Thursday, April 25, 2013

Score One for Mommy

"Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY! Wait till you hear the GREAT NEWS!" Lamb burst through the door after school today.

She handed me a crumpled piece of paper that she had stuffed inside her jacket--apparently wanting to protect it from the rain but not necessarily from being wrinkled and crushed beyond recognition. I smoothed it out and read, "Congratulations! You have been selected as a chaperone for the 2nd grade's field trip to 'The Little Mermaid.'"

"Can you believe it?!?" Lamb cried out. "You get to come with me! Isn't this just SO EXCITING?!?"

Every parent knows what a mixed blessing this is. I love that I am home so that I can be involved in what they are doing. I love that she wants me to be involved in what she's doing. I love the chance to put faces with the names that I hear every day. I even love, if truth be told, the idea of taking her to see "The Little Mermaid." But I do not relish being one of 4 people (including her teacher) who is responsible for herding corraling guiding a class of 24 second graders on this cultural and educational experience. My mom was a teacher, my college roommates are all teachers, several of my friends are teachers, and there's a reason I didn't become one. Still, I knew that there was a decent chance I wouldn't be selected, and I am glad to have the opportunity to go with her.

"But do you know what's even BETTER?" she continued. "The best part isn't that you get to come with me. The BEST part is that my friends were all excited that you got picked beause you're so much fun!!!!!!!"

Now that is some of the highest praise this momma could imagine right now. This same mom who wonders if she's doing anything right, if my children will be talking about me in therapy one day, if I will ever find the stage of motherhood that is my forte... I'm the one the kids are excited to have along. My daughter is proud to have me be with her.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kind of a big deal

It wasn't long ago that I had the opportunity to sit down with a woman I admire--someone who is a bit of a role model for me, though we are amazingly close in age. We have similar dreams and goals--and personalities, if truth be told--but she is much farther down the path toward realizing her goals than I am. I relished the time to be with her, chat with her, share dinner with her.

But as the evening went on, I noticed a phrase that she seemed to use a lot: "kind of a big deal." As in, "my friend so-and-so has this great job in New York. She's kind of a big deal." From her family to her friends to people she ran into on the street, she seemed to know a lot of folks who are kind of a big deal.

To be fair, she wasn't in any way being snobbish, just excited to talk up the people that she loves, and I think that is fantastic. But I couldn't help but leave there feeling inadequate. Not only am I nothing, but I don't even know anyone who is something! She is extremely talented, but she also has great connections. What hope do I possibly have in my little corner of Small Town America?

I wish I could say I quickly let it go, but it has stuck with me. My insecurities wrapped themselves around this idea and reminded me that I am far from a big deal, that I am far from significant, that I am far from enough.

Have you ever felt like you're not enough? Maybe life hasn't turned out the way you thought--you've had to let go of a dream because of choices or circumstances that have come up. Maybe you are playing the comparison game with a friend or family member or even someone whose blog you read, and you just don't measure up. Or maybe you just lost your temper with your child and you feel that oh-so-familiar mom guilt weighing on you.

The burden of inadequacy is almost impossible to avoid. We are inundated with social media, where it's all about putting our best foot forward. We are surrounded with examples of people who are doing exactly what we're doing--but better, faster, and with more "likes."

But maybe if we don't measure up, it's because we need a new ruler.

Have you ever had a lightbulb moment for yourself when parenting your children? Maybe it's just me, since I am basically raising a mini-me, but it happens a lot around here.

Lamb has been really wrestling lately with who she is. She's smart, but not the smartest in her class. She's musically talented, but not a prodigy. She's active, but not likely to be a legendary athelete. She's helpful and a great leader, but can come off as bossy. She is a devoted friend, but can come off as needy. (Yep, I told you she's a mini-me.) She has asked, on more than one tearful occasion, "WHY did God make me this way? What is special about me?"

And this is what I have been telling her: "Sweetheart, YOU are the daugher of the almighty GOD. YOU have been created uniquely to accomplish something that no one else can do, because no one else has your set of strengths and weaknesses and experiences. YOU have been entrusted with a family who needs you, friends to love and encourage, and a mission to serve the Lord. And not only is the God of the Universe your heavenly father, He is also your VERY BEST FRIEND. You are incredibly special."


Here's what I know for me: This post may be read by thousands of people, or it may never been seen by anyone but me. I may one day be known across the country as an author/speaker, or I may just be the world's best book reader to 3 little munchkins. Either way, I am going to do it with all my heart, because I am on a unique mission to serve God.

