Monday, December 30, 2013

What are you worth?

For the past few months I've been dating someone. And then a few days before Christmas it ended. I don't want to go into the why of it all, but one of the last things that was said to me was "It’s not worth it." Since I was a part of the It he was referring to, I took that to me "You're not worth it".

As a person who has been tasked with raising two tiny humans, those four words are terrifying. What if I was the type of person that actually believed that statement when it came out of his mouth? I see it all the time? Men and women who define their self-worth by what the opposite sex thinks about them. I know I'm worth it. I'll know I'm worth it for the rest of my life. And I know I'm worth it because of the way I was raised.

On Racetrack Road, praise didn't come easily. I'm not saying it didn't come often, but it didn't come easily. My mother praised us when we worked hard and did our best. I never got paid for grades because I was expected to make all A's. My parents didn't always expect me to win, but they did expect me to do my best. I distinctly remember at a dance competition one time, I performed a solo that I didn't really like. And I did a so-so job for me. I won first place. When I came off of the awards stage my mom told me I could have done better. One of the other moms must have said something to the effect of "She won first, what is better than that?", because I remember my mom saying "She didn't do her best, so today she didn't win".

Now that being said, she was always the first one to cheer us on and tell us what a great job we had done. My parents are both proud of Ross and I and the things we have done in our lives and the people we have become.

That is why I know I'm worth it. I have never defined myself by how someone else sees me. Ok, maybe the 15 year old me might have done that a time or two, but grown up me never has. I know I'm smart, and successful, and witty, and on days when I take my sweatpants off, I can even be cute! My parents instilled that value of self-worth in me at a very young age. The how is trickier. I don’t ever want to have to look either of my children in the face and tell them I am disappointed. I selfishly want to believe that they'll never make mistakes and always try their best. Realistically I know that just isn't the case. Everyone has a day when they aren't their best, when they don't win, and some days when no matter how hard they try, they just can't win.

It is my job as their mom to be able to tell them good job when they lose and instill a love of the game that will make them want to get back out there. It is my job to be discerning enough about my own children to know when they aren't doing their best and tell them that is not ok. And it is my job to pick them up when they've given it their all and are devastated with a loss.

It's also my job to let them know that after all the games and competitions, after all the wins and losses, it is who they are that makes them worth it. That they could lose every game, or be broken up with by every guy on the face of the planet, and they would still be the same awesome, smart, funny tiny human that I know they are.

That is the terrifying part. Making sure that at the end of the day that my kids know they are worth it. Not because I think so, but because they do. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving thanks and giving back

Hands down the most important job I will ever have on this earth is teaching my children. And in my heart I know that one of the most important things I can teach them is the importance of giving back. But more than that the importance of being humble. The importance of being truly thankful for what we have been given in this life. The importance of wanting to leave this world a better place for having been in it. The importance of having the ability to change one person's life by our actions.

That is big. As a 32 year old those concepts are sometimes still hard for me to grasp. I don't understand how kids that go to school with mine don't get enough to eat. How a good dinner at some homes is noodles with McDonalds ketchup packets on top. That doesn't happen here. It can't. But it does. And I struggle sometimes with how to explain to my kids that not everyone has it as good as us. On one hand I want them to learn early that those people who go home hungry don't live half a world away. They live down the street from us. But on the other hand my kids have the precious gift of not knowing how unfair the world is. They can't fathom a home where a little boy doesn't have any stuffed animals because ours litter the floor in every room of the house. Who am I to tell them that the world isn't all rainbows and kittens? After all, isn't it my job to protect them?

That being said, there aren't a lot of ways that my kids can give back yet. They can't go with me to build a house for Habitat. They can't serve food at Stone Soup kitchen. But when I got involved with the Junior Auxiliary backpack program last year (kind of by accident) I found out that this was the perfect place for my kids to get involved. The program provides backpacks to kids during school breaks that are filled with breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day the kids are out of school. On our first trip to stuff backpacks I explained what we were doing. Braden asked a lot of questions and I could tell he couldn't understand the idea of not having food to eat at home. He didn't understand why their moms couldn't just go to the store and buy food like we do. I finally just told him that not everyone in the world is as blessed as us and sometimes there just isn't enough money to go around. It must have stuck because every time we stuff backpacks, he talks to me about the boys and girls that don't have enough food.

