I Really Don’t Care What’s In My Pumpkin Spice Latte

 

A delicious treat…or an instrument of destruction?

If you’re on social media of any kind, you’ve probably seen the links to the (and now, I’m paraphrasing…) “Starbucks is Killing You All With Pumpkin Spice Lattes” article.

Can we all just stop with the whole “everything you eat and drink and breathe and touch and look at” is going to give you irreversible brain damage/cause cancer/open up a hole in the space-time continuum and suck us all into another dimension?

I say this tongue in cheek, because I’m all for healthy eating. I throw some fruit into my kids’ lunch boxes every day…right next to their Lunchable.

And I don’t mean to be insensitive to people who really do have food allergies or sensitivities. Cause those are FOR REAL, and I have friends and family who personally deal with them and have to monitor every thing that they or their child eat. I don’t knock that AT ALL, and I am more than happy to keep those foods out of my kid’s lunch boxes so that another mom can send their child to school with just a little more ease.

So, hear me when I say, this is not the argument against the people who have to say “I can’t eat this because it makes me sick”.

This is about the 5 bajillion articles that pop up telling me that my coffee is full of pesticides or that my eggs that come from the grocery store and not from a free range chicken farm are really trucked in by cover of darkness from the government that’s corroborating with ANOTHER government and they’re not really eggs at all but rather an “egg-like substance” which will be used to gain mind control over unsuspecting American citizens so that the entire infrastructure of the global economy will collapse and we will all be forced into our own version of the Hunger Games by the end of 2020.

(And yes, I just posted a blog about real watermelon along with a remark about the “government grown” watermelon…so no one take me for a hypocrite. That was just a little bit of sarcasm… It’s probably one of my spiritual gifts. I can’t say for sure…)

I have no doubt in my mind that fresh eggs grown from chickens of someone I know are fresher than the ones at the store. No doubt.

And I don’t doubt at all that if I had a local butcher who I watched slaughter the animals right in front of me as he called them, by name, in from a field where they munched on grass and oats at their leisure and could poop wherever they wanted would be a better cut of meat.

And I will concede to you that if I could travel out to Jamaica and pick and dry roast my own coffee beans, that they would be that much more delicious than the Green Mountain Coffee Company’s little pods that now occupy my Keurig. No doubt at all.

And I don’t have a problem at all if you feel like you have a moral obligation or a spiritual conviction to not eat certain types of foods from certain places that are grown in certain ways. No problem at all. I can respect that…and I will even relent to eating at whatever restaurant suits your needs when we are out to eat together so as not to upset you or your conscience.

Because seriously, a bad case of anxiety while you’re eating will give you indigestion. So I will be happy to accommodate whatever dining needs you have.

But for the love, please do not post and re-post insane amounts of articles about the carcinogenic attributes of all the foods that I love.

We can look at this one of two ways…everything you eat, at some point, will lead to your death…OR everything in moderation.

Me personally? I subscribe to the latter.

I really don’t mean to offend…truly. But when the “news feed” on social media is constantly being blown up with articles about mandarin oranges that were packed in China with measurable amounts of paint thinner mixed in, then I want to throw my computer across the room.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen an article that I can tell just from the title is a bunch of bull.

Dear authors of “conspiracy” websites, First rule of thumb: Perhaps using spell check would help me at least read past the FIRST LINE of your article, and CONSIDER investigating your claims. A proofreader, an editor, a dictionary…anything!

Please, please, please….just research the information before you share it. It seriously doesn’t take that long.

Have I posted erroneous things before? Oh sure. Have I been convinced of something that later turned out to be a hoax? You betcha.

And maybe it’s that fact alone, the fact that I KNOW there are folks out there just waiting to dupe the American public, that makes me take a little more time before I become so quick to hit the “share” button.

Oh…and one last thing…I beseech you dear sisters and brethren, if someone offers you a home-baked goodie…let’s say a cookie, a brownie, a slice of apple pie…PLEASE…HAVE MERCY…do not ask them if the butter they used was churned in their own kitchen because if it’s not, you can’t eat that piece of baked deliciousness because you only eat pure and fresh, squeezed from the goat/coconut/almond this morning “dairy” products.

Because, for some people, baking is our love language.

And when you turn down our cookie, you’re just squashing our soul.

 

BTW…the photo above is a picture taken from the Starbucks website…just in case some Starbucks lawyer reads this and I need to give photo credit…and also, you can go HERE to see the nutritional info on a PSL. 

And one last thing, are we really surprised that the Pumpkin Spice Latte actually does not contain pumpkin? Why is this shocking? Pumpkin basically has no flavor anyway…and that’s why it’s called a Pumpkin SPICE Latte. 

A Corn Tale…and some other foods

Food-ear-of-corn-clipart-620x400

 

My grandfather was a man of many skills. A “jack of all trades”, if you will.

