Mom Things - Happy 4th of July (a wee bit early)!!!

It's Wednesday again.  I have to admit this is one of those weeks where I am wishing my life away.  I will be out of town this weekend, and most likely skipping on Flashback Friday (again).  Try not to be too disappointed.  (winkety wink)

Hate to be all brief, because that's SO out of character for me, but I'm uber-frazzled and just trying to keep my head above water.

Without any additional verbiage between here and there, I give you the Mom Things -

All of your daughter's drawings (whether the subject is you, her, or a cute little bunny) have two things in common:  (1) They look like jellyfish/amoebas/octopi, and (2) They make you smile.

After frantically getting the kids ready to go one morning, you make it as far as the lobby of the daycare before your daughter throws up.

At this point, your juggling skills are put to the test as you successfully carry a sick three year old, a squirmy one year old, and all of their loose Monday morning accoutraments (blankets, extra clothes, a sippy cup, and a bottle) that you didn't have time to put into a bag before you left the house back across the parking lot to your car.  These are the moments that make you feel like Superwoman.

You understand the seriousness of your daughter spilling an entire can of tomato sauce on her blankey at 10 minutes till bedtime.

While slightly quirky, you think your one year old's obsession with her belly button is cute....until it transfers over to her wanting to see everyone else's belly buttons.  There's something less cute about her lifting your shirt and bearing your belly to the world.

Your three year old ate every bite of this and then got sad when the waitress took the bowl away -

...on the heels of a carnivore-for-an-older-brother, this rendered you completely speechless.  And proud.  (Consumption of lettuce in any form - even that of a caesar salad is a success in this household.)

Despite having 31 choices of ice cream varieties at Baskin Robbins, you have at least one child who opts for vanilla.  Every time.  (And usually ends up having to share with his more adventurously choosing little sister who, ultimately, after a few bites of hot pink ice cream with bits of bubble gum in it, decides that she likes vanilla better.)

Every once in a while you feel one of those phantom kicks in your belly, and it instantly takes you back to the time when you were carrying those babies around whilst all sweaty, achy, constantly peeing, and sleep-deprived.  And it almost makes you want to do it all over again.

After your thirteen month old uses your shin as a step stool to climb onto the coffee table, you realize that with each successive child these adventures start a little sooner.

You have walked into your baby's room to find her crib completely empty.  After images instantly and furiously flash through your brain of someone coming into your house and stealing her out of her bed in the wee hours of the morning, you look down to see her happily playing with some toys on the floor.  That's when you realize it's time to upgrade to a toddler bed.

If I'm not back, hope you all have a Happy & Safe 4th!

Happily linked up and sharing this post at...

I'm not perfect, but that doesn't make me a failure. (Does it?)

It has been a whopping five days since my last post, and I can feel my skin starting to crawl from the inactivity.  Just kidding.  My skin is starting to crawl because I haven't had a shower in a week.  Just kidding.  I'm just having a more scatter-brained than normal experience here lately and I can't seem to find the energy, motivation, or wherewithal to do anything on top of that which is absolutely necessary.  Just kidding?  (Unfortunately no.  That last part is true.)

[Because I'm random, if you want some seriously funny "Just kiddings" check out Kristen Wiig as Judy Grimes on SNL.  Here's a link, but there's no telling how long the video will be active.]

So what was I talking about again?  See.  I'm a mess these days (or maybe I always have been and I'm just now noticing it). 

I've talked about successfully forcing myself to "let go" of some things.  You may remember these pictures of the laundry room.  (Warning:  The following may be completely overwhelming to view.)

Of course, it's hard to truly determine what constitutes success when it comes to letting go.  The "problem" is that not one day after patting myself on the back for achieving "let go" status, I set up the ironing board for a marathon ironing session that got rid of all the clothes hanging on the doorknobs and the molding, and even a few from the overhead rack above the washing machine.  Because it was making my skin crawl.  I couldn't sleep thinking about all of those clothes hanging in there waiting to be ironed.  I couldn't bear to do any more laundry because I knew it would just end up being added to the hanging purgatory of un-ironed clothing.  Needless to say, the hamper was running over.  There were piles of dirty laundry on the bathroom floor.  And all I was doing was averting my eyes.

There has to be some kind of balance between this so-called letting go and my typical reality.

My reality and true problem is this - I have an All or Nothing mentality.  If I can't do it all and do it perfectly, I don't do it (nor do I want to).

I was driving in my car the other day, and I heard a commercial on the radio about this very topic.  I have no idea if it was some kind of public service announcement or if they were actually trying to sell some sort of product, but the gist was this:

Being perfect doesn't work.  Looking at life like this means there are only two options:  perfection or failure.  And since no one is perfect (and never will be), this means that those of us who strive for perfection end up feeling like failures.   

All of the time.

I am sorry, but that is just not acceptable.  I don't want to live like that [anymore].

