I Literally Can’t (El)even.

joshua is 11

Joshua’s last photo as a 10-year-old. We took it last night before bed.

Welp, kids, I have an 11-year-old. An official tween! And I am freaking out JUST A LITTLE BIT. How is this possible? I still feel like I should be 26, and like he should be a baby. I still miss his babyhood, what for me was a good almost three years of carefree parenting.

But my firstborn is 11, and despite my sadness about him growing up SO fast, I am thankful. SO thankful for this kid. He has taught me a lot over the years. He made me a mom, and being his mom makes me a  better person every day.

The very first thing he taught me was to be thankful in all things. He taught me perspective at his birth, which was fairly harrowing. Bobby and I still joke that it was both the worst and the best day of our lives. But the truth is, it was the best. Because at the END of the day, we got a perfect baby boy, a gift from God greater than we could ever hope or imagine! And I managed to survive as well. We got a family of three…the pleasantness or unpleasantness of the birth experience is inconsequential. We learned what really matters from that baby boy that day.

Joshua has taught me the joy in little things, he’s taught me patience, he’s taught me about loving others well, and he’s taught me to be concerned about doing the right thing (which I hope I taught him first, ha ha) and not  being too hasty in my actions.

He’s not perfect, I know that. Every day Bobby and I try to help him work on the areas of his character he needs to work on (*cough*laziness*cough), but he is perfect for us. We are so proud of him, so blessed to be his parents, and we can’t wait to see what God has for his future, and to enjoy every stage with him as much as we enjoyed his sweet babyhood.

Happy Birthday, Joshua Kenneth! I love you so much!

Joshua 11

FIrst pic as an 11-year-old!

 

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My Boy

photo (94)

This kid.

He is the sweetest thing.

He’s smart and funny and creative and kind and all sorts of other things, but above all – to me, anyway – he is sweet.

Sam is so affectionate. He loves to hug and to be hugged, and if you ask him what his favorite thing to do is, he will say “snuggle.” Building Legos, playing baseball, watching super hero movies… It’s all good. But this kid enjoys nothing more than to be cuddled up on the couch with his mom or dad. Preferably both.

And his love language? It is, well, language. He’s constantly telling us how wonderful we are and how much he loves us. Like out loud and in front of people and everything. Constantly.

He is so sweet.

Sam is almost seven years old. (omg, I’m not sure how to even process that.) While I know that the odds are he will always love us (or, as Mr. Peabody would say, have a deep regard for us), I also know that this intensity will be short-lived.

Even when the moment has passed, I will forever be thankful for my darling baby boy. But I hope it lasts just a little longer.

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What. A. Week.

Oh, hi.

Since the inception of this blog in aught-seven, I’ve never gone this long without posting. I mean it’s been a WHOLE WEEK. I am sure you, our loyal stalkers, have noticed.

Umm, right?

We had a rough one around here. Sub-zero temps and snow had my kids out of school ALL WEEK. EVERY DAY. (Jonah went Tuesday. But to make up for that, more extreme cold has his school closed today. And Joshua went to school today but naturally, after 5 days off healthy as a horse, Sophie is home sick.)

And we had my Grandma Brads’ visitation Tuesday and funeral Wednesday in this really awesome weather. And it was good to be with family but it was hard to say goodbye, even knowing that she is so much better off, because I just miss her.

I spoke at her service and cried all the way through it, just like I did at my Grandpa’s funeral 4 years ago.

Gma treasures

I got to choose some of Grandma’s things to wear & remember her by.

And on Valentine’s Day we moved my other Grandma (Emily’s and my shared Grandma) into assisted living because she has Alzheimer’s and it’s so hard even though it’s what is absolutely 100% necessary, it’s hard. So two days after I lose one grandma, I lost another “Grandma’s House”. And I can’t even really elaborate on that yet because it’s too hard.

So that’s what’s up. And everything’s ok with my family and my kids, I’m just kinda sad and overwhelmed right now. But I’ll get back to making fun of Emily and people who name their kids Ya’Hyness as soon as humanly possible. On the regular.

 

 

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A Life Well-Loved

Mother-glamour-shot

This is my paternal grandmother, Della Victoria Higgins Brads. She passed away last Thursday at the age of 95. It wasn’t a surprise, I mean, she was 95. And, she had been in pretty ill health since late summer. Not wanting her to suffer, I had been anxious that, after having lived a long life full of love, she not suffer anymore but be in perfect, painless peace in heaven with Jesus (not to mention my Grandpa whom she was married to for 71 years).

