Easter holds many traditions from generation to generation. It's fun to see the Easter Bunny and color eggs.
It's great to have Easter egg hunts and look for baskets.
Gumdrop trees and bunny cakes are always a treat.
But today, we started a new family tradition. The church that we go to has an empty cross each Easter Sunday. Every year, people bring single flowers to put on the cross until it's completely full.
Within no time, the cross that was once bare, is beautifully draped in a bouquet of colors.
It's a good reminder that even though the baskets, eggs, bunnies and candy are always fun for Easter...the real meaning behind the celebration, is that He has risen. The cross is bare and we are forgiven.
Our youngest son Preston, goes to a preschool that has a Wonderful teacher and class of great kids.
In December, their class had a Christmas pageant that was adorable.
Preston practiced and practiced his line for the Christmas play and he was ready. Growing so excited about the big day, when it finally came, he simply stood there with a blank stare and said nothing...at all. No lines, no words...not even a sound. I wanted to run up and help him but it was useless. Everything went by in a flash.
Fast forward to this week and the time came for...the Easter play. It's hard to believe that just three short months ago, Preston was the same kid that was standing on the stage.
This time, there were no "deer in the headlights" stares, no blank expressions. No, no. You know "that kid" when you go to a school play who acts like a goofball the whole time? yep. There we go. He was wiggly. He was silly and squishing nose to nose with the kid beside him, then giggling. I actually worried THIS time for his part to happen for the opposite reason.
Sure enough, when the time came, he was supposed to pick a picture up from the floor in front of him then say his line. Every kid in his class did exactly that - but when Preston's turn approached, he picked up his picture, put it (where else) but on his head, pulled it back down, then said his line at warp speed.
What goes through the mind of a preschool boy? One may never know. They can be quiet, shy, wild or crazy...sometimes a little bit of everything. Just when you think you have them all figured out, they can go and totally surprise you.
No matter what though, they're full of love and spirit...from their head to their toes...and back on top of their heads again.
Have you ever had one of those times when you wanted to crawl into a hole and hide? You know...when your kids do something in public that make people either burst out laughing or stop to look at you like you're crazy? Yes. Come with me and I'll show you what I mean.
My husband Adam's younger brother Josh, is an Awesome Uncle. Yesterday, Uncle Josh sent Lauren Elizabeth an adorable little stuffed animal for her fourth birthday. When she opened her gift, she hugged the soft little critter and squished her face up to it. I couldn't quite make out what type of animal it was, but it wore a cute orange and white checkered apron that had a baby tucked inside.
Lauren held her new best friend out to take a look at her and studied her face saying, "Mommy? What is it?"
"Ummmmmm, I don't know baby. Maybe a Mommy Fox and her little one?"
Without hesitation, Lauren hugged it again and said, "I Love You Foxy Mommy."
Choking back a laugh, I said, "Whoaaa, Lauren...how about we call her, 'Mommy Fox,' okay?"
"Okay Mommy! Oooooh, Foxy Mommy. I Love You."
All day she carried "Foxy Mommy" with her everywhere. Upstairs, downstairs, to her room, outside to play..."Foxy Mommy" had a full schedule.
When Lauren went to bed last night, 'Foxy Mommy' went with her. When she woke up, Lauren had a long conversation with 'Foxy Mommy." We went to the grocery store this morning and 'Foxy Mommy' sat in the cart with her.
As Lauren talked to 'Foxy Mommy' while we shopped, some obvious glances were thrown our way.
"Foxy Mommy, do you want some cereal?"
"Oh this is my FAVORITE kind of juice, Foxy Mommy!"
(You get the idea.)
Fighting the urge to explain to everyone we passed that we didn't actually have our daughter refer to me as 'Foxy Mommy', I ended up deciding that it was a useless battle.
Everything was somewhat tolerable until the end of our trip. Lauren jumped out of the cart and held tightly to her friend. She introduced 'Foxy Mommy' to the fun checkout girl who started laughing. We loaded our bags back into the cart and made our way out...Thank You Lord.
An older gentleman walked behind us and I realized that he was trying to get our attention. I worried that he was offended by Lauren's words - or wanted to confront me. He continued to approach us saying, "Miss...Miss..." (Here we go...)
