Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We Don't Need No Education...

It seems impossible that yesterday we brought Bub home from the hospital and now "it" is here.  "It" is something I have thought about hundreds of times since he was born and yet it has somehow snuck up on me.  "It" has been the mile marker (in my mind at least) of when he is truly transitioning from a baby to a child.   But, the clothes are picked out.  The Mystery Machine lunchbox and homemade, coordinating tote bag are ready. He's got a slick new haircut and he's even been brushing his teeth twice a day (don't judge my parenting).  So, other that me emotionally, we are ready for "it" to happen.  He is officially going to start kindergarten. There has many tears and gnashing of teeth. 

Well the gnashing of teeth has primary been from this guy:

But, there has certainly been plenty of tears on my end.  Tears of happiness over the strong child he has become.   Tears of sadness realizing that "yesterday" that we brought him home has already been over 5 years ago.  Tears of hope on whom he is becoming.  Tears of gratitude that I get to see him every morning.   And tears of confusion and doubt on what this chapter will look.

I have been thinking a lot lately (well... lately actually meaning the past 5 years) about what I hope Bub's teacher is like.  And I think more than anything my hope for her is that she sees her job as not preparing Bub for 1st grade, but for life while doing everything she can to preserve and appreciate who he is today.

Because let's be honest.  He's the bomb.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I have significantly neglected my blog the past couple months.   I apologize.  If it makes you feel any better I have also significantly neglected my diet.  And for what it is worth, I have missed the blog a heck of a lot more than the diet.  

Amen?  Amen!

Life has been...   I am trying to think of a smart analogy here, but I can't.  Life has simply been life.  

Being in the Early Childhood Education field suits me well for many reasons.  I get to see beautiful babies daily.  I get to see the wonder and amazement of when a young child learns a new skill.   I don't have to do higher order math.   It's great.   Another reason that it suits me so well is because it gets to feed my addiction to children's books.   There are so many simple, unpompous truths in children's literature. 

There are reasons that we give new graduates Dr. Seuss's Oh, The Places You'll Go.  Uncomplicated, yet important messages such as "You'll be on your way up! / You'll be seeing great sights! / You'll join the high fliers / who soar to high heights" it is a book in which the words can envelope them in a hug letting you know that adulthood is going to be alright.

Likewise, every expectant mother is bound to receive a copy of Rober Munsch I Love You Forever under the guise of "being for baby".   Yet, as she reads through tear-filled eyes to her expanded abdomen the sing-song reoccurring line of "I love you forever/ I like you for always/ As long as I'm living/ My baby you'll be" it becomes clear that the message is not for that tiny baby, but rather an anthem of the unconditional love already felt for the child.  

I could go on and on about beloved children books that are simple, yet profound.   Written in language that is understandable by children, but a message that can only be understood by an adult's mind.   I have many loves when it comes to children's literature, however, my most beloved children's book is entitled Someday  by Allison McGhee.

I cannot say enough good things about this book.  I can vividly remember standing in Barnes & Noble at the 74th week of  pregnancy with Goose (yes... I had the gestation of an elephant with her) looking for a book to "give" her when she was born (that's another story for another day... after growing a baby elephant you don't come to the delivery empty handed).   I was thumbing through the books when I stumbled upon Someday.  On the first page I was hooked by the beautiful illustration of a mother savoring her just born baby girl.   Then came the accompanying text, "One day I counted your fingers and kissed each one."  

I am fairly certain I cried from that first line until the last.   The book follows the life cycle of being a mother and celebrates all the things that she anticipates her daughter experiencing.  

Someday your eyes will be filled with a joy so deep that they shine.

Someday you will run so fast and so far your heart will feel like fire.

Someday you will swing high- so high, higher than you ever dared swing.

In approximately 20 pages the life of this little girls is laid out.   But, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, life is life.  And sometimes life isn't pretty.   And as the mother in Someday tells her daughter that Someday you will hear something so sad that you will fold up with sorrow.  

