Tag Archives: summer

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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Are you an early person or a late person?

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Anyone else ever feel either too late or too early to fall? I feel like this tree—awkwardly moving into fall. I’m either like the yellow leaves that are fully committed to the weather change, or I’m the green leaves—hanging on to every last bit of summer.

I wouldn’t consider myself a chronically late person, but when it comes to the season of fall, I’m usually late to the party. It never fails that when I show up to an event in late September, my footwear is always lacking. I’m that girl in flip-flops when all the other girls are in knee high boots. (And we all know how I feel about tall boots. #struggle) I’m bee-bopping into my kids’ open house at school in a sleeveless top and sandals and the other moms are in cardigans and skinny jeans. Ugh. My summer wardrobe has overstayed its welcome yet again. (And I use the term “wardrobe” VERY loosely. Can we even consider shorts, V-necks, and flip-flops a wardrobe when it’s rotated in with workout clothes?) Then I get embarrassed that my feet are showing when, clearly, it’s time to cover them up. I’ve somehow missed the memo that there’s an expiration date on shorts and I continue wearing them. It’s all very shameful. Or there’s the alternative…

…where I barge into fall a bit too early. I come in HOT, figuratively and literally. I’m the girl in cords, booties, and a cardi when everyone else is donning tousled hair and maxi dresses. In these situations, I’ve typically overestimated the cool weather and imagined that 87 degrees “feels like fall.” I’m sweating in all my crevices and praying that the moisture doesn’t make it all the way through to my cardigan pits. Guys, I’m a sweater. Like I can’t even hide it when I’m the least bit hot. The sweat-stache forms above my upper lip almost immediately and it’s the point of no return. Then, I spend most of my time trying to daintily wipe the sweat off and discreetly smear it on my pants that are no doubt sticking to my legs. All the while looking around to make sure no one is paying attention. I am usually rationing my fluid intake because the idea of trying to peel my skinny jeans off of my damp legs to pee is enough to make me want leave an event altogether. (If you’ve never encountered this problem, either the heat doesn’t activate your sweat glands or your jeans aren’t tight enough. I’m jealous of you either way.) For the women who feel me on this, you know it’s going to be about a 15-minute trip to the bathroom to get it done. It’s right up there with taking off a wet one-piece bathing suit and putting it back on. The trick is to make yourself look like you did before you even went into the bathroom. This is basically impossible because your jeans are now sticking in places they weren’t before, or you can’t get the crotch of your pants back up to your actual crotch. It’s times like these that I miss the ‘90s. Everything was baggy in the ‘90s. In pleated jeans, no one even knew you had a crotch because they were so distracted by the pleats. Ah, the simpler times.

Since I live in Tennessee, fall can be a bit elusive. One week it’s 90 degrees, the next it’s 72. But just when you think you’re good to rid yourself of shorts until next year, the temperature goes back up to 89. I’ve decided Tennessee weather has bipolar disorder. So until Tennessee commits to fall, I refuse to put the flip-flops in the back of the closet. People will just have to deal with my legs and feet as they get paler and paler into October. I’ll trade my sweat-stache for white feet any day.

-Courtney

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THIS IS NOT THE ANNOUNCEMENT…however it IS about the most magical place on earth…and no, it’s not Disney.

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I hate hate hate that I can’t share my news yet, but in the meantime, I DO want to share with you about a family camp I went to this summer. I know, family camp sounds super weird and maybe even a bit corny but normal and cool is soooo 1990. In short, it was the Best. Trip. Ever. (And as you can tell from the pic above, there are theme nights. Obviously Caitlin did not want in on the family camo theme.)

