Dude, Where’s My Porch?!

I need a bigger porch. Attached to a house measuring over 2,800sqft, my porch is the size of a postage stamp in comparison. Not that I’m trying to complain; I’m grateful for my postage stamp and the enormous quantity of happiness that has occurred under the roof attached to it, but it does make it hard to sit outside and write when my nephews keep hitting me with the screen door every 2.7 seconds. I thought about bringing coffee out with me and enjoying the temperate weather, listening to the birds sing, soaking up the sunshine while I peacefully mind-dumped, but then I realized the only thing I’d be dumping is hot coffee all over my MacBook when the 3 year old plows the door into my shoulder for the 57th time.

What comes next is just a tiny glimpse of my real life juxtaposed with my fantasy life.

All parents have a fantasy life I think. All people, really, but since the only people I know anything about happen to be parents, we’ll just narrow it down to all eleventy billion of us. maxresdefaultIn my fantasy life, I get paid to travel to beautiful places. When I’m not working my “real job” I earn “extra” cash for effortlessly churning out brilliant blog-posts while a soundtrack of ocean waves crashes in the foreground and my toes are resting in the soft white sand (which doesn’t fly all over me & my computer when the wind blows). In this fantasy, I also have a perfect, sun-kissed body, look good in wide-brimmed hats & enjoy a never-ending supply of books, as well as free beverages ranging from water to coffee, to sweet iced tea, to bourbon depending on my mood. sourceAdmittedly, the need for bourbon may alter in direct proportion to the number of children trotting in and out of this fantasy. At this point that number is nil. The space in front of me is vast and insanely gorgeous, and there are no screen doors within 1000 miles of where I sit. While I’m at it, I’ve taken all the fat and calories out of food & chocolate is now the most densely nutritious thing on the planet.

In my real life…

giphy-3

Again, I’m not trying to complain. My real life is more wonderful & full of blessings than I ever could have imagined, but the closest I’ll ever come to getting paid to write is being awarded a $1,000 grant for school based on a two page essay about my personal goals. And I’ll be doing that writing (in hours rather than minutes) with a caffeine headache on a partly cloudy day from a small porch in a small town while listening to a combination of train whistles & the screeching sounds of my 4 year old nephew doing what he calls laughing while repeatedly smashing a poor pink monster truck on the concrete as hard as he possibly can, and being jostled by the repeated opening of the screen door as the 3 year old comes out to play with my ears. The cute little weirdo has a thing about ears.

Still…while I wouldn’t ever say no to a deserted island with clear, turquoise water, palm trees and a bottomless sea of books, my current circumstance is – in its own much less serene way – a sort of paradise. I am fortunate enough to have the privilege of being a full time parent to my three children and a temporary surrogate to my nephews. It’s a hard job with long hours, few breaks & infinite shoulder bruises, but as challenging and frustrating as it can be it is equally fulfilling. To see the fruits of my labor progressively manifest in these little people is pretty awesome. I won’t be able to do this forever though. I’m usually not a plan-for-the-future sort of person, preferring to usually just go with the flow, but my husband has rubbed off on me in that way recently and if things go the way they should, our home will be empty of ear-pulling, truck-smashing toddlers & fridge-emptying, soul-sucking, ride-needing, wallet-draining teens and pre-teens in as few as 8 years. I’m going to need something fulfilling to do other than stay home & watch Supernatural reruns & flip through baby books. Something that will help me to afford all this fantasy traveling I want to do.

That is the reason I’m sitting on my 8×4-foot porch procrastinating writing potential grant-awarding essays to help afford a future education in a field that pays in a more practical currency than ear-tugs and kisses. Unlike my husband, (who worked very hard & deserves every single benefit he sacrificed for) I don’t have a service-connected education allowance to pay for things like that, so essay-writing it is. My ultimate goal is to get myself trained in something that might get me a little closer to my fantasy life and still benefit my family in the meantime.

Why am I telling you this?

I hadn’t intended on producing (or publishing) this particular piece; it was meant to be a warm-up exercise destined to live out the rest of its days as #64 in my drafts folder. Yet, here we are. CgY5Qi8WEAAkU39I decided half-way through to publish it because there’s a parent somewhere who has a fantasy life they’re not expecting to even partly achieve & I want to encourage you to take steps now to make some version of it happen. Our circumstances could change at any moment & while I don’t want to take for granted the blessing I’m currently living, I do want to set myself up for a future that contains a little bit more than Empty Nest Syndrome & some kind of life crisis. Who knows? Maybe I’ll need this post in a year for my own encouragement or as a reminder for why continuing my education seemed like a good idea at 32 years old. The only way I’ll get to spend my 40s on a beach is if I take steps in that general direction now (I imagine it takes a while – & a sprinkle of Jesus juice – to walk to Hawaii). In the meantime, I’m going to sweet talk my husband into building me a bigger porch.

