There's more to me than "Mommy"…but not by much!

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Meet Me Blog Party February 11, 2011

Ok, I’m game.  A friend of mine hosted her own “Meet Me Blog Party” after getting the idea from a friend of hers so I suppose a trend is beginning here…or maybe I’m riding the end of this wave.  🙂  At any rate, I’m here now so here goes…

Welcome to the Meet Me Blog Party! This is a way for others to get to know me and a way for me to get to view other people’s blogs as well. All you do is tell a little about yourself by posting a few pics for a bio then copy and paste the Q & A part to your blog and fill in your own answers. Come back here and post your link to my page in the comments section so others can view your blog as well 🙂

Bio:
My name is Stephanie and I live in Lake Park, Georgia, with my wonderful husband, Justin, and our three kids (two boys ages 5 & 4 and our “baby” girl who’ll be 3 next month).  Justin and I have been married for 7 1/2 years and I like to joke that instead of the 7 year “itch”, we are experiencing the 7 year “stitch”.  I feel closer to him now than I ever have before and hopefully as the years pass by it will only get sweeter.  I am blessed to be a homemaker and love that I’m able to experience my kids’ “firsts” firsthand and spend so much time with them.  It gets overwhelming sometimes but I wouldn’t trade it for a nine to five.  The memories are priceless!
Q & A:

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a stay-at-home mom (insert your profession here)?
This is a tough question because I have so many interests and would love to do so many different things.  I graduated with a vocal music degree and a family relations minor.  I’ve worked as a nanny, a “temp”, a teacher’s aide, and an administrative assistant for a construction company.  I’ve also had the pleasure of living the life of a campus minister’s wife and later a youth minister’s wife (same husband, of course 😉 ).  So, who knows what I’d be doing if I weren’t a stay-at-home mom.  I love to write and have ambitions of publishing atleast one book whether it be in print or online.  I’ve also considered going back to school to get a degree in marriage and family therapy.  Families and family systems have always fascinated me.  And naturally, like every other soul who can carry a tune (and some who can’t), I’d love to make an album and become the next “big thing”.  Of all those many options and dreams, though, I’m truly living my biggest dream.  I’ve always wanted to be a mom.  I think I was born for this role…even though I’m definitely not the “poster child” of the perfect mom.  Hmm…that’s kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it? 🙂
Q: What are your hobbies?
Well, I shared several already.  I love to sing, dance, and write.  I love reading and photography.  (Maybe someday I can take a photography class and truly be inspired.)  I love blogging and hanging out with friends.  I absolutely LOVE to play!  Roller coasters equal fun! (Just one example.)  I love to travel and experience new things.  While I have NO desire to ever sky dive (why would anyone want to jump from a perfectly good airplane?!), I still consider myself adventurous.  Although, the extent of my adventures these days tends to include whether to do something crazy like use strawberry jelly instead of grape on a peanut butter sandwich. 😉
Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: That’s easy.  A mom.  But here’s the extended answer: As a small kid I wanted to be a teacher.  Then I wanted to sing.  When I started college, my goal was to do voice overs for animated pictures.  Very specific, I know.  Small market, I know.  Truly, I’m living my dream.
Q: What are your guilty pleasures?
A: Facebook is totally a guilty pleasure or anything chocolate.  Just about any dessert, really.  My weakness is my sweet tooth.
Q: What is your biggest fear?!
A: Without question, my biggest fear is losing a child.  I think I could endure most anything else but I’m not sure I could survive that.  I certainly don’t want to find out.
Q: When you’re on vacation, where do you like to go?
A: We don’t take many vacations but when we do, I like to go to places we’ve never been before (see foreign countries, eat local cuisine) and places we (or one of us) have been before (Disney World, certain beaches).  I’d love to go on a cruise someday.  Lately, it wouldn’t really matter much where we went as long as we’re together, having fun, and I don’t have to worry about cooking, cleaning, or laundry. 🙂
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: “The best gift you can give your kids is to love their mother.”  The flip-side of that as a mother is “The best gift you can give your kids is to respect their father.”  Also, “this too, shall pass.”
Q: What do you value most in others?
A:  Honesty, integrity, and humility.  Do their actions reflect their language?  Do they do the right thing even when it costs them something?  Most importantly, is it obvious that they love the LORD?
Q: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass down to your kids, what would it be?
A: Well, I have so many wonderful personality traits so how can I choose just one? (That’s sarcasm in case you missed it. 🙂 )  Hmm…for my eldest I’d probably choose my “go with the flow” attitude (aka. flexibility).  I’m not much for schedules or routines and he’s pretty uptight.  For my youngest son I’d choose self-control (his latest thing is what we call “fit-pitchin'”) and for our “baby girl” I’d pass on patience.  When she wants something, she wants it right then!  Generally speaking though, I want them to have confidence and a strong self-esteem.  That only comes from a relationship with the LORD and finding your identity in Him, realizing His great love for you.  That’s what I want to pass on to my kids…that knowledge.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone in the world….living or dead…who would it be?
A:  My brother, Matt, who died by suicide in 2009 and my nephews (his sons) Aydan, Ashton, and Adler.  I’d ask Matt what heaven is like, ask him what really happened the day he died, and tell him how sorry I am for anything I ever did or didn’t do that hurt him.  I’d hug my nephews like there’s no tomorrow and tell them how dearly loved they are and how they were their Daddy’s greatest pride and joy, his number one priority.  Then we’d all cut up and laugh as we shared stories from our childhood and listened to the “3 A’s” share what has been happening in their lives since we last saw them.  I hope I do get the opportunity to see my nephews again someday real soon.  They are so precious and priceless to me.  I miss them so much.
Now tell us something random about yourself:
  • I sang with Aretha Franklin when I was in high school as part of the “World Scholar Athlete Games” and with Nicole C. Mullen after college at a function in Nashville.
  • My husband convinced me to let him and his groomsmen walk in to The A-Team theme song during our wedding.
  • I got pregnant exactly one year after getting married and from that point on was either pregnant, nursing, or both for over 5 1/2 years!
  • I worked as a middle school teacher’s aide for 2 years and was known by the kids as “the pregnant lady”.
So, there you have it.  Now it’s your turn.  Send me an invite to your blog party by just posting your URL in the comments section.  Thanks for participating and happy blogging! 🙂
 

