and the sheer will to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Next year, the training (I’ve already started) will pay off and I will shave hours off of my 6 hour total from this year.

Other than the intensely sore muscles, the cuts and bruises, the ruined clothes/shoes, and the sunburn, the event itself was one of the most painfully rewarding experiences of my life. Despite the debilitating difficult physical challenges, this was equally a test of mental strength. I am my worst critic. I approached every single obstacle and the voice in my head repeated “There is no way I can do that. Are you kidding me with that? I can’t do THAT. These people are crazy. There is no way”. This voice continued for eleven straight miles. After every obstacle (and Yes, we attempted every.single.obstacle; only failing to complete three), I was in a state of disbelief. I looked behind me to the pool of ice water, or the dark underground tunnel, to the barbed wire, or fire, to the 10-12 foot walls or the cords of electric current I’d crawled through, and my voice always said “I can NOT believe I just did that!”. I shocked myself (ha) through the entire 11 miles. Every marker that showed another mile down was a glance between Ben and I that said “I’m not sure how, but we are doing this!”. There are few better accomplishments I’ve had in this life than the one I felt crossing the finish line with my husband. Limping and bleeding and running on fumes, we did it together. It wasn’t always pretty, but we DID IT!

Despite going into TM intimidated, I have never been a part of something so physical with people who were SO awesome. You cannot do this challenge alone. Even with my partner, we took on every obstacle with the help of another mudder (or several mudders). Every fall in the mud was followed by three hands to help me up, pat me on the back, and encourage me to keep going. I was pushed over walls, pulled over ledges, and cheered on by strangers around me the whole time. I “Hoorah’d” that day more than I ever have in my life, and was filled with such gratitude and appreciation for the communities of mudders that I am now so thankful to be a part of with my husband. This event changed how I think. I have an untapped strength that has been discovered and for that alone I am so thankful that Ben signed us up. Not only did my husband keep me motivated and push me to my potential for 11 miles, I failed to mention he held a GoPro mounted to a piece of PVC pipe the whole time. He got some great footage that he’s ‘doing his thing’ with and will post the footage we have soon. Some more permanent memorabilia is in the works as well. 😉

We will certainly do this again next year, and I want to put together a huge team for it. It’s an experience everyone should have once in their lives…if not once a year. We are Tough Mudders!

Here’s our video! Well, this is the short one. For the longer version, see the link at the end. Enjoy!

“Best Of”

2012 was one for the record books. So. Much. Happened. Last year. It’s been one hell of a week getting back into the swing of work, new arrangements and diets for Lane, and new journeys being started for me, but I’ve been saying I’m going to write this blog so dammit…here it is. I’ll be glad down the road that I did.

So 2012 brought us so many things that should be documented….and so many things that changed the direction of our lives… no particular order…..

1. I had a BABY! 8 days early and in a crazy, emergency fashion I had little Benjamin Lane on January 3rd. That’s a pretty BIG way to start off the year I’d say.

2. We took our kids to the beach. Twice. Ok…not as big as bringing life into the world. But we went once with the Meechams and once with Ben’s sister and her family. There’s a part of me that feels so home at the beach. Maybe it’s the escape from reality….maybe it’s all the fresh air and sea salt. Either way…we learned that little BLT has a mini set of gills growing and loves the pool. Ocean? He’s like his dad and is just as content to skip that part altogether. Chase falls in line with his mom and could play in the sand/waves all day. Either way, we got the traditional “first beach” videos and pictures and I am hoping we can make this a yearly tradition.

3. I turned 30. In style. With some of my absolutely favorite people on a perfectly gorgeous day on the lake. We rented a boat, acted like we were way more fabulous than we really are, and partied our asses off. My husband made the best of the day despite the time spent in the ER the night before (totaling his car TOTALly could have made this list….but let’s not think about that too much eh?). Bandaged, medicated, and liquid couraged up he went down the slide, rode the jet ski, and helped make my 30th the BEST birthday I’ve had in my life. So many people I know dread being in their 30’s….but today, 30 feels good.

4. My brother got married. (“Wait…you have a brother??”). I know. I feel that way sometimes too. But I do, and when we both finally slow down enough to spend time together I remember just how awesome he is. His new wife compliments him beautifully. His wedding also meant getting to see Philly family (which is ALWAYS a lovely time), and the inevitable family drama that comes with too much time spent together. The wedding was gorgeous, the food was delicious, my boys were handsome as ever and the wine flowed. Looking back…it stands out as a great event in the past year.

5. My oldest turned 10. TEN. Double digits. Sometimes I think to myself “in one year he’ll be in middle school… six years he’ll be driving….”. But then I stop. And cherish what little bit of “my baby” I have left. I can honestly say I try my hardest every single day to be the best I can for him and most days I fall short. Not because I fail. But because despite my best efforts he always deserves more than I can ever offer him. He’s a beautifully amazing, funny, smart, LOVING child.

6. We bought a house. As I type this I’m thinking maybe this should be up there with having a baby? At times it FELT like we were having a baby. When people say buying a house is stressful they aren’t lying. We didn’t stop for 6 weeks straight. I still feel like I am adjusting to my new surroundings, my new community, my new…..everything. But I also feel so blessed to be able to call this gorgeous house “home”, and I know it’ll only get better with time.

Thanks 2012! You were amazing. After the ball drops, let’s keep it rolling in the right direction for 2013….

DIY Begins!

We are in the new crib! It’s beautiful, big….and BROWN. Don’t get me wrong, this house is amazing. With that being said, almost every single room is going to get redecorated. I love the ‘country’ feel the house has nestled in a cute subdivision and tucked back in the trees, but it needs some fresh color, some light, some updating…..some “Turner”. Looking around and starting my list of “to dos” has been a bit overwhelming so far, so I’m narrowing it down to one room at a time. First up, the laundry room. Before/Progress/After pics will come soon. Wish us luck!

Sniper Slow Down!

As you can tell, it’s been a while since the Snipers have had a post! Life is happy, and busy, and lovely. Here’s what we’ve missed….and I’ll try to fill in pics from any of these events if I can soon!

-Jess turned 30 in style! A weekend at the lake with awesome friends and so much fun.
-A week long beach trip with the family. Chase grew fins and Lane fell in love with the water…especially the pool.
-School started! How do we already have a 5th grader? Yikes.
-A little baby who is suddenly a BIG eight month old.
-A car accident with SB that lead to a totaled car, surgery, and a few weeks of not fun times around the Sniper house

So we’ll try, again, to stay caught up!