Mom Things: If I have to sing the ABC's one more time...

Your rain gear options are a miniature Spiderman umbrella or a miniature Disney Princess umbrella.  And you're only momentarily embarrassed for using either of them as you enter your place of business.

Your almost-four-year-old thinks it's really funny to make up words and phrases and then loudly proclaim them. Her most recent:  "Time for coity!" followed by riotous laughter.  And while you're sure she doesn't know what that sounds like and you have absolutely no idea what it means when she says it, you really, really want her to stop.  (You probably shouldn't have laughed so hard the first time she yelled it.)

You've substituted outdoor rain-play for baths when pressed for time.

You never imagined you would ever utter the words, "No capes at the dinner table" or "Put the light-saber away".  Whose child is that?

You posed a hypothetical stranger-danger situation to your candy-loving three year old in the form of, "If a strange man drives up while you're playing in the yard and offers you candy, what do you say?"  It shouldn't have a surprised you at all when she replied without hesitation, "Yes, please."  (At least she has good manners?)

You're glad that your kids like Gogurt for the convenience factor but, personally, you find it utterly repulsive.

You have to find the delicate balance between fearing for your six year old's life and allowing him the freedom to explore nature (in the form of a Copperhead in the mountains of north Georgia).

While doing some exercises on your Wii, you have one personal trainer heckling you ("I could do that.  Easy.") and one cheerleader ("You're doing great, Mommy!  Keep it up!  Run faster!").

You completely regret letting your toddler try the Flavor Blasted Goldfish, because now she snubs regular Goldfish as an inferior snack.

After a conversation about your toddler's pretty hair, you reminisce back to the day when everyone saw her bald little head and just knew she was a boy, regardless of the clothes she was wearing.

(Look at her little curls now....cute!)

Linking up...per the usual...


Brotherhood at its finest

My grandfather was more spontaneous than I could ever dream of becoming.  On a moment's notice, he would instruct my sister and me to get in the truck.  We knew better than to ask where we were going.  It wouldn't have mattered anyway.  He didn't know either.

It might be an adventure to a fishing hole he used to frequent when he was a little boy himself.  The fishing poles and tackle were always available in the back of his pick-up truck.  He might take us to visit an old home-bound friend.  He might drive us around the soybean-lined country roads of the eastern shore of Maryland for hours with no destination at all.  He might tell us stories, or he might sit silently while I passed the time by watching his keychains swing to and fro in the ignition.

One of these adventures took us an hour from my grandfather's tiny home town to the Shad Landing State Park.  He took us down the pier and we set up lines for crabbing, which were nothing more than pieces of chicken tied to the end of a string that we tied to one of the pilings.  He struck up a conversation with just about every single person on the pier that day.  I can honestly say that I know where my mom gets that trait.  I wiped sweat off my brow as I watched him help a friend he hadn't met more than five minutes prior reel in a sting-ray from the waters of the Pocomoke River.

After a few hours of that, we loaded up in the truck and headed home.  I don't even remember if we actually caught any crabs.  I guess it really doesn't matter.  The memory remains.

On the ride home, down one of the more highway-like roads, my grandfather suddenly pulled over onto the shoulder and hopped out of the truck.  I watched with bewilderment at the fact that his was not the only car on the shoulder.  They all were.  I peered out the window trying to figure out what was going on. I saw a highway, lined with men and some women standing at attention, hats off, arms at their sides.

Out of respect.

You see, there was a funeral procession going by.  Every car in line had their flashers and headlights on, following the car in front of them slowly, stretching for as far as the eye could see, escorted in the front and back by police cars.

Even though I was so young, the gravity of that moment hit me at the core.

It wasn't just a person here or there.  It was every single vehicle on the road, pulled over to the side.  Showing respect for the life that was just lost.  And the families who were grieving that loss.

It was such a symbol of love.  For a fellow man or woman.  One that they didn't even know.

What a beautiful illustration of brotherhood that was and remains for me.

I am so grateful to have known my grandfather's beautiful soul.  This is just one of many amazing memories I have of that man, who taught me so very much about life in the seventeen years I was privileged to share with him here on earth.

And what an exciting promise it is for me to know that when I get to heaven, my grandfather and every single one of my brothers and sisters in Christ will be lining the highway, standing at attention...just waiting to greet me.

