Mom of the Year 2013 – Not Looking Good

Alternately titled:

I’m here to make you all feel better about yourselves

Photo by Avodah

We’ve had a blustery couple of weeks here in the Sunshine State. I love Florida in March simply because it’s unpredictable…but unpredictable in a good way. It can be warm and sunny one day and cold and windy the next, but by warm I mean 85 degrees and by cold I mean 55 degrees.

In case you were wondering, that is the perfect range of temperatures. It means that many days we have stretches of time where we hang out in the upper ’60’s/lower ’70’s, which I’m fairly certain is the temperature heaven will be set at. An eternity of 75 degrees.

Yes, please.

But this story isn’t about the weather. Oh, no. It is about my stellar mothering skillz. I spelled skillz with a ‘z’ so you’d really get a feel for just how much I’m rockin’ this Mommy gig.

Like any good mother, when the temperature dips below 60 degrees, I insist on pants and at minimum a light sweatshirt. This is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with because my kids don’t own many pants anymore since we only need them about 15 days a year.

But this post isn’t about pants, either. Well…not entirely.

It was a cold morning a few weeks ago, so I grabbed a pair of sweat pants out of Landon’s drawer. He is my child who hates wearing pants…and shoes…and underwear. He likes freedom. You can’t fault a kid for it, right?

We put on his pants and a t-shirt, then did all our morning activities. I had to actually get myself ready that morning as I was meeting a friend after I dropped Landon off, so it was a little more hectic than usual. We finally hopped in the car and drove quickly to his preschool.

Just as I pulled into the preschool parking lot, Landon pipes up from the back. “Oh no! Mommy! My pants!” I pull in and park and turn around to see what the problem is and almost choke on my own spit.

The crotch of his pants was caked in dried Nutella. It was half an inch thick and ran from the middle of his crotch down to the middle of his thighs. Dark, dry chocolate.

Now, after I got over lamenting what was an apparent waste of perfectly good Nutella, I asked Landon how on Earth that happened…and when.

“‘Member the other day when you gave me Nutella on bread and I accidentally sat on it?” He asked. No son. I DO NOT REMEMBER THIS!

“Well why were your pants in your drawer, then?” I asked.

“You told me to clean my room,” came his answer. “I just was putting everything where it goes like you said.”

People, this kid. This child of mine. Between his round face, his freckles and his love of snuggles, I’m pretty sure he will get anything out of me that he wants. Ever. I can’t get mad at him. Plus, he had a point. I did tell him to put everything where it goes.

Clearly I need to be more specific about where dirty clothes go.

I jumped out of the car and searched frantically to see if I by chance had a spare pair of pants or shorts anywhere inside. I had a half-empty bag of Cheezits, four single socks (of course), three pairs of shoes, a tennis ball and what I think may have been a ham sandwich at some point, but no pants.

School was about to start and I had to meet my friend, so I walked Landon in and told him to sit on his knees, not sit cross legged. As long as he kept his legs together no one would see. But as I left, I knew I couldn’t leave him in those pants all day. All it would take was one forgotten Criss Cross Apple Sauce and I had visions of him forever labeled as Poopy Pants Landon.

Because Nutella looks delicious on bread, but dried and crusted on a pair of grey sweatpants is a whole different story.

Thankfully, mercifully, Lee was in town that day and on his way home from having his oil changed. I called him and tried to be all cool and casual. “Hey Babe. So, can you swing by Target and buy Landon a pair of pants…and then drop them off at school?”

Lee: “Do I want to ask?”

Me: “Probably not.”

And THAT, my friends, is the day I lost my place in line as Mom of the Year. I think I solidified my low ranking this week when I got a text at 6:55 from Sloan’s baseball coach asking if we were going to make it to the 7:00 game.

See? Skillz.


Delightfully Five

If I could describe this kid in one word, it would be DELIGHT. Parenting him is a delight. He is a delight. Loving him is a delight. Last night, I kissed the four year old goodbye.

