Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Mom Win?

Since last fall I've been blessed to be able to attend a Mom's group (Mom's Connect) at our church. We meet every other week for 90 minutes. At the start of each session we usually go around our table and introduce ourselves, list our children and their ages and then share on a topic that is given to us. Two or three meetings ago the topic to share on was to give a "Mom win" you experienced in the past week.

Now most times the topic presented usually fosters so many thoughts for people that it's hard to narrow down what you want to share but on this particular day, at least at my table, we all kind of looked at each other and chuckled. We chuckled because we were like "Hmmmm.....a win?" The truth is as Moms we are so hard on ourselves that if the topic was "Mom fail" we would have all most likely had so many examples we wouldn't know how to choose.

The reality is had we have shared a Mom fail our audience would have listened, related to and then encouraged to not see it as a fail. Why? Well because most of us realize (I say most because I'm discounting all the trolls out there that like to tear others down rather then build them up. The ones who live on social media rather than under a bridge like their predecessors.) that majority of parents make choices with the best of intentions. When making decisions, whether they are long thought over, or those split-decisions that need to be made in the moment, we are making them out of love, out of what we really think is best.

This is not to say that there are times we reflect back and realize that it wasn't the best decision or wish we could have a do over (I can think of at least 2 situations today that I would like a do over on and it's not even 4:00), but in the moment that decision was made, or that action was, or wasn't taken, it was with the best of intentions. The majority of us don't want to hurt our children or push them down the wrong path, and really most of the time we have a win, but we remember the fail.

On this day, more than the wins that the Mom's shared at my table (which were all truly wins regardless of size) I was more connected in that most of us could think of fail after fail before we could think of a win. While I know some of the ladies in my group better than others I do know that all of the Mom's in this group love their children, love their families and love the Lord. I have no doubt these women have win after win. I have no doubt these women are strong and well intended in their lives. As I've thought about this day many times since I appreciated these Mom's even more. While I think it's time for all of us Moms to give ourselves a break and recognizing the amazing things we do everyday, regardless of size.

When we moved here two years ago we left our village behind. Our family that could easily be there to help us out anytime we needed, or that we could just hang out with and enjoy the built in playgroup that was there when we all got together. My girlfriends that I saw regularly and could talk, cry and laugh with about all this life stuff. ALL. GONE. I don't regret our move, I really don't. We really love it here, and there are days when I'm really proud that we are doing this on our own, as real life self-sufficient adults (maybe too much sometimes but that stems from my "I need to know I can do everything on my own, by myself!" mentality, which isn't as awesome as it sounds...hah!). All that to say that sometimes you feel like you are just on an island, which isn't always the best place to be. We have been fortunate to connect with some great people here and have been able to start and form a new village. Being in the group at church as helped me to remember that I do need that village.

 A few weeks ago when we were all struggling to find that "Mom win", in that moment, I appreciated most that if I'm looking, and listening, at these amazing Godly women and mothers and I'm feeling the exact things they are, then I'm doing something right! That realization was, for me, a huge win! It was also a reminder that I don't live on an island and that no matter where we go we can always find a village.

Isaiah 41;10 says:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Disorganized Cleaning

"Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am a disorganized cleaner." Maybe that's not the most appropriate description? Could be distracted cleaner or just "SQUIRREL!"? Whatever it is, it is me. Does anyone else have this issue....maybe if I call it a talent I'd feel better? Anyone else have this talent?

For those of you who are wondering what I am talking about let me share some information and enlighten you. I know, I know it's really thoughtful of me and you are welcome for this educational blog.

We'll start with a photo:

Now we'll add come context or back story if you will. Last Tuesday I was getting dinner into the crock-pot. I was spending much of the late morning/early afternoon at A's school volunteering, Kaylee had a a make-up music lesson that evening and Bradley wasn't entirely sure what time he would be home, so a crock-pot meal was the perfect solution.

As I gathered the needed items for the recipe and I went into the fridge to get the roast out and something caught my attention, a streak on the top shelf of the fridge. I'm not exactly sure what it was or how it got there but the next thing I know I'm removing everything from the top shelf of the fridge and putting it on the counter and the top shelf of my fridge is now in my sink. On the counter you can't see is a stove top with a pan with some olive oil, the counter next to it had some chopped garlic and onion with some other seasonings and needed sauce ingredients to pour over the roast. 