Vintage-Front-Porch-Chandelier-Ideas


What are you thankful for right now? Tell me about your fantasy life! How close or far away are you? Is there any small thing you could change right now that might help put you on a new, potentially more positive path? Is chocolate also nutritious in your fantasy? (I’m asking because I wonder if we might make it happen if we put enough heads together. We should work on that fat and calorie-free thing while we’re at it).

default
And by this I mean that I really need to get to that grant essay & having finished this post, I now have no excuse not to be working on it. Pray for me. Lol
Advertisements

The Most Generous A-hole I Know

To my husband,

Today, we have been married for 14 years. In that time, you have both amazed and irritated me in almost equal measure. I want to dedicate this post to telling you how much I love & appreciate you, with specifics! Don’t worry, as you read through these your head may inflate a little, but you can count on me to keep you humble. 😉

These are not listed by importance, and I couldn’t possibly list everything, but I figured it would be okay since we’re going to have a whole lifetime to add to it. ❀

So, here goes. I love and appreciate you for many reasons, but here are just a few:

  • The K-cups you buy just for me even when we don’t really have the money
  • We could have $.11 in our bank account, $4 in your wallet, $2.37 in change in my ash tray, & a handful of pennies from underneath the couch, but as long as we had a full tank of gas in the truck you would still buy me Chick-Fil-A if I asked. It’s insane, unnecessary, and super sweet. PS – I’m hungry.
  • The way you bring me coffee in bed

14610938_10154475565679845_8622595137358026264_n

  • The frequent breakfasts in bed, especially when those breakfasts are pizza.

    27459404_10155765783769845_2965614962716332897_n
    Did I mention I’m hungry?
  • The fact that you actually seem to enjoy spending time with me enough to make an effort to do so; even when our lives are chaotic and our schedules only sync up long enough to enjoy one meal or movie together, you △⃒⃘lways make time for me.
  • You kinda sorta almost smile at my dorky puns. Sometimes you laugh. That’s how I know you’re in a really good mood. Or high.
  • You listen to me. Mostly. I joke that you don’t, but I rarely mean it. When it’s important stuff regarding our relationship, our children, or any other big decision (like not buying another motorcycle or setting our house on fire), you try very hard to take my feelings into consideration.
  • You remember little things: the way I like my coffee, certain foods I like or don’t like, my favorite drinks, things I said when I was 16 (which has never, ever come back to bite me in any way whatsoever) and you also remember what I said as early as yesterday.
  • You are gracious about it when I need time for myself. It doesn’t matter if I need 15 minutes, an entire day, or a weekend. You’ve become very thoughtful and patient with me in that area and I can’t thank you for that enough. I hope you know that I will always do the same for you.
  • Vanilla Frappuccino’s.
  • I love and appreciate the way you love me when the kids are watching. Okay, so maybe the butt-grabbing is a little inappropriate and embarrassing, but everything else is okay. 😉 I don’t think we’re doing a terrible job of exemplifying a healthy, loving, supportive marriage. They say the best thing you can do for your kids is to love their mother and you’re doing an amazing job in that department.
  • Thanks for saying ‘I love you’ too much.
  • For always giving me a kiss before you leave, even if it’s just outside to the carport.
  • You open doors for me even when no one is watching.
  • You do not try to slide my chair back and up for me at restaurants. I’m not sure if that’s because you know I’m way too clumsy for that to end well so I prefer to do it myself, or if it’s because we generally only dine in restaurants with booths and crayons…either way, thank you.
  • You know that I’m capable of handling my own business – opening my own doors, getting my own food, carrying my own groceries, coming up with my own solutions, defending myself, etc – but I don’t always have to.
  • there-are-two-kinds-of-people-f-e-damn-i-16121363
    Thanks for being the first kind of person & for teasing me about being the second. 🙂
  • You are sweet to both our moms. You call them both “old farts” and make jokes about them having changed Jesus’ diapers, but you’re still pretty sweet to them. I appreciate that.
  • You have not decapitated my life-size Dean Winchester cardboard cut out. Probably just because it was a gift from my sister and not because I like him, but still…thanks for not killing Dean.
  • If I’m going to mention my Dean Winchester cut-out I have to also give you credit for not shredding the Damon Salvatore pillowcase also gifted to me from my sister. Especially since I actually sleep with that one.
  • You have this habit (that drives me CRAZY) of not eating until I do. It’s annoying because I often end up eating when I’m not hungry just because I know you are hungry and I’m fluffier than I’d like to be as a result; however, it’s still a sweet gesture & I appreciate where your heart is.
  • When the kids talk back, break rules, or fail to obey something I said, whether you agree or disagree, you are often the first to say something to them on my behalf. We could be in the middle of a disagreement about what course of action to take and as soon as one of the kids tries to take advantage of that, your super intimidating Dad Voice suddenly comes out all, “you will respect my wife” and stuff.
  • I kinda like how you say “my wife” when “your mother” would be just as appropriate.
  • You don’t complain at all much when I warm up my cold feet on you at night
  • I love when you warm up my side of the bed before I get in it during the winter months
  • You go to church with me. I am pretty certain that even if you didn’t also enjoy the church we go to, you would still go with me if I asked you. That, to me, is HUGE.
  • You support any stupid thing I want to do. I could say I want to take a course in basket weaving and you’d ask me when it starts. Admittedly, I get a little frustrated at your lack of enthusiasm when I’m trying to share certain things with you: my hobbies, my goals, my accomplishments. But, I do understand that your lukewarm responses are not meant to be discouraging; it’s just how you are. You may not jump up and do a jig or anything, but you support me in a thousand other, very practical ways. ***Still, I would like to use this opportunity to ask you to at least send me an excited gif if you can’t manage to muster a solid smile on your own face. Lol

