Monday, December 29, 2008

My Blog Got What It Wanted For Christmas!

My blog was apparently on the "nice" list this year, because it got just what it wanted for Christmas - a MAKEOVER!

This was such a fun Christmas present to receive (thank you, Emily!). And watching the design come together was equally thrilling (thank you, Danielle!).

I hope you enjoy the new look.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Family Portraits

For twenty consecutive years, our family has run (I use that term very loosely) a race called the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. And when we come home from the event, we have a family portrait taken in our Turkey Trot shirts.

I was hoping to use one of these pictures for our Christmas card this year. I love the first and last one, but I'm so totally entertained by the non-verbal communication between daddy and son in pics 2 & 3 that I want to send out all four.

So, here's a virtual Christmas card that shows you a little glimpse into how a 3 yr old boy can get a little out of hand, and how one look from a daddy can restore a bit of order to the portrait-taking process.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All He Wants For Christmas

All my son wants for Christmas this year is a snowboard.

He makes this request as we stand outside in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops. It's 79 degrees, and only a thin veil of clouds holds the 80+ temperatures at bay.

"We live in Florida..." I remind him. "It doesn't snow here. You wouldn't get very much use out of a snowboard."

"But it snows in Alabama!" he counters. "I'll just take it there to ride it."


"And I want the kind with the button you push that makes it blast off up into the air!!!!!"

"Right.... yes, the turbo-rocket-propulsion-booster snowboard."

"Sure, mommy. Just make sure it's the one that goes ZOOOMMMM up the trees!" he sings as he scooters down the sidewalk.

"Hey, buddy. I have an idea," I call out after him. "Let's call your Baba and you can ask her to get that one for you for Christmas."

(I have a feeling that the navy blue sweater waiting under the tree is going to be a huge disappointment...)

Friday, December 12, 2008


Thank you all for participating in my version of the Cool Christmas Giveaway. This was a really fun week to have a blog! I decided to mix it up a little with the way the winners were chosen and announced.

So... I'd like to introduce you all to Drew.
He'll take it from here:

So.. to recap, congratulations to:

Lora for winning the sets of Tiffany & Co. stationary;
Vickie (AnooCre8ion - how clever is that?) for winning the Tiffany For Men fragrance gift set;
and Melodee who will be receiving three GREAT books about raising boys!

I have a bonus surprise. Several of you didn't specify which prize you'd like. Whether you were just being sweet and complimentary (they're all great, I'd take anything) or indecisive (I don't know what to pick)... (which, by the way, sounds like our family every single night when it's dinner time, so I have a special place in my heart for you ladies...), Drew and I decided to put you "Undecideds" in a separate category to draw for an additional set of the "Drew" books.

Take it away, son:

Congratulations to Renee as well! I love this particular video because it just shows how confusing this time of year is for little ones ("What holiday are we celebrating this week???")

And oh how I WISH I had kept the video rolling. Because right after I stopped recording, he placed all the remaining names in the red bucket again, shook them up, pulled out an entry and shouted, "JOHN MCCAIN!!!"

Maybe I should send him a fragrance gift set...

Worth The Wait?

I hope it will be worth the wait... I'll be announcing the giveaway winners within the hour and apologize for the delay!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Moving with Purpose

So, it's Week 2, Day 2 of Boot Camp.

I continue to discover great spiritual parallels each morning as I huff and puff my way along the uphill (seriously, up..a...hill...., I hate that hill) path toward physical fitness.

The assistant Bootcamp Man is shouting his favorite phrase as I run by: "MOVE WITH PURPOSE!"

He says it sixteen times a day. I do appreciate his reminders. Although my immediate "purpose" may be to turn the jumprope 15 consecutive times without it getting caught in my ponytail and then wrapped around my ankles (again), I know that there's a greater purpose to my movements.

Firmer, leaner, healthier...This is not the time or place to do "just enough to get by". If I can make every single move count during this pre-dawn hour, really count, I will see some amazing end results.

So, as he shouts it again, I'm inspired to keeping moving with purpose today... even after I've unlaced my running shoes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Welcome to the party... Won't you come in?

Check Out The Cool Christmas Give-Away that Lysa Terkeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries) is doing today

(Would you like to win something wrapped in a little blue box? Well, then, come on in...)

Welcome to my 100th Blog Post Party!

I've never hosted a "virtual" party before. While there's no need to send out invitations, if I DID, they would have looked something like this. (Yes, you ARE worth it).

And I know that you can't really taste them, but please take a look at the beautiful hors d'oeuvres we're featuring...




I stayed up late last night putting the finishing touches on the decorations...


... and arranged for some spectacular entertainment:


I wish I had a party favor for each of you, because if I did, it would definitely be something like this.

BUT, one of you IS going home with a beautiful gift, and I'm so please to announce the winner of the November 28 Giveaway!!! My friend at the Paper Sack ( made a lovely cornhusk angel that will now belong to:

"ufjanet" - Congratulations!
(Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-12-05 21:06:23 UTC)

I'm pretty sure that the "UF" portion stands for the University of Florida. Ah... I should have thought to add restrictions.

If you've read through this entire post, I think you deserve a little surprise, too. So, I'm pleased to announce that I'll be linking up to the Cool Christmas Giveaway at Lysa's site in order to give away the following prizes:

(Since this blog is inspired by the everyday happenings in my life, I decided to give away 1 item in honor of each member of my sweet little family.)

The gift for Mom? Two boxes of fine Tiffany & Co. stationary (one lined in the famous Tiffany blue border, the other box lined in a sophisticated, dark blue shade).

The gift for Dad? One fragrance gift set of Tiffany for Men cologne and lotion.

The gift inspired by our Drew? A few good books that I don't know what I would have done without for the past 3 years: "Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. Dobson; "For This Child I Prayed" by Stormie O'Martian; and "That's My Son" by Rick Johnson

So, leave a comment. I'll give you until next Friday (12/12) at 5pm. Indicate in your comment which giveaway you would like (Mom, Dad or Drew). And maybe this time I'll get a little creative with the drawing.

Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate! Sorry to end the party so early, but 4:30 a.m. comes awfully early...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A One Track Mind

He's starting to get the picture. All those genius marketing people are earning their salaries right now. Because my son is ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS. Every commercial, every ad, every single thing he sees... he wants it on his Christmas list.

Yesterday, I was driving home when we pulled up next to a motorcyle at a stop light.



That! That motorcyle!

Buddy, be serious.

I AM being serious. I want that motorcycle for Christmas. Can you put it on my Christmas list, mommy? Please please please please PLEASE!!!???

Surely you know why I cannot buy you a motorcyle for Christmas, right?

(long pause to think)

Oh, yeah, because it won't fit in the package, huh?

Since I was exceptionally tired (Day 3 of bootcamp and all), I just agreed with him and let it go. I'm pretty sure the topic is going to come up again sometime over the next 16 years, so I'm preparing my list of better reasons now.

And just to prove how singularly focused his little brain is right now, my mom overheard him singing the lyrics to one of his favorite Bible songs yesterday while playing under the Christmas tree at her house.

11 months out of the year, he sings:

He-He-He-He saved me!
I've got the joy of the Lord.

But this December, he's belting out:

Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho- SANTA!

Looks like it may be time to visit the library - I'll be looking for books with "The True Meaning of Christmas" in the title.

What's coming out of the mouths of your babes this month?

(Click HERE to sign in for a chance to win our giveaway! Contest ends tomorrow night!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Boot Camp

At 4:30 a.m. the alarm clock shatters my deep slumber. I know I cannot press the snooze button (there's not a minute to spare), so I force my body out of bed and shuffle to the bathroom to find the pile of workout clothes that were set out the night before.

It's Day 3 of Fitness BOOT CAMP and every muscle in my body is aching. If I consider the hour of "FUN" in store for me today, I might seriously talk myself out of going. So, instead I check the weather to see how many layers I need to wear.

Thirty-seven degrees. Perfect. So... about 37 layers should do the trick. (I'm pretty sure that I could not survive living any place where precipitation comes down in some form other than rain drops).

After running several laps of warm-ups, my lungs are making some serious complaints and my legs have reason to be upset, too. But my instructor's orders are drowning out my objections, so I move quickly to the next activities.

I think it's ironic that I have such fond memories of jumping jacks, jumping rope and relay races from my childhood. Because these same activites are torturous punishment for a 30-something year old, "moderately fit" woman who happens to be carrying around an extra ten pounds.

