Monday, May 8, 2017

1 in 4

I always thought I was the happiest girl in the world. I was sunshine and rainbows in any room I waltzed into. The minute the boys were born, that all changed.

It's not to blame them--they are the greatest gifts I have ever received. However, my body and mind were just...different. I felt sad all of the time. I felt like I was going to be abandoned by my family. I worried about every little thing. My brain just wouldn't shut off.

"You are the worst mom ever. Why would the universe ever give you twins? You can't even handle it."

"Your family is burdened by you. Stop bothering them."

"You're fat. You're worthless. You don't deserve the life you have."

These were actual thoughts that would persevere and take over throughout the day.

I never talked about it, because to talk about my depression would make me weak. I never asked for help, because that would look pathetic. Instead--I endured these thoughts for THREE YEARS.

I read countless blogs about postpartum depression, and chucked it up to me feeling this way from having twins instead of one. I told myself my hormones were just out of whack. I told myself my body would adjust.

After dating Christopher for about two years, we both started noticing my constant worry and the fact I would easily snap at the smallest of events. We had a lengthy discussion about it, and I finally turned to my OB/Gyn to discuss what had been going on.

My mother, grandmother, and sister have all been on Celexa. I asked the doctor if this was the right choice for me, and she agreed.

THE FIRST DAY I TOOK THE MEDICINE, I RETURNED BACK TO THE SUNSHINE. I RETURNED BACK TO THE RAINBOWS. What on earth? I thought these types of meds were supposed to make me numb and dull?

I tell you what, guys. Celexa has given me my life back. I enjoy the small moments I giggle with my children. I enjoy that I am worry-free. I enjoy that I am back to myself.

I wanted to share my story to break the stigma of taking medication for mental health. Listen to your heart and mind. If it feels off, it's off. Talk to your friends and loved ones about it. One in four people experience mental health issues. Let's be there for one another and encourage strength to ask for help.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Baseball Moms

As you all may have seen, Arthur and I placed the boys into their first season of t-ball. I signed up to be Team Mom after our coach sent out an email pretty much begging for volunteers. I figured dance team was coming to an end for the year, and I love building a sense of camaraderie.

After the boys' first practice, I slowly realized this was going to be stressful.

No, it's not the scheduling.

No, it's not the constant communication of texts and emails I have to send.

No, it's not the time involved.

It's the other moms. Yes, the Anthem Hills/Green Valley moms.

When Christopher and I first moved to Seven Hills, I felt like I finally had "made it". We live in a beautiful area with some of the best schools in all of the valley. I am grateful every morning for the life we lead.

We both also teach in very low-socioeconomic areas. I'm fully aware of the type of environment my students are raised in. It has humbled me, and helped create even more empathy in me than I knew was possible.

Because of this. I was caught off-guard by the way a lot of mothers spoke when I met them at the first practice. I wish I could re-enact for you the way their shrill voices sounded.

For example, there's another mom on the team with twins. This was an actual conversation we had--

Me: When were your boys born?

Her: Well, twins are typically born prematurely, so their actual due date was in November, but they were born in September. So, we celebrate in September, obviously.


Me: Are yours identical or fraternal?

Her: They have to do blood work for that, so I don't officially know. What I can tell you is that they had separate placentas, but it was a very thin divide, so who knows? What about you? Identical?

Me: Fraternal.


The next mom appeared sweet, and was sitting alone, so I figured I would sit by her and hopefully make a friend.

Her: Is that LulaRoe that you're wearing?

Me: Yes! (oh my heck, am I making a friend?!)

Her: Oh. It's such an internet trend now. It'll more than likely die out soon, don't you think?


My third and final attempt with a mom during that practice.

Her: Hi, you're the team mom, right?

Me: Yes, I'm Jessica! Nice to meet you.

Her: I saw that email coach sent about needing one. God bless you for doing it. I'm just SO BUSY with all of the kids at home. Good luck to you!


Me: We could always use extra help in the dugout! You can enroll online to get your badge so we can have more adults helping the little ones!

Her: You know, I'm okay. Let me know if you need money for the banner or parade.

I listened to other conversations amongst the women that evening, and the following day at the next practice. It was mostly conversation about the schools their kids attend, the awards/activities their kids participate in, or the businesses their husbands work for. I felt like I was in a movie.

