Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Normal Kind Of Gift

I'm an unconventional mom. I know this about myself. I just don't parent in a normal way. Well, not in a traditional way. My parenting style is way too relaxed to be main stream. I'm not strict about much. Maybe 3 things total. If my kids text me from school asking for lunch, I take it. 98% of the time. I rarely make my kids do chores and our dinner conversations would make you blush. And that's not an exaggeration.

I just feel like we sway to a different beat over here. If I wanted to, I could try to change that rhythm. I've threatened my kids oodles of times that I'm going to really amp up this mother role and really get to it. Those words are usually met with eye rolls. Because, really? They know me. I know me. This is the way we flow. All wonky and off-kilter.

But I have this deep soul kind of hunger to be normal. At least every now and then. My mind knows its just too much of a stretch, but I wish for it anyway. But then, I stop, just stop, and look around. And I realize that normal is a pipe dream. For anyone. Normal starts and stops within these walls, with these people I adore. Normal takes my unconventional parenting and turns it into enough and just right.

It's the season of Christmas cards. My honest to goodness fave. It's like presents in the mailbox. It's all our friends and family showing their best, normal selves. And all those normals start to pile up until it makes your own family feel a little less than. Because, look at everyone's accomplishments! And their dressed up beauty! And let's not even mention all the Christmas home tours on the web and Pinterest. There's no way my house matches up with any of that. I can't even keep it clean.

I don't know what it is about this time of year. It's a recipe for the good and the ugly all bundled together. There is so much wonder and there are also heaps of stress and guilt. It's like we can't have one without the other. Maybe we're supposed to wade through all the difficult stuff so the important stuff shines that much brighter. It's a weird combination.

So, here's what I have to relearn every year, right around this same time-- We're all normal, and extraordinary, and good. We're just doing it in our own way, in our own time. We are fighting to keep it real and plowing our own path tightly holding hands with these people we love. We're in it together. All the way. For always.

That's what the holidays are all about. That path. The one we're on with our families. The one that looks different for each of us. The one that brings the greatest joy as we build it together. One normal step at a time.

Enjoy it. Take the time to see it. Above the gifts and the cards and the stress, really see it. Take your people close and let them feel your love. That's magic transformed. The kind of magic that a baby in a manger gifted to us all. Let's share it with those that matter most.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Christmas Spirit

First off, there will be no sass coming from anyone when you see the sucky quality of these pictures. You'll just have to deal. OK? One is at night and the other is at 5:30 am, in my kitchen. With my phone. You see? No sass.

Ugly sweater day at school also coincided with their choir tours to the elementary schools. Is it just me, or does Child #1 look like the snowman is coming forth from her stomach? And I can't decide if the sweaters are just ugly-ugly, or ugly-awesome.

Who knows, maybe those elementary school kids got a little frightened during the performance. Because, come on! It's like a Christmas Elf barfed on some shirts and they clothed their bodies with them.

And does anyone else notice that Child #2 is now taller than her sister? Oh boy, that's a deal.

My sister, oh my sister {sigh}...Let my Baby Child stand on top of her car. One twin is buckled properly in her seat and the other is shooting out of the sunroof. Ah, seriously? This is epic trouble. I think. Maybe? She "claims" she didn't know it was all happening. Yah, right.

Live wild and free this weekend.
And if you're feeling especially crazy, hot glue a bunch of Christmas crap to a sweater, and then wear it to church. For. Reals.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Burning Question

Before you even ask, yes. Yes, I painted the acorns. And they are so rockin' my world. I can't even tell you how much I love them. A friend brought them to me from her yard. That's love for you, my homies. And let me just say, them tiny, little nuts are a little tricky to coat. Worth. Every. Minute.

But listen, there's a little nugget of questions whirling around in my brain. And I just have to get them out. M'kay?

I went to the mall yesterday.

Let's pause here for a sec....because the mall at Christmas is not my fave place.

I'd been putting it off for a while. It was a 'must happen today' moment. I geared up for it. I saved 5 different tasks for this one trip. My arms grew weary from carrying all the bags. Which is totally ridiculous.

So, here's my question that I just have to ask. Ready?

What is it exactly about Christmas that screams Hickory Farms beef log? Really. Why does this little kiosk pop up during this holiday? I mean, come on, beef and cheese that does not require refrigeration? Is that wise? I don't get it. Do people really buy this stuff? And if so, where does one take it? Personal use or party fare? Do you see where I'm going? So many questions.

