Friday, September 14, 2018

Seasons of Parenting

I read the FTSF post on Facebook this week which was "10 things about the changing of the seasons...". The first thing that came to my mind was how the seasons of parenting change. That seems to be on my mind a lot lately as my now teenagers are growing and changing just as fast as toddlers do, it seems. I brushed it off, though, because I usually don't have much time to write these days and, while I still love writing here in this space, it has gotten pushed far to the back of my priorities shelf. 

However, speaking of seasons, it's hurricane season and I ended up with a quiet day at home today thanks for Hurricane Florence. (That will probably be the only thing I ever thank her for!) I live in central NC and, fortunately, as Flo has approached our coast and made landfall, she has weakened. Original predictions, though, had her coming in as a Category 4 and having a huge, devastating impact on our state as far as 300 miles inland closer to where we live. With that earlier forecast in mind, schools closed for today fearing the worst. Since then, the predicted path has changed and the storm actually came in as a Category 1. There will still be flooding and significant damage, for sure, but I now have this lazy day at home to write a little blog post. 

So, focusing back on the seasons of parenting, here's how it breaks down in my mind:
  1. Expecting - This is the stage when you are just expecting your first child. You are blissfully unaware that you have no idea what you are getting into and that you will not have a sound night's sleep again for the next 18+ years. 
  2. Newborn - You have brought your bundle of joy home and are now delirious with love for this tiny human. However, you are also sleep derived, confused, constantly worried, and have most likely defaulted to yoga pants and ponytails as you have no time for showering or make up. 
  3. Toddlers - When you're in this season, you are knee deep in potty training, tantrums, and baby-proofing everything to make sure your sweet little angle doesn't ingest a bottle of Mr. Clean or take a headlong dive down the stairs. **This stage is often complicated by combining it with the newborn stage if parents add second and third children into the mix. In that case, you are in the sleep deprived newborn stage and the hyper vigilant toddler stage all at the same time. Good luck! 
  4. Elementary  - In this stage, you are in disbelief that you precious cherub is old enough to go to school and you shed tears as you watch him/her tote that ginormous backpack into the classroom where they will be with someone else more hours in day that they will be with you (at least awake!). Secretly, though, you are looking forward to a little time for yourself. This stage also involves considerable paperwork - all the school forms, school fundraisers, permission slips,  . . . . . .
  5. Older elementary - By this stage, you have gotten used to dropping them off in the carpool line. Instead of crying and savoring snuggles in the morning, you are constantly saying "Hurry up!" and sticking a granola bar in their hand as you rush them out the door. Hopefully, they are doing most of their homework on their on with just a few gentle reminders, because you will soon realize that you are, in fact, NOT smarter than a fifth grader due to the fact that's not the way you learned to multiply or apply commas. The kids are somewhere between "Hold me, Mommy!" and "Don't you dare kiss me in front of my friends!" Bedtime is pushed back closer to 9:00pm and your grocery bill is consistently rising in order to satisfy their constant need to snack. 
  6. Middle school - Hormones, homework, and mood swings - oh my!! You spend hours and hours in your car chauffeuring kids to all. the. things. 
  7. High school/teens - You've somewhat gotten used to the hormones and moods swings - you can now take them in stride and, occasionally, even predict them. You actually kind of miss all those hours you spent in the car because, now, they can drive themselves and you don't see them much anymore. But you worry - every second you are not with them, you are worried about them in a whole new way. There are new stressors, too, like college decisions, car insurance, and dating. You also laugh at the you who thought they ate a lot when they were a few years younger - these teenagers can put away some food! 
  8. College  - I'm not quite here yet, although I can hardly believe that I will be in less than two years. I imagine this stage is a grand mixture of pride, loneliness, and uncertainty. I'm just getting used to my oldest driving herself and I already feel like our time together has been drastically reduced. I can only imagine the vacuum I will feel when she goes away to college.
  9. Young adults - Obviously, I'm not here yet, either. I envision a time of travel for my husband and me while our kids are independent adults. I am certain I will miss them immensely, but my house will probably be a whole lot cleaner, too! 
  10. Grandparenting - My own parents have tried to describe the feeling of being a grandparent, but it is apparently a feeling that is tough to articulate. An overwhelming love, but one that is different form the way you love your own children. I can only suppose that watching your own children experience these stages themselves is quite an exceptional experience. 
I should also mention that these seasons often overlap. What seems like a long time ago and also just like yesterday, I dropped my oldest off for her first day of kindergarten with a toddler tagging along and a two week old newborn in a carrier on my chest. Now, my oldest is a teenager who recently got her driver's license, while my younger two are still in middle school. Having come this far in parenting, I would say that no season is easier than another. They are all just different, each with its own unique challenges and joys. 

