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

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CVS stands for “Can’t Vacate Store” February 22, 2011

CVS trips with 3 small children are so much fun.  I just love having everyone stare in our direction and hearing me give endless commands.  “Josiah, put that back.  Sadie, get back here.  Jackson, don’t touch anything.  Josiah, get down from there.  Sadie, pay attention to me…”  And on it goes.  Isn’t that every parent’s dream?

Then, of course, a shopping excursion wouldn’t be complete unless someone had to go to the bathroom.  So, we’re three quarters of the way finished with our list of ten items or so when we have to traipse to the back of the store to “see a man about a horse”.  And, naturally, the rest of the gang have to get in on the action.  Wouldn’t want anyone missing that horse.  After what seems like an eternity, hands are washed and we are finally free of the restroom.

Next is the water fountain.  Which, have you ever noticed that it’s nearly impossible for a child to drink from a fountain without getting their shirts soaked?  Maybe this is unique to us but it’s just been my observation.

So, with wet shirts and shoes that can’t seem to stay on Sadie’s feet (it would help if she’d put them on the right way) we gather our things, grab a gallon of milk and a couple cans of tuna and finally arrive at the register…where a sizable line has formed.  Once at the counter and while the cashier and I are busy ringing my purchases, the kids begin to wander in three different directions (of course they do).  They are all within sight, just looking longingly at different candies, trying to resist the urge to touch them, and failing miserably.  If I thought they were being blatantly defiant, they’d be in big trouble.  But the truth is, they are just curious creatures with ants in their pants.  And God bless them, they did stay by my side in line until it was my turn.  That took some patience.

We finally have everything in the car and everyone buckled and I begin to feel relief, “Ah, finally.  We’re going home.”  Then what happens?  My eldest says, “Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom.”  AND I realize I forgot to grab a loaf of bread.  (sigh)  Yes, shopping trips grow exponentially larger in duration when you factor children into the equation.

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Chocolate: The Great Motivator February 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephaniesings @ 6:02 pm
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I reheated some left-over spaghetti for lunch today which my 4 year old had absolutely NO interest in eating.  His younger 2 year old sister finished hers in good time and then sweetly asked, “Mommy, I finished my spaghetti.  Now I get to have dessert?”  When I asked her what she wanted, like her true mother’s child she confidently replied, “Chocolate!”  So, I quickly obliged.

I had not had lunch yet and seeing my son’s bowl barely touched I asked if I could have the rest of it.  He said, “Sure, Mommy!  You get to have the rest.”  After another 30 second reheat, as I’m about to tackle the small bowl before heading out the door he sweetly asks, “Mommy, can I have dessert now?”  Did I oblige?  Uh, that’s a big fat NO.   Nice try, but I don’t think so.  I did, however, give him another chance to eat his spaghetti.  Reluctantly, he began to eat it noodle by noodle.  Having taken about two bites, he asks again.  He made his disappointment with my answer known but continued to slowly eat noodle by noodle.  Before long he lost interest again.

As time keeps drifting by and we still need to get out the door soon, I finally say, “Ok, ‘Siah.  You have 5 minutes to finish your spaghetti and then I’m taking it away.”  (Enough time for me to swap laundry before skirting out.)  I wish you could have seen him shovel it in.  Within 60 seconds the bowl was empty!  “Ok, Mommy!  I’m finished!  Now I get to have dessert!” in his most triumphant voice.

So now here we are, still haven’t made it out the door (since I decided to take a minute to relay this story before either 1) running out of time later in the day, 2) forgetting it happened all together, or 3) both).  But I’m thrilled that he emptied his bowl and feel an unjustified sense of pride for having found a successful motivator.  Thank you, Chocolate!  Now off to the store we go!

 

A Wonderfully Weary Wednesday February 16, 2011

Last Wednesday was a “roller coaster of emotion” kind of day.  My husband was so ill that I had to contact his director and call him in sick.  That left me frustrated when I tried to call three different numbers and couldn’t even get a ring on any of them.  I sent an email through their own network (which I didn’t fully understand) and then prayed that I was successful in reaching someone and keeping our sole source of income intact.  Mission accomplished. 🙂

Next it was time to get my oldest to school and find a doctor for Justin.  It’s in moments like these when I’m especially thankful to have family close by to help.  “Mama T” and “Papa C” were willing to watch our younger two while I carted Justin to the clinic.  Insert about an hour and a half, two shots, and a prescription and we’re out of there.  Quick phone call to the parents for an update (and heads up that we’re late…still need to fill Rx) and we’re off to the pharmacy.