Unwrapping this gift alongside so many others today...

tuesdays unwrapped at cats


Flashback Friday - Mostly Inappropriate

I've seen a lot of buzz today about Katy Perry's would-be appearance on Sesame Street.  I won't dwell on that, other than to say the obvious; she was dressed inappropriately.  (Though, honestly, isn't that a bit like inviting Madonna on Sesame Street in the 80's and expecting her to show up in something other than one of those cone-shaped bras?  I feel myself digressing...must stop now.)

There are a lot of things that are inappropriate in children's television that haven't garnered a fraction of the attention the Katy Perry thing has (which ultimately won't even air and is being propagated by social networking...and now...my own blog).

For example, how do you feel about the Ninja Turtles asking, "What the shell?!"

Our kids are inundated with this garbage and it's our job as parents to decide whether to let them be exposed and explain the implications or to shelter them from it for as long as humanly possible.  If you choose the latter, let me just warn you that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to do.

A few weeks ago (in case you're wondering - this is the "flashback" part - it's a stretch, I know), I took this photo on a trip to a children's museum.  Four or five parents were gathered around this play-like freezer, discussing the contents.  Naturally (because I'm nosy), I had to see what they were talking about.

Yup.  That's a man's head frozen in a block of ice.

I would be lying if I said it didn't make me chuckle a little bit.  Then I remembered the audience.  We were in a children's museum.  The thing is - the kids were way too busy playing in the giant maze of crawl-through tubes behind this to even notice the contents of some lame freezer.

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about this, to be honest.  Perhaps you all can tell me what you think.

That's all I've got this Friday.  And I consider it a success that I had even that much.  I feel a little bit like my head has been in a freezer all week.

Happy Fall, Y'all!  Have a fabulous weekend!  


A [Relatively] Simple Time and Place

Having lived in both the metropolitan area of a large mid-Atlantic city and the suburbs of a relatively small southern city, I would say that the latter suits me better. I had no idea that would be the case.

That being said, I don't think I can handle going much below the population of where I am right now (which is about 60,000).  I value my conveniences, shopping, and interstates too highly.  Perhaps in my retirement the idea of being 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store will sound appealing to me.  (Then again, perhaps it won't.)

And while I enjoy many conveniences in my small southern city, there is a strange dichotomy here.  We're just rural enough that I pass by fields of corn, cotton, and soybeans on my way to work (just a mile or so before passing the Kohls, Dunkin' Donuts, and mall).  The sight of these fields is refreshing, and I hope they are able to resist the sprawl and remain fields for many years to come.  The road that boasts the fields is a 55mph highway outside of our subdivision on which I have been stuck behind a tractor multiple times.  This very same roadis the one that, if you take ten miles south, will deliver you to Georgia's 1,100 acre Fairgrounds and Agricenter, which hosts I-don't-even-know-how-many livestock shows throughout the year.  People travel all over the state with their animals to show them off at the Agricenter.

I might know more about it if I were from around here.  Or if I liked animals even a little bit.

So what's the point?

As a result of our semi-rural, semi-urban dichotomy, I had the delight of enjoying an unsuspecting simple pleasure when I looked out my window at work the other day.  The sight brought an instant smile to my face, and of course, prompted me to pull out the camera, which I was so happy to have with me.

That, friends, is the tractor my boss's cousin drove over to wish him a Happy Birthday.  

Here I am, finding myself thankful to live in a rural-enough area that this is still possible.  I wonder if he'd have taken me through the Sonic drive-thru on his way back to work.  Because he could have.

The fact that there are tractors roaming about, parking between the lines, driving on 55 mph highways is, strangely enough, my simple pleasure today.

What's yours?

Linking up with Dayle's Simple Pleasure Party at...


Mom Things: Double Dipping

Despite your best efforts to explain to your four-year-old that "I did it on purpose" does not mean "I did it by accident", she continues saying it with the intention of serving as an excuse.  For example, "I just spilled a whole cup of orange juice on your bedroom floor.  But I did it on purpose."  (Geez, Abby.  Don't do that!)

The Duggars teach their teenage daughters to care for the little ones.  So...you see them and raise them.  You teach your four year old to feed your one year old.

You could feed a small country with just the crumbs that fall out of your toddler's diaper after meal time.

You can't underestimate the power of a jacuzzi tub and a few too many bubbles.  (Just take my word for it.  There's a tub under there somewhere.)