One of his talents was gardening.

I grew up with fresh tomatoes, okra, squash, green beans, watermelon. And corn. Rows and rows of corn that I was taught how to pick off the stalk when the silk at the top had turned just the right color.

Not only did I learn how to pick corn, but I also learned how to pick green beans…and tomatoes… I was not allowed to carry the watermelons. (“I carried a watermelon?” Two points for you if you get that reference…) Anyway, not allowed…because I might drop them and break them and watermelons were money. My grandpa was the guy at the corner gas station selling his watermelons out of the back of his pickup truck.

And I do not care what you say, these “seedless” watermelons that the government has created, probably with secret transmitters housed inside to record our very DNA so that they can clone us and create a brand new underground society after we meet our demise of some origin of their choosing…yeah, THOSE watermelons? Well they are POOP compared to a home-grown, dare I say it?, FULLY SEEDED watermelon.

We always had an abundance of fresh watermelon straight from the back field during the summers that we rode in on the back of trailer hooked up to the tractor…and we sat at my granny’s redwood benches in the backyard, each with a quarter of a melon, a knife, and a salt shaker.

Cause that’s how you eat watermelon. With salt. T

hese days, I don’t always pull out the Morton’s when I’m nomming on some watermelon, but if I were at your house and you offered me a salt shaker when you sliced up that melon in little heart shaped bite-sized pieces, I would accept…knowing in my heart, that we were kindred spirits.

Every summer, when I bring home the first, not-as-good-as-granddaddy’s, watermelon, I always tell the same story.

“Did you guys know that my granddaddy—-”

In bored unison, they finish, “—used to sell watermelons out of the back of his pick up truck.”

To which I reply, “APPRECIATE IT, CHILDREN! IT’S YOUR HERITAGE!” Or something like that.

Along with knowing how to hug a watermelon while you’re riding it out of the fields on a trailer, I learned how to snap green beans over a big white enamel bowl that had a red thin line around the top. And a little rusted out hole on the bottom. These days, you would NEVER, EVER use a bowl with a rusted spot. I’m pretty sure that whatever problems I may have now did not originate with that rusted bowl. Heck, it was probably even painted with lead paint.

And I learned the fine art of shucking corn and removing their silk tassels…and inevitably, some of those little strings would get left behind all throughout the rinsing and cooking part of preparation. And that corn was served with a, GASP!, silk string or two on it! To us, that was just what corn looked like.

My kids would take one look, declare it a worm or some other parasite and decide they were never touching corn ever again.

One day, having realized that my kids have really only seen corn come out of bags from the freezer, I decided to grab some unshucked corn at the grocery store and bring it home so that they could experience the joys of a “corn-shucking party” just like I used to on a summer morning on the carport.

That’s right, y’all. I said CARPORT.

I lived in a ranch style house, across from a cornfield, with a CARPORT.

Kenny Chesney would write a song about me. Maybe he already has.

But about that corn….so I grab five ears of the unshucked, silky topped beauties and bring them home.

And do you know what my son said?

“Mom! What are THOSE?!”

Good heavens. Granddaddy, I’m just so sorry. I don’t even have words for this atrocity against generations of farmers. Please forgive me while I do my penance amongst the green bean and okra vines.

So, that day, Jack and I shucked some corn together. He called it, “cleaning corn” which seems pretty accurate, I suppose.

And when it finally came time to eat corn, he ate heartily. I’d like to think that it was because HE had helped to prepare it.

But it was probably just because he’s a boy. And he eats…A LOT. The idea of the war that will commence between him and the pantry during the teenage years frighten me.

All of that to say, our new home has some space for a garden. And if it doesn’t frustrate me too much to try to coerce forth a few tomatoes and some squash, I might give it a go next spring and just HOPE that I inherited my grandfather’s green thumb.

My kids need to see more “homegrown/ homemade” stuff. Now, please do not mistake this post for an “I’m never buying Cheetos or Oreos again! All organic, all homemade, all the time!”…cause Heaven knows that I love me some good ole processed-the-heck-out-of doughnuts with white, refined sugar.

I just mean a little return to the roots so that I don’t have “those kids” that think green beans come out of a can.

Which, for the most part, around here they do.

Or that Rice Krispie treats come out of a box, individually wrapped.

Honest to goodness, I made a pan of Rice Krispie treats one day. And you would have thought I had turned into Willy Wonka with the amount of excitement and sheer awe that Caia expressed at the “one giant Rice Krispie treat! In a pan! Mom! These taste just like the REAL ones in the blue packages!”

Oh for the love of Snap, Crackle,and Pop…no.

Just…no

Everyone Should Have to Shuck Corn Once In Their Life

Food-ear-of-corn-clipart-620x400 My grandfather was a man of many skills. A “jack of all trades”, if you will.

One of his talents was gardening.