Today, I welcomed a five year old.

Dear God, I love this kid.

Humor me as I walk you down memory lane…







Side note: I’m sorry I ever dressed you like this. It was wrong, but sweet heavens it makes for awesome pictures…













Ah! That smile! And those freckles!


Happy Birthday to the most delightful 5 year old I know!

(Now please, for the love of all things holy, stop growing. Just stop. Enough. Stay right here…)

The In-Between: A Repost

We are almost a year to the day since leaving St. Louis. This has been, by far, the hardest year we’ve experienced as a family. It’s been the hardest year of marriage, the hardest of parenting and simply the most uncomfortable we’ve felt. But there have been miracles along the way. They are victories that are meant only for us as a family to experience, but I can share without a shadow of a doubt that this hard, hard year has been a miracle in itself.

As we drove into St. Louis a couple of days ago and I navigated the streets so familiar to me, I realized what a blessing it is to know that my heart can be fully present in two places. St. Louis is home, but Tampa is home, too. And so is Texas! Our lives are richer and better for knowing the people we’ve met through the years in the different places we’ve lived. Perhaps that is our miracle!

This was published on July 24, 2011.

He didn’t want to try it. Fear prevented him from true joy, from enjoying to the fullest that which stood before him. The vibrant blue waters of the pool were enticing and he tasted the joy when he stepped into the water.

But fear held him back.

He couldn’t bring himself to put his face in the water. The fear of the unknown was too much and so he simply watched in longing. Every once in awhile he put his chin beneath the surface, delighted to feel the cool water – such a contrast to the blazing heat of the sun. If, by accident, water splashed into his eyes he cried and dashed for a towel, wiping it away before realizing how refreshing it could actually be.

I wondered if he would ever overcome this fear. I wondered if he would ever experience the miracle and joy that comes with taking the plunge and diving beneath the surface. I wondered if he would ever realize that conquering fear leads to freedom.

And then one day he did it. He stepped off the edge and took a leap of faith. Faith that he wouldn’t sink, but would indeed return to the surface as promised. Faith that fun awaited if he just took a chance. And do you know what happened?

Photo courtesy of my sister-in-law, Becke'

Inexplicable Joy. Freedom. And he hasn’t looked back.

We’re stuck in the in-between right now. We’re in Arkansas for a week visiting family, which simply feels like any other vacation. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that we won’t be going back to St. Louis from here.

We head to Clearwater to stay in my parent’s condo until we either find a house or decide to rent. That, too, will feel like a familiar vacation, which in the past has always ended in us returning home. But Florida is home now. It doesn’t feel that way yet, but that’s what it is.

Mark Twain once wrote, “Change is the handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with.” I so hope for miracles as we make this move. What does a miracle look like? I don’t know. Maybe it will be something big and measurable. Maybe it will be something that can’t be seen but only felt…realized only upon looking backward after time has propelled us past this unsure moment.

Maybe the miracle is our willingness to take the plunge – to face our fear of change and dip our head beneath the cool waters of the unknown. We would have been fine splashing in the waters of familiarity, but then we might have missed out on the joy and freedom that comes from taking a plunge beneath the surface.

Maybe the miracle will be my children suddenly waking up each morning with smiles on their faces and nothing but kindness on their lips. Maybe the miracle will be my children sleeping past 6:30 every morning!

I can dream can’t I?

Change leaves your heart and spirit in a vulnerable place. When you’re cut off from the passivity of the familiar, suddenly a whole new world of options are opened before you. There are no schedules to keep up with, no obligations to meet. Those will likely develop quickly, of course, but in the beginning, when life has finally, mercifully, slowed down the prospects of a clean slate leave me excited. What will we finally do that we’ve been dreaming of but lacked the time? What lies in wait for our fragile hearts?