You maintain your own growth charts for each of your kids...just in case the doctor doesn't get it right.  (Okay, really, this one is probably just me.  Nerd alert.)

And for a few, specific work-out-of-the-home mom things:

You strap the kids into their carseats in the garage at least ten minutes before you intend to leave so you can frantically run around the house packing your own lunch, fixing your to-go coffee, picking up crumbs from breakfast, making sure the lights and appliances are off for the day, etc.

You get through the carpool line at the elementary school before you realize you forgot to apply your eye makeup.  So you sit in the parking lot of the daycare and hastily apply a quick sweep of eyeliner and mascara so as not to frighten your kids' loving teachers.

You find yourself at the daycare during naptime, due to a rare afternoon off, and witness the miracle that is a room of ten or more toddlers simultaneously and oh-so-peacefully sleeping on cots.  It's moments like that where you find your heart filled with gratitude and love for those amazing childcare professionals.  And you briefly wonder how difficult it is to nominate someone for the Nobel Peace Prize...because you know exactly how rowdy that room was a mere hour earlier.

As you drive around town, you point out sites and roads that you've designed and your seven year old boy looks at them in wonder and declares, "Your job is so cool."  (You're just glad it seems "cool" to somebody.)

You might miss out on play dates, MOPS meetings, and morning Bible studies, but you are acutely aware that you and stay-at-home moms have a whole lot in common.  And that is, that we're all trying to do the best we can for and by our children.

Linking up today with...


The Best Things in Life are...Unexpected

I was six years old, a first grader.  I got the invitation to the birthday party, and immediately felt that sinking feeling in my stomach.  Plainly put, I didn't want to go.  The guest of honor was not one of the cool kids.  (If there is such a thing as a "cool kid" in first grade.)  Let's call her Candy.  Candy had been held back to repeat first grade.  She was significantly bigger in stature than the rest of us.  She wasn't exactly nice.  She definitely didn't have many friends, but for some reason, she had chosen to invite me to the party.  Maybe it was because instead of openly ridiculing her, I just didn't say anything...much.

I couldn't help but harbor some anger towards her.  She was the reason I had gotten my name on the board earlier in the year, which would end up being the only time that ever happened to me in elementary school.  (I've never claimed to be a rebel.  In fact, I think if you look up goodie-two-shoes in the dictionary, you might  find a photo of me during my elementary school years.)  We were having a lesson on something-or-other.  The actual subject escapes me, as do the majority of the other details surrounding my first grade year.  Whatever it was, our whole class was having trouble grasping the concept.  That's when Candy raised her hand obnoxiously and piped up with a know-it-all answer and an air of superiority.  Instead of being proud for her, I said, "You just know it because you already did it last year!  You failed!"

Needless to say, that's when the teacher wrote my name on the board.

It wasn't nice, but I wasn't saying it to be malicious.  I was jealous, but I was stating what I thought was a harmless fact.  Turns out, it wasn't so harmless.  For either of us.  Candy survived the ridicule by retreating into her seat with a slump.  I went into the bathroom and cried because I got my name on the board.

Evidently though, that event scarred me a lot more than it did her.  Because there I was holding the invitation in my hand.

I took it home and showed my mom.  "I don't wanna go, Mommy!", I pleaded.

My mom looked me straight in the eyes and said, "You're going."

And that was that.

I'm not sure what it was that prompted my mom to come to that decision.  She was not the type to enjoy running us around to extra-curricular activities, parties, play-dates, etc.  She was and remains to this day a home-body.  But for whatever reason, she felt like it was important for me to go to Candy's birthday party.

Maybe she was afraid that no one else would come.

As it turns out, not many people did.  Almost no one from our class, save one or two.

When we pulled up to her house, I was terrified.  I was never a super-social child.  I've always been painfully shy, and have only recently learned how not to be completely socially awkward.  (And believe me, I have a loooonnnng way to go.)  I just knew that the party would be something to be endured.  A miserable experience.  And who would I play with?  None of my friends were there.

My mom drove off with a wave and told me she'd be back in a couple of hours.

And there I was.  

For the next couple of hours, I was at the mercy of my mortal enemy (at least...that's what she was in my mind).