I grew up with fresh tomatoes, okra, squash, green beans, watermelon. And corn. Rows and rows of corn that I was taught how to pick off the stalk when the silk at the top had turned just the right color.

Not only did I learn how to pick corn, but I also learned how to pick green beans…and tomatoes… I was not allowed to carry the watermelons. (“I carried a watermelon?” Two points for you if you get that reference…) Anyway, not allowed…because I might drop them and break them and watermelons were money. My grandpa was the guy at the corner gas station selling his watermelons out of the back of his pickup truck.

And I do not care what you say, these “seedless” watermelons that the government has created, probably with secret transmitters housed inside to record our very DNA so that they can clone us and create a brand new underground society after we meet our demise of some origin of their choosing…yeah, THOSE watermelons? Well they are POOP compared to a home-grown, dare I say it?, FULLY SEEDED watermelon.

We always had an abundance of fresh watermelon straight from the back field during the summers that we rode in on the back of trailer hooked up to the tractor…and we sat at my granny’s redwood benches in the backyard, each with a quarter of a melon, a knife, and a salt shaker.

Cause that’s how you eat watermelon. With salt. T

hese days, I don’t always pull out the Morton’s when I’m nomming on some watermelon, but if I were at your house and you offered me a salt shaker when you sliced up that melon in little heart shaped bite-sized pieces, I would accept…knowing in my heart, that we were kindred spirits.

Every summer, when I bring home the first, not-as-good-as-granddaddy’s, watermelon, I always tell the same story.

“Did you guys know that my granddaddy—-”

In bored unison, they finish, “—used to sell watermelons out of the back of his pick up truck.”

To which I reply, “APPRECIATE IT, CHILDREN! IT’S YOUR HERITAGE!” Or something like that.

Along with knowing how to hug a watermelon while you’re riding it out of the fields on a trailer, I learned how to snap green beans over a big white enamel bowl that had a red thin line around the top. And a little rusted out hole on the bottom. These days, you would NEVER, EVER use a bowl with a rusted spot. I’m pretty sure that whatever problems I may have now did not originate with that rusted bowl. Heck, it was probably even painted with lead paint.

And I learned the fine art of shucking corn and removing their silk tassels…and inevitably, some of those little strings would get left behind all throughout the rinsing and cooking part of preparation. And that corn was served with a, GASP!, silk string or two on it! To us, that was just what corn looked like.

My kids would take one look, declare it a worm or some other parasite and decide they were never touching corn ever again.

One day, having realized that my kids have really only seen corn come out of bags from the freezer, I decided to grab some unshucked corn at the grocery store and bring it home so that they could experience the joys of a “corn-shucking party” just like I used to on a summer morning on the carport.

That’s right, y’all. I said CARPORT.

I lived in a ranch style house, across from a cornfield, with a CARPORT.

Kenny Chesney would write a song about me. Maybe he already has.

But about that corn….so I grab five ears of the unshucked, silky topped beauties and bring them home.

And do you know what my son said?

“Mom! What are THOSE?!”

Good heavens. Granddaddy, I’m just so sorry. I don’t even have words for this atrocity against generations of farmers. Please forgive me while I do my penance amongst the green bean and okra vines.

So, that day, Jack and I shucked some corn together. He called it, “cleaning corn” which  seems pretty accurate, I suppose.

And when it finally came time to eat corn, he ate heartily. I’d like to think that it was because HE had helped to prepare it.

But it was probably just because he’s a boy. And he eats…A LOT. The idea of the war that will commence between him and the pantry during the teenage years frighten me.

All of that to say, our new home has some space for a garden. And if it doesn’t frustrate me too much to try to coerce forth a few tomatoes and some squash, I might give it a go next spring and just HOPE that I inherited my grandfather’s green thumb.

My kids need to see more “homegrown/ homemade” stuff. Now, please do not mistake this post for an “I’m never buying Cheetos or Oreos again! All organic, all homemade, all the time!”…cause Heaven knows that I love me some good ole processed-the-heck-out-of doughnuts with white, refined sugar.

I just mean a little return to the roots so that I don’t have “those kids” that think green beans come out of a can.

Which, for the most part, around here they do.

Or that Rice Krispie treats come out of a box, individually wrapped.

Honest to goodness, I made a pan of Rice Krispie treats one day. And you would have thought I had turned into Willy Wonka with the amount of excitement and sheer awe that Caia expressed at the “one giant Rice Krispie treat! In a pan! Mom! These taste just like the REAL ones in the blue packages!”

Oh for the love of Snap, Crackle,and Pop…no.

Just…no.

Lessons in Self Discovery

Two weeks in.

Two weeks that I have dropped off all three children in front of the school.

Two weeks that I have had no pint-sized companion next to me, asking for the car buggy at the store (are those things not THE WORST to maneuver down the aisle?), asking me to peel an orange, following me to the bathroom, or reporting to me every bathroom activity that THEY themselves have completed.