I have always had the desire to do things well.  And if I can't do them well, I not-so-subtly opt out of the activity.  The list of these things-at-which-I-don't-succeed has grown over the years.  There's skiing, drawing, conversing casually on the phone, playing basketball, understanding time zones/time changes, almost any kind of right-brained activity, and (most regrettably) cooking.

I'd like to say that I've had some sort of big epiphany, but it's not so much that as I just don't want to live life feeling like a constant failure anymore.  That sounds a lot more dramatic than it really is.  I'm not down in the dumps or anything.  But I am relentlessly hard on myself, and I'm giving myself permission to screw up from time to time.  From here on out.  I've accepted that I will have failures, but fear of them is no way to go through life.  Failure is part of growth.  And by eliminating things from my life, I am robbing myself of potential joy.

Like learning and loving the seemingly right-brained art (that is also a left-brained science) of photography:

Like coming in 70th in a 5K:

Like even attempting to use a sewing machine to make a present:

There's untapped potential in there.  I might not be the next David Muench, Kara Goucher, or Amy Coe, but how can I know unless I give it the ol' college try?  I'm nothing more than a quitter if I tell myself "I can't."  And that's not the example I want to set for my kids.  I can.  I will.  And at the very least, I will try.

Next on the list of things-I'm-not-automatically-good-at-so-I-automatically-hate is cooking.

I'm a terrible cook....or am I?  Maybe I just haven't spent enough time up to my elbows in cooking oil, vegetable peels, and spices.  Maybe I made one bad thing when Sam and I first got married (peanut butter chicken in the crockpot - BLECH!), so I wrote off cooking...for the rest of my life, apparently.

I am eternally grateful for a husband who cooks (and cooks very well I might add), but traditional gender roles aside, I want to be able to cook.  I don't want to dread this necessary part of life because I've told myself I'm not good.

Geez, when I put it down in words it sounds ridiculous.

This is where you come in, readers.  Help me become a better person and a better cook.  What are your sure-fire, go-to, not-too-difficult-for-a-novice recipes?  I need encouragement...and a starting point.  I'm counting on you!

Thanks, as always, for reading and letting me drone on and on about my own personal brand of crazy.  I hope one of you can relate.  And if so, I'm letting you off the hook.  We're in this together.  Here's to putting aside self-doubt, having new experiences, and discovering new passions!  There's so much to this life - let's not miss out!

Mom Things - 13 Minutes Early

Because I got to ten 13 minutes before Wednesday.  And by golly, I'm posting them.

How to Know You're a Mom...

You keep spare socks in your car (or even worse, in your purse) on the off chance you'll end up at an indoor playground on a day when your kids are wearing flip flops.

You also, at any point, have carried around spare underwear for your potty training children - in your purse.

Because you carry things like spare underwear and spare socks around in your purse, it's no wonder you feel like and look like your town's newest bag lady.  For real, this is my purse, it's only slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island...perched painfully on my shoulder (so big that it doesn't even fully fit in the picture):

You have an entire shelf in one of your cabinets dedicated to plastic kids' cups from restaurants.  (You'll see this cross-posted on "How to Know You Dine Out Too Frequently", should I ever decide to write one of those.)

You confess to not listening when your son chooses to enlighten you with Power Rangers trivia.  (Because - No, I didn't know that the Red Ranger and Black Ranger morphed backwards in time and did a quadruple back-flip in Power Rangers Time Force.  And I don't really care.  Because Power Rangers are lame.)

You've pretended to be riotously amused by knock-knock joke after knock-knock joke.

You think your baby might be up for an Academy Award for her performance after being told, "No, Sarah!  Don't hit the laptop!"  (This one is best expressed with pictures...)

You used to cringe every single time your kids would drop a matchbox car (or do some other ding-worthy type thing) on your genuine hardwood floors.  Here you are four years into the living in the house, and you realize there is such a long list of things "to be repaired" once the kids are older that you've ceased to care about a few dings.  It's character, baby.  (And that's what rugs are for.)

You pride yourself in knowing exactly which sippy cups leak and how badly, which causes you to pause and ask yourself, why do you still have the leaky ones?

One of your greatest moments in life as a parent (and maybe even prior to then) is when your child learned how to buckle his or herself into their carseat.  Not sure why, but it shaves at least 5 minutes off of the time required to get on the road.

A lawnmower tire & tribute to Dad

And only with my dad would it be possible to tie those two things together.

I'll admit, it's a little bit of a stretch.

You see, "repair or replace the tire on our riding mower" is item #12 on my infamous list.  After my dad tried helping me "repair" it with fix-a-flat back in April and that didn't work, we opted to just go buy a dang tire for the thing. 

The riding mower is a hand-me-down from my in-laws and I am so grateful for it, lest it sound like I am complaining.  But... the riding mower has been a thorn in my side for about a year now.  The back right tire wouldn't hold air.  The battery wouldn't hold a charge.  So, getting the thing started took longer than it did to mow the entire backyard.   The ordeal began with hauling the gigantic, bulky, and a little bit heavy air compressor from the garage to the shed in our backyard so I could pump up the tire.  I had to do that in order to be able to push the lawnmower up to the side of the house where I could jump it off with either our car or with our new battery charger.  By the time I got it started, whomever was napping had undoubtedly woken up, and all I'd accomplished was getting it started and (if I was lucky) one or two laps around the yard.

