Brick, Mortar, Memories

Monday, as I packed up the final boxes from my classroom, my home for five years, I realized that some of the greatest sadness I was feeling throughout this process was in leaving the physical space of my classroom.

As the emotions that I’ve been fighting back began to creep up, I allowed myself to ponder why the room itself was causing me so much sorrow.

I think that perhaps, the physical spaces in our lives, the brick and mortar, the buildings, homes, and rooms that we spend our time in, are much like our cast iron skillet or wooden salad bowl that we cherish.

Those cast iron skillets and special wooden salad bowls, the ones that we intentionally never deep clean or scrub, are kept this way to deepen the taste of dishes over time. The seasonings from all the previous meals, delicious dishes, and the taste of the memories of events gone by are kept within their grooves and crevices forever. And today I realized that I believe the same is true of physical spaces we spend time in throughout our lives.

My classroom walls, even when washed this summer, or repainted in the future, will forever have a piece of my time here within them. This space, that I so lovingly called home for the past five years has played witness to some of the largest, most important moments not only in my life, but in that of numerous students.

For my students, they have seen, heard, and felt first day jitters, frustration, pain, sorrow, joy, laughter, epiphanies, brand-new learning, friendships being made, friendships ending, perseverance, and an everlasting love.

For me, these walls have seen an excited teacher setting up a brand-new, never used classroom. They have seen open houses meeting strangers who became friends, and a few who became more like family. These walls have heard true belly laughter and played witness to the joy that fourth grade students bring into my life. They have seen my frustration, endless hours, and my painstaking thought process. These walls have watched as I wept over a sick and lost father-in-law and a miscarriage the following year because this was a safe space. This classroom witnessed my tears and heard my voice tremble with equal parts excitement and fear as I told a class of fourth graders that I could no longer teach because my pregnancy had made me too sick, five weeks prior to my baby’s due date. These walls have seen me light up and beam with pride while showing pictures of my girls, and while celebrating the success of a classmate.

These walls, this brick and mortar, have seen it all. Every major life event in the past five years has played out, in some way, within this space.

That’s why it’s emotional to clean up. That’s why it’s emotional to leave. That’s why it’s hard to say goodbye to a room of inanimate objects, because it has been my space.

Deep in the paint, texture, and drywall I am certain these walls can feel. The history that this classroom has within it, from my time here, will be felt when the new occupant arrives. And next August, when 20 bright-eyed faces enter the space, it will begin to soak up even more history and store it forever in it’s walls and cherish the memories that are made within them!

Do you think that perhaps all of the spaces we spend time within are like this? They hold onto our memories and not only do they become a part of us, we become a part of them? All of those spaces, the bricks, the mortar, the walls, the paint, hold onto a piece of the past and the experiences they witnessed?

It might sound strange, but I sure hope they do. It brings me some real peace, imagining that a piece of my existence and time in the space lives on long after I leave.

The Dirty Deets: Miscarriage

Admittedly, the title of this post is a bit gruesome as you start reading and realize I really am giving the straight forward, honest, gross truth about a miscarriage. But come on, it’s just too funny to resist. Also, 90’s Megan needs “Deets” to be a thing again!

I feel like I need to start this post with a couple disclaimers. Number 1: If you are not prepared to read about the female body during a miscarriage and all that it entails… stop reading (Although, if you are a male and your significant other is going through this, even if you feel a bit uncomfortable or squeamish, I highly recommend you continue reading to try and better understand and support her). Number 2: This is only one experience with a miscarriage. There is absolutely no medical research or backing for any of the following, this is simply my experience.

When I had my miscarriage, or knew I was starting the process of miscarrying (more on this below), I couldn’t understand. I’m not just saying that either. I actually didn’t understand what was happening with my body. I didn’t understand why it was happening, what it was going to be like, how long it would last, how it would feel, and the list goes on… So, in true Megan fashion, I turned to research.

I started with my amazing doctors. I asked as many questions of my doctor as possible. The thing is, they’re very focused on making sure the medical side of things is happening and that you are safe. Blood work, ultrasounds, mental health, all of the things that they are trained for, and frankly, that are their job. Don’t get me wrong, all of those are essential, and life saving, but still didn’t dig deep into the reality of what I was going to experience in coming weeks. So then, I turned to the internet, obviously. What I found was just not as blatant and honest as I wanted. I ended up needing to navigate the unknown (which is the hardest part of anything, in my opinion) as it came. I just didn’t find the information that I felt that I needed. The true, down and dirty details of what lie ahead of me throughout my miscarriage.

I’m not sure why this information isn’t openly shared. Whether it be not wanting to spook others, salt the wounds, or even just not wanting to share the TMI details (if you’re a Garden of Heart follower you know I don’t believe in). People have good intentions with not sharing the details, but I’m just not that person.

