Thursday, December 5, 2013

Prepping for Christmas Before Thanksgiving Can Save Sanity

My husband is adamant that Christmas celebration or preparation does not occur until after you have eaten your pie on Thanksgiving. This includes decorating, baking, Christmas cards and shopping. He wouldn’t even enjoy the Christmas beer he bought until the pie sat in his stomach for 2 hours!
The preparation for the holidays can become very overwhelming for me. There are Christmas cards to send and decorating to be done (both at home and the office), baking to be done and delivered to the neighbors, Christmas presents to be bought and some that have to be shipped to our families in Iowa and Arizona. We have Christmas concerts to attend and lights to be viewed. I write a list of what needs to be done along with specific dates that task will be achieved. Honestly, there are a few years were I begin to dread the holidays and do not enjoy them at all because of everything “I need to do”! Every year I tell myself “it’s okay if you send cards late” (which I actually did one year for sanity reasons), “you don’t have to give cookies to the neighbors this year” and “don’t worry about presents for the grandparents” - but every year I bake the cookies and send the cards and the presents.
Christmas Day in itself is always a stress free day, especially the years we stay home and do not have to travel. We sleep late, maybe take a shower, eat soup for lunch and dinner and watch movies all day. So why is the time before Christmas so nerve-racking?
This year I gave myself a gift; I started my Christmas task list earlier! I ordered the cards at the beginning of November and started addressing them on Thanksgiving. I bought the presents for my husband’s parents in October and even bought a few for the children. Sophia and I decided to forget the cut-out frosted sugar cookies (which put me in tears every year as I have difficulty rolling out the dough) and bake something a little simpler for the neighbors.
My husband may not be a fan of starting Christmas before Thanksgiving, but if it means a few less tears from his wife, it may be worth breaking the rules. Happy Holidays and don’t be afraid to cut a job from your list when things get too stressful!

10 Tips to Avoid the Holiday Bulge

Thanksgiving marks the start of our holiday season (or it used to) and the start of holiday overeating! As we near the end of the year, you may start to think, “What does it matter if I gain a few extra pounds now? I can start the healthy habits January 1st.” What if you actually made just a few changes now to avoid the holiday bulge and form healthy habits before the calendar turns?

Here are my top 10 tips for avoiding the holiday bulge and getting a head start on the New Year:

1. Drink more water. The goal is to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water or at least 8 – 8oz glasses of water per day.
2. Stop eating at least 2 hours before bed. This is the recommendation of most health research; however if you just can’t do that, some new studies suggest that eating a protein snack before bed might boost your metabolism. Regardless, definitely avoid ice cream!
3. Eat the highest calorie foods earlier in the day. A big meal at lunch is a better option than a large dinner. 
4. Eat a minimum of 6 servings of vegetables a day. Color in your diet is important and vegetables are essential. Remember, 1 serving equals 1 cup - not one baby carrot!
5. Eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates (such as breads, cookies, crackers, etc). Protein keeps you full longer by sustaining your blood sugar while the body burns through the carbohydrates quicker, causing blood sugar swings.
6. Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol often leads to the munchies.
7. Supplement with a whole food multi-vitamin. Too many of us have gaps in our nutritional plan that need to be filled with supplements. A lot of times when we cannot seem to get full and are always craving something, our body is looking for a particular vitamin that is lacking in our diet.
8. Take Vitamin D daily. Recent studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin D while reducing calorie intake accelerates weight loss. It is also a significant immune booster – nobody wants to be sick during the holidays!
9. Exercise! A minimum of 20 minutes of cardio 5 days a week keeps the metabolism going. If you currently workout more than that, you need to stay at the same activity level to keep off the extra pounds
10. SLEEP! If you can’t sleep, you can’t heal. Our bodies require 7-9 hours of restful sleep at night to allow the growth hormone to kick in and repair our cells from the stress of the day. Not only does loss of sleep stimulate appetite, but it also increases cravings for high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Flu shot or not?