My ears are turning red just thinking about it.

I'm happy to say that the battery has been reconditioned and the tire has been replaced. It now rests happily in our little shed (amidst lots of little tree frogs that my eldest so enjoys catching) just waiting for it's next jaunt around the old yard.

It might seem untimely that I chose to chronicle this as part of a tribute to my dad.  In fact, it might be a little.  But, strange as it may sound, the lawnmower fiasco reminds me of him.

For the first 16 or so years of my life, my dad used a push mower that was in disrepair, not unlike my present riding mower.  It was a yellow thing, smeared with oil, held together by pieces of electrical tape and duct tape.  Just like most things in our house, there were tricks to getting it to work right.  If you held your face just so, stood on your head, and clapped (for example), Old Yellow might start on the sixth or seventh try.  My earliest memories of him involve sitting by his side, handing him various tools as he fixed our ancient station wagon or devised some way to lock the outside attic door from the inside of our pantry using nothing but wire and a big bolt.  Macgyver has nothing on him.

That's just how my dad is.  He's a no-frills kind of guy.  He's about function, not fancy.  Long before Larry the Cable Guy coined the phrase, he was the embodiment of Git 'Er Done.

He is most likely the reason I'm a no-frills kind of girl.

That's not the only attribute I owe to him, surely.  There's the love of crossword puzzles and other brain teasers, the appreciation for musical theater, the dent on the top of my right earlobe, and the very fact that my ears turn red when I'm stressed out or angry.  There's the preference for any and all breakfast meats, the square shoulders, and those quirky behaviors like looking for patterns in obviously random locations.

My dad always has been and always will be my greatest role model.  He's one of those unique people who possesses both book smarts and common sense.  He is the living example of so very many admirable traits that seem rare at best these days.  In the interest of brevity, I will now defer to list format (because I can't write a single blog post without doing that, apparently).

Lessons I've Learned from my Dad:
  • Bring your family up in church.  The Bible is not wrong when it says, "Train up a child the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
  • Don't buy anything you can't pay cash for.  (Sounds a lot like Dave Ramsey, huh?)
  • Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  (I don't know anyone with a stronger work ethic than my dad.)
  • It is okay to shed tears.  He doesn't do it often, but it always moves me when he does.  Seeing a big burly man like him with tears in his eyes is a healthy reminder to me that it's okay to cry.
  • It's even better to laugh.  My dad's favorite mediums for laughter are old sitcoms (Cheers, Seinfeld, and Wings) and "stupid" comedies (Dumb & Dumber, Airplane, and Hot Shots)
  • Confrontation is a last resort.  (So maybe this isn't ideal, but it's how he does, and in turn, how I do.  This is probably how we have both achieved "doormat" status.) 
  • If you can help others, you should.  My father is the most generous man I know and gives his time, resources, and talents to just about anyone who asks of him (and also to those who don't).  
  • Marriage is sacred.  And marriage is teamwork.  My parents will celebrate their 29th  anniversary this December.  I never once remember them arguing or discussing finances in front of my sister and me, and I know that's not because those things didn't happen.
And truthfully, that barely scratches the surface. 

I am blessed to be able to call this man "Dad".  I'm thrilled to see him truly relaxed, reveling in the retired life, and enjoying his grandchildren.

I have a feeling there are many, many others who have been blessed by knowing him. I hope, someday, people will say the same about me, and if I aspire to live like him, I know they will.

This concludes my day-late Father's Day post.  It's only fair since my Mother's Day post was a day late too.  I hope that everyone cherished their fathers & husbands-turned-fathers.  For those of you whose fathers are no longer with us, I shed a tear with you yesterday as well.

And, of course...

Happy Summer!

(From Central Georgia...
where we all know "summer" starts sometime around the end of April.)

Flashback Friday - When he became "Dad"

I feel moderately really guilty about Father's Day.  Just a month ago, I dedicated an entire weeks worth of blogs to Mother's Day, and here it is the Friday before the big day and I haven't even mentioned the F-word yet.  There are lots of good reasons for this:
  • I'm not a dad, and we all know my sun rises and sets on me.
  • I'm way too busy talking about other [increasingly random] things.
  • I'm trying to pretend it's not just a couple of days away because I (still) don't know what to do for a present to show my gratitude to the most amazing father I know - the father of my children.
  • It is impossible to buy gifts for the father of my children, so I procrastinate about it for as long as is humanly possible.  (I think I'm doing pretty well.  See, I'm good at some things!)
I waffled over whether to flashback this Friday to my own childhood and remember all of the memories with my own father or to showcase the man in my life that everyone always knew would make a great daddy.  For now, I'm choosing the latter...and spinning it as a portion of his Father's Day present (along with unraveling the 2-foot diameter bundle of cords in our hall closet, isn't that good enough?).