I'm concentrating hard on the instructor's commands because I don't want to be called out like the girl next to me ("ARE YOU BRINGING IN AN AIRPLANE OVER THERE - WATCH YOUR HANDS!!"), but my balance is off and I think I might fall over if I "STOP LOOKING AT THE GROUND!"

I'm thinking about how uncomfortable I am. Actually, I'm wallowing in it.

And then he says, "YOU KNOW, IT'S O.K. TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE!" (He talks in ALL CAPS!! Most good drill sargeants do.)

It seems like a simple statement at first, but I begin to wonder if I truly believe that. For instance, when my heater doesn't kick on instantly to ensure my house stays at a comfortable 72 degrees, do I remember that it's o.k. to be uncomfortable?

When a friend is indifferent or rude, do I feel like I deserve better treatment, or do I remember that it's o.k. to be uncomfortable every once in a while?

When I'm waiting in line, when I encounter poor customer service, when I'm hungry, when I face adversity, when my three-year old is crawling up my painfully sore quads to get a little closer, when the bank account dictates that I reprioritize my "necessities"...

Do I really believe that it's o.k. to be uncomfortable every once in a while?

Bootcamp Man is promising that we'll reap the benefits of a little discomfort. Leaner. Firmer. Disciplined. Healthy.

As I contort my weary body on the damp workout mat, I'm reminded of some of Christ's earliest followers. Their stories are filled with examples of suffering and discomfort, but always with the promise of God's faithfulness attached. They knew that there would be many trials in this world. The promise to take heart because He has already overcome the world is a promise we can still claim today (See John 16:33).

And I'm realizing that it's not really about this physical discomfort at all right now, but about my general willingness to be uncomfortable... especially in my faith.

I love the way that the Message relates the opening verses of I Peter 4:

(1-2) Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want

Right now, I want a soft warm bed and a licensed massage therapist. But that won't make me leaner, firmer, more disclipined OR healthier - in my physique or in my faith.

So... the alarm's set for 4:30 a.m. Three days down. Seven days to go!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Let's Shop!

As I write this, I must admit that I'm a little sleepy. For the first time since I walked away from a career in retail, I dared to take on Black Friday. And because it's been several years since I even attempted to leave my house on the day after Thanksgiving, I decided to do it big time! That's alarm sounded at 4:20am and I was out the door with my flyers, coupons, and plan of attack.

I fought traffic jams, scored a great parking spot, watched registers carefully as my deals rang up on the screen, and stood in a line so long that I really should have had a chance to ride Space Mountain at the end. It was GREAT!

I LOVE shopping and I LOVE a great deal. Which is why I love what I get to do today... I get to offer my very first GIVEAWAY today!


Before I tell you how it will work, I want to tell you a little about the person who made this giveaway possible.

It seems like everyone I know has "one of those" friends. The kind of person you've known forever. The type of friend who can pick right back up where your friendship left off, even if you haven't seen eachother in years. A girl who knows so much about your hopes/dreams/fears/secrets that you're quite grateful that she loves you so much. Someone who gets your inside jokes and still laughs even though you made those jokes up in middle school and they are decidely un-funny now.

Someone who inspires you when you're around her because of her optimism and her hope in humanity. Someone who isn't afraid to say what she thinks, even if her opinion isn't popular. But then again, she never seems anything BUT popular because people are drawn to her honesty and integrity. Someone who doesn't shy away from hardships. Someone who still laughs easily, though life hasn't always been easy.

Someone who is raising loving, respectful children and nurturing her husband.

And when she takes her cape and boots off at night, she pulls out her needle and thread, and weaves together amazing, whimsical little creations. Then, she opens up an Etsy shop so that others can enjoy the works of her hand. And she names it the Paper Sack. And ships it in the cutest packaging I've ever seen.

And allows her friend of more than 20 years(who until recently hadn't spoken with her in 3 years), to give away the most beautiful cornhusk angel away so I could celebrate my 100th blog post in style.

You know: THAT kind of friend.

So, here's what I want you to do. Leave a comment (you have a week). Tell me one thing you admire about THAT friend of yours. And then let her know, too. I'll randomly draw a winner on December 5.

(Ooh, and I'd love to hear about any good deals that YOU found today, too! You did get out there and shop, didn't you?)

Monday, November 24, 2008


Count Your Blessings
Name them One By One
Count Your Blessings
See What God Has Done:

I've started this post four times and deleted it four times. Because I cannot seem to even wrap my mind around where I should start counting my blessings??!!

My list is endless, and I suspect yours is, too! So, I just want to share 3 things that God has done to bless me beyond measure during 2008.

1. This blog. Several years ago, I started a blog and updated it only a handful of times. In February of this year, I was inspired to pick it back up for a variety of reasons. Over the past 10 months, God has made it abundantly clear that He wants me to step out in obedience and write more about my experiences with Him. This blog has provided me with a platform to practice and a sweet bit of encouragement! Through this channel, God has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. I'm so grateful for His guidance. And grateful for a new way to handle life's ups and downs. My friend at Surviving 4 and I agreed the other day that even when a day goes terribly, at least we'll have some good material...

2. My marriage. We celebrated a decade of wedded bliss this summer. OK, it hasn't all been bliss, but I think that's why I'm so grateful. As we celebrated my brother's wedding this summer (and welcomed my wonderful new sister-in-law to the family), I have been more thoughtful about my own relationship with my hubby. Things haven't always been easy, but in the difficult times, he proves again and again that our marriage is worth fighting for. I never doubt that God brought this man to me. And that He bestowed a temporary dose of wisdom into two 22 yr old kids when He guided us toward choosing our lifetime partner.

3. Guatemala. I haven't written much about our trip this summer to an orphanage in Guatemala. But I'm grateful that God allowed a group of 15 children to soften my heart in the most incredible way. I'm grateful for a desire to be a long-term part of their lives. I'm grateful for the ability to tell my son stories of the children who have so little wealth but know so much joy..

My list could seriously go on and on. I want to tell you all about an incredible group of friends.. a ladies Bible study... a quick healing...but I'm pretty sure that you might question my sincerity if I told you that I'm honestly thankful to God for the pumpkins, heavy whipping cream and various spices that are essential to the brewing of my favorite beverage.

So, I'll ask you. What are you thanking God for this year?

Yelling at the T.V.

My hubby seems to be under the delusion that the television is an interactive appliance. It's the only explanation I have come up with for all the conversations he has with the big box in our living room.

In the morning, he holds witty debates with the news anchors over at NBC, imploring them to present a more fair and balanced view of politics. In the evenings, he cheers on his favorite (insert appropriate sport/season here) teams on to victory.

And should his beloved Auburn Tigers show up for a Saturday game now and then, we wear earplugs and give him a ten foot radius to yell, cheer, jump, and challenge the calls made by the refs. He doesn't seem too disappointed when no one from the other side of the screen responds, so I've learned to live with it.

But over time (we've been married more than ten years), I have apparently learned how to do a little more than "live with it". Because last week I caught myself having a conversation with Moose A. Moose.

For those of you who don't know Mr. Moose, he's the host of NOGGIN, a channel of shows for preschoolers. Between each show, Moose A. Moose comes out with his little friends to star in educational segues for the regular programming (kinda like commercials, but not exactly).

Each month is a different theme, complete with puzzles, songs, games and short stories. Well, November is the month to Give Thanks! That's great. I appreciate that NOGGIN wants to foster a spirit of gratitude in my child. But I question their motivations after learning last month that we should all "Wrap our arms around Mother Earth" and give her a big squeeze for giving us air, water, and animals. Hmmm...

I happened to stroll through the living room during a Moose A. Moose segment last week. He was singing a cute song, extolling the virtues of giving thanks for mom and dad, for food, for water, for our pets, the list went on. And I suddenly found myself engaged in an intense "debate" with my yellow cartoon friend.

"To WHO? Thankful to WHO?" I asked.

Unlike my hubby, I'm still an amateur at this "talking-to-the-t.v." thing, because I kind of expected an answer. Which is why I went on to clarify myself. "I appreciate that you want to teach my child to be thankful. But doesn't it seem a little vague to remind them of their blessings but forget to mention Who they should be thanking for all those blessings."

The moose had no response.

And while I was a little disappointed in myself for yelling at the T.V., I have been reminded of that question over and over again this week.

