Category: I love being a mommy

nothing big

Right now, we have “nothing big” coming up, and I suppose that is good. Two years in a row of big moves is probably a long enough streak. At some point soon, we will work on booking a trip or two, and in December we’ll have The Wedding, but for now, there are plenty of small things in the works:

Antiquing.

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We’re at a point in life where some of the start-up furniture will need to be replaced, but rather than acquire more mass-produced press board, I want Real Stuff… wooden, aged, classic, full of character. Kirsten brought me to a bunch of cute antique shops this weekend… which happen to be in our town. Who knew? (I did, actually, but hadn’t ventured into this new terrain). Besides finding 101 things I would love to have, I got an amber glass owl to feed Paige’s new obsession and – yay! – rocking chairs for our front porch! I knew They were out there somewhere!

I definitely have sights on replacing Randa & KK’s dressers, my & Rod’s desk, and maybe finding a desk that’s all theirs (since they commandeer ours all the time). These things will take time, but the hunt is fun!

Eating at Home
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Restaurant food has become less and less exciting, save for the few privately-owned places who still prepare fresh and quality dishes. It’s more fun to grocery shop for things you know you’re going to eat (current favorite ingredients: avocados, eggs, Greek yogurt, and meat from an actual butcher shop, which is comparably priced to the grocery store, but looks and tastes MUCH better). It’s fun to plan new recipes or revive old ones (coming up soon: coconut curry… yummmmmmmmm). And it’s victorious to convince my husband that I can make him a better lunch than Wendy’s can!
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(There is a sandwich and some all-natural Pirate’s Booty under that napkin…)

 

Kids.
They are (all) still changing every day. I think I have accepted that there will likely be no more kids for us (I come to this acceptance about every other day, and in the mean time plot ways to convince Rod I was at my best when pregnant, or find my heartbeat accelerating when adoption is mentioned…). Anyway, we’ve come around to the time when our big kids are fun, considerate, and self-sufficient, and our little kids allow us, on occasion, to take naps or hold conversations. Everyone goes to the bathroom on her own and can pick up her own junk (well, except for Paige sometimes :) So, starting over with a baby is not on the agenda, but enjoying these magnificent people always is:
IMG_0629 Randa the retailer

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What ‘little things’ are you up to right now?

say, say, say

So many of them float around these days…

10 Things Not To Say To A…New Mom, Working Mom, Mom of Multiples, Mom of Child with Special Needs, Stay-At-Home Mom, Homeschooling Mom, Mom of Many Children, Mom of Only Child, Single Mom, Mom Wearing a Surgical Mask, Mom Singing Milli Vanilli in The Grocery Line…

You get what I am saying?

I know many of these categories (and especially a few I have not listed), are sensitive areas. Fact is, unless we have walked in certain shoes, we have no idea what another mom is going through. Does that make it wrong to reach out in an attempt to connect?

Not many of my 20-something friends knew how to relate to me when I was a 26 year old, infertile stepmom of teenagers. And not many of my friends related to my experiences with a household of 2 teens, 2 in diapers, business owner, and frequent travel, on a bus. And hardly any of my friends can keep up with the schooling decisions I make and re-make or my seemingly-constantly-changing jobs or projects.

So sometimes, a well-meaning acquaintance, fellow mom, even close friend, might say something that rubs me the wrong way, annoys me, offends, makes me feel stupid, makes me feel inadequate, makes me feel indignant, or makes me cry. It happens.

I could nit-pick. (Hmm. And I could write a list of Things Not To Say To A Mom Whose Home Has Been Infested With Lice and She is FREAKING Out About It, but that’s another blog). I could say, “You know, since you don’t know anything about blended families, maybe you don’t have the wisdom to make an observation about our custody arrangements” or “Why yes, as a work-at-home mom, I do sometimes need a babysitter because whether I take a call in an office building or my dining room, the person on the other end can’t hear when my two toddlers are shouting the lyrics to ‘Elmo’s World.'” And quite honestly, I could have stared daggers through the years through people who made some sort of comment about my bonus daughter, 13 years older than Randa, being their mommy. But you know…

My concern comes in here: How many of these lists needs to be written, read, applauded, and shared, before we just… stop… saying… anything?

sssshIn a quest to be sensitive, I will only draw from my own experience. Probably the hardest thing I’ve had to walk through as a ‘mom-type-person’ is infertility. My journey was relatively short compared to others, and it inevitably had my fairy tale outcome. But in the mean time… there were 2.5 years of longing, of negative tests, of humiliating procedures, of bad news from a specialist, of 20+ women I knew getting pregnant (some multiple times in that period), and lots and lots and LOTS of unsolicited, well-meaning pep talks.