I may sound like a whiner, but I cannot handle these uppity-nose-in-air-moms who seem to only care about themselves and their own. I have complained about this to Christopher and I've come to realize that it's the true working class that gets things done. I may live in this zip code, and I'm assigned to this team because of where I live, but I will never forget the true meaning of humility, teamwork, and empathy. I never want another person to feel like I've one-upped them. I never want to have a conversation where it feels competitive. It's just senseless.

So...I'll stick to the dugout this season. Anyone on the team that wants to get their hands dirty with me will be appreciated. Welcome to the grey-collared life, friends. WISH ME LUCK, AND PLAAAAAYYYYY BALL!

P.S. I'm not nervous about any of them finding my blog, because I will never befriend these people on social media. And if they do find this blog, and don't find me funny, then they suck even more. :P

Monday, February 13, 2017


It happened! Christopher and I are engaged!!! I will be Mrs. Houchins on Friday, October 27, 2017. I have my dress, the venue, and a wedding planner all set and ready to go...I kind of jumped the gun...let me explain...

During winter break, I expressed to Chris that I wanted to be married in 2017. We picked the date together because it's Nevada Day, so we will have the day off from work. From there, I told my mom, and things got a little crazy! We visited the Bridal Spectacular, and I became overwhelmed with how much there is to do in such little time. I technically wasn't even engaged, but wanted a wedding within ten months.

Every single venue at the show was booked for the date I wanted.

We met a couple of ladies running a booth called 2 Vegas Chicks. They completely eased our minds, and told us they were wedding planners that could keep within a frugal budget. I booked a free consultation, met with them the next week, and we will definitely be using them for the wedding planning.

Later that week, I booked a tour to view Legends Ranch. I instantly fell in love with this place. Christopher loved it too. I also have wedding planners that are at my every beck and call, which is AWESOME SAUCE. All I have to do is tell them my ideas, and share the ideas on Pinterest on a secret board. Best money ever spent, folks!

So, yes...we did things a little backwards. I knew Christopher would be proposing, but I didn't know when or how. On Fridays, we usually eat pizza together as a family. Chris offered to pick up Blaze pizza, so I was super stoked. We got the boys settled with their slices, and turned off the television for family dinner. Chris suddenly said he needed to check the mail, and was smiling, so I figured he was excited about potential Pokémon cards in the mail. He walked inside with an envelope with no address on it. He handed it to me and said, "Hmm this doesn't have an address on it. You should open it."

Like an idiot, I argued that it was illegal to open mail that wasn't addressed to us. Finally, he just said, "Open it!" Inside I found pictures he had taken holding signs asking, "Will you marry me?"

I began UGLY CRYING so hard. It was just so simple and sweet and involved my boys as witnesses. He got down on one knee and proposed with the most perfect ring for me. The boys exclaimed, "You're married now!" Atticus also got to practice proposing with the ring and ring box.

I couldn't have asked for a better proposal, a better fiancé, or a better family. I am truly blessed. Thank you all for the lovely congrats messages! We love you all.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I Have What?

It is nearly two in the morning, and I'm wide awake due to a bad cough mixed with my brain going a mile a minute. Let me explain what has been going on for the past few weeks. I have been having stomach issues and weird flare-ups where it felt like my stomach was being stabbed from the inside. I finally convinced myself to see a doctor, and even then I felt stupid for going. I convinced myself I was crazy and I was wasting the doctor's time. She asked many questions and took some blood work for me to scan it for allergies and other tests.

A week goes by, and she uploads to the portal online that everything came back fine on my initial lab work results, and to stay tuned for allergy panel. At this point I'm thinking I'm such an idiot, and everything was in my head. I cancelled the referral appointment to the gastroentologist. Then yesterday I get three message alerts on the portal. To make a long story much shorter, I was diagnosed with celiacs disease, my immunoglobulins are low (meaning I have been making my immune system weaker from eating my allergy), and I can no longer eat gluten. 

I stared in horror at that word: gluten.

Suddenly, images of all of the food I love popped into my head. 

Delicious bread
Flour tortillas
Breadsticks from Olive Garden
Crackers! Graham crackers! Teddy grahams!

And many many more. 

Then an even worse thought came to my head--I've been making myself sick my entire life. I always thought my digestion issues were normal. I never thought there was anything wrong with going to the bathroom after every meal. Why did I wait so long to get checked? Why didn't someone diagnose me sooner?! 

I'm still in the stage of shock about all of this. I have started researching A LOT about what should be changing in my diet. I know I need to permanently change, because the risks of my health are too high. 