What season of parenting are you in right now?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Don't Assume My Teenagers Are Making Me Miserable

"You have three daughters?? Wow! Watch out for those teenage years!!"

"Your daughters are how old? I bet you have your hands full!"

"I bet there are a lot of tears and slamming doors in your house!"

"They're adorable babies, but I bet they'll hate you when they're teenagers!" 

I've been hearing comments like these for years now and, when my daughters were little, they had me pretty terrified of what the future would be like. Now, with a 16, 13, and 11 year old, I think it's safe to say we are firmly planted in the teenage years and we'll be here for a while. 

You know what? It's really not that bad! In fact, I have friends and relatives with toddlers and newborns. While I'm more than happy to snuggle their little ones and even change a diaper or two, I'm also happy to hand them back over and come home to my house full of teens where I can have a conversation that does not involve cartoon characters and, then, sleep soundly through the night.

I'm not going to lie. There is definitely some eye-rolling, some door slamming, and, as my teens would say, some "salty" text messaging happening in my family these days. Trying to anticipate mood swings is like trying to predict the path of a hurricane and emotions run high from time to time. If I'm being honest, though, I'm just as guilty as they are on occasion.

That's not the entirety - or even the majority - of our interactions, though.  

There are also lots of laughs, smiles, and hugs. Now that they are older, we are able to have real conversations about real things. We can offer each other advice, encouragement, and comfort in frustrating situations. We help each other out- whether it's choosing the right shoes to go with an outfit or math homework that even I can't figure out. The good moments outweigh the bad ones by far, so I'm kind of tired of hearing all about how awful teenagers are! 

In general, if your'e old enough to be parenting a teen, you are probably well aware that they have pressures today we never even dreamed of 20-30 years ago. There is the constant pressure of social media - looking a certain way, being a certain way, having the "right" friends, and having the "right" stuff. They cannot escape stories of school shootings and mass violence no matter how hard we try to shelter them. When my oldest was just 14 and at the very beginning of high school, people were asking her where she wants to go to college and what she is planning to declare as her major. She's trying to get good grades, rack up some service hours, and make sure to have some extracurricular activities that will look good on a college application - all while she's suppose to already know exactly what she wants to be when she grows up?!? Not to mention the raging hormones that they cannot control no matter how hard they may try. They are also experiencing lots of new feelings about other people and this great big world they were not familiar with just a short time ago and coping with those emotions takes a level of maturity they may just barley be beginning to reach. It's a lot for kids - yes, KIDS - to shoulder and, since they are just kids, they are still trying to figure out how to cope with all that stress.

As adults, we don't help them by setting our expectations so low and just presupposing they are automatically going to be unpleasant, disrespectful humans when they hit teenage-dom.

Maybe, they are just living up to (or down to) what we have all told them we expect them to be. 

Maybe we should try to understand the pressure they are under and cut them just a little slack. (That does NOT mean abandoning the rules and letting them go wild!)

Maybe not all teenagers are monsters. 

If you're currently raising toddlers, I'm here to tell you that you don't need to dread their teenage years nearly as much as people may tell you you should. Sure, parenting teens can be tough, but, hey, raising toddlers isn't all sunshine and roses, either, right? There's no universal law that requires teens to be terrible, so you shouldn't just assume that they will be any more difficult at 15 the they are at 5 - there may be different frustrations, but not worse. In fact, you might actually enjoy them as teens if you head into those years with a positive attitude. 

If you are currently raising teens, I am a firm believer that kids will embrace our attitudes and expectations. If those are negative or full of dread, then you will reap exactly the behavior you are sowing. If you can, instead, view your kids as real people with real pressures, but also with beautiful, valuable gifts to offer, you will see those gifts shine through and the teen years will be a lot more positive for everyone. 

Will there still be mood swings and eye rolling? For sure! Lots of it will come from them and plenty will certainly come from you as well. How about we try to focus on the positive moments, though, and let those be the ones that define what it means to raise teenagers and watch them becoming the unique, amazing people they were created to be. All the teenagers I know are actually pretty awesome people if you just give them the chance to show you.  