Unlike myself, who never knew what kind of mother I would be or even if I truly wanted to have kids, Sam was destined to be a father.  He was the one with all of the babysitting jobs growing up, while I preferred to make a couple of dollars cleaning houses.  There was no kid-watching challenge he couldn't handle.  When we were dating, he would tell me about his experiences with all of the children he'd cared for, and I was in awe.

"You watched someone's six kids!?  At one time!?" 

"You helped potty-train a child that wasn't even your own!?"

"You kept other people's kids overnight?!"

I would watch him interact with kids, and it made me fall in love with him even more.  And, to be honest, it also made me a little bit jealous.  He just had "it".  And by "it", I mean the trait that enabled him to be a natural around kids.  (I surely did not have "it".)  They liked him.  They flocked to him.  Even more impressively, they listened to him.

When it came time for us to welcome our first into the world, naturally, I was a nervous wreck.  And just as naturally, Sam was excited, poised, and more than ready to take on the role.  (If he was nervous, he sure didn't let on to anyone, myself included.) 

On September 5, 2003, we met our little Benjamin.  (Well, he was 8lbs 14oz, but he was still little to us!)  And while it took me a while to realize that I was, in fact, a mother, Sam stepped seamlessly and with gusto into the role of "daddy" (even if we did look like we were 14 years old).  

And everything I needed to know about parenting, I learned from him.

It brings tears to my eyes thinking about what an amazing father he is.  And I hope that I don't ever take it for granted that he has, from day one, changed diapers, rocked colicky babies, shown me how to hold gassy babies, encouraged me throughout the trials of nursing, known the right thing to say to stop a toddler from crying, the time and place for distraction versus discipline.  He has played both good cop and bad cop as the circumstances required and sometimes entirely on his own.  He knows how to evoke a laugh from the grumpiest of children by knowing all of their tickle spots.  He reads books with funny voices.  He even remembers to give them every dose of their prescription medicine when they've got (most commonly) the recurring ear infections.

He does it all.

It has taken me a while, but I've stopped being jealous, and I've started being proud.  I'm so proud of the man that I married.  I am so proud of the father that he is and was always meant to be. 

When we were dating he told me he would love to have a big family.  Six kids, even.  While I thought he was crazy then (and I still do, a little bit now), I finally understand why someone would want to surround themselves with children.  They are God's most precious gift to us.  And Sam figured that out years before ever having one of his own. 

Despite living in a time and place where, with each passing day, the value of a father figure is becoming less and less cherished, I am blessed to be able to say that my very own better half has set an excellent example of what it means to be a husband and what it means to be more than just "a father" - what it means to be a dad.

I love you, Sam.  We are all so grateful for you.

Happy Father's Day!

In closing, may we all - dads and moms - remember that our children are only little for a few blinks of the eye.  I hope we all cherish these moments.  It won't be like this for long.


How to Know You're a Mom...Wednesday Again!

The top of your refrigerator is not just for jumping off of (you decide if that's a joke or not), it is also where all of the confiscated toys that have been used inappropriately (mostly as weapons) are banished before mysteriously disappearing.

Your children have a propensity to spill an entire sandwich baggie full of shelled peanuts on the garage floor, break a beaded necklace on the tiled kitchen floor, or drop anything else that requires the use of the vacuum cleaner to prevent your one year old from feasting on tiny bits as you head out the door (a) when you're actually on time for once, and (b) when you're the latest you've ever been.

You feel a little bit guilty for not realizing sooner that all of the wooden pieces that were stacked precariously by your creative six year old on your work-in-progress playground project were actually nothing but hazardous projectiles sitting there waiting for the perfect opportunity to fall on said six year old's head.


You subsequently discovered that your son's hair is so thick that it is impossible to ice top-of-the-head goose eggs.  After twenty minutes of sitting in a recliner with a baggie of ice on his skull, his scalp was still hot underneath that mop of hair.  (I guess we can give all of his knit hats to his younger siblings, clearly the hair is doing a good enough job.)

Every once in a while your bird-of-an-eater daughter cleans her plate without objection.  And when this happens, you totally take her picture.  (And vow to make chicken tacos at least once a week.)

You don't actually hate Barney.  In fact, you greatly appreciate Barney for his part in your childrens' blossoming intelligence.  

Thanks to Publix and their free cookies for kids, you find that instead of complaining about having to go, they ask to go to the grocery store.  Not only that, but by saving the free cookie for the end of the trip, you have an excellent bargaining chip to hang over their heads the whole time.   (i.e. - "Stop touching each other or I'm going to eat your cookie.")  It's a can't-lose situation.  Thank you, Publix.  From the bottom of my heart.

Despite repeated attempts to convince your three year old they're called "servers", she still refers to all waiters and waitresses as "Kitchen Boy" and "Kitchen Girl".  

You are willing to bet that 100% of your one year old's accident reports at daycare involve her running as the reason she got injured.