I slowly turned to try to explain, when I saw that he was holding something in his hand.
"Is this her toy, Miss?"
It looked like he had a stuffed little mouse. I smiled and shook my head no - while getting ready to thank him. Before I could though, Lauren Elizabeth shot straight towards him screaming, "FOXY BABY!!!"
The man's face dropped, I cringed - and the checkout girl about fell over laughing saying, "You GO, Girl!"
I'm still trying to decide exactly what to write in our Thank You card to Uncle Josh.
I rarely do product reviews. This adorable line named "Jitterbug Kids Boutique" from Texas is an exception. It's owned and run by a woman named Sherie who is Amazingly gifted and creative.
Her products are incredibly well made and beautifully styled.
With warm and sunny days just around the corner, "Jitterbug Kids Boutique" is offering a free giveaway for their precious "Patriotic Dress". The colors and style are perfect for the summer months and Fourth of July parties.
Simply go to their site: http://www.jitterbugkids.com/default.html
and 'like' their facebook page.
A random winner will be drawn and contacted when
What do you do when you are different from your kids? How do you raise them when they are completely the opposite from you...and they're all different from each other? Let me go back a little...
Our first son Christian, is smart. I mean...he's like smarter than I am smart...and he's nine. It freaks me out a little when I think about how to handle it. My husband has this brain-teaser game that he's kept since he was young. It's a series of numbers from one through twenty that you have to work through a maze to get into chronological order. Adam kept it all these years because he's been able to get every number in order...except for two. (He's a United States Air Force Academy grad and he flew the F15 E Strike Eagle.) He has tried for decades to get those last two numbers.
Our son Christian found Adam's old game and thought that it looked "cool" so he sat down with it and within no time, had the whole thing done. My hand to God it seemed like "fun" to him. Adam almost fell over where he stood.
I would have thrown it in the drive-way and backed over it a few times, but Christian loved it. Translate that into school work, thought processes and social skills...and you have my exact opposite in the form of a nine year old boy.
It goes on down the line. Our younger three couldn't be more different from Christian, or each other. Our second son Ethan loves sports and can literally school me on all things football, basketball, etc. At the age of seven, his March bracket thingy for basketball is like a foreign language to me. It amazes him that I literally have no idea what he's talking about as he gets so excited about "his teams".
Our younger two are only five and four but they too - are just as different.
I saw an interesting post the other day regarding the differences of people who are more "right brained" verses "left brained". It stated this:
“I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.”
“I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feet. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.”
I couldn't be more "right brained" if you smacked that definition on my forehead. My husband (you guessed it) could have had that description of the "left brain" written on his birth announcement.
I guess that's what came through to our kids. A crazy combination of the two of us. Who knows.
Maybe these differences will continue to grow as the kids get older. I can't begin to imagine what that would be like during their Jr. High and High School years and I only hope we'll be able to keep up.
One thing's for sure...it's amazing to see how unique their minds, personalities and nature are. Even though they're opposite and individual from each other and from us, I couldn't dream of it any other way. (I am a dreamer you know.)
"You need to go and play."
"Baby Girl! Go play with your team."
"Ugh - Uh. I don't want to."
This has been the constant "back and forth" with Lauren Elizabeth during her t-ball practice. She just turned four years old a couple of weeks ago and it's the first sport she's ever played. The trouble is, she hasn't played for a minute. She spends the whole time wrapped around my leg with a death-like grip.
Between her three big brothers and their practices for baseball and soccer, Adam and I have yet to make it to a practice together. We're trying to divide and conquer while getting the kids to each of their practices and games.
It actually hasn't been too bad since Lauren and Preston are on the same t-ball team. We thought she would love it...especially since she's with him. The only thing she seems to love though, is to hang onto my leg and whimper for me to pick her up. Preston runs around having a blast while she watches him and shakes her head 'no'.
Tomorrow there's a soccer game and T-ball practice at the same time. When talking to Adam about who will go where, I said, "I'll take Lauren and Pret so you won't have to hold her the whole time."
Looking confused, he said, "Hold her? What do you mean - hold her?"
(You've GOT to be kidding me.)
Slowly turning to see Lauren's reaction, she had a little grin and shrugged her shoulders.