It is the time of the year where some of us have to decide, flu shot or no flu shot.  There are those that know without a doubt, “yes” while others opt out.  There are still those, however, that try to weigh the pros and cons of receiving the flu shot.  I am not writing this blog to decide that option for you, but instead, give you some of the reasons I use in making my decision.
Last year our family (4 out of 6) did get the actual flu, not the intestinal kind, but high fever and body aches.  We were all out for 24 hours and then took another 24 hours to regain our energy.  We did survive and were “no worse for wear” after the episode.  I know the fact that we keep our health as a priority; exercise, diet, and vitamins, got us through the illness without complications.
Originally, the flu vaccine was intended for the elderly, infants, immune compromised and healthcare professionals.  As the popularity grew, so did the demand for the vaccine and soon “everybody” was doing it.  Getting the flu vaccine does not guarantee you will not get the flu.  The vaccine is designed for the most popular flu virus the year before, plus 2 other strains, but it does not mean that will be the “bug” for this year.  I have a family member that gets the flu vaccine every year and happens to get the flu “every year”.  Now she does believe her symptoms are reduced by having the vaccine.
One of the biggest reasons we choose not to receive the flu vaccine is because of the ingredients.  If you go to the CDC website you can see the list of ingredients for yourself. 
There are some natural supplements and remedies on the market that are supposed to decrease your chances in getting the flu.  I have not tried them myself, so I do not know how effective they are.  One thing I do know is that I am going to be a lot more diligent on washing my hands and purifying the air in our office (we use essential oil purification) this year.  Like I discussed in two previous blogs, “Boosting the immune system can fend off back-to-school viruses” and “Vitamins and Supplements I recommend”, can help your body’s defense system.

In the end, I think it is important for you to make the decision you are comfortable with.  Whether you get the vaccine or not, nothing is 100% guaranteed.  The internet can be a great resource of information but be discerning with the information you are reading.   Always consider your current health status and don’t be afraid to do a little investigating on your own!

Shopping with My Son

When the weather got cold a few weeks ago we decided it was time to take out the winter clothes and pack away the summer clothes.  Because of the abundance of girls in our family we rarely need to buy clothes for them except for our oldest.  Sophia and Zach seem to grow very little - or at a slower rate than most kids - or I choose to ignore they are growing! 
When we got out Zachary’s winter jacket I noticed it was a size 6/7 and the sleeves went halfway up his arms.  The jeans were not much better.  Since the children wear uniforms at school, I seem to forget about the need for weekend and play clothes.  Actually, unless they complain or whine about clothes not fitting, I forget about it altogether.
So we ventured out to get Zach new clothes and now I remember why he has so little clothes.  Zach has very little patience for the entire shopping experience.  Unlike his father, who could spend hours looking at shoes, ties and shirt for himself, Zachary would grab the item closest to him and call it good enough.  Going into the changing room to actually try on the clothes is even worse!
I am not a fan of shopping myself so I see where Zachary gets his indifference for the shopping experience.  It actually drives me crazy when the girls need to go around the entire store to see every item and touch everything.  When I go shopping, I tell the sales associate what I am looking for along with the size and try on what they choose for me.  Of course, if the first few items don’t fit (meaning I need a bigger size) I call it quits for the day and don’t buy anything.
It only took 2 stores and less than 30 minutes (counting walking between the stores) for us to complete his wardrobe.  This included a winter coat, 2 pairs of jeans (which he thought was completely unnecessary), 2 shirts and a pair of pajamas.  Now compare that to his sister where we went to 5 stores just to get one outfit for pictures.

If Zachary continues to grow at a slow rate he may be lucky enough to only go shopping every two years.  Unfortunately, I think he may start growing at a greater rate.  Since I have 3 girls, 2 of whom are very particular in their clothes, I am going to rejoice that, right now, Zach requires a small wardrobe.

Security - what is your perspective?

My seven-year-old daughter came up to me the other day to share her beautiful Lego creation.  She went on to explain it to me, “Mom I built a church.  Here are all the people inside the church praying and outside are the security guards.”  The comment made me smile, but also brought to mind a reality that I had not even considered.  My daughter saw the security guards as a normal piece of the church.  We fear for our children’s future and what the world will become, but when you think about it, didn’t our parents have that same sense of fear for us as we grew up, and likely their parents before that?
When I was growing up, our biggest fear walking to school was getting caught by the old man as we crossed through his yard.  We rarely locked the house or car doors.    At the same time, drugs were becoming a little more common and we were being taught to “Just Say No” and to recognize “Stranger Danger”.  I understand that I grew up in a small town, so this may not be typical for others in my generation, but the general idea is that I felt safe while I am sure my mom was thinking, “What has this world come to?”
I don’t allow my children to play in the front yard when I am not home.  My 12-year-old daughter is only able to walk the six blocks home from school when she is with friends and she must call me before she leaves.  Even then, I worry that she will not arrive safely.  As I sit and worry about all of this, my children remain unfazed.