"To Who?" Who is the recipient of my gratitude? Do I make enough effort to credit my God for being the source of my blessings? Or do I settle for just being generally thankful?

Tomorrow, I want to share some of the reasons I'm thankful this year. But today, if you have found your way here, I want to tell you WHO deserves every word of thanks that spills off of these lips.

My Creator, my Healer, my Sustainer and Provider, my Comfort and Shelter, my Rock, my Father, my Savior, my Counselor, the Giver of all good things. God! He's the One I'm thanking today!

(And unlike my T.V., He's always up for a great conversation...)

Psalm 110: 4-5
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


f.e.m.a. - (fish emergency management association) the Maternal Parental Household Agency tasked with all tank-related Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, Recovery...and Funeral Services (when necessary).

Breaking News
A f.e.m.a. official arrived on the scene only seconds after the unfortunate series of events that led to yesterday's toxic spill of an entire container of fish food into the tank.

Bystanders were hesitant to comment on what they witnessed, but two particular preschoolers were being held by authorities for questioning.

First responder "mom2drew" gave a compelling account of the rescue efforts, many of which are still underway. "It was quite a mess when we got here. It was hard to get a clear picture of what we were dealing with - the water was so contaminated, kinda murky and orange... and we knew we just needed to get these residents into safer living conditions. That was our first priority."

But rescue efforts proved to be slow-going as the residents of the ten-gallon tank seemed less than eager to leave their homes and belongings. "I was able to air-lift two to safety within the first few minutes, but the others were harder to secure. There were obstacles like rocks and seaweed. After a while, the smell and the poor visibility made the job very difficult."

Eventually, all of the fish were moved to temporary housing as crews arrived to begin the arduous task of decontaminating the area. Within a few minutes, the flakes of food had turned to mush, making any cleanup efforts a challenge.

After several hours, the majority of the work was completed, and the tank was re-opened for residents to return home.

"We are grateful that so many did survive this ordeal," said mom2drew. "But we are saddened by the staggering loss of 40% of the community. We never feel good about the loss of lives, but with an incident of this magnitude - we're just grateful for what we were able to accomplish."

No doubt the remaining residents of the tank will feel both sobered and grateful this morning as they awake in their newly cleaned, less-populated environment.

Authorities have vowed to tighten security around the tank, making parental supervision a requirement for future feeding times.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Great Expectations

Do you remember what your expectations of parenthood were before you had children?

When I found out I was pregnant, I expected a nine-month journey of bliss. I'd have glowing skin and silky hair, and my baby "bump" would be accentuated by the latest styles in maternity wear. Of course, all my shoes were going to fit until the delivery day.

I would arrive at the hospital with full make-up, hair done and would lounge in a chenille bathrobe and matching slippers until the big arrival.

I would deliver a tiny little boy and dress him in soft shades of greens and cream colors (blue was too cliche').

He would sleep well, nurse like a champ, and gaze contently up toward his momma as I sang "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor and "Lullaby" by Billy Joel.

As he grew into his toddler years, my "Look" would be all it would take to restore order if his behavior got out of control.

He would talk early and love sports. And he wouldn't watch T.V., except for the occasional educational program (for culture, you know!)


The reality of my pregnancy included round-the-clock morning sickness for at least seven of the nine months. Dehydration does nothing for the skin or hair, and my gray roots dominated my stringy tresses once I decided that hair coloring might harm my unborn child.

Because I didn't win the lottery during my pregnancy, my maternity wardrobe consisted of one pair of black pants that I wore almost every day paired with whatever top covered all the curves and looked somewhat professional. My Payless tennis shoes were 2 1/2 sizes larger than my normal footwear, and did nothing to impress my boss or clients.

I arrived at the hospital in sweats and a ponytail. My hair hadn't been washed since the last time I'd slept... it had been days.

My "tiny" little newborn boy tipped the scales at 9 lbs and nursed for only 2 weeks.

When he finally learned to talk (very late), he asked me to "Please stop singing" lullabies.

My "Look" - it did nothing. Except prompt him to either laugh or give me his "Look".

He loves T.V. and it's a great babysitter (I know, I KNOW!). And he just looks so good in blue!

Last week, I told Drew's grandparents that he might really like a watch for Christmas. Today, he announced that he preferred a bow & arrow. A few hours later, he professed a deep enjoyment for the act of spitting (he actually used the word "Passion"). I responded with the "Look".

Perhaps someday I'll share my expectations of what I believe his teenage years will be like. (I mean, not every teenage boy shows such respect to his momma and enjoys hanging around his house so much when he's not at football practice or rehearsing with the youth group's worship team at church...)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Surprise Packages

A friend recently sent me a package filled with all sorts of goodies. As a treat, she included a few ziploc bags of frankincense and myrrh. I guess she'd found them at a cool little boutique and thought Drew might get a kick out of seeing the spices that were such significant gifts from the wise men to the baby Jesus.

Things have been a little busy for me this week, so I forgot to touch base with her to acknowledge that I got the package in the mail. A few days went by and the thought occurred to her that she may be in for a big surprise by way of several burly federal agents beating down her door.

You see, apparently frankincense looks quite a lot like an illicit and very illegal drug. Granted, she wrote "Frankincense" on the baggie to avoid any kind of confusion with aforementioned drug, but she considered that the U.S. Postal Service may or may not just take her word for it.

So..., she was glad when I finally confirmed that I received the package - all labeled baggies of "spices" included.

While I was still laughing over the potential debacle we avoided, I remembered another incident that involved me, the postal service and a pretty big misunderstanding.

It was a few years ago. Drew was an infant, and it was late October. My hubby was away on business, and I came home to find a very small package sitting by the front door. With arms full of baby, diaper bag, groceries and keys, I stepped over the envelope and entered the house. Several minutes later, I stepped back out onto the porch to retrieve the mail. Upon close examination, the package (addressed to me) was dirty and hand-addressed. The return address gave me no clue as to the sender, and I certainly didn't recognize the handwriting. A bad feeling sat in my stomach... but I tore a small edge off of the envelope in spite of my hesitation.

Upon peering through the tear, I determined that the envelope I was holding contained nuts, nails, bolts, etc. Hmmm... My next few thoughts included warnings of white powder and images of a guy with a hooded sweatshirt and glasses.

I dropped the little package and herded my family to the opposite end of the house. With trembling fingers, I dialed the police. Well, I dialed my brother who IS a police officer.

"You have to come over right now. Someone has mailed me a suspicious package!"

In an impressive display of patience (maybe he just knew he'd be able to tell a good story), he actually came right over to take a look at the offending parcel. I shouted directions and observations from the corner of a bedroom.

"See that handwriting! I don't recognize it!"
OK, he mumbled.
"Did you open it yet!? Do you see what's inside?! Is it really nails, did someone really send nails in the mail to me!!!!!!"
Yes, someone sent you nails. Just hold on. Let me see if I can open it.
"BE CAREFUL! Are you done yet?"
Yep. There's a packing slip here. It's from Haverty's. Did you order something from them?

I HAD ordered something from that fine furniture retailer a few weeks prior. And even though the nice young men who delivered the trundle bed also put it together for me, the nice people at the manufacturing facility decided to just go ahead and send me the "kit" to build the bed myself. No note, no invoice, no directions. Just a "kit" full of nails, bolts, and other small hardware necessary for bed-building.

The whole incident lasted about an hour - start to finish. It took another 2 days and one angry phone call to customer service for my heart to regain it's regular rhythm.

I haven't always been so dramatic (and I will block all comments to the contrary). Perhaps my mother-bear instincts drove me to the point of paranoia that night. Perhaps I was just a little on edge with my hubby/protector out of town. Maybe I would have handled it independently if I didn't have my local law enforcement on speed dial.

But, it's a crazy world out there, and I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'm just glad that my sweet, considerate friend labeled her "goods" when she sent them. I'd hate to disturb my brother on his day off just for a bag of frankincense...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tying Up Loose Ends...and some other stuff

Sometimes, when I don't feel like cleaning my house...
(Hmm...In an effort to be more transparent, I need to start over.)

I NEVER EVER feel like cleaning my house. But when the need for order becomes necessary, I have been known to grab a big bucket and run through the house collecting all the "stuff" that needs to be put back in it's place. Sometimes the "stuff" finds it's way back to it's proper home. On most days, it just stays put in the bucket - but that's better than scattered in 27 different locations, so I count it as progress.

