Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kumon Lobby Girl No More =(

Chloe has struggled in school since 1st grade.  Part of it was due to an eye tracking problem (, but I know that the other part was because we were all going through a lot of changes at the time.   We did a year of eye exercises with Dr. Damon White in Edmond and it fixed her double vision and other tracking issues. By third grade, she was on an IEP and she really struggled in class with math and reading comprehension.  After a conference with her third grade teacher, I goggled "tutoring programs in Edmond" the first hit was Sylvan (which turned out to be very expensive) and the second hit was "Kumon".

I called Kumon and took Chloe in for testing and signed her up.  At first I was confused because it was not a place she could take her current work and get help.  I quickly learned that it was a program that was based in teaching children to be independent learners. They started Chloe off with 1st grade work and we discovered she had a lot of gaps in her learning from back in 1st grade in both math and reading.  Every Tuesday and Thursday she went to Kumon for one hour and the other days we did Kumon packets at home. After a month of Chloe being in Kumon and I could see her confidence rising and understood the long term effects that Kumon could have. I really wanted to enroll Allie because she was about to start 1st grade but I knew I could not swing $450 for both of them to attend each month. I was taking a class at the time called "Christian Family Finance" with Kent Hartmen at OC and I remember him talking about asking people about exchanging time or work for services when you could not afford something or if you had a talent you thought someone could use. So, I got up my courage and asked the owner if she ever did exchange work for tuition.  She asked that I set up an interview and I filled out a application and attached my resume. It went well and she graciously let me clean, pull work, run errands, transcribe, and organize. I was still in school at the time so I knew I could not work a lot but I could work while they were there doing their Kumon.  Then when I graduated in December of 2009 the owner asked if I could be the "Lobby Girl" (Answer phones, billing, scanning, convince and teach parents how to grade their child's Kumon, make sure no child dials 911 on the phone in the lobby, listen to kids about their day, their dreams and goals, laugh at all the funny things the kids say, learn about the different cultures the kids at Kumon represent and assist parents in their questions and concerns) on Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30-7 and the girls could stay with me while I worked and do their Kumon, homework, "help out", and hang out until I was finished at 7:00 p.m.  I loved working in the lobby (most days) and I learned so much from the wonderful owner about business, computer programs, being a boss, accountability and compassion, and how to be a better mom. However, with Chloe going to middle school next year and they fact that Tuesday and Thursday we would leave the house at 7 and not get back until 7:45, and that the girls could not participate in sports, or participate in school activities I made the tough decision to step down as the "lobby girl". I will miss it sooo much but I am happy that the owner has agreed to let me go back to working the hour the girls are there and occasionally when there is something needing done.  I really do not know where my girls would be without Kumon.  Chloe is now almost caught up to grade level but more importantly she is an independent learner. She will look at a problem and work really hard to solve it by looking at an example or using what she knows to figure out what she does not know.  Allie has never struggled in school and is working above grade level at school. She just started reading Island of the Blue Dolphins this week and she hasn’t even started third grade.

They love their Kumon family and it has been great for them to also have little jobs like sharpening pencils and stocking the Kumon store.  I hope they learned beyond the math and reading that Kumon is an amazing opportunity to help them in life and that the sacrifice of our Tuesday and Thursdays for a year and a half  has been for their future and success in life. 

This was taken at Chloe's 1st Kumon Awards
This was taken the begining of June 2011 Allie worked really hard on this test!

Lesson Learned: Do not be afraid to ask, the worst thing someone could say is no.
This is one of my favorite Kumon kids Mr. Clay Baynes!
There is not a day he has come in that he has not made me smile!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Living to Eat........Eating to live???

I am one of those people who rarely feels full and uses food to: celebrate, comfort, punish and numb myself.  I am defiantly a person who struggles with "living to eat"! 

