My Kids Should Be Jealous: I Had THE BEST Grandparents

I wish I’d had a blog when my grandparents were still alive. I would have had loads of hilarious blogging material without any effort at all other than moving my fingers a few inches here & there over my keyboard. Seriously, I had the best grandparents ever.

Not the kind of grandparents that lived in houses covered in atrocious flowery wallpaper that smelled like moth balls & Ben-Gay, but rather the kind that went “gallivanting” every weekend, couldn’t stay off the road, sped around S-shaped curves like they were auditioning for Nascar & carried water or whiskey-spiked Coca-Cola in a cooler with red solo cups & Little Debbie cakes everywhere they went. Okay, so maybe the whiskey thing stopped before I was born, but it’s sort of a family legacy; couldn’t leave it out. The Granddaddy I knew carried just plain Coca-Cola in his cooler, but ask my mom and she’ll probably tell you about the whiskey. My grandmother carried water and toilet paper, but I thought it best if I devoted a post to each of them separately, so this one will be primarily about Granddaddy.

I miss my grandparents every single day & hate the thought that my children will grow up not knowing what an incredible, loving, dysfunctional set of great-grandparents they’re missing out on. So, naturally, I have to blog about it. You see, I’m too lazy to write all this in the journals I’ve been keeping for each of them since the day they were born. In fact, I may quite possibly have forgotten how to even write with a pen. Such is the reality of living in the digital age. (Kidding, I wrote to them yesterday, but I’m not nearly as eloquent without a cursor & a delete button.)

This is my Grandaddy. I know, I know – it’s spelled “Granddaddy” but when I was little, that’s the way I spelled it and I sort of like it without all those D’s. I didn’t walk around over-enunciating my D’s when I said it. “Grand-Daddy!” (Imagine me saying that in the most country-bumpkin voice you can conjure up.) No. In true Southern fashion, I ran my “N” & “D” together and dropped one of the Ds – I called him “Gran-Daddy.” There are better pictures of him, but I pulled this one from Facebook a long time ago and mine is currently deactivated so I can’t look for a better one.

You see that cup in his hand? It’s not soda. Okay, well, maybe a little bit of it is. Before I was born, he switched to plain Coke, but this is how I still remember him – in a button up shirt, a pair of Dickies, slicked back black hair walking around with a cup in his hand. What was in the cup is irrelevant & I can only speak about the version of him that I knew.

When we would go visit him as kids, before cell phones and all that, he would follow my mom home just to make sure we made it safely. Then, she’d wonder how she was going to know he made it safely & threaten to follow him home…it was an amusing cycle. He called all my female friends “Pretty Girl”, and in the same breath would greet the boys, “hey Ugly” which we’d all laugh about. My friends mom’s (& random women working in any store) were “Hey Beautiful!” He could make jokes with people that would be offensive coming from anyone else’s mouth, but somehow it was always okay for him. People laughed and felt at ease around him. He was quite the charmer.

And he spoiled me rotten.

He painted my fingernails, swore to me he loved the color red just because I did even though I’m pretty sure his favorite color was blue. He let me talk about all my dreams (even the stupid ones) and told me how great they were, & how he really believed they’d happen someday. He let me play with unlimited quantities of glitter and glue. istock-dog-racing-tnHe snuck me into the dog tracks in Florida and Alabama under a blanket in the back floorboard of his car and even let me pick the dogs he bet on (#1 – the red dog, for the win!) Introduced me to baseball; even though I didn’t care one bit about it I watched the Atlanta Braves with him (on mute) and he would take me outside to throw a ball around afterward. He bought me my first and only baseball glove just because we did that so often; he might even be the reason I didn’t like barbies as much as I liked “boy stuff.” He pushed me on the swing set, shot the head off a snake just for being in my general vicinity (or let someone else do it with his gun…maybe it happened more than once?) He held me when I cried.

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I think he may have even sort of loosely “kidnapped” me once for a few days, but he took me home as soon as I said I missed my mom.

