Have you ever seen that kid? You know, the one who's covered in bruises and scrapes? I used to worry when I saw this...and then we had our daughter.
I know since she's the youngest with three big brothers, she's going to have a bump or two. It's more than that though. She looks like a street fighter half the time. If she's not wrestling around with them, she's chasing after them only to wipe out at full speed.
Growing up, my Dad had two nicknames for me - "Grace" and "Ricochet". "Grace" because I had none - and "Ricochet" because there wasn't a wall or a door that I couldn't bounce off of. I'm beginning to wonder if this could actually be genetic.
Just last night, Lauren was running to the table for dinner. She slid on the floor and landed face first on her chair. She was quiet for a second which is either a good thing, or a reeeeally bad thing. This time it was bad. Catching her breath, she looked up holding her forehead and exploded with a blood curdling scream. Scooping her up, I walked around the room with her, trying to coax her to pull her hands down.
As a parent, this is when you prepare yourself for what you're about to see. There's either going to be a little bit of redness, an immediate goose egg, or a whole lot of blood. Winner, winner chicken dinner - we got the gushing blood flow.
The three boys jumped up from the table and started screaming. This of course made Lauren Elizabeth scream and sob even harder out of fear.
It suddenly became the equivalent of trying to hold a cat over water as I fought to hang onto her to see the degree of injury while she struggled to get out of my arms to find a mirror. With blood running down her face, Lauren and the boys were freaking out, I was freaking out, all while trying to get her to sit still long enough to finally find a tiny little cut right in her eyebrow. How can one small cut produce so much blood? I think it's one of nature's jokes on parenthood.
Needless to say. She'll go to Preschool today with a busted eye, a scratch across her throat from a wrestling match with her six year old brother, her scrapes on her arms and legs from I don't even know what...walking and chewing gum maybe...and that's how she'll roll.
All I really want to do, is teach her to say, "What happens in fight club, stays in fight club". Adam doesn't think that's a good idea though.
I guess I'll just have to start calling her "Grace".
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Editor's note: This is from last year. It's one of my favorites.
The whistle blew. Four little noses pressed against the car window as the kids screamed..."Look at the TRAIN!" Adam and I gave each other a grin of excitement and gathered them in their pajamas to hurry out through the cold air.
Boarding the train, we were welcomed with the warm scent of hot chocolate and cookies. Tables were arranged with baskets of goodies and glowing candles. Taking their seats, the whistle blew again and we were off.
The Conductor appeared asking for tickets. Little eyes watched in awe as he punched away with his clicker. Music was playing as the rhythm of the smooth glide of the train started to become more familiar. It soothingly rocked back and forth as we passed trees and rivers under the moon lit night.
Waiters arrived and began to dance down the aisle with cups of hot chocolate. The cream was so thick on top - you could eat it with a spoon.
As little bellies began to fill with goodies and drink, it was time to read "The Polar Express". The train became quiet as the children followed with their books and the magical story came to life.
When the reading was over, the train slowed. A glow of lights appeared outside as everyone shuffled to the windows to see. Santa himself stood waving as little mouths dropped in amazement. He walked toward the train making everyone wonder if he would come on board.
Hearing the sound of the whistle, the train shifted directions and slowly started to push back the way we came. "Did we miss him? Will he know we're here?" Our five year old questioned. All eyes were to the front of the train car as suddenly, he appeared.
Santa greeted each child and took time to give them the first gift of Christmas - a shiny bell tied with a red ribbon. The train car filled with the song of bells ringing as the smiles and wonder filled the air.
All of the children sang Christmas Carols on the journey back as they each held their bells tightly.
Waking up this morning, it seemed like a dream. The kids held their bells making us wonder if they would ever let them go.
No matter when that might be, I hope they will always hear the sound that rings from within...and Believe in the magic of Christmas.
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He's back. The Elf on the Shelf sits and holds his knees, taunting me. I've read the book though - and I've got his number. I know that if anyone touches him, he'll loose his magic. Not that I would ever dream of crushing the souls of my children, but if I could....just one little touch...well, here are the reasons why.