By the end of those couple hours, I would be proven wrong.  The party was a huge success.  In fact, it ranks right up there in my memory as the greatest birthday party I ever attended.  Candy was happy and elated to have company.  We played outside, swinging on a tire swing mounted on a sturdy tree branch.  We took turns with a broom wailing away at a pinata.  We giggled until our cheeks hurt.  We painted an awesome ceramic party favor on her grandparents' back porch.  We wrapped it all up with cake and ice cream on a wooden picnic table in the shade of the tire-swing tree.  It was the perfect afternoon for a small gathering of six year old girls.

And I thought I didn't even want to go.

Because the memory was on my mind, I gave my mom a call.  I asked her if she even remembered this seemingly insignificant event some twenty-one years ago.  She did.  I asked her, once and for all, why she "made" me go.  The answer:  "I just felt like you should."

I can think of about ten different lessons I learned by going to this birthday party.  It blows me away to think how such a trivial event in the grand scheme of this life had such a profound effect on me.  It boggles my mind to think that my mom probably had no idea that by insisting I go to a birthday party I would walk away  wiser.  Even at the tender, young age of six.  And that when I was twenty-seven years old, I would think back with gratitude to my mom for forcing me to go to the party, where I had the time of my six-year-old life.  Where I learned that sometimes we need to give people second, third, and fourth chances.  Sometimes we need a few extra chances ourselves.  Sometimes, often times we need to step outside of our comfort zones and experience things we would otherwise talk ourselves out of doing.  Almost always, being nice pays off in the end.  Sometimes, often times mother knows best.  That you just never know what your kids will remember and take away from something.

Today, I'm unwrapping these gifts - these valuable lessons - made possible by a simple imperative made by my unwittingly wise mom.

Thanks, Mom.  

tuesdays unwrapped at cats


Tokens of Love

Every so often, something happens in your daily grind that completely justifies the constant ups and downs you experience while fulfilling the rewarding, yet never-exactly-easy role of "parent".  Sometimes it's a hug.  Or a random profession of love.  It might be a half-colored sheet torn hastily from a coloring book left by your bedside.  Or a poem written in school all about "Mom".  Or perhaps a bouquet of freshly picked dandelions.  Any of these things can cause heart swells of grinch-like proportions.  The simplest sign of gratitude can fill our love tanks.

But we all know not every day is sunshine and roses.  Some days feel more like dunghills and maggots.  (Or something not quite as gross as that...but very close.)

On those days, the tokens of love and gratitude are replaced with stomping fits, door slams, and outright stubbornness.

In case you can't tell, we had one of these days in our house recently.  Before bed on Friday evening, I told my dear, sweet seven year old son, Ben, that before he did anything fun on Saturday he had to clean up his room. (...despite the fact that he'd agreeably cleaned his room within inches of "pristine" just last weekend.  If you have or ever had a seven year old boy you understand that it takes mere nanoseconds to go from pristine to pigpen-ish.)

This particular Saturday, however, our usually agreeable son was just not in the mood.  We all have days like that, right?  Out of some sort of protest, he piddled around in the middle of his floor for the better part of the morning.  He emerged from his room for lunch having accomplished very little at that point, and was sent back to keep (or really, start) working after he finished eating.  This particular little boy gets even less agreeable on an empty stomach.  So with his fuel tank on "F" and the prospect of an entire Saturday disappearing before his stubborn eyes looming before him, he returned to his room muttering something about how mean Sam and I were being to him.  The nerve of us, making him clean his room, ya know?

A few minutes later he came out bearing a token.  

I can only speculate as to why he passed us this note.  Perhaps it's because he prefers the written word to the spoken...like his mother.  Or maybe it's because he knew it was a not-very-nice thing to say out loud.  Either way, I don't think he was expecting the reaction that he got from us.  To sum up, we laughed.  Then we said, "We'll find you new ones first thing in the morning."  Then we told Abby that Ben didn't want to live with us anymore.  (She wasn't very happy about that.)

An hour or so later, Ben miraculously found the motivation to clean his room within inches of pristine, and emerged like a new man from his room more than ready to watch a movie with his little sister (of her choosing even).

I'm sure different parents would react differently to this note.  Some would be angry, some would be hurt, but me - I was a little vindicated.  Sam and I had stuck to our guns.  We didn't give in because of the "You're mean" mutterings under his breath.  This note means we won.

Sorry, kid.  You're stuck with these mean parents who hold you accountable.  And I pray some day you'll understand it was in your best interest.  Shoot, maybe you'll even appreciate it.

