Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Life is so furiously quick. Days and weeks and months are flying by and I long for the slow, the easy, and the still. Not the still where you get nervous that your two year old just filled the toilet with all of the toilet paper.....again. But, the still where you can see things so closely and clearly that it makes you nervous you may never feel that way again.  Like in this picture. I looked at her in the tent under the trees where the sun played tricks on my very tired eyes. I looked at her and saw myself in a tent years ago daydreaming about what I would be someday. And in that same instant I saw the daydreamer in her. I saw the girl with all of the feelings and all of the uncertainty about how to handle them, but also the girl who is fierce and competitive and intense.

When I go camping it would seem that the entire point is to escape. The idea is to get closer to nature, and yet I love a tent. It seems weird that the tent would be the part I love the most. I have vivid memories of my sister at this age climbing on me and playing around in our big canvas Coleman monstrosity of a tent as kids. This is saying quite a lot because I have a terrible memory. But that spunky little two year old popped up in my mind as I watched my own two year old throw diapers all over the place and laugh hysterically. He is all adventure, all fun, and all mess. We chased him around our campsites as best we could, but when trapped in the tent I could just watch him be silly. I could laugh at how he marveled at our strange home with paper thin walls and windows that unzip. 

I didn't get a shot of Lila in the tent mostly because she isn't the type to just hang out in one spot for more than a few minutes. But camping, like hiking, speaks to her in a way that I hope lasts her entire life. She told me it was the greatest place she had ever been. As campgrounds go, it was pretty basic. But to her, the whole weekend was like coming home. It was carefree and messy. She could wear shoes, or not. She could make up games and shows with her friends and tell ghost stories in hammocks. She could roast the perfect marshmallow or just eat a ton of them as they are. She could be Lila without the expectation of anything else. 

We struggled a little (due to my poor planning) to find a campsite the day we headed North. Seth was already ahead of us and trying to sort things out, and once he finally got to our inevitable destination, he set up the new tent I purchased. It was a Wal-Mart special. This means that I purchased it just days before we left knowing that we absolutely needed a tent that could actually, comfortably fit all five us without breaking the bank. I don't love Wal-Mart, but this is the sort of situation it was made for. Someday we will have a vehicle of some kind that we escape to nature in. For now, this inexpensive beauty is just a newer, albeit cheaper in all of the ways, version of that big canvas Coleman from my childhood. Seth texted me these pictures and told me he was pretty sure his car could fit in it. That's when I knew I made the right choice. 

Seth and I love a good trip to the outdoors. In fact, if I had it my way we would live there full time somehow. Until then, Seth puts up with my constant desire to go camping and I think he loves it too once it's all said and done. We were fortunate enough to have some friends along for this trip, and it couldn't have been more perfect. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The day the cooking show changed everything

Not too long ago I was sitting, staring at my first blonde haired, blue eyed baby thinking about how she wouldn't watch TV until she was at least 3 (and even then only 10 minutes at a time), wouldn't dare eat Goldfish (only Cheddar Bunnies here), and would certainly never misbehave like those other kids on the playground. I think about those days of blissful ignorance mashed with completely idiotic goals. I also often think about what it's like to be a new mom for the first time. I feel half sad for myself to never get to be her again and half overjoyed at how much easier life is when you stop giving so much of a shit.

We still only eat Cheddar Bunnies. But that's only because they are honestly better. I should know. I eat them for breakfast sometimes.

Fast forward to now. My brilliantly talented friend Patty, who also happens to be a gem in the kitchen, told me about this little show called The Great British Baking Show. She is a part of the culinary world and she raved about this show. Her seemingly simple review of a Netflix bingeing option gave me the most brilliant of ideas.....this is a show I could actually enjoy watching WITH my children. The Food Network and the like aren't exactly known for their offensive material right?

Could I possibly do away with My Little Pony? Is there an end in sight to the horrendous Barbie show (which I forbid and they watch with babysitters behind my back)?

Enter the day the cooking show changed everything.