It’s terrifying and exciting and wonderful. A tightly woven ball of “What if?” What if we had the time to finally do that? What if we were closer to finally participate in this? What if we finally set aside the resources to accomplish that dream? What if we watched in grand expectation and looked for the miracles?

While the in-between has given me a touch of vertigo, unsure of which way to turn, it’s also left me excited. I love what ifs. I love to see miracles happen and for the first time in a long time, I’m finally watching for them.

“Change is the handmaiden Nature uses to do her miracles with.”

Have you seen any miracles lately? Let’s share and all join in the excitement!

“For I know the plans I have for. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Through the years

Every year since Landon was a wee baern, I have taken him to the same section of beach for photos – usually around the same time of year – June/July. Last year was a little different with the move, but I did manage to grab at least one shot of him on “our” beach.

This morning, I took him back while the rest of the kids enjoyed VBS. Landon was supposed to be at VBS, but he decided it was too “babyish” for him, because my four year old has no concept for how to socialize with children his own age.

And he happens to be a big Mama’s boy. When I look at him, I find myself wanting to quote Monica Gellar – “I’m gonna love you so much that no woman will ever be good enough for you!” I don’t say that, but I think it.


Preschool will be good for him…as long as he meets another little boy who lives, eats and breathes baseball, basketball and football. If he’s stuck with a bunch of kids that love The Wiggles and Cars we’re in for a long year.

I present you: Landon through the years:





A non-beach 2010 picture because Sweet Mercy those EYES!





Is he giving me the bird?

Go, Go Gadget Arms. Geez...

Happy Friday to you all!

I want to Carpe Diem

A blog post written by an excellent blogger went viral a few months ago. In many ways, I agree with what she writes about releasing ourselves as parents of the pressure to enjoy every single moment of this parenting journey.

But part of me wonders why we get so upset when older women come up to us in the store and urge us to enjoy the minutes. Why are we so quick to lash out when strangers want to offer a bit of encouragement – even if it’s misguided? I don’t say this accusingly, because I, too, have found myself defensive when people make comments that I perceive to be insensitive, ignorant or laced with pressure.

But if I step back and take a deep breath, most of the time it’s really evident that whoever made the comment is not speaking out of judgement or malice, but simply from a place that’s different from mine.

Take the older gentleman in Sam’s a few months back – the one who tsked at me when the kids were acting like rabid baboons while we waited in line. At first, I was annoyed at his impatience. My initial reaction was to either lash out at him, or to encourage the kids to act out more simply out of spite.

But when I stepped back (as in left the store and thought about it a bit), I realized this: he’s old. Also, I have no idea what his background is. Maybe he never had kids and simply doesn’t understand. Likely, if he did have kids, his wife did the majority of the errands with them when they were small, simply because that’s how older generations operated.

The point is, I don’t know, so why get so upset about it? Why not just smile politely, try to quiet the kids and realize that once we leave the store we will probably never see him again?

Problem solved.

The fact of the matter is, our time with our children is short. It will go by quickly. And before we know it, we will be the older women in the check out line watching a young mom wrangle in her children, frazzled and tired, and we will probably miss those moments – yes, even the moments that are “helluva hard.”

So even in the crazy, when the kids are running rampant in the store, try to take a deep breath and remind yourself of two things:

This will not last forever and you’ve got hundreds of solo shopping trips ahead of you in life so don’t waste time getting embarrassed over the small stuff.

These days really will fly by fast, so seize every moment you can and laugh as often as possible.


I don’t say these things as someone who’s got this down. I scowl more than I laugh some days and I look forward to bedtime as much as the next person – it’s the nature of the beast. But I’m not for a second wishing this time away.

Just because I don’t always Carpe Diem doesn’t mean I shouldn’t at least try.

In fact, with the realization that my “baby” is going to be five at the end of the year, I find myself a little sad and wistful. I watch the new moms around me with a faint smile and I find myself whispering softly, “Enjoy every minute of this time because it goes by so fast.”