arlpA

  • I sometimes wonder if you’re even capable of objectivity where I’m concerned. Read the previous point again. If I ever say I want to take a course in basket weaving, or cat herding, or hippo racing – you may want to ask some other questions besides how much it costs and when it starts. Sometimes I just need someone to tell me that something isn’t a good idea, but I kinda love that you’re not that person for me. You seem to think I can do any damn thing I put my mind to. Even herd cats, and nobody can do that.
  • You make me laugh when I REALLY, REALLY don’t want to. When I’m in one of those foul moods where I don’t want anyone to come near me or touch me or even bat an eyelash in my direction, you can usually do something crazy, immature, impolite or inappropriate and I end up laughing in spite of myself. It annoys me & I’m grateful for it.
  • You are reading this list even though you don’t particularly like to read. Never mind the fact that I’m making you…
  • We complement each other. I haven’t always regarded our very evident differences as a strength – or even something to be grateful for – and I’m sorry for that, but I definitely see it as such now. Where I am weak, you are usually strong & vice versa. We’re just better together.
  • I love you for remembering that my primary love language is words of affirmation & for all the nice things you said about me today. If you haven’t done that yet, don’t worry, you will. 😉
  • I love you for finding the above statement charming rather than bossy.
  • You respect my intolerance of mayonnaise enough to make your own damn sandwich.
  • In 14 years we have never had a single argument about who should make whose plate. You do it for me. I do it for you. We both do it for the kids. I know this seems small, but for reasons I can’t adequately explain right now, it’s huge to me. Thank you for not expecting me to carry all the plates and wear all the hats when you’re home to help me.
  • You tell me I’m beautiful even when I look like this (& worse):

21317859_10155402148054845_6523013238423596035_n

  • Relationships take work and through all of our peaks and valleys you have △⃒⃘lways shown up ready to get your hands dirty. ❀
  • Thank you for being someone I can respect. We may disagree on a lot of things & express ourselves in vastly different ways, but our core values are pretty much the same. You are △⃒⃘lways true to your word & I appreciate that about you.
  • I love that you’re so sweet to animals & old people. I wish you were that sweet to our kids, but I guess we can’t have everything. giphy
  • Sarasota. ❀
  • For being the reason we got to experience Germany
  • NOLA
  • For our future trip to a certain Brewery in Texas….
  • For all of this & more:

Happy Anniversary. Here’s to many more:

giphy-1

 

 

 

If You Want To Change The World…

Dear Kids,

You are growing up in a crazy world. Sometimes it’s crazy beautiful and sometimes it’s just plain crazy. The difference is really all in your perspective. You will grow up hearing words  & phrases like “feminism,” “women’s rights,” “human rights,” “climate change,” “back the blue,” “black lives matter,” “all lives matter,” & proclamations of “let’s make America great again!” These things will mean something different to each person who says them. I won’t dive into all of that today, but there are a few things I want you to know about a few of these words which will permeate this part of your life & profoundly affect the way you experience & perceive the world around you.

ct-womens-march-national-pg-20170121Recently, there have been a series of marches and protests happening around the country, all for one cause or another, some peaceful and some not. You may have heard about it. Your kids – should you choose to have them –  may learn about it in school one day; this is your history in the making. For the rest of this post I’m just going to assume you’ll one day have a family of your own. If you decide not to, that’s okay, but to drive home my point, I’m totally going to use my future grandchildren. 😉 (If the word “children” doesn’t apply to you, maybe substitute nieces and nephews? I know how literal you 3 can be. *sigh*)

One day you will be faced with the responsibility that every generation before you has faced; the responsibility to enact positive change for the next generation. It might sound irrelevant to you when you consider how fortunate you already are and how much you already have. It might sound like a pretty big deal. It may sound almost unachievable for one person. So, how do you do it?

Do you make signs and march? Protest? Riot, rally in anger, preach in righteousness, fight…? Maybe you’ll feel like your voice is best heard in a group because how can just one person – or even two people – make a positive impact on any part of the world?

images-3I just want you to know you can & I’m going to tell you how. I don’t personally believe that real, effective change is brought about in crowds yelling, inciting anger, violence, fear, & hate. Or yet in silent, peaceful crowds carrying signs about love. It makes a statement, sure…but what kind of statement? Some people are just really good at making speeches or signs and can make you buy what they’re selling regardless of your own convictions. If you don’t do anything else I ever tell you, at least do this: know that you are only responsible for yourself. Learn what you can from history & verify it for yourself rather than taking other people at their word just because they can make it sound good. Evaluate the words and actions of others for yourself. Study. Watch. Listen. Get your own facts, your own references. Just as you take responsibility for yourself, let the ones around you take responsibility for themselves. Do not ever let another person dictate your beliefs for you. Make choices you can be proud of.

You can’t make anyone do anything. You cannot make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time so you need to be able to live with the choices you make. You probably won’t cause huge cooperations or groups of people to change their beliefs, or their approach no matter how many people you rally, especially if their main concern is the money they’re making. This is because real change is a personal responsibility rather than a global one. It starts small & ripples out slowly over time, affecting one person at a time beginning with yourself.

Change starts with you. It has a ripple effect in regard to what you teach your children; if you want to change the world, start with your world.

change-starts-with-you

Feminism is simply a belief in equality, yet our society has bastardized it and given it some incredibly negative connotations. What are women really saying when they walk around with their shirts off yelling about being ‘nasty women?’ How does this help? Are they really ‘taking back the power?’ Really think about that. What does that even mean? How does excluding certain women send the message ‘we are all equal.’ That, in my opinion, certainly doesn’t communicate anything reminiscent of equality. It is a contradiction to everything they claim to stand for. Your time would be better spent at home teaching your children the value of kindness, chivalry, self-respect; teaching them to set standards & boundaries for themselves so that they can make positive choices in their own lives, thus eventually rippling into the hearts and minds of others.