You panic when you discover your three year old's bed empty in the middle of the night, only to find that she has been sneaking into your six year old's empty bed while he's off for a week at Grandaddy & Grammie's house.  In reality, you know she's probably doing it because he has flashlights and other cool things to play with in there, but you also like to think it's because she misses him.  And that's sweet.

The Worthiest of Causes

I know that becoming a mom made me lots of things.  It made me a milk factory, a nurser of wounds, an encourager of dreams, a maid, a referee, a broken record (I mean really, how many times do I have to remind my kids to go to the bathroom before we leave the house?).  The list goes on and on.

But there's something else that being a mom makes me.


I am touched more deeply than I used to be by stories about broken homes, ailing families, homeless babies, sick children, and what I can only imagine is the ultimate sadness in the life of a parent - the death of children.

I am a part of a large online community of moms that have impacted my life in a huge way.  I never imagined that I could develop close friendships in an online setting, but I am here to testify that it is indeed possible.  (Though I suspect some of you reading this will have your doubts.)  I have come to think of these women as confidants, best friends, family I've never met.

Through these many interactions and developed friendships, I have borne witness to countless joys.  The births of babies, milestones, brag-worthy moments in the lives of our children, job promotions, new homes, new marriages...just to name a few.  But I have also been by the sides of many who have experienced pain from severed marriages to the death of parents to miscarriages at various stages of pregnancy to the death of precious newborn babies at the hands of horrible diseases.

I have been blessed with three healthy babies.  And every time I read a story about the loss of a child, I am reminded of that blessing.  I try to imagine the pain that those parents must be feeling, and I know that I can't.  Not even when I am moved to tears and sobs.  I know it's not even a fraction of the grief they must be experiencing.

Earlier today at We Aren't Perfect, I read a beautiful, heartwrenching blog post about the worthiest of causes, the TEARS foundation that provides support for bereaved parents.  I encourage you to check out both of those links, and to consider donating in the form of money, prayers, or by sharing this with others who might be moved to help out.

To the parents who've suffered losses, my heart and prayers go out to you.  May you find some comfort in that God knows exactly how you are feeling.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,  shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Thank you, as always, for reading!

I will be back tomorrow with some more of this stuff:  How to Know You're a Mom

Choose Your Own Adventure

I was reminded of this book series the other day.  Just the mention of it brought a smile to my face, along with a rush of warm fuzzies.  I loved these books. 

For some reason, when I was a kid, it seems that we only ever went to the library in the summertime.  (Most likely for the summer reading program that awarded us with our very own personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut, but I digress.  Already.)  I was a huge bookworm when I was little.  I'd walk into the library, hang a right, and pour over the shelves grabbing the next four or five books from all of the series I was reading:  Nancy Drew, Babysitter's Club, Fear Street, and the highly exciting Choose Your Own Adventure series.  I'd finish all 10+ books in less than two weeks and return for more.

I could talk about the merits and/or drawbacks of sitting inside all summer reading by the air conditioner vent, but that's not what this blog is about.  (Not today, anyway.)

It's just that the more I reminisce about this little book series, the more the sheer genius of it hits home.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, as the reader, we were in control of the fate of the characters.  After the basic plot was set up, the protagonist was faced with a decision to make that would be something like, "If you decide to go down the waterfall in the raft, turn to page 3.  If you decide to paddle back to shore, turn to page 4."

There would be a lot more choices before the story concluded with finding a big sum of money/saving the day/getting lost in the jungle forever/dying a gruesome death. 

Youth literature in the 80's and 90's was hardcore.

The thing that gets me now, as I think back on this delightfully exciting book series, is that it's just one big analogy for this life.  Life is nothing but a series of choices...start to finish.  And regardless of the choices we make, it's one big adventure.  No doubts about that.

Occasionally, I've wondered how life might have played out differently for me if I'd have chosen band over sports in high school, if I'd chosen to stay in state for college versus moving 800 miles from home, if I'd chosen to take one of my other job offers instead of the one where I am today, if we'd stayed in our last house, if we'd chosen a different daycare for our children.  The thing is, it doesn't matter.  You can't flip the pages back if you don't like the outcome of your choices.  Sunshine or gloom, it's our adventure.  The difference between these books and real life, though, is that we don't have to wait for a crossroads to make a choice.  If the adventure isn't going the way we planned, we have the power to make a choice right now.  

For me, I'm absolutely thrilled with where my decisions have gotten me.  I also know that I was not alone in making those decisions.  In fact, the times in my life when I had the hardest decisions to make were the times I had the most peace, because I prayed, heard, and actually listened to what I was hearing.  I believe God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.  I believe the Holy Spirit speaks to me in the form of gut instinct.  It's a powerful thing and, so far, hasn't steered me astray.  There have, however, been times when "my gut" told me the right choice, I ignored it, and, as a result, I ended up in a pickle.  ("A pickle" is just a more fun way of saying "a really crappy place".)

