Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy

Jennifer Curry's favorite books »
Showing posts with label Mom life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mom life. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Law of Two Children: When One Behaves, the Other Misbehaves

I have been totally honest about how going from one child to two was an eye-opening experience for our little family. Two distinct personalities formed at very young ages that require two different types of love and discipline. Simply put – it has been challenging.

However, there are moments when having two does make life easier and more fun, such as when they decorate their faces and pretend they are miniature KISS rock stars. Or when they sneak into each other’s bedrooms at night to tell stories and cuddle.

Sometimes seeing the two of them play together fills my heart and makes me grin from ear to ear. Other days I breathe a sigh of relief because they can entertain each other and mommy doesn’t have to. All in all, more than one kid has worked out well for our little family.

And yet, I have recently stumbled upon the Law of Two Children, which veteran moms warned me about. Basically, the Law of Two Children works similarly to Newton's Third Law: every action has an equal and opposite reaction except with kids it becomes “when one behaves, the other misbehaves.” I’ve come to find that those sweet moments of sibling togetherness are to be enjoyed because they are fleeting moments. One of the two is bound to do something to get in trouble in approximately five minutes.

This law is all-encompassing. It does not just apply to the day-to-day shenanigans. This applies to the big life picture events. For example, I did not hide the fact that our daughter’s terrible two’s were beyond terrible – they were a nightmare. But, as soon as she turned three years old, she has made a radical turn around.

And, guess what? So has her sweet usually well-behaved six-year-old brother. He has started to act out in ways that he never has before leaving his parents struggling to know how to respond. We get one kid acting right and the other loses his mind. The Law of Two Children.

Another example comes from our recent family vacation. At the start of our week-long vacation, our six-year-old was the one trying our patience and needing more discipline than usual while the three-year-old was behaving like a little angel. Fast forward to the end of the week when our six-year-old ring bearer became the angel and our three-year-old flower girl became a whiny little tyrant. The Law of Two Children.

Older mothers warned me that once you get one kid figured out, the other starts to give you trouble. And, I did not believe them. I was wrong. The Law of Two Children is real. I’m at the point now where I believe they strategize and plan out who will be the good one and the bad one for the day. I picture them giggling in their bedrooms together deciding who will give their mother hell the next day and who will give mommy a “break.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Letter to My Children's Teachers (And All the Teachers)

Dear Teachers,

Once upon a time, I was a teacher. I understand all the time, money, and heart that goes into commandeering a classroom from August-May. I know you can no longer keep track of how much money you have spent on your classroom and on your students. I know you arrive early and stay late. I know you will go home depleted many afternoons with tote bags full of things to grade. I know your weekends will be spent not with your family but with your planner and your students’ work. Your work is not taken for granted in our home.

I know that there will be students who try your patience and demand your attention even when you do not want to give it. I know there will be things your students say that will shock you and make you worry. As well as many times, when their words will make you hold in your laughter. I know there will be students who hook their claws into your heart – the ones who keep you up at night worrying and praying. I know there will be students you truly never forget. Your love is not taken for granted in our home.

I know there will be parents who do not always agree with you and question your teaching methods. I know there will be countless emails from administration and paperwork that never ends. I know there will be classroom management issues that require creative discipline. I know that you will often take home a myriad of concerns about how to help a certain student, how to deal with certain parents, and how to address a concern with the administration. Your perseverance is not taken for granted in our home.

I know there will be days when you feel completely fulfilled and recognize the importance of teaching. But, I also know there will be days when you feel empty and dry and question if it is time for you to leave the classroom once and for all. I know what you do day in and day out is often overlooked and taken for granted. But, not in our home.

You, teachers, are treasures. We are excited to see how our children grow and learn while inside the four walls of your classrooms. We will support you in any way we can. We will talk to you when we have concerns rather than going to someone else, or God forbid, over your head. We will talk to our kids when you tell us they need someone to talk to them about their behavior instead of questioning you.

As the school year begins, please know in our home, you are loved and prayed for daily. We know that all you are doing is often overlooked, but not by us. We know how much loving our two children makes us feel full and empty within the same hour – and you do it for ten months out of the year with 20 plus kids who you did not carry in your womb.

Thank you for all that you do. We are on your team.

The Parents of the Curry Children

PS. When our children say/do anything terrible in the classroom or on the playground, please remember this heartfelt letter. Then, call their mama. I will be at the doors of your classroom in a flash to give them a firm, but loving talking to. I mean it. I will be there in a hot second. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dating Advice for Young Women Starting College

Dear 18 year old me,

If I could go back in time and give you some advice about the young men you will meet, find attractive and sometimes date in the coming years, this is what I would tell you:

  • No one ever meets their dream guy at a theme park, so there is no reason to dress to impress when you are going to be riding roller coasters.
  • No. He's gay.
  • No. He's going to jail.
  • You are valuable, so don't let him try to buy you with gifts.
  • If you think he has a drug/alcohol problem, he does have a drug/alcohol problem.
  • You are worth his time and attention.
  • A guy with lines has used them before and will use them again.
  • Run from any guy who will not acknowledge you in front of his friends.
  • Just because he is a good kisser does not mean he is a good guy.
  • No. You cannot fix him.
  • No. You cannot change him.
Stay true to yourself. The ideal guy is just across the street coming your way sooner than you think.