He took me skating almost every Saturday for a couple of years when I was somewhere between the ages of 9 – 12. He showed up at so many school events he wasn’t obligated to attend, helped me with homework, cussed out poor teachers for no reason other than something they said or did made me cry (like calling me Elizabeth instead of Beth, lol). Bought a camera (as well as all the film for it) just because I randomly decided I was going to take up scrapbooking. He took me to have the film developed often so I had no excuse not to make those scrapbooks. It’s how I learned that I liked photography and eventually considered it as a potential career path.

He bought me too much junk food. Threatened my boyfriend and then – eventually – came to like him. Took me to every single doctor’s appointment my mom wasn’t available to take me to, and even some that she was…just because he wanted to. He picked me up for school in the mornings when I lived with my dad & brought me home in the afternoons. He continued doing that even after I got married (at 18) and my apartment was only a couple miles from the school. I could have walked – and as disappointed as my family was in me, I thought I’d have to – but he still just kept showing up. Every single day. He never complained about any of it. In fact, he seemed downright happy to do it. He spoke roughly to me one time in my entire life which broke my heart worse than anything else that was happening at that particular time (& there was A LOT happening), but once it was said it was over. He never used it to punish me or make me feel ashamed all over again; he just said what he needed to say and after he’d said his piece he let it go and we both moved on from there.

He drove to North Carolina to see me a few times after my husband and I moved there with our kids. I didn’t know it at the time, but he did so on a couple of those occasions so that he could give my husband money to make sure we could afford groceries and pay all our bills. James would try to pay him back, but usually he wouldn’t take it and James was instructed not to tell me…I guess because Grandaddy didn’t want me to feel like he was interfering or that he thought we couldn’t take of ourselves. He knew I was pregnant with our third and last child before I did.

He loved all of his grandchildren, and especially his great grandchildren. My first child was born on his birthday. He came to visit me (at my crappy apartment) just to see how I was doing (something he did often) and I just happened to be having contractions. My son wasn’t due for another few weeks so I didn’t realize I was experiencing contractions until Grandaddy started timing how far apart they were. The longer we sat there waiting for my husband to get home from work, the closer together they came. He was calm, but he did try to talk me into letting him go ahead and take me to the hospital. I wouldn’t leave until James got there to go with us (I think that’s the first time my Grandaddy ever did something I said instead of the opposite). He stayed at the hospital until Mr. Thoughtful was born & was one of the first few people to hold him. I’m pretty sure he claimed him the first time he held him. They loved & adored each other.

Grandaddy is the reason my son doesn’t eat food with ingredients and now I don’t even have the luxury of being mad about it. Every memory I have of them together is precious. I know they would still be just as crazy about each other now if Grandaddy were still alive…even though my son is currently in his teenage turd phase. quote-time-is-love-above-all-else-it-is-the-most-precious-commodity-in-the-world-and-should-be-lavished-sydney-j-harris-321676He managed to love me unconditionally through mine; I’m sure he would be even better for his great grandchildren. The main thing I remember about him is that he gave freely and abundantly of the most important thing any of us get in life – time. He spent it mostly doing things the people he loved wanted to do, either with very little regard to what he wanted or because what he wanted was to see us happy and as long as we were, he was. I don’t think anyone else will ever measure up for me in the Dad department. He wasn’t my dad, and despite the fact that I had two of them, my Grandaddy was better than both of them combined. No offense to either of my dads – they both have their strengths & I’m grateful to them for different things – but my Grandaddy was just that phenomenal. Nobody compares. He was the glue that made our family the unique, tightly-knit construct it remains now; a huge contributing factor in how my mother was able to raise my siblings and I to be so close, rather than growing up indifferent to or hating one another like many families I know/hear of. I regret that my children won’t get to fully experience how extraordinary he was, but maybe this helps keep his legacy going.

If you’ve lost someone this close to your heart, just know that I feel you. It’s okay to grieve for them & to do so at completely random times for seemingly nonsensical reasons. Still…think of the good times and smile in remembrance of them often. I know they’d want you to. ❤

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What Is Love?