I was now distracted, disorganized, "Squirrel'ed!" whatever you want to call it. I realized in this moment that I am like this more times than not.
  • I go to get a tupperware container out and the next thing I know my cabinet is empty and I'm wiping shelves and re-organizing. 
  • I put away towels and my linen closet, or the girls' linen closet is emptied onto the floor and everything re-folded and organized.
  • I hang a coat in the closet and I'm going through bins of mittens/hats/coats on hangers and pulling out what I've determined in that moment we no longer need and can be donated.
The list goes don't even want to know what happens when I decide to put my girls' laundry away for them, or clean their rooms for them (tasks they normally do themselves each week). Goodwill and some other crisis centers in our community hit the jack pot.

On this crock pot meal day (remember that is all I was doing...trying to get a meal in the crock pot before I headed to A's school) I got the meal in the crock pot and then cleaned out my entire fridge, which had just been done 2 weeks prior (not cleaning out of food, that is done weekly, but the scrubbing down of the inside), all because I saw 1 streak. ONE!!! 

This is what I do. ALL. THE. TIME. Am I alone? Probably not. I might be crazy. Probably not, or if I am it is due to something other than cleaning. However, it does make me stop and laugh. As I stood in my kitchen looking at my mess (because it has to get worse before it gets better) I thought about how I would prioritize things to not get off track, to make sure I got things done efficiently rather than making a bigger mess as I went and it taking that much longer. 

I'm a list maker. Bradley says if there was a Hoarder show for list-making I'd be on it, which is probably true and a little ironic. See I carry a notebook with me always, both around the house and in my car/purse when I leave the house. If you looked in it you would find lists:
  • My weekly menu, followed by my grocery list
  • Blog ideas
  • Gift ideas for my kids 
  • Story ideas
  • Ideas from my Moms Group at Church
It's like Pinterest without needing technology. I LOVE lists. When I worked I would write a list of what I needed to get done each day, in order. I would strive to follow that list. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm flexible, so if something unexpected came up I could easily fit it in and keep moving. However, I had to go one task at a time, if I stopped, in the middle of a task, to look at email I'd be thrown off, because of course there would be some email that I knew would take me 1 minute to complete, that would be done and I could get back to my task.

The ironic part to this is that I don't like clutter. I can't even watch the show Hoarders because it gives me anxiety. I'm not sure where this stems from. Growing up I had to clean my room and help clean the house, but I also know that it is in my DNA somewhere, because if it was just an environmental thing from childhood surely I would resent it and be the complete opposite...or maybe somewhere in the middle.

So why do I share this story? I share it because as I stated above I'm sure I'm not alone. I'm sure I'm not the only one who starts one simple task and ends it by having completed 12 that you didn't even know you needed to. We Mom's are busy. We are well intended with our actions. We are hard on ourselves when we don't need to be. We can give ourselves grace. We can take time to refocus. If we want to tackle 217 things at one time, we can do that to. We just need to step back, maybe take a photo, and have a good chuckle at ourselves. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

This is ALMOST 40!?!?

(Sigh)....this is almost 40. It's a factual statement, I am almost 40. I know, I know you are all thinking "Wow! Really? She looks SO young!" Thanks friends, I appreciate that! Ok, maybe you aren't thinking that, but I appreciate you anyway. I have never been one to really dread getting older. When I turned 30 I felt I was the most stable I had ever been in my life. I was about to celebrate 6 years of marriage and a mere 6 weeks earlier I delivered my second baby. I was happy. I was content.

Truth be told I am still happy and still content.....and still stable (although applying that word to my mental state could be questioned some days). So why am I writing this post? Why am I talking about it like it's a big deal? I don't really know. I think it's because I feel like I'm at the 1/2 way mark of this marathon of life that really feels more like a sprint. I've lived long enough to experience some amazing things and learn some good lessons, but not long enough to have true life wisdom. As said in Proverbs 20:29: The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.  It seems like a good spot in life to reflect, to pause and examine, and to think of what I'm looking for, needing and wanting in my next 40 years (if I should be so lucky...which if I'm being honest I think will really be like 38 or 39 more years because I think that I won't make 80....that's another post).