Sadly, last week I heard something that has me folded up with sorrow that has been at times unbearable.   My heart is broken and several of the people's whom I love the most hearts are broken.  And sadly, this part of "life" is of the most unfair variety and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to make it better.   And the truth of the matter is there is nothing that can every make this part of what is now our lives "better".  

However, I have come to realize in the past few days that though there is nothing that is going to take this sorrow away that (to paraphrase McGhee) "Someday, we will look back and realize that it is just small part of who we are and it is not what defines who we are to become."  

There will again be happiness.  Goodness will again become apparent.  This ugliness can never go away, but it does not mean that it has to turn us into ugly people.   And that "Someday your eyes will {again} be filled with a joy so deep that they shine." 

Monday, May 23, 2011

10 Things that Happened on Vacation (Warning... someone gets pooped on)

When I was a little girl, I loved the Bernstein Bears book series.   One of my favorite is Too Much Birthday in which Sister Bear learns that you can have too much of a good thing.   Lots of  times I leave vacation feeling that way.  That it was all just too much to the point that I'm sick of it.   However, having just gotten home from a week long family vacation to Panama City Beach, I can say that this trip was different.   It was just right.  

I think that this picture sums it up.  In the nearly 3 years that they have been siblings and she's been alive, I believe this is the only picture I have them them both smiling and/or not picking their nose.   It really was a great trip.

So, here are the top 10 highlights of our vacation. 

10.   We got an 9 day break from this guy.  

It was lovely.  

9.  The Rooster made friends with a group of professional dancers (not the Broadway kind either) from Kentucky who sat beside us everyday at the beach.  So long Yolanda, Carissa, and K.C.  

8.   We saved two small fish that we are fairly certain are baby sharks.   We are hopeful that us showing them kindness will result in them not eating anyone in the future.   We apologize in advance if they eat you.

7.  We went down with a 4 year-old little boy and came home with a 5 year-old.   Many tears have been shed over this.

However, he has apparently lifted his backwards underwear ban.   This makes so many things right in my world.  

5.  My parents and sister came down for part of the week.  My sister decided we needed to rent a jet ski. So, I took my newly turned 5 year-old and 17 year-old sister jet skiing in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.  

We had a great time until we all  fell off.    We then climbed back on.  Then one sister noticed that the other sister's body parts were hanging out of her bathing suit.   Then I cussed that we were in the middle of the ocean and my baby was going to get ate by a shark who cares if I have body parts hanging out because no one can see them anyways  that person modestly corrected the problem.  Then we fell off again.   Then it was time to go back.  

There will not be an accompanying picture of this activity.  You're welcome.  

4.  My children became pirates. Well, Bub became a pirate.  Goose told them she was not becoming a pirate then screamed and swung her sword at them. 

Very scary, indeed.  

3.   Within the first 10 minutes of being on the beach the first day  I got pooped on by a seagull.  You always hear what to do if a jellyfish stings you ("Somebody pee on me fast!") or you see a shark ("Play dead!"... wait, that may be a bear, never mind), but no one ever tells you what to do when a seagull poops on your head.  

Apparently they don't know I'm a friend of sharks.  

2.  We played putt-putt.   I think that Goose was pretending she was Yolanda. 

1.   We got to put everything in the world away for a week.  I hope that this trip was one of those things they keep with them for a long time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

10 Things I Love About the Rooster

The Rooster and I have been married for 6 years.  The marriage was the result of two years of when the Rooster came a courtn' and decided he wanted to put a ring on it.  That's almost 8 years for mathematically challenged readers. 

When our relationship began, I was just a wee babe.  He was 7 years my elder robbed the proverbial cradle.   In our time together he has gotten older, as most people do over the years.   I, on the other hand, have not.   Amazing, really.  

And yes, that is a picture of a picture.  Don't judge.  

But, back then, when he was 8 years younger and I was the exact same age I am now, our lives were fairly different than they are now.  


We went out at least two nights a week.

We made plans spontaneously.  

He would try to help me keep beat to songs on the radio by clapping along.  

We would talk about our future.  


We go out about twice every 6 months.

Plans are made weeks in advanced and are dependent upon no one getting sick.  

He has figured out I'm tone deaf and turns up the radio if I try to sing along.  