A much older you

Monday, July 31, 2017

10 Ridiculous Things I Did When Pregnant

Now that my baby is 3 years old, I feel comfortable admitting some of the ridiculous things I did during my last (and final) pregnancy.
  1. I used a rubber band or hair tie to “button” my pants in the beginning instead of just buying the maternity pants.
  2. I stood outside with my belly exposed to the full super moon hoping the moon would cause my baby to make her appearance.
  3. I walked laps around my kitchen island while watching full-length movies to help my baby make her appearance.
  4. I drank a whole lot of sparkling grape juice and Shirley temples.
  5. I rolled off of my couch on to all fours in front of my poor brother-in-law because it was easier than standing up.
  6. I ate the entire pan of brownies standing up over my oven. 
  7. I did not act like a lady when the gas arrived.
  8. I taped down (or put a band-aid over) my belly button that decided to pop out and suddenly become an outie.
  9. I wore a bikini with my giant pregnant belly exposed and taunted my brother (he found this sight very unsettling).
  10. I stopped reading. Yes, me. I could not focus. I could barely even read a magazine.

Way back in the beginning of my first pregnancy before I knew it was about to get weird

Pregnancy is weird. It makes you feel a little bit anxious, fat, and silly. There are times when I do miss the excuse to eat the food and have strangers tell me I am glowing. But, I do not miss the gas or all the peeing or the heartburn or the extra weight or the lack of wine or the lack of certain cheeses or the swollen feet…you get the idea.

What about you? What weird stuff did you do when you were pregnant?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

You're three, but...

Three years ago, I went to the hospital nervous and afraid, and you entered our little corner of the world with more than a little bravado. Three years ago, our lives changed for the better. In honor of your birthday, this one is for you.

Holy Cheerleader Pose! My 3-year-old Wonder Woman.

Today, you turn three, and I have been waiting for you to arrive at three – past the terrible twos and onto adulthood. Haha. While three will be full of new lessons and growth, maybe this year we can both remember to Slow Down.

You’re three, but…

…you think you are as old as your brother.
…you still think mommy’s kisses heal all wounds.
…you still love cuddles and glasses of milk.
…you talk like a sassy teenager.
…you know who Princess Leia and Wonder Woman are.
…you still confuse your colors.
…know how to count (with the exception of skipping #5)
…you know how to shake your booty on command.
…you say please and thank you.
…you yell louder than your mom.
…you do not think you should have to hold my hand.
…you hide behind me when you are scared.
…you sing all the words to your favorite songs.
…you pretend to get all your brother’s jokes.
…you prefer to “read” books without pictures.
…you can pour your own Cheerios.
…you sometimes spill Cheerios all over the floor.
…you can put on your own shoes.
…you sometimes put your shoes on the wrong feet.
…you will always be my baby.

We love you, sweet girl. You make the days longer and fuller. We cannot wait to see what year three brings – hopefully, lots of laughter and fewer tantrums. 

Skinnamarinky dinky dink, Skinnamarinky do, I love you!

Monday, July 17, 2017

How My Kid Helped Me Experience My Most Embarrassing Moment Ever

(It involves a rainstorm, a mall food court, and a sundress)

My son came back this weekend from a week with his grandparents. While we were thrilled to have him home, it was not great timing. As soon as he came home, his sister started puking. What a welcome home, right?

Due to her sudden sickness, we could not do anything fun to celebrate my son’s return home. And, it was pretty boring. So, I decided to take him on a mom-son date to lunch and to see the Captain Underpants movie since we read the first book together (which he loved) at the local movie theater located in our local mall.

This is a Before Picture

The movie was meh, but it made him happy. When we left the empty theater (we were the only two people there – I wonder why…), we were surprised to see it was pouring. And, I didn’t have an umbrella.

Now is the time to explain a weird quirk I have somehow passed along to my brave son. We do not like feeling wet. We love being in the ocean, pools, bathtubs, but getting out with wet skin makes us cringe. We have to dry off immediately - and completely. It took me until I was in my thirties to go with wet hair after a shower simply because I could not stand the feel of wet hair on my neck/back. Lucky for my son – he shares this same feeling. Whoops.

So, when we see the rain and realize we do not have an umbrella, my son goes into a state of panic. I am gently trying to calm him down. I even suggest it’ll be fun to run through the rain! He comes up with a better idea…

Before I even knew what was happening, my son had gone behind me, lifted my knee-length sundress completely up, exposing my entire backside and underwear to the mall food court, so he could shield himself from the rain with my dress. 