Monday, July 23, 2018

Why I Keep Dropping the Dishwasher Ball

I was in the kitchen getting ready to make supper on Sunday evening. The sink was full of dirty dishes, as usual, so I decided to unload the dishwasher and re-load it with the dirty plates, cups, and utensils before I began cooking. I opened the dishwasher and realized that I had loaded the dishwasher with messy dishes the night before, but had, once again, neglected to hit the start button. I cursed under my breath just as my husband walked through. 

"Did you forget to start it again?" he asked. "Sometimes, I really worry about you, my love!" he chuckled.

You see, it's a running joke at my house - me forgetting to start the dishwasher - because it happens quite frequently. In fact, it seems that at least once a week I find myself in this same predicament. 

Hitting the button should be the easy part, right? So, why do I keep forgetting this tiny, simple little thing?

Well, it's because I've got a lot of balls. 

Ahem. I mean, I’ve got a lot of things going on - a lot of proverbial balls I'm juggling. 
I read a blog post recently that contended the majority of the "mental load" in a household rests on the shoulders of the mom. I would have to agree. Now, don't get me wrong. My husband has plenty of things to juggle, too. He is the primary breadwinner for our family and that rests heavily on him, I know. Although I do work part time, I do not have the amount of work stress he does. Of course, he is also helping with some household things and dad things, too. 

However, when it comes to "the daily grind" of running a household and a family, it's mostly on me. I'm the one making the appointments, planning the menus, cleaning the house, doing the shopping, and trying to figure out how to get everyone where they need to be. When school's in, you can add to the list filling out all the forms, sending all the emails, washing the uniforms, making sure the homework gets done, and even more scheduling and transportation logistics. Did I mention I have job outside the home as well??

For us, it's not like one day after we had kids we sat down and said, "Here's a list of all HIS responsibilities and here's a list of HERS." It just happened this way. Partly because his work requires a lot of travel, but mostly just because this is the way it is. It's the same in most (but not all)  of the families I know. The moms are the ones juggling all (or at least most of) the balls. And, it's exhausting.

So, yes, occasionally I drop a ball or two. Sometimes it's the ball with the appointment I forgot or the friend I’ve been meaning to call. Sometimes, it's the house cleaning ball or the ball with the instructions for that diet I meant to try. It might be an email I forgot to send, a blog post I never found time to write, or a book that took me way too long to finish. Often, it's laundry that didn't get folded or crumbs that didn't get mopped up. And, yes, quite frequently it's that damn dishwasher ball that gets clumsily fumbled. 

I'm not perfect and I’m not trying to be. I got over that a long time ago. I am, however, trying my best to keep juggling all these balls and make sure that at least the most important ones don’t get dropped. The dishwasher ball?? Well, I figure those dishes will still be dirty tomorrow, so I’m not going to worry about hat one too much. 😜 I'll just have to pick up that ball and try again. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Peeks of Light

It's time for Finish the Sentence Friday and, today, we're supposed to share a photo and a story to go with it. I can't share the photo I want to, though. It's a picture of my oldest daughter and some of her friends that was taken a couple nights ago when they were having a sleepover to celebrate the end of a grueling sophomore year and one of their birthdays. It is a photo of love, friendship, and pure joy. 

While I'm certain they have each put this same photo on all their social media accounts (because I've seen and "liked" each and every one), I don't feel it's my right to slap their faces up here on my little piece of the internet. So, instead, I spent way too much time on Canva finding this stock photo of joyous friends to share! It's missing the green grass and the familiar faces, but you get the idea.
So what's the story that goes with the photo??

We made a decision two years ago to enroll our daughter in this extremely rigorous academic high school/college program. Every day since then I have wondered if it was the right decision. I have seen her completely joy-less and far more stressed out than any fifteen year old should be. At the same time, she has made some great friends and can definitely say she has overcome some incredible hurdles. It was actually an enormous relief to see such joy on their faces in that photo.

