Saturday, June 7, 2014

To the Mom I Used To Judge...

Dear Mom I Used To Judge,

Yes, you.  I owe you an apology.  For all the times I cast judgement upon you, I am forever sorry.  There I stood (childless) knowing exactly how I expected my family to look in years to come.  I didn't realize I was judging.  It wasn't intentional.  It just seemed obvious that one day in the future I would have children who wouldn't belly crawl on the floor of the grocery store checkout lane.  Obviously.  It seemed clear that my future children would eat healthy (because, after all, they only learn to love the foods you offer).  I mean, of course I wouldn't raise children who lick shopping carts.  So, as I sat watching your child make an absolute pigsty of the restaurant floor, I knew I would always be the mom who would get on my hands and knees and thoroughly clean the restaurant carpet of all cracker debris before leaving the establishment.


I take it all back.  All the unintentional judgement is forever removed from my being.  I get you.  

I.  AM.  YOU.

Of course our children slither like snakes on the supermarket floor.  Yes, it makes my skin crawl.  Yes, I tell them to get up.  Yes, they do it again the next time we go to the store.  It's just who they are.

Of course our children lick shopping carts.  And rocks.  And the bottom of their shoes after just walking through the pediatrician's office.  It's just who they are.

Of course we leave the restaurant floor a pigsty.  It's not because we don't care or we are rude.  It's because we just finished the herculean task of taking children into a restaurant...with menus...and breakable dishes.  We made it through the ordering, the WAIT for the food, the cutting of the food, and the inhaling of our food so we are done at the same time as the children.  We are tired.  We already have thousands of lunch crumbs under our own tables at home.  We can't clean these.  We are too tired.  And so, we add a little extra to the tip and thank the Lord for places where people will clean up after us for a change.

And last night, all we wanted was an onion burger from our favorite little burger joint.  But we knew that restaurant was off-limits to us because they don't serve chicken fingers.  Just burgers.  Our kids don't eat burgers.  So what did we do?  We...wait for it...drove through the McDonalds' drive-thru and ordered chicken nuggets.  I know...we are terrible parents.  It gets worse.  Then we smuggled them into the restaurant in our purses.  Case in point:

And then after we ordered our onion burgers we sat RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the restaurant and concealed said nuggets in the restaurant's own sacks.  Case in point:

Some might call this absurd.  But you (mom I used to judge) and I call it brilliant.  The children were so happy with their chicken.  We were SO HAPPY with our onion burgers.  We had delightful family conversation.  No one licked the floor.  It was a success.

You and I...we get each other.  I will forever support you.  We are moms.  It's what we do.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Run Free Mama Dash 2014

You've heard of the Warrior Dash, the Color Run, and even Glow Runs.  Neat.  We have too.  But when we tried to think of what makes a person a true athlete…a true warrior, if you will, there was nothing that more clearly identified the kind of champions we strive to be than this little adventure race called Motherhood.

When we saw that The Run Free Mama Dash was going to be held on Mothers’ Day weekend, we knew we owed it to ourselves and our precious children to see if we had what it takes to test our mental and physical mommy strength.  So, we gathered the fiercest group of mothers around and signed up.

(Amy, Elizabeth, Stephanie, and Morgan...aka Team Mama Drama)

Here we are just prior to beginning the race.  Do you see those faces?  The ones streaked with peanut butter and jelly war paint?  Those are the faces of 4 mothers not afraid of the challenges that await them.  We had our game faces (and Mom Jeans) on and there was nothing that could stop us.

Our adrenaline was really pumping as we geared up at the starting line.  Our first challenge was to carry babies in the world’s heaviest contraptions (aka infant car seats).  They loaded our little darlings down with full diapers to really give the obstacle the extra 3.5 pounds of weight it needed.  In addition, we strapped on a few shopping bags (because we are mothers and pack mules).  And let us tell you, carrying these while running 5K…not easy.  We just kept telling ourselves to pretend it was a Sunday morning sprint across the church parking lot.  Because we all remember those Sunday mornings of being 40 minutes late to church because of baby spit up, toddler tantrums, and poop…so much poop.  But, by golly, you got everyone dressed and to church and you were not going to let a simple thing like “being on time” stop you.  Once we channeled that, the 5K was a breeze!

