Beautiful heartache

Sometimes, I have to stop and pinch myself. This life, it’s pretty amazing.

Tonight, I finished vacuuming and put away laundry after working all day; mundane stuff. That’s when I heard it…the sound of hearty laughter coming from my room.

I snuck down the hall to peek in the doorway and found that all three kids (15 yrs, 12, and almost 5) were involved in a very intense wrestling match/tickle war/airplane ride on my bed.

I stood and watched for a while. Listened to their laughter, watched their smiles and red faces as they pummeled each other and tossed themselves down on the plush white comforter.

This image…this is what happiness looks like.

I ignored the urge to go grab my phone for its camera. Instead, I just stood there, soaked it all it and said a prayer of gratitude for each one of them.

My heart aches it’s so full of love for these people.

Mama said there’d be days like this

One thing I hope readers of my blog (that haven’t met me) never think about me…

Wow, she really has it all together.

(I say those that haven’t met me because if you met me you’d totally know I don’t have it all together.)

It’s so easy to write about the pretty part of parenting; post the cuteness all over Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. It’s not like everyone is pulling out their iPhones during a tug of war with their kid and says, “This is cute. I’m so posting this!”

Being a parent is hard.
Blended family life is hard.
Regular life is hard.

Most days are filled with awesomeness, smiles, hugs and tears of laughter.

But there are also days when your children act like crazy people, make bad choices or break your heart. Sometimes all of those in one day. It’s so easy to reflect on your kids and wonder,
“Is this my fault? Have I totally screwed this whole mom thing up? So-and-so’s kids don’t act like this. It must be something I’m not doing right.”

It is in that moment I’m reminded…
Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Don’t compare your kids or your experience with motherhood to others. It will make you overly critical of yourself and leave you feeling completely inadequate.

Try to take each day (or hour) at a time.

Pray.
Do the best you can.
Cry when you need to.
Pray.
Love them.
Love yourself.
Never give up.
Pray.

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P.S. Dear self, please come read this post when you need to be reminded that you’re a good mom whose heart is completely invested in this motherhood/stepmom gig and it’s ok to not have it all together.

How to Explain Hatred

It’s Martin Luther King Day and with the day off I’ve had time to reflect on what today is for. I’ve also had time to ponder the importance of teaching my youngest about Martin Lither King, Jr. and the history he represents.

How do you explain the civil rights movement to a 4 year old who has no concept of such hatred in the world?

How do you tell her that there was a time (not that long ago) that her uncle, an amazing man who loves his wife with everything he has, would have been beaten for looking admiringly at her aunt?

How do you tell her that some of her friends wouldn’t be allowed to go to her preschool? That she would be expected to hate them based on the color of their skin.

She doesn’t see color, not in the way the world does. She doesn’t categorize the importance of people based on the color of their skin, what they have, or who they love.

She simply loves those who love her.

It breaks my heart to know that she will learn, at some point, that there are people in this world who place greater value on the color of your skin rather than who you are as a person.

It is my responsibility as her mother to equip her for encounters with people who have this mindset.

And so rather than explaining hatred,
I will teach her about love.

Loving others regardless of the color of their skin, what they have or who they love.

Loving others when they are less than loving to you.

Loving others who stand for something you’re against.

Those last two are the tough ones. But if I am to be the kind of mother I feel God wants me to be, I have to be examples of those to her as well.

I want her to stand up for what is right but not hate those who are wrong.

Our children aren’t born hating others; it’s something they’re taught.
Parents, as we raise our children, let’s teach them to love before the world teaches them to hate.

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Mismatched masterpiece

Tonight, AH and I made salt dough ornaments together. This craft is particularly special to me because I used to make them with my great aunt when I was a kid. She had ridiculous patience with me in the kitchen (something I am probably lacking with AH). I had pictured this whole Pinterest Board/Hallmark commercial moment in my mind of fun holiday craft time but she wasn’t as into it as I had dreamt up. She was a little lackluster about the whole thing. Until it came time to use the gingerbread cookie cutter and then again when it was time to decorate. She loves to draw so I gave her some markers and let her do her own thing.