It happened in a matter of seconds, but alas, the day I took my son to see Captain Underpants, I showed the whole mall food court my own underpants. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Letter to My Son

Dear Knox,

The house is quiet when you are gone. The conversation is a little more muted. The noise is a little less silly. I know you are having a fun time with your grandparents, but I miss your sounds and the space you take up.

I can feel the difference as acutely as a paper cut – it is small, but you are always aware of it. There is no one here to help me chase and corral the dog like you. There is no one here who makes your sister laugh like you do. There is no one here who reminds me of the importance of each day – Mondays are for Making, Tuesdays are for Tasting…

You, my dear boy, have reached the delicate age where you shift effortlessly between a child and a little adult. You have such a big imagination – not a day goes by that you do not spend some time pretending to be someone else. (But, I hope you know that all I ever want you to be is yourself.)

At the same time, you ask grown up questions. You have an old soul. You understand God in a way that even I don’t, and you ask sophisticated questions about faith on a regular basis making me pause and reevaluate things myself.

You are not afraid to show when you are scared, but you are growing more courageous each day. You leap far into the lake with no fear, but you hesitate at the edge of other risks until you can confirm it is safe. Sweet child, I hope you always make wise choices but do not let fear of the unknown hold you back.

You live in a world where magic exists and invite others to come along. You believe in love and honor – a true knight in a six-year-old's body. You help us believe that these things exist and remind us how much better the world we be if everyone did.

You care about animals and the earth. You want to learn as much as you can as quickly as you can about all the bugs, ocean animals, and creatures God made. You love to adventure through your own backyard. You grew a pine tree in a coke bottle. You’re such a cool kid.

You cry when you are hurt, but you also cry when things are beautiful. You cry when movies are sad and you cry when they are happy. You are moved by music and art in a way most adults are not. You recognize when music represents sadness and when art tells a story. Don’t ever hide these feelings. They make you special and unique.

You are smart. You are starting to read and you read with emotion and voices. You can add and subtract – and you are your dad’s best game companion because you have already learned how to count the dice and add up your points. We are excited to see how God uses these skills in other areas of your life as you grow.

I know you are having fun and we want you to enjoy this special time. But, whenever you leave us, home is just not the same. It’s too quiet. It’s too still. I miss the loud squeals of excitement and delight. I miss being surprised by whatever character you are portraying. I miss your songs and prayers. I miss you – all of you.

Your Mama

Monday, July 3, 2017

Things My Almost 3 Year Old Does Well

A few weeks ago, I shared the ways my daughter drives me crazy. While it is still true that she has her days when she makes me lose my mind, there are far more times when she does something so small and sweet and cute that it feels like I could not possibly love her more. You’re familiar with this feeling. It’s how God made mothers.

On top of all the adorable things she does on a daily basis, she also fills our world with laughter. She has the zaniest personality and she continues to surprise us with all her sass and sophisticated come-backs. In honor of her last month as a two-year-old, I’d like to list the things she does so well.
  1. She has mastered the art of sneaking out of her bedroom and into her brother’s room at night. On several occasions, we have awoken to find her sound asleep in her brother’s bed without us having any idea she’d even left her room. 
  2. She is the best cuddler. In the mornings, she will tiptoe into our bedroom and climb into bed and curl right into me. She will rest her little head beneath my chin and lay there quietly until I am ready to get up. 
  3. She sings loudly and often. She sings songs from the radio and she makes up her own. She loves Broadway and female belters (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, etc.) and Reba, of course. Her favorite song at the moment is “Girl is on Fire.” 
  4. She knows how to show true appreciation. When she genuinely loves something, there is no hiding it. She cheers, she screams, she wiggles and she giggles. She expresses her thanks to everyone in sight. 
  5. She dances freely. She twirls and jumps and shakes her butt. She knows music means freedom and fun. 
  6. She knows good food. When she eats something she enjoys, she closes her eyes in ecstasy and makes “yum” sounds. It is hilarious to see this little person showing her sheer pleasure in the way something tastes. 
  7. She is fiercely loyal. She loves her family – and her brother the most. If anyone messes with her brother (except for her), then they better be prepared for her wrath. 
  8. She listens to what I say and repeats it…but with her own spin. For example, when I tried to teach her about private parts, she went around yelling at everyone (including strangers), “Don’t look at my body!” While important, I didn't mean for her to YELL it when someone looks at her. 
  9. She is an adorable mixture of tomboy and priss. She can switch seamlessly from pretending to be a shark to spinning like a ballerina. She gets as excited to see sports on tv as she does princesses. 
  10. She marches to the beat of her own drum. She does things differently, in her own way, and she gets them done. She does not walk in a straight line – she zigzags and spins and leaps and stops to smell the roses – but she gets there. 