In this week of Thanksgiving, I am reminded even more how blessed my family is, but also reminded how important it is to teach my children what a blessing truly means. Blessing doesn't mean getting the happy meal toy that you wanted from McDonalds. Blessing means being safe and happy and healthy and knowing that your parents are able to take care of the things that you need in this world. Giving back can be a scary thing sometimes because it takes us to a place that we aren't willing to admit exists, but at some point it is our responsibility to take our children to that world, little by little, so that they too understand the importance of giving back.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Aha Moment

So Sunday as I'm holding Amelia's pee pants in one hand (keep in mind my child is now again in public and naked from the waist down) and trying to clean her pee off my other hand (while standing in a group of my friends) I had an "aha moment". I finally got the thought process behind the "you're a great girl, but I don't do kids" speech. And for those of you who have never dated as a mom, you get that speech a lot. A LOT! Yeah, I GOT that speech in that moment. But as a mom, I'd never trade any pee soaked moment for any guy in the world. Not even Prince Harry. Not even Paul Walker.

And as I'm driving home, I began to think about all of those other moments that might have led to a man thinking that my kids are scary. I mean come on, there are all sorts of TV shows about cute things kids say and photos on the web with adorable babies and kittens. Seriously, how could you not want to love my kids?

Could it be the time when Amelia removed all of her clothing at a Traveler's game and toddled out of the Kid's Corner (the poor ladies didn't quite know what to do)? Or when she pooped in my front yard during a Wednesday Night Supper Club at my house (thank god it was my house!).  And not all Amelia moments deal with being naked or some sort of bodily function. There was the time she drove her brother's tractor into the back of my car and left some nice little marks on the bumper. Or the 4 ½ months that she didn't sleep. Or the time when we got snowed in for a week and my mom literally had to walk 2 miles uphill to get her reflux medicine (which by the way did no good so she just resumed screaming at us and not sleeping). How about when she hides out in a corner and colors my carpet with markers? Or colors herself with markers of the permanent variety? Maybe?

And Braden doesn't do things quite in the same fashion as his sister, but he's got his moments. I remember being so sleep deprived for the first three months of his life that I would constantly leave my house without shoes on. You'd think I would have learned after the first few times, but noooo. Or the time he screamed at the people in first class for 2 ½ hours on the plane ride home from San Antonio. This kid was also sick for 8 weeks in a row the first winter he was alive. I think I got to the point where I just stopped doing laundry because he kept puking on me multiple times per day. Or the 4 year old tantrums. Every parent out there who has kids that have made it through 4 know what I'm talking about. I am almost certain that 4 is the age that God invented break the strong people of the world.

But then there are Saturday mornings. No matter what the week before held, I know that my babies will crawl into bed with me and "watch" Disney Junior while diving under the covers and erupting into fits of laughter. And Friday donut days at Dales. And sitting at my godparents' house watching parades. The same parades I used to watch with the same group of people when I was their age. And what about when they bend down to kiss my hurt foot because mommy's kisses always make them feel better? What about those moments?

What about knowing that at the end of the day there is no one else they'd rather be with. No one else they'd rather snuggle with. No one else they'd rather have read to them and no one else they'd rather have tuck them in. What about the fact that Amelia brings me something from the playground every single day when I pick her up, and I feel obligated to keep it because she has nothing else to give, but loves me enough to give me all that she has. Or watching in amazement as my five year old learns to read, and write, and tie his shoes. Knowing that of all the things he'll ever do, I can't image being more proud of him than I am in those moments.

Because you see, those moments are the precious moments that make up a lifetime. These are the moments that make all of the naked, poopie, sleep deprived days, weeks, and months worth it every single day for the rest of my life. And I couldn't imagine spending that life with someone who didn't want to share all of it with me. And as far as I'm concerned, my kids are the best thing I've ever done or ever will do, so to not want to be a part of my kids' lives is to not want the best part of me. Until then, the kids and I will plod on living our lives in the spectacular fashion that we always do because this momma doesn't need a Prince Charming. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Busy...who us?

So lately I find myself answering the question "So, how have you been?" with a single word. Busy. And it's usually yelled back over my shoulder as I'm running off to wherever the tiny humans and I are headed.