Yes, I remember the sleepless nights, the endless crying and the non-stop work of having an infant. And I miss it. I actually do miss it. I didn’t think I would when I had an infant, but I do now. I would take a hundred sleepless nights all over again if I could. If I feel that way, then it’s quite possible that the older women in the store feel the same about the harried state of life I’m currently in.

So the next time you’re at the store with your kids and they’re wreaking havoc, try to take a minute to sit back, laugh and be present in the moment. And when the older woman smiles and urges you to seize the day, or asks you if you are going to “try for a girl/boy” or wonders why they’re not in school, smile politely and thank her for any encouragement she has to offer.

I think the old women at Target have a lot to teach us, if we’re willing to listen…

My no means no…except when it means yes

Do you believe in magic?

There’s this odd little phenomena that occurs in my house wherein the children use magic and sorcery to consistently get what they want from me. Firm in my resolve to not be swayed, I wake up each morning prepared to stand strong against their wily ways and not back down when I say “No.”

It usually takes about a half an hour to break me.

They’re really good at this magic.

My oldest usually breaks the barrier of my resolve first. “Mom, can I have pancakes for breakfast for the 52nd day in a row? Please?”

Me: “No, honey. We’re going to have eggs and fruit today and take a break from pancakes.”

Oldest: “What about cereal? Can I have cereal? Please?”

Me: “No. Just eggs and fruit today.”

Oldest: “Can I just have one pancake on the side with my eggs and fruit? Please? Just one? Please, Mom? If I make it myself? Please? Please? Please?”

This conversation happens before coffee, mind you and before I’ve actually registered that I’m awake.

Me: “Okay, that’s fine.”

See what happened there? He broke me. He got past my firm exterior with his trickery and got exactly what he wanted. Score one for the children.

My daughter uses a slightly different tactic to get me to do whatever it is she wants me to do. It’s strongly resembles guilt and she is really, really good at it.

The girl: “Mom, can you play Pretty, Pretty Princess with me? Please? Just one round?”

Me: “No, babe. I have so much to do today. Maybe we can play later.”

The girl (falling to the ground dramatically): “But Mom,” she wails. “I have no one to play with. There are no girls in this neighborhood and I have no friends and I miss my friends in St. Louis and I have nothing to do and now you won’t play with me.”

You can usually find me sitting on the floor playing Pretty, Pretty Princess or UNO shortly after this outburst.

She is skilled at her magic.

The youngest doesn’t usually have to say much. He just has to look at me with his baby blues, which sit just above the cutest smattering of freckles you have ever seen and I’m basically putty in his hands.

Me: “Landon, you didn’t eat your breakfast/lunch/dinner (the kid’s not much of an eater) so no snack for you today.”

Youngest: “Okay, Mom. I don’t want a snack.”

Thirty minutes later…

Youngest: “Mom, I’m hungry can I have a snack?”

Me: “No, babe. You didn’t eat your meal. You can’t have a snack, remember?”

Cue alligator tears and pitiful sobs. “But Mommy, I’m thstarving. Pwease? Pwease can I have a snack?”

Me, wavering: “No. But I saved your food from breakfast. If you finish it you can have a snack, okay?”

Youngest: “Can I just take 3 bites?”

Me: “No, you have to eat it all.”

Youngest: “5 bites? Pwease?” He blinks his eyes at me, which are brimmed with tears and sends me into some sort of hypnotic shock.

Me: “Alright. 5 bites.”

I get a -1 just for being such a pushover...

Ten minutes later he’s munching on Cheezits and I can’t tell that he’s eaten anything off his plate at all. He’s good at what he does.

Even the dog manages to get in on this game. She sits on my feet all day just staring at me. When I look away, her large fox ears perk up and when I turn to face her she pins them pack all pitiful-like and opens her eyes wide. Like a cartoon caricature. She does this over and over until I oblige and walk her and I swear as we make our way around the block I can hear her chuckling and mumbling “Sucker ,” under her breath.