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Here’s a look at some of her creations…

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She has a story for each one:
The red gingerbread– it’s actually “a gingerbread girl with a red princess dress on.”
The two on the bottom– “Those are the little guys who try to steal Santa’s sleigh.”
and “The green dots are his teeth.”

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It fits right in on our mismatched, kids’-crafts-over-the-years, memory collection of a Christmas tree.

They’re so cute and totally her creation; Un-hallmarked and Pinterest board free.

Attention Walmart Customers

Dear Walmart Customers,

I want to apologize for the massive meltdown you witnessed this evening in the accessories department…and the hair care aisle…and snack foods aisle.

You see, my precious 4 (and 1/2) year old wanted something and she was not pleased with my response (“No, you don’t need that.”).

She then chose to scream and stomp and force tears and get all red faced. Bless her heart, she thought that I’d suddenly change my mind (she was wrong). Honestly, y’all, I don’t know why she hasn’t learned that this doesn’t work with me.

After our Come To Jesus Meeting between the underwear and socks didn’t convince her to find her sanity, I decided we needed to leave before I lost mine.

I went to check out and we left, pronto.

When we got to the car, she then continued her fit, hit her brother and kicked her legs like a madwoman.

All because she wanted something and had been told no.

I just spent the better part of a half our bagging up her toys to earn back. Hopefully, she will be more grateful for the toys she has. Or at the very least figure out not to start a stage 5 meltdown when being told no.

Hopefully, me sticking to my guns will make some impact on her. Because if she doesn’t learn now, she will still act that way at 14 and, well, I’d become an alcoholic and that just won’t fly.

I keep telling myself, “Sometimes being a good mom means evenings of trying to stay calm and hold your ground as they scream and throw a fit.”

I say this, not because I doubt how I handled the situation, but because sometimes you have to repeat things to yourself to keep from losing it on your kid.

Thankfully, tomorrow is a new day. Hopefully, one with fewer tears and more fun.

From Kenya with love

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I haven’t written on my blog in a few months. I meant to. Started several posts even. But for one reason or another (a.k.a. It was summer and I was livin’ life, yo.) I never finished a post. And it was a bit refreshing not sitting in front of a computer to write or going back to over-edit something I should just publish.

I really enjoyed my first summer off as a teacher. I slept in (8:30 is sleeping in when you have a 4 year old). I got to spend my days with the bigs, LD and JD while they were here for a month during the summer. I read, baked, had picnics, watched JD teach his little sister AH how to fish and LD teach her little sister how to take selfies. The last part of my summer I was fortunate enough to spend in Nyahururu, Kenya on a mission trip.

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Y’all. I don’t even have words to tell you how amazing it is there. The scenery alone is enough to renew your faith in God. I knew I would be a changed person. At least I prayed I would be.

A group of 25 of us were going to put on a children’s Bible conference at an amazing children’s home and boarding school. Roughly 350 kids attended, ages ranging from preschool up through about the age of 14.

Since being back home, I’ve talked about Kenya to anyone who asks about our trip or anyone who will let me. There’ve been a couple times when I’ve talked for a while about the kids we met at the orphanage, they stop me and say, “Well, did you see any cool wild animals?” And then I realize that a safari story about wild animals may have been more of what they had in mind.

I get to Africa and and I’m amazed that I’m even there. I can’t believe it’s even real. And then we get to the orphanage. I see these beautiful faces, their smiles, and I fall in love with them.

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Each day when our bus arrives they run to greet us as if we’re long lost family instead of outsiders. So different from back home. In the US, if someone or something is different, too “out of the box,” we shy away from it. It’s out of our comfort zone. We don’t approach. Just like many hesitate to share the Gospel with people who don’t fit the description of “textbook Christians.”
But these kids are so welcoming. They walk right up to you and hold your hand, talk to you or touch your hair. Some ask you questions about where you’re from or what it’s like back home. One asked me if I had babies and if I knew where they were. Later, it dawned on me that as orphans, mothers may not know where their children are just as orphans don’t know where their parents are.

