Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009!

I don't usually make a lot of resolutions for the New Year. Sure, I always think of things that I want to do differently than the year before but I am pretty laid back about my approach.

In 2009, I have big plans.

2008 brought so many things for our family. Most of the things we learned were through trials that I didn't know if we'd make it through with our sanity in tact. We did and I feel stronger while being so much more aware of my weaknesses. I learned to lean more on the Lord than I've ever had to before. I said goodbye to my best friends and watched as they moved a world away. I sent my daughter to Kindergarten and realized how painful it was to do that.

In 2009, I just want to relax and enjoy this journey that we're all on. Sometimes I just need to remind myself to stop, breathe and take it all in. I'm learning.

In 2009, I will attend my first blogging conference and I couldn't be more excited. I may or may not get to move to a new state with my family. I will have frequent dance parties in my kitchen with a certain almost 4 and 5 year old. I will play countless kiddie board games and love it. I'll wipe noses and bottoms. I'll kiss boo boos. I'll kiss my husband more often. I'll love all of the people in my life more deliberately and selflessly.

I am so excited to see what the next year brings. I'm praying that it brings the fresh start that I've been needing.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

That's Hot

Don't you love those days when you just feel pretty? Your hair is cooperating and your clothes are well put together (and clean!)? That was me today.

I had a full day planned for the kids. We were heading to a local place that is basically a warehouse filled with inflatable jumping toys and then to another favorite spot of theirs to pick up a couple of gifts for family members that we'll be visiting soon.

I gave myself a glance after I was all ready and thought, "Man, I look pretty good today!" I was wearing a brand new sweater that I got (on sale!) at Ann Taylor and my hair was awesome.

To top it off, as he was leaving for work, Big Daddy kissed me goodbye and said, "You look pretty today!"

My large ego made it safely out the door and thanks to my swelling confidence, I didn't even get upset when we sat in traffic for an hour and a half.

All day, I was getting looks from people and I just knew what they were thinking.

"Wow! She looks great!"

"Has she lost weight?"

"I love that color sweater on her...it really brings out her eyes!"

After our full day, we returned home for dinner. I ran up to change into pajamas a few minutes ago and realized that what people were actually thinking as they stared at me today was:

"Um, that lady forgot to take the tag off her sweater. What a dork!"

Modern day Minnie Pearl right here, folks.

On the bright side, I bet at least half the Moms I chatted with at the jumping place thought, "OMG! Look at the bargain she got on that sweater!"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Perfect

That's my description of Christmas this year.

It was just our little family of four this year and it was completely perfect. Last year, we were minus one with Big Daddy being deployed over the holidays. This year, it would have been enough just to be together but we were blessed beyond that.

I woke up around six that morning when my family started sending their Merry Christmas text messages and I couldn't get back to sleep for the excitement. I was just sure the kids would be in to rush us downstairs any moment so I laid there and waited for them.

By 7:30, I nudged Big Daddy and told him we were going in to wake them and rush them downstairs.

Sister was first and she was a little slow to wake. The girl has always loved her sleep and a promise of gifts doesn't change that.

We went in to wake Brother next. I asked if he was ready to get up and told him Merry Christmas. With his eyes still closed, he said, "Not yet, let me get warmed up!" With that, he stretched and groaned once and then shot up, eyes wide and said, "Now I'm ready!"

We spent the whole day just being together. We read the Christmas story first thing and then started opening gifts while breakfast was in the oven. So many times, one of the kids would stop and tell us that this was their favorite day ever. Mine, too.

At some point during the afternoon, I watched as my husband was showing both kids how to play a new game. I couldn't help but think that my family is so perfect for me. I felt a deep sense of contentment. I wanted the day to last forever.

Honestly, why can't it? Those same four people are always here, under the same roof. We can always make time to play games and just be with each other. We can slow down and be thankful and content for each other.

I'm making it a point to have Christmas more often.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I've been scarce around here for a couple of weeks and probably will be until after Christmas. I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a great time with your families. I'll leave you with a sweet little Christmas carol to enjoy. Turn up the volume, it's a good one!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Funky Fresh

Did you see my face on the back of your milk carton this morning while you were eating your Lucky Charms?

On top of a case of the Christmas Busy, I've got a terrible case of the Funk and I'm getting over a case of the Plague. Throw in just a little drama from the Air Force and you've got yourself a missing blogger. My hypochondriac-ness knows no bounds.

The good news is, Hey! It's Christmas! The bad news is, Hey! I'm tired! I'm hoping things are slowing down around here since tomorrow is the last day of school for the year and we can get some much needed rest.

I have stories to share and things to giveaway...starting tomorrow. Pinky swear. In the mean time, could you bring over some chocolate? I'm thinking it would help.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pigeons

I saw this video on Happy Meals and Happy Hour and although I don't know the author speaking, I am inclined to find out more about her. (Updated to add, I just found the author's web site and blog. She's all that, y'all.)

I'll admit that I usually don't watch videos in blog posts because I'm too lazy. I'm so glad I carved out five minutes to watch this.

I hope you have a group of Pigeons of your own.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Maybe at your house.

Something has been amiss at our house in the past couple of weeks and I'd like a full refund, please. It started with Brother. He started getting just a bit grouchy the week before Thanksgiving and we chalked it up to the Plague that has taken over our house for the last six weeks straight. Since then, he's been a ball of frustration. He gets angry with us for just about everything we say or do and the whining is constant.

Did you hear me? I said CONSTANT. As in, never ending. In case you didn't know the meaning of constant.

This week, our darlings decided that they were ready for Phase 2 of Drive Your Parents to Drink, otherwise known as Backtalk Phase. No matter what we say, there is a rebuttal from the five and under set. It doesn't even have to make sense. Let's say I tell the kids we're having cinnamon rolls for breakfast. One of them will likely say, "I don't want cinnamon rolls!" When pressed further on what they do want, you may get something like, "I want cinnamon rolls! I don't know why you never let me have cinnamon rolls!"

I won't lie and tell you that these things didn't happen at our house before this DYPTD (see above) Mission, but they were at least less common. Big Daddy and I have looked at each other eleven times in the last four days shaking our heads in wonder. We want to know who swapped our kids with a couple of Scrooges?

If you read this post about the Christmas tree debate, I'll first tell you that we did get a live tree and it's up. It's also beautiful. If you read the comments to that post and saw Sharon's beautiful memories of tree hunting and putting up, you're likely to think that's what it was like for us.

You are likely to be wrong.

By the time we were done, I was frustrated and hoping that next year will be the first real memory that my children will have of putting up our Christmas tree. I don't want them sitting around at my house with their own children twenty years from now sharing memories like, "Remember that year when we were putting up the tree and Mom kept yelling and then her eyes turned red and her head spun around? Yeah, that was fun."

If you happen to know the secret to getting my real kids back, I'm willing to try almost anything. Unless you tell me it would involve putting up another tree.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An Important Announcement

Well, important to me, that is! I figured out last night that my new posts weren't updating in any readers for blogs (Google Reader, Bloglines, etc) so I started investigating. As it turns out, something went wrong when I tried out Feedburner a couple of weeks ago and ever since, my updates haven't been getting out. Sorry about that! Here I was wondering why so many of my friends weren't coming around. I took an extra shower or two, got a new hair cut and my teeth cleaned thinking it must be a weird smell coming from me that was keeping you all away. All along, you were probably thinking I was just ditching the whole blogging thing and laying someplace drunk on egg nog. For the record, I hate egg nog.

Anyway, I got it all figured out now and they should update but if you haven't gotten anything on your reader from me in a while, browse around and see what you missed! There's a couple of really great contests running below!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Real or Fake: The Great Debate

Every Christmas since J. and I have been married, we have had a real Christmas tree. Unless you count the two Christmas seasons that we didn't have one.

I know. For shame, for shame.

There was our first Christmas when we were traveling from Montana back to the east coast for a few weeks during the holidays so we didn't see the point and there was no one to water it while we were away. Then, there was last year. The Awful Deployment of 2007. I couldn't bring myself to go out and lug one home without him here. I could have asked for help but I'm stubborn. Plus, I was just all around sad to be doing Christmas without him so we opted for the two tiny trees that we bought for the kids to put in their rooms.

Sorry about the rabbit trail, back to the tree debate.

This year, I made a passing suggestion to J. that maybe we should just get an artificial tree.

