….It’s the middle that counts the most….

I just embarked on a 10 hour trip alone with 5 kids under the age of 10!!!

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Here’s what I have learned traveling alone with kids for the past 7 years….

  1. NO ONE EVER has to pee at the same time… no matter if you took them in or not, as soon as you get on the road, regardless if everyone tried and went, 15 minutes down the road, as soon as you start making decent time again, from the back seat you are sure to hear “I have to poop!!!!”
    Me: “Why didn’t you go 15 minutes ago?!”
    Reply: (I promise this is a true story) “I forgot” ….
  2. Someone is always touching someone else resulting in an argument and, in my case, something flying to the front of the car, and when asked who did that, I hear a unanimous “they did!!!”
  3. I must have said, “I’m pulling this car over, I’ve had it!!” 1,111,223,234,534 times
  4. “I’m Bored” is the car mantra
  5. “I’m starving” is a close second
  6. When we stop the car that was once clean, it looks like every snack bag and lego bag has exploded in the back seat.
  7. no one can EVER find their shoes!!! No matter how in advance I let them know that we are stopping, someone always has a missing shoe!!!
    side note: one time I thought that I really had my act together… got them all out of the car, walked them holding hands like angels into a McDonalds, got to the restroom only to realize #3 was missing his shoes … it happens!!
  8. They never nap at the same time… they go in shifts and this makes me picking the radio station non existent for 10 hours!
  9. Drive through orders are a nightmare for me and for the poor fella taking our order
  10. And no matter how crazy the trip was… I will still tell everyone that my children are the best travelers in the world!

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I managed to go on this trip (with an extra kid in tow might I add), run them here and there, take care of 3 sick kids that decided to fall ill, days apart, take them all into different bathrooms along the route, get everyone’s order right in the drive thru and I didn’t forget anyone!!! I am super woman for sure! 🙂

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On another note… bittersweet, I tucked in a 3 year old for the last time ever! It’s a little sad but almost like opening a new chapter. As my sweet baby turns 4 tomorrow, suddenly he is not so little anymore. He will start preschool in the fall and he will slowly become more independent. He will slowly become a little boy and not mama’s baby any more and then a new chapter will open for me. I know that my family is complete, I don’t have that longing for another baby, but I do miss my babies being …. babies.  It is interesting going into this new part of life. The part where everyone is more independent and not reliant on me for every little thing, but as a mama, you secretly long to be needed always. I love taking care of my quartet. I love watching them grow and learn and I often think what a great honor it is, that I was chosen for this role in life. Tomorrow we will celebrate my baby, Alexander Blake. Tonight I will stand in his doorway and watch him go from 3 to 4 and watch as my baby boy silently grows up on me.

Momin’ ain’t easy but I do it with so much pride and gratitude.

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I’m Passionate….

There are so many things that I enjoy but there are a few that I am absolutely passionate about…

Anyone that knows me knows that I love coffee and cake and I love a good ole southern meal. My husband and I love new foods and we love finding new restaurants.

I love to travel, I love to explore, I love to be adventurous and sporadic and I typically fly by the seat of my pants in most areas of my life. I love meeting new people and making new friends. I love to read and I love wrapping up in a blanket on a cool day with a good book and staying there until I finish the book.

I love so many different things but there are a couple of things that I am passionate about.

I am passionate about my Jesus.
Since I was a little girl, I remember being so excited when the church bus would come and get me on Sunday morning. I loved going to church with my Granny, getting all dressed up and going to a place with peace and hope and safety. I start everyday with my favorite scripture… I will say it over and over again because this is me… Psalms 42:1 “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” , because as a little girl that was me and as an adult I know that I couldn’t make it a day without Him. I am PASSIONATE about Jesus.

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I am passionate about my family.
I wake up every morning knowing that I am a mama to 4 of the coolest kids ever. I take this responsibility so serious and I give it my all. Sometimes until it has run me into the ground. I love taking care of my family. I love cooking for them and caring for them and I love that I was chosen for this place.  I am sure that there are things that I could do better and I try daily to make that happen. I love being there for them. I love that they know that I will always be there for them. I am PASSIONATE about my family!mountaintripimg_2118

I am passionate about my friends.
I believe being a friend is unconditional. It is not my place to judge them but to be there for them. It is my responsibility as a friend to encourage them and support them in their quests through life. That is what a friend does. My job as a friend isn’t to tear them down or compete with them. I pray for them and I know that they pray for me too.  I love my friends as if they were family and that is why they are a passion for me.

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And I am passionate about me… about being the BEST ME that I can be.