I NEEDED to know! I NEEDED to mentally prepare! I NEEDED more!

So, I’m going to give you the honest truths about miscarriage and what to (possibly) expect. Another quick reminder, this is just from my experience and what my body went through.

10 Truths From a Miscarriage Alumni:

  1. It’s not instant, it drags on and on (and on)- For some reason, I was under the impression that a miscarriage was like sudden and quick. I was going to bleed, maybe pass some clots, and then the physical portion would be over… WRONG!! My miscarriage took 8 full weeks of bleeding (more on this below) and intermittent cramping and pain. Not quick folks. Not in the least.
  2. It hurts- The first night of my miscarriage(or when I knew things were not right) I had terrible cramping. It was so strange, like a mixture between bloating, gas, and period cramps. (At this point I called my doctor, as you should). Then, every couple days for a week or so I would cramp a bit, more of a discomfort than pain. A week after the initial evening I had full on contractions. Shocked the hell out of me! I mean, clearly it makes sense in hindsight, but I just didn’t expect it. But there they were, full blown contractions followed by some much more prominent bleeding. This part took an entire Saturday, and then the pain was gone.
  3. Let’s talk blood- As I’ve mentioned, I started bleeding on the first night. (If you’re currently pregnant and start bleeding, don’t panic. Not all blood means miscarriage! Turns out a lot of women bleed during pregnancy and are perfectly healthy. Do be sure to check in with your doctor though!). I bled for that whole first week leading up to the day of contractions and the more substantial bleeding. Then I figured I would be done… WRONG!! In total I bled for 8 full weeks. It wasn’t a ton of blood everyday, but enough that I needed to wear pads EVERY. FREAKING. DAY. For 8 weeks. Honestly, this one of the hardest parts for me. I just felt gross. I felt dirty and disgusting all the time. One night, in tears, I said to my husband, “I don’t think I’ll ever stop bleeding,” and in the moment, I legitimately thought I never would.
  4. You have to use pads- Because your cervix is open during the process you risk infection if you use tampons. Which means that even if you absolutely despise pads, you have to wear them. Unfortunately as you read above, this isn’t necessarily a quick process either. Get yourself some nice pads, I recommend this kind- Always Radiant. They’re great (as far as pads go) and you feel much less like you’re in a diaper. They seem super thin and like they won’t possibly work, but they do… they’re magic!!
  5. Your hormones are a mess- As it turns out, during a miscarriage your body doesn’t instantly get rid of the pregnancy hormones. It takes time. It’s an absolute roller coaster ride. You still feel pregnant and have symptoms, even though you know you do not have a viable pregnancy. Sometimes you no longer feel pregnant and think it’s over, but you’re still bleeding. Then, to top it all off, you’re grieving over the loss. To say the least, I was a train wreck! Open up to your doctors, accept help and love from those who share it, and let your body rest. It is confused and working damn hard. Give yourself and your body grace.
  6. Lots of blood work- By the time my pregnancy hormones had dropped to a level that the doctors were comfortable with I had already had my blood drawn at least a dozen times. My levels dropped slowly, so it took more pokes. I went in every two days for over 3 weeks. I had track marks on my arms and the phlebotomist and I knew each other on a first name basis.
  7. Your partner feels differently- You and your partner will not experience miscarriage in the same way. You just can’t, you’re not the same person, you don’t have the same emotions, and you aren’t feeling the same things. Lean into the discomfort and talk through your emotions together. It’s tough on both of you, just in different ways.
  8. Embrace the numbers- In my endless research on miscarriage, I found comfort in the numbers. Again, I am someone who can’t stand the unknown. I needed to know how likely it was for this to happen again, how likely I was to never successfully carry and birth a child myself, all of it. I encourage you to do your research (on a trusted, credible site) and find comfort in the numbers. Your likelihood of multiple miscarriages is low, even lower to have consecutive miscarriages. It happens, but trust and find comfort in the numbers!
  9. You will be convinced it’s not worth trying again- Trust me, no matter how badly you want to be a parent or get pregnant, at some point in the bleeding, arm pokes, and all the grief, you will decide that it will never be worth it again. You will be certain that the risk, even with low statistics, is not worth it. Those emotions, in my experience, are normal. Let yourself feel what it needs to, remember, this is your journey and you can experience however you need. Grief deserves your time and the full process, including the “never again” stage.
  10. It is worth it- Be brave, and believe in your body. Whether you go through one, or multiple miscarriages, when you finally have your rainbow baby, it’s worth it! Whether your baby is biological, adopted, through in vitro, a surrogate, or however your baby becomes yours, it is that much sweeter. You won’t forget your miscarriage, you won’t forget the life that could have been, but you will have better days again.