At the starting line

The next obstacle was The Diaper Crawl.  This obstacle was built for us.  Sure, as new mothers the smell of a baby’s poop was enough to send us gagging.  But after changing somewhere in the range of 12,500 diapers, this obstacle was nothing we couldn't handle.   We powered through the spray of baby powder and dug deep to crawl through a mess of "pre-filled" diapers.  A little mommy competition may have even come out as we set out across the soiled battlefield.

After The Diaper Crawl, we ran another 3 miles to The Grocery Store Challenge.  All mothers know that grocery shopping with children is its own special experience.  Sometimes the children are wonderful and engaged in the shopping experience.  Other times, you have to be ready to run through that grocery store like your life depends on it.  Because YOU KNOW you have exactly as long as the free Target cookie lasts until one of your children has a complete meltdown.

Team Mama Drama in action

Amy and Morgan

Stephanie and Elizabeth  (please notice the adorable baby in the pink shirt.  She was attempting to escape the binding restrictions of the Target shopping cart, but have no fear...this warrior mama wasn't about to let that happen!)

Let’s just stop here and say, “If you own a pair of jeans that in any way resembles any of the jeans shown in this picture, LET IT GO!!!”  Mothers of the world, unite and get rid of the mom jeans!  It’s just a few short steps to the trash can.  It’s one small step for giant leap for womankind.

Why was this race so fun???  Because we had the loving support of our sweet husbands and children cheering us on the entire way!   As with any rough day, a simple sweet phrase or hug from your kiddo can make you feel like you can get back up and go the extra mile...or 20!  The Goldfish and juice boxes also provided just the extra sugar boost we needed!

After making record breaking time at the Grocery Store Challenge, we sprinted to the next obstacle.  While this one appears to be simple in nature, The Highchair Highway was trickier than we expected.  We strapped our youngest ones in and ran 3.2 miles.  We must admit, the Goldfish crackers being thrown from the trays became an obstacle in and of themselves.  If you think Goldfish dust isn’t a real thing, then you’ve never strapped a one-year-old in a highchair and run 3.2 miles.  It’s all kinds of real.

But that highchair challenge was only the beginning of the food throwing we were about to endure.  As mothers, we've all been covered in peas, corn, and multiple other foods on more occasions than we can count.  In fact, from the time our children were ages birth through 3, most of us didn't purchase any new clothes because we just knew they’d end up covered in stains.  So, this was a challenge we were fully prepared for.  You aren't a true mommy warrior unless you've been pelted with handfuls of corn and peas from multiple children all at one time!

The biggest challenge we had to face was the emotional endurance test - The Mile Long Nag.  We ran as fast as we could through this obstacle, gathering our patience and endurance to help us push through.  It was tough.  It was draining.  Even now, we can barely speak of the challenge without our heads tilting slightly and the veins in our foreheads popping out.

Once we made it through that obstacle, we were tired.  We were worn.  We were exhausted.  This race of motherhood isn’t for the faint of heart.  But we kept running because that’s what mothers do.  One foot in front of the other.  One step at a time.  And then we looked up and remembered why we do it.  Because the blessings for which we run are completely worth it.  And as we crossed that finish line, we were met with their sweet little faces eager to say, “GOOD JOB, MOMMY!”  There waiting for us at the finish line were our adorable children with their homemade medals for their mommies.  They were so very proud of us!

You see, our children were waiting for us at this streamer that marked the end of this little adventure on pavement.  But the true adventure of Motherhood never ends.  From the day you find out you are expecting a bundle of joy, you are a mother.  And you get the privilege of having that title for...forever.  No matter the age of your baby or the stage of life they are in, you will always be "Mom".  What a blessing.  What a privilege.  What a journey.  And so, on this Mother's Day Weekend, we are reminded that this job - MOTHERHOOD - it is work.  It is hard.  It is 24 hours a day.  It is 365 days a year.  And there is nothing better than getting to do it each and every day!

Disclaimer:  No children were harmed during the course of the Run Free Mama Dash Adventure Race. 
Blog post was written in conjunction with Pyles of Fun.