Turning back towards Adam, I asked, "When you take them to T-ball, you have to hold her the whole time...don't you?"
Trying to keep from laughing, he shook his head no. "When I take them, I can barely keep up with her. She runs around like a crazy person and it's hard to even get her to leave."
Here's to hoping that she will be able to play the game as well as she can play her Mama. Guess who's taking her to practice tomorrow?
(These are the pictures that Adam just showed me from his phone. It felt like looking at pictures of a Yeti...I couldn't believe it existed.)
I remember the days when going to the spa was a luxury. You know what I consider a luxury to be now? Going to the grocery store by myself.
If you've never had to run an errand with a child before, I guess the best way to describe it - is to take a bag full of cats with you, walk into any store, open the bag to let the cats go...aaaaand THEN try to get your shopping done.
Never mind the meltdowns or begging and pleading for something that they just HAVE to have...it's the whole experience. When we go into any store with our four, five, seven and nine year olds...at times it takes an act of God for all of us to come back out alive.
Here are some things that have saved us through the years that might come in handy for you too.
Let's begin at the beginning...preparation. I once had a college professor that used to say, "Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance." If your kids are hungry before you go shopping...good luck. And if you're hungry when you're going grocery shopping...forget about it. I think it might actually be a form of torture in some countries to take a young child up and down each aisle of goodies and snacks when they're starving. It's enough to drive anyone mad. Make sure that everyone has something in them before you go. It doesn't hurt at times to even pack a snack for the kids to eat when you're shopping if need be.
To go along with the theme of preparation - it's also a good idea to make a list. It seems like when I make a fast dash into the grocery store with the kids to get some milk, we end up dragging ourselves back out of the store with a full cart and a $195.00 gallon of milk. Not so good. Try (to whatever degree) to plan out what you need. Write your list on paper, on your phone or at least make a mental note in your head. If you know what you're going in for...chances are, you'll come back out with a much better result.
Parking. Common sense will tell you to park as close to the store as possible. You can even find "New Mommy" designated spots right in front of the store at times. This is a rookie mistake. For years I would all but beg for the first closest parking spot and actually wait forever just to have people pull out of their space so I could get it. Then I had kids. There's nothing more frustrating in a parking lot than to have a car full of bouncing little ones while you're trying to unload a shopping cart. Just for fun...let's make it a rainy day too. The kids finally get in their seats, the shopping cart is unloaded...but...now what? You don't want to get everybody back out so you can return the cart - (plus, it's raining) You can't leave the kids in the car alone while you push the empty cart where it needs to go either. What do you do? A neat trick that I've learned is to skip the coveted parking spots closest to the store altogether and go for the areas right beside the grocery cart drop-off section instead. It may be strange to park halfway back in the parking lot in the beginning, but when your shopping is done, the kids are loaded in the car and the bags are all packed in the back...it's so much easier (and safer) to push the empty cart into it's place when it's right next to your car.
Everything in between the planning and the parking lot is where the fun begins. Hopefully the kids will cooperate and make it a good experience so you can get your errands done. Sometimes it's good to help things along by giving them an item that they have to look for or have them be in charge of checking things off of the shopping list. It also helps at times to give the little ones a small toy or game to play with when they're in their stroller or grocery cart.
There are things you can do that help make a shopping experience with your kids tolerable...and dare I say it...enjoyable.
I'll have to say, I try to remind myself (usually around the produce section) that the kids WILL get older and hopefully it will be easier to run around and do errands in the future.
Until then, we do what we have to do - to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Herding kids (and cats...and monkeys) certainly can make for one exhausting job.
"I can't see."
"Don't worry...just hold on and I'll take you where we're going."
"I will, but I think I'm going to fall. Are we at the airport?"
"You're not going to fall...and I don't know if we're at the airport. You'll see in a minute...we're almost there."
Birds were somewhere to our right and I suddenly realized that it felt like we were in the woods. The sun was shining on a perfect March afternoon but Adam had my face covered with a scarf. I couldn't see a thing. Holding onto his arm, I tried to feel with each step as he guided me.
"SURPRISE!" A combined cheer had me reach to pull down the scarf. A group of friends were gathered and smiling wide in front of us. My head quickly tried to process where we were and how I could have been so clueless.