You know what’s the worst?

When I flip on the TV, because I cannot…I CANNOT, sit in a quiet house, and I scroll through the channels and I see the listing for Paw Patrol or Team Umizoomi or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s almost physical the tug I feel at my heartstrings.

Oh dear Lord. They all said it would go by so fast.

And there were days where I felt pretty sure that the Mommy Assignment that had been delivered to me was surely not from Heaven but rather from Hell. (Don’t lie. You’ve thought it too.)

But all of a sudden, those years spent watching the animated Disney cartoons, or NickJr shows (and y’all, I remember when it was called NOGGIN)…they are GONE.

Oh they still watch Disney. But now it’s the tween shows where Every. Single. Character. has their own album or music video out. (Seriously. If we could put an end to that, that’d be awesome. Not EVERYONE needs to be auto-tuned and Pro-Tool-ed to death. Make it stop.)

Now, I can sit on the couch and catch up on all those New Girl episodes that I haven’t seen (“I HAVE touched glitter in the last 24 hours!…And I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. It freaks me out.”).

And I can eat lunch without sharing it. I can go to the bathroom and not have someone freak out every time I close the door.

Literally. Every single time I enter the bathroom and close the door, doesn’t matter what I’m doing, someone has some life-threatening emergency that is neither life-threatening nor an emergency.

In fact, right now…at this very moment, I am sitting in a Barnes and Noble typing this, and although I find it extremely unsettling how loudly people talk on their phones about their personal problems while in a public place, there is no one asking anything of me in this moment.

I could go browse the books, after I take a side-trip to the bathroom of course because I drank a venti…wait for it…Pumpkin Spice Latte, and there wouldn’t be anyone to throw themselves down on the ground and roll around and shout how they are “never going to love me ever again” because I won’t buy them a toy.

And while I’m at it….why does Barnes and Noble even sell toys? Can we stick to books and movies, please? It makes the life of a parent who just wants to swing by and pick up a book on parenting the strong-willed, thrice exceptional, gifted yet learning disabled child and their complex emotional and nutritional needs so much easier than having to wrestle little Tommy off the floor because he can’t have that $200 Lego set of Battlestar Galactica. I’m just saying.

But y’all. Can I let you in on a little secret?

I’m sad. And scared.

I’m sad with a side of remorse for all the times I wish I’d given just a little bit more effort to relishing all those times I snuggled with a toddler on the couch who wanted to watch a show that I could not even keep my eyes open for.

I’m sad that they grew so fast, yet so slow all at the same time.

I’m sad that I don’t have any reason to visit the baby/toddler aisle at Target or even Publix anymore. There was nothing like bagging up 154 tiny glass jars of baby food and carrying them, clinking and double bagged, into the house and wonder how the heck I was ever going to find space in the pantry to put all of those precious little containers of baby nutrition.

Do they even make jarred baby food now? I don’t even know. It seems like everything they sell these days is all “Here little baby. Take this squeeze bag of pureed kale, beets, rutabagas, and organic mangoes and squirt it in your mouth yourself.”

Anyway…I’m scared.

I’m scared because my existence revolved solely around being the mommy 24-7. And while I still spend ridiculous amounts of time transporting them in the car to and from and suffering through the tears and hand cramps and eraser hole ridden papers of homework….and the lunch packing and the lunch buying and the breakfast making and the uniform washing and the sock finding and the backpack packing of having three in “for real” school, I also have several hours in the day that I need to fill.

It’s like I’m having to relearn everything about myself. And IT IS OVERWHELMING.

It’s a new season here in the Parris house. And I’m desperately seeking and searching what my days should look like now. Where should my time and effort go to before the kids arrive home? Am I being lazy if I just sit around and watch 6 straight episodes of Andy Griffith? (My heart says no on that one. It’s good parenting technique research. Andy was a pretty good dad, I think.)

For now, I can tell you this…what I have learned TODAY, Friday, August 29th, 2014…

Hanging out at a Barnes and Noble Starbucks “cafe” trying to think and write? Yeah…that ain’t happening. People sit way too close to me trying to hog the outlets and I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about the two groups of ladies that have discussed everything about their neighbors super loud. And…the dude to my left claims he’s only sent one email in his life, can’t figure out how to log on to the Wifi, and has repeatedly asked the barista for tech support like she’s behind the Genius Bar at Apple. I can tell she wants to be all, “Dude. I gots some mochas to make. Take a class.”

Oh…and there’s another guy here…I call him Exasperated Man. He sighs REALLY loud about every two minutes. He alternates his sighs with knuckle cracking.

And it is DRIVING ME BONKERS. I’ve got to get out of here. Maybe run by the non-fiction section and pick up book on dealing with high maintenance people who make rude noises, hog outlets, have no personal space, or sense of other people’s time.