And here's what I know for me AND for you, if you know the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ: YOU are the daugher (or son ;-) ) of the almighty GOD. YOU have been created uniquely to accomplish something that no one else can do, because no one else has your set of strengths and weaknesses and experiences. YOU have been entrusted with a family who needs you, friends to love and encourage, and a mission to serve the Lord. And not only is the God of the Universe your heavenly father, He is also your VERY BEST FRIEND. You are incredibly special.

I don't know about you, but I think that sounds like kind of a big deal.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Last week was a stressful one for my family. Nothing Roo-related, and nothing health-related for any of us, so don't worry, but nothing I can share with the "World-Wide Web" either. Just stress. If I had to describe the week in one word, it would be "tight." I felt like I was being pulled in all directions, like I was pulling with all my strength to keep my head above water, like there was tension everywhere. Tight.

And now, there is relief. Some resolution, some just letting go, but relief in any case. I can breathe again. Smile--and mean it.

But the tightness has been replaced with something else. And that something is chocolate. I don't know why, but since I woke up yesterday morning, all I want to do is eat chocolate.

This is not a new feeling for me. When I am depressed, I want chocolate. When I am feeling lazy, I want chocolate. But I am not feeling those things now. In fact, I have been eating better and going to the gym and am seeing how much those things have been helping my phsycial AND emotional wellness--it's been lovely.

But for some reason, the release of last week's tension has left me with a major chocolate craving. I tried to satisfy it with a small Reece's cup. Then I tried... well... SIX small Reece's cups. Then maybe a few mini-Hershey bars and Nestle Crunch eggs. (Darn that Easter candy.) But it refuses to be quenched.

So I went to the grocery store (on a non-grocery-store-day, which is hard for me to do--I'm a creature of habit) and stocked up on fruits. Hopefully the sweetness of the mangoes and strawberries and bananas will trick my brain.

And if not, I'll just dip them in chocolate sauce first.

Have you ever had a craving that is just taking over? Any good tips, other than just strong will and lots of self-discipline?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Last week Lamb's class made books about their families. Each page contained a writing prompt of the beginning of a sentence, followed by blank lines for the student to complete the thought. Lamb's book described our family's favorite outdoor activities, thing to do together, and other fun tidbits.

And then I laughed out loud. I turned the page, and the prompt read "What makes our family unique is..." Above it was my 7-year-old's rendering of her baby brother--no surprise there. Roo definitely makes our family unique. But what made me laugh--and cry--was her explanation. Her sentence read, "What makes our family unique is my little brother Roo, because he can't have hair. And he has Down syndrome."

Roo makes us unique... because he "can't have hair." The Down's was there, but it was an afterthought. When she thought about her little brother being different, she thought about his bald head.

I love it. We are unique, thanks to our bald 3-year-old.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Monkey had been begging for some father/son time, so Sunday was the day. We drove to church separately, and the two compadres left together for their adventure. This left Lamb, Roo, and I with an afternoon to ourselves, which to me meant one thing: I'm not cooking.

We loaded into the van and began to discuss our lunch options...
Lamb: "McDonald's?"
Me: "Nope. How about O'Charley's?"
Lamb: "Eh. Ooooo! Wendy's!"
Lamb: "Pizza Hut?"
And so on and so forth.

We finally settled on Bob Evans, because I like their salads and their kids' meals are reasonably-priced. It was Lamb's idea, and I told her it would probably be packed with the after-church crowd, so I called first. To my amazement, they had no wait. So we headed straight over.

Lunch wasn't anything special, but it was fun. Lamb talked me into buying ice cream IF she didn't get pancakes for her meal. Roo thoroughly enjoyed watching me try to keep things out of his reach. I inhaled salad between trying to get Roo to eat something and trying to keep things out of his reach and talking to Lamb and all of the other things that moms do. Meals with kids are rarely peaceful, but it was still a good time in its own, chaotic way.

And then we were done. I was thankful to have made it through a whole restaurant session with a smile on my face. We gathered our things, and I reached for the bill--and literally as I stuck my hand out to pick it up off the table, our waitress came by and grabbed it. She crumpled it up and said, "You've already been taken care of. Have a nice day."

It took a moment for that to sink in. We've already been taken care of? What does that mean? Who took care of us? How? Why? I thanked the waitress profusely, then immediately felt silly because I knew she was just the messenger. I scanned the restaurant for a familiar face, but didn't see one. Did somebody really just pay for our lunch? Just... because? I've heard of this happening before, but hadn't even imagined I might find myself on the receiving end.