The best part of the story, though, is what happened afterwards...

We picked at him over and over for his decision to relieve us of our parenting obligations.  Finally, he said, "I didn't mean it!"  When I told him I was going to keep the note forever, he tried to snatch it and throw it away. When I thought he was successfully distracted from doing so, I left it on the counter with the intention of scanning it for this little old blog post.  This morning I realized it wasn't where I'd left it.

So I did what any other mom would do.  I went trash-diving.  I do that a lot.  (Just last night I rescued one of our teaspoons from the very same depths.)  I found the note strategically placed under an empty box of Lucky Charms and atop something brown and sticky, presumably barbeque sauce.

I loved that he tried to throw it away.  I love that when he did something he was ashamed of, he felt remorse and wanted to erase the fact that it ever happened.  And now, I love that I have this blog post, complete with the greasy, stained-up declaration as a reminder that we all do and say things that we regret.  The cool part is that when we do, if we want forgiveness that matters, we can have it - we just have to ask.  And that regret will be as good as thrown away in the trash.

After all, that was yesterday.  This is today.

To wrap it all up, Ben has decided we're not so bad.  I think we'll stick together after all.

The day even ended with one of those hugs I mentioned way up top...just a token that made it all worth while.


Mom Things: Broken Camera Edition

You are slightly concerned moderately upset completely devastated to discover that your camera is broken as you rapidly approach your daughter's fourth birthday, and all you can think about is how long it will take to ship and repair it.

You satisfy your photo cravings by going through some oldies and you smile at things that you'd forgotten but are able to rediscover and remember thanks to your extensive photo and video archives; like the fact that your middle daughter used to flap her arms like wings when she was first learning to walk.  (You're pretty sure that didn't help anything.)

You've dedicated any majority of your living room floor to "The City Project" which involved taping together huge pieces of paper and drawing plan views of buildings and roads with markers.

You're used to strange early tooth patterns.  After all, you had one kid with fangs.

You've been taken for all you are worth (yes, that's a whopping one-dollar bill) by a completely guilty-looking 9 month old.

You receive endless wisdom from the backseat of your van while driving around town.  Things like, "Lies are bad", "You shouldn't write on van seats with pen", and "If you run out in the road a car will smash you like a pancake."  You can't argue with any of that.

You have a seven year old and a one year old who get to experience teething together.  It's really fun for everyone.

Your sixteen month old has learned how to climb on, umm, everything in your house.  And you more than make up for her complete lack of fear while you watch with horror as she repeatedly sprints from one side of the bed to the other laughing maniacally in the few seconds it takes you to get to her from across the room.

You had no idea that your seven year old, who eats a peanut butter sandwich every other day for lunch,  would rather go hungry than let a repulsive, vile peanut butter cracker pass his lips for breakfast.  

You are slightly proud of yourself for earning the title "Mean Mom" for not giving in to his picky-ness.  As if you have time to fix something else for breakfast amidst the chaos of your morning shuffle.

Got Mom Things?  Join in today at...


Tweaking my Resume

In an economical climate such as the one we're currently experiencing, it is a good idea keep the resume in tip-top shape.  I've come to terms with the fact that my job situation is precarious at best, and so, in trying to stay ahead of the game, I've adjusted my resume and tried to get the word out that I might be available should anyone know of anything.  It can't hurt, right?

The problem is that I'm not wired to sell myself.  I don't like to toot my own horn.  I feel like bragging in any form, even in a resume, is pompous and self-righteous.  I'm just a little bit crazy.  (No need to confirm or deny that, friends.)

On that note, I've been thinking about one of the comments I received on this very blog a couple of weeks ago:
And we want to see a blog next week that celebrates JENNIE.
I resisted and resisted, but that little comment kept nagging at me.  Why not give myself a little bit of credit?  I've tried the same old relentlessly-hard-on-yourself routine for twenty-seven years.  While I don't think it's under-served me or steered me off course, it can't hurt to consider some of my strengths, right?  

(After all, "Have more confidence in myself" is one of those list items.  And at this rate, I'll never cross that off!)

I've considered some type of daily pep talk.  You know - like this little chick.  But that's a pretty giant leap from my daily self-deprecation.  I'm looking for a baby step.  I think I will start with saying, "Thank you" when someone pays me a compliment, instead of combating it with some sort of degradation about myself.  Baby steps...