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Disagreement With God

In March 2012, I had a disagreement with God.  Maybe "disagreement" is the wrong word.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I thought God had picked the wrong girl for a task.  Here's my story.
I am typically the type of person who is ready and willing to jump in with both feet to anything set before me.  However, God set a task before me that I just wasn't ready or willing to do.  The topic was foster children.  My husband and I have two small children, and I run an in-home daycare.  So, when God brought the idea of foster children into my heart, I simply felt like I was too busy and had too little left to offer in this area.  In addition, the idea that God wanted me to bring foster children into our home at this phase of our lives was terrifying to me.  I threw the idea away, thus telling God, "No."
A few days later, God clearly told me that I was supposed to call the local foster care shelter.  Again, I told him "No."
That night my husband and I went on a date.  Hesitantly, I said, "Ummm...I think God is laying foster care on my heart..."  Then I sat back to see what his reaction was.  It was just what I imagined it would be.  He laughed a bit and told me that maybe one day down the line we could look into that, but that now just wasn't the time.  I completely agreed and was so glad we were on the same page.  "Thank you, God, for giving us a mutual feeling about this issue." 
A few days later, I pulled out the announcement page to brief our small group at church on any church news.  I KID YOU NOT...the announcement was, "The church is in need of assistance at the local foster care shelter..."  I am so ashamed to say that I slid the flyer back in the folder and never mentioned that announcement.   I'm awesome, right?  I'm just beaming with pride at my actions! 
A few nights later, I laid in bed with tears in my eyes asking my husband why God wasn't letting this foster care topic go.  Didn't God know that we had small children and that we could not bring other children into our home right now?  Didn't God know that I didn't have a lot of extra time to devote to foster children right now?  I would be happy to do this at a later time in my life, God.  But not right now! 
And then we went to church...
That week's sermon topic was "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength."  I listened to every word God said through that sermon.  When our pastor said, "Agape love is self-sacrifice for the benefit of others," I couldn't breathe.  Then he said, "When making a big decision ask yourself 'Is this decision going to give me the opportunity to love God and others more OR will it hinder me in loving God and others more?'"  I sat through the rest of the sermon arguing with God about why He wasn't letting this topic go.
By the time the offering plate was being passed around, I was in tears whispering to my husband that I HAD to call this shelter.  He looked straight at me and said, "Elizabeth, you do have to call.  God is clearly saying this to you for a reason.  Call.  Whatever happens is meant to happen, and we will gladly accept it."
So, the next day I called.  Here's how the conversation with the volunteer coordinator went:
Me:  Hi.  My name is Elizabeth, and I feel like I am supposed to call you and offer to volunteer.  I don't exactly know what that is going to look like, but I know you must need help.
Lady:  Okay, well, let me tell you a little about the shelter.  (She went on to explain the details of the shelter.)  Can you tell me what age range you are interested in volunteering to help?
Me:  Well, babies are always fun to hold!  But, my guess is that everyone wants to rock babies.  So, I just need to tell you that I will do whatever you need help with.
Lady:  Well, you are right.  Everyone usually wants to hold the babies.  Let me tell you an area in which I really need some help, and then you can tell me if you are interested.
Me:  Okay.
Lady:  I need someone who has the ability to come in and teach children 6-12 years of age.  You can teach anything you want, be it a craft or a skill.  Anything fun to help entertain them.  This is our largest age range of children, and I am really needing some help with this.  Are you at all interested in teaching ages 6-12?
Let me stop here and say that I taught third grade for 7 years.  Was I interested in teaching ages 6-12?  That was my profession before I had children!  Was God serious?  Was this ALL He was asking me to do?  Was this what I had been fighting against?  Oh good grief...
I proceeded to tell the lady that I was beyond interested in teaching that age group!  Oh, but then of course I needed to address the issue of my oh-so-very-busy schedule.  This was probably where the whole deal was going to fall apart...
Me:  Ummm...what kind of time commitment are you going to need from me?  How often do I need to come?
Lady:  Oh, for the first few visits, you only need to give me 24-hours notice before you come.  Then after you have been here for awhile and the workers know you, you can come by anytime that fits you set time necessary!
FOLKS!  For one month, I had been arguing with God about this super huge thing He was asking me to do.  You will remember that I had concocted this notion in my head that He wanted me to rearrange my entire life to bring foster children into our home.  That wasn't what He was asking at all!  He was asking me to obey.  He was asking me to love with a love that is self-sacrificial for the benefit of others.  That's all.  It was that easy!
So that month I started volunteering at the shelter.  This particular shelter is the immediate place children are taken to when they are removed from their homes.  For some it's their first time at the shelter and for others this is a familiar location.  Each time I went, I would drive there with my thoughts consumed with my "problems".  Then I would spend time with the children.  Every single time when I climbed back in my car, I would burst into tears.  These sweet children had been through so much in their short lives, and I thought I HAD PROBLEMS?!?!  These visits to the shelter began to give me some much needed perspective on life.  
Since then, I have worked with various age groups at the shelter.  I will be honest.  There is a reason the volunteers usually want to rock the babies.  That is easy.  It's still gut-wrenching, but it's sweet and snuggly.  Working with the toddlers (ages 2-4) is always the hardest on my heart.  They are very confused as to why they are at the shelter and they just want to be held and snuggled.  The good news for these kiddos (birth through 4) is that usually you don't see the same children from one visit to the next.  They are very easy to place in foster homes. 
Unfortunately, many of the school-aged children are there for months.  For me, working with the school-aged children takes mental preparation.  One of the greatest requests of the shelter is that people will come in with an activity to entertain these children.  Whether it be a group of 2 kids or a larger number, any organized activities are a wonderful distraction for them as well as great for teaching life skills.  For example, the volunteer coordinator once told me that she loves when adult men volunteer for game nights at the shelter.  She said that most of these children are not used to seeing men finish a task even when it gets difficult.  So in board games, many times if the children are losing, they will overturn the game and quit.  They love to have men come in and model the principle of finishing what you start in life even when you may not win. 
Wow, this has turned into a long post!  As I wrap up, here's what I most want you to know.  I am a super flawed human who in no way wants recognition for volunteering at the shelter.  Clearly, I wasn't leaping for joy as I made my first call to volunteer.  But I want you to know that spending time with these children has changed me.  It has changed my outlook on life.  It has changed my outlook on the foster care system.  It has opened my eyes to a group of people very much in need right here in my own city.  So if you have ever felt a pull to foster children, but don't feel like this is the right time to have a foster child in your home...this might be something you would like to do too!  There are organized game nights two Thursdays a month, if you are the type of person who likes to know what will be happening when you go.  For others, there are babies to be rocked, toddlers to be hugged,  children to be tutored, kids who want an adult to shoot hoops with, and a million other service opportunities.  If you have any interest in volunteering, please send me a message and I would be GLAD to put you in touch with the volunteer coordinator in our area.  For those who read this blog outside of my town, I know there are foster shelters everywhere!  Please look into a volunteer opportunity near you!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Halloween Cleanse