I know we all know how fast time flies, I think of when I turned 30 and BOOM 40 is almost here! Part of what made this last decade fly is my children, yes partly because they drive me crazy from time to time, but at 30 they were barely 2 years old and 6 weeks old, and now they will turn 10 and 12 (in the order of their birthdays) right before I hit the next decade. I know the next 10 years will go even faster. They will be fun, formative and stressful at times, because by the time I turn 50 they will be graduated from high school, and one hopefully graduating from college.

I've been very fortunate to maintain friendships with many people that were formed in Jr. High. We've experienced a lot of highs and lows and are all walking into this new decade together, which makes it not seem like anything more than another step in life. Yet I find myself thinking about it daily. Not in a dreadful way, but in a "So now that I'm turning 40, what?" kind of way.  Anything? Do I need to have something? Are there still huge goals, outside of raising Godly productive members of society, that I have or should have? If so, what? If I don't, why? Should I worry if I don't? Should I make this year bigger and different than other years? If so, why? Is this the year I'm supposed to make a bucket list and start crossing things off (if so I'm starting with things I've already done and places I've already been, it'll make me seem more productive that way)? Did I not get this chapter in my Manual of Life? Just kidding, I didn't get one of those, but if anyone reading this did then I want a copy! It would make a great 40th birthday gift!

Maybe 40 would be a good decade to tackle this anxiety! HAHA! However, I think as I forge ahead I will continue to work on me. I have a lot of work to do. I know I'm not yet what God had planned, He is still working on me, and for that I am grateful! I will continue to be better about forgiveness and letting go of grudges. Find contentment in all relationships by focusing on the positives they bring, rather then feeling sad or rejected because they aren't perfect in my eyes. Continue to give all I can to those relationships and appreciate what I get back and trust the other person is giving back all they can, rather then assuming they aren't.  Be more present in the now and not so worried about the tomorrow. Write more, rather than just thinking about it. Strengthening my Faith so that I can have my heart fully open and put my anxiety and worries in His hands, like I know I should.

I suppose I'm guilty of placing this "importance" of turning 40 onto others. As my friends have been turning 40 I've been sending them gifts. When Bradley turned 40 last fall I tried to get him to make it "different", "better" than other birthdays. Although he doesn't like celebrating any of his birthdays so that was really a losing battle.  I'm going to compromise this year. I am going to do some things different, hopefully better. I am going to take more time to enjoy things and people. Truth is it shouldn't take turning 40 to get me to do this, BUT if turning 40 is what makes me stop and think then I need to listen! I'm going to embrace this year for what it is, celebrate what has been and look forward to what is to come.

2 Peter 3:18
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Linvin' in the dirty...South that is....for close to 2 years!!

Ok, Facebook'll recall my recent post regarding these signs I felt I was getting in telling me to start blogging again. I'm doing my best to listen and follow said signs. (Signs, signs, everywhere there is signs.....sorry I'm already getting offtrack thanks to the DJ who lives in my head).

As my title so subtly stated we have been in the A-T-L for almost 2 years. This time 2 years ago our house hear had been closed on, our house in Illinois had been packed and are belongings were headed South. Some days it seems we have been here forever and other days I feel like they just came and picked up the mountain of moving boxes....sigh....the speed of time.

So my first post will be to try and give a Reader's Digest version of our life for the past 2 years (I said try....).

I shall start with Kaylee.

This 11 year old, going on 18, started Junior High this year. I can someone as young looking as me have a Junior High student..haha...well I do. I remember last year living in denial of this new chapter, but against all my efforts this new chapter started. Sigh.  

Now going into this year I knew she had the Jr. High attitude down, rolling her eyes at me and my "suggestions" of how to/not to do things. Being embarrassed by my ultra cool dancing and singing in the car, at home...and sometimes in the stores of course. Providing almost daily wisdom to me (that she has apparently learned in her long 11 years) that I don't get it because things are different now then when I was 11 (times are different....the struggles are still real); and of course reminding me that I'm old and enjoying being taller than me (by like 2 1/2 inches). Oh the sweet, sweet love of a child. In spite of her ready Jr. High attitude this Mama was still a little nervous/anxious of how this transition was going to be. Changing classes every hour, PE that required her to have a uniform, a locker with a combination, advanced classes, learning an instrument, and finding the balance/time for all the studying/homework/projects and practicing her clarinet. How was my perfectionist, introverted, anxiety filled, routine oriented daughter going to handle this? What storm would be hitting my house everyday when she walked in the door from school? 

