And the winner is….

I have so much to do…I need to find something fancy to wear, polish up my jewels, pluck-wax-trim, get my dancing shoes ready….

Because I KNOW that my mom of the year invitation is going to arrive any day now.

My 15 year old was grounded.  Part of her punishment…I HAD HER PHONE.  To get it back I had to see some efforts around the house AND she had to perform some community service.  And I had just the service…I needed orientation swag made up for the new hires that we orient every 2 weeks.  Tuesday I grabbed her from cheer practice, swooped in and got little miss THANG, skiirrttteedddd into QT for a pizza and we headed back into work.

By 5:32 I had both of them working away.  By 6:10 I was debating if I was guilty of slave labor.

A little after 8pm little miss thang finally moaned, “are we ever leaving—it’s past my bedtime.”

Opps.  I’d gotten a little carried away. I finished one more email and away we went.

Straight in the door and straight up the stairs she went.  Well past bedtime.

This morning she stumbles down in the same clothes she wore yesterday.  The sticks and leaves from the playground still affixed to her shirt and her hair.  We hadn’t picked out her clothes the night before.  Her solution:  bright pink cheetah yoga pants and a pale orange, long sleeve Columbia shirt.  I said YES.  What else could I say?

By some stroke of luck we got the sticks out of her hair and managed to get it into a semi-respectable pony tail.

“Clean out that bookbag!” I admonished as I stepped over it to get to my coffee.  Trash and papers stuck out of every conceivable opening.

“Like I have time to do that,” she grumbled.

“Pick a pocket…one pocket…we’ll do the rest later,”  I went about pouring my extra-large cup of WAKE THE HELL UP.  Out of the corner of my eye I spied a mounding pile of crumpled paper on the table.  “Put that in the trash baby.”

“It’s my homework that you are supposed to be checking!” she slid a slim white envelope behind her back.

“I’ll look at it tonight.  What’s that?”  She played dumb so I held out my hand.  She begrudgingly offered up the paper.  It was a school envelope with a  note that said: to the parent of….Crap.  No good news every came from these white envelopes.

“You have to give these to me, baby!”

Inside was an invitation for extra-after-school tutoring for my girl. Which is great.  The problem?  Must pick up child by 3:30p every Tuesday and Thursday.  Not possible. She asked what it was.  I told her.  I also told her we couldn’t do it because Mommy couldn’t pick her up at 3:30.  She looked down and said, “Oh…I need tutoring.  My teachers and my friends tell me to FOCUS all the time.”

Heart. Break.

I was feeling oh so competent as a mother right up until that very moment (not).

“I am so sorry…maybe we can get you extra help another way,”  so much for the mommy pep talk.  We were already late for the morning extra help she was getting.

Purse askew and gaping open, coffee spilling and one forgotten lunch box later we trip over the dogs and make our way to the car.  Or at least I do. She’s still fiddling with the trash…err…papers that she dumped out of her bookbag onto the kitchen table.

“WE HAVE TO GO,” I call out impatiently.

She’s shuffling thru trash…errr….papers…equally impatient.  “But my story.  I wanted to read you my story!”

“Find it and read it to me in the car,” I would like to say I encourage but I really just barked out the order.

Triumphantly she wobbles out of the house waving a crumpled piece of paper.  Her little round face is smiling—all her big teeth and gaps shining. Her big eyes even rounder in pride.  My heart thu-thumps.  “I can’t wait to hear it!” I say which makes her smile even broader.

We are both buckled up and backing out when she begins.  I can barely hear her tentative little voice over the ac blowing full force (late mornings and hot coffee and middle age don’t mix).  I encourage…yes, this time I really do….to speak up so I don’t miss a word.

“When I am old—like you mom—“ of course she has to add that just as my hot flash kicks into full gear.  I can’t turn the air up or I can’t hear her so I suffer in silence.  “When I am old I will do,” she begins.

‘I will watch tv with my mom and my sister and my brother and I will ride my car in my driveway and I will not drink a beer.”

Let’s just pause here.  A) watching tv is her aspiration as an adult?  Yep, mom of the year material I am. B) she fully intends for it to still be the 3 of us…sweet c) I can’t even begin to wonder why she added that she won’t drink a beer-spelled bear into her story.  File that away for a later conversations.