Stay strong girl. You are far stronger than you could ever imagine, physically and emotionally. Allow your body to go through the process and take the time it needs.

I promise the bleeding will stop!

Super Easy Ziti

Are you noticing a theme with all my recipes?? EASY!!

We are both full time employees and by the time we get home we need something quick and easy.

We also love cheap, delicious and leftovers! If you like those things, this recipe is for you. (If you don’t, you need a fancier blog!)

Ingredients:

  • Big can of Garlic and Herb (Hunt’s Brand)
  • Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Sauce (Ragu)
  • 16 oz. Ziti Noodles
  • 1 pound Italian Sausage
  • Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Boil the Ziti noodles.
  3. At the same time, cook the Italian Sausage in a separate pan.
  4. Once the Italian Sausage is finished, pour in the Garlic and Herb sauce and let them heat up and get to know each other in the pan.
  5. When the noodles finish, pour them into a bowl and add the Garlic and Parmesan sauce to coat the noodles.
  6. Spray a 9 x 13 Pyrex then, pour the noodle/sauce mix in.
  7. Top the noodle/sauce mix with the meat/sauce mixture.
  8. Top the whole thing with Mozzarella Cheese. (The more the merrier!)
  9. Put in the preheated oven for as long as you would like, about 20-ish minutes. (Just long enough to make the cheese melty and bubbly!)
  10. Serve with delicious Garlic Bread (We like pre-made Texas Toast)

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Quick and delicious chicken noodle soup recipe. It was quick, made on a weeknight, and tasted (almost) just like grandma makes!!

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I suggest using low sodium)
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 bag Frozen Egg Noodles
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • Pepper
  • Minced onion
  • Garlic powder
  • Optional: You can add a bag of frozen veggies as well, but that’s definitely not a suggestion from me… No veggie chicken noodles is my preference!

Directions:

1. In your instant pot cook chicken breasts. I thawed mine first and cooked for 10 minutes and did a quick release. (You can cook your chicken however you like to prepare for shredding, but I LOVE my instant pot for efficiency, especially on weeknights!)

2. As the chicken cooks, add broth, soup, and stick of butter to a soup pot and bring to a boil.

3. Once boiling, add pepper, garlic powder, and minced onion to taste. Then, add frozen egg noodles and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Once the chicken is finished and has been shredded, add it to the pot of noodles. Allow to simmer for another 15 minute.

5. Serve over mashed potatoes and enjoy! (Clearly, you don’t have to serve over mashed potatoes, but if that’s not how your eat your chicken noodles, you might not be my people.)

Confessions From An Anxious Soul

Ok… I’ve tried to cleverly start this post several times, and I don’t know how, apparently the cleverness isn’t flowing freely today! So I guess I’ll just start instead.

I have anxiety. Lots and lots of anxiety. Don’t worry, I’m not telling you these things as a blog post cry for help, (I’m medicated) quite the opposite actually. I’m telling you so that if you are someone who struggles with anxiety perhaps I can help you find some common ground, learn something about yourself, reach out, get opinions, or just be open and honest.

Since reaching adulthood I have struggled with my anxiety, like many many others do. For some reason, I think that it is still considered a negative thing to admit anxiety or depression are part of your life. It feels a bit like you are a failure of sorts for not being able to pull your shit together. Even more, I felt like I was expected to “cure” myself by working out more and eating healthier. (Which, by the way, I do encourage and those things do help quite a bit.) However, those things just aren’t always enough. So for a long time, I kept this quiet.

I never took action to get help or even considered talking to a doctor about my anxiety. Here’s the strange thing about me, (or maybe this is totally normal for anxiety sufferers) I had this belief that my anxiety was actually a piece of my success as and adult and in my career. I thought that my ability to see every angle of a conversation, think deeply on things for hours and weeks on end, and anticipate things that were yet to happen were all part of why I was successful. I was afraid to lose my edge. Weird right? I know!

So what finally happened? Well, turns out if you’re living with daily anxiety and things in life do start to go wrong, it all compacts… quickly. The anxiety that you can “control” becomes something that you can’t because you’re trying to deal with all the other things in life. At least that’s what happened to me. I lost my father-in-law to cancer, had a miscarriage, and was working on a masters program all within a year. All of this was on top of still being a full time employee, a wife, and “dealing” with anxiety. Needless to say, suddenly I wasn’t in “control” of my anxiety anymore.

I finally went to my doctor and told her all of this. By the time I went to her, I was a bit of a mess and had let it go too long. I was put on an anti-depressant that day to “try out” and help with my anxiety. Wow, my world changed! In all open, honest reflection, I cannot believe I let myself live that way for so long. My poor brain!