I know that may sound a little bit conceited but, how can I be passionate about Jesus, Family and friends if I am not the best me for them. I had a big scare in November and it gave me a bit of an enlightening. I realized that I wasn’t doing everything that I could to be a healthier, happier me. So I decided to change that. After numerous doctors to no avail, I looked to a more natural approach. I started taking better care of me for me. I stumbled across the Le-Vel product Thrive® about a month ago and it has allowed me to take my life back and be more PASSIONATE about the things that matter the most. I tell people I am not promoting a product that I half heartedly believe in, I am promoting a product that allows me to give my all. I am thankful that I stumbled across this product because today, I am more involved in church, a better witness, a better wife and mother and a better friend. I have more energy and I feel better than I have in years. thrive3

What are you passionate about? What keeps you going? What makes you stop and think and wonder what you can change?

I am a happy, HEALTHY lady today and I am so grateful for the things that I am passionate about because it allows me to live life in a different way.

 

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What I learned at the Park

Does anyone else get major anxiety when going to the park?!

Maybe it’s just me. I usually hope that it is just us when I get there, mostly because I don’t want to compete with the other moms.

The ones standing around in their mom groups in work out clothes and you ask yourself “did they really just go to the gym or is that for show?” I can get a little catty in my head and think …. “you know they just ate a huge candy bar before they got out of the car” 

They are seriously chatting about books and recipes and using soft voices when talking to the kids.

I stand back.
I use “soft voices” too, I don’t want them to think I am some sort of psycho… but how do you tell your dare devil 3 year old not to jump from the top of the playset in a calm voice!?SNLF5986[1]

I did the things you do at the park… I had the reminder about strangers talk, I brought bread to feed the ducks, I packed a picnic lunch and still I stood there feeling like the other moms were staring me down. So inadequate as a mom.

I laid out there lunch and I remember I didn’t bring a wipe to wash their hands, {just lay it out, have them eat and pretend you don’t notice}  but then I remembered that Alex sat a sandwich on the porch yesterday and I am pretty sure he went back later and ate it with mud caked hands.

Then the playground clears out and the anxiety fades and I remember why I brought them….
To play and get dirty.

I hate feeling like I always need to be better, like I am in some sort of “mom court” all the time. And if I don’t do something just right then my kids will grow up and remember the one time I took them to the park and forgot the bread.

I used to really beat myself up about not being that perfect mom…. but is there such a thing. We all mess up and shame on us if we ever make another mama feel like she isn’t doing enough, or doing it just right.

I am about 100% sure that Braxton was my guinea pig child. I know that I have “messed up” more with him than the others, but then I sit back and watch him and I realize that he is smart, kind, a great student, he loves, and seeks to be pleasing to others. So, I suppose that all those times I forgot the bread to feed the ducks and those times that I yelled across the playground not to push, helped him along the way.

Momin’ ain’t easy, but I am learning everyday. I am loosing the anxious feeling and just living with my kids and for my kids. I want them to grow up and think “My mom was always there… she was firm and we knew she meant business, but she was there to kiss the bumps and bandage the scrapes. She was there to hug us when someone hurt our feelings and she was there to kiss us and love us” …. that’s what I want them to remember.

So, I guess I said all this to say, I know that I’m not the BEST mom in the world but I know I am the Best mom for my quartet. God thought so, so I’m going to try really hard not to beat myself up for all my imperfections and just do us.

 

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An Experience

I thought being a mama would be a walk in the park.

I laughed when “seasoned” mama’s would say “just wait until you have your own”.

Then I had Braxton and I immediately thought I knew everything, when in fact I didn’t know anything at all. I didn’t know if he could fall asleep in a swing. I would sit by his crib and hold a mirror to his face to make sure he was breathing. (true story) I called the pediatrician the first time he fell and busted his lip, the nurse giggled, I remember getting a little upset, and she said, “give him a popsicle this is the first of many bumps”.
I thought “I don’t have any popsicles don’t those have sugar in them.”

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I was strict with his diet and gave him only organic foods, only milk and water and never ever gave him a “dip” for his organic, free range, stress free chicken nuggets.

I was a “helicopter mom” to the extreme. I remember watching my sister in law, while on our first family vacation give her son, who was 4 months younger, a pudding cup. I stood there silently appalled that she would do that to her child!!!

Then one day we heard the words that no mother wants to hear and my views seemed to change almost overnight. MY child wasn’t supposed to be sick, he was an organic baby, who NEVER got sick or had a cold. He had never even had an ear infection. MY child was not a statistic. But in fact, my child was.  And I realized then that I didn’t know anything at all and that I had a lot of road to cover!

Then as time went on we added 3 more monkeys to the bunch and I became “seasoned”. QUICKLY!!! I became that crazy mama, going through Wal-Mart with one in the front, one where you are “not supposed to put a child”, one hanging on the end, in flip flops {an accident waiting to happen} and then Braxton wandering aimless through the aisles as if he is the only one there…. That is EXPERIENCE! I learned to listen to those other mama’s … fast!!!!