“Black Lives Matter.” Of course they do. “All Lives Matter.” Unequivocally. I find it abhorrent that after everything we’ve been through in this country, after everything generations before us have fought for, we still live in a time where this distinction is necessary. How can you change this? Not by blaming or segregating, but by teaching your children to choose their friends based on the content of their character and nothing else.

Climate Change. I believe it’s a thing; some do not. Your beliefs regarding its validity make little to no difference when you consider that there are things we could be doing to help preserve and protect our environment whether you believe in the effects of climate change or not. If we all recycled, used less energy or more solar energy, turned the water off while brushing our teeth, unplugged appliances we aren’t actively using, turned off the lights and the TV when we left the house (your dog doesn’t care about The View, I promise), put our trash in the trash can or a recycling bin instead of tossing it on the ground, etc. not only would you see a decrease in your bills, but you’d be helping to ensure the future of our planet. These small choices we make daily have the biggest impact. Teach your children to respect and care for their environment and your beliefs about climate change become irrelevant; you’re doing your part for the world you want your kids to inherit & you’re teaching them to do theirs. That’s all there is.

So, let me say it again:

Change starts with you. It has a ripple effect in regard to what you teach your children; if you want to change the world, start with your world.

16194956_1240064922755969_8824124583631119672_nNo amount of sign-holding, marching, yelling, fear-mongering or hate-speech will ever effect the kind of positive change people talk about wanting to see in the world. Nor do I  personally believe that tolerating and accepting everything & everyone is the appropriate response. I don’t tolerate racism, rapists, abusers or manipulators. I don’t tolerate people who would treat me as less than simply because of the color of my skin or my gender. I don’t tolerate people who mistreat my family and friends. Does that mean I’m going to go blow up a prison, get a group together to beat up someone I don’t like, or put on a mask and become a vigilante? Of course not (I’m not nearly as good a shot as the Green Arrow anyway). I won’t be burning down buildings because I don’t believe in the politics or ethics of that business or group of people; I’ll simply stop buying their product. I’ll never walk around topless yelling about my lack of rights and if I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t do it in America where I HAVE RIGHTS (but that’s a different post). You’ll never find me disrupting traffic & stopping people from going to work just because I’m angry & want the people around me to feel angry, too.

you-teach-people-how-to-treat-you-quoteWhat I will do is make choices to ensure these types of people are as far removed from myself and my family as is within my power, & I will do my best to teach you – my children – what it means to be people of character & integrity.  I will teach you to walk away from people & situations which make you feel inferior. I will teach you to choose your friends wisely, to sit with the lonely kids at lunch, to offer help to those in need, to get outside your comfort zone & not to place ridiculous standards or restrictions on yourself. I will teach you about humility. I will teach you about respect, both for yourself and others. I will teach you to apologize when you should & how to recognize when there is nothing to apologize for. I will teach you to work hard, to earn rather than expect. I will teach you to lead by example, & even, sometimes, to follow. I will teach you to share, to give freely, to speak kindly, & love fiercely.

You are not sheeple & you do not have to flow with the status quo; you always have a choice. You have a miraculous gift, both common to all people & still uniquely individual: it’s called a brain. Use it.

974088ee3179ba1692c986b036fdba87
Not to sound like a cliche’ or anything, but…

Love,

Mom – xoxo

 

We’ll Always Have NOLA

10422967_10153079154294845_1695749929289341744_nHow many of you can recall the best trip you’ve ever taken, right off the top of your head, no time to think, you just know what it is without hesitation? It’s probably a lot more difficult if you’ve been on a lot of trips, yes? Well, I haven’t so I know what mine is without having to think about it too hard.

The time my husband and I went to New Orleans for our 11th wedding anniversary. I didn’t post about it on my blog because I was a really bad blogger then – the kind of blogger that didn’t blog ; sadly, I don’t have a post that I can link back to in order to tell you about it. Most of our trip was catalogued on Facebook so I just took some brief screenshots and will post them here. I don’t even think the screenshots I took really cover the best parts of the trip, but another trait of a bad blogger is that I really don’t want to take the time to locate and (re)save the trillion photos I took just to share them here. Since I doubt anyone cares anyway, we’re just going to cut a few corners m’kay?

The best thing about it was that it was the first trip my husband and I ever got to take on our own. We spent a lot of time together, it was loud, fun & carefree, & everything we probably should have done early in our marriage, but were too busy being broke young parents to do.

I ate shrimp and grits, had my first beignet, saw tons of beautiful art & colorful city-life, heard fabulous (& some not-so-fabulous) street music, danced (badly), took a carriage ride, had the best Hurricane (#NotKatrina), saw Marie Laveau’s tombstone as well as Nicholas Cage’s very pretentious future resting place, stopped to watch some street performers, saw a show that was supposed to be burlesque and turned out not to be at all

I had my palm read for the first time ever in Jackson Square. Supposedly for free, but by the time she got done reading my husband’s palm, doing a tarot reading and telling us about our guardian angels…well, we were definitely hustled and I’m not even mad about it. I wish I could tell you exactly what that trip meant to me, but I believe it’s one of those things that can only be felt. I hope to go on many more trips & see a thousand places before I leave this earth, but if I don’t, at least we’ll always have NOLA.