Am I THAT mom?? February 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephaniesings @ 3:15 pm

Don’t you just love it when you finally break down and take all 3 of your children (one school-aged) to the doctor (after a long night involving lots of coughing, hacking, and just plain misery) where they proceed to act like it’s the 4th of July and make YOU look like THAT mom??  Yes, you know the one.  The one who rushes their little darling to the clinic after even the slightest sniffle, the one who insists that every strand of hair is blow-dried before walking around anywhere… even inside…even if it’s 80 degrees and the sun is shining brightly in the sky.  I picture her with hand sanitizing gel at the ready and her finger on the trigger of a lysol can poised for the next germ invasion.  There are many things to admire about her.  She’s prepared.  She’s protecting her children at all costs.  But I don’t want to be THAT mom.  She’s weird.  She’s germophobic.  She’s way too uptight.  AND she needs to take a chill pill.

Honestly, I KNOW I’m not that mom.  Anyone who knows me KNOWS there’s no way in the world I could be.  My kids run around barefoot the majority of the time, preferring to wear their shoes sock-less if they must be worn at all.  More often than not, at least one (most likely all) of them has dirt on their face, hands, or other extremity.

I just don’t want other “strangers” thinking I’m that mom, particularly those in the medical community.  Why does it matter, you ask?  I’ve been asking myself the same question and I guess the reason is because she doesn’t seem to be taken seriously.  If I think something’s wrong with my child, I want to be taken seriously and not brushed off with “Well, here’s a Rx and call us in 7 days if there are any more problems.”

I’m hypersensitive on this subject today, I’ll admit.  That’s because after enduring a night with little rest and wellness, then taking the kids to the doctor to ensure MORE rest and wellness, we experienced LESS rest and wellness last night.  Did our children have temperatures before or during their visit?  No.  Did they have temperatures after their visit?  Why, yes!  Go figure.

So, now I’m worrying about my oldest who missed school yesterday when he was acting like he felt fine (other than a cough) and who, NOW, after having a temperature over 103 last night is back at school today.  I hate compulsory school attendance.  I really do.