We try to be completely present in the present everyday.  

Life has changed, but he's still the same guy I fell in love years ago.  So with no further ado, here is 10 (of many) Things I Love About the Rooster

10.   He is a great dancer.  Unless he starts singing.   Then it's just time to go home.  

9.  Anytime there is a mouse within a 10 mile radius of our house, he takes care of it.  And by take care of it, I mean he doesn't let me know it was ever born because he knows I will threaten to move.  

8.  He does the laundry!  As in, all of the laundry!    Every week!

7.  He does the laundry!  I love that one so much it is worth mentioning again.  

6.   He loves and is really good to our family (ours, his, and mine).  

5.   He has more sayings than there are children in Buttbust City.   So go get your  run out as you dance with the one who brought you because he is very handy .   Face!

4.  The dog listens to him.   This really should be number one because he is the only reason the dog is not been turned into to Scooby Snacks.   Scoobs is eternally grateful.  

3.   He works hard.  And by saying he works hard, I mean that he watches Youtube videos, quotes lines from The Office, and makes $1 dollar bets on who can balance a pencil on their nose the longest with his work buddies.    (I'm kidding....   he hasn't had time for those frivolous bets with the Kentucky Derby going on this past weekend.   Nevermind all they hail he's been dealing with of late.)

2.   He is hands-down, undeniably, 100% the funniest person I have ever met.  He makes me laugh everyday.  

1.  He's wonderful husband and father.   He's my best friend and I look forward to spending my life with him as he grows old and I stay the same age.   

Love you,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

We're Having....

A really good weekend. 

So why, the above picture?  Well, first off to freak out my mother.  Hahahahahaha... sorry, Momma.   And in case anyone is confused, no I am not pregnant.  

Secondly, tomorrow is Mother's Day and I cannot help but reflect on my almost 5 years of being a momma myownself.  

Motherhood has been so much more than I ever thought I could be. 

More happiness than I could ever articulate. 

More (emotional) pain  than I ever thought I could feel.  

More laughter...

More tears...

More joy...

More fears...

Okay, before I turn this into a Dr. Seuss poem (I love them when they eat soup, I love them even when they poop, I love them more than our chicken coop) let me get to my point.  Motherhood changed my heart in more ways than What to Expect When You're Expecting (and Karen and Amber, if you are reading this see above note to my mother concerning the current occupancy of my womb)told me it would.   Yes, the book was  right that my hair, my skin, my body, and my sleep are all completely changed. 

However, WEWE (I don't know if that is the official abbreviation, but just go with it because the title of the book is long, however, now I'm realize it is not nearly as long as typing out this explanation of why I put WEWE.....  err, I've always like to shorten, even before pregnancy when I was a courtn') did not mention anything about how your mind changes.   How the very lens in which you view your life and the world changes.  

At approximately 1 month and 2 days after this... 

And 4 hours before this...

Is when the way that I view every thought, feeling, emotion, relationship, connection I had in my world changed so that I no longer saw it through LeeAnn's eyes.  At that very instant is when I began to view the world through the eyes of Bub's Mother.  

In that very instant that he entered the world I got what no book, website, or experienced mother could have told me.   For the rest of my life, regardless of what experiences I have, I will always firstly look at every situation through this new lens.  

Every hurting, sick, or mistreated child I see becomes my babies.  

Every decision I make, I will think about the impact it will make on them.  

Every person I have in my life will be at the consideration of the impact they will have on my family.  

Every scary news story I watch the thoughts of what this will mean for my children. 

They are always present in my thoughts, are the focus of many of my daily conversations, and the consumers of the majority of my energy.   And for the rest of my life, when they are gone and grown I know that is where they will remain.  

And even when one of them is smacking me in the head with Llama, Llama Red Pajamas in an effort to get me to finish typing a blog (er... not that would be happening at this very moments by my sweet cherub), I am grateful to be a mother this Mother's Day.   I am grateful to be their mother this Mother's Day.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

How Mommy Guilt is Taking Years Off My Life

Pregnancy and childbirth has always intrigued me.   It may have started when I had the fortune/misfortune of seeing my (much) younger sister born.  