Today, I feel like I need to run through my blog with my big bucket and gather a few loose ends.

First, we only have a few weeks left until our 100th blog post party. I'm excited to share that I have a giveaway!!!!!!!! You see, if I've learned anything since starting this blogging adventure, it's that people LOVE free stuff!!! And the BEST part about the giveaway is that it will give me an opportunity to introduce you to someone who's been an amazing friend to me for more than 20 years. But more on that later...

Second, I want to thank you all for thinking about and praying for Drew. Several of you shared your concerns and thoughts since my post about his headaches. We're so grateful that he has not experienced another headache since the doctor's visit - yey! Since migraines are common among several of our family members, we're hopeful that his little bout was related instead to sinuses or perhaps an allergy.

Next, a wonderful friend pointed out something that I know you won't want to miss being a part of. If you don't read the "Bring the Rain" blog, I encourage you to clear your calendar for a few days, head over to her site, and start from the beginning. If you are a fan, you have already seen Angie's awesome 7-prayers format for praying for your kids. Well, I'm so glad she made a button - which I'm putting up on my blog today.
(Click on it to link directly to Angie's post)

Finally, I am headed to my mom's house today to search for the "Punk/Pop" Halloween costume picture that you are not going to want to miss! (UPDATE - I found it.. scroll down or clink on the above link to check it out!)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Every Morning

I'm currently working through a Bible study by Beth Moore called "Living Beyond Yourself". We're exploring the fruit of the Spirit, and I am trying to let every single word of it speak to me. So, when Beth challenged me during week 6 (about Patience) to wake up one day before dawn, go outside, and "lift up the day's needs as the light begins to dawn and the sun rises", I was ready for this wonderful and refreshing new way to spend time with the Lord.

Daylight Savings Time had just ended (or begun, I have no idea except that I got an extra hour of sleep), so the timing was pretty good. At 5:22 a.m., I woke up (without even an alarm) and shuffled into the living room to find my Bible. The dog was eager to have an early-morning companion, and I realized that I would get no peace until he'd been fed. So, I fed the dog.

Then I pondered my instructions. My Bible study had suggested that I go out into the backyard and face east ('cause that's where the sun makes it's grand entrance). After pondering my east from my west, I determined that I could not, in fact, see the sun from my backyard. I had no choice but to go out front.

I shuffled back to my closet for a bathrobe and socks. The dog was finished with his breakfast, so I invited him out front to roam around while I prepared to spend some quality morning time praising God for a new day.

In order to find the perfect lawn chair, I had to move a ladder and several riding toys. Once my lawn chair was set, and I had Bible, pen (and coffee, did I mention the pot of coffee that I brewed?) in hand, I turned to a few scripture verses that had been given as a starting point to consider this new day.

By the light of the garage, I read Genesis 8:22 - "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." I was quietly reminded of God's perfect control over the balance of the world around me. Day and night, sun and moon, in perfect rhythm. "Lord, thank you for a new day!" I began... before I thought of a question...

"Lord, what time exactly is the sun going to rise today?"

I hadn't really considered it before, but I suddently wondered if this whole Daylight Savings time change meant that the sun now rose around 8am. Because I wanted to be totally o.k. with it but I also kinda wanted to know if I needed a more comfortable lawn chair. After all, it was just shy of 6 a.m.

I will honestly tell you that I considered getting up from my chair and checking the internet for the approximate "Sunrise Time". And I will also share that I thought better of it and sat myself back down.

Lamentations 3:22-23 said, "The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."

As I pondered this passage, I prayed for my family. For a fresh dose of His mercy for my day. For many things that were already threatening to weigh me down and control my thoughts before the day had barely begun.

But - I feel compelled to be honest - I was having a hard time getting to a place of stillness, of quiet, maybe like I was just getting in the way. The prayers I lifted up became more dutiful than genuine and I spent only a few more minutes in the chilly breeze.

Having almost convinced myself that the sunrise was hours away, I snuck back into the house and opened the blinds of three big windows in the front room. Settling comfortably into the sofa cushions, I re-opened my Bible.

Seconds later, a sweet morning voice called out, "Mommy! Hi Mommy! What are you doing in there? Why is it still dark outside?"

I pulled my sleepy son up into my lap and we faced the windows. "The sun hasn't come up yet" I explained. But it will, I thought, as I recalled the words found in Genesis. "Let's watch it come up together!" "OK... let's do that!"

So, I sat on the couch that morning with my child and talked to him about our Great Big God. About how He makes the sun come up in the morning and the moon rise at night. How each morning is a brand new day. We thought of all the songs we knew that mentioned the sun or the morning or a new day. I managed to croak out one verse of "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!" He wanted to sing a song he learned on Noggin.

In those precious morning moments, I marveled at God's PATIENCE with me - driven by his unfailing mercy. I took the words of Lamentations personally. The faithful love of the Lord (for me!) never ends! His mercies (for me!) never cease. He loves me enough to challenge me to spend time with Him in new ways. And then He mercifully gives me the most beautiful options when I just can't get my "go-outside-for-quiet-time" act together. His mercies for me are new every half-hour!

I have since shared two more precious mornings of watching the sun rise with Drew as we sit snuggled into the couch cushions - staring toward the east - in awe of our Creator who puts on a spectacular display every morning (at 6:46 a.m. EST, by the way!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Writing Prompts

In an effort to glean inspiration, I recently visited some writing websites. One site had a small section labeled "Writing Prompts". I curiously clicked, and my screen displayed a list of hundreds of questions. Simple, one-sentence questions that were designed to "prompt" writers to think creatively...then with fingers to keyboard, respond with brilliant and inspired prose.

Because we just went through a fun holiday, I was drawn to a question that asked me to consider my favorite Halloween costume of all time. And maybe that question appealed to me because I just needed a reason to post THIS picture of Buzz Lightyear and Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl from last Friday night.

It's surely my favorite "recent" costume because Drew loved seeing his mommy as "that cowgirl from the movie!!!!!!"

But thinking back on ALL my Halloween ensembles from years past, I recalled with great delight one of my favorites from childhood.

It was 1983 and I was a PUNK ROCKER. Granted, I had no idea what it meant to be a true PUNK ROCKER because I was seven years old and my parents were responsible adults. To this day, I could not tell you the name of a single "Punk" group past or present. But I knew that they had colorful, crazy hairdos, and that was all the inspiration I needed.

So, my best friend and I wore cut-off jeans, jelly shoes, and t-shirts that we ripped open a little at the neck so they would hang rebelliously off of one shoulder. We tipped our heads to the side and spray-painted our hair with various shades of pink, green and blue. The side-do's were held in place with massive quantities of AquaNet. And because it was 1983 and it only seemed right, we each polished off our look with one white glove.

The overall effect was more "Pop" than "Punk", but I thought my costume was totally tubular!

I may just have to dig a picture out of the dusty old albums to show Drew. I just hope he doesn't ask me what a punk rocker is... because I'm still clueless.

UPDATE - Well, it might have been even better than I remembered. I'll give you a clue as to which punk rocker was "Yours Truly". Hint: A familiar wave of jealousy resurfaced when I pulled out this picture and saw that awesome "Thriller" shirt my friend had. I begged and begged my mom for one just like it. She took an old brown shirt from her closet and splatter-painted it for me. Close. So close.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Last Straw...

She was having a bad day.

Or, at least I assume that she had been inconvenienced in some way LONG before she approached the self-serve soda fountain.

As I filled my cup with raspberry-flavored ice tea (Drew's choice, and I don't recommend it), she squeezed in next to me and loaded her cup with ice.

All was well until she noticed the sign.

"The Pepsi.... is BROKEN!?
Of COURSE it is.

She paused and took three steps back so that her body was now positioned in the midst of the dining area. She squinted and leaned forward.

"Now what am I supposed to do?"

And she just continued to stand there, staring at the Pepsi button. Not even like she was WILLING it to work. No, she had already given up hope. She just stood there in defeat for what seemed like an eternity.

Then she wandered back toward the register, I assume, to change her order.

Don't get me wrong, if anyone needs a soda-soaked shoulder to cry on, I'm your sympathetic girl (read more here). But I just have to wonder if something else brought her to the brink of hopelessness that day.

Because if all that stands between your good day and bad day is a spout that dispenses fizzy syrup, you're asking for some disappointment in your life.