In the meantime, in the spirit of resumes, I have come up with a bit of non-professional one.  Because I can do a few things well.  And it can't hurt to remind myself of that.  (Right?)

Jennie Q. Wife-and-mom
123 Family Circle, Central GA   867-5309  though.it.be.madness at gmail dot com

Objective:  To prove to myself and no other that I am a strong, capable, successful wife and mother who has been blessed by God with the ability and resources to make positive differences in my life and the lives of my family and friends.

Education:  The wisdom brought to me by the Bible alone, The tutelage of Christian parents, A lifetime of friendships, And practical life experiences, whether successes or failures, that can only be summed up as on-the-job training.

Relevant Coursework:
Spousal Communication 101
Acting Your Wage
Distraction Techniques for All Ages
Solid Waste Management
Consistency I, II, III, & IV
Prayer for Dummies

Work Experience:
    ~The Partnership of Sam & Jennie (Jan'03-'til death do us part)  
      Loving Wife
  • Supporting, respecting, and communicating with my partner on all things family, finance, and household related.
  • Demonstrating my love for my husband verbally, physically, and with little tokens like a note and a surprise piece of gooey butter cake for him to eat at work.
  • Pulling my weight, even if it means I mow the lawn and he cooks the dinner.
  • Analyzing my decisions to benefit not only me but also my partner.
  • Learning how to reach the desired outcome without resorting to nagging.
    ~Two Girls & A Boy, Inc.  (Sept'03-presumably, age 18)
      Usually Mommy sometimes Mom or Mama
  • Loving, disciplining, and providing for a growing number of children.
  • Masterfully killing all of the flies said children allow in the house by leaving the doors open for too long.
  • Applying Neosporin, wet rags, and countless band-aids to real and imagined boo-boos.
  • Reading at least one book every single day to little listening ears.
  • Answering countless questions with accuracy (and the help of Google).
  • Saying "No".  A lot.
  • Adjusting behavior across the room with no words at all, but a look that could kill.
  • Delighting in the successes and learning experiences (aka failures) of these little people.
  • Plucking monkey-like toddlers from dangerous heights just in the knick of time.
  • Wiping (what feels like) thousands of tiny little hineys.
  • Not just surviving but functioning on very little sleep and a very lot of coffee.
Additional Information:
  • Awarded "Mean Mommy" and "Best Mommy" awards within days (even hours) of each other.
  • Willing to accept hugs, kisses, high fives, handcrafted artwork, and funny anecdotes in lieu of pay.
  • Pre-qualified in the specialty of Multitasking.
Well there it is.  Hardly exhaustive, but you know what?  I do feel pretty good about myself.

(Thanks, Diane, for your comment and your encouragement.)

What skills can you list on your resume?


Flashback Friday - Lucky Number Seven

Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory:  Love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved. ~Kate Samperi 
Last Sunday, my boy turned seven years old.  Seven.  I have no idea where all of that time went.  It feels like yesterday I was carrying him around in my ginormous belly, struggling through the hottest summer I'd ever experienced.  I remember the sourdough bread and rice pudding cravings.  I remember the (highly uncharacteristic) aversion to meat.  I remember having to take my wedding rings off my finger, and how uncomfortable I was walking around looking like a pregnant fourteen year old with no wedding ring.  (Because, friends, apparently I struggle a bit too much with worrying about other people think of me.)  I remember the surreal experience of the doctor laying him on my chest after an uncharacteristically quick labor for a first child of his size.  I remember realizing, "Oh my goodness.  I am a mom."

Now that I am a mom, I understand the paradox of time.  That is, how seven years can feel like an eternity and a blink of an eye all at once.

Seven years is the time it takes to see your colicky, pudgy baby turn into a responsible, sensitive young man.  To see your family grow from a young couple into a crazy, wonderful household of five.  To realize that with each child you add to your family that you still have oh-so-very-much to learn about motherhood.

Over the past seven years, I have evolved as a mom.  I like to think it's for the better.  Time will tell, I suppose.  We all think we know exactly what to do before we have kids.  Some of my "favorite" parenting advice has come from people who don't have children of their own.  Because they're really the only ones who do know exactly what to do.  Once you actually have one, things are a lot less cut and dried.  