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You’re singing it aren’t you? 😀

A while ago I read something about love that kind of disturbed me & I found this post in my drafts folder that I finally decided to share. It occurs to me that a lot of people think love is pain, anger, sacrifice: that it’s unconditional, and it means making your own needs and desires take a backseat to those of the person you love, the person who also claims to love you. I suppose that sounds like a nice idea to some people?

I just have one question:

If someone truly loves you, would they allow you to sacrifice yourself to that extreme?

I don’t know about you, but I expect a person who says they love me to be willing to give and take just as much as I do. So, this is my take on the whole love thing. Feel free to agree or disagree; it won’t change my mind either way.

Love is not pain. Love can be painful at times, especially in the case of caring for people you love when they’re sick or hurting, but love is not the cause of pain. Selfishness, greed, miscommunication, sickness, arguments, misunderstandings: these things cause pain, and will inevitably occur at some point in your relationships because we’re imperfect & this is the way life is. Love is what allows us to have the courage and patience to work through the pain. 

Love is not anger. You can be angry with someone you love, but love is when you’re patient with a person despite being angry at them. Love is what guides you to control your anger.  

Love doesn’t mean you have to allow yourself to be abused, neglected, taken for granted, taken advantage of, or cast aside. Love may be unconditional in the sense that you can still love a person no matter what they put you through, but it doesn’t mean you have to like or tolerate their behavior. So often people mistake the word “unconditional” to mean that they have to just continue to put up with terrible things because they love you, or because you love them. That could not be further from the truth. There are people in my life whom I love dearly, but I don’t allow myself to be used or abused by them, or pulled into their petty drama. I can only imagine what they think about me because of that. I’m sure some of them think I don’t love them. Some of them have even confessed to thinking that I believe myself to be better than they are. That’s not true; I just know what my boundaries are. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain those boundaries and lines get blurred, but I do my best to get myself back on track when I slide off.

Love has boundaries. You don’t abuse someone you love. Everyone has a list of hard limits; things they simply won’t do or put up with. Relationships (romantic or otherwise) shouldn’t be the exception to that. If anything, they should be the first thing you put boundaries on because anyone you love deserves to have their boundaries acknowledged and respected.

Love is sacrifice in the sense that you’re willing to compromise to make someone else happy, but that person should also be willing to do the same for you when the occasion calls for it. It shouldn’t be consistently one-sided with one person doing all the giving and the other doing all the taking; there has to be a balance. I’m going to be in a relationship with mutual love and respect or I won’t be in a relationship at all.

Love is grace & forgiveness. There will be times when one of you needs to have more grace or forgive a little more because the other needs it. Likewise, that person should be willing to pull that extra weight for you when necessary.

Love is not providing someone’s happiness for them; it’s contributing to it.

Love is what gives us the strength we need to keep trying when our kids are doing everything they can to test us, hurt us or themselves, or to push us away. It’s what gives us the strength to be there and take care of our loved ones when they need us the most: when they’re battling addictions, dealing with the aftermath of bad choices in their lives, when their bodies are riddled with sickness and disease…instead of caving in to the rather selfish desire to let someone else do it just so we don’t have to see them suffer. It’s what keeps me going when I’m overwhelmed and I just want to hide under a nice, dark, quiet rock for ages.

Love can also inspire you to walk away from a person if that’s what is best for them or your relationship. Sometimes we just have to love people from a distance. Love is a lot of things, but it’s not pain. I’m about to make a bold statement and say that if the love you’ve experienced was more painful than anything else; it wasn’t love. If you have more bad days with your significant other than good ones, examine that to see why that is. If they don’t seem to care about your needs and routinely seek to satisfy their own desires over yours regardless of how it makes you feel, that’s worth examining, too. Why do we accept so much less than we deserve? Just so we don’t have to be alone? Because we’re scared of the unknown? I’d rather be alone having to scrape my own path through life than in a relationship that consistently hurts or degrades me.