My husband is, of course, generally immune to the magic of their ways. His conversations with the kids go like this: “Daddy, can I have a snack?”


“Okay!” Skips away to play.

What the?!

The dog doesn’t even attempt to whittle him down with her magic ears and big eyes. She knows it’s to no avail.

Of course he is not always able to escape their magical prowess. When Landon asks him to play baseball, he does so without ever breaking eye contact. His eyes round and big, he stares directly at his dad and says in a voice dripping with honey, “Will you frow da baseball to me, Daddy? Pwease?” He doesn’t blink, he just stares.

Sometimes I find my husband outside in his suit and tie throwing the baseball to all three children and I take the moment to sit down on the couch, kick up my feet, close my eyes and chuckle softly.

“Sucker,” I think.

Do your kids use magic powers on you?

Wordless Wednesday – Childhood

Dontcha just love it?!

I’m headed to Blissdom today and am giddy with delight. If you’re going to be there, look for me will you?

I’ll be the minivan mom with the pink hair standing in the corner.

Wanna be friends?

My laziness knows no bounds

It was a beautiful December day here in the Sunshine State. Days like today are why people spend their winters in Florida. We spent much of the day soaking in the warm rays of the sun, while also being delighted with a cool breeze.

For those of you who live somewhere cold, please don’t hate me.

The view from my perch.

Around 1:00, the natives grew restless. I didn’t feel right letting them watch a movie on a day like today, and in return they didn’t feel right about letting me sit poolside and read.


So after an hour of hearing about the injustice of such imposed boredom and the true cruelty of expecting them to entertain themselves I packed up the antsy brood and off we went to the park where I planned to continue my lounging while they ran off pent up energy.

Upon arriving at the park, I rejoiced to find a long swinging bench mercifully vacant and I settled in for a bit of relaxation only to discover that the smallest of the children had different plans in mind.

“Hey Mom, wanna play house wif us?” Landon asked. I looked over at Tia who widened her eyes pleadingly, which is a completely unfair tactic. Puppy dog eyes are cruel and unusual.

“What do I have to do to play house?” I asked wearily.

“How about you be the Mom and we’ll be the kids,” Tia answered.


“Okay,” I said. “Kids, go play and let Mommy rest for a bit!”

“No, Mom! That’s not how you play!” Foot stomp.

Seriously?! Puppy dog eyes and a foot stomp? She’s good, ladies and gentlemen.

“But I’m the Mom so I can tell you what to do, right?”

“No, Mom. You have to get up and come over here and drive us to school. Then you have to take us to the store and then you have to take us to Chuck E Cheese. That’s how you play!”

Funny. I always assumed that playing pretend actually took us out of real life.

“Okay,” I said. “But this swinging bench is my car so hop in.” And away we drove. I dropped them off at school, then picked them up, then we headed to the store.

“C’Mon, let’s go shop.”

“Uumm…” I stalled. “Let’s pretend I broke my leg and I have to ride in one of the motorized carts at the store. This bench will be my cart.”

“Aw, yeah!” they yelled and away we went. Notice that so far, I haven’t had to move from my bench.

Finally the “errands” were done and we arrived home. “Alright, you guys go play now,” I said waving them on, stepping out of my role as pretend Mom and into my role as real Mom. It’s all very confusing, I know…

“No, Mom! Now you need to make dinner!”


“Tell you what,” I reasoned. “How about you be the Mom now and I will be the long lost Aunt who came for a visit, okay?”

“Alright! What’s your name?”

“Uh…Toto? Oh and hey – let’s pretend that I came from far, far away and I’m super tired so I have to lay down and sleep. How does that sound?”

“Hey, yeah!” they cried. “And this bench can be your bed and we will rock you while you sleep!”


So I laid down, closed my eyes and they rocked me back and forth, back and forth until I literally began dozing off.