Sometimes when people have an extraordinary experience and are asked about it, they say things like, “ It’s so hard to put into words” or “I can’t even begin to describe it!” This is not my problem when it comes to talking about Pine Cove family camp. My problem is that I want every word I use to describe this camp to carry the magnitude of joy I felt while I was there. My problem is I want bigger/better/more words than I have in my vocabulary to tell you about this magical place. My problem is I want to somehow transfer my experience into your body so you can understand it. Because some things just have to be experienced in order to be understood.
This place, ya’ll.
I can’t quit this place. We drank the Kool-Aid, bought the shirts, and cranked it like a chainsaw. We are ALL IN.
Instead of going into the minutiae of why I love this camp so much, I’m going to narrow it down to 3 things:

1. The Counselors
-Calling these young men and women the cream of the crop would still be a gross understatement. They’re basically unicorns in human skins. I have never met young adults more concerned with the needs of others. Look, I know some of you may be thinking, “That’s their job. They’re getting paid to care for your every need.” Clearly you’ve never been a camp counselor. The monetary gain is SLIIIIMMMM. They’re basically paid in high fives and side hugs. Seriously. And what young 20-somethings choose to spend their summers serving and loving on families? This is not normal, but after meeting some of these men and women, I realized– they really aren’t normal. They are high energy, Jesus-loving, hard working, Kingdom-minded, helping-handed, chant-loving, feet of Jesus, disciple-makers. And smiling is their favorite. For real. These young men and women make this place what it is. I’m not sure if they’re drinking Jesus or Red Bulls all day but my goodness do they have a lot of energy. And funny enough, little kids have high energy too so it’s a perfect match. They are there showing kids how much fun it is to love God and live out their faith… and they’re cool (Because lesbihonest, some people don’t even make it look like fun to follow Jesus. And no, they weren’t decked out in Jesus Freak shirts and bracelets. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

2. Reprieve from Mom and Dad duties
-It’s like a bunch of parents got together and came up with a list of the most stressful things about vacationing with kids and figured out a way to alleviate them. I wish we had started going to Pine Cove about 5-7 years ago when it was a GRIND to go on vacation with the kids. (Plug to moms of toddlers: SIGN UP FOR THIS CAMP! You need a break more than anyone! Pinky promise you’ll love it.) For example, meal times. With small kids, meal times are an opportunity to play “How many times can I make Mom/Dad get up before their food is cold?” Kids aren’t taught this game; it’s somehow burned into their brain upon arrival into the world. With that being said, every meal you have at Pine Cove will not involve this game. You will not lift one single finger during meals except to feed yourself. A counselor is assigned to your table, which means he/she will fill your drinks, he/she will butter their rolls, he/she will CUT UP YOUR KIDS’ FOOD. You read that right and I am not even kidding about it. The counselor will get up and get your kids whatever they think they need. This service allows your family to enjoy a meal without anyone leaving the table. It’s magical, like the land of Narnia. (Moms of babies, I wouldn’t tell you this if I hadn’t witnessed it with my eyeballs. Are you ready? A counselor will HOLD YOUR BABY WHILE YOU EAT! I’m telling ya’ll, it’s like a land where unicorns roam. Are you clicking the links now to sign up?)
For those of you that have children who require more attention and care due to special needs, YOU NEED THIS CAMP. Your precious child will not only still get to participate as his/her abilities allow, he/she will have their own counselor for the week. It brings tears to my eyes even now when I think about watching these college kids love on these extraordinary children. They are so patient and gentle with these kids. It was almost like they considered it an honor to take care of these children. I know it blessed me and I was just a bystander.

3. Family
-There are thousands of camps for kids. There are also hundreds of conferences/retreats for married people (Thousands? Hundreds? I don’t know, but there are a lot.) But rarely do you find a camp that is for families. They understand the value of a strong family unit. Whether you’re married, divorced, widowed, or single, they want to serve your family. They have designed this camp to set parents up to bond with their kids. All those good intentions we have as parents to spend quality time with our kids, they are making a reality. They provide materials and a specific time to have devotionals as a family. They provide opportunities for your family to go do things together i.e. zip lining, tubing, water skiing, etc. They give you a night to spend with your teenagers to speak God’s truth into their lives; telling them who they are in Christ and offering a chance to ask/give forgiveness over the broken parts of your relationship. This place wants to make it easy for parents to win with their kids. It offers a safe place to connect and grow as a family and give memories to last a lifetime.