So, what was your latest "Last Straw?"

(Mine occurred somewhere between the 15th "are we there yet?" and the 57th plea for more candy...)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Just when things get predictable...

Just when I thought I had my son figured out:

He braved an inflatable bounce house at our church "Trunk or Treat" event last night.

He sat still long enough to have his face painted at a fall festival today.

He asked for his Daddy to come sit with him for a few minutes at bedtime tonight.

I was recently reading an article that advised parents to avoid putting labels on their preschoolers. Phrases like: "Suzy isn't very athletic, she prefers to read." or "Billy is very shy in social situations."

While these attributes may define children for a time, kids often outgrow some behaviors or develop their natural temperaments in ways that defy parental expectations.

So, I suppose that my "Scared-to-try-new-things-because-he'd-rather-be-with-mommy-than-anyone-else-in-the-world-(especially-at-bedtime)-little-man-who-can't-sit-still-for-five-minutes" is not quite willing to be defined by my labels either.

(look at that smirk...)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


When is the last time you waited by your mailbox for a delivery? Each day, I eagerly open that little white receptacle in hopes that something exciting is tucked in amid the bills. But yesterday, I physically WAITED outside by the box until my mailman arrived. Why?

Because yesterday my mailman delivered my MomSense magazine! I really enjoy this periodical (published by MOPS, Int'l); it always provides inspiration and encouragement as I journey through motherhood with a preschooler. But this issue holds very special meaning for me because it includes an article that I wrote about my own personal journey into motherhood.

So... I was very excited to greet my postal representative (and I have to say that I think he was a little overwhelmed by the welcoming committee of me, big yellow dog, exuberant toddler shrieking "It's here! It's here! The mail is HERE!", and my wonderful neighbor and her 2 yr old son. Hey, why not!?). Sure enough, the magazine had arrived. I began to flip through the pages.

But then my dog decided that he wanted to greet a neighbor who happened to be strolling by. (My dog is well over 100 lbs, so greetings aren't always welcomed by everyone.) After tugging and coaxing him back to the house, I attempted to read again.

But then my son decided that he needed a drink of water. Followed by a bathroom break. Followed by a strong desire to ride his bicycle. With his helmet. And knee pads. No, the ones with Thomas the Train on them.

The abandoned magazine's pages flipped quietly in the grass while the dog and the boy kept me busy for the next twenty minutes or so. I longed for a few moments of uninterrupted time just to look at a tiny portion of my passion in print! I have to admit that I got a little irritated - I couldn't even have five minutes to myself to read one tiny little article....

And then I began to laugh. Because I realized that the stage of life that makes things too crazy to even read a magazine article is the exact same stage of life that provides me with the daily inspiration I have to write!

Eventually (read: when Daddy came home), I got a chance to flip through the whole issue. And for those of you who've carved out a portion of time to read your issue, too - thanks for stopping by! Welcome, and please come back soon!

I have some exciting things planned as I work toward my 100th blog entry. I think we're going to have a party. Wear something festive! I'll include more details soon...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tough Love

My little guy has been sidelined from his normally high activity level this week with migraine-like headaches.

No mom wants to see her child suffer. It's been hard for me, as I've felt so helpless in providing him any kind comfort or relief. After another sleepless night of dispensing Motrin and holding the throw-up bucket close, I scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician this morning.

On our way to the doctor's office, Drew was hesitant and a little whiny.

"But I feel better now, Mommy!"
"I don't want to go to the doctor!"
"What are they going to do to me?"
"Why are you taking me there???"

His last plea stung a little. He could not comprehend why I would choose to put him through this kind of discomfort.

"Because I love you, buddy," was the response I settled on giving.

"Why are you lovin' me like that?"

And you must know that it took about a NANOSECOND for the spiritual parallel to sink in.

This week in my Bible study, I was reminded of God's great desire for my spiritual wellness. Whether I have been holding a grudge, throwing myself a pity-party, or have some pesky pride lurking in my heart... I seldom make it very long before I need to make an appointment with the Great Physician.

It's not always comfortable, and I can be known to whine.

"Lord, you could rescue me from this."
"Lord, I don't want to go there."
"God, why are You taking me there???"


"Why are you lovin' me like that?"
(I tend to want a reason, too).

And this is my conclusion. I am not willing to settle for a pain pill that will only alleviate Drew's symptoms. I need to know what is causing the problem, and I need it to be fixed.

And HE is not the slightest bit interested in a temporary solution to the weaknesses of my flesh. HE is not interested in sitting around, waiting for me to spew out some ugliness, just to help me clean up the mess. HE wants to make me well!

And I love that He loves me like that!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three Mistakes...

I figure I only neglected three important facts about the sport of fishing.

1. Fishing requires patience.

2. Fishing requires enough self-control to abstain from throwing rocks into the waters where you are attempting to catch a fish.

3. Catfish are REALLY UGLY.

Taking these facts into consideration, I would like to recommend that you do not take a three-year-old boy fishing in a stocked catfish pond.

Unless your stocked catfish pond has a dog named Jackson roaming around the property.

Because you can ignore a lot of crucial facts about fishing if you can just remember this overall truth about life:

As long as a boy has a dog around....he's going to have a great time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Perhaps we should have been more clear...

The flight from Birmingham to Tampa is full of kids. I have specifically chosen to sit right in the middle of all the other parents and children for this short trip home. I'm mainly thinking "Camoflauge". After all, if my child kicks the seat in front of him or unplugs his headphones so everyone else on the plane can learn their ABC's from a family of frogs, at least I can pretend that the commotion is coming from one of the other kids...

But, I have no need to worry. The DVD player has captured my son's full attention, and most of the other children are being bribed by various toys, candy, and electronic devices. It's not until we begin our initial descent into Tampa that things begin to get dicey.

In perfect unison, five children begin complaining of ear problems. Knowing that the cabin pressure is to blame, the moms spring into action. Packages of gum are whipped out of purses and backpacks, and the explanations begin.

The mom behind me can be heard saying, "Joey...take this for your ears." Meanwhile, I'm explaining that the gum I'm handing to Drew will help make his own ears pop.

Joey is confounded. His mom again explains that the gum is for his ears. She's leaning across the aisle to hand him a piece, and Joey finally takes it. I look down at Drew, whose eyes are as big as saucers, and tell him to take his gum, too.

Poor Joey, he's now looking at his mom and literally poking the piece of gum into his ear, and my kid is crying that he doesn't want his ears to pop off!

After a great laugh and the realization that we only have ourselves to blame, we put away the chewing gum and offer some other alternatives to our uncomfortable (and confused) little boys.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We're back, y'all!

Drew and I just returned from a week-long trip to visit grandparents and cousins in Alabama. We always have fun when we're with family, but this trip was really something special.

From picnics to museums to tennis and fishing, we packed our days with activities that Drew is just becoming old enough to appreciate.

He's growing up so quickly. And I love it! I'm not trying to wish his sweet young life away, but I truly enjoy this age.

I appreciate his ability to pull his own suitcase through the airport alongside me. I marvel at his athletic prowess when he can keep up with his seven and twelve year old cousins. I laugh at his silly side of phone conversations when he calls home to tell Daddy about our day. And I bravely attempt to admire the bugs he brings me from his outdoors adventures.

Sure, some days are filled with time-outs and peanuts up the nose (ok, more days than I care to admit). But this trip reminded me of the simple pleasures of life with a little boy.

I can't wait to share our stories and pictures!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Little Stuffy Nose

"Hey Bommy. Wook at be!!!"
What in the world is up with his voice......


A peanut.
Up his nose.

I remain calm. Even after he explains that he'd love to listen and obey, however he can not seem to get the peanut dislodged from his nasal passage.

Luckily, a good blow and a little help from mom do the trick.

After the peanut is safely disposed of, I caution Drew to never ever put anything else up his nose, ominously warning him that the next time he will surely have to go to the hospital and have a doctor remove it with very sharp tools.

I don't use scare tactics too often, but it seems to do the trick. Per Drew's instructions, we are ridding our pantry of peanuts and crossing them off the grocery list.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A New Song

I have been living with the composer of the "Symphony of No's", a masterpiece of music that has been the soundtrack of our lives for the past two days.

I don't know where the musician received his inspiration, but I'd like to take some of the credit. After all, true creative genius is often born out of personal angst... and I seem to be the prime source of frustration and torture for my three year old these days.

