Category Archives: February

15 Things I Know Now That I’m 37

What I Know at 37

  1. 37 doesn’t feel as old as what my 15 year old self would have me believe.
  2. The best friends I had when I was 17 are still my best friends.
  3. Friends I’ve made in adulthood are fewer and farther between but they are genuine and life-giving.
  4. Having kids has made me a better person.
  5. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you’re crazy, or weak, or on the brink of divorce.
  6. Spiritual growth is never easy or without pain.
  7. Marriage requires love AND work and if you don’t believe me you’re fooling yourself.
  8. Marry someone who is going to be your biggest fan, not your biggest critic.
  9. Kids’ taste buds are liars…everything I cook isn’t “DISGUSTING!”
  10. Just because you start on one path doesn’t mean you can’t veer off onto another; that may have been God’s plan all along.
  11. Shame is a sneaky son of a gun that must be dealt with in order for me to love myself.
  12. I will never know how my parents raised 4 kids, who were involved in multiple activities, without cell phones.
  13. Choosing your battles is a great piece of advice for marriage…and for parenting.
  14. God values BEING with me over anything I could ever DO for Him.
  15. I’ve only got 3 years to lose my baby leftovers because I’ve heard that once you hit 40, losing weight is an uphill battle. Maybe yoga pants and joggers will still be in when I’m 40. And, yes, I’m aware my youngest child is 8. I’m on that really, really long-term weight loss plan.

What are some things you know at your age?

-Courtney

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A Letter to the Mamas,

I’m writing this to you because I think you need to hear it, but I’m also writing it to me so I don’t forget.

Hey, you. Yeah, I know you don’t have time for this. You need to get out the door and nobody has their coats or shoes on, and Baby has decided to take his pants off and run around the room. You’re going to be late to the kids’ doctor’s appointment and if it’s by more than 15 minutes they’ll make you reschedule. You’d think a pediatrician’s office would be more FLEXIBLE since, I don’t know, their dealing with CHILDREN WHO CAN’T DO ONE BLESSED THING FOR THEMSELVES SO HOW ON EARTH ARE YOU EXPECTED TO BE ON TIME? Anyway, by now you’ve gotten their coats and shoes on and Baby has on hand-me-down jeans from who knows where and you’re getting them in the car. Now one of them is crying because somebody hit her and Baby is whining and arching his back making it nearly impossible to buckle him into his car seat. As you use your best stern Mom voice to tell them “hands are not for hitting,” you notice you forgot to wipe of Baby’s face from breakfast and he has sticky syrup on his cheeks that has attracted every dirt particle from your home. He basically looks like a homeless baby. So you grab a wet wipe from the diaper bag and wipe his face off which makes him scream and you try to comfort him but you’re late so you figure he’ll get over it and jump into your seat. As you turn on your kids’ music or show, you find yourself starting to zone out.

This is where you need to listen, Moms.

As you begin to tune out all the car chatter, the voices in your head may take you down those old familiar roads. They are like a corn maze you can’t get out of. On your first turn, you head down the “What am I doing with my life?” path, then you take a right onto “Is this what motherhood is supposed to look like?” then hang a left on “Endless fighting and whining is not what I signed up for,” then merge onto “Am I even doing a good job?,” then you make a hard right onto “I suck at being a mom.” Then you’re basically there.

“Where?” you ask.

Right in the place the devil wants you. A place of vulnerability. A place where you’re so unsure of who you are and what your purpose is you are desperate for someone to tell you. So he does. He whispers things like, “No, you’re not really a good mom because what good mom yells at her kids/lets them watch THAT much TV/loses her temper/can’t get her kids to eat healthy foods/can’t get her kids to behave in public/doesn’t want to spend every second having “intentional” time with her kids/scrolls through her phone THAT many times a day/(fill in the blank with anything else that makes you feel like a crappy mom)…

And then the devil takes his toxic shame coat and drapes it over your shoulders and that’s how you live. Covered in shame.

This is where you need to listen, ladies.

Don’t let shame make you forget who you are.

Don’t forget that you are the woman that fed your kids today, you helped them get dressed, you held them when they cried, you listened when they told you about their day, you gave them encouragement when they doubted themselves, you washed their clothes, you picked them up when they needed to be held, you laid with them so they could fall asleep, you read them books, you helped with homework, you got them new jeans because theirs were getting a bit too short, you signed them up for camps, you made doctors’ appointments for them, you put money on their lunch card, you prayed for them, you prayed with them, you told her that she most certainly could not wear shorts that short, you said no to the party that was sketchy on the details, you called them out when they were being less than kind, you pointed them to Jesus with loving words, you corrected them and loved them, YOU DID SO MANY IMPORTANT THINGS.

Don’t forget that the God who made ALL the people gave you a few of His own to raise; because He knew you’d be the perfect fit for them. He chose YOU. He knew you would need help and He knew you would screw it up and He was ok with that.

See, the thing is, as much as we forget who we are sometimes, God doesn’t. If we have been saved through faith in Jesus, the Word says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

I believe being a mom is good work. It can be exhausting and wonderful and mundane and sweet and aggravating and beautiful and just plain hard. Lots of times being a mom doesn’t feel good. When we feel like all we do is discipline and say no, it doesn’t really feel that awesome to be a mom. But my feelings are all over the place sometimes so it helps to go back to the Truth. “for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Prv. 3:12)

Aaaaahhhhh. Nice to know that all our reproving means that we actually LOVE our kids…contrary to what our kids may say. We’re just trying to point them to Jesus and keep them out of juvie, am I right?

All that to say… Moms, you’re doing a good job. What you’re doing matters. I see you and you are good enough. Actually, scratch that. You are excellent. Now go forth into battle and don’t forget to put snacks in your purse.

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(This pic was taken many years ago but it reminds me that winter with littles is HARD.)

-Courtney

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day from our family to yours!

-Courtney

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To ALL my valentines…

IMG_4677I was reminded the other day that Valentine’s Day is a special day for everyone. If you have yourself a valentine, it’s a special day to celebrate your love for one another. If you don’t have a valentine, it’s a special day that makes you feel like crap. Why can’t we just celebrate that we have people in our life that we love and they love us back? This year, I’m writing a little note to ALL my valentines.

To my parents/siblings’ valentines,

Thank you for never letting me ever forget all the embarrassing stories about myself. Rolling down the window during the car wash is always a favorite; second only to busting my face on the concrete on our trip to Atlanta. Remembering these stories from my childhood keep me humble and remind me that you guys have always been there. Ya’ll didn’t even take vows to love me in sickness and in health but you’ve done it anyway. I’m a better and stronger person because of each of you. I can slay a one-liner and I feel like that’s some sort of spiritual gift, no? We may tease one another but if anybody outside the circle of trust tries to do the same we will cut their throat. I mean that in the most Christian way. We’re not mushy or sappy but I like our gruff love. We act out our love more than we say it, but since it’s Valentine’s Day and I can say whatever I want on my blog I’m just gonna say it: I LOVE YOU GUYS!

To my friend valentines,

Oh friends. Where would I be without you? Without you, I would still be walking around in tapered, pleated jeans. Bless. Without you, I would have no one to be anti-social with at parties. Without you, I wouldn’t belly laugh. Without you, I would have no one to tell me the truth about myself. Thank you, dear friends. If a person is judged by the company she keeps, then I have far outkicked my coverage. You all love me so well and have encouraged me to grow into the uncomfortable places. I don’t know if there will be a corner for us in heaven to share inappropriate jokes but I kinda hope so.

To my Valentine babies,

You 3 little ducklings gave me a whole new definition of love. I never knew that kind of love until I met each of you. You all can make me madder than a hornet and turn me into a pile of mush with a bat of your lashes. You own me. You own my thoughts and my activities. I don’t do anything without thinking of you guys. I can’t imagine a time years from now when I won’t know your daily whereabouts. Ya’ll are like a drug I can’t quit. I love you and I need you but if you ask me one more time what we’re having for dinner I might lose my mind.

And to my til death do us part Valentine,

You had me at hello….

Actually that’s totally untrue. You had me about 3 years after hello but whatever. The point is you have me. You are my biggest fan and I can’t say enough about how important that is to me. I’ve said before that when someone believes in you it gives you wings to fly. Thanks for the wings, Love. They mean more than you know. Thank you for embracing all my new “feelings” that weren’t there when we got married. Thanks for growing with me and always believing the best about me even when I’m not sure it’s true. Because of all these things I will put up with your shenanigans and tomfoolery. Without you my life would be utterly boring. Love you.

 

Love to all my valentines,

Courtney

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Am I OCD?

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Does this picture bother anyone else?

I was told recently that I may or may not have OCD because I like my socks to match. Can this be right? I would never consider myself one to be obsessive or compulsive about anything. Well, anything but food that is. I can become very obsessed with the thought of food and extremely compulsive trying to get it in my belly. But that’s everyone, right?

I chewed on this OCD idea a couple of days and tried to think of other things in my life that I like to be a certain way.

1. I rearrange the dishwasher when other people put things in the “wrong” way. (I like to maximize my space; doesn’t everyone do this?)

2. I don’t like other people in my family to fold clothes because I like the way I fold  them.

3. I hide food. (Wait, I think that might be a different disorder.)

4. It stresses me out to look in my kids’ drawers because now that they put away their own clothes, they’re basically crumpled up and thrown in a drawer. (How hard is it just to lay them in there? They’re already folded! Wouldn’t it be more work to crumple them up?!)

5. When traveling, I don’t ever want to share a suitcase with my husband. We could be going somewhere for one night and I still want my own bag.

6. I’m pretty neat when I cook/bake. I put ingredients away as I go because I don’t like to have a huge mess when I’m finished. (Oddly enough, I’m not OCD about my kitchen being spotless. I think I just don’t like food being out. You’d think by the looks of my kitchen that I love paper. Sooo many papers. I’m so afraid I’m going to throw away an important one that I keep them all, but really, I hate papers.)

7. When I shower, I wash everything in same order every time. (But that’s more like habit, right? I guess I could try starting with my feet and not my face but that would be so weird.)

8. I kind of freak out if my kids eat fruit that hasn’t been washed. (But I don’t freak out if they haven’t washed their hands before they eat. Hmmm, something’s wrong here.)

9. I can’t go to bed with make up on my face. Even if I’m not wearing eye make up, I still have to wash my face.

10. If candy has a cream/gooey filled center, I can’t eat it in one bite. I have to bite just enough to suck out the goo/cream. (I’m a psycho.)

 

After reading this list, I’m aware of 3 things:

  1. I’m neurotic about doing laundry my way.
  2. I’m only OCD about certain aspects of cleanliness, not all aspects.
  3. I really like food.

 

I’m not a psych/neuro person so I don’t know what classifies someone as OCD, but I feel like maybe we’re all a little bit this way about certain things. Maybe I’m trying to rationalize my own quirks. Whatever. All I know is don’t touch my laundry, don’t eat dirty fruit, and give me all the candy. This pretty much sums it up.

 

Anyone else have any OCD tendencies they’re willing to share?

-Courtney

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Happy Anniversary!

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Happy half birthday, Bliggidy! I can’t believe you’ve made it 6 months! This is a testament to what you’ve done to me. I’m not sure I’ve been consistent at anything for 6 months straight other than maybe eating and breathing. Oh, and sleeping.

God has used you to change me in the last 6 months. Because of you, little Bliggidy, I believe I can do things that scare me. You have helped me work out my thoughts and put them into words. This has been a gift to me. You are always there, waiting for my words, whether I want you there or not. You have made me accountable for something. You’ve reminded me that God wants me to say stuff and you are more than wiling to be the keeper of that stuff.

So thank you little blog. You’re good for me.

P.S. To all of you who read the bliggidy, thank you. Your kind words and encouragement humble me and give me the warm fuzzies all at the same time. This is everything to me. Thank you.

-Courtney

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Happy Valentine’s Day Y’all.

 

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Allenfront.jpgltAllenback2.jpgltEvery year I get this question from at least a couple of people: “Why do you send out a Valentine’s card? Do you love Valentine’s Day or something?”

My answer: “Christmas cards stress me out.”

Let me elaborate. The reason I do a Valentine’s Day card instead of a traditional Christmas card is because Christmas cards stress me out. Not other people’s Christmas cards, I LOVE getting those. I’m talking about me actually taking a family photo, getting a card made, addressing the cards, licking the nasty envelope glue, then, finally, putting a stamp on it and mailing it. The Christmas season always seems to leave me with too much to do and not enough time to do it. So I decided 4 years ago to take something off my Christmas to-do list. I made the decision instead of sending Christmas cards, we were sending out Valentine’s cards. Because guess what’s on my to-do list in January and February? Absolutely nothing. It’s glorious. I have plenty of time to get cards done in February. I’m pretty sure the first year I told Kyle we were sending Valentine’s cards instead of Christmas cards he thought it was super weird. Now that we’ve done it for a while I think he kinda likes it. I don’t know about you but I love getting surprise mail, y’know, that mail that’s not an advertisement/coupon/bill.

And as for the second question, no, I do not have extra special feelings about Valentine’s Day as opposed to other holidays. My house isn’t decorated in red and pink with a Valentine’s tree or anything. I have cute Vday hand towels from Target hanging in my kitchen. Does that count for decoration?

Remember when we were kids and we got to make a box for all the Valentines we were going to get at school? Those were the days. You weren’t allowed to leave anyone out so everyone always ended up with lots of Valentines. And candy. Then, for the girls, we would freak out because a boy would sign his card Love, Johnny. Then we would talk at length about if he really loved us or was he just saying that. And if he did love us that would be so gross because we were 8 year old girls and boys had cooties at the time. Except Jeff Dill. In third grade I crushed him so hard and totally wanted him to sign his Love, Jeff. He probably never did. I think he only liked sports. Sigh.

Anyway, consider this your grown up Valentine’s card. If you don’t get any this year, you can count this one from me! Happy Valentine’s!

-Courtney

P.S. Our Valentine’s cards were made by the one and only G Baldwin. She’s amazing and if you want pictures done she’s the bomb. Sorry out-of-towners, she’s in Nashville.

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Singles Awareness Day (or S.A.D.)

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I’m not sure who coined this phrase but I remember hearing it in college and thinking, “Yes! That is sooo it!” Valentine’s Day for some is the loathed Singles Awareness Day for others. I’ve been married for a while but not so long that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be single on Valentine’s Day. It stinks. It’s a day that is perfectly lovely if you have your “person”, but if you don’t, it feels like someone just pointed out the big zit in the middle of your forehead. You know it’s there, obviously, but you don’t really want to talk about it.

I don’t know what it’s like for dudes on S.A.D. but for girls, it can get tricky. There are 3 angles you can play to as a singleton on S.A.D.

23c886e0044320ecc196d965209d514dThe first is “Lonely Singleton”. She is the girl who’s made everyone aware she is single and unhappy. She’s not exactly a delight to be around. If you’re not careful she will suck the life right out of you. Her play to get pity is like no other. She will always one-up your sad story with her miserable plight. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel badly that these singletons are so unhappy. It stinks being lonely; thinking that everybody but you has somebody and that they’re all living this amazing life full of rainbows and kittens. So let’s debunk the myth shall we? If everyone that had their “person” were unequivocally happy, couples would be together forever. Last time I checked the divorce rate was above 0% so clearly having your “person” isn’t the key to happiness.

ea6f2349368094103418ef8b90c19908The second singleton is the “Bitter Betty”. She’s been burned by love one too many times. Watch out for this one, dudes. She will chew you up and spit you out then make you pay for dessert. She’s tough and she’s not afraid to let you know she doesn’t need a man to take care of her. She’s girl power with a chip on her shoulder. The thing about this girl is that usually she’s a big softy on the inside but because she’s been hurt she builds up walls to protect herself. Isn’t this what we all do when we’ve been hurt? Like walls can protect us from feeling pain. She needs someone to handle her heart with great care because when she gives it away it’s a big deal for her. I get this girl. Not in the angry-burned-by-love way, but in the building walls way.

MjAxMy05ZDJiZDgyY2I2ZTZlOTQ3The third singleton is the “Whole Package”. This girl is the bomb diggidy. She doesn’t have her “person” but she recognizes that life goes on and if they spend too much time dwelling on it they might miss it. These girls get it. Rather than focus on what they don’t have, they spend time investing in what they do have. These girls are intentional in their relationships, work hard in their careers, and tend to be people that are up for anything. This doesn’t mean they’re never lonely or sad that they don’t have their “person”, it just means they’d rather live their lives than sit in the waiting room. It’s these girls that make me miss my time with girlfriends and reminds me how much my girl relationships fill my soul. “Whole Package” girls, keep being awesome!

So regardless of which singleton you are, I hope this S.A.D. proves to be better than any other year. Remember that just because you don’t have a “person” doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there that need you to make them feel special. Maybe this Valentine’s Day could be about you doing something special for someone else (family member, friend, coworker…) rather than waiting for someone to do something for you. And if you have no other reason to acknowledge S.A.D., remember this:

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Let this married hag let you in on a little secret: Valentine’s Day is for the dating couples. Once you’ve committed to your “person” for life, Valentine’s Day is a day to order pizza and stay in your sweats/yoga pants. I know it’s pretty glamorous.

-Courtney

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A Letter to my Little Valentines.

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To my little loves,

There’s no good way to start a love letter to you guys. I very literally don’t have words enough to express just how much I love y’all. It’s just not possible. All the words in all the dictionaries and thesauruses could never adequately tell you how much love my heart has for each one of you. I think that’s why God gives us hands and feet so when our words fall short we can show each other love through our actions. So even though hugging and kissing on you feels different than me making your lunch for school, know that it’s coming from the same place. Now, I’d much rather hug and kiss on you than pack lunches, but sometimes love looks like work. And you need to know that that’s ok and sometimes necessary.

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#tbt to when they could all fit in the tub together

Something else you need to understand is when I discipline you or withhold privileges/material things from you, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s because I love you that I must do these things. I love you too much to let you have everything you want. You may not have met anyone yet that’s never been told the word “no” but trust me, these are not the kind of people you want to be when you grow up. People that have always been told “yes” tend to be punks. And I can’t be raising punks. You’re welcome. I’m trying my best to love you like the Bible tells me to. Proverbs 3:12 says, “…the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” This tells me that disciplining you is actually another way to love you. I wish I could tell you I’ve always disciplined or punished you out of love but that would be a lie from the devil. I’ve punished you out of anger and impatience more than I’d like to admit. I’m so sorry for that. I also wish I could tell you I’ll never ever do it again but that probably isn’t true either because your mom is human. Take a minute and chew on that. The beauty of this is that in those moments when I screw it up and don’t love you well, God uses you guys to teach me. I always feel like I’m the one that’s supposed to be showing you the love of Jesus and so many times you guys turn the tables and show it to me instead. Ya’ll are so quick to forgive me when I ask for your forgiveness. You have no idea how this blesses and humbles me. I hope you remember what an imperfect mom you have. Not to hang it over my head (hopefully) but to remind you that I need Jesus too. I won’t be doing you any favors by pretending I’ve got it all figured out. The best way I know to love you is to show you the love of Jesus. I hope there’s not a day that goes by in your life that you don’t know that there’s a big God that loves little you. You are His treasure.

I know you guys know that I love you, but I also want to tell you how I feel loved by you. Y’know, things you already do that make me feel special and loved. I’m documenting these to remember them in the teenage years when you’ll probably hate me and think I’m lame. I’ll start with the firstborn. Paxton, you love me by making me feel valued. You ask me almost every day, “How was your day, Mom?” Or if you know any of my activities or appointments for the day you’ll ask me how they went. Even if you’re just being conversational it makes me feel cared for. Caitlin, you are so good at loving me through little notes and pictures. You love to draw things and leave notes on my bed. I love this! I have many in my nightstand that I can’t part with because they make my heart so happy. And Blaker, you love me by wanting to spend time with me. Whether it’s baking in the kitchen or reading a book at bedtime, you always want to do those things with me. You were my little buddy that went everywhere with me until you had to start crummy kindergarten. So I’ll take all quality time I can get with you these days.

Now that ya’ll are older, you’re going to be able to remember when I screw it up. I’m pretty certain I will hurt you or scar you in some way that only a counselor or therapist can help you work through. But in those memories I hope you will find it in your heart to have some grace for your poor, haggard mom. Thinking “she did the best she could with the knowledge and tools she had”. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I don’t know how our relationships as adults will turn out. I don’t know if you will grow up and have a mohawk, sleeve tattoos, and piercings (cough, Blake). I just don’t know. I will do my best to love you and tell you the truth. I will also try to let God write your story without my “editing”. I believe in a big God that loves little you even more than I do, so I’m trusting Him to take care of you. Guys, this isn’t easy. Loving y’all is the easy part, it’s like breathing. It’s the trusting God and raising you up that’s hard. I’m ill-equipped. I’m still learning how to do me for goodness’ sake. For the love, I can’t even stay on top of the laundry! And don’t even start on the prodigal socks…

I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way to end a love letter but I don’t know it.

But I love you. So there’s that.

Love,

Mom

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My Regards to the Bravermans.

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3897Oh Parenthood. How am I supposed to live without the Bravermans? What have I to look forward to on Thursday nights? They’ve left a void that cannot easily be filled. They now share a place in my heart with Friday Night Lights and that is an accomplishment indeed. I never thought any show could bring out as much emotion as FNL, but the Bravermans held their own. If you’ve never watched this show, go rent the series. Like today. You won’t be disappointed.

I felt like they had become part of my family or maybe I thought I was part of theirs. Who wouldn’t want to be a Braverman? They were the family you wished you had. They remind you of everything that’s good about family. They had their fair share of ups and downs, but one thing always remained the same, their love and support for one another. I rooted for the Bravermans. They had times of intense pain in their relationships which made the times of joy so much sweeter. I feel like this is true for everyone. Pain always makes the joy sweeter.

The characters of this show were so amazing and honest and, well, brave. They drew you in and made you love them. They were flawed but so very real. There was such a wide range of personalities it made it easy to identify with at least one of the characters. My favorite will always be Zeke. Wonderfully ornery Zeke. Craig T. Nelson’s best role since Coach by far. So much of him reminds me of my grandfathers. I think I’ll miss him the most. One of my favorite lines from the show was something Zeke said to his wife, Camille. I think they were having marital problems at the time. He said, “I see you and I hear you.” This is my favorite because it’s so honest and intentional on Zeke’s part. I love that in that moment he was loving his wife the way she needed to be loved. She needed to be seen and heard by her husband. And he was trying. I love this.

Thank you, Parenthood, for all the times you made me feel normal. You made me care about your stories because some of them mirrored my own. More than that, many of the story lines gave me empathy for things I haven’t yet experienced in my life– cancer, teenagers, Asperger’s, loss of a job. Thank you, Bravermans, for filling my Thursday nights with crying, laughing, and sometimes frustration (Joel and Julia!). You will surely be missed.

-Courtney

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