Our family loves Halloween.  Let me rephrase that.  Our family LOVES Halloween!  L-O-V-E-S!  While I understand that we are all different, I struggle to understand people who don't get excited about October 31.  Honestly, it takes everything within me to be able to go to sleep on October 30.  And oh how the day of October 31 drags on and on, hour by hour, as if trick-or-treating time will never arrive.  But, you guys, once it gets here...Pure magic!

Let's go back a little bit to what it takes to purposefully prepare for Halloween at our house.  Now, mind you, we aren't in to the parts of Halloween that are scary and make me want to wet my pants.  No.  But we are definitely in to the parts that have anything to do with Snickers, Skittles, Milky Way, Kit Kat, Reese's, Twix, Crunch, M&M's, Payday, Twizzlers, Smarties, and Almond Joy.  In addition, we love costumes!  For the past few years, only the kids have dressed up, and I must admit I miss it!  I may need to bust out a wig or something jazzy this year just to spice things up! 

September 1st is when Halloween season begins in this house.  This is the day when I begin to panic if I have not purchased my children's costumes.  This is what is known as the "Pre-panic phase".  The actual "Red Alert panic phase" doesn't begin until September 20.  You see, a child's Halloween costume is nothing to take lightly.  I want my children to LOVE their costumes.  It's not about me loving their costumes.  Nope.  It's about them feeling so happy that they got to be ___________ for Halloween!  This always takes a lot of effort, but it's always so worth it.  This year's costumes are surprisingly simple.  But it's what they wanted, so it's what they got. 

Today marks the "one week til Halloween" milestone. This is the part of the Halloween season when things start to get real.  Today we start the Halloween Cleanse.  I invite you to join me in this cleanse.  I promise it will make your Halloween so much more enjoyable.  Here are the steps:

Step 1:  Purge all existing candy from your house.  ALL.  You know what candy I'm talking about.  Everybody has a drawer or a cabinet in their house where all the extra candy goes.  Every time your kid gets a goody bag at a birthday party or the gatherings of a piƱata, the bag is dumped in this location.  Now, here's what I can tell you with certainty.  Any candy in this drawer needs to be thrown out.  It's old.  How do I know this?  Because the year is divided into "Candy Seasons".  Halloween is the first season followed by Christmas, then Valentine's Day, then Easter.  Chances are, most of the candy in your stash has a pastel wrapper or is covered in pink hearts.  Time to chunk it.  Why?  That brings me to Step 2.