‘I will play music in my car like boty like a back row driving with my eyes closted I now evry crov like the back of my head 15 in a 30’ she giggles. “I added the song, momma…you know…” she then proceeds to sing the lyrics before going back to her story. ‘I ain’t in a harry I know evry crow like the back of my hand.’

‘And then I will make slime when I get back to my house from the store’

“Do grown-ups make slime, momma?” I tell her they do in her story which pleases her.

“Wait until you hear this part! I went to the store for ice cream for my hasben (when I saw how she spelled husband I had to laugh.  Looks like has been which is probably exactly how it appears in her little life.  Another epic momma fail.  ‘I got ice cream for my  hasben the flaver was caramel and banana and it was rilly and I am going to cry it to and it was rilly good.’

“That’s it.  Ms. Adams gave me a check mark and a smiley face and wrote LOVE IT on my paper momma.  I think that’s a A like sissy gets,” she’s beaming.

I ohh and goo and make all the appropriate mommy sounds.  We are almost at the end of the car rider line at this point.  I can’t help it.  I try but I can’t.  “why did you put you aren’t going to drink a beer?” I ask.

And of course…of course…just as the SCHOOL COUNSELOR opens her car door she answers the question.  Loudly.

“Because I don’t want to get DRUNK!”  she tosses the paper in my direction and hops out of the car.  The counselor looking at me…at least I am sure he was.  I certainly wasn’t making eye contact at that point.

Wham.  With that the car door slams.

I don’t think my tires squealed as I made a fast get away but I can’t be totally sure.

Yep…Mom of the Year material.

#bodylikeabackroad

#adultgoals

#shesneverleaving

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Hand me ups

What a weekend! Thanks to mom and dad’s hard work we managed to sneak in one last hurrah…at the BEACH.

And it was awesome.

The day back…not so awesome. But I am determined to keep that beach mentality as long as possible so I am taking my own advice and NOT being sad that it’s over but being darn grateful it happened!

So tonight I am grateful for:

  1. The beach
  2. Mom’s and dads that make the beach possible!
  3. A few days of surf and sea. We didn’t have that much sun but that’s okay…no one got too burnt.
  4. Moments when there is absolutely no place else you want or have to be.
  5. Cucumber vodka!!!! A little Sprite Zero, some grenadine and a little of the good stuff and BAM! Instant relaxation.
  6. Old friends that remember you during your worst years and want to see anyway.
  7. Catching up with a person you really, really like and admire.
  8. Nieces that make you smile and aren’t embarrassed to take a selfie with their old aunt.
  9. A Little girl with freckles on her nose and a big toothy grin on her face.
  10. A new adventure–finding shark teeth in the beach.
  11. A stolen, quiet moment just being present and content.
  12. Sandy toes. I love sandy little feet (until they get in the car).
  13. College football in the south. Go dawgs!!
  14. Enjoying a place that both my girls love.
  15. Beach food. Crab legs, shrimp, hush puppies and fish.
  16. Grandpas that spoil their “girls” with Reese’s, peanut butter m&ms, butterfingers and crunch candy bars. I might not be so grateful and next weeks weight watchers weigh in but we will worry about that next week.
  17. Key lime pie.
  18. Craft beer and local breweries
  19. Giant, warm, crusty pretzels with beer cheese and hot mustard that you can wash down with cold beer. (Next weeks weigh in is really going to stink.)
  20. Long late night conversations.
  21. Generous people who give out hand ups that when tried on make you happy–happy they fit, happy about that way they make you feel and happy to have such an amazing friend.
  22. Happy to have the means to get to the beach.
  23. I am grateful for the memories we made this weekend. Good, solid, happy memories that make my heart happy.
  24. I am grateful that I have a friend who is thankful for news that 2/3 of those impacted don’t get. 🐶
  25. Grateful that I get squishy hugs
  26. Seeing and getting to experience new places makes the list too. Ameila Island and Fernandina Beach…we will be back.
  27. Grateful for safe travels there and back
  28. Tickled that the vacay included a stop by GCSU for a hug from the fella. The “mom I need money” request not so much.
  29. As hard as the week before was and as trying as the day back has been; I am grateful to have a job that challenges me to learn something new each day.
  30. Seashells. Yep. We picked them off the seashore.
  31. Saltwater taffy and the fact that the saltwater taffy didn’t pull out the temporary crown that I forgot I had.
  32. I am grateful that I haven’t given up in weight watchers even though it’s a slllloooooww go.
  33. Grateful that Pinterest gave me some ideas on what I can do with all those seashells we picked off the seashore.
  34. Ocean storms make for great waves. I haven’t had that much fun in years.
  35. Road trips and music.
  36. Singing along to road trip music.
  37. Phones with GPS and directions.
  38. Thunderstorms. They aren’t ideal when you only have 2 beach days but man are they fascinating to watch.
  39. Hats. Ocean breezes are not kind to hair dos.
  40. Tervis tumblers that keep cucumber vodka just the right temp.
  41. Hand me up clothes that make me feel confident! I am so thankful I added that twice intentionally.
  42. Florida trees and Spanish moss. It makes every view grand.
  43. A dad who can get you anywhere from anywhere by memory! And one who knows you well enough to tell you to ask your daughter to tell you which way is left because he knows you don’t know.
  44. I am grateful when my friends are happy.
  45. Warm, fluffy Pancakes covered in Nutella.
  46. My dad’s perfectly sweetened and patiently stirred hot tea.
  47. Steps! 8000 isn’t a lot but it’s more than I get most days.
  48. I am grateful that despite a rotten day, with a little effort and a lot of gratitude that everything feels better.
  49. Grateful I have enough of my mom’s safe to tell Dudley Doo-right-the self imposed guard is the beach path- that he didn’t have to be as ass when telling us the leave the property.
  50. I am grateful that though they might not realize it now my girls are very, very lucky to be sisters.