In her little life, she has taught me so much about love and grit. I am honored God chose me to be the mother of this little girl who radiates silliness and beauty.  And, on my best days, I am just happy to bask in her glow. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure

Mom Monday Book Review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

Moms of little ones – you need to read Bumni Laditan’s Confessions of a Domestic Failure right away! Many of you are already fans of her truthful and hilarious blog, The Honest Toddler. Like the blog, this book will make you laugh at the realities of mom life.

When I first heard about this book, I assumed it was her memoir. It isn’t. It is actually a fictional book about characters in the mom world. Specifically, one mom who wants to be a great mom but thinks she is failing compared to all the good moms she sees around her, on social media, and on television. (Sound familiar?)

The mommy guru she follows is hosting a mom competition with the winning mommy being award lots of money – and a prestigious mommy award. The main character, Ashley Keller, is thrilled when she is selected to be one of the contestants.

However, in the midst of the competition, she is dealing with the frustrations of not enough sleep, a dirty house, a pestering mother-in-law, marriage troubles, financial troubles, etc. She is also finding stay at home motherhood to be desperately lonely. 

While the motherhood competition sounds silly, the author uses her trademark poke fun at the ridiculousness to make it entertaining. For example, one event is focused on crafting which results in some hilariously realistic examples of moms who do versus moms who don’t.

I laughed throughout the book because I did recognize many of the mothers in this book. Even if they are caricatures, it is still easy to see who is who and what mommy tribe they belong in. There were several times I wanted to smack Ashley because she did things that were foolish (such as pretending to breastfeed to make friends in the Le Leche League). But, in the end, you will end up rooting for her.

I actually listened to the audiobook version of this novel and I found it very enjoyable. It was an entertaining and funny book to listen to and the narrator did a wonderful job. My husband even listened along with me in the car one day and thought it was funny. *Side note – we had to frantically turn it off when there is an unfortunate phone sex debacle that we didn’t want to explain to the children in the back seats. Haha!

The book is encouraging to moms and points out what we often try to hide – no one knows what they are doing and no one has it all together. 

I highly recommend it to all my friends doing their best to survive the early stages of motherhood, as well as fans of Bridget Jones and the Shopaholic series. It is a book that should be gifted at baby showers letting soon-to-be-moms know everyone is just full of it. 

* You may order this book from Amazon here. This is an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Time I Taught My Son the Meaning of a Cuss Word

Confession 1 – I am not a perfect parent.

Confession 2 – Sometimes I have a potty mouth.

So glad Jesus knows my heart and loves me anyway.

This past week was rough. We dealt with an ongoing stomach bug. One family member after the next immediately after returning home from a beach vacation. So in addition to vacation unpacking and laundry, I now had puke laundry and toilets to clean.

Thankfully, the bug was short lived. But, you need the back story.

On Thursday, I fell asleep for a much needed nap during my daughter’s naptime while my son sat beside me and watched tv. At some point, I was awoken to his panicked screams from the bathroom in the hall. I sat up and ran to the bathroom fearing the worst.

There it was. The toilet was overflowing. Everywhere. All my towels were dirty from said beach trip/stomach bug. And guess what I quickly learned? I don’t know how to use a freakin’ plunger! And my husband was out of town for the day in Charlotte.

In my attempts to unclog the toilet, I just made more gross toilet water come out of the toilet and onto the floor, my shoes, and my pants. Due to lack of sleep and frayed emotions, I went borderline crazy. I put my son on the phone with his father to give instructions while I stayed in the bathroom to work it out.

At this point, I apparently said, “Sh**” five times fast loudly. Around this time, my husband asked my son what mommy was doing. And Knox replied, “She just said Sh**, Sh**, Sh**, Sh**, Sh**!”

Yeah. I’m awesome.

I eventually called my dad to come rescue me from the overflowing toilet. He fixed it in less than five minutes. Of course.

During the same time, my dog, who was put up to avoid getting into the toilet water, peed and pooped all over her cage.

It was, to be blunt, a “crappy” day. However, I recognized I needed to have a little conversation with my son regarding the S-word.

***It should be noted he is 6 years old and very much into bathroom humor. He just read Captain Underpants and thought it was hilarious. If you are unfamiliar, it is full of bathroom humor including a scene where the heroes defeat the menace by using fake doo-doo.***

Me – Knox, Mommy said a bad word that you really shouldn’t repeat because it will get you in trouble.

Knox – What word?

Me – Shit. See, some words are mean versions of other words and are not appropriate in public. If you were to say that word at school, church, in front of adults, or in front of your grandparents, you will get in big trouble. It’s just a rule.

Knox – Why? What does it mean?

Me – (And here is my big fail) Well, it is like the meanest, ugliest way to say poop.