Care to share your favorite trip? Have you been to New Orleans? What was your favorite thing there? Would you like to go? What would be your dream vacation?

 

What’s In Your Purse?

As you all know, a woman’s purse is a magical jungle of mystery with which she is often accused of “carrying around the kitchen sink,” or “carrying everything but the kitchen sink.” What’s this obsession with sinks, guys? Maybe you don’t like the pile of receipts, the business cards or the first aid kit we carry around in the deep, dark depths of our bags, but A.) it sure comes in handy when you need to return something, find a store you wanted to visit, but can’t remember the name of, or when you need a band-aid!  B.) It’s our shoulders & arms being weighed down so if we want to carry a diaper bag, 49 kinds of lip balm , a camera & enough water to supply a small developing country for a month, we can!

Today I’m going to show you the contents of my purse. I was hoping it would be like it usually is (with something ridiculous inside which has a great story) but it was surprisingly tame this time around.

img_6890

I would also like to point out that I’m not much of a purse person to be honest – I prefer wallets – but I’ve found one to be necessary and helpful since I’ve had kids. I’ve discovered I like small ones because I’m not a “kitchen sink” kind of girl & also because my purse usually ends up looking like a homemade cheerio bomb exploded in it & thus, it’s best not to give myself too much room to play with. I have two favorites: My denim purse which my really creative & talented friend, Taryn, made for me out of a favorite pair of my jeans, and this little Hogwarts purse, which when looking at it from the outside looks small and innocuous enough, but when you open it…

img_6891

My enormous wallet is hiding most of the mess, but I promise you it’s not pretty in there. Let’s see what we’ve got.

img_6910

  • Keys
  • Wallet > Inside the wallet > receipts, earbuds
  • Not Pictured because I forgot to include it in any of my collages is another set of earbuds that were just loose in my purse. I had to move a set off the side table to take all these pictures too. Count ’em – that’s 3 sets of earbuds. Clearly I have a problem.

img_6909

  • An old shopping list. I left it in my purse because this shopping list came out of the planner that I made & printed for myself and there were still blanks left to fill.
  • Tons of receipts. I hope I put all these in my Walmart Savings Catcher…
  • Two of my daughter’s book fair wish lists, some of which she received for Christmas this year

img_6906

  • Pills for energy, allergies, and headaches. What’s funny about this is that anyone who knows me knows I don’t take medicine of any kind unless it’s absolutely necessary. I can’t even stick to a vitamin regiment. I prefer a mostly holistic approach to health. The only one of these I would actually take (very rarely) is the Excedrin. Everything else was just stuff that my husband left in my car and I threw in my purse meaning to give back to him.

img_6908

  • A random glove. The only explanation I have for that is that I have a son, but he’s long since grown out of these gloves & we have no idea where the mate is, so I have no idea why it’s in my purse.
  • Cleaning cloth for my glasses (which are not on my face) & a shameless advertisement for Dr. Moore. I’m wearing my contacts today and my glasses are in the bedroom on my headboard. My case for my glasses is in a basket on the other side of the living room, & evidently the cleaning cloth lives in my purse. I feel like this is a metaphor for my life. All the pieces are within reach, but I do not have my stuff together. Lol

img_6907

  • An old lottery ticket. Again, not mine as I don’t play the lottery. The closest I get is scratching tickets that other people buy.
  • An old business card for the guy who used to do our taxes
  • An old Marathon gas card which I fear no longer has a balance, but instead of checking the balance like a reasonable human being, I randomly swipe it at the gas pump only for “please see attendant” to pop up on the screen, at which point I just pull out another card because I prefer not to see the attendant.
  • A bunch of other cards. Dog grooming, The Winey Winch (where I am going to go consume wine and paint one of these weekends), some other cards which weren’t important enough for me to retain the names of, a Winn-Dixie card, & a bunch of library cards.

img_6911

  • 57 pens, sharpie & a dry erase marker (?) in case I come across a white board I want to sign like a middle-schooler? I don’t know. “Beth Wuz Here X
  • A random piece of tissue paper
  • Allen wrenches, a piece of Trident which I bravely opened and pleasantly discovered is watermelon flavor, 11 cents, a 50 cent Euro piece (we have Euros all over the place we’ve been too lazy to collect in one place to exchange) and another random piece of tissue paper not even big enough for my kids to wipe a booger on.
  • A knife because sometimes you need to open a package, clean your nails, or cut someone.
  • Purell, because you’re gonna need to sanitize after you cut someone
  • Lip balm, because what kind of person would I be if I didn’t have lip balm in my purse?
  • Campho Phenique which I keep on me mostly because my husband is always buying and losing them. This way, I always know where one is if someone needs it.
  • Contact lens case #3. #1 is on my bathroom sink, #2 is in my toiletry bag and I keep one in my purse for emergencies so that if I have to take my contacts out for whatever reason they won’t dry out. However, this bit of logic does me absolutely no good considering I don’t have a small bottle of cleaning solution in my purse or my glasses. No preparedness girl scout patch for me. *sad face*

The contents of my purse was pretty lame this time around. Please tell me you can do better?! Entertain me with the contents of your own purses & comment below! At the most, we’ll both get a laugh and at the least you’ll have a clean purse. 🙂

 

5 Things I Should Adult About

Day 8 for the blogging challenge is a little late because today has been a long day. I don’t anticipate this being a long post; I’m currently quite a sleepy blogger. Today is all about my 5 current goals. All of my goals require me to Adult, with which I’m currently experiencing technical difficulties.