Step 2:  You have to use this week to build up desperation.  Tonight at 10:00 when you get a craving for some old Easter Sixlets (let's be honest...your stash is down to nasty stuff like Sixlets and old suckers), you have to know there is nothing in the candy food group left in your house.  Tomorrow the craving will get worse.  By Monday, things won't be pretty, my friend.  By Wednesday, chocolate will be all you can think about.  You are going to enter the evening of October 31 with a purpose.  This won't just be any other evening stroll through the neighborhood.  Nope.  This will be a mission. 

(That's really all that there is to the cleansing portion of Halloween.  But I'm really enjoying giving you steps to complete, so I think I'll continue on with more important things to do between now and Halloween.)

Step 3:  Between now and the 31st, you need to get your kids in to see the dentist.  I'm taking mine on Tuesday.  That way when the dentist asks the child, "Have you been eating a lot of candy?"  The child can honestly answer, "No" and make you look like a rock star.  You take the child to the dentist any time in November and you are going to get "the look" from the dentist.  No one has time for that.

Step 4:  Choosing proper footwear for the evening of Halloween is a vital component to everyone's attire.  Listen to me, I don't care how much your daughter wants to wear the sparkly princess shoes, you know better!  Yes, let her wear the shoes, but plan to pack one pair of backup shoes as well as some Band-aids.  We all know you are going to get 3 blocks from home when she will realize her feet hurt.   

Step 5:  Before you head out for trick-or-treating, get everyone super excited about the whole night!  

Step 6:  Savor every single minute of watching your children run from house to house giggling and screaming!  

Step 7:  Let them eat some candy while they are trick-or-treating.  This makes for fun childhood memories.  In addition, you DO NOT want them ever getting an accurate count on their candy collection.  

Step 8:  Come home and dump their candy on the floor.  Take a picture of them laying down looking so happy with the candy.  Allow them to sort the candy.  But keep conversation happening with them during this time.  I'm serious...DO NOT LET THEM GET AN ACCURATE CANDY COUNT!!!  If they know they have 7 Snickers, you are up a creek without a paddle, my friend.  Those Snickers are suddenly off limits to you!  If they are absolutely determined to count some of the candy, steer them towards the nasty stuff you aren't going to want to eat anyways.  They can count that 40 times for all you care...

Step 9:  Let them take their baths or showers and then snuggle them up in bed talking about how much fun you had as a family.  Talk about your highs and lows.  Let their little minds flutter off to dreamland.

Step 10:  Slip out of their rooms.  Go to the living room and take a picture of you laying on the living room floor next to their pile of candy.  You worked so hard for this moment.  Grab a Twix or seven and cheers your spouse on another successful Halloween!

Step 11: Take time over the course of the next two weeks to invest in your child's candy education.  Do they know what nougat is?  They should.  Do they know the importance of peanuts and caramel working together in a candy bar?  They better.  Have they ranked their Starburst flavors in order from best to worst?  Who better to teach them this than you?  Folks, if you don't step up to the plate and teach your own children these things, society is going to misinform them.  One day they will come home with the idea that peanut butter and chocolate are each better on their own than as a combo team.  Do you want the guilt of failing your child in this way?  I think not.  I think not. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Things People Say To Pregnant Women

Many of my friends are either pregnant or have just had babies.  Today I was thinking back to my pregnancies and all the things people said to me during those months.  Here's a list of a few of those things followed by my thoughts on each.

1.  "Are you pregnant?":  Oh this question!  Folks, we must stop asking this question!  My husband and I have a rule about our reactions to anyone who we think is pregnant.  Unless the woman is wearing a shirt that says, "I'M PREGNANT!", we just assume she is not and we go about our business.  Why?  Because there is no better way to offend a non-pregnant woman than to assume that she's pregnant.  If she's pregnant and you need to know about it, she will tell you in her time.  And if you don't need to know about it, then it really is none of your business anyway.

2.  "So, are you ready for the baby to get here?":  This question is a trap.  It is usually asked to first-time expecting parents by people who have already had one or more children.  The expecting parents don't realize they are stepping into a trap by answering, "Yes, we have everything we need and the nursery is perfectly decorated.  All the clothes are washed and we are just waiting for the precious one to make his/her arrival!"  This is when the more experienced parents pounce on the ignorant prey by saying, "No, are you READY?"  What they mean is, "Are you ready for parenthood?  Because let me just tell you, you have no idea what you are about to be thrown into!"