He scares our four year old little girl - make that - terrifies. From the minute he showed up with his big maniacal grin, she began looking over her shoulder in fear that he would haunt her. The elf added a whole new element of nighttime insanity with simply getting her to stay in her bed. A thousand times a night now, we have to reassure her that he is NOT going to show up in her room while she sleeps. He's watching...always watching...
This brings me to the second reason. I'm sure for every other family, the fact that they have their very own personal Santa connection must work wonders. Children across America must be sitting and reading books, coloring pictures and doing devotions. In our house? Ummmm, no. For whatever reason, the elf makes all three of our boys crazy...like psycho crazy. They run around the house doing Ninja flips from couch to couch as if they have a new audience. As they giggle and laugh they yell, "Hey! Watch THIS!" then throw a football across the living room while our four year old daughter runs around frantically screaming, "Make him go away!"
This begins early. Ridiculously early. The third reason I would like to touch the elf is because we haven't slept past 6:00 in the morning since he arrived. This wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't already been up half the night with our little girl, so as you can see, Mr. Elf is giving it to us on both ends. Evidently from now until Christmas morning, we will no longer need the use of an alarm. Like clockwork, a massive herd of elephants burst through our house at o' dark thirty as the boys trample from room to room looking for him. Sure enough, when they find him, a series of maddening screams echo through the house, announcing his new location. At this point, with a pillow over my head, I would like to throw a steak knife at him...where ever he is.
That leads to the most obvious reason. Location. There's nothing worse than the maternal guilt that builds as facebook post after post of elves, happily sit in their baths of marshmallows or cheerfully zip line across the room. As I see the other lucky elves covered in flour or drinking hot chocolate, I depressingly gaze at our sad little elf who is lucky enough to even find a different place to hide each night. That's usually after we remember around 3:00 am that he needs to come "back".
The final reason that I wish I could touch the elf, is as simple as his name. If you've noticed, our elf doesn't have one. Well, he doesn't have one actually, he has four. Refusing to get four different elves, our kids had to decide on naming the one elf. This is a right of passage for the elf and the kids took giving his name very seriously. So much so...that they wouldn't budge on their personal choices. We have everything from "Elfie" to "Mashed Potatoes", to "Colin Kaepernick". Lauren Elizabeth's choice was of course, "He scares me".
So there you have it. I could be the only mom in the world who wishes she could touch the elf, but at least now you can understand why.
And after one more sleepless night of him, followed by another painfully early morning screamfest of, "MASHED POTATOES, ELFIE, COLIN KAEPERNICK, HE SCARES ME!!!" I might just snap and do it.
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I've been pretty surprised with the bombardment of ads for "Black Friday" shopping this year that now seems to have nothing to do with "Friday" at all.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all about a deal. I've been known to stand in that endless line of people at 3:00 in the morning on Black Friday. I've felt the rush of excitement in the midst of the freezing cold with my hot chocolate in hand, just hoping to get that "Amazing Deal"...and I loved it.
The big difference was, Thanksgiving was over. The dishes were piled in the sink and the leftovers were in the fridge...rather than still sitting on the table.
It seems like there are so few days when families have the opportunity to be together...REALLY together without the rest of the world getting in the way. Now it seems as though one more day will be falling by the wayside.
I'm all for the blowout sale and I can't blame anyone for loving the thrill of the chase. This Thanksgiving though, when 5:00 rolls around, I plan on sitting around the table to enjoy what we have - instead of standing in a line in hopes of what we can get.
Thanksgiving - the Wonderful day when we reflect and give thanks. It's a day where family and friends gather to partake of food and fellowship.
Growing up in Ohio, we had many traditional dishes for this fabulous day of stretchy pants...but the one dessert I had never experienced...was sweet potato pie.
When I moved to North Carolina, I took a job as a therapist in home health. This gave me the opportunity to really get to know how people from NC lived.