Everyone has to walk their own path though. This is just food for thought. Do with it what you will.

 

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

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

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    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

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  • 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):

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  • 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:

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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?

 

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.

Wordy 30

It’s almost that time: my 30th birthday is just two days away.

I could say a lot about turning 30:

I could whine and complain and refuse to ever be older than 29, continuing to celebrate each subsequent birthday as “The [1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.] Anniversary of My 29th Birthday” but cute as it is, that’s not really my style. I’m SO EXCITED about turning 30! Maybe that makes me a weirdo, but I just think that the future is exciting. The fact that I’ve made it 30 years in this beautiful, amazing, horrible, awful, extraordinary life is exciting! I have fought for the privilege to be another year older & I feel blessed that God has allowed me this much time on Earth. I pray he gives me many, many more years, but I’ll be thankful for each one I get no matter how many (or few) they may be.

I also think that resentment of growing older is a bit incongruous. Nobody wants to die, but nobody wants to get older either; how’s that working out for you? I feel like grey hairs, crows feet, laugh lines, scars, and all most of the other things that come with growing older are a beautiful privilege, and they tell a unique, physical story about how we’ve lived. I do hope that when I’m 50 my story will say I’m 30 *wink wink* but still…even if it doesn’t I’ll be thankful for whatever story my body tells.

I could go on about how my health and fitness have been more important to me in the last 3 years than they have ever been, but that’s not really what I wanted to share today either. I’m sure that’s the story you’re dying to hear, but suck it up, buttercup. 😉 I want to share with you 30 things I’ve learned in my 30 short years.

30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years (In No Particular Order):

  1. Potty-training is the devil.
  2. You’re never “too old.” Wear what you want, style your hair how you want (purple and blue hair anyone??), and get excited over unicorns, rainbows, and glitter. Two words: Lisa. Frank. I am not ashamed.MTI0ODc2MDQ2MDg3NjA0MjM0
  3. Life is too short to waste time worrying about what other people think of you. To the extent of getting and keeping a good job and doing the things you need to do to take care of your responsibilities – yes, present yourself in a manner that people in positions of authority find pleasing (good hygiene, prioritizing, always being respectful, that sort of thing), but don’t change who you are at your core to please someone else. You want people in your life who love you for who you really are, not who they think you ought to be. Nerd out. Go on & share your love of T-Swift & YA novels with the world. You didn’t actually hate it when your three year old used to watch The Backyardigans? Go ahead and sing the theme song out loud. 99faefe255167765afeed34e19d0488f
  4. Comparison is the thief of joy. Yes, it’s a famous quote and you may have seen it so many times it makes you throw up in your mouth a little, but it’s beautiful and very, very true.
  5. You will never see me wearing matching socks.life-is-too-short
  6. It’s okay to go at your own pace. Sure, I got married at 18, had a baby, and didn’t get my license until I was 21 or start college until I was 22. I did things, as they say, “backwards.” Who died and made you The Keeper of Chronological Life Events? I turned out okay. If you did it the other way around, or if you’re unmarried at 30, don’t have kids, have a bunch of kids, don’t want kids, or still haven’t figured out what you want to be when you grow up – it’s okay! It’s not a competition.
  7. There is no one-size-fits-all “right time” to do anything. The right time is whenever you decide to do it.
  8. Getting carded is awesome.
  9. My high school playlist is on a loop…on the oldies station.
  10. It’s cool when people think you’re wise when really you’re just making it up as you go along just like everybody else.
  11. Jagermeister is disgusting.
  12. Jameson is even worse.
  13. Mixing them is not advised. 012624b3251ab1c8e7f934bc0c0b2484
  14. Don’t waste time trying to be trendy. Instead, strive to be a trendsetter. Mean-Girls-Meme-Fetch-05
  15. For the majority, no serious consequences will occur when your kid eats something that has touched the floor. It’s okay…relax.
  16. The best stories occur while your kids are on the toilet. I’m pretty sure my Facebook feed has been flooded with funny stories of things my children have done or said while on the toilet, in the bathroom, or having some relation to poop. 4013d2c3d7f8068ce2f291357b76447a
  17. There are more fun and creative ways to curse that your children can actually repeat and they have the added benefit of entertaining other people. POOP IN A BASKET! I don’t give a flying flock of frolicking catfish! “Fudgin’ touch me again and I’ll fudgin’ kill ya!” – Dean Winchester. However, sometimes it’s just nice to say the real thing. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe I’ve just been married to my F-bomb dropping husband too long, but either way, sometimes it just feels good not to censor yourself.
  18. When you become a mom, you talk about poop a lot.
  19. “What is that smell?” is not an altogether uncommon thought.
  20. “Put that in your juice box and suck it” is probably the best line I’ve ever taught my children.  I am not ashamed. (Yes, there is a story behind this.)
  21. I will likely never master the art of keeping things “short and sweet.” I’m sorry. Actually, no…no I’m not. Suck it up.
  22. What is heard cannot be unheard. What is seen, cannot be unseen. 6f220603_what-has-been-seen
  23. Money isn’t everything. We need it to survive, & it’s nice to have a little extra, but there’s always more to be made. You can’t make more time & do-overs don’t exist. Prioritize what’s important to you and spend your time & money on those things as much as possible.
  24. Everybody compromises. Sometimes your ideologies take a backseat to your immediate needs. It’s okay to barely get by as long as you do get by. It’s okay to just be ‘okay.’
  25. Sometimes you’re the pigeon and sometimes you’re the statue. It’s just how life works.
  26. It’s okay if you don’t fart rainbows and sunshine 100% of the time. You don’t always have to be positive. Good days and bad days are part of being human. Embrace them for what they are and just keep moving forward.
  27. You should never stop having weird conversations.
  28. Laundry is never-ending so there’s really no rush to fold it. As long as it gets washed and dried, I don’t really care where it goes after that.
  29. I will never be adult enough to know how to properly fold a fitted sheet. A ball in the closet is good enough. 1021cef94d717a7ade3dcc5ab1c7b713
  30. “You can never have too much butter” is still the best life lesson I’ve received. Thanks Grandma.