Good

I feel good.

{{insert James Brown vocals here}}.

As part of my FIX-HER up (pun on fixer up) I am working on a few things:

  • Being grateful
  • Seeing things in a more positive light
  • My weight
  • My self-image
  • My surroundings
  • This weekend I was productive and got some stuff DONE. Gone is the leaning tower of plastic I considered my home office. In its place: a real work area. A desk, filing cabinets and some decor. No more shoveling odd the kitchen table to eat. How good is that?
  • That closet that I literally opened the door, shoved stuff inside and closed quickly before things came spilling out? Clean and organized. With shelves. And it feels good to no longer have to shove my shoulder in just to close the door.
  • The bike decal that I used as art? I loved it but it drove me crazy that I had bubbles it in. Every-time I passed it o popped the bubble. It wasn’t a big thing but it was an irritant. I fixed that this weekend. It feels good to solve a problem-even a small one.
  • Instead of last minute freak out- I have a plan for cheerleader-meal-night which coincides with my daughter-sweet-16. I not only have a plan…I’ve started. Yep. Hot glued, glittered, cut and fluffed. Done. And they are downright cute! Even the birthday girl/cheerleader approves. Having your teen approve and like anything isn’t just good-it’s great!
  • As part of my FIX-HER plan I’ve started a nighttime skin plan. I was productive and stayed on track with the buffing, cleaning and moisturizing. It’s a little bit like trying to polish a ready trailer hitch but you have to start somewhere–right. Each night I went to bed with skin feeling clean and dewy. And that’s a good feeling.
  • I made entries into my gratitude journal. And I was sincerely and grateful for a lot of things. It’s good to see the good instead of the bad.
  • Zucchini spirals, sautéed balsamic mushrooms with lime and garlic, grilled chicken topped with grape tomatoes and Parmesan cheese—yes, I cooked. And stayed in my daily points.
  • I had a little toddy to celebrate–and stayed in my daily points.
  • And…drum roll please….I feel good.
  • Today was a good day. I liked my outfit and….ugh…this is hard for me to write…I liked how I felt in my outfit. Am I where I want to be? Heck no. But I am better than I was, heck yeah.
  • At a flea market this weekend I bought a pair of high, heeled vintage Nine West shoes that I adore. They are so high they make you strut instead of clunk. Those alone had me feeling pretty nice.
  • At the same flea market I bought (okay budget wasn’t a win this weekend) a skirt with an artist print decorating the front. The seller has a lovely story about the meaning of poppies and one of the world wars and how it inspired the artist. She donated her art to be made into fabric for the skirts. The seller then gave 10% of the sales back to a charity of the artist choice. So I got an incredible, unique skirt that served a purpose. Thank you HIPPOCAMPUS! They had other skirts made from children’s artwork. I’ll definitely be purchasing another. I asked about sizing, never dreaming one Would fit. I am not usually a fitted skirt of girl. I told her my size and she didn’t believe me. Now I am not naive. She was selling and she wanted me to buy so flattery is an option…a smart tool. But it didn’t feel like a sales pitch. It felt genuine. And I appreciated it. It felt good that she looked at me and saw a size lower than the one I quoted her. And…as part of my FIX HER up quest I let that sit there. I didn’t try and argue myself out of feeling good. I just let myself feel that way.
  • Today I put the ensemble together and found that I still felt good. I felt good. And I let myself feel good. Without apology.
  • I even said it out loud. To my daughter. Who in turn said,”I am proud of you mom.”
  • Proud of me for dropping some weight? Proud of me for tacking a project that needed doing? Proud of me for allowing myself to feel good? Proud that I said, out loud, that I felt good? I am not sure what she was proud of. It doesn’t matter, really. Just the fact that she’s proud is enough.
  • I usually don’t feel pride. Usually I see the 2392 projects that need to be done vs the tiny one I finished. I see the failure instead of the success. Shouldn’t gave gotten to this size in the first place vs being happy that I’d lost 15 pounds.
  • But today I felt good. Today I let myself feel good. And it was…you guessed it…good.
  • True colors