That's her, by the way.  Hot Stuff McGhee.   One of my favorite hobbies is finding pictures like this of her.  

Anyways, after seeing Hot Stuff born I was pretty hooked.  Not like 16 and Pregnant hooked, but interested none the less.  It really is fascinating if you stop and think about it.   9 months (or as the Rooster says after dealing with a pregnant me a couple times "40 weeks sounds more like 10 months to me!")  and a whole new person is created. 

Well, lo and behold, approximately on day 3 of the Rooster and my honeymoon I became pregnant.   Surprise, surprise!   Beats the other souvenirs we brought back from Mexico with us by far. 

Anyways, finding myself all up and impregnated, I did what I always do when something new happens in my life.  I Googled my fingers to the bone in my relentless pursuit on becoming intimately acquainted with what exactly was going on with that tiny soul growing in my belly and heart.  

In my incessant Googling, I stumbled upon a message board of other Googln' Mommas-to-be who were expecting around the same time as me.   Upon meeting this group of women (many of whom I keep in contact with today... Hey girls!!)  my eyes were opened to something that What to Expect When You Are Expecting doesn't touch.  

It is in a nutshell what is called Mommy Guilt    Apparently, somewhere along all my learnings I missed the fact that when it comes to parenting, more specifically mothering, there are some very strong opinions on what to do and even stronger on what not to do.   And the craziest part of all is that sometimes most of the time you drive yourself insane trying to decide what exactly what your own opinion on child rearing exactly looks like. 

For example:

Natural vs Medicated Birth

Cloth vs 'Posie (Diapering for those who haven't walked this road)

Circumcision vs Non-circumcision (Penises for those who don't have one.   Oh, and I don't.... Goose tells me that every night while naming what everyone she knows has.)

Breast vs Bottle

And those are just a sampling of that a new mother gets to make before she even takes her precious bundle home from the hospital.   I've got to tell you, I wasn't prepared for all this.  I thought I'd make my choices and then leave it at that.   I didn't even really think of them as choices to be honest.   I was just going to do what my family (disposable diapers) or culture (circumcision) or educated choice (breastfeeding) told me to do.    

But it wasn't that simple because when I became with child, every choice I made took on new meaning.  

"What if using disposable diapers leaves him sterile?"

"What if breastfeeding leads him to be a weirdo with an infatuation with breast?"

"What if they cut off more than they are suppose to?"   (I likely just lost any male readers I may have had.)

The what if's went on and on.   And the crazy part is that Mommy Guilt continues to keep me awake a night nearly 5 years in now.  Only now it is a totally different set of questions...  

"What if he isn't really ready for kindergarten?"  

"What if she doesn't learn to potty till she's 15?"   *Disclaimer... I am totally okay with her not pottying yet.  See... Mommy Guilt made me write that.  

And the biggest biggie of all the big "what if's"...

"What if they resent me for having to work?"  

And furthermore, I realize that someday the "what if's" will become even bigger. 

"What if she doesn't realize what a huge jerk he is to her?"


"What if he drives too fast and...."  

And so on and so on and so on.  

I've come to the conclusion that the "what if's" of Mommy Guilt are never going to go away.  I take that back.  I am sure one day the "what if's" will be replaced with "I wish I would have...".  

Additionally, I've come to realize that there is a purpose to this Mommy Guilt aside from the bags it has put under my eyes.   The purpose is that the choices I make about them and for them are some of the most important I will ever be allowed to make.   I won't ever get a "re-do" with Bub's or Goose's childhoods.   So, I guess even if they do give me the finger in their Easter picture, they are worth all the self-doubt and questioning I put myself through.  

So, for fellow guilt ridden mothers....   What is you deepest Mommy Guilt, and how do you deal with it? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Morning and Other Things that Require Tylenol

I love traditions.   Even as a young child, the anticipation on the evening of Thanksgiving knowing that the next day our Christmas tree would go up was more than I could stand. 