Perhaps, his composition would best be described as Variations on Theme. For instance:

FORTISSIMO (loud and with surprising force!)
Let's hand this envelope to the nice man behind the post-office counter, Drew.

CRESCENDO (increasing in volume throughout)
Please use your inside voice while we're in Grandpa's office.

STACCATO (each note brief and detached)
Be nice to the dog.
"No! No! NO! No! No! No!"

ADAGIO (at ease, slow)
Let's hurry up and get dressed. We're going to be late for Bible study.

PRESTO (very quickly)
What did you just say to me????
"no.....nononononnono" (as he runs through the house toward an inevitable time-out)

And while all these variations certainly keep the song lively, I am completely DONE with this theme.

I need a new song in my house. Psalm 33:3 exhorts us to "Sing a new song of praise to Him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy." And while I wish my son would change his tune, I know that I need to be the one to teach him the new lyrics.

So.. anyone know of a place where I can get a harp?

Friday, October 3, 2008

If I Knew What Was Coming...

To the very kind yet slightly-androgynous-looking young lady who served us our sandwiches yesterday:

Please accept my sincere apologies. Personally, I think your hair looks very cute in that short, spiky style.

In fact, I wish that I could pull off the "baggie jean shorts and athletic jersey" look with the same flair.

Your tattoos and piercings speak volumes about your desire for creativity and self-expression.

My son certainly meant to cause you no embarassment when he inquired in his "outside voice" whether you were a boy or a girl. Several times in a row.

Although your frequent diner benefits are tempting, I hope you understand that I will not be visiting your establishment again anytime in the near future. At least, not without a roll of duct tape...



Thursday, October 2, 2008

And 4 years from now...

My child will be this old...

My niece "KJ", turned 7 this summer. I was at the hospital when she was born. Besides my own child's birth (where my attendance was absolutely required), she's the only other child I've greeted within hours of birth.

And now, she's S-E-V-E-N!

In seven short years, KJ has become a reader, a writer, a bicycle-rider, a swimmer, a soccer-playing, school-attending, nurturing, considerate, artistic, self-sufficient, animal-loving, sweet young lady.

While I wish these days could slow down a bit, I'm so grateful to have a niece and nephew who have "gone before us" and made the next few years look like so much fun!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

In 9 years...

They go from this...

To this...

My nephew "K" is now 12 years old, and he's an awesome kid. And I am totally convinced that I'm NOT an awesome aunt, strictly due to the fact that I'm still using the word "awesome" in the year 2008.

When "K" was my son's age, my mother-in-law and I took him for his first visit to Disney World. It was the stuff of fairy tales, and his Baba and I STILL talk about it like it was yesterday. Great memories, great pictures, great stories... the Disney experience at it's best. As we left the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom, I remember asking my nephew what he thought about Disney World.

"That's one big world...." he replied, with a mixture of exhaustion and exhiliration.

We plan to take Drew to Disney for his very first time at the end of this year. And I'm stopping at the Peter Pan gift shop... surely they have something there that will prevent the next 9 years from hurrying by so quickly...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not One of the Ten Commandments

We've been having some interesting theological conversations recently around our house. Drew has asked about heaven, talked more about God, readily recalled some of his Bible memory verses, etc.

I have realized that with a greater aptitude for understanding, we also have greater potential for misunderstandings about the God we serve and how He instructs us to live our lives.

For instance, yesterday morning I explained to Drew that we needed to finish breakfast so we could take the dog for a walk.

Under his breath I heard him mutter something about God. Intrigued, I asked him to speak up.

"God does not say 'TAKE WALKER FOR A WALK' in the Bible!"

(a long pause so that I could regain my composure)

"Yes, but God does say to obey your Mommy and Daddy, so hop to it, Mister!"


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Children Don't Keep

If you've ever had a grandmother who cross-stitched or a friend who scrapbooked, or if you've been to even one baby shower in your lifetime, you might be familiar with parts of the following poem (by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton):

Mother, oh Mother,
come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan,
poison the moth,
hang out the washing
and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house
is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery,
blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as
Little Boy Blue
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
The shopping's not done
and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?

The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for Children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep......

(Oh, that last line, it gets me every time. I'll give you a moment, too...)

Today, I was trying so hard to accomplish something. Anything, really. Because every once in a while, I need to feel productive in a business-professional kind of way instead of measuring the success of my day by how many times my son remembers to say "Thank you" and not throw his dirty socks on the dining room table as he strolls by.

I endeavored to throw a few items up on Ebay, clean a few rooms, and spend some time writing. To help me accomplish my tasks, I bought a new video for Drew to watch after I picked him up from school this morning. My master plan was to sit him in front of the television until he got that tranquil, glassy look...then I would hide in the office until my tasks were completed.

Well... I need a refund on my "babysitter". Drew didn't like the glasses that the duck was wearing in the story, so he turned off the T.V. and came looking for "MOMMY!!!!" Although I begged for a break ("Just give me five more minutes and I'll come play hide-and-seek, I promise."), he was full of ideas. Eventually, he agreed to play quietly until I finished my work.

In the middle of uploading pictures to my Ebay auction, I realized that I was humming the tune to "Cats in the Cradle"...obviously I was aware that I had passed up on an opportunity to play with my little boy, and it wasn't sitting well with me.

Oh sure, I get a thousand requests a day to play, but I'm well aware that my time is quickly coming to an end. Even now, Drew would rather play chase with daddy than snuggle for books with me. And when that phase draws to it's natural end, both my hubby and I will be begging for a little time with him when our son's world is consumed by his friends.

So, I stopped what I was doing, and went to look for my boy. "What do you want to do today?" I asked.

"I know! Let's have a campfire picnic under daddy's desk with marshmallows and fire!"

A few moments later, we were sitting in the office, under the desk. With marshmallows skewered to long sticks, we "roasted" them over a candle and looked at all the dust and dirt on the floor with a flashlight (sigh... my to-do list just got longer... note to self... Hubby's office is NOT self-cleaning).

After the campfire was put out, we shared a pillow and propped our feet up on the desk. Drew asked me to tell him a ghost story. Not knowing how scary I should make it, I just looked at him and said, "BOO!". Judging by his fit of laughter, it was apparently just the right amount of scary!

After about ten minutes, our campfire picnic was over, and he was on to more interesting adventures. And me... the busy me who wanted to accomplish so much today OUTSIDE of my role as mommy... I just found myself longing for one more marshmallow... one more "Boo!" before he ran off.

So, with all due respect to Ms. Hamilton, I decided that I needed to update her poem a little. (Because, honestly, when is the last time you had "...shake out the cloth and hang up the washing" on YOUR to-do list??).

Children Don't Keep

Mommy, O Mommy!
Come answer your phone
Tackle the laundry piles,
Get the bills done.
Empty the garbage, Limit T.V.
Make time for playgroups, Figure out the Wii…

Where is the mother whose voicemail is maxed?
She’s out in the backyard, content and relaxed.

I’ve put up my Out of the Office reply
‘cause I just can’t stand one more day to slip by
When I could be playing a game of “I Spy”
With my boy on the swing-set while I push him “HIGH!”

The chores and the errands can wait one more day
But boys won’t keep asking their mommies to play
So I’ll sign out of gmail
And put the PC to sleep…
I’m playing with my child, and children don’t keep.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Sense of Style

Sometimes, you're just born with it....

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's a Big Job, but Somebody's Gotta Do It

Before our trip to Guatemala, my husband and I were on the receiving end of the most spectacular display of generosity from our friends and family. Everyone hoped to send something with us to the orphanage that might fill a need or provide a smile for the children. From toothbrushes to crayons to blenders to backpacks, we piled our dining room table high for weeks with supplies that would make the journey with us to Central America.

The Sunday before we left, a couple brought a bag full of sweet little stuffed animals that had been donated by a friend whose business no longer needed this particular inventory.

Drew helped his daddy carry the bag out to the car after church, asking all about the contents. Thinking this would be a good father-son project, my hubby suggested that Drew help count the animals when we got home.

His eyes lit up, and you could almost hear the gears shifting in his head. "I KNOW!" he exclaimed after a few moments of careful thought. "This is a job for a SUPERHERO!"

(Thank goodness we happen to have a Superhero living at our house these days.)

