….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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We need some time….

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It’s Spring Break for my kiddos, and I ain’t gonna lie, we have been so very lazy. We have slept in {for this house that means until 8 am}, we have stayed in PJ’s ALL day, had cake for breakfast, listened to music extra loud and played games and then later we had more cake.

We had to decompress after the crazy past few weeks. I feel like we have been going about a million miles an hour since the end of January and I was ready for a few days of R & R with my monkeys.

Yesterday we HAD to go out and the boys only question… “do we HAVE to wear pants?” … I had to think about it for a minute and settled on yes, mostly because it was 32 degrees outside. These are my favorite kind of days.

I love laughing with them and making simple memories that don’t require a lot of hullabaloo.

Rewind to Monday, Miss Z turned 7! I look at her some days and wonder when she got to be so big and then realize that she has never been “little”. It saddens me some days because when she was little, Braxton was terribly sick and a lot of my time and energy went into taking care of him. She spent a great deal of her baby years with my husbands parents and in the process I have created this extremely independent and sassy little lady.  We celebrated with Chick Fil A for breakfast, shopping and later a trip to the eye doctor {cause you go when you can}, and ended with a girls date to Starbucks, her favorite meal and cake {always cake}.

Zoe is a treasure, she blessed us with her light in a very dark time and she has never ceased to shine for us. She loves the simple things. We got a small phone book in the mail the other day and this amazed her to no end. She was intrigued with the book  of “all the people in the world” {because our small town of 12,000 is her world}. She meandered through it all day and study all the names.

Now, with her preciousness comes a new world that I do not know much about. She is so emotional suddenly. EVERYTHING makes her cry. I don’t remember being so emotional as a girl. She looked at me yesterday after an emotional “lost brush” {Veggie Tales, OH WHERE IS MY HAIRBRUSH}  incident and said “mom, I think we need some time apart! I think I should go to Nana’s for a couple of weeks”. At the time I probably would have called up Nana and sent her on her way, I can say this I will surely be in much prayer as her teenage years get closer.

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Shirt from Zulily

Zoe is also getting glasses. She will be the only one in the house to have them and she is beyond thrilled. She makes me smile knowing that her happiness comes from such unexpected areas.

Tomorrow, we leave for a week of vacation time, I get to travel to NC to see my family that I have missed terribly and then we will finish out the week in Georgia,  Hilton Head and Parris Island.

I enjoy my trips with my monkeys, as crazy  as we are when we get home I wouldn’t trade these moments and memories for anything.

Happy Spring Break

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A case of the… Thursdays???

Some days {like today} are not always unicorns and rainbows.

Some days, the kids do NOT  cooperate, the coffee isn’t strong enough, the car doesn’t start, at least one kid is sick and refuses to be put down, some days it’s cold and rainy and all you want to do is stay in pajamas and go NO WHERE!

Today was that day for me.

I promise, nothing went the way that I wanted it to. The kids were not their typical selves. I suppose this comes from the trip we took last weekend and getting back into a routine. But seriously, I wanted to cry.

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I could have called AAA but it was way more fun to call up my friend and get her out of bed plus she was way faster. (love my friends)  Why does stuff like this happen when you are already running behind? UGH!

But I didn’t put my pajamas back on and get back under the covers, instead, I “cowgirled” up, turned the music up really loud, had a little dance party, brewed an extra strong cup of coffee and paddled on. Eventually the sun came out and the kids came home semi normal and I am on my 5th cup but all is well.

PS…. I am originally from NC, we have fabulous barbecue there, amazing food, sweet tea that is made “right” but until my dear friends from Louisiana introduced me to the wonderful flavor of Community Coffee… this ole girl didn’t know what I was missing.  The bold flavor and that unique hint of Chicory that made it smooth and “just right”. I love my coffee and I love it so much that I have pretty much decided that this is my coffee of choice, even if I have to have it ordered and auto delivered, I sure will. While I was in Louisiana over the weekend,  I bought 3 HUGE bags, that should last about 2 months. Anyway… y’all try this stuff it’s fabulous.

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On another random note, today I looked across the room and saw poor little Alex standing there in pajamas, all frail and red faced. Sick was written all over him. I got choked up. I am sad that my baby is sick but not to the point of tears.

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I promise I had a flash back to Braxton at the same age. My heart started to race and I felt a silent tear roll down my face. I caught myself, came back to reality and went on but the reality is as a mom of a, once, very sick child, the PTSD is real. It’s not just for soldiers or those who have had a near death experience, it’s for mama’s and caretakers that walked through the fire with their kids too.

I have to say that when my boys get sick, the worry and the panic is there more so than with Zoe. I don’t connect her and Braxton together that way. But I go into some other realm of crazy with the boys. I don’t know if other mama’s do this but for me it’s real and sometimes emotionally scary.

Zoe had the flu last week and I will say that if everyone got the flu she had it would never make the news and the CDC would call it cured. She is probably the toughest {almost} 7 year old that I know. Perhaps that is why I don’t worry about her. She doesn’t need me to.  I am rambling. That is just the type of day that I have had, a rambling mess of a day.

I will end with a quote from a book…. “I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Tomorrow will be better, I know it!

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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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