So, now picture a NEVER ENDING train.  You locals know what I’m talking about.  The railroad crossing on St. Augustine right before the intersection at Hill Street.  I wished I could worm my way to the front and take the short-cut AROUND the train.  I would’ve gladly rolled my window down and shared the knowledge to the people in front of me if I thought they’d act on it.  I knew that wasn’t a possibility though because a tractor trailer was first in line and he was way too big to be making the “short cut”.   (No pun intended.)  Now this train was seriously long.  That ain’t no joke.  Not to mention that the cars were probably moving 0.01 miles per hour.  They trick you too.  You think, “Oh, finally, the train’s about to clear!”  Then, they stop.  And back up.  My emotions went from impatience, to frustration, to worry that my husband might puke in my van, to concern about leaving my folks stranded with the kids for so long.  So, I confess.  I drove up the left side and around that semi and took the short cut!

While waiting for Sam’s to fill the prescription, we decided to sit in their eat-in area.  It was closing in on lunchtime so I grabbed a quick bite.  Justin got an icee but couldn’t drink it.  We thought it was just cherry but it wasn’t.  Poor hubbie.

We finally have the prescription, go pick up the kids from mom’s and head home.  I had about one hour to get the house in decent shape before getting Jackson from school.  “Mrs. Heather” is his speech therapist and she’s normally waiting for us by the time I get back from picking him up.  So, dishes?  Done.  Tables?  Wiped.  Floor?  Swept and SPOT mopped.  Living room?  Well, atleast everything was up off of the floor.  How am I feeling now?  Exhausted.

So, I pick up Jackson and then drop him off at home while I go to Publix.  That turned into one of the longest grocery runs ever and I can’t even explain how or why.  Maybe my exhaustion?  It doesn’t help that I haven’t been wearing a watch.  Anyway, I realize when I leave there that I’ve got to book it home if me and the kids are going to make it to church.  What about dinner?  Four dollars and forty-four cents gone and I’m in the van with a hot-n-ready pizza!  After what feels like the longest drive home, I finally pull to a screeching halt, practically throw the pizza on the table, tell the kids to eat while I unload the perishables and then get their socks and shoes on.  I even had to let them finish their pizzas on the drive.  That’s how quick of a stop it was.  We looked completely a mess, I’m sure.  But at least we made it. 🙂

After such a harried arrival, when class was over I thought we’d take our time getting back to the car and back to the house so I just drove without my usual “drive”.  Once in the house it was time for the kids to go to bed and boy, was I ready!  Sadie, however, was NOT ready.  Oh, she was tired.  And she didn’t fuss about getting in her bed, initially.  All I wanted was some peace and quiet and she has to start fussing.  (I was not feeling very sympathetic at that moment.)  She complained that her head hurt so I gave her some tylenol.  She was a little stuffed up too so I gave her something for that.  But then she started screaming crying.  It took a while to finally understand her but she kept saying “My ear hurts.  My ear hurts.”  So, I dug out our “Earache Relief” drops from the medicine cabinet and put a couple of drops in her ear.  Within about 30 seconds her ear started bleeding.  Now, I’m not one to panic.  That’s my husband’s job.  But that did scare me.  We tried to call a clinic and did a quick search on webmd.  Webmd is enough to scare a person.  “Well, it could be a little scratch in the ear or it could be bleeding on the brain.”  Great.  Thanks.  So, emergency room here we come.

I pull in to the parking lot, finally get a spot, carry Sadie inside to the front desk (her ear all crusted over with blood) and the lady behind the counter asks if she can help me.  I tell her that my daughter’s ear is bleeding.  Then she kindly asks for our basic information, a photo id, etc.  The whole time I’m thinking, “Seriously?  My 2 year old’s ear is bleeding and you’re not gonna rush her back there?”  Then we sit and wait to be called.  That’s really when the emotions were all over the place.  I was scared, nervous, frantic (on the inside), exhausted, helpless, and getting more and more angry and impatient the longer we sat there.  To make a long story short (too late, right?), she’s ok.  She was the perfect little patient.  She opened her mouth so the doctor could look.  She let them look in her ear.  She let them take all her vitals.  I was really impressed.

God taught me a lot this past Wednesday.  I learned how to have more patience & more self-control.  I learned that I can do with less sleep than I thought I could.  I learned to trust God more and myself less.  I learned that taking care of my family is more important than whether or not the dishes are cleaned or the floor is vaccuumed.  I love them more than anything.  They may make me weary sometimes, but in their case, it’s wonder-filled!

 

 

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! 🙂
 

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.  🙂

 

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!”