 

Matthew, Matrimony, & Mourning: A Gift of God, A Grieving Smile January 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephaniesings @ 7:48 pm

This Friday, January 28th, will inevitably be a bittersweet day.  On that day 30 years ago, I became a sister for the first time.  The name Matthew literally means “God’s gift” or “gift of the Lord” and that is truly what he was and though now gone from this earth, what he continues to be.  I will still celebrate the birth of my brother.  I will still celebrate what an incredible blessing he was, is, and will be in my life…forever.  He was MY brother, born of my mother, and only one other person on this earth can say that about him.

His birthday alone will be hard…particularly such a milestone as 30.  But something even beyond that could make it much more difficult.  You see, Matt lived in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time of his death.  Most of my family and I live in Georgia.  As fate would have it, my cousin is getting married in Nashville on (you guessed it) Friday, January 28th, so naturally the majority of the family will be there.  It wasn’t purposely planned that way but I have to wonder if God orchestrated it.  I could wallow in self-pity and despair saying and thinking things like, “It’s not fair!  He should be here to celebrate this wedding too!  If he were alive, we’d be having a HUGE birthday party just for him and ALL the family would be there!  WHY has this happened?”  But instead, I choose to see it as a gracious gift of God Who in His mercy, on what WILL inevitably be a hard day, has given us a reason to hope, a reason to rejoice, and a reason to gather together on THIS day in THIS town.

Yes, tears will fall Friday.  Tears of joy, and tears of sorrow.  Tears for dreams yet to come, and tears for dreams torn apart.  Yet, I’m grateful for this gift.  I’m happy for my cousin and his new beginning.  I’m sad for myself and Matt’s earthly ending.  Yes, Friday will be bittersweet, a day forever etched in my memory.  But I will put my hope in the Lord and He will see me through.

A wise shepherd said something to me after Matt’s death that I will never forget.  He said, “Just remember, every time YOU smile, he smiles.”  Thinking of that moment reminds me of our family memory verse this month.  It’s not only one of my favorite verses, but also one of my favorite songs:

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy that I might sing praises to You and not be silent.  O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

Psalm 30:11,12

There is still sadness in my heart, but God has given hope to us all.  This fallen earth is not our home.  He has overcome the world!  This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it…atleast…I’ll try my best.

Matt, I will miss you terribly all the rest of my days.  But I will smile for you.  I will dance joyfully.  Friday I will celebrate the day our cousin becomes a husband and I will celebrate the anniversary of the day I became a sister.  What a marvelous day that was and I cherish every moment I had with you…even the not so pretty ones.  🙂  What a brother!  What a treasure!  What a gift of the Lord!

Happy Birthday, Matty.  Some day we’ll celebrate together again!  Until then, save me a seat at our Lord’s birthday banquet table and dance party!

This is How We Overcome- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCV3DTRoBFM&feature=related

 

Colditis January 13, 2011

I suffer from colditis.  Cold paralyzes me.  I can’t move, I can’t hardly breathe.  I can’t even think about anything else except how cold I am…and it makes me cranky.  From what I can tell, my eldest son suffers from my condition too.  Just this morning, I got his coat out of the van where it had been left all night.  He stuck one arm in, then quickly yanked it out griping and complaining about how cold his jacket was.

Last night I made a declaration after seeing our electricity bill this month.  It was nearly TWICE as much as last month’s AND we were out of town for an entire week.  It should have been LESS, not MORE.  Therefore, “From now on, NO lights are to be left on in an empty room and we are pushing the thermostat WAY DOWN.”  It’s only been about 14 hours since my recent declaration but it has already reminded my body of my colditis.  Even now as I type, my fingers seem to beg for a mitten of mercy.

I’d never survive the arctic.  We live in south Georgia for cryin’ out loud and I’m acting like there’s a blizzard outside.  The irony is that we’ve lived in Virginia, Texas, northwest Arkansas, and Tennessee.  They may still be considered southern states, but it gets a whole lot colder there than here.  (Honestly, I think Abilene, TX, could very well be one of the coldest places on earth.  It’s the wind that gets you there.  There’s just nothing to stop it!  Flat terrain with nothing more than a few mesquite trees means wind doesn’t have to put up much of a fight to find you in full force.)   In fact, I used to laugh at folks (and still do sometimes…yes, I’m an imperfect person whose colditis comes and goes.) who complained about how “cold it is outside” when the temperature drops below 60.  Now look at me.  We’re only in our second winter here and I’m already turning soft.  I’ve caught colditis again.