Thursday afternoon (the day I picked her up from the sleepover), we were driving with my around town when we witnessed a pretty bad car accident right in front of us. The car in front of me ran a red light and got t-boned by another vehicle. The next thing we saw was the homeless man who is almost always on the corner at that intersection. His sign says he is a disabled veteran. Using a cane, he was hobbling across a very large and busy intersection as fast as he could to check on the people in the cars that had collided. HE WAS THE ONLY PERSON WHO WENT TO THEM! (I called to report the accident while sitting in my car, but admittedly did not get out of my car. I just didn't feel it was a responsible, safe thing to do in so much traffic and I have no medical training to offer anyway.)

Later, my daughter and I were discussing what we had seen. After all, she has her learner's permit and will get her license in just a few months. It was a teachable moment, for sure. We both made mention of the homeless man and what a selfless thing it was for him to risk his safety to go check on the people in the wreck. She said, "Moments like that restore my faith in humanity." 

Maybe it was just something people say, right???

But, maybe not. In the instance of maybe not, I had a few thoughts:

1) It makes me sad that my 15 year old daughter has a sense of lost faith - faith in God, faith in people, faith in goodness. I cannot shelter her from news of school shootings, angry people, and natural disasters. Kids these days are under so much pressure to excel at academics, look a certain way, grow up too fast. I wonder what hand I've played in the dim outlook she has and what it means for her, all her friends, and my two younger daughters in the future. 

2) I am delighted that she still sees peeks of light in the dark. In reality, she has always been a "glass half empty" kind of person. It was refreshing to hear her refer to the homeless man as a sign of hope and to see the sheer happiness on her face in the picture I'm not posting. It was, yet again, a relief to know that some optimism still exists in her and that maybe our choice of high school program coupled with all the terrible news in the world has not completely stolen away every last drop of her childhood innocence.

As parents, we make decisions every day - big ones and little ones - that affect our children's lives. Sometimes, it's so hard to know what the right choice is. We just have to do what we think is best in the moment, move forward with love, and hope for a good outcome. Then, we have to take the peeks light as they come and hold on tight until the next one comes around! 
Linking up with Kristi and Kenya for Finish the Sentence Friday! 

Friday, May 18, 2018

What's on the Menu? Food Frustration

Sometimes, I love food. A decadent piece of chocolate cake or a hearty bowl of pasta; sinking my teeth into a juicy, perfectly seasoned burger or a creamy cone of cold ice cream on a hot summer day. Just this week, I had food from a restaurant I had never tried before - a Hawaiian pulled pork taco topped with pineapple and paired with some amazing sweet potato chips. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Yep. Sometimes, I love food.

Sometimes, though, food sends me to the brink of angry frustration. Dieting and calorie counting vs willpower and “I don’t care!! I’m going to enjoy this dessert!” Constant menu planning, lunchbox packing, and “Mom, what’s for dinner?” interrogations. I get so tired of trying to figure out what to cook, what to plan, how to work our busy schedule around fitting in reasonably healthy meals and something a plethora of differently picky eaters will tolerate. It is a weekly, daily, hourly struggle. 
Sometimes, I get so tired of the struggle that I wish food was not such a necessity. I wish it was not something we needed; something we have to constantly keep in consideration. Sometimes, I wish there was not such thing as food - no such nuisance; no such thing to be a constant thorn in my side. 

Then, there’s those tacos and sweet potato chips; cheesecake and fresh strawberries. 

Life would be so much easier without the need for food, but also much less interesting. 

Linking up with Kristi and Kenya for Finish the Sentence Friday! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Long Days, Short Years

My alarm goes off at 5:30am. I hit snooze once (or maybe twice). Then, shower, get dressed, put on make-up.

I head down the hall to turn off the alarm, feed the dog, and start the coffee. There must be coffee. 

I make the rounds to wake up my girls. Sometimes, I stop short and just stare at them for a few seconds. They look angelic when they sleep and I can still see the toddlers they used to be. It's fleeting, though. Soon, I am thinking to myself, "How are they ever going to make it when they go off to college and I'm not there to wake them each day?" I say their nicknames and give them a gentle shake. "Wake up! Time to get going!"

I head back downstairs to make my coffee - stevia and lots of creamer. I need to pack the lunches. Oh, how I despise packing those lunches! Day after day and picky eating kids. I throw in a Lunchable or an Uncrustable and a apple, then I feel guilty for not packing something healthier or more creative. Shrug. I Gave up on being creative a long time ago. 

I make the rounds one more time just to make sure everyone is awake. They're not. "Get up! Get up! Come on!!" No time for sentimental gazing now. 