3.  "How much longer until your due date?":  This is every pregnant woman's nightmare question.  Mostly we hate it because people usually start asking it when we are somewhere around 32 weeks pregnant.  We look like we are ready to pop, but the sad truth is that the baby still needs to grow for about 8 more weeks.  When the mommy-to-be says, "Only 8 more weeks!" the other person responds with shock and disbelief and sometimes makes the horrific statement of, "Oh my goodness!  You look like you are due any day now!"  Then the mommy-to-be retreats to a special solitary place to hang her head and cry into her sadly swollen hands.

4.  "So, are you planning on natural childbirth or are you getting an epidural or are you planning on a C-section?" and "So, are you planning to breastfeed your baby or will you be using formula?": I put these two questions together because they belong in their own category.  These are watershed questions that many people use to draw a line in the sand between themselves and "the others".  Women really love to group themselves into one category on either side of these questions.  Sadly, many women have to pick a side before they are ever even moms.  While you are pregnant, you have to know THE PLAN.  Then if THE PLAN doesn't go as planned, you are made to feel like a complete and total failure by the group you chose to be a part of before THE PLAN was ever tested.  Ladies of the world...UNITE!  If there were topics that could use a bit more grace and understanding of differences of choices, these would be them.  So many poor mommies start their first days of motherhood feeling like failures because THE PLAN didn't go as planned and they deem themselves unsuccessful before they even get both feet out of the hospital bed! 

5.  "Wow!  Your bellybutton really sticks out there!" Really?  REALLY?  When did it become okay for anyone to just walk around stating the obvious?  It's not like we walk up to balding men in the store and say, "Wow!  So that hair just never grew back up there, huh?" 
I'll never forget the time a stranger walked up to me when I was 8-months pregnant and said, "Your bellybutton looks so funny!"  Then she stuck her finger through my shirt and in my bellybutton.  She was so lucky I didn't kick her in the face.  I would have if my leg could have lifted more than 6 inches off the ground. 

       *Make sure you sleep a lot now, because you won't get any sleep once the baby gets here. (Probably the stupidest thing ever said.  Ever.  Where is this Sleep Bank where we deposit our extra sleep hours before the baby gets here just so we can make withdrawals after the birth?)
       *Make sure you always vacuum under the baby's bed while she's asleep so she will get used to sleeping around loud noise.  (Yes, because after multiple sleepless nights, what I really want to do when I FINALLY get this little bundle of joy to sleep is to whip out my vacuum!)
       *Make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps.  (I can't.  I'll be vacuuming under his bed to try and not wake him up.)
       *Make sure you put your baby's head facing different ends of the crib each time you lay her down.  That way she won't grow fond of a certain end of the bed, but will be flexible to sleep at either end.  (WHAT?  Enough said.)
       *Get the baby on a schedule early.  It's the most important thing.  (Okay.  I'll do that.)
       *Be flexible with your schedule.  It's the most important thing.  (Okay.  I'll do that.)

To my pregnant friends, good luck with this.  That's about all the advice I have to give you!

So what's the craziest thing someone ever said to you when you were expecting? 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Technology...I'm Not A Fan

As I sit here waiting for my hair color to process, it occurs to me that I have 30 minutes for blogging (25 for the roots and an additional 5 for the rest of my "naturally blonde" hair).  Let's see how much I can accomplish in 30 minutes!

Before I begin today's discussion, let me tell you a couple of things about myself.

1.  I Do Not Like Change.  While change always sounds good in theory to me, I always struggle when it's time for change in my personal life.  I love routine, structure, and "normal". 