I look forward to sharing my life with Christopher. He immediately said, "Alright, let's do this. We are eating gluten-free." I. JUST. LOVE. HIM. 

I encourage you all to share stories if you are going through something similar. Share recipes with me, or even offer advice as I begin to navigate this new lifestyle. 

Love you all! 

Friday, September 2, 2016

You Can Do Anything, But Not Everything

This week has been exhilarating, uplifting, and exhausting all at once. I come home every day so mentally drained. I know Chris is feeling it too. We are like zombies at home! Cooking dinner when I get home helps me to decompress and focus on one small task instead of juggling a million things while I'm at work.

Many have asked me how counseling is going--I absolutely love it. I feel like it allows me to truly get to know the students. A lot has been thrown at me in the course of one week, but I think I'm picking it up quickly, while learning and improving at the same time. 

I am excited to announce that I will be taking over the Mack Middle School Dance Team. I am working on a way to get these girlies some stellar uniforms. Many of our students do not have the funds to do the extracurricular activities that I grew up doing. I remember coming home with my dance team packet, and my mom just writing large amounts on checks for my sister and myself. It was as simple as that. Sadly, these girls do not have that luxury. Fundraising is an option, but again, the demographic we would be selling to isn't going to be purchasing an exorbitant amount of items. 

I want the girls to feel special. I looked at the box of uniforms they have worn the past few years, and it made me so sad. I want them to have sparkles! And harem pants! And combat boots! I want them to look and feel like a team. I may even set up a gofundme or other fundraiser through social media. I'm telling you, these ladies deserve to feel good while they perform. 

Like the title of this post states, "You can do anything, but not everything." I've repeated this phrase to myself this week. I start the day with a list of things I want to accomplish, but other items get tossed at me while the day progresses, and I'm left with an uncompleted list of to-dos. That's okay, though. I am human, and I'm in a job I absolutely adore. I'm raising brilliant, hilarious, and stellar kiddos. I'm dating a wonderful human who puts together bunk beds even when he's half-asleep, or cooks dinner and reheats some for me when I come home from a late-night work event.

Life is wonderful, and I'm riding its waves daily. Remind yourselves that you cannot do everything. Set goals. Repeat daily affirmations. Smile. 

Ride those waves, readers. Have a wonderful and relaxing three day weekend! I know I intend to. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

"We Grow Humans"

I have been insanely inspired about my career as of late. I give 100% credit to my administration for that. They energize us. They engage us. They care about us and our well-being. They know that if we are all taken care of, then we will carry that over to our students this school year. I wish all people understood this concept.

We hear it all of the time to "be kind". There's even a week dedicated to it at most school sites. But why is it that most adults cannot model this? Kindness really is contagious. It's an actual chasm or energy that spreads like wildfire. I feel it when I'm on campus. I see it as teachers walk by with smiling faces. If someone is not smiling, they look like the outsider. It was the complete opposite of this at my other school, and I'm sure many other educators and people in various workplaces experience it. It starts at the top and trickles down. However an administration acts is how the workplace will reciprocate what is being received. The concept is really that simple!

This begs me to ask the question of HOW bosses around the world do not get this kindness concept. Were they never employees before? Shouldn't that be one of the first lessons learned in an administration program? Who is teaching our administrators? Shouldn't they remember how teachers feel, considering they were once teachers themselves? It seriously blows my mind. I feel so sad for teachers across this nation that are villianized and uncared for.

One of the first moving statements my principal said aloud to us during a staff development day was, "Our school motto is 'We Grow Humans'. It's as simple as that." WOW. I was floored! No tracking data? No raising test scores? No higher numbers in accelerated courses? Nope. Simply care about other humans while being a good human. BINGO. It seriously brings tears to my eyes as I type those words. We simply GROW HUMANS. Take note, administrators. This woman should be ruling the world.

Oh, and first day of school procedures? Sure, we have them. But we were told our first priority is to ensure every student feels WELCOMED onto our campus. Education is about building relationships! Not shuttling cattle. Gah, does it get any better than that?!

Anyways, I'm jazzed to grow some humans this year. They need love. I've been loved by my bosses, and I will continue to spread that love on to my 6th grade babies.