I don't love to cook. I would even go so far as to say I don't like to cook. It's a necessary evil that doesn't seem to be leaving my world anytime soon. But, I do love a good competition and I do love sitting quietly snuggled up on the couch. So one day I was all, "hey guys let's watch this show about baking". One Great British Baking Show, too many Cupcake Wars to count, and half a Food Truck Race later my daughters are cooking show junkies. And I don't even care. In fact, I'm ecstatic. I certainly can't teach them to cook. To me I am doing their future partner in life a favor. I know, I know. That's like saying Caillou will single handedly teach them to get along and share. I am not delusional. I prefer optimistic.

In all transparency, I may even use cooking shows as bribery. "Clean up the house so we can watch the next Food Truck!". "As long as you guys get along for the rest of the day we could watch TWO episodes!!". At least I'm not bribing with actual cupcakes right? I mean, that happens too sometimes. But this happens more and is oddly more effective.

Truly though, I love doing this with my kids. I love getting into the show with them. Who will win? Who makes the best looking food? We talk and chat and they may have even cried once when someone had to go home. Don't worry. We discussed that part too.

Then there's the matter of the little baby brother who has basically never watched television unless it's sitting next to a sister watching what she wants (which means he is simply harassing her the whole time). I was a little concerned about how to navigate his participation, but he is a rockstar third child. I don't know why I even gave it a second thought. He snuggles up like he is down for some serious baking every single time. He may even get really excited when I say, "come on Holden it's time to watch the show!". I just bring an assortment of extra remotes, random toys and books, and sometimes a snack if things get hairy and he's completely on board. It's magical, see?

Don't worry. My next "we do this as a family" post will be about hiking. We do ALL of the hiking. We aren't complete couch potatoes.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Being Grateful

This blog used to be a life line for me. The good, the bad, and the unbearably ugly forced into words made me feel better instantly. Writing gave me therapy when there wasn't time (or money) to set up shop on a therapist's couch. Talking about motherhood gave me a chance to scream into the universe, "I hear you, I see you, I am you and I get it". Talking about children is what I've always done, even before I had my own. Fleshing out the grief of loss and depression in this safe space saved my soul so. many. times.

And now here I am. One day I moved through the grief and depression and simply started living the chaotic life of a mom of three, wearing a million hats at every turn. My how things can morph into something else before you know it. I started thinking, "why don't I write anymore?". What happened to that nagging NEED to get the words out? Where did it go?

I told myself someday it would come back, or not, and either would be okay. Today it occurred to me that I've spent a lot of time here writing about what scared me, what frustrated me, what is hysterical/amazing/terrifying about parenting, and what felt like daggers after death hit my world. Today I realized it's time to talk about being grateful. That's where I'm at and it feels more than good. It feels miraculous and perfect. When I did finally hit the therapist's couch with a resounding thud this is something she taught me. She said, "being grateful will bring you back to who you want to be".

And again, now here I am.

I am grateful for a husband who suggests driving two hours to walk across a swinging bridge and hike a mountain with three small children...no matter how insane that sounds.

I am grateful for finally feeling capable of changing our lifestyle to be our own with the best of generations past and leaving behind the worst. As a parent, this has been a welcomed realization. We don't have to be conservative just because that's what our family has always been. We can put kindness and others first before money and self preservation simply because that's what humans should do.  We can exercise every day and eat to live instead of living to eat. Better yet, we can teach our children this lifestyle so they aren't set up for failure...so that maybe they will be the first not to die young.

I am grateful for healthy children who climb mountains with us even if we have to talk them through it the entire time.

I am grateful for a home that gives us shelter, even in tight living quarters, while we teach our children that being well traveled and seeing the world is far more important than any other thing they could own or have.

I am grateful for friends who teach me how to be me when motherhood seems to squash the mother into oblivion.

I am grateful for the most mundane things like fresh vegetables, a cold beer, and a quiet house. I am grateful for new music, new waterfalls we haven't seen yet, and new recipes that sometimes get a resounding "yes!" instead of grimaces and whining.

Most of all I am grateful for this season of my life. This time where everything feels like too much....too much this, that, and everything else that has to be done when you have a big family to keep up with and tend to. This too much of everything is a full life and a glorious gift.