I think he heard me wrong and thought I said we should sell our first born to gypsies and adopt a reindeer.

I don't think he was fond of the idea. Don't get me wrong, I'm not convinced that it's what we should do but I was thinking about how much easier it would be on him putting it up with his still surgically wrapped hand. He said he'd suffer through the prickly pine needles and get a real tree.

It seems that some people have quite a strong preference about their Christmas tree. Do you? Real or fake? Is your preference true to how you were raised?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Laugh

Can I tell you a secret?

I love my husband.

Alright, it's not really a secret but it's something I just felt like sharing.

He makes me laugh so much. The kind of laugh that doubles me over and makes me thankful to spend time with him. He's home for several days from work because he had some minor surgery last Wednesday and won't return to work until later this week. I love having him here all day. Today was our first day without the kids (both were in school this morning!) and we did a little Christmas shopping and laughed like a couple of kids.

I believe that laughter is one of the most important elements in a marriage. Except when we're laughing because I ran over my third curb for the day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Real Post!

So, how was your Thanksgiving?

I know, I know. I have been posting a lot of really cool stuff for you guys lately but no real posting of the going-ons of the Little People household. I have a huge, giant update coming for y'all so hang on to your horses!

As an aside, I said that to Brother today and he assured me that he didn't have any horses. Have I mentioned that I love how literal three year olds are?

Thanksgiving here was pretty awesome. My two Sisters and I were in the kitchen most of the day cooking, laughing and dancing. I brought in my MP3 player and we were getting down to some old school music.

You haven't lived until you've danced to "The Humpty Dance" and "You Give Love a Bad Name" while cooking sweet potato casserole.

We ate a leisurely mid-afternoon meal and then sat around lamenting about how we ate too much. We also watched the kids play and occasionally had to referee. I love that my kids have cousins close to their ages, it's just so dang fun. It's like my childhood all over again right in front of me. Only with less cigarette smoke and farting jokes.

So, hang with me. Join the the giveaway below. I have more coming up that you won't want to miss! There are some amazing companies and blogs out there that really want to share their fabulous stuff with you this Christmas season and I'm willing to help them out! I'll be back soon with an update that promises to be totally boring completely enthralling.

I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me

Remember last week when I talked about how I need Africa more than Africa needs me? I promised you more information from Mocha Club about this amazing campaign and today, it's here! Read below and please click the links to watch the video and go to Mocha Club's website and see what this is all about! Comment here because I really want to know what you guys think about this. There are so many other bloggers getting a great discussion going about this project...check them out here.
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I NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS ME

When I think of Africa, the following images immediately come to mind: Starvation. AIDS. Child soldiers. Genocide. Sex slaves. Orphans. From there, my thoughts naturally turn to how I can help, how I can make a difference. “I am needed here,” I think. “They have so little, and I have so much.” It’s true, there are great tragedies playing out in Africa everyday. There is often a level of suffering here that is unimaginable until you have seen it, and even then it is difficult to believe. But what is even harder is reconciling the challenges that many Africans face with the joy I see in the people. It’s a joy that comes from somewhere I cannot fathom, not within the framework that has been my life to this day. [read more]





Monday, November 24, 2008

I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me

I was recently asked by Mocha Club to take part in a project that they have coming up on December 1, 2008 called, "I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me". My first thought was, "Really? I'm not sure what that means." Then, I remembered.

There was a time when I was sure I would be heading to another country as a missionary after I was finished with college. I had heard from so many of my peers who had traveled around the world how horrifying the poverty was in Africa, in particular. They would go hoping to change the world one village at a time. They would return completely changed instead.

Though I was willing in those days to go and try to make a difference with people living in poverty, I was never called to go.

Fast forward about twelve years and I'm pretty comfortable in my own bubble here at home. I'm reading about a group of bloggers traveling to Africa with Compassion International and I read every word they shared about their experiences. Through their experiences, my heart was changed and reminiscent about the experiences I was sure I'd one day have.

I haven't been able to get my mind off the pictures that were shared and the stories that were brought back. There are times when I've asked myself the tough questions about my willingness to step so far out of my comfort zone to help people who define poverty in a way that I can't even fathom. If I'm being completely honest, most of the time the answer is a sad testament of my own selfishness.

This glance into my own heart in recent weeks has shown me that the statement, "I need Africa more than Africa needs me" is so very true. I need a willing heart. I need a desire to serve others. I need to see that the world is bigger than what I can see on a daily basis. I need to understand that the love of God only extend to those in my house, on my street, at my church or in my country. I need Africa.

I invite you to share what this statement means to you. Do you even agree that it's true? I'll be back with more details about this project on December 1 and I hope you'll join me. I pray that you won't be able to get this statement out of your mind until then.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Can't Believe I Never Told You Guys About This

Shortly before Brother was to turn two, we decided to give him a big party and invite all of our family and close friends from out of town since we hadn't seen them in a while. We were all so excited as the date approached and I was in a frenzy getting things ready.

The night before the big party, I had all of our guests tucked into their air mattresses and was about to crash for the night. After I took out my contacts and washed my face, I looked into the mirror and realized that I'd forgotten one very important step in the "getting ready for the big party" process.

Waxing.


I looked like Burt from Sesame Street, so thick was my uni-brow.


I was way past the point where tweezing would make a difference unless I wanted to skip sleep and stay up all night plucking. I glanced around the bathroom, looking for something, anything, to help me.


That's when I saw it.



Big Daddy's trimmer. Trimmer of what, I'm not exactly sure. I didn't actually care at the time. I decided that it was just what I needed to go from Burt to Perfectly Arched in time to get a good night's rest.
I did a quick clean up and went to bed, satisfied that I'd done a good enough job to get me through the weekend.
The next morning, I hummed "Happy Birthday" as I applied my makeup. Picking up my mascara, I carefully applied it to my right eyelashes. Perfect, if I do say so myself. Moving on to the left eye. What the heck is wrong with this mascara brush? Dang it, I think I must have broken it when I dipped it back into the tube just now.
No, wait a second. MY EYELASHES. WHERE ARE MY EYELASHES?
Yes, friends, I accidentally shaved off half of my eyelashes while trimming up my brows before bed the night before. Apparently, the blade on that itty bitty trimmer isn't as itty bitty as I thought.
I combed my bangs down over that eye and tried to cover up as much as I could with mascara on the nubs I had left. I decided that it would be my secret.
The problem with keeping my own secrets is that I just can't. I don't know if you've noticed but I tend to over-share. While setting out the food, I thought I caught my friend looking at me a little funny. I was sure she'd noticed so I decided to confess to everyone right then and there. They all got a good laugh and came over to inspect the nubs a little closer.
Turns out my friend was just admiring my new bangs.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pointing You to Others Who Can Help

So, hey there. We're sick AGAIN...or still, depending on how you look at it. Since I'm finding it difficult to type out something that makes sense in the midst of the coughing fits and feeling sorry for myself, I'm here to show you other people who are doing really cool stuff that you should totally know about.

First, my favorite girls over at Mom Generations have launched their "12 Days of Must-Have Holiday Gifts" and you don't want to miss it. They are showing you the best of the best gifts for kids, moms and everyone on your list. Even better? They are giving you all the chance to win the gifts they are telling you about! Today's gifts are for kids and the prize package is worth almost $300! Seriously, check it out by clicking the button below and don't forget to tell them how beautiful they are because, seriously? Those ladies are the bees knees. I have no idea what that phrase means but they are awesome and I've always wanted to use it so...just check them out!

I can't tell you how many people ask me about my blog designs both here and over at From Grey to Green. Beth from Ruby & Roja is this amazing woman who can do everything. She is seriously the best designer out there and just started a photography business, too. She's amazing. She's also doing an amazing giveaway right now that you won't want to miss if you have a blog. The 2 winners will receive a holiday blog makeover AND a whole year's worth of blog designing for free. This is an awesome giveaway and you don't want to miss it!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Constant Motion

If you are the person who swiped the remote control in charge of the speed of life, would you kindly remove your finger from the fast forward button?

Lately, it seems that life is just flying by. It must have been just yesterday I was saying that I couldn't believe it was October. And, now? I have no idea where October went. My sister called this weekend to ask if we knew what our Thanksgiving plans were and I laughed.

"You know we don't plan that far ahead!"

"Um...Heather? It's less than three weeks away."

WHAT?