2.  I Do Not Like Technology.  What I am about to say here will sound like it is being written by an 80-year-old woman.  I'm aware that my generation is supposed to love technology and all that comes with it.  But I simply don't.  I don't like how everyone always carries their cell phones with them, checking them frequently like they are the President of the United States waiting to hear if they have brought peace to the Middle East.  I don't like how people don't even have to bring a Bible to church anymore because it's all on their phones.  Whatever happened to that rite of passage where all moms had to figure out how to carry the children, the diaper bag, the gigantic Bible, and the big purse into church?  For a long time I thought our entire congregation was completely disregarding our pastor and playing games on their phones during church.  Then someone informed me that "everyone" has a Bible app on their phone.  Folks, I don't even know what an app is.  I mean, I know you buy them and put them on your phone and they make your life 100 times better, but if you asked me to download an app I would not know how to do that.  Which brings me to my next, I don't have a smartphone.  Last year when it was time to renew our cell phone plan and get new phones, I told the man at the AT&T store that I only wanted a phone that could make calls and text...NOTHING ELSE.  He looked at me like I was crazy and said that no one makes phones like that anymore.  Then I think he went in the back room and made fun of me to the other employees.  So now I have internet on my non-smartphone.  I'm not going to lie, I use it.  That's why I hate it.  I don't need Internet on my phone, but if I'm going to have it right there then I'm going to use it.  Stupid internet phone that I don't want to like.  In addition to all these devices I don't love, let me add the Kindle.  Why oh WHY don't people like turning pages in real books anymore?  Real books.  Oh I love them.  They smell so good when you bring them home from the bookstore.  The book is all flat and new.  The whole story is waiting to unfold in front of you.  You don't get any of that from a Kindle.

3.  I Love My DVR.  This is one piece of technology that I adore.  I'm not even going to makes excuses about why I love it, I just do.  So...there. 

4.  I'm Not Judging Anyone Who Loves Technology.  I really mean that.  Our society is supposed to love technology.  I am clearly the odd woman out in this situation.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to find ANYONE who feels the way I do about technology.  One day your grandchildren will think you are awesome and technology savvy.  My grandchildren will call each other and make fun of me because grandma said, "I need help figuring out my app-thingy!" again.

With all that said, this past week our family took a little getaway for a few days.  We drove 3 hours to another town and had a great time together.  As we contemplated the drive as a family of 4, everything within me wanted to be THAT mom who can entertain the family by playing Car Bingo, singing family tunes, having meaningful conversation, and ummm...other stuff awesome families do.  On the flip side, I knew our friends had a car dvd player we could borrow.  That baby would entertain the troops in the backseat, make their trip seem to go by faster, and allow my hubby and I to have REAL conversation.  You know which of these options won, don't you?  I still feel guilty about it.  But, let me tell you, THAT WAS THE EASIEST ROAD TRIP EVER!  My hubby and I got to talk about so many things without ever being interrupted.  Our kids had no idea they had even been on a road trip.  We all arrived to our destination happy, rested, and still happy we had decided to travel together!  SUCCESS! 

The next morning as my husband and I were getting ready for the day, our son asked if he could watch some tv.  It was 8:12 a.m.  We turned the tv on and found a show he liked.  This is the conversation that followed:

Child:  I want to watch this show from the beginning.

Me:  You can't.  This is live tv.

Child:  Huh?

Me:  Live tv.  It's playing right now.  There isn't a DVR here to record your shows.  It's live.

Child:  What?  Just push the rewind button.

Me:  There isn't a rewind button.  With live tv you just have to watch it where it is.

Child:  What if I need to stop to go to the bathroom?

Me:  (Looking at my husband)  OH MY WORD!  THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT LIVE TV IS!

That sparked a huge discussion about what life used to be like when we were kids.  We introduced him to all sorts of foreign ideas like:
1.  "When we were kids, we didn't have remotes.  If you wanted to change the channel, you had to GET UP and do it."
2.  "When we were kids, you prayed that your parent didn't want to watch a show at the same time you did, because if they did...YOU DIDN'T GET TO WATCH YOUR SHOW!"
3.  "When we were kids, if you wanted to talk on the phone you went to the kitchen, picked up the phone off the wall and stood next to it the whole time you talked."
4.  "When we were kids, you were fancy if you had a car a bag...with a gigantic magnetic antennae attached to the top of your car.  And you got 60 minutes a month, so you had to use them wisely!" 

And then we realized...we were old.   We were starting sentences with, "When we were kids..."  WHAT?!?!  When did this happen?  When had technology changed so much that our children would not have even recognized the society in which we grew up?  Stupid technology making me feel old.

Thirty minutes later we told our kids it was time to head out of the hotel room.  We grabbed our stuff and the following conversation happened:

Child:  Hey, can you pause this show so I can finish it when we come back???

Me:  OH SWEET MOTHER!  There is no pause button!  It's LIVE TV!!!!

Child:  How am I going to know how it ends?

