Category: I love being a mommy

what childhood looks like

My girls are lunch-bringers, and for the last few months, I’ve been searching for a perfect array of containers for all their stuff. The unexpected hurdle was finding good, old-fashioned, metal lunchboxes of the right size to fit a thermos and not mildew, rot, or fall apart.

Enter, and the bonus: they have new lunchboxes that reflect something they like and don’t look just like everybody else’s. They were pretty excited.

(They don’t wear their bathing suits to school, but the delivery happened to have come while we were on way to the beach…)
The fact that they hurriedly marked them is proof positive of their 5-and6-year-old excitement.

May you have a simply happy day!

Remember, Mama

It is so easy to forget WHO you are!

burton kids 2013

Thirteen years ago on Mother’s Day, I was a first-time auntie, and quite inexplicably, had my feelings hurt because my brother – a twenty-something, bachelor cop, did not acknowledge his son’s aunt on Mother’s Day. Why in the world I expected that of him is now beyond me.

Today, I am the proud, proud aunt of two nephews and a niece who will be visiting me (along with their parents!) in one month. And may I just say…my brother has had a role in making very pretty children.

Ten years ago I was a newly married stepmom of two, pretty sheepish about my role, and my heart aching more than ever for a baby of my own.

Today, having ‘successfully navigated’ the ‘raising’ of two stepchildren, I am looking crazy-forward to a weekend with all my ‘kids,’ including my future-daughter-in-law. Iron Man 3, Mexican food, and the beach will be involved. I love our not-normal family.

Eight years ago – was it that long? Wow! – I was an infertile mom on Mother’s Day. The pain of that diagnosis and the emptiness of my womb felt overwhelming at times. Daily, it felt like my identity. How can you not have something (children) and still be something (mama)? My soul felt motherly. My arms ached. I stared at other women and children as though they had found the Holy Grail, one I had no hope of finding.

And then…

Seven years ago, I mama and kaitywas newly pregnant.
Six years ago, I was carrying around a six-month old who was my Holy Grail.
Five years ago, I was sitting on a tour bus, cuddling a toddler and a newborn, utterly bewildered by the whirlwind blessings, and utterly exhausted, too.mama and randa

I had a conversation with some pastors yesterday. (Insert my line about loving the fact that my co-workers are pastors, and friends, and brothers). We were talking about grace, and the job of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. We so often say it is the Holy Spirit’s role to convict us of our sin, but Pastor Tom proposed that in the life of a believer, who is already forgiven of sin, the Holy Spirit’s role is to convict us of our righteousness.

Righteousness? you say, that sounds so churchy and holier-than-thou. But there is no man righteous, no not one. (Romans 3:10). Though “righteous “is one of those Christany-terms that scare people, PT was not saying it “that way…”

So I put my Kelly Standard Version spin on things, proposing that the Holy Spirit is like Mufasa in the sky, reminding Simba to: Remember who you are.mama remember

How easy is it to forget who we are… as Christians? As humans? As mothers? I mean, if someone asks me about motherhood these days, I usually laugh it off with an anecdote about my “precocious” youngest child, or about the fact that as a stepmom to older children, I will likely be a gramma in my 30s. But this week, oh this week…

It is always a time to be reminded about the sanctity of motherhood, not because of who it makes us, but because of who and what it entrusts to us. Becoming a mother, having the chance to love my children with all my heart, to be loved by them, frustrated by them, proud of them, is the singular greatest joy in my life. While that might be easy to forget when they are spilling Fruity Pebbles all over the floor when we are already late for church, or having a silent, scowl-at-all-the-other-parents hissy fit at the bus stop, or beating the tarnation out of each other over which episode of Jessie they are going to watch, it is, nevertheless, always true. Always.

To top that off, just this week, I have been touched by the depth of emotions that comes with motherhood, as I have encountered in My Real Life ~

– a mom who placed her third-born into the arms of an infertile mom, thus becoming a ‘birth mom,’ a subculture that I will forever be more deeply in awe of from this moment. THANK YOU for choosing life, for your beyond-generous heart, for your strength, for your trust in God, for changing the life of this woman whose arms are no longer empty.

– a mom whose only child, thus far, was lost through miscarriage. The fact that her arms have yet to hold a baby of her own does not take from her heart’s status of “Mom.” May God bless and keep every mama who has lost in this way.

– the prospective adoptive mom. I. Cannot. Wait…to share the joy of your babies coming home to you.

– the single mom. I know more of them now than I used to, and my admiration only grows. Know, single moms, that you are superheroes to me…for all the nights I don’t get enough sleep, all the days I don’t give enough time/patience/homemade dinners, all the wee hours spent folding laundry and wishing there was more money/help/company/time/energy: I hope you get double what I wish for.

– the mom of the special needs child. This one? Too precious for words. You are loved. You are prayed for. You are SEEN.

– the mom in emotional crisis….she is overworked, she is heartbroken, she is grieving, she is straying, she is searching, she is ill, she is abandoned, she is lonely…and whatever the case, she is trying to deal with this and shelter her children from it, and that is so difficult, if not impossible. Lord, have mercy on this mom. Give her a day free of fear, guilt, shame, sadness, and anxiety. Give her more of YOU.