Every Sunday night, I take pause to look at the calendar for the week ahead of me. Each time I look, I realize that the week will go by in a flurry of carpool lines, doctor appointments and grocery store visits and before I know what's hit me, it will be Friday.

I daydream of having slow, lazy days to play board games and puzzles with the kids. Of course, in those dreams, the pantry is always full, the house is always clean and the laundry is all caught up. Alas, this just isn't the way life works.

I'm trying to be more deliberate lately in slowing down and enjoying the small moments with my family. The moments that allow us to laugh and form memories that will stick in our hearts forever.

It's amazing that I have such a longing within me to do this yet, I find it so difficult to let go of the things that won't matter ten years from now. Will my children really remember if the floors were mopped and the toilets clean? Or, will they remember that their Mom used to always sit down on the floor and play Candyland while sharing stories from her own childhood?

Balance is the key to life and I'm in a constant search for it these days. Until I find it, I'm hoping to press the button for Slow Motion so I can savor the moments between now and the day I get it all figured out.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Minivan Holdout

I'm one of the last of a dying breed. The Minivan Holdout. Most of my sweet friends now drive one and they have tried for a couple of years to convert me. There have been times I've actually allowed the possibility to play out in my mind but suddenly, I'm brought back to reality by the soothing sound of my husband's adamant pleas. He's a Holdout, as well.

I'll admit that the thought of automatic doors is alluring. Heck, the idea that the kids could even walk to their seats without kicking, blocking and fighting with each other in the small space afforded us in our current vehicle is almost enough to turn me from Holdout to Convert. Then I realize that my kids are almost old enough to open their own doors and they will find a way to fight no matter how large the space between them.

A year ago, I had a few more Holdouts on my speed dial. One of them caved and now is the proud owner of a Honda Odyssey. The other moved all the way to Japan and didn't even get to take a car with her. She's now traveling by boat and bus and going on the most amazing adventures. The other was my neighbor. I just knew she'd be with me to the end. Then, she had her second baby two months ago. Now she tells me that they are thinking about crossing over to the dark side of minivan driving. I begged and pleaded with her but I don't think she's listening.

To matters worse, her husband reminded both of us that we are in our 30's with two kids each and no matter what we drive, we bid goodbye to cool cars long ago.

Thanks for that.

If we do have another baby, we can always just cram them in like sardines. I'll claim it's to promote a type of sibling bond that can only be achieved with close proximity. Then, I'll lose my ever loving mind on each road trip we take from here on out.

At least when my kids are tending to me in my incapacitated mental state, they will be able to agree on which home to send me to...you know, since they are so close and all.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A House Divided

It's hard not to talk to your kids about politics when you have an election like we just had. Early on, we explained the process in a way we thought our kids would be able to understand at their ages. Once the two candidates were chosen, we explained that one of these two men would be the next President. We also told them that the beauty of America is that everyone gets to vote for the person they want to win. We tried hard not to tell them who we were voting for until they asked and not to bash either candidate.

Right away, our kids picked sides. If they'd picked the same side, it would have been easier for us.

Sister said she would vote for Barack Obama because he looked better.

Brother said he'd vote for John McCain because he liked him more.

Over the past few months, they have often bantered back and forth about their respective candidates and did a little preschool-esque trash talking.

I just have to mention here that the whole political discussion and choosing a candidate for my kids wasn't really that much different than what I've seen amongst my peers.

Moving on.

After the realization that Barack Obama would be our next President last night, Big Daddy and I went to bed with a heavy heart. Not for the reason you may think. We knew that when we woke up, we'd have to break the news to Brother that his guy didn't win. He's our more sensitive and emotional kid so we knew this wouldn't be easy news to share and that it wouldn't be readily accepted.

We went in to wake him this morning and broke the news gently. He cried a little about it and then said, "It's not fair! I wanted John McCain to win!" He then declared that he didn't care what we said, John McCain did win. We were then asked to leave his room because he needed some more time to rest.

When we went in to Sister, we told her that we had a new President and that it was Barack Obama. She was thrilled and her grin lit up the room. We congratulated her. She then wanted to know if we'd told Brother yet. Knowing her the way I do, I explained that she was not to gloat to her Brother about the election. We told her that we'd already told him and that he was upset and that she should show some grace in this situation.

All went well for the morning. This evening while I was making dinner, I heard them arguing about it. Brother then came in crying because Sister scratched him in their heated exchange and told him that she was glad John McCain lost. He was more devastated over the latter.

We again had a talk about how we are a family and we are to show grace and love to each other rather than fighting and gloating. We talked about the good news of being in a country where we have the ability to vote and how we can pray for both President Elect Obama and Senator McCain. I told them that even if your candidate didn't win, you should still be supportive and kind to the one who did and to those who voted for him because this is a very important job and it is certainly not an easy one.

Seriously, y'all? Does this not sound like a discussion we should have been having all along with each other as adults? Grace and love from both sides. Sounds like a good lesson to me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The White House

We are currently in Washington, D.C. for a few days. Technically, we are in a suburb just outside of the city and we've been here for a few days already and are probably leaving today.

Man, I just can't get away with telling half the truth with you guys, can I?

We spent Saturday night in the city and spent all day Sunday touring with the kids. Big Daddy has had a conference here yesterday and today so we all tagged along to make it a family trip. (Don't worry, we are absentee voters so we voted weeks ago!)

Our first stop on Sunday was the White House.

Can I just say that there are a lot of white buildings in the District? I know this because our kids take THE White House to mean A white house. Every building we passed that was white, we heard, "There it is! Wait, is that it? That is a white house."

Kids and their literal interpretations.

Our kids know that President Bush lives in the White House but that in January he will move out and the new President will move in. I'll fill you in later about how we've had to tell our kids to stop talking politics with people because we actually thought it was a good idea to talk to them about the election process.

When we arrived at the White House, Sister pointed out that the flowers on the Rose Garden side were very beautiful. "Did President Bush plant all of those all by himself?"

I assured her that he did not plant the flowers there. She was confused because if it's his house, then it should be his responsibility to tend the garden.

Then, Brother had a burning question after we told them that the White House doesn't actually belong to the President but they are allowed to live there until they are done with the job. We told him that the they all have their own houses that they can go back to and yes, they still have a place to live when their term is over.

(As an aside, can't you just see the wheels turning with that kid? He was surely imagining President Bush sleeping on a bench in the park come January...because, yes, we had to also explain homelessness on this trip.)

Where was I? Oh yes, Brother's burning questions.

"Why can't they just stay in their own house while they are President?"

We give some sort of explanation. I'm sure it was accurate and intelligent.

"Well, while they are away and living in the White House, what if people go into their house?"

We tell him that they probably lock the door.

"Even the back door?"

I'm not sure if he has a future in security or as a burglar but the boy does have interesting questions.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Magazines

I have a deep love for a good magazine. I realize that the term “good magazine” is relative and the publications that I enjoy may not be one you’d pick out of the stack.

I’ve told you about my love/hate relationship with Parents magazine. (I’m still contemplating that break up, by the way.)

But I wanted to share my other favorites with you and beg ask you to share yours with me. Partly because I just want to get to know you a little better and partly because I’m always looking for a new magazine to add to my long list of loves (Let’s keep that little secret between you and me, ok? No need getting Big Daddy all panicked because I’m about to subscribe to another magazine! Thanks!)

*Our State: This is a magazine all about my home state, North Carolina. I’m in love with it. I scour the articles looking for familiar faces & places and learning about a few new ones along the way. I love reading the articles written about the fabulous locals. I can’t get enough of it. I don’t subscribe but more often than not, I pick it up from Barnes & Noble every time I see a new one out. My dream job would be to write for this magazine and travel throughout my beloved state meeting these interesting people and finding these wonderful places.

*Paula Deen: Oh boy, my love for Paula runs deep. Her magazine is a treasure and I’ve never (EVER!) gotten rid of a single edition. I keep them. I re-read them. I drool over the food. This is probably the only magazine that I willingly will re-read. By willingly, I mean that it doesn’t go in the bathroom and I don’t pick it up just because I’m in there for a while and bored. Ahem.

*Southern Living: I’m seeing a theme in my magazine love list. I’m a southern girl who loves food and apparently, my reading selection reflects that.

*People: Hi, my name is Heather and I am a celebrity gossip-aholic. Of course, I will only partake in the classier version of gossip so I’m devoted to People and despise Perez Hilton. I can tell you either think less of me or just shouted a hearty, “AMEN!” at your screen. Continue.