Since I was about 12 years old I have battled my weight and eating habits.  I had a someone in my life that always commented on my weight by saying things like "your not as fat as last time I saw you!" The summer between my 5th-6th grade years we moved to the country and my mom went back to work.  I am a city girl at heart and loved "1st place" and playing outside with the kids on the street.  That summer I gained 30 pounds before starting 6th grade. I was teased throughout middle school for my weight and the bus ride was torture for me as one guy would moo at me when I got on the bus because I had to turn sideways to get down the isle.  When I was in 9th grade I got mono and dropped the 30 pounds and guys started to be interested in me.  The summer between my 9th-10th grade year is the only summer I can remember feeling comfortable in a swimming suit.  Throughout high school I struggled with my weight and self image because to others I appeared normal but to myself I always felt overweight and uncomfortable in my own skin.  When I got pregnant with Chloe I gained 80 pounds ( I don't know if I thought I was going to give birth to an 80 pound baby or what!)  I struggled for years to get that weight off!  I ordered things off the TV and went to weight watchers and had a little success but always went back to eating excessive amounts of things like pizza and burgers looking back now I can see that during those times of binging that I was also struggling with depression. 
I ended up going to a weight loss clinic where they gave me pills that really took the weight off but I am sure they were not good for me as I had to take another pill so that I could sleep because the "Doctor" said that if I just took the weight loss pill then my heart would race and I would not be able to sleep. When I was pregnant with Allie I only gained 30 pounds and that came off pretty quick but I was still 30 pounds over a healthy weight.  I was taking a lot of anti-depressant medications at this point and my marriage was falling apart.  After my marriage did fall apart coupled with the stress of single motherhood and a divorce, the weight started to fall off me.  I joined weight watchers again to keep loosing and was doing yoga everyday.

But after about 5 months of doing that and feeling better about my body a professor at OC came up to me and said "Oh! Your Jennifer Neilson! Your not fat and ugly! I heard you were fat and ugly and that was why your husband left with someone else." It was like everything I was thinking in my head was being said out loud!  From that day forward anytime I went over my weight watcher points I would purge my body.  Some weeks it was just once a week, others it could be as much as 5 times a week.  I have 2 year and 5 months of recovery in this area now but in that time I gained 35 pounds.  There was no way I could healthy be at the weight I was (which I still felt "fat" at that weight) and I think for a long time I felt like a failure and gave up because of that. I finally came out of denial, weighed myself, and set a new and more realistic goal.

I wish I could be one of those people who say they do not care about the number and just want to eat healthy and be active (and I do want those things) but at this point in my life honestly, I DO care about the number I have just adjusted that number.  In the last year I have become more aware of my emotional eating and have tried to be more in the moment and feel my feelings.  It is defiantly a one day at a time journey for me and every morning before my feet hit the ground I ask God to help me make healthy food choices and for awareness when I am stressed and trying to run from my feelings by stuffing them down with pizza, burgers, ice cream, or some other unhealthy food choice.  I also feel that right now in this journey I need to write everything down that hits my lips so that I stay out of denial about what I am REALLY eating and WHY I am eating. I tried to do weight watchers again but it was just to painful because every time I went over my points I was panicked and was fight the urge to purge again. My fitness pal has been great for me because it is a "one day at a time" program and if I do want a treat I know what exercise I do need to make up those calories.
I have become resigned to the fact that I will probably always struggle with food and eating but when I can break it down to "one day at a time" perspective I feel like I can deal with it.  This time around it has taken me a lot longer but I am down 9 pounds and feel like I am on a healthy track to be at a healthy weight and for once take exercise seriously! I feel like have started the journey to shift my thinking to "Eating to Live!"

Lesson Learned: I will always have an appreciation and love for food but I do not have to eat because I do not feel loved, like a failure, when I am hurt, or when I am just sad. It is OK to feel all of those things and when I binge eat doing those times... I only punish myself and those feelings are still there along with extra weight and I feel even more like a failure.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Scottish Blessings!!

When I moved to Scotland when I was 18 I never realized the connections and relationships that I would form with people there would impact my life the way they did.

Today I was reminded of what a blessing the girls grandparents (Ronnie & Mary Neilson) have been and are in our lives. They have always been amazing grandparents and a huge support to me in the 15 years I have known them. I know a lot of people speak about how technology is ruining our society but facebook has become a great way for us to communicate and for them to keep up with what is going on in our lives.  I feel so blessed that we have been able to keep a great relationship through everything and that the girls know, love, and feel loved by these great individuals!  They will always be my family and I am so thankful for their friendship, understanding, and patience they have always extended to me.  They have been there through some of the toughest times in my life and loved me through them. 