I know that as children we are definitely care-free and when we become parents, our children’s safety is at the forefront of our mind.  Have you ever thought that maybe it is also in the perspective?  Our children don’t know anything different than to keep the doors locked at all times, not to play in the front yard without adult supervision and definitely not to walk across town to a friend’s house.  They see security personnel at church, school, events and the malls as providing safety and not as the possibility of a threat.   I think we can all agree that times are changing and seem very scary, but each generation grows up in the world as it is and has no reference point for the way it used to be.  When our kids grow up, they will likely encounter the same fears we – and generations of parents before us – have.

The Challenges of Changing the Family Diet

My husband decided the family needed to go on a wheat-free diet.  We don’t have any health issues nor do we have a lot of extra weight to lose, but after reading the book Wheat Belly, Erik decided we should give it a try. I admit I am always trying new ways of eating, but I have never put the children through the same ordeal.  I completely understand the health benefits of eliminating wheat, but all I could think of was the added work in packing school lunches and dinner.  The ideal time, in my thinking, to have started this new way of eating would have been best during the summer, but he decided we would start the same week as school was beginning.  This meant no more hot lunches and saying goodbye to sandwiches.
Before we started, I was concerned about the kids maintaining their weight.  They are all pretty small, so they don’t have a lot of weight to spare.  The first week I was so worried about it that I supplemented their days with milkshakes after school!  I know replacing wheat with sugar is not wise either.
Emma announced to her friends at lunch the first day, “My dad has put me on a diet.”  Their response, “You don’t have any weight to lose.”  After that, I explained to my children that they may not want to use the word “diet” but a “new eating plan”.  I didn’t want their teachers or friends thinking we were starving them to lose weight.  Sophia came home one day and told me, “My friends think we eat weird things.” 
This new way of eating has been challenging at times, but I have become a little more creative with meal planning.  I made black bean brownies and skinny monkey cookies which the children had for breakfast one week.  We have tried kale chips, gazpacho, lettuce wraps (which the children really like) Italian chicken sausage vegetable pasta and banana avocado smoothies.  Last week Emma came home and said, “I just want to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!”  So this week I made buttermilk corncakes so the children could have PB&J sandwiches.

I am sure the less I grumble about the extra work this is causing me, the more the kids will begin to accept these new meal plans.  We have been staying wheat-free 80% of the time for a month now and no one has “died” - as Hannah was positive she would “die without macaroni and cheese”.

Vitamins and Supplements, I recommend

If you are anything like me, you can get overwhelmed when you listen to the list of supplements and vitamins you should take daily.  Pretty soon you have a pill box like your grandparents but filled with vitamins.  When parents ask me what supplements they should be giving their children, I recommend the same ones I give to my children.
The first supplement I recommend is the one I think can be the most important, especially during the winter, Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is a powerful antioxidant and is produced in the body through the sunlight we absorb.  Even though we live in the sunny state of Colorado, we generally limit our time outside because it is too cold, and when we are outside our skin is pretty well covered up!  Vitamin D is an immune system regulator that helps arm the immune system against the common cold and possibly reduce your chances of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
I generally forget about vitamin D during the summer but the week before school starts, I have the kids back on a daily dose.  I know that once they return to school the germs will fly and the chance of illness will increase.  This is the one vitamin that I am religious about taking myself and giving the kids.  The daily recommended amount is 600 IU, although we give our kids 2000 IU/day.
The next supplement I recommend is fish oil.  I know - all you think of is cod liver oil, Yuck!  Fish oil is an essential fat which is important in supporting brain and nervous system development, along with the immune system.  Our brain is composed of 60% fat, so it would make sense that by taking a fish oil supplement, our brain would thrive allowing for better focus, balanced mood and increased learning!  There are a lot of different types of fish oil so I know that choosing can be difficult!  Just make sure it is high quality fish oil as you do need to watch out for mercury and other environmental toxins in the fish.  The brands we recommend are third party tested.
Of course a multivitamin is always a good idea.  Most of us do not get in our daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.  Again, make sure you are getting a high quality vitamin.  Our rule of thumb is you get what you pay for!  We have some wonderful x-rays in our office that show undigested vitamins all the way through the intestinal system.  A whole food vitamin breaks down better allowing the body to absorb the nutrients.
A probiotic is also another supplement to consider if the child has issues with digestion or illness.  Probiotics strengthen the immune system by introducing good flora into the intestinal system – 60% of your immune system is in your gut.