But the choices are unending; some significant, some seemingly insignificant, some truly meaningless.  Tonight, I choose to go home and enjoy my little girls while their big brother is off having some Grandaddy time.  I choose to try to convince my late-working husband to grab a bite to eat with me so I don't have to cook.  Tomorrow, I will be faced with more choices.  Maybe some of them will be quite serious.  Maybe they won't.  But the fact is, those choices, all of them, are what make up my adventure. 

Here's hoping I choose wisely. 

And just maybe I'll manage to have a little bit of fun along the way!

Flashback Friday: Hotter than Georgia Asphalt

You might be familiar with the Alan Jackson song "Chattahoochee" (then again, you might not).  No matter, either way.  There's a line in the chorus that goes....

Went down yonder on the Chattahoochee
It gets hotter than a hoochie coochie
We laid rubber on the Georgia asphalt
Got a little crazy, but we never got caught 

Apart from the apparent obvious and wildly inappropriate definition (in the realm of my family-oriented blog at least) of a hoochie coochie, I've learned that the hoochie coochie was actually a provocative dance made popular at the World's Fair in the late 1800's.  Slightly less risque, but along the same vein as the inferred meaning. 

And since I'm quite prudish I'm electing not to talk about that any further.

I will mention another phrase in that chorus.  That's right.  The Georgia asphalt. 

If you haven't spent a summer in the South (or some other place that's ridiculously hot), you can't really appreciate the significance of hot Georgia Asphalt.  I've never tried it, but I wholeheartedly believe you could fry an egg on it.  Shoot, you could probably fry an egg on the white, concrete sidewalk.  Despite my penchant for going around barefoot, regrettably, that isn't an option down here in the summertime.

I just walked outside to my van from my office.  As I opened the front door, I felt a burst of sticky heat that made me want to retreat back inside where the air conditioner is doing its darndest to keep up.  It's not terribly unlike the feeling when you're baking something and you open the over door to peek in at it.  Actually, that's an almost perfect analogy.

I'm sorry.  I'm dwelling on this.  Heat and humidity of this magnitude makes me grumpy. 

Really, when the heat index at 8pm is one degree shy of 100, that's just wrong.  And this isn't even the hottest, most humid day in the imminent forecast. 


At least my kids don't seem to mind it as much.  Maybe there is something to being born down here.  Perhaps heat tolerance is a product of your environment, and it's just going to take me some more time.  I have definitely gotten better (though you can't necessarily tell from my habitual whining about the subject).

Sure they get red cheeks and sweaty hair, but they still opt for outdoor play over inside play every time.

Here are just a few "flashbacks" of some of those hot, fun moments.  There was that time last summer when we took our babies for a walk on the hottest day yet, in mid-July.

And got back from it looking like this:

Then there was the most beautiful, albeit "warmest" wedding we'd ever attended a month prior to that, where my gorgeous kids were the ringbearer and flower girl dressed in full wedding regalia...and nary a peep was heard from them about the heat.  (But it might have helped that Abby employed a battery-operated fan mid-ceremony.)

After the ceremony was over, a clever Daddy cooled his girls off by sitting on the a/c vent inside (with a little help from Uncle Simon and his cardboard box fanning action).

Then there was the recent school fundraiser/fun run, where it wasn't necessarily hot but insanely humid, and my big man ran his little heart out.

And following in the footsteps of her older siblings, here's my precocious one year old playing outside just last night without regard to the temperature, donning the pink cheeks just like her big brother and sister.

I guess as it turns out, it really doesn't matter what the temperature is because you can have fun anywhere if you look for it, right?

And plus, we have one of these...

And you can never get too big or too old to take a dip in a baby pool.

May you all have a happy, cool weekend.  And try not to stress (like me) if your forecast looks a little something like this:


Pretty Soon...

I remember being a passenger in the backseat of my parents' car, listening to them as we drove along reminiscing about the time when the sides of this road and that road (pretty much every road) "used to be nothing but trees and fields".  I never really got why they were reminiscing about that.  Really.  What did I care?  Now we had a fast food restaurant, a Target, and a movie theater.  That's progress, baby.

Now that I'm old (like my parents were when I was little - ha!), I finally get it.  I appreciate the value of an empty field, a pecan grove, and a ramshackle barn with no other buildings in sight.

I don't know if this happened because I've witnessed a lot of growth in my lifetime, so I've seen what-used-to-be fields turn into hotel parking lots.  Or if it's because I moved to the South where they still have vast areas of untouched space, and I kind of like it.  Or maybe it's because I'm just getting older and you start to reminisce about anything and everything as that happens...even empty fields sowed with soy beans.

Don't get me wrong, I am a suburban girl, through and through, and I don't truly see that ever changing.  I like my conveniences a little too much.  In fact, when we moved here from our last home, I lamented the fact that the 24-hour grocery store, Walmart, and Lowes were no longer only a mile from our home.  They were a whopping 10 minute drive instead.  (Seriously, there were almost tears.)

But in the four years we've lived here, they've built a 24-hour grocery store and Lowes within a 5 minute drive of my house, and I have a feeling Walmart is not too far behind.  (I don't even like going to Walmart (and rarely do), but that doesn't seem to stop me from wanting one near my house.)