Yep. I’m learning more and more about myself everyday.

I’ll call today a success.

 

Dear Summer, It’s Not You. It’s Me. Actually, It’s the Kids…

It was a simple enough question.

“What are you eating?”

I was sitting on the stairs to the bonus room. And I was eating Muddy Buddies Chex Mix.

“AAAARRRGHHHH!!! Seriously?! Can I not just BE ALONE for 10 seconds without someone asking me something?!”

My poor husband. (Let me take a moment right here and publicly say, I’m sorry about that, honey. Nothing personal. And I’m also sorry that I didn’t save you any Chex Mix. Kisses!)

Y’all. Let me get real for a minute here.

The summer is starting to wear me out.  It started out great. It always does.

We were sleeping in and we were swimming in the pool and we were eating ice cream every day. We were putting together jigsaw puzzles and slicing up watermelons every morning to nibble on throughout the day. We were happy and carefree and loving it.

But…quite honestly, I think we’re sick of each other.

All day. Every day. The bickering, the whining, the incessant noise.

Oh the noise, noise, NOISE, NOISE! Yes, yes friends. Just call me the Grinch.

I feel like I am being pecked to death by chickens. And I cannot escape it. All I really want to do is lie down or sit or stand or heck…I’d even hang by my toenails from the ceiling fan if I thought that I’d be enjoying just a little bit of silence for a moment.

I read an article once that said, “Stop telling us that you love your kids”…or something close to that. Basically, the point was…we don’t have to preface our statements about how we need a little breather from our kids by saying “I love my kids, but….”

This is the part where I DON’T tell you how much I love my kids, then.

And yes, yes, YES…I DID make the conscious choice to be a stay at home mother. But let’s get real, no one QUITE knows what we’re signing up for when we decide to take on that gig. Am I right?

In all seriousness, it HAS been great to be at home, but when you are the one always with the kids for long, long  hours and there is this constant noise and you’re always having to share whatever it is you’re eating that looks somewhat edible and when you’re cleaning up messes that I’m pretty sure chimpanzees hopped up on sugar and caffeine wouldn’t even make, well it can wear a person down.

So, after I snapped at my husband for interrupting my Chex Mix snack break, I got up and decided to go… Nowhere.

There was absolutely NO. PLACE. in my house that I could go where I would not hear my kids or risk them banging on the door and asking me if they can eat six Oreos and an ice cream sandwich at 7:30 p.m.

We have a Jack and Jill type bathroom between the master and the oldest child’s room and an architectural layout that creates a massive circular loop throughout the house that allows them access to me at all times.

It is so NOT divine.

And then I thought, “Well, I’ll just go somewhere.” But I wasn’t really keen on driving anywhere, because…where was I going to go? Going shopping or even to the grocery store when I’m feeling the need for space just results in me doing one of two things: wandering aimlessly around the store and wasting my time and just getting more and more tired and irritated all the while knowing I’m still going to go back to a house full of loud and messy…OR I end up impulse buying where I think thoughts like. “I really DO need more coffee cups! And this one has OWLS on it! It’s super cute and fall is coming and aren’t owls sort of fall-ish and maybe I’ll create an owl theme in my kitchen. Yes! This owl mug is a super wise purchase!”

Really all I want to do is just lie down somewhere in the silent anyway. And I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but there is ALWAYS a kid throwing a fit two aisles over from you no matter what store you go to. Thinking you’re hitting up Target for some peace and quiet is about like thinking that you can go to the zoo and not smell elephant poop.

In the end, I wound up frantically searching for head phones so that I could put Frank Sinatra on and not hear the children while I typed up this blog post. And then…I felt better. As Frank would say, “I did it MY WAY!”

Sometimes…fellow mommies, you just need to take a breather. You just need to press the pause button and fill up your own tank and enjoy something that’s just yours. And you don’t have to feel guilty about it. If you end up with a  half gallon carton of ice cream and a spoon while sitting in your bed watching Mean Girls on Netflix, I won’t judge. In fact, I might ask if I can come over.

And you can tell me no.

And I won’t take it personally.

Cause sometimes, mama just needs some space. And some ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

“With Every Broken Bone…”

I have this thing with words.

I love, like…it’s probably bordering on obsession, the way people can use words to create an image and convey a message and turn the world right on its end. For better or worse.

Well, I don’t love the “worse” part…but it goes without saying, though I’ll say it anyway, that words are powerful. They carry weight and you can tear down or build up with them. And in my life, I have experienced both.

I have been crushed and made to believe that I was “less than” because of someone’s words. Haven’t we all? SOMEone, SOMEwhere has sent your world spinning out of orbit with things that they’ve said to you or about you. And if I may borrow Taylor Swift’s words,  (yes, yes. I said Taylor Swift…I’ve mentioned before that we have very eclectic music taste around here), these are the words that I’ve felt that I’ve wanted to dance around my living room singing into a hairbrush (I AM basically, perpetually 12.) and shout these words over and over and over again to the ones who’ve caused me pain.