I have to admit, I was too stunned to do much except... well, leave. We walked across the restaurant, past the register, and I kept waiting for someone to stop me and say, "Excuse me, ma'am? You need to pay for your lunch." But they didn't. You've already been taken care of.

As soon as we got outside, it really hit me--the kindness of it, the generosity, the love. It seemed to be hitting Lamb, too. "That was just... so nice for someone to do that, Mommy." I sat down on the bench right outside the door, sat both kids on my lap, and we prayed. We thanked God for the kindness of strangers, thanked Him for an unexpected blessing, prayed for blessings on our benefactors, prayed for the opportunity to show that same kindness to someone else. And I got tears in my eyes.

I feel a little guilty, I have to admit. What if the stranger was hoping I would ask who had paid, and come to talk to them? I was so shocked that it hadn't occured to me to try to thank them personally. What if they thought I was a single mom? What if they thought my hairless 3-year-old was showing the signs of cancer treatment (something I think a lot of strangers assume)? What if I didn't deserve the kindness they showed?

But... they did show kindness, and I was thoroughly blessed by it. So simple--one grilled chicken salad, one grilled cheese sandwich with fruit, one Reece's sundae, and one scoop of vanilla ice cream (for Roo, of course). And it made my day. Shoot, it has made my whole week. I had no idea that paying one small bill for someone else could make such a huge impact on their heart.

So if you're out there and you somehow read this, my lunchtime angel, thank you. I may never know what made you love on my family that day, but I am touched beyond words that you did.

And you'd better believe I'm going to be paying it forward.

Monday, April 1, 2013


What a day! Yesterday we had the privilege of celebrating both Jesus Christ's Resurrection AND Roo's 3rd birthday. Yes, this year Roo's special day fell directly on Easter, so we got to commemorate both occasions at our house.

After so much time feeling like I was drowning in my own house, I am finally starting to have time to really enjoy decorating and party-prepping...

I thought that Peter Rabbit would be a great theme for a combined Easter/Birthday celebration. I scanned in some of the pages from the book and printed the pictures, then mounted them on scrapbook paper and put them in frames. They turned out so cute!

Loved my centerpiece! Daisies, candles, what's not to love?

I put some of the Beatrix Potter picures in the banner too. :-) (And yes, that's Lamb and Monkey in that picture. I think they were 3 and 1 at the time.)

The favors were so cute and fun!

First, Easter baskets. As soon as the kids got up this morning, they got dressed for church, then headed downstairs to find what the bunny had left...

Next up: Breakfast. In our house, Daddy is the pancake king...

(These weren't even his best ones, but I didn't think to grab the camera sooner. It's so fun to see his creations!)

Then one last photo op before church:

Our service this morning was fabulous. The big kids got to be part of a children's choir that sang two songs in front of the congregation, and the message was fantastic--such a great reminder of the hope we have in Christ through His death and resurrection. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Then we came home and prepared to celebrate it all with our families! Party time!

Our family all came out to spend the afternoon with us. The kids LOVE getting to play with their cousins...

The boys all ventured outside, even though it was raining.

But the girls (yep, 7 boys in the family and just 2 girls!) stayed in and made necklaces. 

Time for presents!

And what is a party without cake???

I love making this cake! I rarely do it, but it was too perfect to pass up for an Easter birthday. This is a FABULOUS carrot cake recipe. I posted the recipe--for both the cake and the candied carrot strip decorations--a while back here. Try not to compare my photo with Martha Stewart's, though, 'k?

Roo liked it...


He actually blew out the candles! I couldn't believe it!!!!

So proud to be three...

Because of all the excitement, Roo never really took a nap (not counting the last 10 minutes of our drive home from church), so by about 5:00 he was unbelievably slap-happy. He was standing on the landing halfway down our stairs, throwing Hot Wheels cars down to the bottom, and laughing hysterically every time they landed. It may have seemed a little destructive to outsiders, but he was getting so much joy out of it... and honestly, he was staying in one spot for more than 30 seconds... so we just let him go. I'm pretty sure it was even videotaoped.

Anyway, the entire day was a SMASHING success, and we now have a THREE-YEAR-OLD! If you haven't already seen this on my Facebook page, check out the difference a couple of years can make...

Happy birthday Roo!

And happy Easter to you all!