*Self & Shape: I like these because I read them, see all the finely chiseled bodies and think, “I can totally do that!” because they make it all sound so simple. I mean, they do feature real people and their stories of how they got to their hotness. Then, I usually put it down and head to the kitchen for a pumpkin muffin that I made from a recipe in Southern Living and decide to promptly start my road to hotness in the morning. Again with the patterns.

Real Simple: Oh, to be as organized as they make me think I can be. I love you, Real Simple.


Share with me, are you a magazine junky or can you live without them? What are your favorites? I also want you to head over to my other blog and tell me what you do with your magazines once you're done reading them.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Recap

We had a block party with our neighbors tonight before we went trick or treating. In the past few months, we have gotten around eight new neighbors. Welcome to life on a military base, huh? It was great to meet everyone and just spend time chatting and complaining about our houses falling apart checking out the cute costumes.

The kids had a blast trick or treating and we ended up with way more candy than I know what to do with. Not to mention we had a basket full left over that we didn't give out. We live on the end of the last block of base housing before the office buildings start so very few kids make it down as far as our house. Knowing this, I still buy enough to feed three elementary schools.

If you need me, I'll be the one kneeling in the corner all hopped up on Twix.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Mama Said

I’m not sure I can ever face Brother’s teacher again.

Last week, Brother came home and told me that one of the Parent Helpers at school had thrown away his napkin at lunch because he got yogurt all over it. Bid deal, right?

Well, yes. Yes, it is.

Because this wasn’t a super absorbent Bounty we’re talking about here. It was a Fabkin. In an effort to be more green this year, I spent a ridiculous amount of money on the cutest ever little cloth napkins for the kids lunch boxes. Last week, someone tossed one in the trash because it had yogurt on it.

I’ll admit that when he told me, I probably had a look of horror shock on my face. I may or may not have said, “She did what? Didn’t she realize that it was made of cloth? Didn’t she realize that I spent your college money on those napkins and they were supposed to be passed down one day to your own son? Why? WHY? WHY?”

Then, I composed myself and shrugged it off. No big deal. It’s just a napkin. JUST A NAPKIN.

I forgot all about it until he came home from school Tuesday. As I buckled him in, he said, “Oh, Mom. Mrs. B got my napkin back for you.”

“What do you mean, bud?”

“I told Mrs. B that you said she better get my napkin back out of that trash can.”

Feeling sheepish, I tried to backtrack. “Brother, I didn’t say that! It was no big deal, really.”

“Mom, YOU SAID. So, I told Mrs. B that you were mad and that you said she needed to get my napkin out of that trash can.”

Mrs. B is the sweetest lady and the best preschool teacher. I’m not just saying that because I feel like a huge jerk. She really is. I am so embarrassed that she now thinks I commanded her to dig through four days worth of trash to find a measly napkin. I’m hoping she’s forgotten all about it before we have our parent’s conference with her next week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sick and Tired

It took longer than I thought but we have finally caught the "kids are back in school and sharing germs with a million other kids" bug. Sister and Brother started this whole thing with stuffy noses. (If they were older, I'd ground them.) Sister then progressed into a mild cough that mostly only showed up at night.

No big deal, right?

WRONG. Because, you see, I don't go to school every day and build up an immune system that rivals Fort Knox so when this bug got passed to me, it mutated and took over my entire being.

I started with the stuffy nose and that wasn't a big deal. Until last night when stuffy nose turned into body aches and a head that weighs 134 lbs. and throbs. (Props to Big Daddy who let me go to bed immediately after his special Birthday Dinner and took care of the dishes. ON HIS BIRTHDAY. What a guy.)

So, yeah. I'm sick. Normally, it's not a huge deal but I don't like to be normal. I like to do things just a little over the top. So, I decided to get sick on my husband's birthday and the night before the BIG, HUGE first kindergarten field trip which I was scheduled to chaperone. Sister was so excited about this trip. Not as much because of the destination (Pumpkin/Apple picking at a farm) but more because she was going to get to ride on a school bus for the first time. This is huge, folks. HUGE.

I woke up this morning and knew that going wasn't a good idea. First, I don't think the teacher would like it if I asked her to please help me carry my super heavy noggin while taking care of a gaggle of kindergartners. Second, I'm sure she'd love me for bringing the sick back to whence it came and let it spread through the class...Again.

Big Daddy stepped up, cleared his schedule and chaperoned the trip in my place. He promised to take plenty of pictures for me and to document the bus ride in great detail. I am feeling extremely mildly guilty about missing this but he's getting to experience it and he usually has to miss things like this so it's all good. Except that when he called to tell me they were on the road, I hung up the phone and cried like a baby.

Don't worry about me, though. Brother is here and taking good care of me. We're keeping company with Playhouse Disney and every 15 minutes, he leans over to kiss me. Then he asks, "Where's the bermomater? I need to take your fever."

Yes, friends, I am being well taken care of.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who Me?

I think I've mentioned my love for Sharon of Mom Generations a time or twenty. I may even refer to her as my "really good friend" to my husband occasionally. Well, guess what? She loves me, too! How do I know? She gave me an award, that's how!



Thank you so much, Sharon. You are so kind. One of these days we are going to get together over coffee and laugh 'til we pee our pants. I'm sure of it.
I need to pass this on to seven of my favorite bloggers and I'm more than happy to do it. I have so many favorites that it's hard to narrow it down but these ladies are among the first I check when it's time to read blogs.
Andrea of Sgt. & Mrs Hub
The most hilarious, Maternal Mirth
Two friends in Real Life, Amy of Wake Me When It's Over and Kim of News from The Fredricks
Kat from Just A Beach Kat
Christy from After A Cup of Coffee....or Two
Crystal from My Longest Year
That was hard! I love all of you guys who read here and I try to read all of the blogs of folks who comment here. If you haven't commented before, let me know you are out there and I'll check out your blog!
Here's the rules for those I've tagged:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!
Easy peasy!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Dad...Fashion Icon?

My Dad is a good sport. He has four children who see to it that he remains humble and has a healthy sense of humor. In other words, we tease him relentlessly.

One of the things that we have always given Diddy a hard time about are his fashion choices. I use the term fashion very loosely.

By the way, Diddy is the way he says that I pronounce his name...I have no idea what he's talking about. Maybe his hearing is dwindling in his old age.

Back to my story. I think my ability to stay on track is dwindling in my old age.

In the past, Diddy has gone through phases in his shoe choices. When we were young, he was often in boots. These days, he's most often in tennis shoes. The period of time in between found Diddy in a particular style of shoe and he would wear them, no matter the time of year.


Boat shoes. No, he does not live or work on a boat. He doesn't even own a boat. We teased him about his boat shoes but he was not phased. He swore that these were the shoes to beat all others. They went easily from season to season. Summer time rolls around and these shoes are perfect because you don't need a sock. Winter comes and Wah-La! Just add socks and you are all set. If you are feeling the need to be less casual in the summer time, you would just add a dress sock with your boat shoes and it was still perfectly acceptable to wear shorts.

I think you can see why we tease.

This morning, the youth group led the service at our church. As I sat and listened to the thirty or so teenagers on stage leading worship with their beautiful voices and instruments, I was startled.

Over half of the kids on stage were wearing boat shoes! Apparently they are finally considered a trend among the young and hip. (Take note, Diddy. I said young. And hip. Not old and about to break a hip. I kid, I kid. My Diddy is young and hip! When compared to those in the nursing home.)

There were people wearing them with jeans, with shorts and with skirts. Most of them were girls, which I'll be sure to point out to Diddy when I tell this story.

I'm sure he'll appreciate it.

I had no idea that boat shoes were the thing now. You can add these to my list of things I never expected to make a come back.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Open Letter to Parents Magazine

Dear Parents Magazine,

We've been together for so long. I first met you when I was pregnant with my first child and now, almost six years later, my subscription has never lapsed. You make it so easy with your Super! Deals! that give me three years of you for an irresistible price.

I'm sorry to say that I might be breaking up with you.

Before you start trying to entice me by throwing in a free year of Family Circle, hear me out.

First, I realized recently that most of my parental paranoia has come from your "It Happened To Me" articles. (In fairness, it's either you or the What to Expect series but I'll deal with them later.) When my daughter was very young and you ran the story of the baby who got a hair wrapped around her toe and it almost had to be amputated, I didn't let my daughter on the floor for a month without vacuuming first and then running a lint brush over the carpet. This month's story about the baby's car seat not getting strapped back in after a trip to the car wash was almost too much.