You, with your words like knives

And swords and weapons that you use against me

You have knocked me off my feet again

Got me feeling like I’m nothing…

…You have pointed out my flaws again

As if I don’t already see them

I walk with my head down

Trying to block you out ’cause I’ll never impress you

I just wanna feel okay again

Now, I know that I have not always used my words to encourage either. Pot, kettle, black. The end.

So, oh heavens, someone might be out there singing into their hairbrush about me.

And that pretty much makes me want to vomit. 

I’ve said things, and in the age of social media, WRITTEN things that I’ll go back later and think, “Oh bless. That does NOT sound at all the way I thought it did when I first said/wrote it. The world thinks I am amazingly harsh. I should never be allowed to speak again.” (We are own worst critics, right? At least, I hope.)

And on the flip side of being the recipient of harsh words, I have also received notes and cards and, once again…in the age of social media, Facebook posts and emails that I have read over and over and over again…because they make me feel good and loved and warm and fuzzy  and happy like puppies and popsicles on a warm summer eve. (And also, I’m basically, perpetually 12.)

This whole post came out of the fact that on Saturday I was able to spend some time with some of my Georgia girls by meeting them “halfway” in Greenville.

Let’s take a moment and say that Greenville is not necessarily “halfway”…but it’s alright, ladies. It’s alright. You were worth the midnight arrival… Kisses and hugs, friends!

They “made” me hike down to the river and I almost passed out from heat exhaustion and had to later stop and buy deodorant to replace the clinical strength stuff that had already faded thanks to the fact that we HIKED TO THE RIVER… nothing but love, ladies. nothing but love.

I’m a bit of a heavy sweat-er. I have no idea why…but I can just walk out to my van in the summer and I’m all “Water! I need water! I’m hallucinating! Is that a mirage? I’m hallucinating!”.

At one point, we walked into a smoothie/coffee/bubble tea (btw, BLECH!) shop…and I was immediately hit with the smell of “ripe person”.

I thought it was me and decided to stand at least 3 feet from all of my companions for the rest of the day.

Turns out, it wasn’t me. It was just a very organic crowd that likes to hang out in this particular shop. They have amazing pineapple/melon smoothies though. There’s always a trade off.

Not only did I have to repeatedly apologize for what I’m sure was my overwhelming and offensive odor…but I also found myself asking if my eyebrows had melted off. I only naturally have half an eyebrow above each eye. Again, I do not know why. I suffer from Half-Eyebrow Syndrome. My most used makeup product is my “brow fix kit”. Yes. That’s a thing. So I know I’m not the only one who suffers from this affliction.

Anyway, we wandered up and down the main street in Greenville, where they have an obscene amount of restaurants to choose from. (Here’s where I plug Nose Dive. French Toast that was heavenly.)

We were looking for “shops”. You know, where you go in and buy random kitschy stuff that you don’t necessarily need, but can always say “I picked it up on Girl’s Day in Greenville”…so it’s kind of worth the price. Three out of four of us ended up buying some flavored salt and spices from a spice store…Can we say “chocolate sea salt”? Whaaaaaaat? I needed it. NEEEEEDDED IT.

Finally we found the “general store”. I don’t know what qualifications you have to have for a “general store”, but this one contained 1000 square feet of over-priced t-shirts, hiking boots, flannel shirts and sundresses. I kind of wanted to cry tears of heartbreak when we walked in.

But as with most things in life, keep walking through the junk you hate and think “why?? WHY??!!! Who needs this?!”, and you will find the barrels of candy in the back.

Down the stairs and into the glory. Puzzles, and old-timey looking dishes, random kitchen accessories, penny candy barrels.

Penny candy barrels are not really a penny anymore. I paid $9.00 for a bunch of loose candy I could’ve bought for $3.50 at Publix.

I’m a sucker who overpays for suckers.

I really do have a point to this story about “words”, I promise. Stick with me.

So, I wandered to the journals. Heaven help me, I love anything that has paper. And you stick a cool cover on the front and then, be still my heart!, slap a quote on top of THAT, and suddenly I’m willing to dish out $15.00 for a stack of paper.

Two of my girls were already wandering the candy barrel section and buying RC Colas and moon pies when I happened upon the journals. I made an audible “Oooooohhhhhh…” while parents hugged their children a little closer to them to keep the safe from the crazy paper-sniffing lady one aisle away from the over-priced plastic Dollar Tree toys.

And I found one quote that I fell in love with right there. Like I almost melted into the floor. (So long, what’s left of my eyebrows…)

The most beautiful people we have known

are those who have

known DEFEAT,

known SUFFERING,

known STRUGGLE,

known LOSS,

and found their way out of the depths.