Oh, and just for giggles, I noticed that they also sell mints. In pastel colors. Say what? Since when do happy holidays start with beef logs? What am I missing?

And on a side note, I've come up with a genius idea. Because, of course.

Every mall shopper needs to be assigned a cheerleader. Bam. Awesome.

Remember when Child #1 used to be a runner? There were times I would jog along side her (Let's be serious, it wasn't very far. I'm allergic to exercise.) and cheer her on. You know, pump her up to keep going. That kind of thing.

Every mother shopping during the Christmas season needs one of those cheerleaders. Someone to walk along side her and stand in the holy mess long lines with her. "You can do this." I'm telling you. We mothers need this. It might be life changing.

But, beef logs?
Not so much.

Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gifts All Around

You guys. Listen. There's something wrong with me. And I can't pinpoint what it is. I feel like I'm circling around the answer, but it still eludes me. This happens to me sometimes. Well, lots of times.

I think it's the season. This one we're in. There is no Joy in the World because mothers everywhere are too flippin' busy. Ya know? And that just makes me a little crazy. And impulsive. There's an itch under my skin to just bust out and be a rebel. Like, oh I don't know, buy myself something completely ridiculous that I can no way afford (am I the only one who ever gets that feeling?). Or, not go grocery shopping and let the masses fend for themselves! Oh, that's a good one.

There is a frenzy in the air to get all the gifts and make sure they are the right gifts. And then you've gotta make sure each child's pile of said gifts is "balanced" with all the siblings. And when I buy the one thing I think they'll love, love, love, they decide they no longer want it.

When you break it all down, Christmas is the weirdest holiday. I'm totally not kidding. Because, let's be honest, we don't make it matter in the right ways. We don't. True, we make it matter. Just in some ways. Not always the most important ways. Don't you see?

And all of it, All. Of. It. makes me jumpy. At times, it makes me feel like I'm losing my ever loving mind. And that can't possibly be the point. Not at all. So, what is the point? The real one?

Maybe that's the secret. Maybe, if I could find that, I wouldn't feel so wonky and rebellious. Or maybe, those very things are trying to steer me in the right direction. The one that points more toward Jesus and less towards online shopping. That direction, that path, feels so much more calm than this one we hop along until December 25th.

I think there might just be a way to live on both sides of this season. Because, truth time, I love buying stuff for my family. Seriously, I love it. I go overboard every year, and I don't even feel bad about it. But there's peace buried in there somewhere. It matters the most, that's probably why you have to dig to find it. Maybe that's why it becomes such a gift.

Because gifts are awesome. And so is family, and so is merry and bright. It's all just wrapped up together, looking the same, but not being the same. I guess it's just up to us to make sure we take the time to unwrap ALL the gifts. Not just the ones we worked so hard to buy.

'Tis the season, people. I say we live it up. We give gifts and also take time to receive them. The material kind and the Jesus kind. They both matter. Just in different ways.

May we have the eyes to see and hearts to know the difference.

Let's do something rebellious today :)
Joy to the epic World!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Random On A Saturday

The tree is empty. The Christmas Tree. I have yet to unpack all the ornaments and I just can bring myself to worry about it. The only thing hanging on the branches are 4 beautiful ornaments colored by one of my favorite 6 year olds.

Can't I just leave the tree as is? Like, bare pine needles and all? And the star topper is sitting somewhere in my bedroom. Because that's totally normal, right? I may just start a new tradition this year. The ornaments-stay-packed-away tradition. I don't even think my kids will notice.


One of my favorite things about Christmas? When my kids start declaring what they want when we're this close to the finish line. Seriously. I'm on the downward slide to the wrap up and they start changing their minds. It's ridiculous.

The Baby Child just told me to "Return a bunch of stuff you already bought because I really, really want a basketball hoop." Ah, no. Santa can't fit that in the sleigh. And Child #2 told me this week that she so super bad wants a pair of new jeans. That only cost $170. Shazaam! When I asked her to stop for just a second and think about how expensive that is, she replied, "Well, can't dad just get a better job?" Well, duh. Of course.


Child #2 also texted me this week asking me to pick her up early from school. Why? Because she had to pee. Way bad. And this girl has a fear of using public restrooms. Well, not so much a fear as a refusal. So clearly, the logical solution is to just leave school early. Right?


I've started talking to myself. A lot. I'm pretty sure that's not good. On so many levels. Oh, and one of my kids pointed out that at times, my hair looks like a lion.