As I sit and reflect on the "Evolution of Me" over the past seven years, I realize I have learned a lot of things.  And, it should come as no surprise at all that I will be listing some of them for you today.

I have learned...

...that if I hover over my children they might never get hurt, but they won't learn how to prevent themselves from getting hurt.  And that's worth a few bumps, bruises, and hurt feelings.
...that simple is always better.  (This is one I'm still learning.  I said "evolution", not "instant transformation".)
...that what worked every single time on one child might not work even once on another.
...that I am not a referee.  Kids need to learn to fight their own battles and resolve their own problems.  
...that if I do what's right for my kids, I don't need to worry about everyone else's and their influence on mine.
...that the right thing to do is often the most difficult option.  (And the reason it is chosen so infrequently.)
...that most of the things I worry about never even happen.  And I can't get that time back.
...that if I keep my expectations low, I'm usually pleasantly surprised...or at least no worse for the wear.  (Just call me the eternal optimist.)
...that, some days, it's okay to let your seven year old fix corn dogs in the microwave for dinner.
...that each day is a fresh start.  Yesterday is over.  So I can stop thinking about it.
...that multiple times each day you'll consider in amazement that these little people whose lives you are helping to mold are a product of *you*.
...that consistency and follow-through are critical.  We cannot expect our kids to behave the way we want them to if we don't consistently expect the same things from them.
...that sometimes your toddler will swallow things she finds under the recliner before you can pry them out of her mouth.  And on those times you adopt the creedo, "That which does not kill her makes her stronger."
...that even after a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day the sight of my sleeping babies heals all wounds.  And I wonder...is that how God feels about me when He watches me sleep?

I'm no Grandmother Willow, but I've come a long way from the over-confident twenty year old I was seven years ago.  I can only imagine what the next seven years will bring.  If I'm lucky enough, they'll be as precious as the past seven have been.  

Here's to many, many more years of moments - the good, the bad, the so-so, and most importantly, the ones we can walk away from having learned something.

Happy Belated Birthday, Ben.  I love you so.


Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!!!

After hitting the snooze [two or three times], I finally work up the will to roll out of bed.  I stumble, zombie-like from my bed to the coffee machine for the morning's first order of business.  


I quite literally wake up thinking about coffee.

If I were a together-sort-of person I would prep the coffee the night before, set the timer, and be able to stumble into the kitchen and actually pour a cup right then and there.   This happens maybe once every two weeks, and it is, indeed, a very special treat.  It affords me the opportunity to spend the extra minute I typically use prepping the coffee on something else that morning (most likely cleaning up syrup drips made by one or all of my little blessings).  

I am in the season of my life where a leisurely cup of hot coffee over the morning news isn't part of my routine.  It's a luxury.  And, really, that's okay with me...for now.  I have a husband and three children ages seven and under who all require my attention in some way or another.  I have a full-time job outside of the home doing "other duties as assigned" and a full-time job inside of the home managing the day-to-day things that life throws at us.  It's a busy time.  I remind myself as often as I can to kick back in my recliner at the end of the day and do a Sudoku or a crossword.  But an end of the day coffee doesn't sound like a good idea.  Sleep is way too important in this season.

Since getting up early to watch the birds over a hot cup of coffee and a crumbly piece of coffee cake isn't an option, I improvise.

Enter today's simple pleasure:

What is that, you say?  I'm so glad you asked.  That, friends, is my favorite coffee mug resting in the solitary spot of my shower shelf that does not get sprayed or splashed with shower water.

Who said there isn't time for a leisurely cup of hot coffee?  Oh, that was me...  Well I retract that statement.  

I have found a way.  

And that is why when asked "How do you take your coffee?" I usually say....

"In the shower."

Sharing this simple pleasure with so many others at

Project Simple Pleasures2


How do I know I'm a mom? Let me count the ways...

You laughed when, as your son hopped out of the car at school he took note of your lunch sitting on top of the stack of mail you grabbed out of the mailbox on the way out of the driveway and inquired, "Who mailed you that sandwich?"

You understand the power of a simple pronoun.  And no matter how hard you try to convince her that she should be saying, "Ride it, cowgirl" (with emphasis on the comma) she still says, "Ride a cowgirl!"  Loudly.  And in public.  Regularly.  (Why?  Why does she do that?)

You should feel proud of your enterprising son for making the newspaper with his lemonade stand.  Instead, it's a little embarrassing.  You swear you don't make him buy his own school supplies.  (Your husband contends it just shows how practical and responsible he is.  We'll go with that.)