Knox – (clearly grinning and thinking) Well, what if I say Chit? You know, like “Chitty Chitty” 

Me – Like Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang? That’s not the same word. So, yes, it is okay. You just can’t say shit.

Knox – (smirking) You got it, Mom.

Sorry in advance, friends. I have a feeling I lost this battle and “chit” will be said. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Book Review: Motherhood Martyrdom and Costco Runs

Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs by Whitney Dineen

After yesterday’s post about the things my daughter has done in the past month to drive me crazy, I read the very relatable Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs by Whitney Dineen. It was just what I needed to laugh and focus my thoughts on the crazy that is motherhood and the joy it brings.

motherhood martyrdom costco

This book is a collection of short essays about Dineen’s personal experiences and thoughts on mothering, along with several stories about her love of all things Costco (who can blame her?). She is honest and funny. However, she does a nice job of reminding readers that while motherhood involves plenty of hysterics, children are a joy. After her personal struggles with miscarriage, she is especially sensitive to the fact that children are a gift – even when they drive you nuts.

I liked that the book is a series of short essays. They are short enough to read in between chores, in the car pickup line, or even during a restroom escape break from the kids. It is a nice little reprieve in the endless tasks of mothering to read someone who understands and commiserates with you. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“For me, motherhood is about as relaxing as sticking your finger into a live socket. I never feel prepared, put together, or on top of any situation. I’m like a blownup raft that’s been tossed into a Class Six rapid. Essentially, I’m trying not to roll over, get thrown out of the boat, or take an oar to the head. My only agenda is to get us all through the ride alive. Barring that, it’s a total free for all.”

If you are looking for a fun, quick read this summer (or anytime you need to be reminded that mothering is hard, but beautiful), give this book a try.

* I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

* You may order this book from amazon here. This is an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Monday, May 22, 2017

10 Ways My Daughter Has Driven Me Crazy in the Past Month

It is no secret that my daughter makes life interesting. She is full of zest, spunk, and mischief. In her little life, she has already done so many things her brother did not prepare me for. It’s a good thing I love her unconditionally, and that I have a husband, family, and friends that help me avoid the brink of crazy where she sometimes drives me to. Here is a list of things she has done in just the last month:

1. She climbs her dresser and gets stuck up there during naptime. This has happened multiple times now. The furniture is anchored to the wall. Thank God.

2. She got a peanut snuck up her nose.

3. She gave the dog a bath in the middle of the kitchen floor using just a cup and the water dispenser from the fridge.

4. She locked herself in her brother’s bedroom. The doorknob came completely off. Derek had to drill into the room to get her out.

5. She emptied an entire UPS box full of packing peanuts all over the floor of my closet…where they still remain.

6. She fed the dog an entire container of dog treats.

7. She stole my makeup, put it all over her face, and hid it.

8. She decorated herself with a lunchable while in car line.

9. She fed the dog my mouth guard.

10. She drank a bottle of infant Tylenol that she found and opened on her own. She also fed it and the teething tablets she also opened on her own to the dog. I had to call Poison Control for the 2nd time in 5 months. The first time was when she ate her brother’s science experiment.

From this list, you can see she keeps our lives exciting. When I am at the point of freaking out because of her latest “thing,” I am grateful I have people who can “verbally slap” me through the phone to help me snap out of it. And, for my parents, who reminded me that I once put a watch in an electric outlet, blew the power to an entire house and burnt my hand. Kids are crazy. 

PS. The number to Poison Control to program in your phone is 1-800-222-1222. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Letter to My Mom

Dear Mom,

Now that I have two kids, I am more in awe of you. How did you do it? You were there every day listening, nurturing, laughing, and cheering us on. Weren’t you exhausted? Did you ever feel rung out?

I couldn’t tell. When I think back on my years living under your roof, I only remember you losing it a handful of times. Like the time you slammed dinner on the table and the rice flew everywhere. It got our attention. I was a teenager then, but Mom, I have already slammed dinner down way more times than you, and my kids aren’t even in the double digits.

I never left your side. I followed you into the bathroom – and even as an adult I catch myself still following you in that sacred space. Why did you let me? Didn’t you need those few minutes to yourself to just sit and breathe?

I used your body as a pillow. My friends used your body as a pillow. You were comfortable and cozy, and you let us all lay our heads in your lap and across your legs at any time. I never remember you pushing me off (unless it was to go to the bathroom, and then I followed you). Didn’t you want to say “I am a person – not your personal pillow!”? Why didn’t you?

You did not drive, so you were stuck in the house with me as a child all day every day. How did you stay sane?

When you lost your baby and then your sister, how did you keep on getting up each day and taking care of me when you were hurting so deeply? I have many days when I have to pull myself together and I have not faced the hardships you endured.

You still made me feel safe and loved during my horrendous hormonal teenage years when I said awful things to you. What kept you from spewing venom in my direction whenever I crossed the line?