Thanks to the efforts of our caped crusader, el gato blanco and his friends made it safely to Guatemala and were a hit with los ninos!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Rules of the Playground

*Note: I came across this "essay" on my computer the other day. It was my first attempt at creative writing after becoming a new mom. I'm guessing (based on how old Drew was at the time), that this was written about 2 years ago.*

Today, I took my 15-month old to a little neighborhood water-park. You know, the kind of place where children can frolic amidst water geysers and gurgling fountains and squirting flowers – the perfect spot for kids to cool off in the heat of the summer.

Being a first time mom, I approach these adventures with some anxiety. I know that I need to let my little guy have some freedom and room to run, but at his age, he’s usually still the youngest one around, and my “Mom-Guard” is on full alert. After all, I am responsible for making sure he doesn’t get out of my sight or climb too high or get hit by flying buckets, etc. So far, he’s handled his little life lessons like a pro, seeming to studiously take note of acceptable social behavior and imitate what he sees the big kids doing.

So, today, as I stood on the edge of the “sprayground” watching my son, I was trying very hard to stay out of his way and let him be a little boy. Just as I began to get comfortable and give him some space, I witnessed the following interaction:

A five year old girl walked up to a water spray gun mounted to the ground – the kind you can aim and fire at your unsuspecting little brother’s bottom just as he kneels to fill up his bucket. Unfortunately for her, my toddler was standing under the water gun trying to catch whatever drops fell from it’s big spout.

She assessed the situation for a few moments, then slowly lifted her foot, placed it on his chest and gave him a little push. It wasn’t a kick, and you could tell by her hesitant nature that she was pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to kick babies. So, I sat back and continued to watch.

Because her little plan didn’t have the intended result (it made my son more curious than anything), she leaned down into his face and told him to “please leave!” Well, this didn't do much good either. And I can't blame him for staying put; after all, now a pretty little girl was leaning down talking directly into his face, and my boy was infatuated! He stopped trying to catch the water and gazed intently at her, trying to figure out what she was saying to him.

I moved in a little closer but was trying my hardest not to interfere. About that time, the little girl’s mom, began making her way across the park toward us. Before her mother arrived, though, this child put her hands on her hips, looked at my sweet son, and said (with all the contempt and exasperation of a teenager), “This is RIDICULOUS!”.

She then turned around, hands still firmly planted on hips, and looked me straight in the eyes – (“Uh oh, I’m busted,” I thought)“Is this your baby?” she asked. “Yes, he is,” I answered. “Could you please make him go!”… more of a demand than a question.

Her mom was rounding the corner and was within hearing distance by now. For effect, I paused a moment, then answered back loudly, “You want the baby to go??” I’m not sure why I felt I needed to ensure that her mother heard what I believed to be an offensive request (maybe 5-year-old attitudes are contagious). But I was curious to see how this little bundle of bossiness would be dealt with.

Much to my disappointment, the other mom simply explained that the baby would get distracted eventually by something else, and would be out of her way in no time.

“That’s it?” my heart cried. “Didn’t you see your daughter attempt to kick my child? Didn’t you witness her haughty attitude and frustration? Aren’t you going to do something right here in the middle of the park to correct this behavior?”

I snapped out of my imaginary monologue in time to observe that the girl was now happily playing with her spray gun, my son was bouncing across the park chasing water drops, and the other mother was making her way back to her friends, who continued their conversation about the best recipe for stuffed green peppers.

Feeling quite surprised by my own emotional response to our first playground “confrontation”, I also felt a little humbled. After a moment of retrospection, I realized how normal this type of encounter must be in the unpredictable world of preschool interaction. And over the next few years, my child may be the one dishing out the bad manners on a shiny platter for some poor, unsuspecting toddler in his path. But I hope I will remember how it felt to be new at all this “mom stuff”. And maybe if for no other reason than to give some other first-time mom hope that there are polite children left in this world, I will proactively run interference for any bad situation I see unfolding and make him apologize to mommy and baby alike. After all, isn’t that the point of socializing our children…To teach them how we want them to approach the world and to show the importance of respecting each other in our daily interactions?

*Whew - I was so idealistic back then! I'm just grateful that I haven't had to test my own theory of "What I Would Do.." For the most part, Drew is shy and quiet on the playground, keeping to himself or wanting ME to slide down the slide with him. Although he did pull a little girl's curly hair one time. I was shocked and responded swiftly, making him apologize to the child. Later, her mom advised that she thought my son was just "flirting" with her daughter. I think I'd rather assume that he was being bad...*

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Dressing Room

Overheard by anyone else who happened to be trying clothes on today in the Target dressing room:

OK, buddy. Hold on to the numbers that the nice lady gave you when we came into the dressing room. (a "2" and a "6" b/c the dressing room attendant graciously allowed me to bring "8" items in with me!)


What happened?
The number 6 just went behind the mirror right there.

How did that happen?
I'm not sure.

Buddy, I asked you to take care of those numbers.
I am! But the number 6 is stuck behind the mirror now. That's o.k.

No, it's not. We're going to need to get it.
Mommy! Why can't you get that? Just reach in there and pull it out.

I'm going to need a tool.
How about your shoe?

I don't think my shoe is a good tool, I need something very small that will fit between the mirror and the wall.
Oh, do you have a hammer in your purse?

No, I don't think a hammer is the right tool either.
(Several minutes pass, and I finally free the captive tag from behind the mirror)

Good job, mommy!
Thanks, man.

Mommy? Can I try on some new clothes?
Not right now.

What day is it?

What day is tomorrow?
Tuesday. You're going to school tomorrow.

Yey! I love school! Then what comes next?
Wednesday. Bible study. Then Thursday -school. Then Friday.

Oh. Mommy? Can we get jelly beans here?
Yes, if you're a very quiet boy for a few minutes.

O.K. Hey Mommy! That red dress is VERY pretty!!!

Yes, buddy...

I need to go potty.
O.K. Let me just get dressed.

Yes, Drew...

I think I'm very tired.
(Really, I'm pretty exhausted, myself!)

I think I'll just lie down here on this bench while you finish trying on your clothes. Hey! Is that gum in your purse?!!!?? I LOVE gum? Can I have some?
Yes... if you'll just quiet down a little bit, o.k.?

I will. Mommy. I don't like this gum.
Drew... please unwrap the gum from around your knees. Remember, gum goes in your mouth or in the trash can.

I'll just put it in your purse...
Wait.. don't... O.K. Just remind me to look for that gum later, o.k. buddy?

Mommy? Are we all done already? That was fast! Let's go get jelly beans now! Oh, after we go potty. Mommy, I REALLY need to go potty now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Word of the Week

The Word of the Week is:

Last week's W.O.W was
(pronounced kat-uh-wom-puhs).
In it's adjective form, it describes something that is askew or awry.

And here's my lame attempt to use it in a sentence:

Although I was delighted to hear a friend use this adjective in a sentence last week, my mind (currently filing thoughts in a catawampus heap inside my head), cannot recall the context in which she used it. I'm pretty sure it was good, though. I may have to post a follow-up after I see her this weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Lyrics

To give a little bit of background for my story today, I need to share my son's conclusion the other day. After talking about how old he was (three), and what number comes next (four), and when his birthday is coming (not for a long, long time), he decided that he really didn't care to get any older.

"I don't want to grow up, mommy. I just want to be three for a long, long time!"
Fine with me, buddy.

So, last night we were watching a DVD presentation that a friend of mine put together with pictures from our trip to Guatemala. Drew has watched it A LOT since we've been home. He seems to enjoy seeing pictures of his Daddy working on roofs, his Mommy painting, and all the kids, whose names he's beginning to learn, playing around the orphange.

One of the songs my friend chose to add as background for the presentation is Garth Brooks' "We Shall Be Free". It's a powerful song, and some of the lyrics include:

When the last thing we notice
Is the color of skin
And the first thing we look for
Is the beauty within
When the skies and the ocean
Are Clean again....
We Shall Be Free

We Shall Be Free!
We Shall Be Free!
Stand Straight,
Walk Proud,
We Shall Be Free!

As I listened closely while my son sang along with the music last night, I realized that he was EMPHATICALLY singing,

"We Shall be THREE! We Shall be THREE!"

And as I consider his approach to life, I think he may just be on to something!

Monday, September 8, 2008

War Eagle!

It seems like everyone's getting into the spirit these days. My hubby and I are both graduates of Auburn University (War Eagle!), so we've tried to instill a love for Auburn into our son's impressionable little mind.