“Mom. Hey Mom!” They shook me and I squinted up into their displeased eyes.

“This game is boring,” Tia said with a frown. “We don’t want to play anymore.”

“Yeah,” echoed Landon. “It’s bowing.”

“Can we go play on the playground?” Tia asked.

I looked at them for a silent moment then let out a small sigh. “Well, alright. If you really want to go play, I guess I don’t mind.” And off they ran, forgetting all about needing my entertainment. I laid back down then, my swing moving slowly back and forth in the afternoon breeze. Alone.

Seriously. I should get some kind of award for that…


Four is More


It all just happened really…





No longer a baby.

Loaded with personality.

“Wiggle your nipples, Dad!” he begged last night.

Different day. Different blog. Definately a story that needs to be told.

Part of me longs for one more day with this baby.

Probably the same part of me that wishes I was still in my twenties…

But mostly, I just really adore this amazing little boy.

This boy who turns FOUR today.

Happy Birthday, Landon.

Visual proof of the personality that keeps us in stiches. Man, I love this kid…


Hey Mom

The boy who doesn’t need sleep pulled a fast one on me the other night.  What with his fuzzy head and killer smile, it’s really not that difficult for him to have me at his beck and call, but Saturday night was no less than a supreme use of his killer cuteness.


After keeping him up way too late the night before when we went out to dinner with friends (Friends!  We have friends!), Saturday found him in desperate need of a nap almost from the moment he woke up that morning.  It is his nature to fight sleep until the very last moment and fight the nap he did.

But finally, he gave up the fight and fell deep into slumber.  So deep, in fact, that I could not rouse him to save my life.  I picked him up.  I shook him.  I gave him a cup of juice, which he drank in his sleep. I sat him on the couch and he promptly fell asleep sitting up.  He fought waking as much as he did sleeping, which means by the time I finally got him to move around he had had far too long of a nap.

Which led to bedtime disaster.

For over an hour he was up and down and I, who had not been so lucky to get a nap, was at the end of my rope.  Using my sternest and firmest mom-voice, I let him know in no uncertain terms that should he set one more toe out of his bed he would suffer the wrath of Zombie Mommy.

He blinked twice, totally not buying my empty and, let’s face it, lame threat.

Thirty minutes later I was piled up in bed with my iPad, gloating in my victory over his near-four-year-old crazy.  Lee was out for the night and I finally had a bit of peace and quiet.  Until…

I saw his tiny little eyes peek around the corner.  I ignored him, hopeful that maybe he would remember my threat (and yes, I actually told him that if he got out of bed I was going to turn into Zombie Mommy…oh yes I did) and abort his current mission to drive me insane.  I kept my eyes on my glowing smart board until I heard a soft rustle.  I looked down to see him on his stomach on the floor.  He was in nothing but a t-shirt and his Buzz Lightyear Underoos and his tiny little spaceman backside stuck up in the air as he army crawled slowly across the floor.

This was better entertainment than the iPad so I continued to watch as he was completely oblivious to my stares.  He crawled past the foot of the bed, his raspy breath a complete giveaway of his whereabouts.  I heard him crawl to the opposite side of the bed and then it got quiet.

And I waited.

A minute later, I saw his Calvin hair slowly raise up, followed by his white eyebrows and then his saucer blue eyes.  He met my stare, his gaze equal parts delicious and mischevious.

“Hey Mom,” he said, his voice all sugary.  Then his face broke into a naughty little grin.

And me?  Well, I completely lost it and started laughing uncontrollably.  He joined in and together we cackled, me at him and him at me.  Then he crawled up into bed, snuggled close and fell fast asleep.

As a recap – he disobeyed, I gave empty threats, he disobeyed again, I laughed and he ultimately got what he wanted.

That, folks, is how you get this parenting thing done. If you’re looking for any parenting advice, feel free to ask.  Clearly I’ve got this mothering business down…