Dad told me how you cried for hours after dropping me off at college, but I never saw you cry. How were so brave? How did you hold yourself together in front of me while leaving me in a room with an actual party taking place in a big city? How did you keep yourself from rushing back in and dragging me home?

I am learning each day how hard it is to be a mom – and I am in awe of how you loved me the way you did. Mothering can leave you exhausted, overwhelmed, and feeling rung out, but you did a great job of hiding it and not making me feel like a burden. You treated us as blessings.

I have already made many mistakes in my 6 years of mothering, but I hope I can redeem myself by being more like you.

I love you!
- Jennifer

I have no reason to include this picture except that I love it. 

PS. I’m sorry about the hole in the wall. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Giving Up Perfect

I have struggled with perfectionism for years. It has only been in the last couple of years that I realized how much it was weighing on me. Mostly because I am far (far) from perfect. And all the effort I put into trying to be was too heavy and cost me too much.

I recently read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I love her. But, even more than I love her as a writer, I love the idea of the book. Shauna talks about how she lost herself trying to do everything and be everything for everyone but herself. I’ve been there. Some days I am still there.

present over perfect

As a fan of the book and a fan of Jesus, I decided to press forward and host a study on the book at my home. We have only met one time so far, but I am excited to have women enter my home with wide smiles, strong opinions, and vulnerability. Because you need all of those characteristics to fess up to being imperfect and recognize you are nowhere near it.

While going through the book and now the study, I have come to realize that I have lost a lot of myself trying to please everyone else. At one point in the past month, I caught myself confused about my own feelings. Was I really upset about something or was I just upset because I felt like someone else was upset? If that person was not present, would I still be upset?

When I recognized that I struggled to even identify my own feelings, I knew I had to redefine some things for myself. I am working more now than before, so I am suddenly much more aware of how precious my time is with my family and loved ones. I simply do not have the time to do all the things and be all the things. I am not capable or efficient enough to be perfect.

So, I have made a new rule for myself. If someone or something requires perfection, I am drawing a line. If you expect me or my family (especially my kids) to be perfect, I am going to make a boundary and place myself and my loved ones on the other side. I am not always well behaved, neither are my kids, and neither are you.

If you expect my house to be in perfect condition, I’m drawing a line. I once had someone point out that I missed a spot when cleaning the bathroom. And it killed me. Not anymore. Yeah – I missed a spot. If you noticed it, either ignore it or else you are going to the other side of the line.

Don’t make me feel less than for my imperfections and I won’t make you feel less than for yours. If you are okay with that rule, then we can be friends. If not, then I’m going to have to protect my precious time and energy by embracing those who will instead.

KidzBop Concert in the Rain
PS. In the spirit of imperfection, this Mom Monday post comes on Tuesday. 

* You may purchase a hardcover edition of this book from amazon here. This is an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Son Has Genuine Night Terrors

I am one of those fortunate souls whose children are good sleepers – as in they slept through the night early and regularly. They took regular naps. My son slept long and hard from the time he started sleeping through the night.

Wait, wait. Before you click the X and leave this post feeling annoyed, you should know we still have major sleep problems. You see, my son has night terrors. True, genuine night terrors. The kind of night terrors that are terrifying for the parents and the child.

My son started talking in his sleep when he was two years old. At the time, we thought this was cute and funny. I remember laughing about him yelling in his sleep: “Wait! I need my sword! I need my sword!” He was apparently rushing off to join a pirate crew.

But, after he turned three, the talking in his sleep took a scarier turn. I still vividly remember hearing his terrifying screams one evening around 9:30pm. I ran upstairs to his room where I found him standing on his bed pulling the sleeves of his nightshirt up his arms over and over.

His eyes were wide open and he kept telling me there was something on his arms. He kept insisting that there was something on his arms even as I tried to calmly tell him there was nothing there. I pulled his little body into my lap and he just screamed and screamed.

I still have nightmares about that night.

Since then, we have learned the differences between normal nightmares and night terrors. When our son has a night terror, it means he looks awake, but he is not. It means you cannot wake him up. He has to get through the terror on his own. And, he will not remember anything about it the next day.

We also learned that night terrors generally occur around the same time of night depending on sleep cycles. They are also triggered. And they are hereditary. In our case, they skipped a generation.

We had a couple of rough weeks as we prepared to move. Apparently, even though we tried to calmly prepare our kids for the move, our son must have picked up on our stress because he had a night terror at the same time every evening for two weeks.

When you see your child in terror and his eyes are open, but he doesn’t see you or hear you, it is heartbreaking. I have cried many times listening to him. My husband has taken over trying to help him because I have a very difficult time handling it.

At this point, our son is 6 years old, and they happen less often. However, we still pay attention to certain triggers: sweets before bedtime, over-exhaustion, and travel. It helps if I can anticipate them before they start.