We chose our home based on lots of things:  school zone (primarily), price (of course), and location to conveniences (a big one for us).  Proximity to work was part of the location factor. 

One of the charms of living where I live is that I have a measly 10 minute commute, on local roads, with minimal traffic.  I would even go so far as to say that I love my commute to work.  Depending on the time of year, and the route I choose, I get to travel on some of the most scenic roads in my little suburban town.  In the springtime, the curvy roads are lined with dogwood trees, cherry blossoms, and azaleas.  In the summer time, the fields are lined with corn and soy beans plants.  In the fall, those fields are full of pretty, little white puffballs (don't let them lie to you, I still think cotton is king down here!).  I pass multiple pecan groves next to which people pull their cars over so they can steal pick up some of the delicious nuts off the ground.

It doesn't hurt that there's one of these on the way to my office either:

Another factor that played into location was our proximity to the interstate.  Our house is barely a mile as the crow flies to the interstate, but no more than a five minute drive.

I know this isn't desirable for everyone, but I love it.  (I'd say "we", but I don't want to speak for my country-born-and-raised husband.)

Basically, all my life I've been a big fan of "progress" and "forward thinking".  I've always been a fan of living in the middle of relative hustle and bustle.  I've never really wanted to live in a city, but also never in the country.  Long story short, I love my suburbs.

I never stopped to think much about it until we pulled this tattered, old book off of the bookshelf to read at bedtime the other night:

This book was written in 1942 and won the Caldecott Award in 1943.  Guess it goes without saying that it was written before my time, and yet the message is timeless.  Let me give you a little synopsis.  (It might be prudent to tell you that I will indeed spoil this book, so if you don't want to know how it ends...don't look ahead.)

It starts with a little house on a hill, built sturdily by hand, and deemed "Never Sellable" by the builder.  It must remain in the family for all time.

It goes through the seasons, illustrating the beauty of spring, summer, fall, and winter from the vantage point on the hill.  It can even see the city lights off in the distance and wonders to itself what it must be like to live there.  One day, some surveyors come by, and "pretty soon" they've built a road right next to the little house.  (Feel free to click to enlarge, the illustrations are amazing.)

A few "pretty soons" later, the little house finds itself in the middle of not just a road, but a booming urban area complete with skyscrapers, subway, elevated trains, roads, and people too busy to even notice the little house as they pass by it.  Until one day, a family does stop...because the woman recognizes it as the house where her grandmother used to play.

So the family decides to have the little house checked out and after receiving a "Good as New" rating, they rescue it from the grips of heavy urbanization.  The effort tied up traffic for hours as they jacked it up and hauled it off in hopes of finding the perfect new home for it.

And then they found it.  The perfect little spot on a hill. 

Finally, the little house was happy again, and it no longer wondered about the city.

Clearly, this is a very biased, very strong commentary on urbanization.  Obviously, I know people who love living in cities.  I know people who love living in the country.  Me?  I love living somewhere in between.  But what got me about this book is the fact that things change.  

"Pretty soon."  

Pretty soon, I might not be able to see the corn and cotton growing on the way to work.  Pretty soon, those pecan trees might be nothing but a memory.  

Pretty soon, I realized that "progress" isn't necessarily so great.

You see, those fields of corn & cotton, and those groves of pecan trees...lots of them have these in them:

There's no telling what the future holds for my commute.  I have a feeling it will have something to do with this "progress" that I have held so closely to my heart for so many years.

One thing is certain though, my kids will hear my "I remember when's..." from the backseat of the car.  

They already do.

A (Not So) Shameless Plug

Last week, I posted a Braggity Brag about being spotlighted on my friend Sarah's blog

This week, she's hosting a giveaway!  So I'm encouraging you all to go over and check it out, if you would be so inclined.  Sarah's beautiful daughter served as the model for *her* friend, Sarahbell's Etsy Store.  Her stuff is gorgeous! 

(That's a lot of Sarahs, but it's a wonderful name, if I might say so myself.  And mine is a completely unbiased opinion.)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

a mom by any other name would smell as happy...or tired...but she's still Mommy

And here are some tell tale signs that you are a mom...

You've gone to a circus, watched a bunch of little men and women do bizarre things with their bodies, and at any point in time thought, "That's nothing.  (Insert own kids name here) could totally do that too."

You've passed some undeniable traits on to your offspring like the dent in your son's right ear (that came from you) or the cowlicks in all of your kid's hair (those came from your husband), and it makes you smile and amazes you that genes carry information like that.

You have your first kid-free weekend in what feels like years, and the whole time you're away, everywhere you look you're reminded of your children.  For instance, "Ben would love this dinosaur museum" and "Abby would love this caramel popcorn" and "Sarah would totally dive off this boat into the Chicago River."

You're pretty sure you've given birth to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Fortunately, the transformation to Mr. Hyde is very preventable with a little thing we moms lovingly refer to as "naptime".