I could just skip that section, of course. But, there would always be articles lurking in the shadows telling me the next big thing that will either make my child a real live Baby Einstein or send him straight to Preschool Drop-Out.

I've also noticed recently that there is an abundance of thick, several page long ads scattered throughout your magazine. I understand that you have to pay the bills, what with the SUPER! DEALS! I'm getting and all that but these things annoy me and make it difficult to flip through the magazine to find the article I need to show my pediatrician husband about how we can save our child's life through better housekeeping.

Also? This is taking things a bit too far, don't you think?




I mean, seriously. Dressing my family up like a BLT? Besides, no matter how cute clever ridiculous this costume is, I am one kid short of a BLT.

So, Parents, you're on notice. Now that my kids are older, I can stop obsessing over the "It Happened To Me" section and I can have another kid to add the tomato to my BLT but if you don't do something about the insane amount of ads in your magazine, I just might have to cut out early on my 42 year subscription.

Not Jumping Ship Yet,
Heather

Monday, October 13, 2008

Business Meeting

So, let's get some random things out there, shall we?

*I FINALLY updated my other blog. Yes, I know. I've been seriously slacking over there and I repent. I do have some new things to share in the "Going Green" department though, so head over and check it out. I promised at least three posts this week. Two already up. See, I'm repentant! If there is something you'd like to read about over there, please let me know! And, yes, I promise I'm actually doing what I wrote about today. It's not as disgusting as it sounds, I promise.

*I'm writing over at Inspired Bliss, the Christian channel of Blissfully Domestic now! If you aren't reading Blissfully Domestic, I highly recommend checking it out. It's an online magazine for women and there are some fabulous writers there telling you all about anything you may want to know. From recipes to budgets, decorating to photography...it's all there! My devotions will be posted there every Wednesday and I beg encourage you to check it out! Again, if you have a topic you'd like to read, please let me know! Click here, here and here to see the ones I've already written.

*Remember my jeans dilemma? Alert the media! I found jeans that I love. If you are a girl with hips and junk in your trunk, go to Ann Taylor Loft and get their Original Bootcut jeans. You won't be sorry.

Speaking of jeans, I'm going to leave you with this little tribute to my new jeans, which are most definitely NOT mom jeans.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Funeral Procession

I grew up in the South, deep in the heart of eastern North Carolina. There were certain customs that we had there that I always assumed were practiced everywhere. When I moved out of NC and proceeded to move around the country as an adult, I realized that this wasn’t the case.

One of the things that I made an assumption about was the proper behavior when you encounter a funeral procession as you drive. Where I’m from, if you are driving along and a funeral procession is coming, you pull over to the shoulder and allow them to pass. (Even if you are on the opposite side of the road.) You do not, under any circumstance, try to drive again until the entire procession has ended. If you were of my grandparent’s generation, you may even get out of your car and stand next to it (if you were a man, removing your cap and placing it over your heart) until they passed. This shows respect for the family and friends of the person who has passed away.

Apparently, this is not common practice everywhere.

Where we currently live, I have been frustrated time and again by people just blowing right by as funeral processions are passing. Several months ago, I was sitting at a stop light, preparing to turn left. Coming from the opposite direction, the familiar police escort, headlights on and hazard lights flashing were coming to turn left in front of us. When my light turned green, the cars in front of me couldn’t turn because the funeral procession didn't have to obey the signal and continued to turn in front of us. A couple of the cars sitting at my light actually blew their horns in frustration of having to wait. I was furious. In their defense, they could have not realized what was going on and then felt like a complete jerk afterwards. I hope that was the case.

In the past two days, I’ve encountered two processions on my way to someplace where I couldn’t be late. One of those was for a fallen firefighter…I knew this because of the two fire trucks in the procession. Of course, I stopped. At the one for the fallen hero, the Jeep behind me stopped as well and actually turned on his hazard lights. The car behind him seemed furious. He continued to inch forward, trying to get the Jeep to move on. The Jeep would not be swayed by this bully. So, the bully tried to pass him. At this point, the man driving the Jeep put his hand out of his window to plead with the car to stop and show respect. He continued to try to inch around the Jeep.

Big Daddy and I were watching this happen. Seconds before this, I had gotten a little emotional as I was watching people drive as they cried for their loved one who was lost. Call me moody but I went from teary eyed to angry in a matter of seconds.

Where’s the respect, folks?

Big Daddy says that perhaps the other vehicle subscribed to the thought that you only have to wait for the family car and hearse to pass before you go. He’s much more generous than I am because I was thinking something entirely different.

How is this handled where you live? Am I nuts to expect people in today’s busy society to stop and show a little respect?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Siblings

This past weekend, we traveled to NC to visit my family. We hadn't been there since early June when my newest nephew was born and I was SO ready to see them.

I had only one goal for this trip. I wanted to be able to spend time with my siblings all together, just to catch up. On the evening that we arrived, my Brother's soon to be father in law passed away and at that point, I was pretty sure our gathering would not include my Brother since he'd want to be with his fiance. In the end, we were able to work it out and I'm so thankful that it did.

I'm the oldest of four in our family. Growing up, there was almost six years between myself and my younger sisters (they are twins). I was almost nine when my brother came along. That's a pretty large age difference to kids so I was into completely different things since I was so much older. As adults, I am the only one who doesn't live in the same town with my parents, the town where we all grew up. Again, this could make things sticky in sibling relationships but somehow, we have made it past the years and miles to be completely supportive and loving with each other.

As we sat together having coffee this weekend, I felt such contentment being with them. I studied each of their faces as we talked and I was flooded with memories. I haven't been able to spend much time with my brother for the past year and I've missed him so much. I watched him talk and laugh and the reality that he is now a man hit me. When I married, he was almost fourteen and still in middle school. I think I've tried for almost nine years to keep him there and he's now a grown man with responsibilities and facial hair.

The three people at that table with me on Sunday know me better than anyone except for Big Daddy. They have seen me at my best and at my worst. They've loved me through both. I count on them to be honest with me, even if it isn't pretty. In the past year, there have been a few times when family issues have come up and you know what? We've rallied and become one heck of a team through it. We've been through things together that could have ripped us apart as a family but instead, they made us closer. My sister said something this weekend as we left Starbucks that stuck in my heart and will be my prayer for my own children.

She said, "No matter what we were going through or how hard things got when we were growing up, I always knew it would be fine because we had each other."

I needed to hear that reminder at that moment. As adults, we have our own families, we get busy and life gets in the way but I needed to be reminded that it's worth it to make the effort to remain close. For me, that means more trips out of state (or country depending on where we live next) and more phone calls, cards and emails. It's so worth it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Good Enough Mom

Today was a crappy day. The kind of day where one thing after another keeps going wrong. Any one of those things wouldn't be enough to ruin your day but add them all together and you get a day when you'd rather just go back to bed and start over.

After struggling through the day, we got to the critical point that comes every afternoon: after school but not yet dinner time. During this time ever single day, the little people in my house fall apart.

"She hit me!"

"He is looking at my stuff!"

"I need pribacy (privacy) and she won't leave me alone!"

"He stole my toy!"

You get the picture. We were at that point this afternoon when I decided to join the ranks of the Tired and Falling Apart. I separated the kids and forbid them to even look at each other. I stomped my foot. I pointed my finger. I yelled.

Oh yes, I did.

When I finally left the room to make dinner, they were playing nicely together. It was then that the guilt set in. I lost my cool over my kids acting like...kids. It has always been a pet peeve of mine to see adults chastise kids because they aren't acting like adults. I have sworn never to do it. Yet, here I was standing in my kitchen on the verge of tears because I allowed a bad day to get the best of me.

I'm not saying that I'm usually perfect or that I never lose my cool. Let's be real. It's just that I knew as I stood there that my meltdown earlier was because of me and not because of anything they did or didn't do.

By the time Big Daddy got home, I explained the whole thing to him near tears.

"This doesn't make you a bad Mom," he offered.

I knew this. I really did.

As Moms, we tend to beat ourselves up over the tiniest of decisions, words and actions. We expect nothing short of perfection from ourselves and when we don't deliver (because it's impossible!) it takes forever to get over it and move on.