Thanks for joining me on my sappy, nostalgic walk. I'm hoping to return to the hysterical and the absurd, the boring and overly chaotic, and the best music I can find very soon here. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I gotta get freeeeeee

Last night Seth and I attended the first of three concerts for us this holiday season, and it was glorious.

For me, live music is equal to travel. I can't seem to go without it for long, and when I do experience it I feel like a new person.

We pride ourselves a little on finding someone we love before they get big. Ticket prices are cheap and venues are small and intimate. And, the bonus happens when the opening act is almost as good as the person you came to see. This was the case last night.  We experienced a true one man band in Bernhoft. This video gives a small taste of what this guy can do.

Then, Allen Stone and his entourage made us feel like we were at a party at their house. He even came out into the crowd while singing and started hugging people. He spoke about living in the live music moment far from You Tube and Facebook. It was and incredibly refreshing really good time.

Music goes back a long way for me. I grew up with some serious musical talent in my life. My dad would come home from work and sit down at the piano or pick up a guitar and play for however long it took to release the stress of the day. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was. He never looked at a single note. Every time he played it was based on what he heard when listening to music. Playing by ear is a gift that I didn't inherit, but I do understand how sitting down at an instrument can transform you. Even if that instrument is your own voice. These days I find myself craving that live music in my home or at a show more than ever.

Lila rolls her eyes at me when I belt something out in the car, but then she's the one asking for her favorite song on repeat. Evie wakes up singing, plays while singing, sings when she's sad, sings when she's happy, sings to soothe her brother, and sings at the piano. Currently, she is the live music in my home. One of the most exciting parts about being a parent is that I get to introduce them to the greats, help teach them how to play the piano, and pass on this passion.

So who are you listening to? Do share!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up

Last week I climbed Stone Mountain with Evie and Holden while Lila was at school. It had simply been too long and I needed a distraction. As we reached the home stretch Evie so badly wanted to give up. She told me her legs couldn't take it anymore. She told me there was no way. She told me I would have to go the rest without her and pick her up on the way back down. Upon eventually reaching the top she saw many other very fit people exercising. One woman was doing yoga. A very loud trainer was barking orders at his crew of five that had clearly had enough. Some were running, many were chatting, and even more were just trying to catch their breath (myself included). Next thing I knew Evie was doing this...

And Holden was doing this...

After Evie finished her lengthy exercise routine using her legs that almost didn't make it this far I told her we had to do one more thing before heading back down. I explained that today was the day three years ago when she was Holden's age that Poppy passed away. I told her since we were so close to the heavens I thought maybe we could try blowing him a kiss. So we did.

I told myself a long time ago that my conversations with my kids about my dad would happen in a natural way. Evie won't remember him unless it's based on what she's heard us say. Lila remembers every second of every day and still brings him up on the regular. Holden....well, someday Holden will learn that the connection between him and my dad is something that mends my heart a little every time I look at him. But, overall I just want to talk about it with them when it feels right with no pretense or forcing it. So Tuesday that's what I did. I blew kisses with my tender hearted little girl.

What I felt the most that day is how far I've come. At one point I truly believed that a loss like this was a plague on my life. I was sure it would never leave my side. I was sure it would continue to suck the life out of me until I could no longer take it. But I've taken it and taken it and come out the other side. It didn't leave. I just learned how to take the pain without suffering.

The stress and the weight of things used to be debilitating for me at times. This is one of the reasons I worry about Evie and the heaviness of her feelings. I know that intensity and the way it settles in your skin and makes a home there regardless of how much you fight it. And yet, for the first time in my life I feel free of it. It's so cliche to say, but I now know how short life really is. I know what I'm missing without him here. I also know that what is here with me right now is all I will ever need. If there are gifts given by the universe in the midst of grief, this is the greatest one of all. 

I know this song is wildly popular right now, and for good reason. The lyrics alone make me want to memorize the whole thing and sing it to my kids every day. If I could just figure out how to replace "Let It Go" with "I Lived" all would be right in the world.