I know this post may seem long-winded but I promise I’m only scratching the surface of this enchanted place. I’m sure some of you are now thinking, “This all sounds too good to be true but just in case a land of unicorns DOES exist…how much does it cost?” I’m not gonna lie to you, unicorns and rainbows come at a cost. But if your family can afford to save up for a trip to see a giant mouse and stand in line for 1 million hours, you can swing this camp. And once you get there, you don’t pay for anything. Cabins, 17 meals, entertainment, unicorns, stronger families, and memories are ALL included in the cost. Think of it as an investment in your family. Trust me, it’s just that good. You can also do a payment plan if that works better for your family. We made Pine Cove our only trip for the summer and it was worth every penny. Our kids are still talking about it. And if Texas is too far of a hike for your people, they’re opening a new camp location in South Carolina next summer! Please consider this camp for your family, it will be money well spent!!

Here’s the linky-loo so you can check it out for yourself!

Pine Cove family camps

-Courtney

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Happenings lately

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(I saw this on Instagram and I loved it. There is always good. Even when it’s hard to see, there is still good.)

Sweet friends, so much has happened since the last time I posted to this blog. On a large scale, our country is grieving for those that were injured and killed in the Orlando shooting a few days ago. This makes my heart sick. It makes me sick to think there are people out there that are resolved to killing people who are not like them. These people thrive off being feared by others and it’s just disgusting. I hate that I had to talk to my sweet children about people like this as they just looked at me with confused faces, like “Why on earth would you kill someone just because they’re different than you?” I adore their innocence and it makes me ill that the world they are growing up in is not idyllic for them. I hate that they will have to witness hate that is beyond their understanding. People hurting groups of people to foster fear in the hearts of others is so cowardly. But I’m grateful that in these instances, I get to talk to them about Jesus. I get to tell them how Jesus is grieved for this community that lost so many. I get to tell them how Jesus would never think it’s ok to kill someone just because they’re different. Jesus commanded us to love one another. That’s it. I get to tell them that because of what Jesus did for us, we can be kind and love other people because we have hope. The brokenness of our world will only become more real to our children as they grow. I pray this reality will open their eyes to the beauty of what God did through Jesus. It’s all grace upon grace upon grace.

Ok, other happenings on a smaller scale include:

-It’s summer

-The kids ask me what we’re going to do every blessed day

-They also might eat me out of house and home (canihaveasnackmom?)(eventhoughiate20minutesago)

-Nash the dog tore his ACL and had surgery (ohmygoshthismightsendmeovertheedge)

-We are researching a gluten free diet for our family (ohmygoshthisishardtoo)

-It’s supposed to get up to 99 degrees this week and we all might melt

-I have come to terms with my inability to multitask (ijustcant)

-After 13 years of Kyle’s nagging, I finally caved and picked up a tennis racket (eatingcrow) (tennisisactuallyfun)

-My hopes of maintaining some sort of exercise regimen in the summer have come crashing down (doessweatingatthepoolcountasexercise?)

-My kids were at camps last week and Kyle and I ate ice cream every night (itwentdownsmooth)

-I’m learning to embrace my lack of productivity with kids at home (messyisthenewblack)

 

AND THE BEST ONE OF ALL…

-I’ve got another children’s book going to print!!!!!!!!! (YIPPPPEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!)

I’ll tell you more about the book as it gets closer to being finished, but just know it’s fun, has really cute illustrations, and will be a great Christmas gift! I literally can’t wait to tell you more!!!

Until next time…

-Courtney

 

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Back in the saddle

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(Obviously the oldest is too cool for a sign.)

(Obviously my neighbor made the sign.)

(This was after my daughter told her how her mom wasn’t a sign person. We should all feel sorry for Caitlin and her plight of having a non-crafty mother. Sniff, sniff. Thanks, CB for always picking up my slack!)