These persons have

an APPRECIATION,

a SENSITIVITY,

and an UNDERSTANDING of life that fills them with

COMPASSION, GENTLENESS, & A DEEP LOVING CONCERN.

Beautiful people do not just happen.

That is a quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the psychiatrist who first talked about the “five stages of death”.

Now theologically and spiritually speaking, I don’t believe that Mrs. Kubler-Ross and I have too much in common. But I would be very narrow-minded to not think that there are truths, God-ordained truths, that even the loudest critics against Christianity can not deny. And this is one of them.

Pain is universal. And pain can bring beauty. IF you allow yourself to not become bitter.

If you can turn the pain over to God, daily or hourly or moment by heart-breaking moment, you can be SURE that He will redeem it. I can’t explain it. I only know that I’ve seen it.

I am LIVING it right now.

On my drive home from Greenville on Saturday night, my road tunes of choice were mostly from One Republic. If you’ve never listened to One Republic, just do it. You’ll be able to take their catchy tunes and poetic lyrics and over-analyze them to fit whatever situation you find yourself in. (Or maybe just the Word Nerds like myself do that. I don’t really know.)

One of the songs that I hit repeat on, like…a LOT (because I’m basically, perpetually 12 years old), was a song called I Lived. And in short, it’s another one of those songs that someone will play at their kid’s high school graduation all perfectly choreographed to a slide show chronicling every event of their child’s life. And really, we do not NEED ONE MORE SONG that we dedicate to our little children (“I Hope You Dance”, “My Wish”, etc,etc,etc)…but THIS song… Well, THIS SONG…I’m probably going to write out the lyrics to and frame or sew on a bag or tattoo On. My. Face.

The entire song is flipping awesome…but the part that gets me is that when he looks back on his life, he wants to be able to say…oh my gosh, are you ready for it???….

With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Everyone can interpret song lyrics to fit their situations. That’s not lost on me. But THIS one…well, this one said to me that through the pain and the scars that made their marks on me, I chose to keep going. I chose to NOT shut down or build walls or grow bitter and give up on life or humanity.

It says to me that I allowed God to heal my heart. That I took the time to recover and rest when the road broke

and the pain hit

and the people left

and the night fell.

But then, I got up.

Changed, yes.

But for the better…

because I allowed God to rebuild and restore

and to “make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”.

(Isaiah 43:19)

Killing Time and Making It Seem Productive

First of all, isn’t the blog adorbs?

It was a birthday present from my man.

Which means, yeah. It’s been about a month since he’s done it. And about TWO months since my last blog post.

And yeah, it was going to be this whole two-part thing, but forget it.

I can’t commit to that kind of “blog installment” bit.

And also, I kinda lost my train of thought on it. It’ll come back to me, eventually.

But I spend a lot of time waiting for the perfect blog post to just magically land in my head that I put off writing until it’s been so long that I lose my motivation.

And then, I think of something to write about while I’m vacuuming and then I think “Well, I can’t write about that because I never wrote the second installment of that last post. People will think I can’t deliver. Or plan ahead.”

And so I lose what I was going to write about and then I go back to dreading having to write the second part of the my previous post, and then I start vacuuming again (cause basically, that’s all I ever do around here)…and the whole vicious cycle starts all over again.

So finally I decided, “Forget it”…and decided I would just write.

I get all philosophical about writing every now and then. When the mood strikes. Basically…my philosophy boils down to this…

WRITE.

Yeah. It’s pretty simple. I think that for most things in life, we tend to overthink. I know I do. Good grief…if I could get back one-tenth of the time that I spent over-thinking parenting, taking care of babies, how to schedule my perfect day…well, I’d have a lot of time back.

And here’s the thing…grammatically speaking, I am quite possibly one of the worst writers EVER. This is not an attempt to garner compliments, I swear. Because seriously. Just no. I overuse commas. I have a little obsession with ellipses. There is no method of punctuation that I have not employed at some point in time. Semi-colons, dashes, unnecessary periods and quotation marks and parentheses.

All throughout high school and college, I never made higher than a B on any grammar or literature paper I turned in. Because basically, I write like I talk. Which is run-on sentences…abrupt phrases…and way too much emphasis on the wrong words (like Chandler Bing).

And if you don’t know who Chandler Bing is…well, we may need to reconsider our friendship.

So, all of that to say, I’m SUPPOSED to be packing and cleaning and doing umpteen loads of laundry for the camping trip that we are taking this week. But, I got a little overwhelmed with everything….even though I thought I had prepared well for the day….including coffee, cranking the air down to 74 (don’t tell Stephen), and turning on “my jam”. (Please don’t ask what my jam is because I don’t even know. We have the strangest, most eclectic music taste in this house…)

I still got a little fed up. And the tipping point may have been when I realized that I turned one of my husband’s nicest shirts and one of our newest towels into a sickening shade of bubblegum pink. (He doesn’t know yet…shhhh…) And it was because of a cheap red beach towel that he actually TOLD me at the store I didn’t need and shouldn’t buy, but it’s summer and it was $3.00 (where do you get a beach towel for $3.00, I ask you?!)…and it had a pink flamingo on it. AND what’s worse is….this is the SECOND load of laundry that I’ve destroyed with it.