GmaGpa Brads

And so, I thought I was prepared for a world without my Grandma Brads. And perhaps in my head, I was. But when I got the news Wednesday afternoon that she had taken a serious turn for the worse and that hospice was coming in, I discovered that my heart was not quite so prepared. I had a sitter at the house while I was working and so I had the luxury of crying by myself in my office for awhile. Lots of tears from a grown woman who loved her Grandma still with the heart of a little girl.

My Grandmas

Me in a Grandma sandwich

Grandma passed away almost exactly 24 hours later, and after I got the call, I had another good cry. I was still crying when the big kids got home from school and I told them. They were sad, they loved her too, but they took it well because I had prepared them for it over the last few weeks and days. I was relieved that they were able to move on to after-school activities pretty quickly; I wasn’t sure I would be able to be a comfort to them when I was still so sad.

I learned a lot from my Grandma Brads growing up and it’s nearly all from her example, from the way she lived her life. I don’t want to make it sound like she was perfect, but she was womderful. She was just a great lady. She was good at loving others, she was good at serving others with joy, and she was good at making me feel special and loved. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve sitting in between Grandma and Grandpa on the front seat of their car, of accompanying Grandma to the local IGA for groceries, of sitting down to her most wonderful mashed potatoes or mac & cheese. This was a woman who displayed love by cooking tasty things for her family.  She literally lived to serve.

One thing I loved about my Grandma was that she was ALWAYS delighted to see me – when I was a child, when I was a teen, a young adult, a newlywed, a new mom – she loved me well in every stage. I knew if I was going to be in the area and I called and asked if I could come by she would be overjoyed. She’d somehow manage to have a smorgasbord assembled even if she’d only had 20 minutes notice – she definitely had that hostess gift! And guess what else I got at Grandma’s house besides good food? It’s also where I got my love of MOUNTAIN DEW. Grandma nearly always had it out in the laundry room with all the soda. (It should be noted that my Grandpa gave me my love of Dairy Queen Dilly bars and butterscotch dipped cones. I am really glad those two had the staples covered!)

Grandma Baby Joshua 2

Grandma with newborn Joshua

My Grandma loved children and she babysat in her home for approximately a million years, retiring when she was 75. In the small town where she lives, you can’t walk down the sidewalk without tripping over someone who was fortunate enough to be in her care. I’ve absolutely LOVED watching her delight in my children, and watching them delight in her. Jonah was an especially big fan – here he is with her on her 95th birthday. She also made each of my babies a special blanket which I will keep FOREVER.

Jonah and Gma

Something else that I love about my Grandma is that she liked to look GOOD. I am very proud that I got my rampant vanity from her. I mean, what better source, right? Grandma had her hair set every week by the same stylist and though she went gray approximately 4 or 5 decades ago, I NEVER saw her with gray hair until this past couple months when she was too ill to get it dyed. And as you can see from the first picture in this post, she was very beautiful! When you got it, you got it! She always dressed so nicely and acessorized like a pro. And, she was religious about her skin care. :)

Grandma had a sharp wit that left us all laughing on many occasions…she was a preacher’s wife but she could still let loose with a zinger. Some of my cousins have shared some over the past few days that made me chuckle. My cousin Mackenzie, when she brought her fiance home to meet Grandma, was met with “He’s better looking than I thought he’d be!” and my cousin Rachel, headed out back for a smoke, got a “Rachel, are you in THAT big of a hurry to get to heaven before the rest of us?”

This was classic Grandma. She made us laugh and she loved to laugh. I loved the sound of her laugh…I wish I could hear it one more time.

The biggest, most important, most memorable thing about my Grandma was that she LOVED Jesus. She wasn’t shy about her love for her Savior and she wasn’t shy about letting you know that you might wanna get friendly with him, too. Grandma was concerned that everyone she met knew Jesus, from her hairdresser to the waiter or waitress that served her at a restaurant. And really, that’s the most important way that I can be like her. Her kids bought her a big box of tracts with a salvation message on them for her 95th birthday, to be distributed in her name, because at 95 she wasn’t going to be out and about “witnessing” but she still wanted to help others learn about Jesus. At the time I kind of giggled about those tracts. I mean, it’s kind of an antiquated method of sharing your faith. But now I’ve come to realize that it was such a sweet gift, a gift that spoke to the desire of Grandma’s heart – that everyone should know Jesus’ love, forgiveness, peace, and salvation.

May that be the desire of my heart as well.