In one of my favorite homes, there was a woman I lovingly called "Grandma". She was the heart and soul of her family - and man could she cook.
She often laughed and shook her head at me saying, "Shug, you ain't never gonna keep no man unless you know how to feed him right". It was her mission to teach me and she began with this...the best sweet potato pie recipe...ever.
Grandma's Sweet Potato Pie
3 Big Sweet Potatoes
1 Stick of Butter
1 teaspoon of Flour
1 Cup of Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons of All-Spice
1 1/2 teaspoons of Ginger
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
1 Small Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
Quarter the sweet potatoes and boil them until they're soft.
Run them under cold water to peel the skin off.
With an electric beater, blend them until they're smooth, then add butter, egg, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, ginger and vanilla.
Slowly add the milk until it reaches the right consistency of pancake/cake batter.
Spoon filling into pie shell.
Bake at 300* for 20 minutes.
Recipe for Pie Crust
3/4 Cup of Shortening (Crisco)
2 Cups of Flour
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon of cold water
Mix until a soft ball forms, roll out and place in pie plate. It's good to prick the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork, then put it in the preheated 300* oven for a few minutes to brown just a little.
From our home to yours, Have a Happy (and Delicious) Thanksgiving! God Bless!
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I'm not exactly sure why places have their Christmas open houses before Thanksgiving arrives, but the kids didn't seem to mind...
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"I'm tired of Tinkies." Our four year old little girl announced over dinner.
"You're tired of what?"
"Baby girl, what are tinkies?"
"They're in my lunch. I don't like them."
Switching my gaze towards my husband Adam, he noticeably lowered in his seat with a guilty grin.
Raising my eyebrows, I had to ask, "What are tinkies?"
"Ummmm, I'm guessing...'Twinkies?"
"TWINKIES?! She's getting Twinkies in her preschool lunch? What else is she eating?"
"I don't know. The usual lunch stuff. You know...like...chips, fruit roll ups, a pack of cookies...stuff like that. I pack good things too like a sandwich!"
Dropping my jaw, I watched as the four kids began giggling around the dinner table. "That's why we love it when Daddy packs our lunch! He's Awesome!"
Shooting a look back at Adam, I shook my head. "Do you want to throw a nice cold pop in there to wash it all down?"
"Yeah Dad!!! Can we drink pop at school?!"
Adam shot back, "No guys. Nobody's drinking pop at school." Smiling at me he said, "That would be crazy."
This is where I should say that I have the most Amazing husband in the world. God love him for even packing four school lunches in the morning. I know this.
He takes care of Monday through Wednesday lunches and I take Thursday/Friday's. It's how our schedules fall into place with our jobs due to who has to leave the house earlier in the morning.
With that being said, it makes sense now when the kids groan at the end of each week when I pack their lunches. Heaven forbid I put carrots and grapes in there when they COULD be having a bag o' sugar in a sea of confectioner bliss.
I didn't understand their moans when I thought I was being wild by giving them a frozen gogurt. MY Mom used to pack tree bark and saw dust in my lunch. I swear I was the only third grader on Earth who had prunes in her lunchbox. PRUNES people. My best friends to this day can attest to this. (Tricia, I'm talking to you.)
All in all, I hope the kids are getting some nutritional value, but it looks like we might have to work on our school lunch food pyramid a little.
Here's to all the Dads out there who do their best everyday no matter what it takes...Tinkies and all.
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It's Out! IT'S OUT!!! Little Preston jumped into the car after school with a new hole peeking through his mouth. He's six years old and he's never lost a tooth. All of his friends have lost their teeth, his two big brothers have lost a TON of teeth...but no matter how long he's waited...there's been no toothy luck at all - that is - until now.
Tucking him in his bed that evening, Preston kept his tooth safely in the Ziploc bag that he got from school. His big brother Ethan showed him how to put it under his pillow as Preston hoped with all that he had for the Tooth Fairy to finally make a visit that night - just for him.