I’m throwing that stupid thing away.

Right after we use it one more time…because it IS all fresh and clean now.

But anyway, you know how you reach that point where you’re all snappy with everyone and everything and you’re getting really irrational about dumb stuff? Like telling your five year old you will throw away his Iron Man cup if you see it land on the carpet one. more. time.? Like that?

Yeah, that was me.

So…I had to take a little break. Regroup.

Also, I had to perform a little self-surgery on my foot.

I think I have something stuck in my heel cause it hurts like…well, like there’s something stuck in my heel. But I can’t see anything and I think I may have caused more harm than good. And now it’s probably going to get infected which is why my whole ankle itches now and it’ll swell up so much that I won’t be able to wear any shoes and I’ll probably have to have major surgery that’ll be just shy of amputating the whole thing.

And if none of that happens, at the very least, I’ll google my symptoms and convince myself that I have some horrible foot fungus that’s indigenous to Southern Australia but can be contracted in public restrooms throughout the southern U.S. and I probably have it and it will likely shut down my entire neurological system within the next two days.

Or MAYBE…I can just claim that I am a cripple and can in no way do anything while on our camping trip except sit in a comfy chair with my foot propped up and several cold drinks by my side and 12 books that I’ve “been meaning to read” since 1999.

That said, I think that I have sufficiently wasted enough time here for now. I guess I should get back to the laundry and cleaning, which….am I the only one who feels the need to deep clean the entire house before you go out of town? I have no sense of realistic priorities, basically.

Oh…and if you have never single-handedly (well, double-handedly, cause I have two functioning hands) tried to clean and pack for a family of five to go camping while three kids were in the house…well. I’m pretty sure that Dante purposely left that out of his Inferno because of the immense absurdity that it is.

It. Is. A. Treat.

I see myself ingesting a lot of ice cream after I make that late-night run to Target tonight. Cause, you know, there’s always some last minute something that you need before you go out of town. And Target? It just SOOTHES you, am I right?

Ugh. I gotta make sure that I get out of here early enough to hit the Target…or else I’m gonna be stuck going to WalMart…But then again, it might not be so bad if I show up at the ole W at 10:00 at night.

Simply because…I always leave feeling like THE BEST PARENT EVER.

Know what I mean?

 

 

For “the others”…Because Being a Mom is Hard Enough…chapter 1

I never intended for this post to be a “two-parter”. I feel like you can only use that technique once every two years, and I’ve already reached my quota.

In fact, while standing at the kitchen sink this morning when the idea for this post popped into my head, I had originally intended for it to be this brief, bullet-point type list.

But I got started on this one, and it turns out I had this “opinion” that was kind of lengthy, and I realized (when the word count got to about 3000), that no one likes reading War and Peace on a blog post.

So while the second part is mostly already written, I’m saving it for a different post. I can’t have all 8 readers here falling asleep on me.

And thus begins…CHAPTER ONE…

If you know a mom, and I’d venture to say that we all do, I have some things I want to tell you. [Read more...]

Where Monster Trucks and Ponies Meet

It’s coming.

The day is drawing near when my little five year old man will start Kindergarten. And our moments together, just he and I, will be gone.

I know that it is a part of life’s ebb and flow and that I am not the only one to weep and wring my hands over their last little bird “leaving the nest” for big kid school.

And it’s not that I didn’t feel sad or a tugging when the girls went off to school. I certainly did.

But…there is something about MY BABY, MY YOUNGEST gaining this independence that I am having a hard time with.

I can almost physically feel the time slip away from me.

And so…I have tried to stop and notice more. I have played and snuggled and let the dishes and laundry pile up these last couple of weeks.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “Once the kids are in school, my house will be clean again!”

But now, I have to stop and ask myself, Did I play enough? Was I there enough? Did I fret too much over housework and chores and dinner prep that I worried away my children’s last few years to be mine and all mine? [Read more...]

Being Stuck (I think I’ve used that title before…)

Some days, I get stuck.

When I say “stuck” what I mean is, I have 1,001 things I want to do…never mind the things that I HAVE to do…and yet, I could sit on the couch and do AB.SO.LUTE.LY. NOTHING.

And while I think that having “down” time is good for the soul, being “stuck” is different.

When you’re stuck, you know that you have the space and time and breathing room for reading that book you’ve got set aside, for indulging in your guilty pleasure of Netflix binge-watching, or taking a mindless trip to Target or TJ Maxx…but even getting started seems like so much effort. [Read more...]