I can’t believe today is the first day of school. Summer flying by is a new phenomenon for me. My kids being in school has somehow made time start moving at lightning speed. I could’ve sworn they just got out of school two weeks ago. Nevertheless they go back today and while I’m a bit sad we are jumping back into the grind, part of me is excited. That part of me that needs time alone in order to have a thought from start to finish is dying for some attention. It’s the same part of me that has missed being able to write this summer. I guess “able” is a bit strong; I mean, I could’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn like a do during the school year to get some writing in but it’s summer and I want to sleep in. Like I tell my kids, life’s about choices.

As my kids start back on a schedule today, I can’t help but feel like I’m starting back too. I’ve got lots of posts rolling around in my brain that I want to share with you! I wish I could tell you about the laundry list of amazing things I accomplished with my kids this summer but alas, that would be a lie from the pit. I think we maybe did two things off our “Summer Bucket List.” I was just glad I managed to get my oldest to read his ONE book he was required to read this summer. When I asked him what the book was about, he told me the age of the main character and where he lived. Let’s all bow our heads and pray there’s not a test over this material. Anyway, we had a great summer packed with camps, travel, and out-of-town visitors (I know our trips to Dollywood and Holiday World are enough to make you swoon over how glamorous our vacations are). It was a fantastic summer that went by far too quickly but I’m pumped about getting to work on some writing projects I’ve got in the hopper. I promise I’ll spill some details when I have more information because I’ll definitely need your feedback!

I’d love to stay and chat but I’ve got to go make pancakes as requested for the first day of school. Let the record show we’re having pancakes and bacon…in the morning…on a weekday. For the longest time I think my kids thought pancakes were a dinner food because we only ate them for dinner. Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? But since today is “special”, I’ll suck it up and make pancakes in the morning hours. Did I mention middle school starts a whole HOUR before elementary school? This is distressing. It is also the reason I will use for not making hot breakfast for the rest of the school year. Enjoy pancakes in the morning today, kids; the rest of the year your hot meals will come out of the microwave or toaster.

Happy first day, friends!!

-Courtney

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Rainy Day Miracle

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I was driving in a storm not long ago with 4 kids in the car contemplating how badly I needed to go to the grocery store. I really needed to go but schlepping 4 kids to the store in pouring down rain would only bring out the horrible awful I try so desperately to keep under wraps (the impatience, the snippiness, the exasperated sighs). So I decided to forgo the store and go home. Any time I go to the grocery in the rain I’m reminded of an incident, or divine appointment, I had last summer.

I was trekking through Publix getting a weeks worth of groceries when I heard it storming outside. Unloading groceries in the rain is on the list of “Things I Avoid Like The Plague.” I finished shopping and had one million plastic bags full of groceries to put in my car. Alas, I had forgotten my recyclable bags once again. This is the story of my life. When I pushed my cart outside, I stood under the awning because the rain was now coming down in sheets. I really didn’t have time for this. So I stood there and tossed up a throw away prayer to God. One of those Hail Mary/last ditch effort prayers. “Lord, please make it stop raining long enough for me to get the groceries in my car. Amen.” I pray those kinds of prayers frequently. Just a little throw away pray I doubted God even heard. Then I continued to wait for God to stop the rain so I could make a break for my car.

Then the weirdest thing happened. As I’m standing there I saw someone walking towards me. This man was as dark as night and had the whitest teeth I had ever seen. He approached me holding an umbrella and, in his thick accent, asked if he could help me to my car. He had one of those smiles that is pure joy. Then I became a statue for about 10 seconds. I think I stammered something but I don’t remember what. I nervously accepted his offer and this sweet man walked me to my car holding his umbrella over me so I didn’t get soaked. He then proceeded to help me put my groceries in my car. When we were finished, all I could manage to say was a lame “Thank you.” Then he walked away.

I got into my car and began to cry. I couldn’t believe the kindness this stranger had just shown me. There was no reason he should’ve helped me. He didn’t even know me. And he certainly didn’t work at Publix so he wasn’t getting paid to take me to my car. This made me cry the ugly cry from way down deep. I sat there in my car, in the rain, thinking about the God that loves me. He loves me so much He chose to answer my throw away prayer. He certainly didn’t have to; I’ve walked to the car plenty of times in the rain. What I love is that He answered my prayer in His own way. He knew I just wanted to make it to the car without getting drenched, but instead of stopping the rain, He used a stranger to answer my prayer.