The difference between being a Good Mom and a Good Enough Mom is realizing that you messed up, apologizing for it and moving on. I spent the afternoon feeling like Good Enough Mom was miles above me. I assure you that tonight I will fall asleep thankful to be a Good Mom.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Kindergartners

Alternate title: Things That They Don't Tell You When You Give Birth

So, I know you're all tired of my ranting about how emotional I am now that Sister is spending all day at school and I promise that this isn't the same type of rant. It may be a distant cousin of that rant but it's not the same.

Let me give you a quick review of the things that are being discussed in our house now that we have a child in Kindergarten. Things I thought wouldn't come for a few more years.

We don't kiss boys at school. It pains me to type this and I can't provide many more details for fear of breaking down and needing one of you to come over and pick me up from the sobbing mess I'll become. There is a boy that has asked my daughter to be his girlfriend. She promptly told him that she wasn't allowed to be a girlfriend until she's 28 because her Daddy said so. He then asked if maybe someday they could get married. She said she would think about it. Then, she kissed him. It was just on the arm but people, it took her five full minutes to get to that part of the story and by that time I was hyperventilating. Oy.

It's ok to be "girlfriend" to a girl. Ok, wait. I definitely will elaborate on that one. Sister has a good friend at school who one day called her "girlfriend" in a way that was like, "Hey girlfriend, let's head over to the monkey bars." Sister, sticking to her guns on this rule, explained that she can't be a girlfriend until she's at least 28. I'm not sure we ever actually told her this but hey, at least she's trying to remember something we taught her while she's out kissing boys learning physics and phonics.

Sometimes boys are mean to you because they like you. The first two weeks of school, we thought we had a bully situation on the playground and Sister was upset about it. I was furious that this was happening so early and I went to chat with the teacher about it. Turns out, it's the boy from the first rule up there and he was just being, you know, a boy. Also, he's being a boy when he runs to hug her goodbye every day and asks her to marry him. Is it wrong to wish I could send Brother to school with her to beat this kid up?

For the love of all things holy, stop rolling your eyes. Stop saying words that aren't allowed here but happen to be just dandy at the house of your friends. Stop acting like everything I say is wrong. (Seriously, she went from believing every word that came out of my mouth to doubting me when I say ANYTHING. I'm pretty sure she doesn't even believe I'm her mother anymore.)

I did get a glimpse of the girl I used to know this weekend when she came and curled up next to me on the couch to snuggle while we watched a movie. That night, we were talking about our favorite part of the day and she assured me that her very favorite part of every day is her snuggle time with me. I'm holding on to that, little girl, I'm holding on to that so tightly.

I wanted to tell you all, I'm over at Beth's place (I Should Be Folding Laundry) today guest posting while she's away. Take a look!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hey Mama, Welcome to the 80's

As a child of the 80's, you'd think I would be thrilled as I take notice of the fashion trends that are making a comeback from the fair decade of my childhood. You'd think wrong.

First, my body isn't the pre-pubescent wonder that it was in the 80's. (Try to contain your shock.) Therefore, you won't find me donning the floral leggings that are all over my local Target.
Of course, they wouldn't be quite as flattering as these beauties I ran across at Express:
I'm not going to point out how the Target model is more 2008 me and the Express model is more "Maybe someday but probably not until I'm in Heaven" me. Nope, not even going to mention that.
Next up: Argyle. It's back, baby. Drag out that sweater that you wore in your 5th grade school picture and you're high fashion. Of course, I'd have to gap up my bangs the way my Mom did for my school picture to really feel the memories but I don't want to talk about that, either.
Yes, I'm feeling right at home with these trends. They take me back to a time when life was carefree. A time when the only concerns I had were if I finished my math homework or if the zit on my chin would go away before Monday. Those were the days. Wait a second, I wonder if that zit on my chin is gone away yet?
What are some trends you'd like to see come back? Some you'd like to see disappear forever? Personally, I'd love to see the skinny jean quickly disappear and never come back.
Now excuse me while I drag out my leggings, jean skirt, argyle sweater and jelly shoes.
**Click any of the above pictures to be taken to the page where you can buy them. You know, if you're inclined to do something like that. This is not a paid endorsement. Trust me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grocery Shopping With a Three Year Old

Brother has become my grocery store companion lately and for the most part, he's awesome in that role.

No matter where we are, Brother loves to engage people in conversation and tell them stories. Since we shop at the commissary on base, we encounter a lot of senior citizens who have retired from the military. They always show Brother extra attention and he loves every second of it.

Before I continue, I'm just going to throw in a little tidbit of information about Brother. He only has one level of volume and that is LOUD. Now that I've put that out there, let's move on.

This morning as we did our shopping trip, an elderly gentleman approached Brother and asked how he was doing.

"Good, thanks!"

As the man patted his head and walked away, Brother turns to me.

"MOM, HE ONLY HAD ONE TOOTH. WHY DOES HE ONLY HAVE ONE TOOTH? WHERE ARE HIS OTHER TEETH?"

I tried to distract him with Disney character shaped graham crackers but he wasn't having it. He just needed to know. Everyone around giggled except the man, who didn't turn back to look at us and I'm just praying that he didn't hear.

Two minutes later, we were in the meat aisle. I'm browsing the hamburger sales and Brother decides it's time for a little heart to heart.

"Mom, why don't you ever pray to God?"

Looking around to make sure our Pastor isn't shopping today, I say, "Son, of course I pray to God."

"YOU DO?"

"Yes, Brother, I do."

"Well, I think you need to stop right now and pray with me."

"Brother, you really want to pray in the grocery store?"

"Yes. I think you need to pray right now and ask God to give us a baby. We need a baby. And, a pet. So, let's pray now."

Ya'll, I wish I was making this up. By the time this conversation was over, I expected people to start kneeling and laying hands on me in the hamburger section. They were so engaged that I had to smile and run away to keep from taking part in the "Ask Jesus for a baby and a dog" party that was about to take place.

Dear Lord, I pray that I can get my shopping done from now on when Brother is in preschool. Amen.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Strangers

Remember the days when kindergarten was all about recess and coloring? Going to elementary school was fun and you always felt safe. Those days are behind us.

Recently, Sister came home from school talking about a drill they did that day. She was excited to explain it to me but couldn't remember what it was called. After a guessing game on my part (Fire? No. Tornado? No. Hurricane? No.) she just described what they did.

Without describing the whole thing, I'll tell you that it was in preparation for the worst thing I can imagine happening. It was an Intruder Drill. My Kindergartner was practicing for what they'd do if a "stranger" came into the school and they needed to be safe.

As she talked about it, I felt a tightness forming in my chest. Hot tears were welling in my eyes. I am so thankful that the school has the foresight to practice this. Yet, I'm extremely sad that it's necessary. I'm glad that she viewed this drill as something routine and even a little fun. Yet, I'm panicked to think that I need to have a discussion with her about why this was necessary. She's five. There is such an innocence in her thinking and I don't want to rob her of that. It will be stolen away by the craziness in this world very soon and I'm trying to cling to it for as long as I can.

I've thought about this a thousand times since she told me and I hate where the thoughts take me. I'm comforted by two things. Most importantly, I know Who she really belongs to. I know that nothing will happen to my children that will surprise God. Secondly, she told me that her teacher made them a promise. When she told me, I felt a strange sense of calmness.

Her teacher said, "I promise you that I'm not going to let anyone into this room who shouldn't be here." I believe her. She's a mom. I was once a teacher. We are two women who would do anything to protect the children given to us, no matter what.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pa Pete

Thirty one years ago, I was born to a seventeen year old girl. My mom was young and unsure of what the future would hold for the two of us. There were two people who were absolutely sure that they that would take on whatever role necessary to secure a good life for me.

My Grandparents were amazing people. From the moment I was born, they were helping with every aspect of my raising. They faced choices that it pains me to think about when they learned that their oldest daughter was sixteen and pregnant. The choice they made was to support her and as a result, to support me.

I called them Mamaw and Pa Pete. While they were both very special to me, I found myself driving today with tears rolling down my cheeks because the words of a silly country song reminded me of something funny that Pa Pete used to say. I missed him as much that moment as I did the day after he died in my arms over thirteen years ago.

I've heard that the Pa Pete that existed before I was born was a stark contrast to the man he became after I came along. His children remember him as a tough and often unemotional man. They say that the image I have of him is viewed through rose colored glasses. Perhaps that is true but my memories are just that...mine.