You love the magical summer after your child is potty-trained because it allows you to use the previous summer's shorts again.  The kid may have grown, sure, but the absence of a diaper creates a lot of room for a bigger booty!

You discovered some unopened jars of baby food in your pantry from a few months ago.  Since your one year old is a human garbage disposal, you tried feeding her some of the Stage 1 Beef (aka mush).  It couldn't hurt, right?  She ate a good four heaping spoonfuls before she turned her head away in protest, which can only mean one thing:  If Sarah rejected it, it must be unfit for human consumption.

If you ever need assistance unloading the dishwasher or the dryer, you can always count on your toddler to jump to the task.  She's a good "helper".

In desperate situations, you let your kids use your camera phone to occupy themselves.  Later, as you peruse your picture gallery, you find shots of every single house along your street from the vantage point of their carseat.  A budding real estate appraiser, perhaps?

While passing out drink boxes, the following words automatically come out of your mouth: "Don't squeeze it."

Hands down, no contest.  The best kisses you've ever had were stolen from sleeping children.

killed two birds with one trip to Chicago

I love it when life lines up like this.  When various things intersect and I can knock multiple items off a list in one fell swoop.  I could pretend it makes me happy because of the efficiency factor, but mostly, it's because I'm lazy.

At any rate, the common denominator that allowed for the intersection was the adventure I took to Chicago last weekend.

Sam left for Chicago the day after Memorial Day, and my parents so graciously made the trip from Maryland to help me with the kids (and apparently the housework...thanks guys!) since he would be away for two weeks.  Because they were here and it was possible, I made plans for a long weekend trip to Chicago for myself.  It was the first time I'd been to Chicago in my life.  And also the first time I'd spent 24 hours without a single child in well over a year. 

I caught the hour-long shuttle and discussed Chicago with the driver on the way to the airport.  He, not unlike the majority of people I talked to, informed me that Chicago was his favorite US city.  Being the realist (read: pessimist) that I am, I tried to slough those comments off.  I hated to get my hopes up and end up disappointed.

I am here to report:  Chicago does not disappoint.

I have been lucky enough to go lots of places in the past few years, piggybacking on Sam's work trips, including Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Orlando...I enjoyed them all.

But, quite frankly, none of them holds a candle to the great city of Chicago.

We stayed in Schaumburg (because that was close to where Sam had to be for work).  It's a suburb north west of Chicago, home to the Woodfield Mall and various other shopping venues.  I could easily have killed three whole days doing nothing but browsing there.  It was reminiscent of Towson near Baltimore, completely self-sufficient and bustling, but close enough to "the big city" to keep you happy.  I stayed near the hotel while Sam was at work on Friday.  That night we ate dinner at a Brazilian Grill called Texas de Brazil at the mall.  This would be my tenth "new" restaurant and I wrote in more detail about it and the other 9 of 10 new restaurants here to complete #86 on the list.

On Saturday, despite formidable forecasts (and a fleeting thought of "Hey let's go to Milwaukee instead"), we hopped on the El from the Cumberland station, and thus began the Great Chicago Adventure of 2010.

The first of many firsts:  First time I've ever boarded a train in the center of an interstate.

With flashes of ER constantly popping up in my mind's eye, we rode the roaring wonder into the city.  The train alone is an engineering marvel, and without getting too dorky, I ate up the bridges and transit system.  Double-decker roads and trains?  That's cool, right?

In two days, we did all of the touristy things to do, from the architecture boat tour...

(Shown here, approaching the Centennial Fountain with Trump Tower in the background)

...to a trolley tour...

(And what's cool is that you can see a bit of the skyline from just about everywhere.  Fun little aside:  One of the trolley drivers asked us where we were from.  We said Georgia.  His comment was, "Hmm, Georgia.  That is the longest, hottest state I've ever driven through."  Does that sum it up or what?!)

...eating authentic Deep Dish pizza at Giordano's (the opinions regarding "The Best Chicago Deep Dish" are intense and emotionally-charged, we have discovered)...

...catching the view from the Hancock Observatory...

(Where, fortunately, though it was overcast, the clouds did not impede visibility down the gorgeous coastline of Lake Michigan.)

...braving The Ledge on the Sky Deck of the "Sears" Tower looking straight down at the street from 103 stories high...

...and taking in a show (Cloud 9) at Navy Pier...

...eating some Garrett Popcorn...

...and pausing for a picturesque couple shot with an amazing backdrop.

It might have been the novelty of being in a new place, but everything about Chicago seemed exciting to me.  From the history and the rebuilding after the great fire, to the architecture and culture in general.  From the transportation to the green trees and parks everywhere.  The water was gorgeous.  There was no visible industry cluttering up the coastline.  The skyline was breathtaking.  The weather was breezy (of course).  

Chicago completely rocked my socks off.

I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to go there, and even more excited to report that this means I completed #76 - Travel to a state I've never visited.

P.S. - Just to clarify, I know Chicago is not a state.  That would be Illinois.  *wink wink*
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