I openly discuss this with people now. And when I say openly, I mean in a regular, not hushed whisper voice any time someone has questions or wants to know more. I have no shame that I take medication on the daily to help me keep my brain and anxiety in check. I have no shame that I take medicine that helps me. I don’t feel like a failure because I couldn’t overcome my anxiety without medication. Honestly, I’m proud of myself for being open, honest, and vulnerable!

Folks, the thing is… anxiety is real! You don’t have to be a depressed, down in the dumps, miserable person to need help with your anxiety, they’re not always one-in-the-same. You don’t have to suffer or let yourself get to a point of depression before you advocate for yourself. No one knows your body or mind better than you. We have to move past this shame that we put on ourselves about anxiety. Your mental health is important! You don’t have to share your story, I’ll share mine loud and proud though to hopefully help others who are trying to take on anxiety alone.

Cabbage and Bologna

Ok, wait… Don’t leave this post right away, I promise this is good! Sounds gross, but is delicious!

Caveat: So, I hate when I find a delicious looking recipe online and I follow the link and come to someones eight page story about their love for this recipe, how it came to be, and what their cat’s day was like (clearly I’m being a bit dramatic), all before finding the actual ingredients and recipe.

So… if you’ve come here to check out a recipe that’s what you’ll get… a recipe! No more, no less!

This recipe is super simple, super cheap, and super delicious. Don’t make this recipe harder than it is, when I say cut it in chunks, seriously just cut it into chunks and throw it in the pot!

Ingredients:
  • Bologna- like a big ol’ slab of bologna not the slices (get it from the deli)
  • Head of Cabbage
  • Potatoes (as many as will fit after the other goodies are in)
  • Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot (I prefer my Instant Pot)
Directions:
  1. Cut half of your slab of bologna into large chunks (approximately 2″ cubes), put in your instant pot.
  2. Cut chunks of cabbage, and layer on top of the bologna already in the instant pot.
  3. Peel and cut potatoes into large chunks and put as the final layer in your instant pot.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups water to the instant pot.
  5. Cook on Medium pressure for 10 minutes.
  6. Quick release.
  7. Empty each of the goodies into separate bowls, this will make serving easier.
  8. Serve and enjoy! (I love to layer mine all together, with mustard!)

Let me know if you have questions about this recipe or share your reviews!

I Need My Mom

…and my dad too!!

After another amazing week with my parents in town, I’m pretty emotional today as they head home. Each time it’s equally as difficult to say goodbye for all of us. It goes beyond just being sad because my mom and dad are leaving. It goes beyond them having to say goodbye to the girls who are growing and changing every day. It’s beyond the sadness and tears. Frankly, it’s that I want them here not just because I love them, it’s because I love the extra help!

The older I get, I can’t seem to understand why our culture is so determined to measure adult success as the ability to live (and thrive) with nearly complete independence. It seems as though our country has reached a point that the overall consensus is that successful “adulting” means that you can work a full time job, run a home, raise a family, and take care of your physical and mental health all without consistent help from anyone outside your household. Aside from the occasional help from friendly neighbors, close friends, or extended family, we’re pretty much alone in our households for all the day to day craziness. The thing is, I still feel like I’m successfully “adulting” even though I want (Ok… NEED) my parents around.

When my parents are here for the week our whole home is more peaceful. We don’t rush as much in the mornings because we have extra help. We don’t feel guilty if we have to be home a bit later because we know the girls are home and being cared for. We eat homemade meals that are cheaper and healthier than eating out because, between four adults, we can always find someone with time to cook. We have four sets of adult hands to help with dishes, laundry, dinner, general house cleaning, and most importantly… raising kids.

I don’t feel at all like a failure as a career woman, a parent, a wife, or an adult saying that I prefer to have the extra help. I LOVE the extra help. I LOVE the relationship my girls get to have with their grandparents. I LOVE getting to share parenting with my own parents. I LOVE that we can take turns getting up early with the girls (who are bound and determined to never let us sleep in again). I LOVE that the overall stress and pressure of this world is reduced. I LOVE all of it! Frankly…. I need my mom and dad!

“It takes a village.” That’s the old adage that we’ve all heard a million times. I think, that for the most part, people believe it too. For some reason (far beyond my understanding) though, we have reached a point in our country where multi-generational homes are far less common, and perhaps even viewed negatively. What’s that about?

Don’t get me wrong, I get that spouses and families need some space. I get that my husband and I need time together, just the two of us, just as my parents do. But I think we could work all of that out, and man, it’d be so worth it!

I’m sad my parents left because they’re so fun, amazing grandparents, and I love them dearly. But beyond that, I’m sad to not have them around for the help and I’m more than willing to admit it! I’m a strong YES for multi-generational homes becoming a part of American tradition. A home with multiple generations, all living and growing together, and cohesively raising younger generations, now that sounds to me like true successful adulthood.

I guess all that’s left to do is pack mom and dad up and find a bigger house!!