With two kids and only one of me, we have "scheduled" activities 5 out of 7 days. And that is with each kid having only 1 activity. Braden is playing soccer this fall and Amelia is taking dance. I'm in a kickball league (because obviously that is what grown ups do…), so Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (church), Thursday, and Sunday afternoons/evenings are all scheduled. That usually leaves Friday night for snuggle time on the couch and Saturday often times is such a blur I can't begin to imagine how we fit it all in.
B and Jax at VBS
But what isn't said after the "busy", is that we're good. I've always been a person on the go. I enjoy living life at a busy pace. And I've been incredibly blessed with children who either have no choice in the matter so they go along to get along, OR they actually enjoy the frenzied pace that I keep, too.
Zipline at a friend's house
Kids on the plane to Florida
I like to think it is the latter. Especially when I hear folks telling me that "they don't know how I do it" or "you only get them this age for a little while"… Well, why do you think we're doing all of this stuff? I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the family that sits at home and enjoys a slower paced life with each other. That just isn't our family. And my kids and I have plenty of quality time together. 90% of the time we eat dinner at the table together every night (ok, sometimes they are at the table and I am leaning over the sink eating while I'm also trying to clean the kitchen before dance class, but we still talk about our day so I feel like it still counts). Every Saturday and Sunday, no matter what we're doing the kids climb into bed with me and we watch Disney Jr. for an hour before beginning our day. I ready to my kids. Every night (ok – we'll go 90% here, too).
Sea World San Antonio
But, my kids and I have also had some amazing adventures over the past 2 1/5 years that I wouldn't trade a moment of. I'll attempt to recap what we did this summer since apparently the last blog I wrote (before the date blog, which by the way went well!) was in February 2012.
2013 AR Travelers
Ok, so our summer was full of baseball. We spent an average of 1 night per week from April – August at Dickey Stephens Park watching the Travelers play. I've got more game balls piled up in various corners of my house than I remotely know what to do with. What can I say? Amelia had the bullpen wrapped around her little finger. We got to know the staff, players, and made some great memories along the way. Amelia also had an awesome trip to the ER during one game, but like I said, we live an exciting life.

Memphis Zoo
In May I took my first mom only vacation in a moment. I went to Portland to visit Ross and Amie for a week. It was amazing. No other words. And I love my kids, but thank god that they didn't go with me. I barely survived the 9 hours of travel time, so I'm almost certain someone would have gone out the side hatch had they been with me. Memorial Day weekend was spent in Memphis with my friend Jessi and her daughter Hannah (who is Amelia's age). In a little over 36 hours we drove to Memphis, did the zoo, Children's Museum, Beale Street, Peabody Hotel, swam and drove home.
Braden at baseball camp

Dolphin Tour in Florida
In comes June, which brought more baseball and vacation bible school. B went to two in one week and loved them both.  Can't wait til sis is old enough to go and I'll get a 2 hour break for 4 nights… What will I ever do with myself? Braden also went to the Bryant Hornet baseball camp. He also played baseball again this spring with his best friend Jaxon. We also did a rotating dinner club with about 10 other families every Wednesday night. I seriously think that might have been one of my favorite parts of summer. We got a lot closer to a lot of friends and I can't wait to do it again next year!

Wild River Country
July was kind of a blur…but a great one. We spent a week in San Antonio with mom and Larry and my aunt flew in from Florida. We spent the majority of our time at Sea World or in mom's pool. Sea World was beyond amazing! Kids loved it, I loved it. Highly recommend to anyone who has a chance to go! Drove to Texas, but stopped in Dallas both ways to the drive wasn't too bad.

Amelia at her first movie
Home for a week so, Braden got to go to his first summer camp in July. He went to a week of RiverCity gymnastics summer camp. Loved it! Little bit took swim lessons. She sinks less now, so I guess that's good? I also took Amelia to her first movie, Monster's University. Epic fail. She was kind of terrified of the giant centipede thing. Then we took off to visit my aunt in Florida. I was scared because I was flying by myself with the kids, but I could not have asked for an easier journey! Kids and I had a blast at the beach and just kind of took it easy and enjoyed each other.

Kids in Branson
August ushered in what I had predetermined to be our "get back in school mode", but ended up being my "suck every last ounce of summer of out this month" month. More baseball, Wild River Country, quick trip to Branson with friends, open house for Kindergarten, and did I mention baseball? August also brought Braden's first day of Kindergarten (I'll brag on how great he's doing in another blog)! We've become Bryant Hornet fans so of course we attended the Blue/White game.
Braden's first day of school at Hurricane Creek Elementary

September has been a blur of baseball (I get the picture!), parades, school, dance, soccer, Razorback parties, running,

Birchtree 1 mile race
and oh yeah, my kid rode a sheep. 