Although I had concerns with this transition I had no doubt she could do it. Even with her anxiety and introverted ways school has always been her thing. She keeps it together at school, walks the line and does what she needs to do. I don't have to ask about homework or projects because more times than not she has them completed before I even knew these assignment existed. Which is awesome and scary at the same time. My concern was did she feel confident enough to do it? 

I don't know if she felt she could do it, or she just knew she needed to but so far she has rocked it out. She has organized herself. She comes home and gets her homework done and rarely needs my help (which is probably good because I'm not sure how much help I could be). She goes into school early, voluntary, for study sessions, to participate in a group at school that is about spreading positivity and building kids up. She attends WAKE (the Jr. High/Sr. High youth group program at our church) on Wednesday evenings and on Sunday mornings she volunteers her time with the Pre-school children during church. As of now she wants to grow up and be an Occupational Therapist to work with children with special needs. Which is totally awesome and I think she would be amazing at doing. 


This little lady is 9 and loves letting me know she'll be double digits come her next birthday.!!! We went to the doctor not to long ago to confirm that she was lactose intolerant. Although Bradley is lactose intolerant, I thought if either girl was going to be it would have happened by now and her pediatrician was explaining that often times it doesn't occur until the child is around a decade I guess the doctor also confirmed Ainsley's diagnosis that she is almost 10.

While she is still at elementary school this is the first year since she started Kindergarten that she and Kaylee are not at the same school. I knew that they weren't hanging out on the playground, or really saw much of each other at the school here given it's size, but she always knew that Kaylee was in the building, and they were on the bus together. While she would say she didn't care I think at the start of school she was a little more impacted then she let on to us, or herself. However, it soon seem to fade away and now it's like it's always been that way. Which is a little sad, but overall probably a good thing. It's kind of weird to think that from now on they really won't be at together at the same school very often, 

Ainsley has fallen in love with cheer here. She just completed her second season. So we spend late August until just before Thanksgiving at cheer and then we move to gymnastics in the off season. She still has her gift of gab, mainly due to the running stream of thoughts into her brain that come right out of her mouth. You never have to guess what she is thinking. Her unique style still exists with her funky outfits, which is one of my most favorite things about this girl, and I hope she never loses. She is who she is. I find it refreshing in this world that seems so consumed with what someone else has, or is wearing, etc. While she can certainly be a little too sassy at times she is generally a sweet and thoughtful girl who has a positive attitude more times then not. 

As for Bradley and I we let the kids keep us busy. We enjoy it here in the South. I love not having below 0 temps and feet of snow. While we miss our family and friends we get back to Illinois twice a year, generally in the summer and at Christmas, and are lucky enough to have our family come down and visit us a few times each year. We are fortunate to have found a nice neighborhood, with great neighbors that have become good friends, wonderful schools that offer great programs/opportunities for our kids and a wonderful church with some great people and programs/groups for us to take advantage of and become a part of. 

So my update may have been more of a Reader's Digest novel...but I guess that's the way it goes when you take a 2 year break from blogging. I'll try not to make it another 2 years. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thankful Everyday; Reflecting in November

 Tonight, the last night in November, I sit in my room with the TV in the background showing Four Chrismtases (Side note I love Reese Witherspoon....also surprised I'm not watching my Petyon and the Broncos on the night game). As I sit here in chaos, as things are messy in this house as we prepare for the packers to arrive tomorrow and I've separated out items that will stay here with the girls and I over the next month, I find myself reflecting. Maybe if I reflect now I'll be able to sleep later...OK maybe not, but a girl can dream right?

This is the last night in a house I spent 1/2 my adolescence in. A house I lived with my husband in. A house I brought home 2 babies and 3 dogs in. A house that holds memories of a childhood family and an adult family. I'm thankful for this house.

This house has seen every birthday party with family for my children. This house has hosted Christmas for our family ever since my children were born. I'm thankful for this house and those that have helped me to create memories for my children.

The last 2 months have been a bit of a blur. Finding out we are moving, completing the paperwork, looking for a new house and working to sell this house. This house I'm so thankful for.

As Brad and I talked tonight, discussing our game plan for the next couple days of packing before he and our things go down to GA, I realized it's not so much the house I'm thankful for but the people who have shared it with us. I'm sure I've always known this, but tonight it seemed more clear to me.