Bonus lesson: Coke > Pepsi. Thanks Granddaddy.

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Happy Birthday to me! I have no idea what I’ll be doing, but I really hope it includes Jensen Ackles James Dean (my husband, not the dead actor. Ew.)

Parenting Is Hard; Click Here If You Agree.

Quick! Alert the media! I have a groundbreaking statement to share!

PARENTING IS HARD.

Yes, that’s all I had to say. Oh…you knew that already? Well, I’ll be damned. Seriously though, parenting is hard for everybody, especially if you’re trying your best to do it right. It doesn’t discriminate either. No matter your age, ethnicity, station in life, or your circumstances: parenting is challenging regardless. But, I do think that it’s harder for some than others, and that is what this post is about.

I have an ODD child. And no, I don’t mean ‘odd’ as in Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 4.55.30 PM

I mean ODD, as in she has been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. If you are the parent of an ODD child then you already know the struggle. Before I go any further, however, I would just like to say that I know plenty of people who have it harder than I do and this is not an attempt to diminish anyone’s struggle. Blogging about things has just become a way for me to try to work with the specific cards I’ve been dealt. Having said that, don’t talk to me about what I need to do with my child if you’ve never been in my (or her) shoes.

“That’s just the Terrible Two’s.” (She’s not two anymore, but I did hear that often.)
“She’s just being a brat. All she needs is a good attitude adjustment.”
“She needs to know that you’re in control. Be consistent.”

All your advice to “whoop her a$$!” and show her tough love is completely unsolicited and not at all appreciated. I’m not saying I’m against spankings. That’s not what this post is about at all. I simply believe that consequences (whether positive or negative) should compliment the deed that was done, the message you’re trying to send, & it should overall be beneficial to the child. Spanking is not the blanket answer for everything because some children simply don’t respond to that. My ODD child would rather take the spanking to get it over with and then go on repeating the same behavior whereas my other two children will jump clear across The Grand Canyon to avoid a spanking.