Listed in order of priority:

5.) Getting new items listed on Adopt-a-Dish. I want to create some new stuff this year. I want to write new stories for my pieces, make my Facebook page more interactive and engaging. In general, I simply want to have more fun with it. I’m not looking to get rich selling hand-painted dishes; I only want to wake up in the mornings and be able to say that I enjoy what I do.

4.) Make friends. We moved to Florida 6 months ago and I still don’t have friends here. At first, I didn’t see the point in making friends since our move was intended to be very temporary, but that’s what social media is for. Besides, I need a workout buddy. Someone who can help hold me accountable. Someone I can go have lunch with occasionally. I’ve been encouraging my kids to socialize and make friends so I’d be a hypocrite not to do the same myself.

*Note: I just want to point out that my not having friends here shouldn’t make you feel pangs of pity or anything. :p I don’t feel like I’m lacking anything; my life here is so full and wonderful. The main reason I haven’t made any friends here is because I haven’t tried to do so. I’ve been so busy with my own family, sight-seeing, and painting that going out to socialize just didn’t rank high on my list of priorities. I’m only wanting to make it a priority now because I know myself well enough to know that it could become a problem for me later and I don’t want that. I encourage my kids to get out of their comfort zones and build healthy relationships with different types of people, so they need to see me doing the same.

3.) Making health a priority/spending more time outdoors. This has been on my priority list for years and I’ve been making slow progress. I eat a ton more green things now than I used to, thank you very much. I do want to kick it up a notch this year though. I want to utilize the gym here in our community more. I used to go to a yoga class 2-3 times a week when we were in GA (before things got really hectic and I couldn’t anymore) so if I can fit it in our budget I’d like to do that again since there’s a studio close by. At the very least I’d like to accomplish the above goal so I have a (home) yoga buddy or gym partner. Maybe take my dog for more walks, visit the park more.

2.) Starting The Cuteness on a Brain Balance Program. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up; I believe it will be absolutely amazing for her, and us as a family.

And that leaves the main priority as:

1.) Determining what our more immediate future holds. Things may change dramatically for us in the next 6 months & I’m really struggling with deciding what shape those changes are going to take & how we’re going to navigate them. I need someone to pray that God miraculously makes us an adultier couple because we’re going to need the guidance of a beings far wiser than ourselves to make these decisions and see them through.

What are your 5 current goals? How close or far away are you to achieving those goals?

Guest Post: How Did This End Up Happening?

Happy Thursday All!

Today I’m sharing a post with you written by my former high school English teacher. She needed an outlet and I just so happen to have a blog that is being treated rather negligibly at the moment. Mostly, however, I’m sharing this with you because I can identify with her thoughts on finding normalcy in a life that isn’t necessarily “normal.” I’ll post more on that later, but for now say hello to MeLissa Hicks.


 

   HOW DID THIS END UP HAPPENING?

My parents were every fatalistic statistician’s dream. My mom got married exactly two months after her 16th birthday, and I was born exactly seven months and four days later (you do the math). It was 1968, and I guess there were only two choices: go somewhere and hide until you could give the baby up for adoption or get married. I’ve heard they were counseled both ways. I have never asked my mom if she was tempted to go the other way, but I don’t think she was. The point is I sometimes feel as if I grew up with my mother, and I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that. I don’t want you to think this is a sad story. It’s not; it’s a story of triumph through Lord knows what happens in a life.

I can’t remember a single time when my life was carefree. I had fun. There was childhood and play. I wasn’t deprived or physically abused, but I was not carefree. I have memories from a very young age, but many of them are times of turmoil. My father is an emotionally manipulative addict whose drug of choice has changed every ten years or so. I lived with that
that was my normal. This created a very co-dependent relationship between my parents that went on for twenty-five years before my mother finally escaped (which is another story altogether). Carefree was not in my vocabulary. My dad’s vices caused many issues that required me, at the age of seven, to grow up pretty fast if our lives had not already predisposed me to a propensity towards responsibility. That is the word: responsibility. My sister became my responsibility; my dad became my responsibility. All of this was because my mom had to go to school and then to work for a good long time. Looking back it seems like my father projected every serious event in our lives onto me. I realize now it was in order to manipulate the rest of the family, but at the time I was just overwhelmed by the hugeness of his personality and how much I loved my daddy. It’s funny how children love their parents no matter what when they are little. I wish all parents knew that and took that RESPONSIBILITY to heart. My dad didn’t. My life was good in many ways, but always responsible. I made good grades, I helped take care of my siblings, I got a job, and I did all the things that were expected of me. I was also a rotten, self-centered teenager in the process just like any other normal kid.

We were dirt poor in Georgia in the 1970’s and 80’s. Vintage was not cool and second hand clothes were not without consequences, but I survived. For some reason, I was tough, and after a year of bullying I found books. Then it didn’t matter anymore what anyone thought. I was in Turkey or England or some other exotic place doing other things that were totally beyond my reach. I was smart, and I liked school so my way should have been set. However, I became a statistic myself. I married right out of high school and had my first child at 19, five months after I married (math again).