I have my usual breakfast - a bowl of protein cereal. Brush my teeth and gather my things. One by one, they come down. "Get your shoes on. Grab your bag. Do you have your lunchbox?"

Out the door for the carpool runs. Drop off the youngest two. Then, a coffee date with my oldest daughter. Focus. Cherish. There aren't many of these left. She can drive herself next year. 

Drop her at school, then off to work. Meeting. Emails. Work. Meeting. Emails. Work. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

Back to the car for pick up rounds. Phone keeps dinging with emails, texts. "Hey there girls! Did you have a good day?" "Yes. Do you have any snacks?" 

After school activities - some days there are more than others. Maybe an errand if we have a few minutes to squeeze it in. It's probably a grocery run if we do.

Finally, home again - just in time for me to need to start dinner. Cook it up. Serve it up. Clean it up.

"Do you have homework? Then, get to work."

Remind them to shower. (Why do they need a reminder to shower?)

Send them to bed. 

Laundry. Dishes. More emails. Maybe TV. Maybe a book if I can keep my eyes open long enough to read a few chapters. 

Finally, my head hits the pillow for a few hours of sleep before it's time to do it all all over again. 

It's been long day. 

Most days seem like long days these days. 

Rushed sips of morning coffee and a bowl of cereal. I scroll through my Facebook feed. "You have memories to look back on today." Click. 
Their tiny faces stare back at me through the screen. Still the same, but also different now. 

Six years ago? Nine? 

Has it really been that long since they were that small. Not possible. It feels like it was just last week. Just a couple days ago.

Look at that face! Look at those curls! 

I remember that outfit. I remember that day. I remember sleepless nights and toddler tantrums. I remember sticky fingers and midday nap times. 

I thought those days would never end, but here we are. How did we get here?  It's a different kind of chaos now. A different kind of crazy. 

Somewhere through the miles and miles, my little ones became tweens and teens. Nap time was replaced by homework and I hear "Mom, can I go out with my friends?" instead of "Mommy, come watch me again!"  

Those days seemed long, so very long. THESE days seem long, so very long. 

But, oh the years! They fly by so fast! 

Hug tight. Don't blink. Hold on. Let go. 

Long days. Short years. 

Long Days.

Short years.   

Friday, April 13, 2018

Ten Things I Hate This Week

Last week was spring break for two of my kids and I took the week off work, but my oldest was still in school and my husband was away on a business trip (that wasn't to anywhere worth tagging along). So, we didn't go anywhere or do anything very exciting. There were plenty of "I'm bored!" utterances and raiding the pantry just to kill time. By Sunday evening, I was actually almost looking forward to Monday, getting back to routines, having things to do,  and interacting with other humans besides my kids. 

What was I thinking?!?!?!?!?

For real, guys! This has been the longest week E.V.E.R. It really felt like it should have been 5:00pm on Friday by about 2:00pm on Tuesday! 
3 toed sloth walking
Anybody else feeling this way?

Well, because the week is taking so long, I've been in a weird mood. (Or, perhaps those should be reversed!) I've been a little grumpy, a little annoyed, a little silly, and really tired. In the midst of that weird mood, I read the prompt for this week's Finish the Sentence Friday and immediately thought, "Yes! I'm doing this one!" After all, a little bit of grumbling can be kind of cathartic, right? 

So, here's my list of things I hate more than anything this week (and most other weeks, too!).
  1. Math homework. Seriously. There have been more tears in this house over math than pretty much anything else this school year. I never liked math when I was in school and I think I like it even less now that I have kids! 
  2. Drama. You might think that with three daughters, I would be used to drama, but the thing is  - I don't do drama. My girls are actually pretty low key when it comes to the tween/teen girl theatrics, but, occasionally, they get caught up in the hullabaloo others have created. I have very little patience for those who stir up craziness in order to get attention and even less patience when my daughters get sucked into it. 
  3. Group projects. Here's what I would like to propose to all teachers everywhere (I say this with utmost respect, too, because I come from a long line of teachers.) If you feel it necessary to assign group projects, let's first teach the kids how to MANAGE said projects. For example, maybe one student could be a project manager? Maybe we could use the opportunity to teach kids how to DELEGATE tasks and LISTEN to the ideas of others. We could talk about deadlines and respectfulness and responsibility to others. You might think group projects would be less stressful because there are more people to carry the load. However, there is inevitably someone in the group who wants to control things and someone in the group who doesn't carry their weight. In the end, it often creates the drama I mentioned above. I'm honestly not sure who despises group projects more - me or my kids! 
  4. Packing lunches -  It's near the end of the school year. I'm out of ideas and out of motivation. So over it!
  5. The grocery store might actually be my LEAST favorite place on earth! Yet, the way these kids go through food, I find myself going there quite frequently. They eat all the time, so I have to re-stock the pantry almost daily sometimes. 
  6. Trying to lose weight. 
  7.                              That's All I Have To Say About That- Forrest Gump Quote