The thing with Princess Sassypants is that spanking just reinforces the things she’s already prone to believe: that we’re just picking on her, nobody likes her, nobody is listening to her, nobody cares about her feelings and needs…etc.. She is incredibly strong-willed and that makes her fight against authority when she feels threatened, neglected, or like someone is trying to control her. It’s not in her DNA to just stop being who she is or doing things that she does just because someone else doesn’t like it. Those qualities in themselves are wonderful! I’m proud of her for wanting to be in control of her own life and for fearlessly being exactly who she is. It’s what the child does with those characteristics that turns them into something undesirable, and likewise, it’s how we respond to those things as parents that is going to be the difference between the Princess choosing to “use her powers for good” or not. I’m still learning how to respond and it has been a long, slow process learning how to put that into practice when I’m disappointed or angry. BUT –  the advice to just spank her, put her in her place, or send her to live elsewhere (as if I’m not capable of handling her & someone else is), quite frankly, makes me want to throat punch you.

2 what is oddI’ll admit that when she was first diagnosed with ODD I didn’t believe it. I thought, “she’s just stubborn…a lot of these identifiers don’t even describe her.” After all she’s not destructive and she doesn’t display what I would categorize as “verbal hostility.” She’s not vindictive either, as some of the articles will suggest some ODD children are. I believe that our children are too often over-diagnosed with this or that imbalance or disorder (but that is a post for another day) when really they’re just individuals with individual needs and abilities. Just because a first grader has trouble sitting still in a class for 60 minutes doesn’t mean that child is ADHD. I approached this similarly; just because Princess Sassypants is stubborn doesn’t make her ODD. But as time went on, I watched her, and as I silently educated myself I discovered that she’s not “just stubborn.”

Her defiance lies far outside what is typical of other children. Most children will allow themselves to be controlled to a degree. They know that if their parent tells them something, it’s just easier for everyone if they obey. They may grumble and complain, but they get the job done. A strong-willed child like Princess Sassypants already knows that you can’t physically make them do anything after a certain point & if you can, they’re not going to make it easy for you. You can tell her to eat her vegetables all day long, but are you going to physically restrain her, open her mouth, & force her to swallow them if she doesn’t? If you try, you’re just going to get green beans spit in your face, which is beside the point because she knows you aren’t going to do that anyway. She knows that she gets to choose: eat the vegetables or be hungry. Further than that, breakfast doesn’t seem that far away and, mine in particular, knows that her parents are going to be sound asleep at 2am so if she wants to get up and sneak some string cheese & a cold hot dog, who’s gonna stop her? I could serve her the same meal for breakfast, but she goes to school everyday where they serve breakfast and lunch for free. I choose not to argue with her about this particular thing because it’s simply not worth it to me. Good nutrition is important, of course. I just find other ways to make sure she gets what she needs that don’t involve either one of us fruitlessly arguing, me making extra meals for anyone, or either one of us causing bodily harm to the other. (That’s also another post.)

Will spanking her make her eat? No. Will “letting her know who’s boss” her make her wear her jacket when it’s cold out, brush her teeth if she doesn’t want to, or (in our specific case) stop stealing anything that glitters? No. We’ve tried it. It doesn’t work. Trying to force her to change because we want her to does not work and it will not ever work. Being her dictator doesn’t work. She has to decide it on her own. Giving her choices is what works (& right now, only barely, but we’re still learning as we go). Everyone gets the option to decide who they are and who they’re going to be…it just so happens that she figured that out earlier than most. By the time most kids realize they have a choice they’re already in or approaching adulthood &, in a lot of cases for better or for worse, are a product of their raising.