There are so many other supplements that you can consider and it varies depending upon the child’s health.  Make sure if your children due have any health issues you consult their doctor before starting them on any supplements.  To be honest, I am not very good about taking vitamins so the simpler I can keep it the better!  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Help your children defend themselves again illnesses this winter

As the weather has turned and the children have returned to school, the first things that come to mind are snotty noses, sore throats and coughing!  It never fails that as the children return to school, the germ pool gets mixed and colds and stomach bugs begin.  The best thing we can do to help our children ward off these illnesses is raise their defense system by boosting their immune system.
The simplest things make the biggest difference when talking about the immune system.
1.        Sleep – Children, including teenagers, should be sleeping an average of 12 hours a night.  This number is more for younger children and slightly less for teenagers (9-10 hours).  Night time is when the body repairs itself and gets ready for the next day.

2.       Water – Ideally, everybody should be drinking a minimum of ½ their body weight in ounces of water.  For example, an 80lb child should be drinking at least 40 ounces of water.

3.       Sugar and processed foods – The more we limit the candy, soda, cookies, crackers, etc., the better our digestive system works allowing our immune system to work at a higher capacity.

4.       Increase your fruits and vegetables – I have found very few people that actually reach their daily servings of fruit and vegetables.  Even my children who complain that they are the “Only Children” at school that have vegetables in their lunch, probably still fall short 2-3 servings of vegetables.  Fruit is generally the easier one to reach but be careful not to eat too much fruit either!

5.       Wash their hands – I really am not a fanatic about touching public surfaces.  I don’t carry around a towel to open up doors anyway but I do insist the children wash their hands before they eat their after school snacks.

One of things I am pretty adamant about during the school year is making sure the kids are taking their daily supplements.  I am pretty lax about the vitamins and supplements during the summer but the week before school starts they are setting on the kitchen table next to their dishes and silverware.  I know a lot of people who come up with a pretty big concoction of supplements but I stick with 3 supplements in our house - Fish oil, Vitamin D3, and a multi-vitamin - the same ones I recommend to the patients in the office.  If my patients say they can only afford one vitamin, I recommend Vitamin D3.  I will talk about the supplements and why I choose the ones I do next week.

Children get sick and so do adults.  To completely avoid this from occurring is impossible, but we can help the body by building its defense system so hopefully we can get over it sooner!

Friday, September 27, 2013

I have had a lot of mixed emotions since the floods in Colorado. I feel very blessed that we have remained dry, but guilty that we still have everything - including running water. As I have talked with different families this week, I have realized many feel the same way. We are relieved that we are okay but almost unsure how to best help others.

I have had to limit my television viewing of the floods as I find myself getting completely absorbed into what is happening; the devastation puts me on an emotional roller coaster. On Monday night, I finally gave in and watched the newsreels play numerous pictures of the flooding over and over again. The severity of the destruction in Evans and the east end of Greeley was different than the picture of rest of Greeley. That night I could not sleep as I really was at a loss as to what I could do to help.

We have set up money and food collection for the Weld Food Bank at our office. On Wednesday, I took the kids to King Soopers to shop for the food bank. There were so many people at the store; most of them with items in their carts from the “Most Wanted” list. As the children and I headed to the macaroni and cheese aisle first, I was amazed at how empty the shelf was. I saw the same thing as we picked up vegetables, peanut butter, cereal, fruit and tuna. When I left the store I felt very little sadness but more pride toward our community for the support they were giving each other. In the past few days, I have seen food bank barrels at numerous businesses as well as drop sites for the Red Cross.

I know there may be some help from outside people in the coming months, but knowing how our community has stepped up to help their neighbors during this time fills my heart. What has certainly been a tragedy for many in Evans and Greeley has also showed the unity of our community. Just remember to keep watching out for your neighbors and helping whenever you can in the coming months.

I feel blessed to live in such a great community!