    The picture perfect moments are just that-moments. A second in time. Everything falling into place for one glorious second and BAM! A picture perfect moment.

    I had some of those this weekend. Light falling perfectly. Breeze blowing just right. The right smile at the right second.

    I love these. Bright smiles, cute freckles, wide eyes….these are my girls at their best. They are beautiful. Adorable. Spirited and fun. These pictures show how they want the world to see them.

    I’ll frame them. I’ll add them to the yearly memory books. I’ll post them and Instagram them and show them off. That’s what you do when things are picture perfect.

    But we aren’t picture perfect. Our lives aren’t clean and tidy and shining. As much as I love the pretty pictures I have one I love more…

    The real one. And this…this is real. This is the version of my girls that I see more often than not. The pinched mouth of the ticked-off-teen and the bored pout of a sullen not-teen. They’d just had a spat over something ridiculous, I am sure. Little girl bratted up when big girl rolled her eyes or sighed at her antics–or that’s what usually happens. There isn’t enough make-up in the world to make this moment perfect…

    But it is a perfectly captured moment and I love it.

    My life is like this. At a glance it’s fine and post worthy. But when you look close you see the real thing. The jacked up, silly, do the best you can life I lead.

    These glorious pictures were taken by a talented photographer who happens to be my second ex-husband. Yes. Second. As it not first.

    They were taken on a day I overslept and lazily missed a 5k I was supposed to walk in.

    We’d planned our day around a flea market I was looking forward to attending. But it turned out to be 3 booths and a food truck. So the highlight of my Saturday was a trip to the BIG grocery store versus the one closer to my house. The one with the cheese bar. And samples. In fact I left with some high line white cheddar cheese and apple butter. I am a sucker.

    I bought it. But I won’t eat it…this week anyway. After a few down weeks I made a vow to get back on track. So I lived in the wild side and actually bought fresh food to cook. Healthy food that would help me get back on track.

    See after 12 weeks I’d dropped 13 pounds and stopped. And then I got frustrated at the 3 ounce or 5 ounce loss. And logging food just seemed exhausting. The 10,000 steps seemed unattainable. The vodka helped my tooth and tasted nice so I had some. And some more. And who wants to count that???

    That’s the real life I lead. One step forward and about 10 back. Glimpses of picture perfect or “as planned” moments followed by the real life. Most of my life is not what I’d planned and trying to fix that I’d messed up.

    But I somehow manage to have moments that, snapped at just the right time, look planned and pretty.

    Despite eating a carton of ice cream for dinner recently, I somehow managed to get back on track and prepared for the week. I meal prepped filling and tasty Greek bowls for the week. I’ll be full, satisfied with points to spare!!!

    Planned. Purchased. Chopped. Prepared. I’d actually Executed what I’d intended!

    So this week is a good picture. The truer picture is the ice cream, soft pretzel and kids happy meal I’d scarfed down in the days prior. Still within my “points” but negative in the nutritional value department.

    That’s my theme this week: true colors. It’s enjoying the moments when everything goes exactly right but understanding that the true colors of my life aren’t in those moments. The true colors of my life are the unedited, messy and unplanned parts. And it’s okay.

    When I look at the pictures of my girls I am totally okay embracing the true colors of the life I lead.

    I can’t even plan (or spell) spontaneity

    The universe hates me.