I remember him as a man who loved to be with me. We didn't need an occasion. We didn't need to talk, though we often did. We just needed to be together for me to feel the love he had for me. When I was a kid, I'd tag along anywhere he needed to go just to have a few minutes of him all to myself. We'd stop for a fast food breakfast and I'd laugh at the funny things he'd say. His sense of humor was the best. He was gentle but firm. He was loving and kind. I don't remember him ever being angry with me or punishing me yet my biggest fear in life was letting him down. That didn't come from a real fear of him but rather from respect for him. His fiery red hair and fair skin were so beautiful to me. I have him to thank for my freckles, pale skin and sometimes feisty personality.

I get teased often in our family because I'm one of the only people who ever got what I wanted just by asking him. I knew that if my parents said no, I could call Pa Pete and my wish would be granted. Isn't that what Grandparents do? There was a time when I went shopping with my Grandparents and I saw a stuffed monkey that I loved. That thing had the wildest hair and when you squeezed it, he made the most awful monkey sound. My Memaw rushed me on past it and told me I didn't need it. Pa Pete followed without saying a word. A few weeks later, Christmas morning came and the last gift passed was to me. No one knew about it until he brought it out of his closet. Bought and wrapped all by himself, he presented with me something he wanted me to have because he'd seen the way it made me giggle several weeks before. No one knew how or when he did it. He didn't want any accolades for doing it. I get teased to this day about Petey (the name I gave the monkey) and my ability to wrap Pa Pete around my little finger.

The day we found out that he had cancer ranks among the worst days of my life. It was the summer before my senior year of high school and he'd had an awful cough for weeks that just wouldn't subside. We finally convinced him to go to the doctor, something he rarely did. The diagnosis was lung cancer and my world changed in an instant. From that moment, it took so little time for my Superman to become very weak and ill from the treatment, more than the cancer itself. My view of him never changed. He was still Superman but now I got to take a turn and do things for him. I could have never done enough to repay all of the things he'd done for me but I was willing to try.

Often, I'd get to drive him to and from doctor appointments. One day after an appointment, he asked me to take a turn that wasn't on our way home. I didn't question him, I just took each turn as he directed. Soon, we were in front of his former workplace. I took a parking spot away from the front and we sat there. I asked if he wanted to talk and he didn't. He just needed to see that things were going ok without him. We sat in silence for a few minutes and through tears, he told me he was ready to go home.

Within the next week, he handed me an envelope and gestured for me to take it without questioning. I opened it to find money in a neat stack. He told me that he knew that the deposit on my dorm room for college in the fall was coming due and he wanted to pay it. I tried to hand it back and he simply held up one hand and said, "I'm doing this." What those words really meant to me were, "Please let me do this. I'm so proud of you but I won't be here to see your dreams of attending college come true and this is all I can do to be a part of it."

A very short time later, I came home from work and sat down on the footstool in front of his spot on the couch. He seemed to be doing so much better than he had been in the previous days, even joking with me a little. I filled him in on my evening and went to bed. A few hours later, my Memaw woke me to say that he had fallen and she needed help to get him up. I went into the living room and he was laying on the floor. I sat next to him and he leaned over into my lap. I knew that he didn't need help getting up. I just needed to hold him. And so, I held him. He took his last breath with my arms wrapped around him so tightly, afraid to let him go.

Forgive me for the length of this but this could well be the first time I've put all of these thoughts, memories and emotions together in the thirteen years since his passing. For years, I couldn't get through the anniversary of his death without mourning all over again. Today as the thoughts of him flooded my memory, I realized that I hadn't been sad at his memory in a long time. That broke my heart but I know he wouldn't expect me to sit around mourning so many years later. I realize that I've become who he dreamed I'd be. I truly believe that when his teenage daughter came home and announced that she was pregnant, he knew that his responsibility was to give me a future. He held up his end of the bargain and sincerely hope I'm holding up mine.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My BFF(s)

I'd like to introduce you all to my BFF lineup. I've talked endlessly about my real life friends and I think it's high time to introduce you to the group of folks who fall into the category of "Friends Who Don't Yet Know They Are Friends." Following will be a list of people whom I obsess over adore and feel that I should share their greatness with you. You're welcome.



Stacy London & Clinton Kelly

Oh, these two. I could watch them endlessly. I love hearing their fashion rules. I love hearing Stacy shout, "Shut Up!" when she gets excited. Clinton is as cute as they come. I love it when he says something harsh about someone's ugly clothes but then immediately tries to make sure they feel the love so they won't be hurt. Don't even get me started on Stacy's hair. The woman is gorgeous. She's right on with every single thing she wears. Clinton, I'm sorry I can't say the same for you, sweetie. Don't worry, by the end of every show, I've convinced myself that you look adorable despite what I thought at first glance. (See what I did there? I pulled a Clinton trying to make him feel better about just busting on his striped pants with plaid sweater.) I don't dress nearly as badly as the folks on their show but I still secretly hope that they will spot me at the mall on a particularly horrible day and teach me their fashion ways.


Paula Deen
I wouldn't be a good southern woman if I didn't love Paula Deen. She reminds me of so many women that were important to me when I was a child. I love her southern cooking. I love her cute little accent. I love her sons. Ahem. She's just all around adorable. Paula, Stacy and Clinton all occupy most of the space on my DVR. Sister loves Paula even more than I do. Friday nights, I let her stay up a little late to watch Paula's show with me. We talk about the recipes and which we'd like to make. We talk about how pretty her hair is. If you don't tell anyone, I'll admit to you that there may have been a time when I told Sister that it was ok to call her Grandma. Moving on.
Sharon Couto
If you aren't already reading Sharon's blog and checking out Mom Generations, stop what you're doing and go there now. I adore Sharon. She's classy, beautiful, hilarious and has a relationship with her daughters that every Mom dreams of. She once wrote about "Rules for Raising Daughters" and I've read her list so many times that I've almost got it memorized. She's the kind of lady you want to be like and you desperately want to know better. Every time I read her blog, I come away wondering if she'd be willing to adopt me. As for fashion? Sharon could teach Stacy & Clinton a thing or two. Just look at her. (I'm purposely overlooking the fanny pack incident here, for the sake of her daughters!) Want to know something else I love about her? She is still so madly in love with her sweetie of 32 years. She knows he's the hottest guy around isn't afraid to say it. I love that.
There you have it, friends. This is my top three BFF wanna-be list. Feel free to share your list with me because I'm always looking to expand my list. I'm friendly like that.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rebel Mom

After taking Sister to her first day of school earlier this week, Brother and I headed to Barnes & Noble for a little play time on the train table. A friend of ours was there with her kids, having just dropped her oldest off for her first day of kindergarten as well.

After Brother finished playing on the train table, he found a book and sat down to read. I helped him with some of the concepts (it was about learning to tell time) and when he was done, he got up to get another book. I was standing less than three feet from him as he chose his book. I was watching every move he made. He was browsing the books on one of those round spinning book shelves. Before long, he realized how much fun it was to watch it spin so he stopped looking for books and was just spinning, watching and giggling.

Let me back track a little to tell you that we visit this store often. Often enough that I could pick the employees from the kid's section out of a lineup. This day, there was a young man back there that I hadn't seen before. To say that he didn't look pleased with his assignment to this particular section would be putting it mildly.

Onto the story.

As I'm watching Brother, I hear someone say, "STOP spinning that!"

He was talking to Brother. I shot him a glance and then asked Brother to stop and come over with me to find a book. Without acknowledging me, the young man went back to typing on the computer.

We found a few books and went back over to the stage. When we were done reading, Brother and our friend's daughter started playing on the stage. Brother (need I remind you that he's a boy and he's three and we are in a KID'S section?) was jumping around.

Next thing I know, I hear the voice yelling from across the way.

"Stop jumping!"

Ok.

I may be a slacker mom but I was right there. I was watching him. I knew he was spinning the dang rack and I knew he was jumping. I also knew he was so close to me that I could reach out and grab him without leaving my spot. Again, I'll remind you of where we were and how old my boy is.

This guy didn't once acknowledge me. He just snapped at my son. I was angry and embarrassed.

I chalked my emotions up to the fact that it was Sister's first day of school and I was desperately missing her. Maybe I was overreacting? My friend that was there witnessed the whole thing and assured me that I wasn't. But, it was her first day as the Mom of a Kindergartner so maybe she was emotional, too.