Friday, September 6, 2013

When the Baby of the Family Starts School

My baby, Hannah, is in full-day, every day kindergarten this year.   I won’t lie - I have been waiting for this year for a while.  I absolutely love and adore all my children and I love my time with them.  The reality is, however, I also needed more time in the office and I have found myself buried under work.  I knew that to get caught up, I needed to start working full-time and what little child wants to be dragged to the office for 8 hours or more a day, 5 days a week?
Hannah started classes the 21st and I DID cry that first day I left her in the classroom, but the following two days I kept busy at work.  When Monday came around, I could sense the loneliness setting in without my little sidekick.  Monday has always been my “volunteer” and “errand” day.  Hannah would go everywhere with me and never complain.  That Monday, I walked Hannah to the playground and became very reluctant to leave her.  I watched Hannah play by herself on the monkey bars and stayed until I knew she was safely in line to head into class.  I was positive someone was going to trample my little girl.  Later that morning, I was the library helper for Hannah’s class.  I watched her in class and kept thinking “She is just too little for kindergarten! What was I thinking?” 
I walked with the class back to the classroom and helped “herd” them into the lunchroom.  I made the mistake of going into the lunchroom where I saw Hannah fumbling to get her lunch containers open.  So being the great mother I am, I opened up her containers, grabbed a napkin and reminded her to eat her vegetables.  I am actually pretty embarrassed to have done that because I have always taught my children to do things for themselves.  Emma, my 2nd grader, ran up to me in the lunch room while I was helping Hannah and gave me a hug.  She then rolled her eyes and said, “Mom she is just fine.”  It took all my willpower to leave the school and not take Hannah with me.

When Hannah came home that afternoon I told her how much I missed her and that maybe she should just stay home with me.  I know - mistake number two!  Fortunately, Hannah replied, “I really like school, but maybe one day I can stay home with you.  Just tell them I am sick.”  As eager as I have been for my children to return to school, I have missed them greatly this week.  I thought I was ready for Hannah to move up in the world and start full-day school, but have struggled this week with my decision.  By the way, when I left the office on Friday, I was still buried with work that will have to wait for next week!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Helpful Advice from Older Siblings

Hannah, our youngest child, started kindergarten on Wednesday.  She has been anticipating this first day of school for a LONG time.  She actually was convinced she got to start kindergarten in January after I filled out the intentions for enrollment paperwork and was devastated to find out she would not start until after summer.  If you have any older siblings, you know how “helpful” they are in getting us prepared for school.  They not only help us learn our letters and numbers, but more importantly, they inform us about the teachers and what not to do at school.
One of the stories the siblings shared with Hannah was about the art teacher.  My children attend a school where there is a dress code and uniforms are worn.  One of the rules is that shirts must be tucked in.  According to my older children, if you do not keep your shirt tucked in the art teacher will staple your shirt to your pants.  Now I know (and they know) that he has never done this, but they wanted to make sure Hannah knew how important it is to keep your shirt tucked in during art.
After the first day of school, Hannah got in the car and was very quiet.  I tried to ask about her first day, but got very little response.  I wasn't sure if she was tired or overwhelmed, but I knew something wasn’t right.  Eventually, the only thing she said was, “I have art tomorrow and I am going to wear a dress.”  I told her that art sounded like fun, but maybe she wanted to wear shorts or her skirt tomorrow because the only dress she had was a jumper that would be much too warm.
When we got home, Hannah continued to be very quiet and would not eat her snack.  I sat down with her and asked again what was wrong.  This time she burst into tears and threw herself into my arms crying, “I don’t want to go to school again.  I want to stay home with you forever.  I don’t want the art teacher to staple my shirt to my pants!”
It took a while to get her calmed down and the entire time I am trying to stifle my laugh while the older children are interjecting with comments that are NOT helping the situation.  “He won’t staple you unless he catches you with your shirt untucked!”

Hannah did return the next day.  She wore a dress so she didn't have to worry about it coming untucked.  Dad introduced her to the art teacher and told him about the story.  That day Hannah came home and was so excited.  She informed the older kids that the art teacher is really nice and doesn't even own a stapler!  As her sister quietly whispered, “Yes he does!”

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Home Alone

My entire family (husband and children) was gone over the Memorial Day Weekend visiting family.  They left on Friday morning and Erik returned on Tuesday and I went to get the kids on Friday.  I have to be honest, I was less than thrilled about the time alone and felt sorry for myself.  I was positive this would be the worst five days and time would go so slow.  I tried to line up outings with friends and came up with a huge list to make sure the time would go by quickly.