    I know that sounds bratty and self-absorbed. I know but knowing doesn’t change anything…the universe HATES ME.

    I am not a big fan of my birthday. Lots of reasons-none worth sharing. Usually I sit by and suffer in silence. (Okay-I am rarely-ever silent.) This year I hiked up my big girl panties and decided to NOT hide and wait for my birthday to fail. I decided to seize the opportunity and give myself, and my girls, a birthday adventure.

    I was going to be proactive and not reactive.

    I was excited!

    Hours I spent searching the internet. Last minute travel, last minute deals, cheap air…you name it and I searched it.

    I had few parameters: my academic daughter didn’t want to miss class so we couldn’t leave until after 3p on Friday, I didn’t want a comma involved and I had to be back Monday morning to teach a group of new hires. That’s it. That’s all the boundaries I had. Should make things simple…right?

    At one point we were taking the red-eye to Las Vegas and seeing the lights. Until I realized last limited fares to Vegas aren’t cheap.

    Boston. Walk the historical paths and treat myself to a cannoli from Mike’s bakery. Fly home. I’d fly hundreds of miles for a Mikes cannoli. Without blinking. Until I did the math and figured to cost of that cannoli and imagined my 8 year old trying to feign excitement over the old church or Paul Revere’s house. She could care less if it’s one or two…

    Next we were going to drive to Orlando, swim with dolphins and drive home. Despite my girls being back in school this particular adventure was considered peak so one part of that idea for the 3 of is involved a comma. And 17 hours of driving in 72 hours.

    At the very onset of summer my girl broke her arm on a date with her bubba. I’d promised her the beach when the blue case came off. There we go…the beach.

    Seeing sea turtles is one my bucket list. Jekyll island has turtle walks! And you can drive there. Bam! Turtle walks end in July and the fancy place I wanted to stay seemed wasteful.

    Glamping in Asheville! Yes!!!!!

    Nope! Only one place open and it was a tent. No yurt. I got a little spooked by the idea of me and 2 girls alone on the woods at night in a tent—even a fancy one.

    Nashville. Carrie and the grand old opry. Eh…no. Lots of money for maybe one song. Nashville is a great drinking town. But I am traveling with 8 and 15 year old girls. No drinky-drink.

    So we stay local. Taylor Swift is in concert, in Atlanta on Saturday and tickets were available. She would appeal to both girls. Neither had been to a concert. It was their bucket list. Oh yeah.

    Good god almighty. That’s all I can say.

    And my logical, practical girl reminded me I am not a fan of TS. In fact I turn the dial when she sings. Probably silly to pay money to not listen to someone.

    Chattanooga. Been there.

    I was rapidly running out of ideas but not of determination.

    Air b-n-b. Damn site wants a location. I just wanted a cool place to stay. I wasted the last few hours of 47 searching. So much for spontaneity.

    That’s what I’d wanted-a spontaneous adventure that I could forever say when I turned 48 I…fill in the blank. I wanted something out of the ordinary. A new venture for a new year. Me and my girls.

    Until….

    The universe hates me.

    Tuition is due 8/10. $3900.

    Hospital bill for this springs broken arm is due 8/10. $2147

    Doctor who fixed said broken arm wants $589.00. When? You guessed it…8/10

    We never found the bugs glasses. Her special glasses. School has started. She is to read 20 minutes a night. That requires glasses. Replacement? $395 if they will accept the 2 year old prescription because the new insurance doesn’t cover her speciality pediatric ophlomologist. If they don’t take the antiquated prescription add a few hundred more dollars.

    And worst of all.

    My tooth starting hurting. The broken one. In the back.

    If you know me at all you know I am absolutely terrified of the dentist. Ugly crying, snot flying, hyperventilating, cold sweat kind of terrified.

    And now my tooth hurts. Bad.

    It hurt Monday.

    By today my bones feel it. Jaw to eye socket throbbing.

    Abscess diagnosed the dental assistant.

    Antibiotics=$2.47. Oh if it only stopped there.

    X-rays are tomorrow.

    Root canal in very near future. I almost vomited typing that. I don’t even know the cost of that. I don’t even know that cost of the sedation it will take up get me in the door!

    I do know the crown cost. For the amount they quoted me I could have a real crown with jewels. But then my tooth would still hurt. I’d look pretty though. Well, it would be prettier and shinier then the crown that I’ll cry while getting.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’ve already been spoiled by friends.