Before giving him a kiss, we asked, "So tell us how it happened. How did your tooth finally fall out?"
As he smiled a holey grin, he began to giggle. "I got really, really tired of waiting so I had my very best friend at school hit me in the mouth."
As long as I live, so help me. I will never understand the mind of a boy.
Congratulations Little Man. We're happy for your very first lost tooth...and for your very best friend who gave it to you.
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Having a four year old little girl, I often wonder what it's going to be like when she hits those years of being conscientious of her appearance. It's impossible to go through any checkout line of a grocery store and not be bombarded with the look of "perfection" staring at you from magazine cover after magazine cover.
Just recently when we were at the airport in Miami, Florida, we found ourselves standing in the monotonous line waiting for security. While standing there for what seemed like hours, it was hard not to notice the impressive styles and looks of so many people around us.
One woman in particular stood out. She was stunning. She must have been in her late 20's or early 30's and she could have come right off the show "Housewives of Miami". Her dark hair was pulled up in a gorgeous ponytail with designer sunglasses resting on her head. Her earrings hung beautifully and her necklace and bracelets were chunky and stylish. Her long jacket looked like money covering her cute fitted shirt and leggings underneath. Matching her fancy carry on luggage and bag were the tallest pair of killer shoes that were to die for.
I'll have to admit, standing in line in my flip flops with my four kids hanging on me and my messy hair, it was hard not to feel "less than". I could never look like her even if I tried. But then something happened.
The time came for the woman to go through the check point. She placed her bags in the trays, then she methodically removed everything from her sunglasses, earrings, bracelets, necklace, jacket, high heals...everything. She stood in line - simply wearing a ponytail, tank top and tights in nothing but bare feet and she looked...normal. Sure she was still beautiful, but the flash and cash were missing.
It made me realize that no matter how much you dress someone up, they're still the same underneath. The quality of what's inside far outweighs the quantity of what lies outside.
Sure it would be nice one day to wear designer heels through the airport instead of flip flops and crazy hair. But for right now, it's more important for my daughter to learn that the value of what's inside is what counts the most...and all of the cute shoes in the world can't match that.
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I recently sat with a woman who was almost 90 years old. She wanted to tell me something that was very important about her life - and it stayed with me.
She began by saying that she was the second-born. Her eyes began to search into her past and then seemed to gather sadness. She took my hand and continued with a weak voice...
"My parents had a baby boy first and he was all that my mother had wanted. He was a year older than I was - and they didn't plan on having me. The earliest memories I have are of my mother's dark eyes telling me that she had never wanted me. I was a mistake that she regretted daily.
"If it weren't for the love of my father, I don't know how I would have made it through. I felt happy and safe with him.
"When I was ten years old, I decided to pray to God, asking Him to come into my heart and help me. I didn't know what the love of a mother felt like and it scared me that I would turn out to be just like her one day.
"Years later, I met my husband. He swept me off my feet. In no time, we had our first son and as scared as I was, I tried my best to love him with all that I had. By the time our fifth baby was born, our hands were full. Times were tough and we barely had enough to get by, let alone put shoes on their feet...but you know what? We had each other.
My husband and I had no money to speak of. The way we saw it though, we were the richest people on Earth because our house was full of love - and no amount of money can buy that."
My throat began to tighten and I felt my eyes well. Turning her gaze back to me, she grinned and squeezed my hand, then continued.
"I just saw one of my daughters today and we had a nice chat. She carried on about her children and her grandchildren and it was nice to hear about them all. It surprised me though, when she said that she and her brothers and sisters had all recently had a talk. She went on to tell me how they had all agreed that they never felt more love in their lives than they did from our family and from our home."
Giving a smile, she whispered, "So I guess as it all turned out, God answered my prayer."
I smiled back and covered my free hand to hers. "He's pretty good at doing that."
Squeezing my hand one last time, she gave a small laugh saying, "That He is. That He is."
To one of the richest people I'll ever meet.
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