A random internet search brought me to this list of 10 things not to say to “your infertile friend.” At casual glance, at least 7 of those things were said to me multiple times, some even by my parents or my husband, who I know would not have hurt me for the world. Also, at the time I was walking through infertility, I was finishing my degree and student teaching, so I constantly heard, “It will happen when you are done with school,” as if that had anything to do with my adhesions, hormonal imbalances, and non-functioning ovary. And because I was an involved stepmom, I also heard “At least you have J & P,” as if their lives were my consolation prize. (PS: Their mom was absolutely awesome to me during this time and was one of the few people who usually did know what to say :)

I had people give me baby blankets and scripture verses. I had adoption agency referrals. I had several friends tell me only with fear and trembling that they were preggers with their 2nd or 3rd (those were the worst. It sucks to think your friends think you won’t be happy for them!) If I were going to make a top ten list, I suppose those things would be on it. But honestly… who the heck needs it?

Would I rather my friends and family ignore my pain? NO.
Would I rather those who cared about me not care about my feelings or try to console me? NO.
Did some of those difficult comments eventually help me grow stronger, consider other points of view, or even just get over myself for a few minutes? Did some of them even turn out to be, gasp, true? ABSOLUTELY!

I know that sometimes, well-meaning conversationalists end up saying all the wrong things. I am raising my hand here, folks. I was born to connect with everyone I meet, and so there are countless times I have said something and immediately wished that toothpaste could, in fact, be put back in the tube. I also subscribe to that Steel Magnolia theory that no one cries alone in my presence, so it is my tendency to want to comfort another person, whether she is dealing with a scary diagnosis for her child or a big career-and-childcare decision. I am also a Wordy Girl, but mostly as a writer, and that sometimes means that what I’ve concocted to say sounds way more sensible and helpful in my head than it does Out There.

So if I encounter a woman walking through Walmart, on a Myrtle Beach Saturday (tourists’ arrival. Steer clear!), with 5 kids holding the cart and 2 in it, and she isn’t screaming or shoving unpaid-for Goldfish in their mouths or possibility holding a wiffle bat in a threatening position, and I say, “I don’t know how you do it!,” I’m of course trying to say, “You rock, mama!” I certainly don’t mean to be saying The Wrong Thing.

Because really, what is the right thing? It is to be silent? I mean, even after going through infertility, I am usually at a loss for something helpful to say to someone else going through it. Is it better I ignore it? If it is, then forget this whole thing, because if the new cultural paradigm is to avoid eye contact and any hope of encouraging others, I’m just going to have to be a bigger weirdo than I thought I was. I want to connect, and as I grow older, my accrued wisdom is helping me know how to choose words, and on occasion, to swallow the words and just be there. That one is harder to figure out, because if not done well, it comes off like cold, uncaring nothing.

I know that there are moms in situations in which truly craptastic comments have been made to or around them by strangers. There are always rude, small-minded people to go around, and chances are, they are not going to be reading parenting articles on their best day. I suppose my hope is that when another mom, especially in a friendly tone, comments on our children or our circumstances with any modicum of sympathy or kindness, can’t we just accept it and move on?

I mean, if I had a dollar for every person who calls my KK a tomboy, or remarks that my girls are opposites – one girly, one not, I’d be buying both our dinners… in Greece (an eating fantasy). My daughters cannot be captured in a snapshot of what they happen to be wearing to church or the store or out to dinner. But at least if someone notices Randa’s princess dress or KK’s Buzz Lightyear shirt, they are paying attention to their fellow human beings. At least they are making human contact. Even if they say the wrong thing, at least they are reaching out.

Maybe some of this is pronounced for me because, even after almost 2 years, I often still feel like The New Girl. It is hard to make new friends as an adult in a smallish town, filled with people who have lived here forever and have all the friends they need or others who have just moved in from someplace else and are also unsure of how to do it. Sometimes I have found myself reaching out with no one to reach back (Currently, kids’ birthday parties are my 30-something equivalent of Prom Night With No Date). If I did not happen to have little children, I know it would be a lot harder. Kids are a common ground, a way to connect; that’s why so many of us know the parents of our kids’ friends as “Emmie’s mom” or “Aiden’s dad.”

The conclusion here, or the point that maybe I should have had you skip to at the beginning: Stop with the lists. Carry on the conversation. Presumptions and assumptions can be insensitive and rude, but someone not knowing you is not a crime, and someone trying to know you should be seen as a gift. Because, at least I believe with all my heart, as moms we are in this together, and I would rather be surrounded by caring voices than cold silence any day.

Santa’s workshop

We have not done very much in the way of traditional preparation for Christmas this year. Work schedules and travel got in the way, and after Friday, I wasn’t sure I would be in the mood.