Still I kept on keeping on. That marriage only lasted three years, and the first thing I did after I filed for divorce was register for college. Well, actually, I bought a truck first
then I registered for college. It took me five years, but I finished, and then went back to get not one, but two, advanced degrees. School had always been my happy place anyway, so I was suited to school and learning. A favorite teacher once wrote a recommendation for me, and I took a peak at it. She wrote that if one knew my family background they would be amazed at how far I had come. I realized that all the years I thought no one noticed the life I had, there were people who not only noticed, but cared deeply. Although I never saw it as amazing; I just saw it as living. Yet as I age, I see many others who grew up much like I did, and never overcame those statistics. So twenty years into a career I started five years after all my peers, I stop and ask myself, “How did this end up happening?” The road wasn’t smooth; it was curvy and twisted and sometimes torn slam up, but I just kept going and going until I got here. It’s been a pretty good journey.

My life is not perfect and it’s certainly not carefree, but it is well lived and I can be proud of that.


 

If you have a moment, leave her some thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Random Acts Of Kindness

Over the last year, I’ve had a recurring revelation; I’m sick of scorecards. No, I’m not talking about sports. We need scorecards in sports because otherwise no one would ever hear the end of Peyton Manning’s 3-in-a-row touchdowns. I’m sure plenty of you hear enough about it as is, scorecard or not.

I’m talking about scorecards in our relationships. Spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, family, friends, coworkers…doesn’t matter what category the relationship falls into; the rules are still the same: someone does something for you – you owe them. Period. Right? Isn’t that generally how we approach things? Your coworker shares her lunch with you because you were in a hurry and forgot yours and you don’t get paid for another week. So what do you do? You, perhaps guiltily, accept her offer to share, but in your mind you’re thinking about what you can do for her to pay her back. Replace her lunch. Give her some money on payday. Give her your first born. Anything to erase the feeling of being indebted to someone because they showed you some kindness. Come on now…don’t you think that idea is a little flawed?

I’m not saying never repay anyone. I’m just saying there’s no reason to feel guilty or beholden simply because someone in your life made the choice to extend their hand to you. People have different perceptions of how scoring works and how many points to give for each act, as well as how much is adequate (or not) when they’re cashing in their points. How can this ever be an impartial, indisputable way to keep track of who owes who? (Who’s on first? What’s on second?! Sorry…couldn’t help myself.) You might think offering someone a meal is no big deal, while your friend thinks that sharing her food with you is on par with running into a burning building to save you or something. You might try to pay your friend back by offering her a meal the next time you approach a Wendy’s together, but she’s thinking she at least deserves an Olive Garden sized payback. See what happened here? You and your friend just scored her kindness differently. You gave your friend one point for sharing. She gave herself 10 points. So now you owe her. Your fast food is only getting you one point with her and you’re over there looking like a schmuck because you’re thinking the two of you are even now, but you still owe her 9 points & your firstborn son. And maybe an endless salad bowl and some breadsticks?Then, inevitably, over time, your friend has racked up some serious brownie points for herself and you’re still in the red because nothing you can do for her compares to everything she’s done for you, at least in her mind.

Pardon my candor (Divergent reference anyone?), but I think that’s bullshit. When you care about someone, you naturally & sincerely want to give to them. You want to share with them, help them, you care about their wellbeing. In a healthy, abiding relationship the score is never really balanced and you know what? No one effing cares. You know why? Because you’re supposed to do things for people out of kindness, and a desire to give & help. Not because you expect something in return. If you get something in return, great. Consider it a bonus. But don’t do anything with the deliberate & entitled thinking that this person is going to owe you & you’re going to collect one day. And most certainly don’t archive it just to pull it out & parade it around later when you’re disappointed with them. If you never expect anything, how can you ever be disappointed?

In my family, it works like this: If I’ve got it, you’ve got it and vise versa. Not to the point that we’re crippling or enabling each other of course; no one is abusing anyone’s personal boundaries or anything. It just means that we support each other in a healthy way, unconditionally. If my brother is hungry and I’ve got food, he’s welcome to it. And then later, if I need a tank of gas and he’s able to help me out he does. But neither one of us keeps track of who did what for whom or how much it costs. We all do so much for each other that it’s impossible to keep score and I wouldn’t want anyone to. To give without expectation is more fulfilling than to give with the hope that we’ll get our backs scratched. And when we learn to receive another individual’s sacrifice with genuine gratefulness rather than indebtedness, we honor the sincerity of it. I appreciate my family, particularly my mom & granddaddy, so much for raising me that way.

I still battle that feeling of indebtedness every day. Every single time someone outside my immediate family does something even the tiniest bit nice for me, I feel like I owe them. And then I want to kick myself in the face because I truly believe that’s no way to live life (it’s just a hard habit to break). If all my relationships are is a series of business-like exchanges where I’m sorely indebted to every person who’s nice to me, or spends time with me, then what’s the point in having relationships at all? Especially when you consider that you’ll likely never be even?

How can you repay your mother or your father for all the love & nurturing they gave you, or still give you? All the sacrifices they’ve made for you? You can’t. And most parents (the good ones anyway) don’t want you to. I know I want my kids to live full, happy, productive lives because I love them and I want the best for them. I just want them to live. Completely. Fearlessly. I’d like them to take every lesson I have to teach them & use it to their benefit to grow and ultimately become better people. The best way for them to pay me back is to bless the world with their kindness, their smiles, & their genuine hearts. I wouldn’t want them spending their lives feeling enslaved to the task of repaying a perceived “debt” to me when every sacrifice I’ve made has been one I’ve been more than happy to make. Why would anyone expect another person to view their kindness in this way? Like it’s a service you’re providing that you must be compensated for…EFF THAT.