The last few weeks I've been overcome by the kindness of others. Play dates and sleepovers with friends for Kaylee and Ainsley. For Brad and I the lunches, get togethers, happy hour, unexpected gifts and cards and overall well wishes of those who are friends and family. Those who have expressed their feelings for us. Those who have helped us to create memories. Those who will hopefull visit in our new home and help us create more memories.

I think of loved ones who have been such a huge part of our lives here that we have lost. I think of what fun it would be for them to visit our new home. I realize that in their own way they will be there to watch over us in our new community.

In this November I'm thankful for our blessings. I'm thankful for our memories. I'm thankful for the opportunity to make new memories as we embark on a new adventure. Most important I'm thankful for the friends and family (you know who you are) that have shared these crazy last few months with us, those that have supported us, reassured us and talked with us. I'm thankful for the 3 other people, my people, that live in this house with me. That are sharing this last night in this house with me. The 3 other people embarking on the new adventure with me and that no matter where we are will be making new memories with me and have taught me that it doesn't matter the "house" it's all about the love. I'm thankful for that, not just in November, but everyday.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dear Kaylee McKenna,

             Happy 9th birthday! Nine years ago today our lives were forever changed. We became your parents. What an amazing day! How is it that 9 years have passed by so quickly? While I know all the rage is next year when you make it to those double digits, 9 to me is pretty significant. We are 1/2 way to 18.

In the past 9 years we have watched you learn to do lots of things, eat on your own, walk, run, jump, dress yourself, tie your shoes, ride a bike, dance, cartwheel, read, add, subtract, multiply, spell and the list goes on. In the next 9 years we will watch you continue to excel in dance and school, as well as watch you learn to drive, hold a job, graduate high school and go on to college. I'm full of pride and sadness all at the same time.

We are so proud you for your work in school and dedication to dance.
We are so thankful for your quirky and fun personality.
We are blessed to have the title of your Daddy and Mommy.

We look forward to see what 9 brings!!

XOXO-Love you forever!!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. Whether you are a Mom, Step-Mom or Grandma, this day is for you. Yes it's a day of appreciation for all your hard work. It's also a day to acknowledge we are all in the same club, we can all relate to what it is to be a "Mom".

We know the feeling of getting to dance class, sport game or practice, or whatever the activity may be and realizing we have left the shoes, gear, or whatever equipment was needed at home.

We know the tiring days when we were new Moms, still trying to figure this whole Mom thing out with very little sleep. Laundry that never ended and a house that looked like a bad episode of Hoarders. That realization that life really did change by something so incredibly small.

We know the feeling of our heart breaking because we see our child's heart break. The feeling of wanting our child to never feel pain or sadness and the exhaustiveness of realizing that would never be something we could accomplish.

We know the feeling of never being able to go to the bathroom, take a shower or bath, alone.

We know the feeling of embarrassment when our child asks why the large man behind us in line at the grocery store has such a big tummy, or when they decide to reorganize the cereal aisle of the grocery store, or take off every pair of sunglasses on the rack, or decides to scream and throw silverware on the floor because they don't want to wait any longer for their food.

We know the feeling of so much pride we thought we would burst when seeing our child accomplish a new task, watch them run off the school bus yelling with excitement because they were elected to Student Council or got an A on a test, or hearing someone speak kind words about our child.

We know how blessed we are to relive the magic of childhood and innocence by seeing all things for the first time, again, through our child's eyes.

For some of you, who have been a part of this club for a long time, know of more joys, pains and fears then some of us who haven't been a member for quite as long.

Maybe your are a Grandma, or maybe your a Mom whose children are grown, but not so grown to have a family of their own.

To you, we say thank you. We look up to you. We learn from your victories and we learn from your failures. You showed us sacrifice, love, discipline, determination, patience, faith, hope and many other attributes needed in order to join this club. You have helped us grow into the women we are now and you most certainly help us be the best Moms we can be.

Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough to truly encompass what we have learned, about you, when we joined this club. So I hope that you understand what is truly behind those words "Thank You" those words come from our hearts and our souls.  May your day be filled with love, admiration and appreciation...and maybe a margarita, wine, or whatever that drink is that lets you sit back and relax.

From us newbies to all of you experience Moms Happy Mothers Day! We love you, we respect you, we appreciate you and we would never be able to do this without you!