The Husband was using the restroom at work the other day. While washing his hands, he noticed in the mirror that the collar of his dress shirt was completely ripped and he had blood on his face from shaving. As he left the bathroom and started walking down the hall, the heel of his shoe fell off.

We're classy no matter where we are. Fact.


Keep it real this weekend, friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wait For It...

Child #2 hates, and I mean hates, getting her picture taken. I don't know if it's the standing still part or the smiling part. But she loathes them. So of course, that's golden material for me. I make/force/blackmail her into pictures all the time. Her torture is my joy. It's the mothering circle of life. Or maybe just payback.

Last Friday, Daughters #1 and #2 had a dinner theater performance. Renaissance style. The oldest was completely in character, poised and all that good stuff. Child #2 looked like she'd rather be getting her body waxed than standing there. At one point I think I noticed she hadn't even combed her hair. Nice.

Que the picture taking! I warned her before the event that she couldn't change her costume until I had snapped away to my heart's content. My words went something like this, "So help me, you will wait until the show is over and I will take your picture. If you don't cooperate, I'll cut off your hair while you sleep and shape it into woodland creatures." See? I can so totally be motivating.

Against all power of her self control, she took pictures.
First with the Baby Child.

I told her to "Knock it off!" So, she gave me this.

And then this.

And then I whipped out my firm, ugly voice.
And she settled down.

By this point, she is in full melt-down mode because I'm making her wait for her sister. She is literally jumping up and down with a silent scream. She even took the sleeves off her dress in an attempt at disrobing. Oh, and this was after she had hiked up her dress all the way to her bra so she could get her phone that was tucked into the waistband of her yoga pants. Just keepin' it classy.

Really, the whole family knows of her hateful picture taking ways.
And we relish every bit. Especially when her sister kissed her.

But then, oh and then, Child #1 got darn stinkin' irritated.
Can you tell she's yelling at her to "Stop it and smile!!!"?
My entertainment just jumped up 5 levels.
And she's still holding her sleeves.

So, she kinda tried. Just so she could be done with the whole thing.

And once again, I had to use my outside voice to get it done.
Have I ever mentioned this child is exactly like her dad?


May your season be filled with lots of picture taking.
You know ours will.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Sometimes there are moments where your blessings just stand out, front and center. They stare at you hard. Right in your eyes. Into your soul.

Today is one of those "sometimes".

In the midst of the ordinary, the plain, the every day, there they are. And today I see them. In all their beauty.

May this month gift us with eyes to see our blessings. Not the ones we need. Not even the ones we want. But those that are already there. Right there, at the ready. Covered up by the busyness of life. Those blessings. They're the ones to grab, and hold and cherish.

So do that.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Straight Up As Is

I'm giving it to you straight and undiluted today. Christmas, that is. Some years it's fancy and full-blown, other years (well, most always) it's whatever gets put up with the energy available. You know? Yes, I know you do.

If there's anything that I technically "collect", it's nativities. I have several. And they all have a special meaning to me. This year I just couldn't bring myself to unwrap, unbox all the many pieces. So, The Husband hauled those big bins down from the attic and then I let him haul them all right back up. I'm awesome like that.

Most of my Christmas attention got thrown at the mantel. As usual. It's kinda what I do. Here ya go:

And from all angles:

Some stuff I made. Some stuff I had. Other stuff I bought here and there with a coupon. It's like a red and white explosion. In a festive way. No?

And speaking of festive, I'm giving you 2 links to gaze at. OK?

Click here to see the most fun, free advent calendar for your fridge. I printed them up and posted them on my kitchen pantry door.

And click here to read a fresh take on Christmas, from a girl I wish I could meet. She's the real deal when it comes to living your truth. And this season she makes me want to try to be the real deal too. Take a peek.

Happy random Wednesday, friends.
Live it loud and proud with your decor this year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An Oompa Loompa In Jammies

Daughter #1 came home several weeks ago with a brand new pair of pajamas. The one zip, feet attached kind. She showed them to me with pride and I told her she was weird. Even better? Her friend bought the matching set.

She wears them everywhere. Literally. She claims it's the greatest $25 she's ever spent. Huh. OK.

And then one random day, while everyone is at school and supposedly working on schoolish stuff, she sends me this:


Let's pause for the awesomeness.

And you know full well that they didn't get this picture on the first try. They worked it. Until magic occurred. Or maybe it's crazy. I can't decide which.

Isn't it so totally obvious that she is ready for college?