  8. Mornings - Two of my three kids are not morning people and neither am I. It's not a good combination.They don't want to get out of bed and I get tired of having to wake them up and hurry them out the door. 
  9. Interruptions - Do you know how many times I tried to type this post before I was actually able to finish it? I don't either because I lost count amidst all the interruptions that diverted my attention.
  10. Opening up my blog and realizing how long it's been since I actually wrote and posted something. Then, also realizing that I didn't really miss it all that much. 😩😢 "To everything there is a season" I suppose.
  11. Only being able to think of 9 things for a list that's supposed to have 10!!! So there! 
Well, it's finally Friday (after I started this post on Thursday), so I think I can safely say I've made it through the week relatively unscathed. We have seven more weeks until all the kids are out of school for summer - not the I'm counting or anything. I sure hope those weeks don't go by as slowly as this one did! 

Linking up with Kristi & Kenya for Finish the Sentence Friday.


Thursday, March 1, 2018


I'm sitting on the couch on my 41st birthday as I type this. It's raining and it has been a pretty ordinary day with little fanfare except for lunch with co-workers and lots of  "Happy Birthday" wishes. That's totally fine with me. I'm not very good at being the center of attention and a day with no crazy schedules to juggle and some simple time with my family is pretty much the best gift I can think of - along with a back rub and ordering in for dinner so I don't have to cook. Last year, I was less than excited about turning 40, but, obviously, I survived because here I am. 

It's fitting, I suppose, that this week's Finish the Sentence Friday prompt is "When I think about life's lessons" because milestones like birthdays have a way of making us look back at where we've been, what we've been through, and what we have learned. At 41, I've certainly learned a few things about life, but I'm certain I have a lot more to learn, too. I definitely don't have all the answers. Does anyone? 
A few things I've learned . . . . 
Work hard. There's rarely an excuse for giving less than your best. The final outcome may not be perfect or even very good, but you can still feel good about it if you gave it your all.

Be civil. I think, right now, our world needs a lot more of this one. You don't have to agree with everyone on every issue, but fighting about it almost NEVER solves the problem. Instead of arguing, TALK. Have an honest conversation. Be open to hearing someone else's point of view - not because you need to be persuaded into agreeing with them, but so that you can understand why they think and feel the way they do. Hopefully, they will return that respect.

Your parents were probably right. As I've gotten older and parented my own kids, I've heard my parents' voices in my head so many times. Occasionally, I hear them coming out of my mouth, too! I'm sure I rolled my teenage eyes or mumbled under my breath about how ridiculous their advice was. Now, I'm telling my children many of those same things and they are rolling their eyes at me. Karma. 

Don't be afraid to ask for help. This is one I'm sure I learned the hard way and that I tried to teach my middle daughter just today. We sometimes make ourselves crazy trying to do something - or lots of things - because we are afraid that asking for help makes us look weak. On the contrary, I believe asking for help takes courage and a real self awareness to know when it's time to reach out to someone else. 

Love deeply. Days may seem long, but life is short. Tell the people you love that you love them every chance you get because tomorrow isn't guaranteed. That sounds super cliche, I know, but it's true! 

Laugh. Smile. Find joy. Again, life is too short to spend it focusing on the negative things. Find the positive. Be a glass-half-full kind of person.

Everyone is struggling with something, so be kind. It may be something obvious like the loss of a loved one or an illness. However, it may also be something that you never see like personal finances or depression. Big or small, major or minor, everyone has their crosses to bear. Be kind. Offer joy.

Be yourself. I've struggled most of my life with accepting myself and learning to love myself just as I am. But, I don't think I've ever tried to make myself into someone I'm not. After all, there's nobody else on earth who is just like me - the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you spend your energy being "fake," you - or someone else - will almost surely end up disappointed. 