Therefore, my hubby couldn't have been more pleased to hear the following conversation between Drew and myself today:

Him: I want Auburn sherbert for dessert.

Me: It's ORANGE sherbert, buddy. You want orange sherbert for dessert.

Him: Mommy, you can call it orange sherbert if you want to. I'm calling it AUBURN sherbert!

I'm Not Crying Over Spilled Milk

When I was in college, I borrowed my mom's minivan for part of a semester when my own car wasn't reliable enough to make the eight hour trip from my parents driveway to the dorm room anymore. And in return for the exceptional generosity of my mom, I spilled a cup of curdled, milky hot chocolate all over the floorboard of her car.

I had never smelled anything so awful in my entire life. And while I attempted to clean it up and rid the car of that horrible scent, nothing seemed to work. I took it to professionals, tried my own concoctions of fragrant "fresheners", drove around with the windows down in the midst of the winter chill - to no avail. I think my mom eventually had to sell the car.

So, today when my son sheepishly peeked his head around the corner and shared that he'd had a little "spill", I was horrified to see that he'd overturned his entire bottle of chocolate milk onto the cushion of my new sofa. My mind recalled the odor of that minivan so many years before, and I just knew that I needed to take care of this mess fast (or we'd have to stick a "For Sale" sign in the front yard).

After a few minutes of trying to soak up the spill with a dish towel, a bottle of stain spray, and a few prayers (there was no time to test an inconspicuous spot for color-fastness), I decided that I needed to be a bit more aggressive. I removed the cushion from the couch, then removed the cover from the cushion. Unable to find ANY paperwork on the washing/cleaning instructions for the fabric, I just threw the cover into the washing machine, turned every knob to "gentle" and hoped for the best.

This could have been a gigantic mistake, as I considered all the horrible things my washing machine might do to my couch cushion's cover, but I was committed. When the washer completed it's cycle, I bravely tossed the wet fabric into the dryer (again, everything set to "gentle"). At the sound of the buzzer, I nervously made my way to the laundry room, wondering what might be in store (loss of color, change of shape, shrinkage, you name it).

Tonight, I am happy to report that I'm not crying over the spilled chocolate milk! That couch cushion looks GREAT; so nice and clean, and it zipped right back into place, no problems. So... I'm thinking of throwing all the cushion covers in the wash tomorrow. And making my kid some clothes out of this fabric!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Word of the Week

The word for this week is: Catawampus

I was at a small group meeting tonight, and a new friend used it in a sentence. It's bad when you're trying to pay attention to someone's story and your mind is thinking "Ooh, I can use that as my Word of the Week - I wonder if I'll find it on"

My last W.O.W was hyperemesis, which unfortunately means "severe and excessive vomiting". Gross, right?

Six weeks after God placed an amazing little life inside me, I became intimately acquainted with the diagnosis that I was experiencing a "hyperemic pregnancy". Throughout the next 7 months, I do not recall a day when I didn't lose every ounce of nourishment I attempted to put into my body. Several times a day.

On the "good days", I would try to go to work or run an errand, only to be sideswiped by a wave of nausea and summoned to my knees for hours. Once, I had to call my mom to drive me home from the parking lot of a drug store when I ironically became too naseous to wait in the pharmacy line for my anti-nausea medication.

On another occasion, my brother had the privelege of rescuing me from the ladies bathroom at the grocery store, where I'd attempted to pick up a few items of food to feed my poor husband. I was no match for the deli department, though... thinly-sliced turkey is a formidable foe to a weak stomach.

Needless to say, the sweetest words I ever heard were the doctor's proclamation that we had ourselves a baby boy. Mainly because it meant that I'd apparently survived the pregnancy; and at a hefty nine pounds, Drew seemed to have weathered the waves pretty well, too!

While I attempt to color my memories with shades of humor, I also feel a need to be transparent about the experience.

I never knew depression until I carried this child for nine months. I never experienced such a blow to my "I-can-do-everything" ego until I couldn't do anything at all but sit on the cold tile floor of my bathroom. I never thought I'd make irrational choices when my own child's life was at stake until I heard myself begging the doctor to "deliver him NOW", six weeks before my due date (they didn't, by the way. Thank goodness doctors tend to ignore irrationally hormonal pregnant women).

The good news is that I've never known that kind of depression again since the day my son took his first breath of earthly air, and my days are filled with tremendous joy. I've never experienced such assurance that "God can do everything" until I realized I couldn't do anything except pray for this beautiful gift He's loaned me. I never knew what it felt like to be gladly willing to give your life without question for someone, until I met this boy.

Three years have passed since my hyperemic phase of life. I'm happy to say that the memories aren't quiet so vivid. Perspective has set in, and I'm realizing that my experience has made me more empathetic (I certainly have a soft spot in my heart for young moms who are at a certain stage of pregnancy and a certain shade of green).

Whatever the reason, I'm grateful for the experience. And I still feel victorious when I'm able to complete my order at the deli counter!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Yes...Sometimes... or Not Yet

I had to complete an evaluation for Drew's preschool today. The "Ages and Stages Questionnaire", or ASQ, devloped by someone at Iowa State University, sets out to determine whether my three-year old is performing well or (as they ominously put it in the scoring section) "may need further evaluation" in Communication, Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Problem-Solving, and Personal-Social Interaction.

So, this morning, with questionnaire in hand, I set out to determine my son's ranking amongst his 3-yr old peers. Drew was delighted with most of the activities I asked him to perform, while I checked each box we completed with a Yes, Sometimes, or Not Yet.

"Drew, point to your nose...your ears... hair... feet... etc."
He looked at me with a goofy smile and complied, pointing to each feature I named.

"O.K., now pick up that couch cushion and place it UNDER the coffee table."

"That's not where it goes, mommy. It goes ON the couch."

"Yes, but I just need you to listen and obey. Place the cushion UNDER the table."

"Mommy, it doesn't fit. I'll put it NEXT TO the table."

(He was probably wondering whether there was a 32-yr old ASQ... "Can your mother give directions that are actually able to be completed by a three-year old. Yes, Somtimes, or Not Yet")

Gross Motor Skills:
I was asked if my child could kick a ball by swinging his leg forward, jump with both feet leaving the floor at the same time or throw a ball overhand. While I could have easily answered these questions without a demonstration, I thought Drew might enjoy showing me how he did each. Gross motor skills have always been my son's strong suit, and I hoped for the opportunity to elaborate on how fast this little guy's fast-pitch really was, or how he has a better batting average than my husband. But, I only had the Yes, Sometimes and Not Yet boxes, so I placed Check Marks in the "Yes" columns and went looking for my son who was demonstrating his jumping abilities from atop the dining room table.

Problem Solving and Personal-Social Skills:
Drew does well in these areas, I realized as I completed each section. At one point, I had to ask him, "Are you a girl or a boy?"

"I'm a boy and you're a girl. Daddy's a boy and Walker's (the dog) a boy. You are the only girl and you have 3 boys."

"O.K., thanks!" At this point I started to feel really good about this kid's developement. I mean, it doesn't really take much for the mommy-pride to kick in, and I was there. Then I turned the page to:

Fine Motor Skills:
I knew I was in for disappointment already. Just last night we were eating at Chili's, where they gave my son a picture of a chili to color for some charitable cause. We donated a few dollars so that Drew's artwork could be hung on the wall of the restaurant. I am embarassed to admit that I considered asking them to just keep his picture tucked away, so as not to scare some of the smaller children.

My little guy is not an artist. He has wonderful talents and passions. They do NOT include artistic ventures. This kid barely uses more than one color on any coloring page and only scribbles in large, sweeping marks. Lines mean nothing to him. Form means nothing to him. He still holds a pencil or crayon in his fist like it's a hammer and is about as gentle as a lumberjack with his chosen artistic medium.

Needless to say, we finally gave some attention to the "Sometimes" and "Not Yet" categories, and the questionnaire was completed.

For the rest of the afternoon, Drew talked about all the "New Tricks" Mommy had asked him to perform. And I have to admit that it was fun for me, too. It's hard to believe how fast these kids grow up, and when asked to quantify the progress, I realized today how much my child has learned in three short years.

So, I asked myself today if I was ready for life with this amazing big boy in preschool. Yes, Sometimes, or Not Yet.... and I checked all three boxes.