Don’t hoard every thoughtful thing you do for someone in a vault, waiting to cash in on it, or brandish it like a sword to cut people with later when you’re hurting, angry, or feeling spiteful. People don’t need to have your benevolence flaunted in front of them every time you feel like they’ve slighted you somehow. They know what you do for them, not all of it, but for the most part they know. And I believe most people appreciate it greatly, but maybe the ways in which they show their appreciation don’t register for you because you’re keeping score differently than they are. So take the score out of the equation. If you’re being grossly undervalued or taken advantage of then either sprinkle a little tough love on the person(s) in question, or just remove yourself from that person’s life, but for the love of all that is holystop keeping score.

I hope that when I die it can honestly be said that I never used my kindness like a weapon against anyone. As far as I’m concerned, every single tally mark I’ve ever made for you or for me is wiped out of existence. This is one instance where I believe in participation trophies for everyone. 😉

This is Every Drop of Wisdom I Possess Summed Up in Two Sentences

Kids,
Before you marry a person, make them use a computer with a slow internet connection to see who they really are. This will be an accurate glimpse into your potential future & will help you make the right decision.

With all the love in the world,
Mom

The Golden Rule & Other Stuff

Hey y’all!

Earlier in the week I wrote about how comparison is the thief of joy. While I was writing, it inspired many other posts, but for today I just want to focus on one. One that I think it’s important for parents to consider: what does our treatment of ourselves teach our children?

I was talking about how I watched my mom struggle with her weight when it struck me that seeing and hearing her speak about herself in such an unfavorable way, as well as witnessing her just accept all the other BS that people somehow think it’s their right to chime in on, probably had a lot to do with how I viewed myself as an adolescent. Not that it was my mom’s fault or anything, but witnessing that sort of negative self-image at some point became the norm in my mind. That was how it was supposed to be. It made it okay, and even expected in some circles (like at school for example), that I shouldn’t see myself in a more positive light. Kinda like this:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VhCzRr9EwBk

I was under the complete misconception that a person with any sort of confidence was conceited & narcissistic because I learned, however inadvertently, that it was more accepted to put oneself down than to do the opposite. I think the thing that saved me from believing that lie all the way into adulthood is seeing how my mother treated other people for the most part. She was mostly kind, generous, caring, sweet, funny; these are the words that other people use when they describe her and they’re right. I got my example of how to respect others from my mom & that  lesson eventually integrated itself into a lesson on how we should treat ourselves as well.

I’ve heard my mom complain about how unattractive she felt and wish aloud that she were still little like she used to be. I watched people insult her, point out her flaws, hurt her feelings, and then claim they were being helpful. I’ve watched her go on diet after diet and work tirelessly to lose weight. I’ve watched her struggle with shopping and clothing choices. I’ve seen her sad, dejected and more than a little heartbroken. Throughout all that time when she was struggling to get thinner to meet some impossible standard, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I think all kids think their mom is the prettiest, but I knew mine was. It never mattered what size jeans she wore or how big her hair was (can we say Susan Lucci in the 80s!)…I always thought she looked gorgeous.

My mom has since lost a lot of weight – an accomplishment she should be very proud of, not because of the weight loss itself, but because of what that change has added to her life. She seems so much happier as a result. I’ve seen her flourish in spite of, or perhaps because of, difficult circumstances. I’ve observed her making many positive changes. No matter what she did though, people still came out from everywhere waving their opinions around as if she should care. “You’ve lost too much weight. You’re too little.” And before she was “too big.” There was always a lot of pressure placed on her to be what everyone else expected her to be. People would complain that she’s too sweet or too soft spoken (“too” everything) but let her get mad enough one time and it goes from “you’re too sweet” to “you’re batsh!t crazy” in .012549999 seconds. I said both of these things earlier, but it bears repeating…you can’t make everyone happy AND people should take their mama’s advice more often: if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your friggin’ mouth shut. Or in the words of my granddaddy, “don’t mess with stuff that doesn’t concern you.” I think that applies to speaking about things that don’t concern you as well.

I am so sick of hearing people talk about other people’s weight/personality/social status/(fill in the blank here). If you don’t like the way you look or anything else about your life that’s fine – change what you feel needs to be changed, but do it for yourself & not for everyone else, otherwise you’ll never really be content. There are two things I hope my readers take away from this post:

A.) while you’re making your changes, your kids are watching you and they are listening to you. Be mindful of that when you talk about yourself out loud. Your children are learning how to love from you and that includes learning how to love themselves. Be respectful, be positive as often as possible, be kind and actively practice loving yourself at all your different stages & pants sizes. Lead by example; be what you want your kids to be one day, speak how you want them speak, love how you want them to love, teach them to do hard things, teach them what to expect from others as far as love & respect are concerned & teach them to never accept less than that.

B.) If you don’t like something about someone or the way they choose to live their lives, that’s fine, but there is no need to be a complete jackass and voice that opinion out loud if it won’t serve any purpose greater than unleashing negative & poisonous thoughts into the world. It is not our place to judge. Worry about yourself and leave other people alone unless what they’re doing is genuinely dangerous to their life or the lives of their family. Your kids are watching how you treat people and one day they will treat others exactly the way you taught them to, rather than the way you told them to.

That is all. I shall abdicate my soap box now. 🙂