How many times do I pray and not really expect God to answer? I pray half-hearted prayers. I pray prayers for my convenience. Oh ME of little faith. What if I started always praying with the expectation that God would answer my prayers? I know, in a previous post “expectation” was a dirty word. But expectation doesn’t disappoint when it’s in the Lord. What if I considered that God was actually listening every time I threw up a Hail Mary prayer? Would I pray differently? Would I ask for different things? I think this is how God wants us to pray all the time; in constant awareness that He’s listening to His kids. We have his full attention. I’ve been a believer for 24 years and I am still in awe of the goodness of the God I serve.

Pray for big and small things. Why not? He hears you either way.

-Courtney

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A Sight to Behold

Summer has come and squashed my theory that our family could slow down and take a break. So far, our summer has been loaded with camps and a couple of weekend getaways with family. After this week we’ll be pretty much done with week long camps (Can I getta whoop whoop?) I have high hopes for July and the rest it will bring.

Judging from the first paragraph, it would seem this is a post about our summer. Well, I would hate to big time everyone with my tales of a trip to my parents’ house in Memphis and a weekend in Pigeon Forge. We lead a pretty glam life so I’d hate to make all of you jealous. No, I’m going to tell/warn you of something you should never do. Unless you’re a fitness instructor and your fitness is on point (cough, cough Beatbox instructors).

I’m going to skip my laundry list of excuses and just tell you it’s been a while since I worked out. Maybe a few weeks. I finally talked myself into going to Beatbox on Monday and much to my surprise the class was a bit small. Like “6 of us” small. Realizing there were only going to be 6 people in the class, the instructor decided we should move to the side of the room that had mirrors and do our workout facing the mirrors. (Let it be known that I am a back row workout girl and never, EVER, workout on the side of the room with mirrors.) She said when we watch ourselves work out it helps us perfect our form because we can actually see what we’re doing wrong. Oh, Kim. I promise you this is the least of my worries when I’m working out in front of a mirror.

So I walk myself over to the mirror and sigh. This is what I look like in workout clothes? I should burn these shorts. My hips are enormous in these shorts. Why do my legs look like tree trunks and my feet look tiny by comparison? It looks like I could tip over at any moment. Wow, I didn’t realize my baby leftovers were so evident in this top. Guess I’ll throw it in the burn pile with the shorts. My shoulder game is on point in this top though so maybe don’t burn it. I need to go easy on the tightness of my ponytail. Why does it look so severe? Must be the bobby pins giving me a facelift. This is not a good look. Uh oh, music’s coming on, I’m going to have to move these tree trunks. Oh my. Who knew it looked like my boobs were about to punch me in the face when I do high knees and sprint in place? It’s like they’re in a boxing match trying to knock out my face. (Note to self: get a bra that keeps these suckers stationary.) Now football sprints? Really? I always felt my whole body jiggle during these but to see it with my own eyes is a lot to process. My fat jiggles so fast! Surely that means it’s melting off. I also now understand why most people in these classes wear those yoga cropped legging things. Can’t see your thighs wave back at you in those. (Another note to self: when I sprint in place, I actually look like I’m going in slow motion. How is this possible? I feel like Flo Jo.) Burpees… I think Satan uses these in hell. I need to start closing my eyes when I have to jump. Watching it is too confidence deflating. Here I thought I was Michael Jordan and I’m actually only about 2 inches off the ground. How is it possible that I look so unathletic? Sigh. I really do look like I’m about to die. I wonder if they do a special cleaning of the floor area where I work out. I should offer to help pay the cleaning bill. The sweat is like a puddle underneath me. I can’t help it really, my genetics handed me head-sweating. I know at least one of my brothers’ suffers from it as well. It’s our cross to bear. (Note to self: remember to wash your nasty sweat towel.) Ok, last song before cool down. Oh crap, she’s playing Bad Blood. This means I’m supposed to hold plank for a solid 3 minutes while my arms take turns doing movements to make the 3 minutes even more torturous. I’m 15 seconds in and doing good. I got this. What are those spots on the ground? No worries, I’m about to pass out but it’ll be fine. I’ll drop a knee. Ok, plank again. More spots. Downward dog. Plank. Child’s pose. Plank with arm out. Spots. Drop both knees to the ground. Plank. Sit up and blink because I’m feeling dizzy. Plank. Song’s over. I can’t believe I held plank for 3 minutes!! Yeah right. Now the blessed cool down. Hallelujah, praise Jesus.