Now, while I don’t know everything, I do know a lot. I know about emergency room visits. I know how to put a band aid on extra tight to avoid another ER visit. I know how to pack lunches that they will actually eat. I know that cupcakes can smooth most things over. I know that kids have disagreements and that I can’t always come to their rescue. I know that girls are dramatic and that I still have A LOT to learn about raising a girl in a house of testosterone. I know that boys are gross and they literally smell, and I know that they will fight regardless if we are at home, church or an aisle in a store.

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I have learned to smile when they are embarrassing me to know end and make some sort of awkward joke out of the situation. They have taught me that being serious all the time is lame and that sometimes you have to use a funny voice when ordering processed food in the drive through. I have learned that messes get made and they get cleaned up eventually.

Who said being a mama was a job you had to apply for and have a perfect record. I have said it before that I am no “pinterest mom” and I admire them and I wish they would come decorate my house and teach my children how to keep white furniture clean and how to meal prep and make birthday parties the best thing ever. For now I will stick with leather furniture, cheap carpet, my “less is more and big is better” philosophy, no pretty curtains {because that is how Tarzan gets around} and sometimes dinner isn’t what everyone loves and cereal is OK for dinner!
I learned that Nerf wars are a blast ESPECIALLY when we ambush the Barber when he comes through the door…. I will take full responsibility for this because it was epic.

Being a mama is a privilege that I will never take for granted. It is fun and stressful, noisy and sometimes too quiet, it is runny noses and wet kisses and it is late nights and early mornings. But that is OK with me… we are going to make the most of EVERY crazy moment, live life and make memories…

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That is my Friday thought!

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In the Blink of an Eye

Spring Break came and went in a flash, and it’s always bittersweet for me, mostly because this year they got a full 2 weeks {thank you Jesus!!! No snow days this past winter} and while the time was spent mostly on the road going here and there, it was like a summer time teaser.

First Day of Spring Break, Miss Zoe turned 7!!! It is so hard to believe that she is already 7 even though she acts more like a 16 year old these days…. UGH!!! emotional, dramatic girls!!! She had to go to the eye doctor that day and she is now the only person in our crew with glasses!!! WhAt!!!?? Well, she was thrilled, until we got back from our travels and she had to wear them all day!

Me and the 2 younger rascals spent the first part of Spring Break in North Carolina visiting my family while the older 2 went with my in-laws to Hilton Head.

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My stay in Carolina was way to short but I will be back in June for a week so that kinda made departing a little easier.

I made my way down to South Carolina {6 hours with 2 little boys, who have to pee every 15 minutes, ask a million questions and think the back seat is a great place to work on their MMA skills} in the middle of the week to reunite with my older monkeys. We explored Parris Island, where Eron’s dad did basic training many moons ago. The boys especially thought this was the coolest thing ever, and decided they could be Marines too…. for about a day, then it was back to lazy days and Cheeto breaks. 🙂

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One day was spent in Charleston, where we took a Ferry Boat to Fort Sumter. There they explored numerous cannons and ran around like crazy people and then watched for dolphins from the top of the Fort. Later we took a horse and carriage ride around historic Charleston, my kids took that 45 minute ride as a great opportunity to take a nap.

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Our last day there was spent in Savannah, probably one of my favorite places to vacation. It just has such a relaxing feel to it. I have been in the heat of the summer, I have visited during Christmas and now even in the Spring and each time I fall in love with the town a little more.

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Savannah 2015 

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Savannah River Street Walk

We, of course, visited The Lady and Sons and I ate more food than I have all year. No REGRETS!!!

So yeah, me and 4 kids, 700 miles from home. I know that I take them on those trips because I love them and I want them to enjoy traveling as much as I do… but, by the end I am about ready to pull my hair out!

One thing that I did while I was in NC that I don’t regret in the least, is make a lifestyle change…. 100% for the better.

I have been watching friends of mine brag about their “Thrive” experience and I thought, “that is the dumbest thing, there is no way it makes you feel that good”.
“Surely it’s another sales pitch.”

So after traveling in the car with 4 kids alone… feeling run down, ready to crash every night by 9, I was desperate. SO I called up my friend Tiffany and said tell me about it!! And she did … I tried it for 3 days and by the 3rd day I knew this was a product that was made for me.

Now, if you know me, I am a habitual coffee drinker. It is what keeps me going and I pretty much have a coffee cup in my hand about 85% of the day. But in my 3 days I barely finished a CUP  a day!!! That was huge for me. At 30 I knew that I was not where I wanted to be physically. I would love to go to the gym but I was so tired that it was the farthest thing from my mind. I just wanted to FEEL BETTER.

If this is you…. let me recommend Thrive!!! YOU need an 8 week experience!!!! Check out their website Thrive. You will be so glad you clicked that link and took the challenge. I know that I am!!! Also check out Thrive on Facebook!!! You will see that I am not the only “crazy” person seeing results!!!

I am waiting on summer now… Long days by the pool, road trips with my quartet and now that I am “Thriving” wearing them out by the end of the day. I am so excited for the things to come!!!

Toodles

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