*post title pulled from the lyrics of "I Lived" by One Republic

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sun kissed skin and handlebars

Summer in the south is such a nostalgic time for me. It was the best part of my childhood. Even now, when I swim with my crew of little ones, there are those few moments when I first slowly submerge where I feel myself slip into blissful feelings of being a kid again. The world is slow and easy. There are no things to get done or places to be other than right there in the water.

I was born and raised in Georgia. This means that I am now halfway through my thirty fourth summer here (minus one I spent in another lovely spot in Connecticut). For me, summer means okra and tomatoes, berries for miles, and greens you put in everything. It's bike riding and sitting on porches. It's dinner in the yard, watermelon dripping down your arm, and fireflies. As I've gotten older it's also become cold beer, swapping stories beneath the trees in lawn chairs, and finding a way to snuggle the baby in the heat.

This summer is proving to shape up nicely. It started off rocky with a nasty virus, but we are in the swing of things now and I couldn't be happier. Lila barely learned how to ride her bike without training wheels last summer. Now, equipped with a new bike, she is barreling down our dead end street every chance she gets. That feeling of the wind on your face as you coast down a hill added to the first full dip into the pool equals summer perfection.

She's a professional.

She's pretty sure looking good on a bike is as important as being able to ride it.

He's just dreamy.

As with all things, there are two sides to the story. Especially when the story now involves having all three of your children with you at all times for weeks. I love summer and I love my children. Here are some things I don't love about the two together.

Unless we are at the pool, and even sometimes when we are, I feel like being outside and touching a kid is like intentionally letting a slug and a caterpillar crawl down your arm together. Words like sticky and rough at the same time come to mind. Sweat and dirt, both benign on their own, take on a new form when mixed on the body of a child that MUST sit in your lap immediately.

I hesitate to blame the heat for all of this because it is an essential part of having summer in the first place. Tropical places are only as enticing as they are because it's hot and there's pretty water to escape the heat. My pretty water now comes in the form of splash pads, water features, and the pool. I love the pool we have access to, but every kid digs splash pads these days. It's the hip thing to do. So we do it. And usually there's grass somewhere nearby. So I load up three wet, grassy, half sun screened, dirty, sweaty messes when we leave these hip places. Sounds fun right?

I also take issue with play areas that should have a working water feature, but it doesn't work when you arrive. I don't go to playgrounds in the summer that don't have some sort of access to water. I am too busy filling up a falling apart swim bag with extra clothes, bathing suits, snacks, water, wipes, diapers, and the like to search the internet for the possibility of some sort of notification that your water feature isn't working. It's false advertising. Don't have a water feature at a playground in the summer that doesn't work half the time. It's just cruel.

Here we are the waterless playground where we expected there to be water.

The other day we did purposely go to a playdate at a playground that had no water. There had been a few cool days and the playdate was at ten in the morning. I figured we were good. By eleven it was time to go. There's no escaping that kind of humidity. A friend and I loaded up our rough, sweaty kids and headed to the only place those of our kind seek refuge in situations like this... Chick-Fil-A. There's yummy food, indoor play areas, and people who don't exactly serve you but do check on you once in a while. We found ourselves dealing with a combination of highly attentive employees and highly agitated children. We kept looking at each other wondering if we should smile or cry. Instead we shoveled the food into our bodies and left.  I apologized to the older gentleman that worked there as we left for the general disarray of our area. It looked like someone got in a fight with the polynesian sauce and when the sauce was winning they just threw all of their fries on the floor in defeat. Good times.

Then, there was this one day where I thought an enormous walk was in order. My new bike trailer/double stroller was itching to be used. This was pre new bike for Lila but she did have a new scooter. Off we went. I decided we should walk to dinner. This was the day I now refer to as the one where I officially lost my mind. I don't want to get into the gory details, but we spent over an hour at Roly Poly once we finally arrived. We drank gallons of water, ate more popsicles than I care to count, and prayed we would make it home. Pretty sure my neighbors might refer to that day the same way I do. They saw us dragging ourselves down our street on the way back, and it wasn't pretty.

It started off so well.

King of Pops cure all things.