Iimage3t’s important enough to repeat: she has to decide what she wants & who she wants to be on her own. I’ve recently made my peace with the fact that no matter how much I want her to stop doing some of the things she’s been doing (stealing & lying most specifically of all) I can’t actually make her. The only thing I can do at this point is change my reaction when she inevitably does things I’m not going to be proud of. I can let her endure the natural consequences of her choices. I can love her for who she is right now. I can let her know that while I don’t love some of her behavior, I do love her.
I’ve already read this book, but I recently flipped back through it and found a helpful list that I’m going to try my best to refer back to when I’m angry and overwhelmed with my child. If you’re in a similar situation, maybe it can help you, too.

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*Note: SWC stands for Strong-Willed Child.

image4Thanks for reading my ridiculously long post. If you have comments or questions, please leave them below. It would be nice to not feel so alone in this and maybe we can help each other. Maybe I’ll even elaborate more on the above list in future posts if it’ll help someone. However, if all you’re going to tell me is some story about how I need to control my child, spank her, or send her to someone else, you can take a long walk off a short pier. 🙂

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. 😉

Some Thoughts on Punctuality, Trash, Free Potatoes, & Twin Grandmothers

Today is a good day.

I (accidentally, but thankfully) slept in, the kids didn’t get to school TOO terribly late (they even had time for showers & pretzel sticks for breakfast!), & I cleaned up some trash on our road & in our yard (that was put there by coyotes, I just know it!) because I don’t do the trash-on-the-ground thing.

This is Ian Somerhalder being proud that I pick up trash.
This is Ian Somerhalder being proud that I pick up trash.

tumblr_n0q4aosoWV1rr54cto1_500I mailed some stuff. Visited my dad, & then I had lunch with my sister. I wasn’t going to go because I didn’t have the money to be perfectly honest, but I did because it’s my sister &…buttered potatoes…YUSS. 58Then, wouldn’t ya know…she paid for it because she’s awesome & also because I’m pretty sure the universe was looking out for me. Good karma got me some free buttered potatoes, y’all! I think I’ll pick up trash & agree to lunch even when I’m broke EVERYDAY. Maybe Karma will bring me Ian Somerhalder instead of trans fats next time? A girl can hope. (No, I don’t care that he’s married…his human can come, too, because I want to hug her.)

After lunch, I looked at some flowers, but I didn’t buy them because my bank account told me I couldn’t. I’m glad I stopped though because while I was flower-gazing, I saw my grandmother’s twin! My heart skipped a beat & I had to do a double take. I totally wanted to hug her, but I refrained because being committed to the crazy house would have ruined my good mood. I snuck a picture, but because I don’t want to completely disregard this poor woman’s privacy, I won’t post it here. If you’d like to see my ‘grandmother from another mother who isn’t mine’ just come over…I’ll break out the iPhone and show you. If you don’t know where I live, you don’t know me well enough to be asking questions about my grandmother; the real ethereal one or the physical fake one.

I also received a fortune from the Chinese place that said, “Borrow money from pessimists. They don’t expect it back.” That made me laugh. I then determined that pessimists are just people who are super kind, but are bitter about it. That made me laugh, too. It also made me think of my husband & father-in-law. They both have a large capacity for kindness, but they lace it with expletives. It’s a thing. You learn to love it.

Legendary-how-i-met-your-mother-33203140-500-500It’s not even 2 pm in Georgia yet & I already I’ve had such a lovely day. It would have been easy for me to wake up with an attitude and write the whole day off, because when you oversleep and get your kids to school late, that doesn’t exactly scream “LEGENDARY DAY!” But it’s much more enjoyable to just find the little blessings in everything.

Just goes to show…it truly is all about your perspective.

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Short (But Not Simple) Thought For The Week

Does she scare you a little?

Good.

She should make you fear her love, so that when she lets you be a part of it you won’t take it lightly. She should remind you of the power that beauty brings; she should remind you that storms reside in her veins, and that she still wants you in the middle of all the chaos.

Do not take this soul for granted, for she is fierce, and she can take you places that you never thought you could go. But she is still loving in the midst of it all. Like the calm rain after a storm, she can bring life.

Learn her.

Cherish her.

Respect her.

Love her.

For she is much more than a pretty face; she is a soul on fire.