    And family…

    I am lucky girl.

    But…I wanted to spoil myself. I wanted to set this year up for success by starting it in an extraordinary way.

    Starting 48 with a root canal, a crown and medical bills just ain’t what I had in mind.

    48…quit being a $&@@.

    All in the family

    If I had a comfort food it would be my grandmothers chicken Olivia. It’s a casserole that’s as much a part of my history as…well…most anything. When I make it-it’s the closest I ever feel to my grandmother.

    Today is my big kids fathers birthday. Sweet girl couldn’t decide what to get him. She looked and looked and looked and looked before finally she finally had an ah-ha moment.

    These 2 paragraphs relate. I promise.

    My sweet girl remembered he likes the chicken casserole. So, for his birthday, she planned a menu, cooked the dish and delivered it to him. Complete with garlic bread and all the fixings did strawberry shortcake. And…most importantly, made it impossible for him to say no. He doesn’t eat with them normally, preferring to eat later, but she had the dinner hot and ready for him so he wouldn’t have to eat alone on his birthday.

    I like my history. I love that my iron bed is the bed my parents got had when they got married…and that it was my dad’s before he even knew my mom.

    My grandmothers tea cups decorate my bedroom wall. Her handkerchief is framed there too. We eat ice cream from my grandpa’s bowls. When I want to feel special I wrap up in my nanny’s faux fur coat that my aunt and cousins gave me after she passed away.

    Each Christmas I unpack my handmade, sequined stocking-even with the gnawed off toe thanks to some flying squirrels- and hang it on whatever version of a mantle I have that year.

    I used to wrap up on an antique quilt but I wore that thing slap out!

    My handmade christening gown adorns my wall.

    Even my name is part old and part new. I am named for my dad’s mom and my mom’s mom…and I love that!

    Holding pieces of the past are special to me. Our lives haven’t been seeped in tradition-my little ones and I. Things didn’t go quite as planned. But I’ve tried to instill a few things from my past in them.

    So, knowing that this was one of those things I’ve shared that matter I got out the recipe tonight. I don’t really need it anymore but I wanted to “teach” her and I wanted her to make it on her own. My recipe is handwritten by my aunt and it says Grandmother’s recipe on the card. The whole cookbook is written my my aunt full of recipes that she’s made for years. It was a Christmas gift a long, long time ago. I am not much of a cook. I don’t make much effort at it either. But those recipes make are tried and true and are always good for any occasion.

    “Someone is going to write this down for me one day, right?” Asked big girl as we puttered around my tee-ninny-itty-bitty kitchen.

    “Absolutely!” I promised. “Look. My Ta-Ta (my aunt) wrote it down for me. I am going to teach you to make it tonight and some day I’ll write it down for you so you always have it.”

    That this simple casserole means as much to her as it does to mean makes me smile. She didn’t know my grandmother so the significance of the dish isn’t the same for her; but it’s significant nonetheless.

    I like to think Helen E Eddy-the woman I called Grandmother- would have liked my spunky girl.

    I like to think that she’s smiling down on us, me and my girl, puttering about the kitchen (without fighting) whipping up HER dish.

    I like to think that one day my girl will teach her girl to make it and the legacy will grow and grow. I know, I know, it’s only a casserole, but it’s important.

    My best memory of my grandmother is of her in her very proper robe, up early, making gushy rolls. So called because they were never quite done and were therefore always gushy in the middle. She made them when she visited us and when we visited her. I can almost smell the cinnamon as I write this. That memory makes my heart happy. But it’s only a memory. I don’t know how she made gushy rolls. I haven’t had them since she quit being able to remember how to make them. They were lost when we lost her. And that makes me so very, very sad.

    How I wish I would have paid more attention, gotten up earlier and made those rolls with her. Or how I wish that I had her handwritten recipe card to follow.

    These recipes aren’t just for making a dish. These kinds is recipes keep those we lost close. They unite the new ones with the ones that came before them…the ones they never knew. They shape memories an warm hearts. These recipes bring mother and daughter into a small kitchen where, for as long as it takes to cook, they are working together and in harmony.

    Yes, it’s just a simple chicken casserole. But it’s also much, much more.

    I love that my sweet girl had such a sweet idea.

    I love that for a few minutes she was listening intently to every word I said because she wanted to learn something I knew!

    I love that that time in the kitchen made me feel like my grandmother was with me.