Kids at the fair - pre sheep riding
So…there's also the whole I work full time, but that in a nutshell is what we've been up to. We're healthy and happy, and yes, we're good. Sometimes we're tired, but we're always good. Thanks for asking. 
Kids and my first Razorback tailgate at War Memorial

Friday, September 6, 2013

Oh the Iron…y

So something very amusing and slightly unexpected has happened this week. I had a date last night. And I realize that this blog is about my adventures in raising my children, but somewhere along the way dating has entered the realm of things I have to/get to do as a single parent.  

So last night as I'm getting ready I had an amazingly amusing comparison to getting ready for a date when I was 22 versus getting ready for a date when I am 32.

So when I was 22, getting ready for a date was often more fun than the actual date itself. I would spend days thinking about what I would wear, sometimes even buying a new outfit for the occasion. The day of I'd usually pluck my eyebrows and use some sort of fancy facemask so I could appear "fresh faced" and young. (HA!) I'd probably take a nap at some point so I'd be well rested for our dinner that probably had reservations sometime after 8pm. If I had the money I'd get a mani/pedi, but at the very least I'd do an at home mani/pedi and put a fresh coat of paint on the tootsies.
I'd probably take a bath, shave my legs, and use all sorts of crazy exfoliating stuff. Arms, elbows, knees, feet. You get the picture. There is a good chance I'd straighten my hair which is another 90 minutes tacked on. Finally I'd get dressed in the outfit I'd picked out 3 days ago and be off to my date.

Last night as Amelia and I were showering together because I literally did not have time to bathe her and myself before I went out, I chuckled to myself at the differences between my date night rituals from then and now.

Getting ready for a date at 32 looks something like this… After getting up and taking both kids to school, I came home and had 15 meetings on my schedule at work. After a good cry and trying to figure out how to actually perform any work while participating in 15 meetings, I had to grocery shop for a family in need that JA sponsors. Picked my kids up from their respective after school programs and rushed home. Had Braden do his homework partially in the car and shoved some food into both of them while making lunches for the next day. Braden was whisked away to a school meeting by a friend, so Amelia and I were free to jump in the shower. Obviously at this point in the day I have missed the fancy face masks, the plucking of the eyebrows, and more importantly, the nap!

As the tiny human keeps yelling at my for taking HER water (really? You have your own shower. Go there next time) I am trying to shave my legs and not fall down. I see some Mary Kay hand exfoliator stuff so I put some on mine and Amelia's hands. Which obviously leads to a fit complete with convulsions on the shower floor because she didn't like that on her hands. Trying to stick with my 10 years ago date night rituals I spy some carrot face cream that I try to rub on my face. Drop most of it on the floor while trying to answer 20 questions about why they put carrots in there and being very emphatically told that "I don't like carrots.". I know kid. I know!
So finally we're out of the shower. I realize at this point that I am supposed to meet this guy in 45 minutes and my hair is sopping wet and between work and the kids I haven't had a chance to think about what I'll wear tonight. Deep breath. Go into the closet. Find something clean. Wrinkled, but clean. Now this next step is probably more of the 22 year old self than what most 32 year olds would do, but I'm lazy and irons scare me. Wet the shirt and threw it in the dryer hoping it would get the wrinkles out by the time my sitter got there.

So at this point I'm mostly dressed (and praying my sitter is not early) and throw on a light dusting of makeup and run some mousse through my hair. It occurs to me that it is now 30 minutes before I'm due at the restaurant and I send up another prayer that not only will my shirt be dry but my hair also. All the while Amelia "needs some, too", so I'm trying to let her get ready like mommy without totally undoing the cleaning in the shower that she just got.

I realize that I have not addressed the mani/pedi situation so I look down. Hands are almost beyond help at this point so I move on. My toes are in worse shape and they've got peeling polish on them so I do a quick calculation and figure out that the best I'm going to get at this point is to remove the polish all together and just go bare. So I sit down and after getting the polish off of exactly one toe I run out of polish remover. Moment of panic while I try to figure out if I have enough time to repaint everything (answer is still no), and finally settle on just leaving the one toe naked and tucking it in my back pocket as a potential topic of conversation. Don't judge me. The only things I do these days are work, kids, and baseball so unfortunately on bad dates my lack of polish on one toenail might have made for interesting conversation.

Babysitter is late, but that is ok because I still have no shirt on. Check the shirt. Praise Jesus it's dry. Take one final look in my mirror and realize that this is as good as it gets these days and head out. Call a friend for a pep talk on the way there while trying to file my nails and the rest…well, that's for another day =)