Even though I was critiquing myself during my workout something occurred to me. I may not look good doing this workout but at least I can do it…mostly. I am physically able to exercise and there have been times in my life where this was not the case because I was so sick. So as much as I hated watching my wobbly bits work it for an hour, I was reminded how blessed I am that I have the ability to work my wobbly bits at all. I’m also grateful I never invested in a full-length mirror for my bedroom. I used to want one and now I know better. I don’t. I really, really don’t.

PS If you missed my first post about Beatbox, you can find it here. if you haven’t tried Beatbox, please come!!

-Courtney

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The Scariest Place on Earth

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After several weeks off from writing, this chair is giving me anxiety. It’s the same feeling I get any time I take off from working out. When I’m working out consistently I feel great. I feel strong. I feel better about myself. Then I get busy, take a few weeks off, make excuses, and before I know it, i feel completely out of shape with no desire to go to an exercise class. I know I need to but I know what awaits me on the other side. The other side is going to be hard. It’s going to leave me sore in places I didn’t know could be sore. I’m going to sweat which means I, inevitably, will have to shower and rinse my hair (Ladies, you know what a task this is.)

Writing feels like this sometimes. When I’m in the groove, it can be amazing. I feel like my brain is buzzing with ideas and my fingers aren’t quick enough to type the words. Then I slack off for a bit. Summer comes. My kids are home all the time. I’m busy. I’m tired. I have excuses in spades as to why I can’t find time to write. Then all of a sudden my kids are at camp and I have a few days to myself. I find myself looking at that chair, glaring at it really. Why can’t I drag my tail off the couch and go sit in that chair and write? Because I’m out of practice. Because it’s going to be hard. Because I’m going to have to make my brain form sentences.

Ya’ll.

Making sentences seems easy. We do it all the time with our mouths. We spew words all day every day like it’s nothing. But try sitting down in front of a computer screen and typing letters to make words which will become sentences. Let me spare you the details and just tell you it can be painful. Keeping my tail in that chair can be painful. This is why I make excuses and avoid that chair like the plague.

But guess what? It’s time to get back in shape. It’s time to make sentences. It’s time to get my butt in that chair. Ok, here goes. Be gentle…

-Courtney

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Flashback Friday

Getting into the swing of summer reminds me of a story I posted last August. I had high hopes of taking my kids on an epic canoeing adventure. This post reminds me that my grand expectations are always brought back to reality within about five minutes of beginning the adventure. Good luck on all your endeavors with your littles this summer!

Bright Idea

This summer I made the decision that our family needed more adventure. We aren’t really an “outdoorsy” family. We’re not campers or hikers or really into anything that requires us to dig a hole when nature calls. You feel me? But for some reason I’ve been feeling like my kids need more adventures. It was the end of the summer and I knew if we didn’t do it soon, they would be back in school and we would never do it. I wanted to do something before the monotony of school and sports’ schedules took over our lives. My sister-in-law told me weeks before how much fun she and my brother had taking 2 of their kids canoeing. So I thought, “That sounds fun and it’s on the water so my kids will probably love it! I’ve also been doing the row machine at the Y so I’m pretty sure that makes me an expert canoer. Is “canoer” even a word? No matter, I’ve totally got this. And since the 2 oldest are big enough to paddle, it won’t matter that the hubs isn’t with me because they’ll totally help me paddle.” Perfect plan. (I feel like I should also mention that when I told Kyle what I was doing, he gave me raised eyebrows and a “Wow”. Not, “Wow that’s awesome”. More like “Wow, that might be a tad ambitious since no one you mentioned has ever canoed before. And our kids pretty much always let you know when they’re hot/hungry/tired/bored, so that could be interesting. I’m almost sorry I can’t come just to observe the disaster that is sure to ensue.”)