Love you all. And to all of you teachers out there--go grow some awesome humans this school year.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Destiny Shaped By A Decision

Hello, friends! I know it has been two years since I've blogged, but a lot has happened in the past two years that has deterred me from it:
  1. I fell in love and have since created a life with another human being
  2. I became heavily involved with job hunting as Christopher and I had decided to move to Ohio
  3. The boys were surprisingly more needy with sports classes and daily park trips

So, let's chat about what has happened! My boo and I had trouble landing any positions in Ohio. It was brutal. We job hunted for a total of 6 months, yet we could barely get interviews. I even interviewed for a charter school and a small, farming community school, but was offered NOTHING. At this point, we had signed our paperwork saying we were leaving the district, so my job had been filled at The Hill. Christopher was lucky because his position was still available, and his paperwork was redacted. I ended up having to reapply for the district, which was one of the most devastating experiences. I had felt like a failure. Like I had given up on our dream of moving.

Then one day, my former-English-teacher-now-middle-school-principal messaged me saying she could find me a home. I was so elated. I knew this was going to be a huge challenge, but I was ready for something entirely different from what I had done the past five years. I was originally hired as a 7th grade English teacher, and even began planning with my team over summer.

By the end of June, I found out a counselor had left the new middle school I would be at. I immediately knew I wanted to jump on that opportunity, so Roxanne gave my name to her AP, and I was interviewed by all of the administration. I'm telling you guys, that interview was simply amazing. They asked tough questions. They asked emotional questions. One of my answers even made me tear up. I was embarrassed, but I also felt open to them all. Oh, and these people are the KINDEST HUMANS YOU WILL EVER MEET. They told me in the interview, "We hug here. I hope that doesn't bother you." I didn't believe them at first, but it's true. They hug and it's utterly fantastic. 

Fast forward the following week, and I was on speaker phone with them. I was offered the counseling position! Since then, I have felt like the door being shut on Ohio (for now) was the universe opening a big ass window for me. I am so thrilled to begin this new chapter of my career. There's still a chance I could be back in the classroom teaching (depending on count day numbers), but I'm just happy to be at the school I am at. 

My first few days as a counselor have been a whirlwind. The majority of my job this week and next week is scheduling. Holy heck, I never realized how intense creating schedules is. My eyes bleed by the end of every day, and each schedule I look at feels like a sudoku puzzle. Essentially, I play tetris as my occupation. Haha well, that's just for now. Once the teachers and students report back, my job will contain even more responsibilities, but that's for another blog post.

Many of you have asked about my office decor, so I wanted to show you some pictures and tell you where you can find these items. 

It's a bit plain for me this year, but it works for now! I'll definitely add to my walls as the year progresses. Here is a close up of the office supplies:

My favorite items are the Kate Spade stapler and tape dispenser! Here are links for purchasing on Amazon: Stapler and Tape Dispenser. If you're itching to have them now (like I was), go visit Paper Source or The Container Store at Town Square. They carry Kate Spade office supplies too!

Close up of the stapler that reads, "keep it together"

"make it stick" for the tape dispenser

The mouse pad and small mason jar holding paper clips were from Target. 

The paper clips were completely unnecessary, yet adorable, so I HAD to purchase them. 

The Container Store has awesome office supplies and amazing colors/styles of paper clips. If you're looking for trendy paper clips, click here. I also purchased the copper wired pencil cup there too!

The "I Am Very Busy" folders and watercolored notepad were purchased at Paper Source. I am completely OBSESSED with this store. Everything is too freaking cute. 

The Ribba frames above my bookshelf were purchased at IKEA. I ordered the foil prints from a trendy custom-print shop on etsy. Check her stuff out here
These turned out fantastic. I'm very pleased!

I am not very pleased with the tassel banner for my bulletin board. I spent a pretty penny on etsy, when I could have made something better myself. At least I saved some time? 
Crooked, but I'll fix it another day. Preferably when I'm not in a dress or skirt at work. 

My wardrobe closet is magnetic, so I hung up a ton of my Polaroid photos from Photo&Go at the Linq. You can attach magnets on the back to hang up in cool places. I also held onto senior announcements of students I'm still close with. 

My least favorite part of the office is this:

I figured I could have more post-its available, and students can vent their thoughts or spread kind words on the cork boards. I'm more than likely going to fix this up sooner than later. SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME!

I'll end with my Wolf Pack wall, because I love looking at my college memories. 

Alrighty, so that's my life as a brand new counselor! Stay tuned. I will not be posting any details about the job as to not break confidentiality with students/parents/coworkers etc. BUT I will always keep you all updated about my life in general! For example, I need to leave to go wipe a child's butt. Like he's literally handing me TP and bending over. Here's a reenactment: