Tag Archives: Kids

Summer Plans for Moms of Preschoolers and Toddlers

That dreaded day on the calendar is almost here.

You can feel a bead of sweat start to trickle down your temple.

All of a sudden, your armpits are sweaty.

You can feel your heart pounding in your chest.

You think you might be having a panic attack.

Your mouth is dry and you’re having trouble catching your breath.

All from looking at one day on your calendar.

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Last day of preschool!!!!

I remember trying to cram everything I’ve ever wanted to do by myself into that last day of preschool because I knew I wouldn’t get another minute during the day to myself for the next 3 months. Bless the moms who have children under 4 at home during the summer. I know you’ve got your camps planned out, dreams of chore charts, lists of free things to do in your city, and so much more summer fun planned. I know, because years ago that was me. Back when I tried to have my act together, have a plan, be a “fun mom”. I love the idealists and the hope-filled dreamers. We’ve all done it. We have so many well-laid plans and dreams of summer fun. It’s cute really. All is well until things don’t go as planned. Until someone starts whining. Until someone hits his sister. Until someone is SOOOOOO HUNGRY! Until we realize we’ve basically taken a bunch of small humans with mood disorders out into the world who all have a tendency to wander. It’s a crushing reality.

 

Here’s a rundown of how summer’s going to go:

  1. Camps will be amazing until you pick them up and they’re so cranky from not having a nap you will want to put them to bed at 5:00 pm every day of said camp.
  2. Chore charts will last approximately one week. You will forget to get quarters or $1 bills out so you won’t be able to pay them and then you’ll end up forgetting all together. Then you’ll figure out it’s easier to wipe a counter yourself and you know it’s actually clean when YOU wipe it down, so the “chores” will fall by the wayside.
  3. Guess who likes free things? Roughly everyone, so free events for kids is a guaranteed circus. It will be similar to herding cats because what did we say about children? (“prone to wander Lord I feeeeeel it…”)
  4. The pool will be fun for a while but the work of sunscreen and fixing goggles and “Mom, watch this!” and always scanning the pool to make sure you can see all your kids will become taxing.
  5. You will eat Chick-fil-A approximately 87 times this summer. This is also the number of times you will have to endure the Play Area. You have my deepest sympathies.
  6. You will do so well at the beginning keeping them off all the electronic things but by August, they’ll be looking at a screen for 9 hours a day AND YOU WON’T EVEN CARE BECAUSE YOU ARE SO DONE.
  7. During naptime, you will tell them every 2.5 minutes “If you’re not going to lay down, you have to at least play quietly in your room.” This is will last for infinity.
  8. You need to go to Costco now and buy every snack food they make in bulk because your child will want a snack every 26 minutes. But they will never be hungry at dinner. It’s some sort of voodoo magic they do.
  9. Your home will look like a frat house after a band party. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It’s fine.
  10. If your potty training this summer…………………

I’m just going to go ahead and start a prayer circle on your                                     behalf.

 

Sweet moms of toddlers, my prayers are with you. You will make it through. Your ears may bleed from all the whining and you may find yourself hiding in the bathrooms and closets just for time alone but it’s all going to be ok. If you find yourself circling the drain at some point, call a sitter or a friend to watch your kids. Tap out of being a parent for a hot minute. It’s ok. I didn’t do this as often as I should have because I wanted to be a strong mom and one who’s able to handle it all. I was “fine.” Let me tell you something about being fine: it’s overrated and underwhelming. Let yourself have a break and have a feeling. You are doing hard work being with your kids all day. You will survive. And this will be your reward:

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(Clearly I didn’t plan my Dr’s appt. to coincide with preschool pick up.)

-Courtney

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To the parents of teenagers

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To the parents of teenagers,

I owe all of you an apology. I was naïve. I was proud. I spoke of that which I did not know. I would listen as you talked about your teen with desperation in your voice at how they had somehow changed overnight. They were now these angsty, hormonal humans who could cut you with their eyes and under their breath mumblings. The looks. The sarcasm. The eye rolls. Honestly, I judged you. I would never have said anything out loud, but in my mind I thought, “Well, maybe if you talked to them more. Maybe if you monitored their every move more. Maybe if you taught them about Jesus more…”

Bless my little heart.

What can I say? I had no idea. I broke the Mom code. I judged you without having walked in your shoes. I’m so ashamed I had these thoughts that it was something YOU did to make your teenager live on the brink of emotional breakdown at all times. I thought you had some control over their stubborn will and annoyed sighing. What did you do to make them stomp off and curse you under their breath?

Oh, it’s called you were being a GOOD parent? But I thought it felt good to be a good parent.

Lies. If someone tells you they are slaying this parenting thing and they never really have any issues with their kids, they’re either liars or really bad parents. You are allowed to feel like an amazing parent for one hot minute. That’s it. You get one minute when all your kids are good and you’re good and your marriage is good, then something will fall apart. It’s SCIENCE.

Maybe I’m writing this to make myself feel better since I’m on the cusp of having a teenager myself. Moods are changing, eyes are being rolled, and general annoyance is heightened. It’s coming. I feel it in my bones and I need to know grace exists when my kid is the one screwing it up. I’m going to be the one needing handholding from those brave mamas that have gone before me. I will need reminding that my identity is not in the hands of my children; it’s in the hands of the God who made me. And my children’s identity isn’t in my hands. I don’t need to be making them into who I want them to be; I should be praying for them and giving them the freedom to be who God wants them to be. That last statement…that’s the hard one. Giving them freedom. The constant questioning of when to give them slack on the rope and when to reign them in is a doubt-filled struggle. And if I’m not going to get it right every time, how can I expect them to always make the right choices? Oh mamas, how do we do this? What are we to do with these children who are turning into adults? We pray. We cry. We open our hands and return to God what was His all along. This is when we begin to trust God with our kids, and when we remember He’s writing their story.

Maybe I’m writing this so I will remember that very thing. He’s writing their story just like He’s writing mine.

Sheesh.

Now I know why no one tells you about actual parenting at your baby shower. Mothers everywhere would be Googling “How to keep your baby in utero longer.” I think I need a “teenager shower” where older, wiser moms can come over and give me advice/condolences about the teenage years. And instead of diapers, everyone just brings me $20 because THESE HUMANS COST SO MUCH MONEY!!!!

Anyone else watching their children turn into little adults before their very eyes?

-Courtney

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Judgy dieting

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(Don’t let those little smiles fool you, they gag when told sweet potato chips and dried mangoes are substitutes for chips and dessert. They’re no dummies.)

Dieting. The word alone makes me cringe. That word also makes me want to open a bag of Cheetos and go to town. (On a side note: I was watching the Martha Stewart show many, many moons ago and she claimed she didn’t know what a Cheeto was. Really Martha? How out of touch can you be? You live in America and have never had a Cheeto? I digress…) So dieting…or as people in the business say, “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” Gag. I know that lifestyle of which you speak. If social media serves correctly (and doesn’t it always?) this “lifestyle” is full of TIGHT athletic wear showing off perfectly toned abs, green smoothies, mirror selfies, and yoga poses overlooking the Grand Canyon. Basically identical to my current life, except the opposite. Although I do love a green smoothie. Even if it has kale. Look at me, guys, I’m growing!

Anyway, when I attempt to make healthier food choices, I’ll admit I tend to become a bit of a judgy dieter. On my first day, I like to sit on top of my mountain on my high horse and look down on those eating their processed food. “How can they eat that Chick fil A sandwich and fries?! Don’t they know how bad that is for them? But I guess if they’re going to eat fried chicken, at least it’s the Lord’s chicken.” The whole time I’m thinking these things, I’m reminiscing about pounding a #1 with a half and half tea just the week before. Ahh, the good old days. I may even watch in horror as the person in the car next to me downs a milkshake from Sonic. Oh the sugar and the fat in those! Does she know what she’s doing to her body! And I drive off in all my self-righteousness, trying not to remember how smooth a peanut butter fudge shake goes down.

Day 1 is when I’m most judgy. I’m always good on day 1. Day 1 I can’t be tempted. What am I…WEAK? No. Day 1 I’m ALL IN!! I’ve got my meals planned out, my exercise on, and I can’t be stopped.

Fast forward to Day 4: I will cut you for a brownie. I’d give my right arm for a piece of pizza. I will try sneaking Hot Tamales out of my kids’ candy stash. I am JONESING for junk food. I had no idea that tall mountain I was on was actually a glass house…maybe I shouldn’t be throwing quite so many stones. And usually by Day 7 I’m bingeing on chips and I’ve gone to buy a cake in a cup from Puffy Muffin. This is my cycle. Until recently.

Just a few months ago I had a very hurtful experience. It had been going on for some time but I finally had to address it. My jeans were cutting into my stomach. They did it over and over, unapologetically, every day. The jerks. So I finally made the decision to start eating healthier. We don’t talk a lot about dieting in our house but we do talk about making “healthier food choices” which my children just adore. What kids don’t love when their moms start buying healthier snacks at the store?

“You want chips, honey? Oh sorry, we don’t have those but you should try one of these multigrain flax and chia seed crackers! It’s basically the same! And I know you like fruit roll ups but how about one of these tasty dried apricots? Yummmm!” At least I know my kids will not be played for fools when they get older. They don’t buy into this nonsense one bit.

So over the last month or two I’ve changed up my eating, knowing full well I could cave at any point, which has made me a little less judgmental. I’ve had a few hiccups (I went on a trip to Chicago with a girlfriend and enjoyed ALL. THE. FOOD. And it was magical. I feel certain they will serve the pasta and deep dish pizza inside the pearly gates. It was just that good.) but for the most part it’s been really good. And bonus: my jeans aren’t being such jerks anymore! For those of you who are dieting/making healthy food choices, press on. It’s not for the faint of heart. Or the faint of gut. May all your protein bars taste like chocolate chip cookies and your smoothies like milkshakes and may God have mercy on your waistline.

-Courtney

P.S. If you’re like me and don’t see much change in that number on the scale but have noticed your clothes fit better, you have my sympathies. The scale is a punk.

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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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New Year’s Resolutions and and update on “Brian”

UPDATE: As many of you saw on social media, Caitlin LOVED the enormous Yeti bear! She has named him Brian much to my chagrin. I’ve never minded the name Brian, per say, but when my daughter tells me she’s going to “sleep on Brian tonight” it kinda wigs me out. She’ll understand in a few years so for now I keep my opinions to myself and let her sweet innocence prevail. She is so proud of this bear and anyone that has come into our home has had to go up to her room to see it for themselves. She and her friends spend hours in her room playing with him. “How do you play with a stuffed animal that big?” Well, from what I hear downstairs it sounds a lot like running and jumping on him. We’ll see how long he lasts. He takes up about half of her room so I’m wondering when the novelty of Brian will wear off. Hopefully not until college seeing that it took Caitlin, Kyle, and 4 of her friends to get him upstairs. I wished I had snapped a pic of THAT! If Ross Gellar were there, he would’ve been yelling, “PIVOT! PIVOT! PIVOT!” All in all, I think this will go down as her favorite Christmas ever. (The video of Caitlin seeing “Brian” on Christmas morning is at the bottom of this post in case you missed it on social media.)

Ok, moving on to the matter at hand.

New Year’s Resolutions.

Are you the kind of person that makes them every year? Or do you skip it so as not to feel bad about not keeping them by the end of January?

I used to never make resolutions but I’d say in the last 5 years or so, I’ve consistently made resolutions every year. Maybe “resolutions” isn’t the right word; I make goals at the beginning of the year. I think this is partly due to my husband. When Kyle got into sales many moons ago, he would make goals at the beginning of the year for work. Then it kind of turned into making personal goals also. Then he sold me on the idea that it’s important to write down your goals because it offers more accountability and you’re more likely to meet them, yada, yada, yada. He’s a brilliant sales guy.

My goals for 2016 were to publish 2 books and floss every day. I met one of those and the other, well, it lasted until March. And I just heard a couple of months ago on the news that some dentists came out and said flossing doesn’t really matter. I highly doubt the validity of that but it makes me feel better about not flossing.

I remember one year writing like 2 pages worth of resolutions/goals in my journal. Bless. I had personal goals, writing goals, parenting goals, marriage goals, financial goals, and the list went on and on. And many of them started with “Every day I will ________________.” This is failure waiting to happen. The only thing I can actually guarantee I will do every day is eat, sleep, and breathe.

This year I’m keeping it simple. My goals this year are short and sweet. They are fairly trivial in nature and one of them even has a time cap. Drum roll please…

  1. Use only my iPhone calendar and get rid of the paper calendar.
  2. Write more consistently (2 blog posts a week)
  3. No social media for the month of January.

That’s it. And I will tell you the first one will be the hardest for me. I adore a paper calendar! I like to see my whole month laid out because the more I see it; the more likely I am to remember it. Alas, I’m making more appointments on the go and it would be easier if all my junk were in one place. So for any of you planning anything with me that requires me to show up, I would be so appreciative of some grace if I forget. Changing systems is HARD. It’s like re-training my brain and this old brain isn’t good with new tricks.

As for #2, writing more consistently helps my writing to become better and generates more ideas, so setting a goal to do it more seems like a no-brainer.

And the “no social media in January” is for my mental health. I need a few less voices in my head so I can hear my own. And since I won’t be on social media, I won’t be posting as much about when I have something new on the blog. If you want to get my blog posts sent straight to your email so you don’t miss any, just sign up here! A good way to contact me in January (and all the time) would be via email: courtneypallen216@gmail.com. Would love to hear from you guys!

2017 is gonna be a stellar year. I can feel it in my bones!

As promised, here’s the video!

-Courtney

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If a waterbed wasn’t ridiculous enough, Caitlin wants a…

After 3 years, I finally caved. She’s been asking for 3 blessed years and because she doesn’t have much else on her list, she’s going to get that thing she’s been wanting. It is against my better judgment to let Santa bring this thing into our home but what am I to do? I’m already nixing the waterbed off Blake’s list, shouldn’t at least one of my kids get what they want? Paxton’s easy, his list can be bought in the electronic department of Target in a day. But my girl, sigh, she’s pining for this one thing and this is the year she’s gonna get it. She’s gonna be STOKED!

What’s the “thing”, you ask?

Oh. That.

Well, see, it’s the enormous stuffed bear from Costco. It’s the size of a Yeti (the monster not the cup) and I’m not even kidding. I have held it off for 3 years but she won’t stop asking for this silly bear. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants.

So I go yesterday to Costco to purchase said Yeti bear and OH. MY. WORD. It’s a monstrosity. It is bigger than ME and pound for pound we’ve got to be close to the same weight. I sort of wish I could see the store video footage of my trying to get this bear into my cart. It was basically a comedy sketch and by the end I’m in a full-blown sweat. I imagine it is like trying to get a 7 ft unconscious person into a car. And never mind the passersby that gawked at me like I was some sort of sideshow entertainment.

I finally manage to get the stupid thing into my cart but I have to hold the side of the cart to drive because it’s hanging out of both ends.

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Then come the people with all their commentary…

“Is that for you? Heh heh.”

“You should take the stuffing out and it could be a costume!”

“That’s bigger than you!!”

It was really precious, all those non funny comments.

Ya’ll would have been so proud of me. I didn’t say one ugly thing out loud to any of those people. I kept all my nasty, cutting comments to myself. I wore my invisible “SUCKER” sign on my forehead and walked to the checkout like a schmuck. I tried to avoid eye contact and looked at the ground but it was obvious people were staring as if to say, “What kind of idiot would by that?” Yep. That’s me. Idiot, Party of 1. I wish Kyle had been with me. He would have laughed along and had something funny to say to all their little jabs, but no, I wore my SUCKER sticker all by myself that day. I mean, people were literally pointing their fingers and laughing at me. Are we even allowed to point and laugh at people anymore? I feel like that should be a new rule. “No pointing and laughing at people unless they are a comedian or a clown.” I’m starting a petition.

Anyway, I check out and get to my car and just stand there, looking at my trunk. Like a statue.

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I have no idea how I’m going to get this beast of a bear into my car. Luckily, I didn’t wait long because a sweet couple offered to help me. They told me they had bought that same bear 3 years ago for their 10 year old granddaughter. Hallelujah and praise hands for compassion! We stuffed that bear into my car and I headed home, my faith in humanity restored. Look at this picture. I can’t even handle it.

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Big Foot Bear is residing in my garage at present, covered with a sheet and massive amounts of junk. See, there ARE perks to being unorganized and having piles of crap in your garage– no one notices when you add to the pile. Hopefully she won’t notice. Fingers crossed.

-Courtney

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Christmas, I love you but I quit.

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I want to quit Christmas. Does anyone else feel me on this? I’m so done and over Christmas shenanigans and I haven’t even started the baking yet. Maybe I should’ve baked first so the sugar could take me to my happy place then I would not be over all this Christmas.

Believe me when I tell you, I’m no Scrooge about Christmas. I adore Christmas. I love the lights, the music, the decorations, the baking, the gift-giving, ALL OF IT. I love it. Maybe my mood has to do with trying to sell a book at the craziest time of the year (The month of May runs a close second), or that we’re doing some home renovations, or that my kids still want to eat everyday and have clean clothes and do activities and need help with doing life because they are only children for goodness’ sake! I’m over 2015 and am ready to tap out. Anybody with me?

All the aforementioned things may be factors in my current attitude, but I think the truth is I’ve become a victim of the world’s view of Christmas. I’ve bought into the idea that even though you have a lot going on in your regular life, you need to make sure you buy all the presents, make all the goodies, attend all the parties, decorate all the rooms, do all the Advent calendars, watch all the Christmas movies, and make all the memories with your kids…ALL WHILE REMEMBERING THAT “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.”

For goodness sake.

I cannot.

Gosh we’re good at adding unnecessary things to our plate, aren’t we? I love baking at Christmas. And I love watching Christmas movies. I love having a Christmas tree in my living room because it just makes it feel magical. But somehow it has turned into, “I’ve got to go to 20 different places and 30 different websites to get everyone’s presents! I have to get on the baking because the kids are almost out for Christmas break and I ALWAYS bake something for the teachers! The kids will be crushed if I miss their “holiday” parties; I have to go! I have to get all my Christmas decorations up so I can tell people I have all my Christmas decorations up! I’ve got to get the red nose and antlers on my car so people will know I’m pretending my car is a reindeer…oh wait… no, I don’t EVER need to do this. I need to find the perfect outfit for the Christmas parties I’m going to! I’ve got to get the kids to the mall to see Santa and get their picture made! Shoot, we forgot to read our Advent calendar, now we need to read 6 to catch up! Then I’ve got to remember to post everything I’ve done with my kids during the Christmas season so people can “ooh and aah” over what an amazing mom I am! Don’t forget!!”

YA’LL.

THIS IS LUDICROUS.

No wonder I’m tired. Did you read how many “I”s are in that last paragraph? 17 . Whew, I’m beat and I haven’t even done all those things.

I’ve made Christmas into something it’s not. I’ve made it about me and what I’m doing to make it perfect and magical. Bless my heart.

The most important, perfect, magical thing I should be doing this Christmas season is taking the time to worship the God who gave us His Son. That’s it. Why is that so hard for me to remember?

Christmas is our call to worship. That’s what the angels and shepherds were doing the night Jesus was born. That was the reason the wise men loaded up their stuff and made the trek to meet Jesus. To miss the opportunity to worship is to miss Christmas. And I think that’s why my soul is weary and I feel such unrest. I’ve been giving my worship (time, attention, efforts) to things that are life-sucking rather than life-giving. I need to find my way back to the manger. I need to sit in awe of the gift God gave to me, and the rest of the world, so long ago. My soul is never more rested than after time spent with God. So today I’m pumping the brakes on commercial Christmas. I’m going to go curl up in my favorite chair and pour over the words in Luke 2. I’m going back to the manger. Who’s with me?

-Courtney

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The weirdest thing my kid wants for Christmas

Blake is always my most vocal child when it comes to what he wants for Christmas. He’s quick to make a list but I can’t shop too early because chances are he’s going to change his mind. There’s one thing on his list this year that has stayed the same. I keep waiting for him to decide he doesn’t want it anymore and cross it off the list. Unfortunately for me, this hasn’t happened yet. As a matter of fact, it’s the #1 thing he wants this year.

Any guesses as to what it is?

“OBJ jersey?” No. He’s already got one of those.

“Video games?” Nope.

“Football cards?” Please, baby Jesus, no. We’ve got enough.

The item topping his list this year, the thing he has not waffled on once, the thing that may or may not end his belief in Santa is…

Wait for it…

A WATERBED.

I’ll give you a minute. It’s ok, I about took a knee when he told me that’s what he wanted. What in the heavens? Is this some sort of joke? A waterbed?! Do the 1970s somehow come with it? Do I need to buy him a lava lamp and shag carpet as well?

I’m sure you’re wondering his reasoning behind wanting a waterbed as was I when he told me. After he told me why he wanted it, I COMPLETELY understood.

Me: “Blake, why on earth do you want a waterbed?”

Blake: “I just do.”

That’s it, folks. He just does. As compelling as his “I just do” argument is, I can’t. Right? I can’t get my 8 year old a waterbed. Like really?! I’ve tried explaining that there’s no way Santa could fit a waterbed down the chimney. He says he can just come through the front door. I half think that Blake knows the goods about Santa so he’s doing some sort of Christmas test on Kyle and me. He’s heard rumblings about old St. Nick at school and Paxton has almost blown Santa’s cover several times. I think in Blake’s mind it goes:

Waterbed= Yes, Blake, there is a Santa Claus!

No waterbed= My parents are lying liars and they deserve to have their pants catch on fire.

Well, it was fun while it lasted, Santa, but I can’t get my kid a waterbed. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Do they even MAKE waterbeds anymore?” Why yes, yes they do. I only know because I just looked it up on Google for the purposes of this post, NOT for the purposes of purchasing one. (And in case you are in the market for one, they now make them to look like regular mattresses. So you can have the feel of the ‘70s without the look of the ‘70s. However, if you want that bed-encased-in-wood look (i.e. 1976), they still offer those.)

A waterbed for Blake would be like most other Christmas gifts he receives: it’ll be awesome for a hot minute then he won’t care about it anymore. Or worse, he’ll pop a hole in the thing and we’ll really be up a creek. Literally.

I know Blake, and I know he’ll be disappointed when he comes downstairs to find no waterbed but seriously, I just can’t. He’ll get over it, right? If he grows up and wants to buy his own waterbed, more power to him. Then maybe his wife can be the bad guy and tell him there’s no way she’s sleeping on a waterbed. Good girl.

Anyone have any suggestions on a good substitute for a waterbed? Is there another substitute other than, well…a regular bed? Maybe I’ll just give him a lava lamp and call it a day. He’ll think a lava lamp is totally groovy.

-Courtney

**Since writing this post, he has changed his #1 spot to a new bike! Glory be! A bike I can do! And look a little further down on the list…

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A lava lamp. Large. I didn’t even know there were different sizes.

What in the world.

It’s like he was born in the wrong decade.

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Best Thanksgiving Craft…Ever.

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This is our Thankful Pumpkin. Don’t let its pristine appearance fool you. I know many of you are thinking, “How did you ever come up with something that clever?! I would never have thought to let my kids just write what they’re thankful for on a pumpkin! This is blowing my mind!” Simmer down guys, I got it off Facebook. Or Pinterest. No, had to be Facebook, Pinterest would have had me do something way cuter that involved…time. This “craft”, if you can even call it that, was my jam this year. No construction paper, glitter, glue, or anything else that would end up with me yelling, I mean lovingly redirecting, my kids. It was foolproof. And let’s be honest, this fool needs all the help she can get. I have low level crafting skills at best. I can cut things out that are traced on paper so pretty much I’m at a kindergarten level. I’m just glad I don’t need safety scissors.

I count it a small victory that I actually remembered to do something this year to remind my kids that we have much to be thankful for. They loved writing on this silly pumpkin. We would take turns writing on it at dinner and then share what we wrote. As the parent, I’m trying to set a good example and write things like “God’s Word” and “Jesus”, and my kids are writing things like “meatloaf” and “OBJ”. We’re really amazing parents. If ever I am on the brink of feeling prideful as a parent, my kids know just how to serve up a hefty helping of humility. They also loved having their friends come over and write what they were thankful for on it. They had so much fun seeing what everyone wrote. Blake even wrote his own name on there. Bless.

As I look at this little pumpkin, I love seeing all the names on there. I’m so grateful my kids have so many people they love in their lives. Some are family; some are friends that feel like family. Either way, we have been given much in the way of love and I have a deep well of gratitude for these people. So on Thanksgiving, I hope you all are with people you love and who love you; whether they are family or friends that have become like family. And it must be said that I am very grateful for all of you that read my thoughts. This is so very kind since I know there are millions of other things you could be doing with your time. So if you land on my page and stay longer than a minute…thanks. And…

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Courtney

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