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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Being married for almost 14 years and having 4 kids there is always a lot of love in this house.

Mostly a love for Jesus, love of Lego, love of dinosaurs, love of music, a love of motorcycles, a deeply misunderstood love of coffee and sweets, an unhealthy love of money and a love of tormenting each other in some form or fashion… but still a LOT of love floating around.

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Braxton walked up behind Caleb last night and pinged him at close range with a Nerf gun, Caleb squealed like a girl and said “THAT WAS NOT VERY ‘LOVABLE’, IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY PUNK!”  That is the kind of love that we have in this house. Nerf wars and laughter.

Zoe is usually tagging behind the boys, annoying them to no end trying to kiss them or hug them, knowing that it drives them crazy insisting it’s because she LOVES them.

And then when the barber steals a random kiss there is a loud chorus of “eeeewwwww” making him kiss me again. That is the love in this house.

And because alone time never happens in this house, I ‘borrow’ chocolate from the Valentine’s bags the kids brought home and lock myself in the bedroom for just a moment, ignoring the whines from outside the door, and the banging and the “moooooommmmm” that resonates down the hall, soaking in the 3 minutes of me time I can muster on the opposite side of the door… kid free. Because that is way better than a dozen roses and a box of chocolates he could have brought home.

Braxton has had a “love” since he was about 4 and he decided this year that he was “single” and that meant he got to keep his money and his candy all to himself. He said he didn’t need a girlfriend now and that one day when he was ready he would take her back {obviously he is either overly confident or extremely confused on how this love stuff works}

The barber and I have had 16 Valentines together, the very first one he picked me up at my high school, with 3 cards, one for each month we had been dating and the “kiss kiss” bears that Hallmark had promoted that year. I still have those cards tucked away somewhere. As time has moved on, we have changed and now a date night takes LOTS of planning, begging some poor soul to watch our kids, praying that she doesn’t run for the hills and after 45 minutes in the car, with an empty back seat, we are missing the kids terribly and talking about them and  by 730 that night we are both yawning and seeking out coffee like a crack head on a corner just to make it through the rest of the night {ROMANCE to the extreme} … we enjoy the moments alone but I am sure we drive a little faster on the way home. It’s funny how much you evolve as a couple over the years. Looking forward to many more with my darling Valentine.

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Spent the weekend with the Barber, had an amazing dinner at Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct in Downtown Cincinnati

I had the task of planning a Valentine’s Day party for Zoe’s class and by the end of Valentine’s Day I was exhausted and over all the candy and hundreds of little cards lying around. I was a Valentine’s Day Scrooge. I treated myself to a large coffee and a cake pop and ran around like a chicken with my head cut off. By the end of the day I LOVED my bed, my pillow and my cozy fuzzy Pajamas…. that’s what love is all about.

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The “Adkins” Diet

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This morning I had 2 LARGE cups of coffee {as is my norm} black…. no sugar… fat free and a hand full of caramel rice cakes, because they were on sale and the idea of eating “cake” for breakfast is always appealing…. although my taste buds were greatly deceived when I ate said CARAMEL rice cakes. I also had a nibble of my kids pancakes this morning because I had to make sure they were OK to eat  [wink wink]

Already my heart was racing… mostly from the sugar high. But you are supposed to get your heart rate up… yes, you are, I read that somewhere, either way I was already burning calories… I could feel it!

Then for lunch I did drink water because I am really trying to be more healthy… OK, seriously, I just didn’t want soda and I had already exceeded the legal coffee drinking limit, so I loaded it down with Dasani Coconut-pineapple enhancer {fabulous for masking the tasteless, filtered stuff} and chugged away. I also had a handful of salt and vinegar chips because, again, I read that apple cider vinegar was great for the body and thinking of it this way justified my indulgence.

I also had 3 mini corn dogs that were left over from the boys lunch. Because “waste not want not” like my mama taught me.

I’m a grazer. At 31, some would say that I should eat like an adult and have 3 meals a day and small healthy snacks in between…. {pish-posh}.

A friend once told me that if you graze like a cow, you may end up looking like a cow…. I’m not there yet so I will continue on my path to enlightenment.

For cardio I moved around the living room furniture … again! I do this about once a month, mostly because I rarely go anywhere exciting or to someone else’s home and moving the furniture gives me a shock factor when I go get the kids and come back home. The kids do an “eye roll”, followed by an exaggerated “agggain” and then they run to there respective after school zones. I, on the other hand, stand back and think that I hate it and that I will get a great work out next month when I move it again 😉

Cardio…. consistency people CONSISTENCY.

Oh! Yeah!! And I managed to work in a 3 minute dance break with the boys… Nothing gets your heart pumping like trying to keep up with the choreography of a 3 and 5 year old… don’t believe me??? Try it!!!

I believe in taking care of yourself and making sure that you are healthy enough to take care of your family. BUT, if you are happy with you and your health is not at risk, be just that …. HAPPY. WITH. YOU!