I thought we were going to the airport. I get sick when we have to go to the airport. It was my 40th Birthday and for whatever reason, I was convinced that Adam was taking me somewhere for a surprise. He knows how much I hate to fly though.
During my Senior year in high school, our Spanish class took a trip to Mexico. As we sat on our flight home, the plane suddenly dropped straight down while something along the lines of, "Lo siento, no tenemos gasoline" was repeated throughout the plane. Hanging onto my best friend, we screamed as we realized that the pilot was saying that we were running out of fuel. The plane was dropping fast and we didn't know how much longer it would be until we met the ground.
He eventually pulled the plane back up and made an emergency landing in Chicago. Staying the night, we had to get on another flight the next morning to go home to Ohio. Needless to say...I really haven't been happy to get on a flight ever since.
That's what I thought the blindfold was for. Adam knew that if I couldn't tell we were headed for the airport, I wouldn't be nervous. It wasn't until we had gotten out of the car and heard the quiet and the birds that I became curious as to where we could have been though. It was definitely too quiet to be the airport.
Realizing that it was a party, I Hugged Adam. I had the greatest mixture of happiness, surprise and disbelief as I looked around at the faces of family and friends throughout. We were in a driveway and a whole get together had been formed with food and fun.
Hugging some friends, I happened to look towards the left and there they were...my best friends from home. My childhood and lifelong girlfriends from my hometown in Ohio, were standing there in North Carolina. I couldn't begin to believe it. Jumping up and down and screaming like a crazy person, I tackled each one of them.
The day was filled with food and fun. Family and friends came together to make it the biggest surprise in all of my forty years.
The greatest part was to have some of the best people from different parts of life, be in one place.
The friendships both new and old that have seen both highs and lows (even on airplanes) are truly the most wonderful gifts on Earth.
Thank You to the friends and family that made the day so special. There are not enough words to tell you how much it meant. Thank You as well - Marti, Stacy, Julie, Amy, Tricia, Sissy, Mom and Dad...and especially, Adam. I'll fly with you anywhere. I Love You - XO
I've always heard of the expression, "Life begins at 40", but soon - I'll get to see what it really means. This is the last day that I'll be in my thirties because yes, tomorrow, I'm turning the big 4 - 0.
I'm writing this for my children to read someday. God willing, I'll be lucky enough to have the next forty years on this Earth with them, but for now, I've been thinking about quite a bit - and I'm ready for the new decade to arrive.
What have I learned in forty years? If I believed that I had it all figured out...I would either be naive or delusional...maybe a little of both.
What I DO know though, is that life is what you make of it. There are always going to be good days and bad. Sometimes just when you think you can't take anymore, you'll get hit with something else. That's when your attitude makes the difference...whether it's positive or negative...that will be what counts.
You know that I work as a therapist. I've seen patients with very little wrong, complain endlessly about every single thing. I've also seen people on their death beds - smile with a peace and contentment, knowing that they've lived a good life.
What is a good life? Knowing who you are and what you're made of. Having Faith, doing what you know is right. Being good to others and making sure that you don't put yourself above all else.
Love your brothers and sister. Cherish them as well as your friends. Surround yourself with good people and really know the difference. Sometimes you will come across a "Mean Girl" or a "Bully" but don't let them get you down. Your siblings and your true friends will always want the best for you...as you should want for them. Be good to them and know that they are more valuable than all the world.
If or when you get married, love with all that you have. You may have the best and worst of times together...but stay strong and hold onto each other. Marry someone that you couldn't live a day without and who you miss, even before they're gone.
If you are blessed with children as we have been with you, be present in their lives. Teach them to love through more than just words. Show them by example. They will give you many sleepless nights for several different reasons...but always let them know how much they mean to you. There is nothing else in this world that will compare to the love you have for your child.
Forty years will go by in a flash. You won't believe it, but it's true. Be thankful for each and everyday - and truly appreciate what you have.
Always know that you have made our lives happier than you could ever imagine. For your Dad and for me, you will always be the greatest gifts of all.
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Adam and Bea live in North Carolina with their three boys and a girl, Christian 13, Ethan 12, Preston 10 and Lauren Elizabeth 8 years old.