These kids don’t have iPhones. They don’t have American Girl Dolls or bicycles. (Some of the kids from the villages that came this week had never even seen swings before). Everything they own fits in a trunk. And yet they are grateful. They have joy. They have dreams of being pilots, teachers, doctors and pastors. Their joy isn’t the kind that is brought on by the newest toy or gadget or how many likes they got on Instagram or Facebook. It isn’t from all the shiny new gifts they get at Christmas. Their joy comes from things we take for granted but they see as blessings. Their joy comes from their faith in God and the hope that one day He will bless them with an opportunity, a way to make their dreams happen. Hope in the future.

I look at my own kids and I am so grateful. They are kissed each day, told they are loved, tucked into warm beds and go to sleep knowing they are cared for. They belong to a family, blended as it may be.

These sweet babies…
Who tucks them in at night? Are they warm? Who tells them they love them each and every day?

This orphanage (and the amazing people who run it) instills hope in them. Teaches them their lives can be changed by The Lord. I hope our being here to serve them, to love them, and to pray for them lets them know that God has not forgotten them; they belong, they are His.

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Thank you for being a friend…(cue Golden Girls music)

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(Golden Girl theme fades...)
Dear Liz,

This is one of my fave coffee mugs in my mismatched collection. I bought it at a resale shop years ago because it reminds me of Holly Hobbie and reminds me of you. When I look at it, I am grateful to have such a great friend in you. A friendship that feels like home; like we’ve known each other all our lives (instead of since the 7th grade). When I drink my coffee out of it, I feel like we’re having coffee together even though chances are you’re still sleeping because all your children have learned the common courtesy of sleeping in and my Tink, well, has not. So, now I’m about to enjoy a glass of milk and the next to last cookie left from the baker’s dozen you delivered earlier…I have hidden the last one and will tell no one of its whereabouts.

I love you & your crazy bunch,
Adie

P.S. Remember when you couldn’t even boil water??? Now you’re giving Paula Dean a run for her money! Way proud of you. ;)

(Commence with Golden Girl theme song…)

Five Things to teach your child

There are so many things, as parents, we want our kids to know before they start school. I’ve stressed over whether or not AH knows her colors, letters, numbers, etc.

But now, being a teacher, I have a new perspective.

So I’ve come up with a list of things I want AH to know before she starts kindergarten.

Top 5 Things to teach your child before starting kindergarten:

5. Boogers are not an afternoon snack. Or breakfast. Or any other time of day snack. For the most part AH doesn’t but I have caught her on occasion taste testing. (Gag.)

4. Wash your hands…don’t wipe them on your clothes. This is obvious in terms of keeping germ spreading to a minimum. But what I didn’t think of, as a parent, is how much gets on kids’ hands while at school. Paint, glue, markers, etc. All can get on clothes and ruin them if hands are wiped instead of washed.

3. Private parts are private. This is self explanatory. However, if your kid is like mine and prefers to hang out in his/her undies all day, you might want to ensure your child knows that home is the only place they can lounge like that.

2. How to tie their own shoes. If I had a quarter for every time I tied shoelaces during day, I might double my salary. This is going to be a challenge for AH. Mainly because most of her shoes don’t even have laces.

And the number one thing to teach your child before they go to kindergarten…
*drum roll*

1. Bathroom Do’s & Don’ts - For instance: Don’t potty anywhere but the toilet (aka don’t write your name on the wall with urine). Do pull your pants up before exiting the bathroom (see number 3). And Do wipe yourself. If you don’t teach your child to take care of this on their own, trust me, they will ask teacher to do it for them. And when the teacher kindly declines, they may even ask to call you to come do it for them. True story.

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Brought to you by the letter F in the AtoZ Challenge.

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Eggs are gone…finally

It’s now nearly a week since Easter and I’ve finally put away the plastic eggs(we reuse them) and tossed the rest of the candy (AH doesn’t need it and I can’t taste it anyway). However, she did ask me where it all went. I told her we had to put it all away to get ready for next year. I think she was under the impression that her Easter loot would be a permanent fixture in our home. She wanted to hide the eggs again.

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Brought I you by the letter E in the AtoZ Challenge.

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Do you see what I see?

My husband, who makes duck calls, ordered a piece of wood for a customer’s call. When he opened it, I saw this…

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Do you see it? On the lower half, there is a strong resemblance to our pug, Dash. Crazy.
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Letter D in the AtoZ Challenge

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