Today we spent the day together and went to the Tulsa Aquarium!

This pic was taken at Me and Misa's wedding!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Big Bertha & Our Family's Camping Adventures: Robber's Cave June 2011

Misa has always loved camping and after attending a hunting show he has been looking at campers off and on. I'll be honest, I have never been the outdoors girl so I was a little worried if I would like it. We had been to several different RV dealers and had looked at high end campers and used ones as well but even the used ones were more than we wanted to spend. Then we were driving home one day when I saw one sitting at a car dealership and so we stopped to look.  It was a great price and had everything we said we wanted (a bed up front for us and bunk beds for the girls)! A couple of weeks went by and Misa was talking with the dealer and got an even better deal on it for us.  It has always been a tradition in our family to name our vehicles and so "Big Bertha" became ours on Tuesday June 14th!
We rented a carpet cleaner and Misa cleaned all the upholstery and the little carpet it had in it.  He had to fix the toilet (I am so blessed to be married to an engineer that can fix almost anything!)  I washed all the curtains and walls.  We threw away the old mattresses and added our own. It took us 3 days to get everything cleaned!

The kids were gone with their dad for a vacation and so we decided to take a little camping trip ourselves to see how everything worked! We headed to Robbers Cave!
Everything on the camper worked great except for the hot water and one side of the kitchen sink leaks because of a crack. It was great for Misa and me to get away and be together without constant phone calls. We cooked outside and made great food. Misa taught me how to play Honduran poker. The biggest thing we did was go on a 3 hour hike!
Although I slipped on a rock about half way through the hike and did something to my hip, I did enjoy hiking and felt very accomplished when we finished!  Oscar was a trooper and did the entire hike with us and I think he enjoyed camping as well!

I was very pleased that I enjoyed camping so much and I cannot wait to take the kids! I am so excited to be with them with little distractions and making memories.

Lesson Learned:  I am so PLUGGED IN to my phone and technology that sometimes it is good to UNPLUG and be more present and less distracted in my marriage, my kids, and my life.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oscar the Boxer...

I had dogs growing up but have never really been a dog lover.  Misa started suggesting that we get a dog when we bought a house and I was very reluctant because I thought that I would probably be doing most of the work. I told Misa that I wanted a short haired dog so he decided on a boxer.  He found a breeder in Yukon and took me to see the one he thought we should get (his name Tracker at the time).  I liked him right away and was a little more excited to get a dog. 
This was the first day I met him! He was 1 month old!

We had to wait one month before he could come home. We didn't like the name they had chosen for him and so we went online and looked up "famous boxers" and settled on Oscar after Oscar de la hoya!  We decided to keep this from the girls so we could surprise them. They were with their dad the first weekend we got him so we had a day with him before they came home.  They were so happy and excited!

This was taken the first day he was home.
I liked Oscar but I wasn't crazy about him yet. The day after we got him I had a miscarriage and was devastated to say the least. Oscar stayed right next to me and snuggled up right next to me the next few days as I recovered. I was so sad so it was really good to have to have to get out of bed to take care of him and take him outside a lot.  I really believe God brought me comfort and healing through him. Since then I have become one of those "crazy dog" people. He has done some crazy things like eating a box of Kleenex and a bottle of Ibuprofen (which required his stomach to have to be pumped) and a lot of people have been less then excited about our chose of bred but I like that he HAS to be taken for a walk everyday and that boxers are such a lovable bred.  He follows me to every room in the house. He is a snuggler and I love snuggling with him every morning after Misa goes to work for a little while. He loves going to the dog park! Last time we went he met a pit bull that was the same age as he was and they wrestled and had so much fun although they ended up in the mud!

In the four months we have had him I have grown to love him soooo much and I can't imagine my days without him! I know we got him for the girls but he is definitely a mama's boy!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Hannah More  was from England in the 18th and 19th century. She was a huge star with tons of money and connected with all the right people.  But she became friends with John Newton (Amazing Grace, former slave trader).  She became a follower of Jesus.  Her desire for fame no longer fit her spiritual life.  She retired with severe asthma and bronchitis.  Listen to what she wrote about suffering:

"Affliction is the school in which great virtues are acquired and in which great characters are formed.  It s like a spiritual gymnasium in which the disciples of Christ are trained in robust exercise, hardy exertion and severe conflict.  We do not hear of military heroes in peacetime, nor of the most distinguished saints in the quiet and unmolested periods of church history."