Lastly, dear summer, I love you but you involve an immense amount of togetherness that my children can't seem to tolerate. Also, neither can I.  Lila came to me and asked me if she could marry Evie. She told me they love each other so much that they should get married. Five minutes later both were in my face screaming and covered in scratch marks. We don't have a cat and our dog avoids my crazy kids like the plague most days. The love and the hate runneth over and I can only assume that the time together in the heat (had to throw it in one more time) is just getting to them.

Needless to say, the good outweighs the bad. It's just that the frustrating parts are pretty funny. Like when you get home from the splash pad that has a grassy knoll and you find grass in the baby's diaper. Or when you think you wiped your kid off at Chick-Fil-A only to find polynesian sauce behind their ear and in their hair while they watch TV (not joking). Summer will always be magical. Kids can often be magical. Summer and kids together...magically hysterical.

Here's to you summer and all of your glory. We love you.

Title pulled from one of my absolute favorite songs ever written. Listen to this song and look at my pictures and tell me you don't feel the summer. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It's an update!

The kids. It's time for an update. Sort of.

I used to do these elaborate headers with pictures from the month of Lila. I used to give every detail of every new thing she did as if maybe in typing it up she would stay that way. I also used to be really on top of things.

Things change.

This is the rough and dirty version of updating. I slept for what I like to call "a few hours" last night. I can't be held responsible, but dammit someone has to document this stuff right? So here goes.

Lila is an enigma in my world. She is all of the things bursting out of a very skinny, tall, wiggly little girl. She is excitement. She is energy. She is powerful. She is messy. She is intoxicating. I look at her and see everything I have always wished I could be. She is fearless and brilliant. She loves everything new and every book she's ever met. She wants and needs all of you unless she's reading. She is trying and exhausting while being loving and so very helpful all within the same two minute span. I do believe she would sit in my lap like a baby, long arms and legs and all, for an eternity. Her definition of close is so close there is no space. She craves the intensity of being next to you and gives you little choice in the matter. It scares me that one day that may go away. Mothering her is like mothering all of the children at once.  She makes lists and plans and lists for her plans so her mind can be occupied until her plans can be put into action. She wants to do it all and experience every last little thing. That part is where she and I are one. The difference is, she will do it, come hell or high water.

Evie, naturally, is the opposite of Lila. She is meticulous and follows the rules like she wrote them. She is precise and concerned and feels every last feeling so strongly I worry she will be swallowed up by all of her feelings. And then, just when I think she's sinking into the abyss, she digs deep and finds this grit within her that pushes her back with a vengeance. She is mothering which benefits all of us, but for me it's a life boat on the days when I just wish someone would hold my hand. She isn't what I would call affectionate, but she will lend you her hand in a way that will save you if you let it. She doesn't love toys or things. She loves singing in the morning and dancing in the backyard. Every sentence begins with "let's pretend" and her face tells you she needs this. She needs to be somewhere else sometimes. Not just because she's four and that's when pretending hits it's peak, but because her imagination and intense feelings can't get out any other way. She's quick to cry, quick to tattle, and quick to deny any wrong doing, but she's also the first to be flexible and easy going. She can be shy if she doesn't know you, but once you're in you are really in.

Holden is the glue. Even now, at almost 10 months old, I can tell that he will be what holds Lila, Evie, and I together through the insane female teenage years ahead. Sure, they may find him bothersome at some point. Something in me says any irritation will be short lived. There is just something about him. I don't even really know where to begin to describe this tiny little baby boy. He looks at you and everything is happy. Everything is sweet and easy going. He is the sweetest of loves in the most special of ways. He just wants to look at you and see you looking back. He loves to stare at you like you are a vision of perfection that he hasn't already been looking at all day. When I say "you" I don't just mean me. He gives this love to almost everyone. There is this sparkle in his eyes that says he sees how special you are. It's consuming. I have caught Lila and Evie both trying to get him to look at them so that they can feel it, even if for a second. He doesn't love to eat (which I have a hard time comprehending) and sleeping is not a skill he's mastered yet either (again, huh?). But, those things seem small in comparison to how gracious he is with his love.

There you have it. The shortest update so far! Happy summer doing whatever it is you do during this glorious season. Cook outs, pool dates, patio drinks...do it all friends.
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