I called and set up our reservation and peppered the guys with questions like,

“So, how long is the shortest course?” 2 hours.

“Will there be other people out there canoeing with us?” Oh yeah.

“Do I need to bring anything in the canoe?” Nah, it could fall out and get wet so leave all your valuables in the car.

Done. I can totally do this. The next morning I get the kids up and out the door by 8:15 because it takes 30 minutes to get to the canoe shop. I pack a couple of water bottles for the canoe because Lord help us if a child gets thirsty, it’s as if they live in the Sahara and haven’t had water in days. We pile in the car and go. Google maps does me right and gets me there in exactly 30 minutes. We’re there a little early and I’m looking around the shop. I ask the guy which course we signed up for and he shows me on their little map. He says, “Ya’ll are on the 2 hour course and it usually takes 3-3 1/2 hours to complete.” Ahem, say what? 3-3 1/2 hours? Why wouldn’t you call it the “3-3 1/2 hour course” if that’s how long it’s going to take? So that’s going to put me getting home around 1:00. Let it be known that I have a weird phobia/anxiety-ridden fear that if my kids don’t have food in their bellies by noon, they might turn into ravenous beasts that may or may not eat each other. Or the other option…..they. will. whine. Incessantly. Until I rip my ears off. Neither of these are good options. So I push my fear back down where it belongs and try to stay positive. Another group of people show up so we are ready to go. We all get into a van that’s going to take us to the river. Right now the kids are stoked! So ready to go on this adventure! The van comes to a stop and we all get out. The driver gets the canoes out and takes the other group down to the river. We start to follow and he tells us this isn’t our stop. They’re going on the 4-hr course (translate: 6 hr). He said our drop off point was further up the river so we all get back in the van. We drive for a bit to get to our drop off destination and this is when fear started to creep in. We get out of the van and the driver realizes he forgot kid life vests for my 2 youngest, so he has to drive back to the canoe shop to get them. During this time I began reflecting on my decision to take the kids canoeing. By myself. Ignorance is bliss until you choke down a heaping tablespoon of reality. My reality is this:

1. I’ve got 3 kids completely dependent on me to get them down the river.

2. I’ve never paddled an actual canoe in my life.

3. I have no phone to call for help.

4. I have no watch to know what time it is or how long it’s taking us to get down the river.

5. I have to pee and there are no bathrooms.

6. I have no food.

This is going exactly as I had imagined. (Sniff, sniff. Smells like sarcasm). As I’m playing the worst-case scenario game in my head, it’s becoming apparent I’m going to have to succumb to the call of nature and pee outside. I tell the kids I’ve got to go find a spot to go to the bathroom. They are completely confused and understandably so. I mean, one, I’m not a boy so I don’t/can’t pee on a tree. And two, I’m an indoor girl so peeing outside is not something I do. Once I found my spot, I was pleasantly surprised that the squats I’d been doing were paying off. No trouble hovering whatsoever. Glad that’s over. The driver finally shows up with the life vests and helps us into our canoe. Then he leaves. And we’re alone. It does cross my mind that we could totally die out here and no one would know. I did have my ID and bank card just in case I die they can identify me, then clean out my bank account. The other situation I thought would probably happen would be basically the movie “The River Wild”. In this case, I’m obviously Meryl Streep and some bad guys hijack our canoe and we are their hostages. The only redeeming thing about that scenario is that at some point my kids will get hungry/tired/whiny in which case they will probably let us go.