And, finally . . . . 

Birthdays really aren't so bad. No matter what your age, birthdays are as joyful or depressing as you make them. As my dad says, having another birthday is better than the alternative! 

By the way, my most favorite thing I've ever written is also a list of lessons - Lessons I Want to Teach My Daughters. I've even considered turning it into a book. If you're up for a few more words of Golden Spoons Wisdom, check it out! :-) 

Linking up with Kenya, Kristi, and lots of other FTSF-ers for Finish the Sentence Friday.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

There Is No Such Thing as Perfection In Motherhood

When you are trying to "make it" as a blogger - whatever that may mean to you - one piece of advice you get repeatedly is something also referred to networking. Basically, you are supposed to read and comment on a bunch of other blogs so those bloggers will also read and comment on your blog - and unspoken rule of reciprocal blogger etiquette. 

A few years ago, when I was trying to "make it," I did just that. I scoured the internet for ALL the mommy blogs. As would be expected, I found some that just weren't my cup of tea. However, I also found some that became great blogging buddies and that I still read today.

One of the blogs in that second category is called Perfection Pending which is authored by Meredith Ethington. I don't remember how I found her blog, but I remember being hooked by the title right away, because, really, there is no such thing as perfection in motherhood or parenting. As I continued to read Meredith's blog, I came to appreciate her honesty about the hard parts of motherhood and the humor she was able to insert to make those hard parts a little more bearable. She has always taken a tell-it-like-it-is approach on her blog and done it in a way that feels encouraging and uplifting. So, I was super excited when I found out that Meredith was writing a book and I was even more excited when I got an advanced copy to read and review. 
In the book, titled Mom Life: Perfection Pending, Meredith gets real about many aspects of parenting including the infant years, toddler years, the never-ending laundry, the house that is never actually clean, the complete lack of alone time, and bedtime bedlam. She touches on keeping a healthy marriage while raising tiny terrorists and the fact that every parent has regrets. She does it all with joyous sarcasm and candor that is extremely encouraging and refreshing. All the way through I was nodding my head and repeating "Yes! Me too!"

If you are a parent at any stage, you need to grab copy of this book. You will laugh and maybe cry (but in a good way!). You will certainly see glimpses of yourself, your kids, and your parenting ups and downs on every page. After reading it, you will feel validated and be assured that your parenting - despite everything you think is it lacking - is actually completely normal and that, as Meredith says, "You are a good mom. Kids are just insane." 

The book is available on Amazon as of today. Below, is a little bit more about Meredith. You can also follow Perfection Pending on Facebook and Twitter

Meredith Ethington is a mom of three and the writer and creator of the popular parenting blog, Perfection Pending. She is a born and raised Texan who loves real talk and laughter, mixed with a little bit of sarcasm. Meredith earned her degree in Psychology and then began writing in 2007 as a way to document her life as a new mom. She quickly realized she had a passion for writing, which helped her work out a lot of her feelings about being a mom. She writes mostly to commiserate with other parents and to remind herself that she doesn’t want to be a perfect mother­­–she wants to be a real one. She is a staff writer for Scary Mommy and Momtastic and has her work featured often by Babble, The Huffington Post, and CafeMom. In 2017, BlogHer named Meredith a Voices of The Year Honoree. She has been featured many times by as one of the funniest parents to follow on Facebook and has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine. Meredith now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, three kids, and a very moody cat.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Better Than Anything

I've fallen in love four times in my life. 

The first time was with the guy who became my husband. I met him when I was 19 and I wouldn't say it was love at first site, but more of that giddy, butterflies-in-the-belly nervousness of a new romance. He was a whopping six years older than me (which seems like a lot when you're 19 and 25), so I wasn't sure it could really work. But, it didn't take long for both of us to realize that our relationship was something special and it quickly grew into something much deeper than that initial slaphappy feeling. 

The other three times were when I met each of my daughters for the first time. Of course, I LOVED them as soon as I knew they were growing inside me. I wanted to protect them and thought about them constantly. They were literally with me anywhere and everywhere I went every second of the day. We had a connection, both physically and spiritually. However, it's a strange feeling to be so infatuated with a person you have never even met. With my first two, we didn't find out their gender in advance, so they didn't even have names. Until they did. Until they were born. When their tiny, slimy, red, wrinkled, writhing little bodies were laid upon my chest - that's when I was IN LOVE with each of them  - the same, but also anew every time. 