Fast forward a few hours. We went to pick Sister up from school. No one told us anything about this process so I arrived early so I'd have time to figure out what to do to retrieve her. I parked the car and Brother and I started heading towards the front of the school. The parking lot was devoid of people since we got there twenty minutes before we were supposed to pick her up.

"Ma'am! Ma'am! Excuse me!"

I looked around and saw a woman coming from the front of the school motioning to me.

"Ma'am, usually we have buses and cars using this parking lot so I'm going to have to ask you to practice using the crosswalks when you are at the school."

At that point, she was done and turned around to leave. I was on the verge of tears. I just wanted my daughter. I wanted to know where to get her. I was trying to get everything figured out before the chaos started.

Knowing that I needed to just suck it up, I called back to her. "Ma'am! I assure you that when there are buses here, I won't attempt to walk through them. I have no idea what I'm doing because this is my first day ever at this school and I'm trying to figure it all out. If you'd kindly point me to the place where I can retrieve my daughter after the bell, I'll happily walk 3.5 feet to the left and be within the lines of the crosswalk."

People, you are in the presence of a Rebel Mom. I let my kids wreak havoc on innocent bookstores and refuse to abide by the basic pedestrian laws. I color outside of the lines. Next thing you know, I'll be letting the kids eat ice cream for dinner or eat food after they've dropped it on the floor. Watch out, hang on to your books and get your buses out of the way!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On The First Day of Kindergarten

Sister had her first day of Kindergarten today. There were a lot of smiles (from her), a lot of tears (from me) and tons of pictures (still stuck on the camera).

She made two new friends within her class. Apparently, these three girls (Sister and her friends) did everything together and decided that they are going to be best friends all year. I'd love to tell you the names of her friends but she forgot to ask. Names are a mere formality to a five year old.

As for me, I did ok. Just ok, not great. When it was time to leave her there, I started to cry despite willing myself for the last three days to just hold.it.together. Thankfully, I still have Brother and he didn't stop talking from the moment we left the school until we returned home with Sister this afternoon.

When you have a infant, all of the parents of older children go on and on about how fast time goes and how quickly they grow up. I would usually smile, nod and not really get what it was they were saying. I mean, sure. Time does go by quickly but come on. When you aren't sleeping through the night, you think it will last forever and just wish we could move on to the next phase already. Suddenly, it happens and you want it all back. You'd give anything to be up three times a night because it would mean they still need you. Being up to feed them every few hours would mean that they were still all yours, depending on you for their well being. Before you realize that you shouldn't have spent all of your time wishing for the next phase, you are sending them off with a larger than expected backpack to spend the majority of their day with someone else. Even though the someone else you are sending them to is a mother, it's not the same.

I'm almost done with my emotional overload over The Kindergarten. I promise that as of tonight, I've accepted it. I'm moving on. Until next week when Brother starts preschool. I need another baby, STAT.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Overwhelming

The title sums up my feelings about Kindergarten right now.

Arriving at the school very early this morning, I was ready to take on the world. Nothing would stop me in my quest to be Room Mom again. We were the first there and I was ready to stake my claim.

Let me make a long story very short for you. Kindergarten? She ain't playing around. We're not in Preschool anymore, friends. Upon arrival, we helped Sister find her desk and get settled. By the time I made it to the table housing the sign up sheets (THERE WERE SO MANY OF THEM!), not only was the Room Mom position filled but the Assistant to the Room Mom, Assistant to the Assistant to the Room Mom and Room Mom Thrice Removed were also filled. Once I got over the initial dizziness from the sheer amount of papers before me, I was ready to play hard ball.

In my world? Hard ball = helping with lunch duty two weeks from now bringing Ziploc bags for the class to use (for what, I'm still not sure).

My contributions to this class are clearly going to be astounding.

To be honest, I really did leave there today feeling completely sad and overwhelmed. Totally unlike the other people in my family who couldn't stop talking about the new computers! Super Nice Teacher! and HUGE library, I didn't have a word to say all the way home. As a matter of fact, I've been at a loss for words all day.

Look, it's not like I didn't know this day was coming. I know that after four comes five. After Preschool comes Kindergarten. I get that. It's just that it occurred to me today that the woman standing before me (delivering a peppy power point presentation...alliteration!) is now going to be spending as much time of the day with my daughter as I am. That reality didn't sit well.

Also, people? The sheer amount of paperwork I have to do for this child to attend KINDERGARTEN is frightening.

It's a good thing Sister is so excited about this whole thing or else I'd pretend she was still four for a few more years.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Challenged

I ran into a friend last night who has older kids that go to the elementary school that Sister will be attending. We were catching up about our summer activities and the upcoming school year. I asked if she had any inside information for me as a newbie to this "Mom of an Elementary School Kid" thing.

"Oh yeah. This school has a LOT of parent involvement. Most schools can't get parents to help. This school has more than they need. If you want to be Room Mom, you need to get there early on Open House day and make a mad dash to put your name down for it. Trust me."

I hadn't even considered this. I was Room Mom last year for Sister's preschool class but it hadn't occurred to me that they would need someone to fill that duty for kindergarten.

At first, I was all, "Nah. It's cool. I don't have to do it this year. First come, first served and all that."

Three seconds later I was like, "It's on, people!"

What is wrong with me that suddenly this is a challenge and now I'm setting my clock an hour earlier to get there FIRST to get my name on that list?

You've heard my motto so you shouldn't be surprised.

I kid, I kid.

No, I don't. I'll be up with the sun tomorrow. If Big Daddy and the kids aren't ready in time, I'll gently remind them that we have two cars and I'll save them a seat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blah, Blah, Blah

Isn't it annoying cute when you realize that you use a phrase too much because you suddenly hear it being overused by your children?

Brother has really gotten into reading his picture Bible lately and loves to tell us what the stories mean. This would be even cuter if he wasn't calling us into his room at bed time to ask if King Saul would be in Heaven because if so, he doesn't want to go. Because, you know, King Saul was mean to David and threw a spear at him. Brother doesn't want anyone throwing spears at him in Heaven. Makes perfect sense, right?

Brother was "reading" a Bible story to me the other day and he got to a page that he hadn't memorized. He swept his chubby little finger across that page and said, "And...blah, blah, blah." Then, he turned the page and continued on with the story.

I mentioned to J. that I didn't know he learned to properly use that phrase.

The next day, I was reading Sister's acceptance to Kindergarten letter to her. Towards the end, there was a paragraph about numbers to call should you have questions. Since I was sure she wouldn't be interested in that, I continued with a "Blah, blah, blah. We look forward to having you in Kindergarten this year!"

Quite seriously, she turned to me and said, "Huh. I wonder what all that blah, blah, blah part was about?"

Mystery solved.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Organization

I try to be an organized person. Really, I do. But I have to say that I have been the most unorganized person you've ever seen this summer. If I'm being honest, it's been longer than summer.

When Big Daddy got back home in January, I was so thankful not to be the only one in charge that I closed my calendar and declared myself "on a break." I thought I'd take a week or two off of being on top of things and then pull it back together and all would be well. After all, if you have been through a deployment, you know that the only way to survive is to be organized within an inch of your life and I was just tired of that. I needed a break.

Two weeks came and went and my calendar started to collect dust. I totally forgot a dental appointment until the day before it was scheduled when they called to confirm. Mail started to pile up. My motto went from "I'll just take a little break" to "Eh. Who needs a schedule?"

Me, that's who. January was almost eight months ago now and I'm still on that two week break. Last week, I finally got my calendar out and updated it with all of the appointments that we have to get ready for kindergarten (!!) and preschool. I added in a list of school supplies that were needed and for good measure, a detailed grocery list. Yeah, I hadn't used one of those in a while, either.

This weekend, I bought file folders and dug out our filing cabinet. I blew the dust off of my label maker. (You don't have one? How do you survive?)

I have a plan to have my old (as in former, not aged) very well planned self back before tomorrow is done. I need organization. I thrive on it. Sure, I like to have the freedom to be spontaneous but I also hold to the mantra that everything has it's own time and place.

I think it's the end of summer that has me so excited to get myself back in gear. The beginning of the school year just seems like the right time to start fresh. For so many months while Big Daddy was gone, things just worked well. Then, he came home and I rebelled against everything that even reminded me of his deployment...even living in a dust free house with a perfectly labeled calendar and file folder by my side.