Hubby:  You won't.  That's the beauty of live tv.  Some things remain a mystery.  

Child:  Huh?  What?  Are we really leaving????

This family getaway has made me step back and rethink my views on technology.  I think I've determined why I am so resistant to it.  FIrst of all, it changes all the time and I don't like change.  Secondly, things are so much simpler without it!  Or are they?  Dangit, I'm just not sure anymore.  Things that make you go "Hmmmm..."

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sonic...Oh How I Love Thee

Last week was a rough week.  My 23-month-old has decided that she is in fact 23-years-old.  It's been a super fun treat to say the least.  I was so, so, so tired last week.  But, alas, we had a date night scheduled for Saturday night.  Aren't date nights amazing?  Just knowing you have one coming up can give you the energy and stamina to make it through pretty much any parenting challenge.  Did someone put crayons in the dryer?  That's night is just a few nights away!  Did you just listen to "Old MacDonald" for the 45th time today while driving with your children?  That's night is just a few nights away. 

My husband and I were so excited about our date night.  And then it happened.  Our youngest started running a fever.  When childhood illness strikes right before a date night, a parent goes through many emotional stages.

Stage 1:  DENIAL  ("Oh it's not a 'real' fever.  It's just teeth.  Of course doctors will tell us that 103 degrees is not a teething fever, but what do they really know???")

Stage 2:  ACCEPTANCE ("Maybe she really is sick.")

Stage 3:  HOPE  ("Guess what?  Her temp is down to 98.7!  Sure, I just gave her Tylenol an hour ago, but maybe this illness was really short-lived!")

Stage 4:  DEPRESSION  ("It's time to cancel the babysitter.  While I do that, can you run to the store and buy 2 boxes of brownies and some Chunky Monkey ice cream?  We are going to need it.")

Now, before you start judging me, please know that I felt so badly for my baby girl.  I hate it when my kids are sick.  I hate watching them hurt.  Of course, I wanted to snuggle her up and comfort her. addition, I NEEDED a date night.

By Sunday afternoon, I looked longingly at my husband and said this:

Me:  Do you want to know the deepest desire of my heart?  Right now.  Right in this moment.  Do you want to know what I want to do while the children take their naps?

Him:  I have no idea.

Me:  I want to go to Sonic and read my book.  All alone.  In the car.  Where I don't have to look at dirty dishes or a pile of clean laundry needing to be folded.  I just want to sit in the warm car, drink a Coke, and read.  It will be so quiet...

Him:  (Looking at me like I had the lamest dream of all time)  You should totally do that.

So off I went.  I love to read.  However, I really struggle to read at home.  I find it very hard to rest and relax when the to-do list of our house is swirling around me. 

I chose the sunniest spot at Sonic.  I rolled down the window and let the warmth sweep over me.  (Yes, I just read that last sentence.  People, I had just endured a REALLY rough parenting week!  Do not judge me.  The car was quiet.  The sun was warm.  There were no dishes to be done.  I was in Heaven!)

I got my large Coke with extra ice and settled in to read my book.  There's something about reading that is so amazing.  I always get so caught up in what I'm reading that I forget about anything else around me.  So, you can imagine my surprise an hour later when I felt the awkwardness of someone staring at me.  I turned my head to see a carhop standing at my window.  She was holding another drink and was clearly at the wrong car.  I tried to casually explain to her that I didn't order that drink.  She laughed off the situation, but stood there for another moment just staring at me.  As she walked away, I realized that this 17-year-old thought I was the craziest woman she had ever met.  Apparently, during my reading, I had made myself REALLY comfortable in my car.  I had kicked my flip flops off, reclined my seat back to an almost horizontal position, and my bare feet were kicked up on the dashboard.  Can't you just imagine what the teenagers inside Sonic were saying?  "Crazy lady - Stall 14!"

It's okay, though.  One day that little carhop will be a mommy.  She will love her children so much.  She will love caring for their every need.  She will love playing with them, worrying about them, and encouraging them.  She, too, will love date nights.  She, too, will cry when illness wrecks the date night.  And she, too, will end up at in her minivan in the middle of the afternoon with her favorite book.  And she will look back on this day and say, "That woman wasn't crazy!  That woman was a genius!"

*I know in my last post I stated that I would no longer be posting my blog to Facebook.  However, I received some feedback that some of you cannot become members of this blog because you do not have the right kinds of email accounts.  So for you, dear reader, I will keep posting the links to Facebook.