I won’t lie…. I am connected to tons of healthy guru people, my sister is one of them.  I follow them in awe, usually as I eat a cupcake or a pack of gummy snacks I found in my purse, but still in awe. I know that I will never be a “gym rat”, I have tried to be that 6 am workout gal…. it lasted a week. I have tried taking the kids to the childcare at the gym (which they loved by the way)… lasted about 2 weeks and I have tried all those home exercise programs and those lasted about 6 weeks, until the awe factor wore off and I slowly 86-ed it.

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I WANT to be those people but my ADHD just will not have it. And it doesn’t help that I still eat like a teenager and I ENJOY it VERY much. Y’all, I get palpitations just standing at the gym door… I suppose if I stand there and watch others work out my heart will race and my nerves will kick in causing me to sweat hence … cardio! BAM!!!

You may say “Amanda, when you eat right you teach your children to eat right”…. yes, that is probably right, but I have only offered them healthy choices since birth and so now without prompting I don’t have to beg them to eat fruits and veggies.

We LOVE to eat and me personally, I refuse to go my entire life “dieting”. Counting calories …Ugh that sounds like math … yeah, NO! To me it looks miserable. And I have a strict policy never to be miserable if I can help it. I watch what I eat, usually as it goes in my mouth, but still I watch it. And I am lucky enough that it doesn’t take much to fill me up. Given it lasts for about 30 minutes until I am on to my next victim. Kudos to all of you who can diet and go to the gym… one day I want to adult like you! For now, I watch you and pretend that the cupcake I am eating is a whole grain muffin.

Love you! Don’t let what others look like, or what Hollywood says you should be govern how you feel about you. Dress the body you have, not the one you wish you had…. Feel pretty, refuse to compare yourselves to others. If you feel bad about the way you look then, yes, makes some changes. But if you wake up in the morning and you know that you are happy and you can look in the mirror and say “girl, you look GREAT” then go on about your day. Smile and hold your head up high and have a great day.  Usually when someone says “I wish I looked like you”, my response is “you are beautiful, you don’t want to be me”.  I think that as women we silently  body shame ourselves looking at others. That gal that you said you wished you looked like may wish that she could put on more weight to avoid the stares. You never know.

PS… I am not “skinny” by any means… again I dress the body that I HAVE. After 4 kids, I feel like I have done decent sticking around a “goal” wait and I am OK with that. I don’t set goals that I can’t reach, mostly because I usually forget the outlandish goals. I don’t believe in standing around in the molly grubs because you are not where you want to be either. If you know that you are not what you want to be and you  are NOT happy… suck it up buttercup and get to moving. There is NO excuse not to be happy with you.

And if you really don’t have the time for the gym… call me I will loan out my 4 rugrats and you can keep up with them for a day and guaranteed you will have some cardio, a few squats and a couple of crunches in before you bring them back. And you will be out of breath and most likely sweating…. The “Adkins” Diet.

Who knows maybe when they are all in school, I may join a gym… MAYBE!

Love YOU! BECAUSE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

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Thankful for the trials He’s put me through

Today I am thankful for the trials that He has put me through.

I know that I would not be where I am today had I never overcome those trials.

I am thankful for the day that I stepped into an Apostolic church, and felt that wonderful presence of the Holy Ghost.

I now understand that 15 years ago He knew what I would face and what I would need as I walked this journey.

7 years ago, on November 10, 2009, we sat in a hospital room at Brenner Children’s Hospital with Braxton, unsure of what was wrong with our very sick little boy.

It was raining, I was 20 weeks pregnant with Zoe and we were scared, so very very scared of the uncertainty of the situation.

The doctors (because just one isn’t scary enough they had to send in 4) walked in overly somber and told us that our sweet 2 year old had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. CANCER!

At that moment, the world around us stopped. Cancer,  such a final word.

I never expected we would face that, but we knew that God was in control …. I don’t know how anyone faces these trials in life without Jesus. I don’t know how they go through it without family, and a Pastor and church family. From the very beginning Braxton was blessed with AMAZING doctors both at Brenner’s and then after our move, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

I recently started following an adult on social media that is under going grueling chemo treatments and I get emotional sometimes as she talks about the side effects and how her body is feeling, and to think that a baby went through those same feelings unable to tell us what was going on, it makes my heart hurt all over again.

We love to tell Braxton that from coast to coast we had people praying for him. While I would never wish this horrible sickness on anyone, I am grateful today that God put us through the fire only to prove that He was with us all along. Today our faith is stronger, and we believe in the power of prayer more than ever.

Braxton is a walking testimony. A MIRACLE!