Grandma, thank you for being a loving, caring, encouraging example my whole life. Thank you for making me feel like a special person, and for loving me so well. Thank you for teaching me that there can be great joy in meeting the needs of your family, and that the most important thing I can do in life is follow the Lord.

Oh, and as my cousin Mackenzie reminded me, thanks for teaching us to moisturize.

Hug Grandpa for me and have a dipped cone at heaven’s DQ together.

Gma Wedding

I’ll see you again soon. I love you.

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All Over the Map.

First of all, I’ve got to say that there is so much more important stuff going on in the world and even in our lives that I feel ridiculous grumbling about my upcoming surgery… but I am about to do it anyway.

When I first found out I needed a hysterectomy, I was all “let’s do this thing.”

The closer I get to the actual surgery, though, the more nervous I get. I wish I had been able to have it done in January like I thought, and hadn’t had three months to obsess about it. Anyway, I am getting very anxious about a couple things.

1. We were done having kids. Like 99.2 percent sure we were done. Our kids are 10 and 6, our family is in the sweet spot of child rearing, we were good to go. Except now that it’s completely certain that we’re not having any more kids, Andy and I are both getting a little sad about it. Not that we would probably have another even if I decided to keep my uterus intact, but it feels weird that we are completely closing that door. I guess it’s a want-what-you-can’t-have thing. Or at least a want-because-you-can’t-have thing. I don’t know, but it’s weird.

2. I am getting super nervous about surgical menopause. I don’t really understand what’s going to happen when I wake up and my body has no estrogen. I don’t know if it’s going to hit me like a ton of bricks, or if my body will hang on to whatever is in there for a while and it’ll be more gradual. I don’t even know what “it” is. This is something that I would normally obsess about and research the hell out of, but to be honest I haven’t had time to delve into an internet rabbit hole. I’ve read some stuff here and there, but not enough. I haven’t made a single spreadsheet. And I really don’t anticipate having the time to do any of that between now and the end of March. So I guess I’ll just show up at the hospital and do what they tell me to do. Is that what normal, non-obsessive compulsive people do? I don’t really know.

Conversely, though, yesterday I had such bad cramps I wanted someone to yank my uterus out stat. That, my friends, is something I will not miss.

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My Outer Monologue and My Daughter’s Confidence

Jenny and Sophie

 

There’s been a lot of talk about body image issues on the old internetz recently and how depictions of “beauty” in the media affect our girls – as there should be. There’s also been some rather telling studies and efforts to show that how we as women talk about our bodies in front of our girls affects their self-image. It’s true, mamas. An “I look terrible.” or “I feel so fat.” muttered as we gaze in the mirror can have lasting negative effects on how our girls feel about themselves when they take their turns in front of the looking glass.

But there’s something that I struggle with even more than that, and I’ve not heard it mentioned a lot. You see Sophie’s not likely to hear me say I look ugly or fat or anything like that, because I don’t think I look ugly or fat. Elle McPherson I will never be,  but I am generally satisfied with the package God put me in physically. Admittedly I LOVE MAKEUP. It makes me feel fabulous. But I don’t think that a lack of it makes me ugly.

No, what I struggle with is talking about my intelligence and general functionality. Sophie may not hear me say “I’m so fat” but she is fairly likely to hear me say “I’m so stupid.” or “I’m such a dummy.” or “I always do the wrong thing.”

I know I’m not stupid. But I do stupid things. I am forgetful. I leave things off the grocery list and cause myself major inconveniences and wastes of time. I am clumsy, and often hurt myself with silly accidents like walking into a door frame or smacking myself in the head with a cabinet door (try not to laugh.)

For some reason, when I do these things – forget something important, make a wrong turn, cause myself to have to do something over and waste precious time, I am super, super hard on myself. I am almost incapable of giving myself a break. Grace, easily extended to others, is stingily held back when I need to extend it to myself.

I am stupid. I am dumb. I am klutz. I am useless. I am the worst mom ever. I can’t do anything right.

This is what my daughter is more likely to hear me say.

It’s just as wrong as “I am ugly.”

And I’ve got to stop it. Because it’s not true. I am not dumb, I am not stupid, I am not useless. I am a normal person who does a lot of things well and yet is perfectly imperfect. I wouldn’t even say I am a perfectionist, far from it – but when it comes to my flaws, I sweat the small stuff like a Sumo wrestler in a sauna.

And the thing is, you guys, I’ve got a daughter who thinks she can do anything. She is amazing and she believes that she is amazing – just the way God made her – and I don’t want that to change. Honestly, it scares the crap out of  me that what I say about myself can change that for her.