(Click article to enlarge)

Because you weren't in the mood to deal with dripping, sticky ice cream on your most recent trip to Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins, you pulled into a spot and simply ask them what kind of donut they wanted.  Their answer, of course, was "ice cream".  You lied a little bit and told them the freezers were broken.  That worked really well.  Until they noticed the lady in the car next to you licking away at an ice cream cone with a BR paper wrapper on the cone.  Busted.  (But really, a glazed donut is still a treat!  They ate them, happily.)

You made a trip to Maryland on the first Monday of the month just so you could have your kids faces painted at one of your favorite local restaurants.  

(And you're glad the horns on his forehead are covered by his hair helmet.)

Of course, what you failed to consider is that since you were driving back to Georgia directly after dinner from the restaurant, and hoping to get back just in time to drop your son off at school the next morning is that there wouldn't be time for a proper bath/shower for the son.  And what resulted was a swipe or two with a wet washcloth that left your son walking to his first grade classroom looking like a seven year old Adam Lambert.  (Apparently the black doesn't come off that easily.)  

Since Grandmom hung the pinatas up by the pull-strings, you let the kids resort to some good old-fashioned pinata bashing.  Evidently, it's not too difficult for a seven year old boy to knock down a pinata in one fell swoop.  While holding onto a drink.  Which, amazingly, he didn't even spill.  (He can't even do that when he's not beating a pinata with one hand.)

You now know it takes a mere three bites for your 15 month old to inhale a cupcake.

If you can't find your wily three year old, you know to check Grandmom's built-in lazy susan.

Can you see her?


After leaving Cici's All-You-Can-Eat pizza, you feel moderately guilty for only paying the kids price for your excessive pizza-eating seven year old boy.  They can't ban you for that, can they?

Want to see more Mom Things?  Linking up today at...


I'm baaaaaccckkk!

Didja miss me?  (Don't answer.  That's rhetorical.)

This post is just to let you know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  I did, however, spend 24 solid hours driving north and back south again for a sprint marathon of a weekend in Baltimore to hang out with some of my favorite people in the world.

And if a picture is worth a thousand words, these say everything there is to say about how I feel today.

What can I say?  We party hard.

See y'all later this week!


Mom Things: Happy September!

You have survived any number of near death experiences that come with changing the sheet on a top bunk.

At any point, your three year old has streaked completely naked across your front yard.  And you're certain that your reaction to her running naked across the neighborhood (which involved flailing of limbs and shrieking of "ABBY!!!  Come here RIGHT NOW!") drew way more attention than her tiny, lighting fast hiney did in the first place.

You laughed right out loud when, upon seeing this picture...

...your child confidently proclaimed, "I know what this is.  It's a yam!"

You've accepted partial responsibility for having to change peed-on sheets in the middle of the night because you did forget to make that final "make sure you go potty" reminder.  

You love that your youngest child's first word was "more", as in "more food" because that's just one of many bits of indisputable proof that she is, indeed, your daughter.

You had just enough scrambled eggs and crescent rolls to feed your kids before school.  So you hid in the pantry and ate cookies for breakfast.  These are the "sacrifices" you make for your children.

You thought challenging your six year old to count to a thousand on a long car ride would be a good exercise to keep him occupied.  What you failed to consider was that you would have to listen to him count to a thousand.  Out loud.

One of the ways your three year old has stepped it up in the chore department is by racing you to pick out her own clothes for school...which usually ends up with an ensemble like this:

Being a big fan of ponytails, it makes you sad that the only random times your three year old will willingly let you pull her hair back completely is when she's doing a puzzle or eating breakfast.  Your kids are nothing if not quirky.

Your camera has become like an extension of your arm because you never know when you might snap some of your favorite shots ever.  (It just might be when you turn the mower off in the middle of cutting the grass because they're playing with the water hose, and they're so stinking cute.)

Linking up today with...

Today marks my 52nd installment of "Mom Things".  While I apparently skipped a week or two without realizing, I have fulfilled the unspoken goal I made to myself of doing it for a year (whether consecutively or not). I have truly enjoyed sharing small glimpses (520+ small glimpses to be exact) into our wild and crazy life with those of you who can (or can't) relate.  I hope that you have enjoyed a few along the way.  

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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