I’m sticking to my guns with regards to that electric bill.  It was ridiculously high and we’re nipping that in the bud!  So when I’m feeling cold, my mantra shall be (from the mouth of a very wise woman) “this too shall pass.”  Yes, warm days and sunny rays will return.  However, until then you can bet I’ll be paving the runway sporting several layers of clothes that may or may not match and wearing socks to cover more than just my feet.  I’ll also be leaving the laundry room door open (no sense letting that little closet hoard all the heat from the dryer) and leaving the oven door open after dinner.  Lastly, (and the more enjoyable consequence) I’ll probably be snuggling with my hubbie and/or kiddos at every available opportunity while sipping on a nice, steaming hot cup of coffee, cocoa, cider or tea.   Heck, even a hot cup of lemon water will do!  Hmm…maybe colditis isn’t so bad after all.  🙂

 

Dear Adler, Ashton and Aydan, June 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephaniesings @ 6:13 pm
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How much we miss you!  We tried to call you Wednesday, June 16th to see how you were doing and to wish you, Adler, a happy first birthday.  We sent gifts and can only hope you received them.  What we hope was a very happy day for you was devastating for us.  We (particularly Mama T) were told that we’d never see or talk to you ever again.  We were told that you’d be better off not ever knowing us.  Your father, along with the rest of the family, were accused of terrible abuses.  I don’t write this intending to attack those who’ve made these statements but so that you may know the truth.

You were and still are so dearly loved!  We think of you and miss you every day.  You weren’t nor will you EVER be forgotten!  Your daddy loved you so much.  You were his pride and joy and that was evident to anyone who spent more than 2 minutes with him.  I can’t even count how many people told us just how precious you were to him.  Never doubt how much he loved you!

Aydan, I want to make a point of specifically saying that includes you too.  He considered you his son, his flesh and blood.  You are a welcomed part of our family because you were a welcomed part of his.  You too are dearly loved, missed, and remembered.  But Aydan, there is something you should know.  You still have an opportunity to have a relationship with your true earthly father.  I believe he loves you too.  I believe he longs for a chance to be a part of your life.  I believe this because I know he was accused of the same abuses as those of my brother which I also know to be false.  I can only assume that the same is true of your father’s accusations.  I hope someday soon you’ll find each other and get to know one another.

As the saying goes, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.”  We cling to the hope of seeing you again soon.  We long to be a part of your life and watch you grow up.  I want you to know your cousins and you can be sure that they will be told about you.  We pray for you.  We pray that you will know just how loved you truly are.  We pray to one day see you again.  Hebrews 11:1 brings you to mind every time I read it now which says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  We will keep the faith.  May God be with you until we meet again.

Love always and forever,

Aunt Stephanie

 

Our Beautiful Family May 18, 2010

My cousin is tying the knot this weekend.  Weddings have a tendency of bringing me back to my own day as a bride.  Since Matt’s death that day has become bittersweet.  Other than my children’s birthdays, it was the happiest day of my life.  All of my family and closest friends were there.  Justin was as charming as ever; and my little brother was giving me away.  I remember feeling like my heart was going to explode…like it couldn’t contain all the love welling inside me.

Our wedding was anything but traditional.  We probably broke every etiquette rule in the book.  A late wedding without a formal reception?  Groom and groomsmen waltzing in to the sound of the A-Team theme song?  So, naturally we didn’t play the typical Wedding March when I walked down the aisle.  Instead, we chose “How Beautiful”.  I remember how nervous I was.  I could tell that Matt was nervous too but bursting with pride.  I tried to tell him what he was supposed to say when the minister asked, “Who gives this woman to this man to be joined in holy matrimony?” and in typical Matt fashion he cut me off and replied, “I got it, sis.  I already know what I’m gonna say.”  You can imagine how nervous that made me.  What is he going to say in front of all these witnesses?  In front of my soon-to-be in-laws?  As we strolled down the aisle, my mind wondered all over the place but focused mostly on my groom.  I nearly forgot about the “surprise” response my brother would soon make.  His answer:  “Her family and me, her little overprotective brother.”  (No doubt meant as a warning to Justin.)  That was Matt.  The protector.  He was the same way with my mom, my sister and all our girl cousins.  Nobody better mess with us or he’d be in their face…respectfully, but still in their face.