Sophie Bee

 

So from this day forward, I vow to control my harsh tongue when it comes to my shortcomings. There’s being self-aware and realistic about your abilities and then there’s self-flagellating. May I know the difference and only speak those things that are true, honest, lovely, just, pure, and of good report when it comes to me, myself, and I. May I embrace who I am as a child of God and delight in the gifts He has given me instead of dwelling on my weaknesses. May I make this my habit, my way of life. so that Sophie, my sweet, spunky, smart, funny, capable girl, can grow up learning to do the same.

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Weekend Meals on Foodie.com

Check out Cookin' for the Weekend

by Emily at Foodie.com

Every once in a while, when we’ve got a Saturday afternoon with no plans (which really does happen now and then!), I often look around the internet for something different or special to cook for dinner… something I don’t typically have time to do when I get home from work.

My Foodie.come collection this month is all about that type of meal. From Balsamic Beer Braised Pork Roast to Homemade Sopapillas, I’ve rounded up a few recipes I can’t wait to try.

Most of these recipes are new to me, but I stuck one of my tried-and-trues on there – pancakes. This is the best pancake recipe I’ve come across… they are delicious. In fact, I think I’ll make them this weekend!

What other recipes should I add to my collection?

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This post is sponsored by Foodie.com.

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Plant Therapy Essential Oils KidSafe Giveaway

plant therapy logo

So as Emily mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve recently become enamored with essential oils. Actually, I’ve been using tea tree oil for acne and as an antiseptic for about 18 months now, and I love what it’s been doing for me, so just this past fall I delved in further to see what other oils had to offer. The very first tea tree oil I bought was from a family-owned company called Plant Therapy, and when I started buying more oils I decided to look into what else they had to offer.

It is at this point I guess I should say, I’m not selling anything! Plant Therapy is not a multi-level-marketing company. I’ve bought some of oils from MLM companies and they work great. But I’m not really interested in getting into business, so like I said, I decided to check into what Plant Therapy had to offer.

They have a LOT to offer. And I bought a lot. Like, a lot. Let’s just say they had a really awesome month-long sale in December and I took full advantage.

oils

 

And I love EVERYTHING! With the help of essential oils I’ve been sleeping a lot better, and sleep has been a nearly 11-year struggle for me.

But enough about me, what I am really excited about is that Plant Therapy makes affordable essential oils that are safe to use on my kids. They are appropriately called – KidSafe Synergies. There are 20 – 20! – different synergies that are safe for kid issues.  Plant Therapy sent me 3 to review for this post, and I already owned 3, because as I may have mentioned, I love Plant Therapy’s products!

kidSafe

The KidSafe Synergies I already owned are:

A+ Attention, Nighty Night, and Calming the Child. I use A+ Attention on Jonah before speech therapy when I really want him to focus. I got Nighty Night because after he started preschool this fall, he started to have trouble calming down at bedtime and he would keep Joshua awake (they share a room) – it works great to get him settled! And I got Calming the Child to help him in the mornings. Jonah is usually a happy kiddo, but on school days he has to get up at 6:30 and he is never happy about it -(wonder where he got that from??). It’s often a struggle to get him to the breakfast table in a timely manner without a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth! Until I started using Calming the Child, that is. I put it on the back of his neck while he’s still snuggling on the couch while Bobby is making breakfast, and since I’ve started using it, he’s gone to the table willingly and without a fight. I’m not even kidding you!

The KidSafe synergies that I got to review are: Germ Destroyer, Immune Boom, and Tummy All Better.  I think the reasons I selected these should be fairly obvious! Sophie in particular gets car sick, so I’ve diluted some Tummy All Better in some carrier oil and put it in a roller bottle to keep in my purse for those occasions. I got a chance to try out Germ Destroyer and Immune Boom on Joshua over the weekend when he had a headache and slightly elevated temp (99.2). I diluted the oils and applied them to his feet a few times over the course of the day and also diffused them into the air while he was playing Minecraft – and he never came down with anything. So I would say that was a pretty good trial run!

What really jazzes me about these KidSafe Synergies (ages 2-10) are that the were formulated for Plant Therapy by aromatherapy expert Robert Tisserand – Google him, he’s THE expert! Pretty exciting stuff! I knew when I got into oils, I didn’t want to play fast and loose with them when it came to my kids. So I did my research, and these KidSafe Synergies are what I feel comfortable using on them. PLUS they are great for adults, too – you just always know that they are safe for your kids.