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All around the house and the hospital room I had scriptures placed and these were 2 of my favorites…

1 Corinthians 10:13 “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Job 23:10 says “But he knoweth the way that I take:  when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

 

Some days, I do sit back as a mama, I don’t understand why my baby had to get so sick. Along this journey I watched as other mama’s held their babies for the last time. I watched as other children endured far worse effects of the chemo and radiation. I watched my little boy so sick that he couldn’t walk and barely had the energy to talk. I watched him suffer through medications that made him horribly sick. I mastered holding a vomit bucket while driving down the road. We learned to occupy our time while quarantined in a small hospital room for a week and 2 weeks at a time. We spent 3 Christmases and 3 Thanksgiving’s and birthdays in the hospital. We visited with Zoe in waiting rooms before she went back to stay with Papaw and Nana for the weeks we were in the hospital. We learned to sleep through IV beeps and early morning checks. We learned medical  terminology and how to calculate an ANC. We learned the signs of anemia and we knew when a fever was coming. We understand long waits in the ER and midnight runs. We know the effects of steroids and what “roid rage” looks like in a 2 year old.  We watched him undergo countless spinal taps, countless moments of being placed under sedation. And, through it all, he NEVER complained. Not once!

Today we watch as he memorizes scriptures and sings for Jesus. We watch as he soars in his classroom at school and we watch as he GROWS into a healthy young man. We watch as he smiles, and builds Legos, plays with his friends, and we watch as he sleeps comfortably in his bed at night. We know that he has great things ahead of him in the future. And he has an awesome testimony that one day he will fully understand. For now I will make sure to shout it from the roof tops.

I know that at 2 he felt Jesus with him in the room, he felt the prayers of God’s people, and that is what allowed him to be OK.

January is 4 years of remission. And today we don’t mope in sadness for the diagnoses we rejoice for the VICTORY!

We pray for the families that are still facing this monster, we pray for their strength and courage. There is a light at the end of the long dark tunnel. And through it all He was with us. Today we are thankful for the trial, because today we all have a testimony

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Lost in the “wood”

I had a dream the other night, and for me this is rare mostly because I am rarely asleep long enough to dream, but I was horribly sick and this allowed me a full night of uninterrupted sleep…. I digress…. anyway, I had a dream, that I was in China (why China? I have no idea, maybe because I really wanted an egg roll), and I was walking down an extremely busy road with Caleb, SUDDENLY! Caleb took off running, in only a fashion that he would do.

Y’all this dream was so real that I am sure that I was screaming for him in my sleep. In the dream he would get really close look back and smile and then take off running. This went on until I woke myself up near hyperventilating from the stress of the dream.

I woke up in a way that only a mama would understand, still breathing hard, I shot up out of the bed and ran to his bedside where he was, of course, sound asleep, probably dreaming of dinosaur wrangling cowboys.

The next morning this crazy dream had me thinking all day about my sweet Caleb. Cabby, my literal middle child, the introvert, the most accident prone of all my kids (no joke, we are on a first name basis with the ER radiology techs and nurse practitioners)  and the one that has had me wrapped since day one. He wears all his emotions on his face and he loves with all his heart. At 4 he still drags a star spangled “night night” everywhere he goes and he is 100% boy (and a mama’s boy).

I started to think that so often, being in the middle he can get lost in the shuffle of siblings, and I thought about how important it is not to “lose” our kids in the day to day hustle. I know that personally my goal as a mother is that my  children are never “lost”. Spiritually I want them to know Jesus and love Jesus first and before everything.

I want them never to feel unimportant, I want them to never get “lost” to the ideals that this ever troubled world may throw at them. I want them to  know that I will always find them no matter where they are in life. Anyway that was my deep thought after this dream … Perhaps this is why I don’t dream I think too much into them and become this sudden honorary mom-cologist with a pretend degree from CandyLand University.  Maybe it just meant, Cabby is getting ready to take off when I am least expecting it, so if that’s the case I am on high alert!

In other Barber’s Wife news, aside from the crazy dreams and the gnarly random sickness that over came me, I have been super busy in my shop. I have a craft show this weekend and I am wracking my brain to get some original things finished and ready to sale. As the holidays draw near, let me encourage you to shop local.

I usually shop local and small business, mostly because I like the uniqueness of an item and I feel like it adds a flair of “special” to the gift that you are purchasing. These local vendors are people those big name, carbon copy places are slowly pushing out. As a mama it is a big deal to be able to do something that I enjoy and stay home with my kids too,and still being able to put my family first. And I can’t do that UNLESS YOU BUY MY STUFF…. it’s for the kids!

So with that being said if you are looking for a small teachers gift, something for your boss, something unique for a new baby, or just something to spruce up the home,  check out my Etsy page The Barbers Wife and Co….. or, 

 

The Barbers Wife and Co.

if you are looking for something for your little girls to help add a little sparkle to their wardrobe look at   Twinkle Belle Bows , Zoe has gobs of these bows and she is stopped everywhere we go with admiration.

Twinkle Belle Bows

Also, look at Swallows Grace, the story behind this sweet company will melt your heart, in a nut shell they started making mugs to fund the adoption of their sweet little boy, Lane… ahhhh! get a tissue ready it is so sweet. I have a personalized cup from her already, the quality is great and I have another in the making (I have a small addiction to mugs).

HAPPY FALL YALL Coffee Mug

Swallows Grace

These are just a couple of my favorites, I have tons more, just check them out you will love them too.

So I suppose the moral to this post…. shop small and don’t lose stuff….

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