    I don’t love that I ruined my diet by eating not one but two big, heaping helpings. I lie. I don’t mind so much. Somethings are worth it and this casserole, on this night was totally worth it.

    Tonight we made a casserole–and a memory.

    Start and stops

    Today in church the sermon was about what was stopping you from getting where you wanted to go. It talked of how often we do exactly what we want to do, how we find people who tell is what we want to hear and how we often don’t listen to those that know better but who’s advice leads us against what we want.

    The challenge: list 3 things we want to stop doing that are getting in the way and 3 things we want to start doing. In addition we were challenged to ask, and listen, to those on our lives.

    So I asked.

    I asked the bugs what I needed to STOP doing for our relationship to be as strong as it could be. The nervous laughter and cries of “no way” might be hints that I need to start being a little more open. After lots of cajoling and urging they spoke up.

    The boy: I’ve got this mama. You have to know I know how to make good decisions. You taught me right from wrong. I want to have a good time in college but it hurts my heart when you say things that make me think you don’t think I know why I am there. I’ve got this.

    I promised to listen and not (over) react so I didn’t say anything. My daughter didn’t make that promise. “Hey-it makes me nervous when you say that.”

    “I know I have made mistakes. I know I’ve said that before and I didn’t quite have it. But I do now,” he said.

    Encouraged by my silence and lack of (over)reacting he continued,”…and chill out a little.”

    The girl sensed there was a honesty in my request so she spoke up,”Don’t blame me for mistakes Colton’s made.”

    He congratulated her on a “good one”. And kept talking. “You don’t have to wait up on me. And just because I am out doesn’t mean I am doing anything wrong. I got this mama.

    We got it says the big girl.

    “One more thing…”

    Almost simultaneously they say, “we gotta talk about your blog.”

    “I just have Facebook so I know what’s going on in my life,” she says warily.

    “Look…I love that you like to write. And people love it. But…all my friends read it. And their parents. And they like it…but…”

    “But you make us sound like a-holes,” she says cutting straight to the chase.

    “Look. Y’all have always said I needed something for myself. And the blog is mine. It’s gotten me thru some tough times. It’s how I cope. And…I don’t always make you sound awful. When you ARE awful I write about it. But that’s not all I write about.”

    “Mom! We can read try comments from your friends. We know they think we are jerks.”

    “They do not! In fact, it’s thanks to my blog that I loosened up a little bit and gave you some freedom dude.”

    “I know! And it’s great. Even my friends have said you’ve chilled out A LOT,” college boy interrupted.

    “See!” I said. “Look. I am listening to what you are saying. I promise,” even I could hear the BUT that was coming. Here I was doing exactly what the sermon warned against. Dang. 15 minutes after leaving church and I’ve already jacked up the exercise.

    I paused.

    I couldn’t give up my blog. It really is the only thing I go for me. It’s really the only thing that’s gotten me around some of life’s snares and pitfalls.

    “How about you just make is sound less a-holish?” They suggested.

    That I could agree to.

    My kids aren’t jerks. Mostly.

    I overreact. A lot.

    I am a hot mess. All the time. I run in fumes. All the time. The combination makes for lots of stories. Stories that I tell at their expense. But I try and share the wealth and tell on myself as well. I don’t hide. Nope. I flaunt our crazy out there for the whole world to see.

    I am my babies biggest fan. My friend coined my style of parenting loving out loud. I love that. Cause that’s what I do. I love them. The best way I know how. Loud.

    And in loving them I write about them.

    But I don’t do it to embarrass them or to shame them. But truth be told sometimes I throw it out there to the world because I don’t know what else to do! I don’t know how to tackle some of the parenting roadblocks. I don’t know how to navigate the twist and turns of parenting teens. Solo. And sometimes the challenges or changes are things that are new to me but not new to those that read. The advice, encouragement and support I’ve gotten on here have made me a better parent.

    But my kids aren’t a-holes. They are spirited individuals who look at life differently than I do most of the time. They teach me more than I teach them. They are the best thing I’ve ever done. They are my heart.

    And I am writing about them…again.

    The other 2 stop request I am going to work on. I am. And I am going to try and do the 3rd request a little differently. I am.

    I intend to look at the start/stop exercise in all parts of my life. But I started with the most important part of my life…my kiddos.

    Stay tuned. There will be more stops to write about a lots is starts. I am not where I want to be. But I am going to work hard to get there!