The first day I worked in the morning and a friend, who I hadn't seen for 9 months, came by for a visit.  I was supposed to go out that evening to downtown Greeley but found myself exhausted and canceled the plans.  On Saturday morning, I still was feeling quite sorry for myself but after a great run with friends and coffee, I was starting to feel a little better about the situation.  I began my deep cleaning of the house that morning and took a break to meet with another friend for a couple of hours.  I noticed as the day progressed that the silence in the house was very welcoming.  I could play whatever music I wanted, I could watch what I liked on TV (Hannah, my youngest, generally controls the remote!) and once I had a room clean I did not have to worry about anybody messing it up right away!  I also got to eat when I wanted to and what I wanted and did not have anyone asking, "When are we going to eat? What's for dinner?"
After church on Sunday, I went on a 2 hour bike ride without having anyone ask, "Can we turn around? I am tired!"  By Sunday night, I no longer needed the radio or television to fill the silence.  My plans for the evening fell through but I found myself relieved to have the time alone.  Monday, I forgot my to do list and just spent the day relaxing and reading a book.  I could even complete an entire chapter without interruption!

In the end, I learned that some alone time is good for everyone.  It allowed me time to actually think without a bunch of background noise.  When the kids return, I know they will have a deeper appreciation of me as their Mom and I will be much more tolerable of the noise (even during a 13 hour drive home).  But it also reminded me that before long, the noise will disappear and be replaced with silence.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What I can learn from my tween almost teen

My oldest daughter, Sophia, is not popular in the sense of what society considers popular, but she is sincere and friendly.  Last year, she even remarked that she is not a popular kid, not even close.  She stated that she is what they consider the lowest rung on the popularity ladder.  And while she talked about it, there was not even a hint of sadness in her voice but a smile on her face.  Status does not matter to her, but good friends who have the same hobbies and attitude as her is what she values.  I look at the variety of friends Sophia has and it is amazing!  She has her friends from Chorale and friends from school.  She has other friends from the church youth group and a good friend from her daycare days.  The interest of her friends also varies, some like to sing and act, while others are very good athletes, some prefer to watch a Harry Potter marathon while others prefer High School Musical.  I watch Sophia jump from one group of friends to another at school, never getting caught up in the drama.  If there is drama or a friend is upset with her, she moves on to another group until the argument is over.  As she has gotten older, I have yet to see her come home upset about what somebody has said about her.  Sophia is not the best athlete, but she continues to try sports - even when she comes in last, she still has a smile on her face.
So I am wondering, if my daughter - who is possibly going through the most challenging times in her life - can be so carefree, why can't I?  As adults we want what others have.  We need to be friends with the popular people to elevate our status.  Personally, I am always concerned about what others think about me.  Not only that, but I cannot stand to finish last.  After finishing the Boston Marathon last year, I was embarrassed with my time as I did not hit my goal.  I told my husband he was not allowed to tell anyone my time.  If they wanted to know they had to look it up.
I am thinking that if I start to live for me and stop trying to impress everybody else, life may become a little easier.  I might be able to enjoy life and not feel so stressed all the time.  I think it is humorous that I am learning this lesson from my teenage daughter!  Sophia, I hope that as you grow and mature you continue to live life for you, and know how proud we are for the light you shine into the lives of so many people!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Moving On and Moving Up!

After 6 years of serving as a monthly parent helper, I had my last day a week ago.  I announced that day to Hannah that I was the Mommy helper that day and this would be my very last "preschool" helper day ever!  I went on to say that I would be a Kindergarten, First grade and Second grade helper but never again a preschool helper.  I am not really the sentimental type.  I cry because I am proud of my children, but I don't generally cry as my children move on and up to their next phase of life or milestone.  When Hannah was a baby and quickly growing up and going from one milestone to the next,  I wouldn't get all teary-eyed that I was losing my baby - I knew it was a fact of life that kids grow.  I never cried as I sent my first child or the next 2 to kindergarten.  I actually felt pretty bad as a I saw the rest of the moms crying and I couldn't squeeze just one tear out.  While I was watching the kids practice the bells for their program that morning the tears came. The more I tried to stop them the faster they came.  This reaction was very puzzling to my daughter as she kept glancing over at me wondering what was happening.  The realization of it all was finally setting in, whether I like it or not, my children are moving on and up in the world!