My prayer for all moms is that we remember who we are, what we were made into the moment that role of “Mama” was bestowed upon, gifted to us. When in the trenches (or the park, the grocery store, the kitchen, the car) surrounded by chaos… when in the bathroom, surrounded by little fists knocking and big voices calling… when looking in the mirror, envisioning everything we are not… when in the rare moment of silence, wondering what and how we can do it better… may we remember that regardless of our circumstances, we are not alone. May we remember that the one thing our children need most from us is our love. May we remember that every moment with them is a treasure.



another lesson from the driver’s seat

lessonMy KK is new to using a lunchbox. She brings lunch to her new pre-school a few times a week. We haven’t bought her her own lunchbox yet, so she uses a random lunch bag that fits her various food items (she likes a lot, and variety) ‘just so.’

This morning, she asked me to pack her Spider-Man waterbottle, and though I was not sure of its spill-proofness, I obliged. On the way to school, while she sat in the back of the minivan, far out of my reach, she took everything out of her lunchbag to view what I had packed. Then, she proceeded to haphazardly cram it all back in and fight with the zipper to get it closed over Spider-man’s head.

Disclaimer: I will also add that we have family in town this week, so we are doing that “pretend we are on vacation even though there is school and work” thing, and we’re a little tired…

Cue teaching moment for KK’s mama:

Kaity, don’t try to zip it. It has to fit a certain way. Just leave it.


keeps trying

KK, just leave it.

keeps trying

KK, I will fix it when we stop. Just leave it!

keeps trying

me (as I picture applesauce, grape jam, and water flying everywhere to mix with all the other crap making our van sticky and horrible)
swears under breath

slams the lunch bag down on the seat.
glares at me


The truth of it all is what actually glared at me. Allow me a moment to map it out:

  • I was driving my child safely to her keep-calm-and-learn-from-your-5-yr-olddestination, after having lovingly and thoughtfully packed her mess in the only way it would have worked.
  • She tried to see what was in there without help and before the appointed time.
  • When I forced her to listen to me telling her why her actions were wrong and how I could help her, she threw it down and got mad at me.

Unlike God, I lost my patience. But everything else in that scenario could have easily been switched out… God as The Parent, me as The Child.

I want to know what is waiting for me.
I want to take care of all the messes myself.
I, after 36 years of growing, still sometimes throw it down and get mad at God when something doesn’t go my way or even if He, through the guidance of another voice or His Holy Spirit, stops me from doing something stupid.


Nothing was spilled in the car. I repacked KK’s lunch, and we hugged and exchanged “I love yous” as if no conflict had occurred. It is the beauty of small children, how their hearts open wide enough to blot out offenses.

It is a 15 minute drive to KK’s school, but another example of how being a parent teaches me a multitude of wisdom for this life’s journey.

Yesterday, a pastor/friend of mine said to me,

“Just tote it; don’t try to wield it.”

Translated out of church-ese, that says:

“Carry it, but don’t try to control it.”

Wisdom whispered to me… may I pass it on gently to my children.




my most recent failures

It’s funny how trained I’ve become as a woman to think that the “I’m failing” stories make me more likeable. – Kelle Hampton

So one month ago, I stopped eating gluten. And for the most part, I have really stopped eating gluten. I also began working my nutrition system again (breakfast drink/tea at night).

And last week, I started tracking my calories again.

On Thursday, I weighed myself and had lost 2 pounds form the beginning of the week.

And this morning, I weighed myself and there they were, again.

Also this morning, I called the pre-school down the street from my church/job and enrolled KK. Just like that. I had already toured it in the fall, when I was weighing options, had met the director, knew the price was right. When I discovered today that they also have an attractive “drop-in” program for the summer, I was hooked. I printed out the forms, filled them out, broke the news to KK (who, though inseparable from me since December 20, basically shrugged), and rode on over to introduce her to the teacher.

Amazingly, I do not feel guilty.


my cool girlsI was just encouraging a friend last week by reminding her: most decisions we make are not forever. We are usually not in circumstances that last forever. I go back and forth and back and forth again with schooling decisions, for example. Our seasons seem to change constantly. I know there was a deep desire in my heart to homeschool, but I also know that was borne when we were traveling constantly and I was surrounded by close friends homeschooling with me. Life has changed. Randa is flourishing in school, and after this 3.5 month experiment, it seems KK needs it to a degree. So for this season, here we go.

For this season, when my ‘spare time’ is a battle of chores vs. errands vs. time with husband vs. time with friends vs. writing vs. reading vs. doing nothing for 20 minutes, it’s hard to find time to work out. And without that, I am not going to significantly lose weight.

…but maybe when I drop KK off at pre-school a few days a week, I can walk/run on the beach for 30 minutes before work. I will be in better shape, and so will my time with KK.


There are some things I am really good at. Keeping in shape? Not one. Teaching my kids to read while updating websites and having work conversations? Not that one either. But that doesn’t make me a failure, nor will I feel guilty about it. But I can bake bread, make event flyers, give awesome hugs, find great restaurants, write glowing somethings-or-other, and love my family quite awesomely. Let’s celebrate our gifts and quit musing on our failures!


the Baby

She has a persona… in Chicago, in South Carolina, on the internet.

kaity 2008

She is the 4th-born Burton child, a surprise whose existence was made known to us when her next older sister was only 7 months old (&, oddly enough, we were vacationing in Murrells Inlet/Surfside Beach, where we now live).

kk 2009

She is a rule-breaker, an edge-walker, smart as a whip, mean as a snake, sweet as pie, an old soul, a musician, a storyteller, a foodie,  and The Baby, all wrapped up into one.

kk 2010












We adore her, and quite frankly, everyone who meets her does, too.

kk 2011

There’s just something about her.

kk 2012

Today, she is 5.

kk 2013

And we could not, could not, could not imagine life without her, or love her more.