That feeling of being newly in love is overwhelming and powerful in the most wonderful and joyous way. It is also rare and exceptionally hard to replicate.That means, there are not many things in life that feel quite as fabulous as the sensation which engulfs you when you realize you have fallen totally and completely in love. There are, however, a handful of things that come somewhat close. 

Here's my Finish the Sentence Friday Listicle of things that are "better than anything except falling in love."
Children -  Some people don't particularly like young children and that's totally fine.  After all, they are germy, temperamental, and loud. However, they are also precious, innocent, and honest. They make me smile and make me laugh. They are where I see all that's good and pure in the world. I see God in their eyes and grace in their smiles. 
Part of my job is leading a weekly children's chapel with the preschoolers at our church. A colleague took this picture of me at this week's chapel. I hate looking at myself in pictures, but I don't mind this one so much because I see joy on my face. That's because, when I'm surrounded by children, their joy bubbles over into me.

Falling into a cozy bed at the end of a long day (or any day!) - I am neither a morning person nor a night owl. It's actually quite unfair and extremely counterproductive. I hate getting out of my warm bed in the morning and, by about 8:00 every night, I am ready to climb back in and snuggle down under the covers. Nothing feels quite as comforting as finding just the right spot with the covers pulled up under my chin. 

"This Is Us"  - Okay, I know this is a cheesy addition to the list, but seriously - there are not many things in life that make me feel all the "feels" the way this show does. No spoilers here, but if you haven't seen the last two episodes (post-superbowl one and the one from Tuesday, 2/6), then, brace yourself. Also, while I totally love Sterling K. Brown, I am wholeheartedly recommending Mandy Moore for whatever the next big acting award might be after her portrayal of Rebecca in these last two episodes! 

Getting a compliment  - Have you ever read "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman? He proposes that we all have "languages" - Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch - and that we use these languages to give and receive love. However, of the five, typically one or two are stronger in a given individual than the rest and that one primary language is the best way for us to receive love. (i.e. if your primary is acts of service, your partner should show love by helping you do laundry, cleaning out your car for you, etc.). (You can actually take a quiz HERE to discover your primary love language.)  Anyhoo, one of my primary languages is, obviously, words of affirmation. I love a good compliment from someone telling me I look nice, that I did a really good job on something, or that they really appreciate something I've done. . 

Food - The fact that food is on this list may be a direct correlation to my lack of success with dieting. Really, though, food can bring comfort and happiness. For some it may be a decadent piece of chocolate cake. Others might prefer a delicious bowl of pasta covered in your favorite sauce.  Still others might prefer a crisp, green salad with just the right touch of dressing. Whatever your food preferences may be, there is nothing quite like anticipating and tasting something that excites your tastebuds and fills your soul. 

A Beautiful Beach - I can't swim, so it is probably rather ironic that I love the beach, but I do. There is something so calming about listening to the rhythm of the crashing waves and feeling the warmth of the sun coupled with a refreshing breeze. I do love winter and a good snow day, but there's nothing quite like relaxing by the ocean with some sand in my toes. 

A good laugh - I don't mean a little giggle following one of your kids' corny jokes. I mean a really good, deep down belly laugh - the kind that makes your side hurt as tears roll down your face. I'm talking about laughing so hard that you almost can't stop and really don't want to anyway. Those kind of laughs are the absolute best kind! (One of the last things that made me laugh like that was this video. I seriously thought I was going to have to change my pants!) 😂

My family - With three daughters, all of whom are in or quickly approaching teenage years, and a husband who travels a lot for work, I'm not going to lie and tell you that my family is a constant source of joy. Of course, there are eye rolls and frustration. There are schedules, budgets, chores, whining, and arguments. But, there is also love and laughter. There is nothing better than feeling my middle daughter wrap her lanky arms around my waist or nestling my head on my hubby's shoulder after he's been gone all week. I wouldn't trade the moments of reading a devotion with my youngest each night or the coffee dates with my oldest for all the riches in the world. 

Sure, there are other things in life that are almost as good and euphoric as being or falling in love, but these are the eight at the top of my list today. What would be on your list? 
Something else that is almost as grand as falling in love?? Finish the Sentence Friday, of course! Thanks to Kristi and Kenya for hosting and for the fun prompt! 

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