She believed that adversity was ACTUALLY a sign of God’s love and care.  And through PRAYER we begin to understand that.  She wrote this:  “If a surgeon were to put his scalpel into the hand of the patient, how tenderly he would treat himself.  The exam would be skin deep.  The incision would be slight!  The patient would escape the pain, but the wound might prove fatal.  The surgeon therefore wisely uses the instrument himself.  He goes deep perhaps, but not deeper than the case demands.  The pain may be acute, but the life is persevered...God graciously does this for us Himself because otherwise He knows it would never be done.”

- Part of a lesson by Jeff McMillion

Friday, June 10, 2011

This has got me through a lot!


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
--Reinhold Niebuhr
Lesson Learned:  I can't and do not have to fix everything and everyone. Meet people where they are.  Embrace one day at a time living. Live in the moment. 
Favorite line: Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace! I feel like that sums up where I've been and where I can, sometimes am, and strive to be. =)
Reminder today:  I do not want someone to remember me for the worst thing I have ever done. My heavenly father does the opposite and calls me to do the same. God has extended massive amounts of grace to me and calls me to do the same.
Remembering all this and doing all this for me is journey filled of peaks and pits. So glad I only have to tackle it one day at a time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mommy & Allie "STAYCATION"

Since Chloe was off to camp for the week, Allie and I got to spend some good quailty time together. We cuddled up in my bed most mornings and watched TV. I bought and cut her up a watermelon (her FAVORITE food ever) and it was gone by Thursday!

I also tried to plan something special each day.

MONDAY:  We went for snowcones and then Allie went to swim with her cousin Jake and spend the night!
TUESDAY: Allie took a test at Kumon that she worked really hard and did 40 pages of review over the weekend. She rocked the test and only missed 3 addition problems & 1 subraction problem.
We went to get ICE CREAM to celebrate her acheivment!

WEDNESDAY: We picked up her bestie Ms.Jazzy and went to McDonald's
And then we went Pelican Bay for a funfilled swimming day!

After Jazzy left (she doesn't do water over her head or where she could possibly go under) we headed back inside Pelican Bay and we went down the waterslides a few times together which was crazy fun.

Also on Wednesday we made our own popsicles! This was a favorite childhood memory I had making with Ms.Karen! We made them the exact same way that I made them with Ms.Karen by using koolaid.

THURSDAY: When Allie woke up I let her have one of the popsciles for breakfast that we froze overnight!

Then I let her pick a place to go eat lunch so we went to jimmy johns!

For dessert we headed to Braums and I let her get a "big" ice cream cone (not a juinor one) even though she only ate a junior amount. haha

I enjoyed my time with just Allie this week! I will be sad next summer becuase she will be old enough to go to camp. =(  BUT I am happy for that experience for her. Tomorrow Chloe is coming home and I know one little sister that CANNOT wait for her sister to come home becuase she is planning a welcome home sign for her. =)

What I have learned:  I am so happy to be emotionally connected to my girls. For a long time I was just trying to do all the "HAVE TO'S" and survive life that I missed out on the enjoyment of my girls.  I need to take more time to do little things like make popsciles and go down water slides!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chloe is off to Quartz Mountain!

Today I sent Chloe to Quartz Mountain Christian Camp.  Last year was her first year and she was nervous and wanted me right next to her until she left.  Today she was far from that anxious girl and she is so excited to be in the youth group.  I did get a quick hug and was able to whisper "stay out of the drama" (something I was ALWAYS in the middle of when I went to church camp). She has a great friend in the youth group and I am excited to pick my exhausted girl on Friday and hear about her 2011 church camp adventures.   Little sister is jealous of all the new adventures that sister is getting to participate in that she is not included in (up until this point those instances have been few and far between).  A lot of change lies ahead for Chloe this next year and my prayer for her is that this next year is a smooth year of transition and that she can talk to me when it is not.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I promised myself when I finished school that I would start a blog becuase I LOVE reading other people’s blog’s and thoughts. Especially my missionary friends around the world! So we will see how this goes! =)