So we start down the river and relief washes over me when I see the river is not deep at all. It hadn’t rained in a while so the water was low. Like ankle deep low. I felt sure no one would drown if the canoe took a tip. While I was glad that the chance of drowning went way down, I realized quickly the chances of us getting stuck on rocks went up about 1000%. We got stuck on rocks a good bit and I may have pulled some back muscles using the paddle to get us loose.

And remember when I thought because my kids were bigger they would help paddle? Well, that was only the case about 50% of the time. The other 50% was them holding their paddle in the water but not paddling. I’m no scientist but I’m pretty sure that when one paddle goes forward and the one in front of it is stationary, it makes the canoe go in a circle. At least, that’s what happened to us. So there may have been a few times that I may have told/yelled at my kids to get their paddles out of the water if they weren’t actually paddling. #momfail

The fun part was when we would come up on the rapids. Some would say they looked like a babbling brook. But trust me, they were rapids. I would never embellish. Every time we were coming up on one I made the kids yell, “Rapids! Dead ahead!” The more rapids we came across, the more I realized that rapids=rocks. And in our case, rocks=stuck canoe. Trying to jimmy us off the rocks with my paddle was a good test of our balance. Thankfully, we never tipped over which I deemed a great accomplishment!

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Overall, it was a great experience. The kids enjoyed being on the water and looking for turtles. There were definitely times when the kids complained about how long it was taking and there were some tears over a cut foot, but I do think my kids had a fun adventure. I think I had the best time just being outside in God’s creation doing something fun and new with my kids. And even though I still think it wasn’t the smartest thing to take the kids canoeing my myself, (Did you know canoeing is pretty much nothing like the row machine?) it turned out to be a blast. It made me realize I need to face my fears more and do things I’m not sure about because that’s when I feel the most empowered. God made me to do stuff, so I need to go do it.

-Courtney

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Relief for some, panic for others

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Dirty feet. A sure sign of summer. And little boys.

I don’t know about you but this time of year I’m so stressed out from kids’ activities to end-of-the-year school stuff, I’m just ready for summer. I just want my kids out of school so we aren’t slaves to the routine anymore. I don’t want to make any more lunches at 7:00am. I’m just done with all of it.

But there was a time not too long ago that the thought of summer would send me into a cold, sweaty panic. Many of you moms with toddlers know what I’m talking about. I want you to know I SEE YOU. I KNOW IT IS ABOUT TO BE SO HARD FOR YOU. Having toddlers and babies at home 24/7 for 3 months is no joke. For me, it felt like I was living the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. It was the same day over and over again for infinity. Or that’s the way it seemed. I mean, how many times can an adult listen to Elmo talk before she starts twitching? How many times can we endure the God forsaken park? How many messes can we clean up? How many times can we lose a paci? How many times can we say “No”? How many half-eaten meals will we throw away only to be asked for a snack 20 minutes later? How many pounds of goldfish can we feed our children? How many times can we hear the words “I hungryyyyyy” without our ears falling off? How many times can we hide in the bathroom just to get some alone time? I can’t tell you the exact number of times you will do these things; all I can tell you is it will feel like infinity. Moms of littles, I SEE YOU. You can do this. It’s 12 little weeks. Mark off the days on the calendar if you have to. (Of course, don’t tell anyone or you will be shamed endlessly for not wanting to spend every waking moment with your precious children.) Call in back up (read:: grandparents) if you have to. You will survive.

I can tell you these things because I am now on the other side of it. I’m finally one of those moms who can’t wait for summer! It finally happened! I never thought I would make it to this point. When my kids were little they were fun but they needed so much of my physical attention that I was always exhausted. Now, my kids are pretty self-sufficient and are fun to take places and do stuff with. They’re a little more independent which makes life a lot less stressful for me. They can actually walk themselves to the neighbor’s house and I don’t have to go with them. And I don’t have to call it a play date. I was never good at scheduling a social life for my kids; let’s be honest, I have a hard enough time scheduling my own that’s why I married someone who likes to do that sort of thing.

Moms, the littles will not eat you alive this summer. Hang in there. It only gets better. Promise.

-Courtney

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