But, as his mom, I still worry. I worry about what is going on in his head and hate that I cannot protect him from this dream world. Just last night, I caught myself imagining him screaming when that wasn’t even the case. 

Most mornings I can laugh about the craziness of the prior evening, but sometimes I cry. So, as he heads to bed tonight, I will say a prayer that God protects him and guides him into sweet dreams. Sometimes that is all a mom can do.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Working Mom, SAHM, WAHM - Does It Matter?

There are many moms who would love to stay home with their babies, but they have to go to work.

There are many moms who would love to go to work, but they have to stay home with their babies.

There are many moms, like me, who are caught in the in-between and work from home.

One of these is not better or worse than the other.

When I transitioned out of the classroom to working from home, I was pregnant with my first child. I was excited to have the opportunity to stay home and work at home. However, I worked very little and made even less. I did it because I wanted to work.

Some women have the luxury of staying at home and not working.

Some women have the luxury of staying at home and not working but work anyway.

Some women do not have the luxury of staying at home, so they work.

Some women do not have the luxury of working because they cannot afford the childcare.

One of these is not worse or better than the other.

This is how I work at home most days

Why do I want to work if I don’t necessarily have to?

Because I like to feel like I’m contributing something. Because I enjoy it. Because I like to not feel like I buy a cute shirt for myself without feeling guilty. Because I want my kids to see me work. Because I have the degrees. Because terrible things happen – husbands move on, pass away, lose their jobs. Because at work I get reviewed and am told I am doing a great job.

Why do the other women I know not work?

Because they cannot afford it. Because they totally love being able to stay home with their children. I have friends who excel in the art of motherhood. They craft like Pinterest Queens. They make meals for their family that have ingredients I don’t even know exist. They play on the floor with their kids for hours. They have patience, patience, patience.

What about the rest?

I have spent the last several years fully immersed in the mommy world. I have heard from women who hate staying at home and are anxious to go back to work (heck, I start looking up jobs about the second week of summer each year). I have friends who threw parties when they quit their jobs to stay at home.

Women have told me they feel like they are judged for staying home – women have told me they feel like they are judged for working. One mom friend is a lawyer who told me she feels like she is judged for being a working mom. I laughed and told her I “feel the room” before deciding if I will say I am a “stay at home mom” or a “work at home mom” because I feel like certain groups respond to these answers differently.

The Reality?

If you work outside the home, work in the home or stay at home, you are working. No mom can have it all or do it all. But, we can encourage each other instead of feeling threatened by one another. Because it is all hard. Really hard.

I work with a child in my lap a lot of days. I am thankful I get to be in the in-between. But it still isn’t easy. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mom Fail #125 – The Time I Locked My Baby Inside the House

In honor of the upcoming one-year anniversary of moving into our new home, I’d like to share a special memory with you. By special, I mean embarrassing. It’s about the time I had to ask my new neighbors for help because I locked my toddler inside my house.

It was a beautiful summer day. I spent the morning rushing around the house cleaning and packing in preparation for our trip to my parent’s home in Georgia.

The packing alone is an ordeal. Mom has to make sure I have enough crap to keep those kids silent, happy and occupied for four plus hours while strapped into car seats. While DVD players are lifesavers, moms still need to plan for backup activities. And snacks upon snacks upon snacks.

After a quick clean up (enough that someone entering the home would not run out screaming), I did all the packing. All the diapers, wipes, medicines, clothing (and extra clothing) were stuffed into the bags. Then, I put my not yet two-year-old daughter in her crib in her bedroom for naptime.

My son decided to be my helper by carrying out bags and other necessities (by necessities, I mean crap from the dollar store) to the car. I had my handy dandy baby monitor placed on top of the laundry room dryer to keep an eye on my daughter while we went in and out to load the car. We turned it up full blast and left the door to the laundry room (which opens into the garage) open.

While I was busy and distracted with the DVD player set up, my son was playing in the garage. Or so I thought. When I pulled my head out from the backseat of the car, I noticed that I couldn’t hear the monitor’s constant static sound. And, then, I saw the door to the house was closed.

(IMPORTANT BACKGROUND – when we went to the closing for our new room, we met the former homeowners. They were very kind and helpful – and they pointed out things we did not notice when we did our walk throughs. Our new home was fitted with multiple safety locks. Locks upon locks upon locks. Floor stoppers, chains, deadbolts, etc. This is great for feeling like you have added time before an intruder busts into your home. However, these extra locks seem like fun play toys for kids.)

When I saw the door closed, I immediately got a bad feeling that my day was about to get a whole lot worse. Sure enough, I went to the door and tried to open it. Nope. I could not even push it open a centimeter.