BUT, there are teachers to buy for, and between my girls and their daycare/aftercare, there are 7 to care for. I had it in the back of my head, who would get what, but after what happened at Sandy Hook, well…

I want to buy every one of my daughters’ teachers a Corvette, and every one of their friends a pony.

But since that was not in our budget, I shopped Dollar Tree, Old Time Pottery (Barn), and our own cupboards, and the girls and I found a way to put special gifts together for these special people. I even made it part of Monday night’s Advent activity:Advent: Santa's Workshop

OK, so we didn’t exactly craft. The girls painted suncatcher ornaments. They carefully wrote out gift tags and decorated cards. They sweetly made an assembly line to fill treat bags for their friends. And I smiled, because though as a parent I worryworryworry about “how they will turn out” and hope they will inherit the best in us, I can see that they do  have the easy generosity that began with my immigrant grandparents and has been passed through the family line.

They took their tasks very seriously:

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We were all happy with the finished products:
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And best of all, though I didn’t get to hug all the 4, 5, & 6 year olds I saw, or hand bucketfuls of money and chocolate to their hero teachers, we were able to capture sweet moments like this:
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http://www.laynieandbelle.com

As we continue to mourn and hope, there are many lovely tributes to those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary. This one showed up on my Facebook feed tonight (thanks Tammy B!). It is an inexpensive and meaningful way to help a little…and remember always.

Click here to purchase.

what leaders do

written Monday, December 3, 2012

So, my baby girl is in “The Nutcracker” with her ballet studio this weekend. She truly loves to dance and truly shines when she is dancing. The fact that her studio rented “our” theatre, The Grand Theatre, for this perfornance is the icing on our Christmas cake. We are all very excited!

Miranda was picked as a leader of her age group, who play the Baby Angels. Basically, this means she leads them off the stage when it is time. But tonight as we prepared for dress rehearsal, she was flitting about her little friends chanting, “I’m a leader, I’m a leader.” So, we had to have a chat…

fittingly, I had just sent a message to a few of my circle, lamenting that most of the moms from the studio won’t really talk with or look at me. I *might* have made a snarky comment about them being on my turf tonight or something life that and wouldn’t it be funny if my husband/the light guy accidentally cut the lights when their respective children were on stage. Or something like that.

ANYWAY, it was in this, ahem, Teachable Moment, that I told Miranda what God was simultaneously whispering in my ear:

A leader doesn’t have to say she is a leader. People will know she is a leader when they need help and she can give it. Don’t tell people you’re a leader. Be a leader.

I know sometimes I assert my role because I feel I have to prove something. But most of the time, I don’t introduce myself as a title (unless it is “wife” or “mama,” because I love those roles the most and never feel weird about them!) My role titles change all the time – my job title is changing yet again right now – so describing myself as “Marketing Director” or “GM” or as of now, “Media Minister” seems a bit odd. I am Kelly. I do what you ask me to do, probably in a way that won’t immediately make sense. I usually work behind the scenes to make someone or something look shiny and together. Once in awhile God places me in the spotlight, and I admit… I am growing for comfortable there. But at the same time, he continues to humble me, humble me, humble me. Whatever task I am given to do – and this week day it has ranged from making meatballs to counting dollars to plunging the toilet to tying some tutus to reassuring a groom to sending an e-newsletter to… writing this blog… I am being constantly reminded that “whatever [I} did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, [I] did for the King.” (He said it in Matthew 25:40).

Leggo my fake-Eggo

One of my two Black Friday purchases (both ordered from Amazon whilst I wore my jammies), was a waffle maker.

Randa Rose looooves her some waffles in the morning. And because I am a good mom, I used to buy Eggos. And because I am a health-conscious mom, for awhile I bought Simply Eggos, because they were made from wholesome ingredients and not preservatives. And because I am a frugal mom, I wasn’t too disappointed when I couldn’t find those anymore, because there were more expensive. And alas, because I am an online-savvy mom, I bought my sweet little red waffle maker for a steal. (I don’t remember how much. That was 2 very full weeks ago).

I thought it would be a no-brainer, that I’d mix up a batch of batter that would leap from the pages of my 22 year old copy of Better Homes and Gardens cookbook into the greased plates of the waffle iron and magically transform into what Eggos tasted like when I was a kid.

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Instead, for 2 batches now, I’ve gotten uneven, slightly doughy, not overly tasty squares with divets.

Randa… Looooves them.

Apparently, waffles are a matter of trial and error as well as personal taste. I have now made 2 batches and am testing different oils, different ways to grease the plates, and my own patience. We will have homemade, healthy waffles that taste better than the stupid, marked-up Eggos if it’s the last thing I do.

You’re sensing all the metaphors, right? Because I am way too tired tonight to spell them out for you.

But I am holding up a syrupy fork to you, dear reader. Here’s to do-overs and sweet additions that make plain ol’ nothings taste better.