On Mother’s Day, we sang that now so special and precious song during church.  I didn’t realize it immediately but after the first line or two, it hit me like a wave crashing against the rocks.  I couldn’t stop the tears.  Just trying to write about it is putting a lump in my throat and water in my eyes.  I don’t think it was coincidence that we happened to sing “How Beautiful” on that day.  After all, Mother’s Day often leads us to focus more on family.  Marriages are the foundation of family.  And once again we were reminded that Matt was now a missing part of that family.  I like to think that God was listening to our hearts that day and sent us a glimpse of heaven and a tender touch of hope.  After all, Matt’s not really dead.  He’s just asleep, but always alive within us…because we’re all a part of God’s beautiful family.

Thank you, Lord, for your amazing sacrifice and unfailing love.  Thank you for the hope of a brighter tomorrow and the promise of a time when all tears, pain, and sorrow will end forevermore.  Thank you for the promise of an eternity spent with You and for calling us Your own, for calling us family.  May Your kingdom come quickly, O Lord.  Amen.

 

Here’s to you, Mom! May 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephaniesings @ 4:55 am
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Well, it’s Mother’s Day weekend.  I just want everybody to know that I got the pick of the litter!  (Jealous?  You should be. ;-)) We’ve been known to butt heads (because we’re both stubborn that way…it’s a family trait. ;-)) but I wouldn’t want any other mother.  I’m very proud to call her mine.

What can I say about her?  She’s real and authentic.  She’s bold and daring.  She’s inventive.  When she sets her mind to do something, you can be sure it will be done (and she probably has a role for you too!).  She tells it like it is…calls them like she sees them.  She’s funny and witty.  But her very best quality is her love.  She loves deeply.  It’s not the kind of “touchy, feely” love that some mothers have.  She doesn’t gush over you or smother you with hugs and kisses.  It’s more secretive.  She loves quietly, patiently, willingly.  She loves in the things she DOESN’T do.  She doesn’t cling.  She doesn’t hover.  She doesn’t try to run your life.  Instead she lets go and respects your choices.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  She’s happy to lend her opinion but in the end, she knows it’s your life.

This past year she had to let go in a really big way.  In a heartbreaking way.  Our whole family did but on the occasion of Mother’s Day, the pain of that reality weighs heaviest on her shoulders.  You see, she lost her only son.  Some wounds cut deep and take a lifetime to heal.  Some wounds are only truly understood by those who’ve experienced the same thing.  I can’t imagine losing a child, even an adult child.  She wasn’t supposed to have to grieve her son.  It betrays the natural order of life…and it’s so horribly unfair.

Matt, being the only son, shared a special bond with mom that can never be replaced or duplicated.  He was much like her, the optimist, the free spirit.  He doted on mom especially on holidays and occasions like today.  I did good to send a card or give her a phone call.  He sent flowers and gifts.  He was so proud of his “Mama”.  So, naturally her first Mother’s Day without him will remind her of that void much like my birthday did for me.  If I never heard from my brother all year, I could rest confident in the fact that he’d call me on my birthday.  He always did.  But not this year.  Never again in this life.  Thankfully that’s not the end of the story.  We will see him again.  But for now we must remain patient.

Mom, I love you.  You are strong, courageous, and faithful.  You’ve been there for us all these years and continue to be there now.  As you face this day meant for celebrating carrying a mournful heart, I pray that you will recall happy times that bring you joy and not sadness.  But if that sadness should come, I pray that you will share it and not hide it for you are not alone.  Matt loved you so very much and he was so very proud of you.  So am I.  You are an amazing Mama and I dearly love you.  He lives on in our hearts and today I picture him saying, “Mama, please don’t cry.  I’ve got a beautiful bouquet up here waiting for you that will never spoil, wilt, or fade.  I arranged it myself from my Father’s garden.  Just wait until you see it!”