My son realized he was in trouble before I even said the words and quickly confessed that he had flipped the door stopper down before closing the door. The only unlocked door to our house was now shut and could not be opened because of the heavy duty floor stopper. Inside the house were my keys, my phone, the baby monitor. AND MY BABY.

I spun around in circles and threw my body against the door several times before realizing it was no hope. Without a phone, I had no choice but to run to my new neighbor’s home and ask for help. I had to quickly explain that I accidentally locked myself out of the house and locked my baby inside the house alone. This was one of the very first impressions I made, y’all.

She passed her phone to me immediately to call my husband. Who, of course, did not answer the one time I have an actual emergency. I called every number for his workplace I could think of. Then, I sent 911 text messages. And I got nothing.

So, my pregnant new neighbor and her mother-in-law came over to my garage to see if they could help me break in. Yep. Break into my new home. To rescue my baby.

After what seemed like an hour, one of the women suggested finding something hard and thin enough to squeeze under the door to somehow knock the door jam up. We found a paint scrapper, and lo and behold, it worked.

I very awkwardly thanked my new neighbors and rushed inside to rescue my baby (who was still sound asleep). And to give my son the lecture of all lectures.

My husband called about an hour after the whole ordeal. Thanks, babe. The only thing he was helpful in was walking me off the ledge of “I’m such a bad mom and loser and our new neighbors think I’m a hot mess.”

After realizing I had blown any chances of faking my new neighbors out and making them think I have it all together, I actually felt a little relieved. No need to pretend here! I’m already the mom who locked her keys, phone and baby inside her house.

So, it’s been almost a year. This week, that neighbor showed up on my doorstep. She needed to borrow my phone. Her son had accidentally locked them out of the house and locked his baby sister inside. 

Happy in our new home being the mom who locked her kid inside

Monday, March 27, 2017

My Kindergartener Told a Friend She Was Pretty & She Didn’t Believe Him

(*names changed)

Kindergarten is full of lessons. Not just for the little ones, but for the parents too.

I don’t know what exactly happens between preschool and kindergarten, but in kindergarten, the kids start talking and asking questions. Big questions. Life questions. Since the beginning of the school year, my sweet boy has left me flabbergasted more times than I can count. Not just with his questions, but with the things he tells me he has heard at school.

My son is a sensitive soul. He cries easily. He is overcome by music. He is full of love, life and imagination. He loves everyone he meets and has amassed a collection of friends.

Here he is being sweet to his favorite girl (his little sister)

He is still (mostly) innocent. He asked me recently why he can’t marry all the girls in his class. He loves them all. He has promised Sally* to marry her, but Susie* is his best girl-friend and Sarah* is pretty. I tried my best to explain it to him in a way he’d understand. And expressed how thankful I am he has many years ahead of him to show love to all of his girl-friends and does not have to choose just one for a long LONG time.

He recently found out from a classmate that gay men can get married. And the thing that confused him the most was which one would wear the dress. See? He is sweet and innocent. I think they all are when they are in kindergarten.

Which is why what happened on Friday has left me with a nagging feeling that I need to make some changes.

Knox fell in love with the idea of letters on Valentine’s Day. Rather than buying cards from the store, he simply wrote each classmate an individual “love” or “friendship” letter. On plain colored sheets of cardstock with misspelled words, he poured his heart out with words.

Valentine’s Day was not the end. Easter is coming up, so he decided to make Easter notes for his friends. I read each one before he put them in his backpack. Most were variations of “Happy Easter! You are awesome!” or “Here comes the Easter Bunny.”

But, there was one note card that simply said, “You are pretty Sarah.” I paused when I read the note because this was the first time he had clearly shown this type of affection for a female friend. I smiled and told him that was a kind thing to say. Off to school he went on Friday with a backpack full of happy notes.

After school, I asked him what his friends thought of their notes. He said they all liked them, but Sarah thought he was making fun of her. I said, “What?” (remembering Sarah received the special note). He replied, “Yeah, Mom. She got upset and asked if I was making fun of her. I had to tell her over and over that I was not being mean. That I really do think she is pretty. I really do, Mom. Why did she act like that?”

I was silent. I took a breath and whispered a prayer that I would handle it the right way. I told him that sometimes people don’t know they are pretty or have had people be mean to them before so they do not know when someone is being kind. Then, I told him to keep on being kind.

This is a sweet, beautiful, innocent little girl. Yet, somewhere along the way, she has started to question her beauty and how people perceive her. And she is in kindergarten.

And it made me think – what are we silently teaching our children? When my husband compliments me and I brush it off, what do they see? Do they think it means I do not believe his words are true?

What about the times another woman compliments me and I play dismissive? “Oh, this old thing! I got it for five dollars!” or “Oh, please. I look like mess.”

What about the words I say in front of my own mirror?

I don’t know the answer. But, this is the kindergarten lesson I am re-teaching myself: when someone gives me a compliment (especially in front of my children), I am going to accept it graciously.