Ok, so! Let’s get to the giveaway! I am giving away a 10ml bottle of Germ Fighter, Immune Boom, and Tummy All Better! Whee! And if you’re totes excited about ordering some Plant Therapy goodies for your family, you can go ahead and do that and save 10% with coupon code momminitup10 through February 19th! Plant Therapy has great prices and the KidSafe Synergies start at $7.99 so don’t worry about sticker shock!

One of you lucky ducks is going to win all three of these great KidSafe oils mentioned above. Here’s how to enter:

1) Leave me a comment letting me know which Plant Therapy KidSafe Synergy you are most interested in for your family.

2) For an extra optional entry, visit Plant Therapy’s Facebook page and come back here and leave me a comment letting me know you did.

3) For another extra optional entry, leave me a third comment telling me what Plant Therapy oil you’d most be interested in for yourself.

So just to be clear, you can earn up to three entries, but you have to leave a separate comment for each. One winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday February 10 at 6pm EST.

Good LUCK!!

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Give Me Lorelai or Give Me Death

rory-and-mom2

If you haven’t finished watching all the seasons of Gilmore Girls, this will contain some spoilers. So you might not wanna read. If you haven’t or don’t care, read on, my friends!

Back in the day, I worked for the local WB station for five seconds. Before it became the CW (wait, is that even what it’s called? That doesn’t sound right.) Even after my glorious tenure there ended, I remained an avid watcher of their shows. So, I watched Gilmore Girls from beginning to end, 7 years straight, when it was actually on. I know, RIGHT? Crazy. I will probably never be able to say that again.

I loved Rory and Lorelai. I loved their unabashed subsistence on junk food and their impossibly fast dialogue. I loved all the quirky Stars Hollow folk: Kirk, Lane, Mrs. Kim, Patty, Babette & Maury, stupid Taylor and of course, Luke.

I loved Rory and Dean. Except when she became an adulteress, whoops. I hated Jess. I was meh about Logan.

I adored Sookie. Melissa McCarthy was so funny and sweet as Sookie, before she got all goofy crazy big-time star! I mean she’s a great goofy-crazy big-time star, but how great was she as Sookie? Quirky and bright and fiesty!

ANYWAY. Naturally when GG came on Netflix I had to binge-watch my old fave. I loved chilling with Rory and Lorelai and even Richard and Emily once again. LOVED IT.

But the end of the series left me again with a longing, like it did the first time. WORSE than the first time, really. I mean I know the knew it was ending and they could wrap it up, and they did…but DANGIT I would have loved to see Luke and Lorelai get married. I mean, I hung out with them for SEVEN YEARS, I kinda feel like I was owed that! Why, for once, can’t TV let the audience see the main characters be HAPPY and live it out for awhile?

Sigh.

I need a movie. I have a Veronica Mars-like longing for a GG movie. But Grandpa Gilmore (Richard Herrmann, who was marvelous in so many differernt productions over the years) had to go and die SO NOW WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO?

Hollywood, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, and Amy Sherman-Palladino, you have GOT to fix this for me.

I mean, I know we live in a world where we have real, actual problems.

But I need a Gilmore Girls movie.

And if Hollywood is gonna spend money on making frivolous films instead of spending it on fixing the real, actual, problems, they might as well spend it on fixing this one especially for me.

And the guy who played Michel. I haven’t seen him around anywhere.

PRETTY PLEASE???

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Pop Quiz

joshua is old

I think I am having an identity crisis.

Last night when I was saying goodnight to Joshua as he climbed into bed I got really weepy. I mean, he will be eleven years old in a month. And laying there in his bed, he looked HUGE. And he was kinda just like, “Ok lady, tell me good night and get out of here.”

Instead I told him a story, a true story about how when he was a baby, once he really got communicative, between say 6 and 18 months, and he was SO sweet, I used to say to him ALL THE TIME: “Joshua, I hope you always love me as much as you do right now.”

Because he LOVED me. SO much. Unabashedly. With abandon. And he was just indescribably sweet. His babyhood for me was much easier and more enjoyable than Sophie or Jonah’s, both because he was an easy baby and because he was the only one. I was his and he was mine, completely.

tiny joshua

And now he loves Minecraft and friends and watching Agents of Shield with Daddy.

And he’s almost 11 and I’m 37 and…when did this happen? I still feel like I should be 26 with a newborn.

So…pop quiz: who am I, and what am I supposed to do with this giant man-child who could take or leave me?

Anyone have a cheat sheet?

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