I think that just about every holiday we celebrate (including birthdays) has several traditions tied to them.  And I will admit I can, to a certain extent, be very particular about the preservation of these traditions.   So, when something is skewed with how I envision a certain holiday experience should go, I become, well... what we call in the South "ugly". 

Well, today just so happens to be a holiday!   I have been very excited for a few weeks because Easter was extra late this year.   In our house, we do celebrate Easter as being the resurrection of Jesus.   Though we do celebrate some secular aspects of Easter (there is an Easter Bunny that visits our house and we do dye eggs), when questioned my children will firstly tell you that Easter is about Jesus. 

And since we do believe that Jesus is the purpose of celebrating Easter, we do spend Easter morning at church.  And everyone knows that Easter morning at church is the day when you are suppose to look your shiniest and your prettiest.  

Well, of course that is unless you are the mother of two young children.  If that is a case, you just try to find something that isn't stained and will cover you enough to chase your children under the benches if the alter call gets a little lengthy.  

But, even if Momma looks like an exhausted ragamuffin, her children must look GOOD come Easter morning for church.  Tradition dictates it.  So, after wrassling the chocolate bunny away from your two year-old (and yes, I did say "wrassling"... "wrestling" just doesn't cut it for this mighty fight) it is time to dress your youngn's like it's prom night.  

So, with no further ado, this morning at the Hen's House...  

After convincing Goose that this morning was not the time to go barefooted and Bub that even though I also love his Scooby Doo shirt it was not appropriate, I finally got my babies dressed in their Easter outfits.  

I know I am bias, but I must say they looked good!  Really good!  Goose had on a beautiful fuschia dress with orange accents that I planned Bub's plaid shorts and orange shirt around.  

So, I do what every church going mother does Easter morning (when it isn't too cold).  I marched them outside to have their picture made in front of our blooming rhodendrums.   I already had the frame planned I was going to put it in.  

That's when things go a little foggy.   Bub decided that he wanted to "super secret spy who doesn't like to get his picture made".  Goose decided that she was, in fact, not going to wear shoes to church.  And the dog decided he needed to relieve himself directly behind them.  

I don't think this is quite the "framer" I had in mind:

Maybe a new tradition is born.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

10 Reasons Why Bub Shouldn't Start Kindergarten

I am really struggling with the fact that my (very) soon-to-be 5 year-old, first born child will be beginning his formal education in less than 4 months.   The "yesterday" of learning he would become part of our family feels far too near for us to be making this huge step.  

Just between me and you, I'm going to be honest here.  I do not want him to begin school.  All of the tactics I have tried (everything from holding off another year to homeschooling) have been vehemently shot down by my husband and our families.   So, with a grimace on my face, I am going to have to hand over my baby.   But, I still don't have to a like it.  So, in one last ditch effort here is 10 reasons why Bub should not start kindergarten this year.  

10.   They don't allow backpacks.   They require tote bags.  I'm not going to be the one to break it to him that he won't get to rock the Scooby Doo backpack.   That's all on you, Rooster.  

9.  He has worn out all his jeans.   Poor thing will have to go naked.  

8.  It is highly possible that he will has a larger knowledge base of Hall and Oates, Bon Jovi, and Jackson 5 than his music teacher.  And I know that his rendition of Werewolves of London is better.  

7.  Somebody's got to take care of these dern chickens.  

6.  Speaking of Scooby Doo.... I doubt that his teacher will pretend she's Daphne and refer to him as Fred.  

5.  He is on about an every 2 hour feeding schedule.   Didn't see that on those sample schedules they showed us at round-up.  

4.  His sister is not going to have anyone to yell at except her Mamaw Dale now.  

3.  You've seen him.  You know there's going to be some brokenhearted 5 year-old little girls.

2.  Kindergarten teachers won't respond the same to "I'm done!" yelled from the bathroom as Momma does.

1.  He's still a baby.  He's my baby. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jiggly Bottoms and Other Things from Childhood

The easiest way to explain what I do professionally is to say that I do consultation and training for early childhood teachers.   When I tell people that, they often get this weird look on their face.  I think they get stuck on the word training.  I think they are thinking of personal training.   As in with treadmills and weights and stuff like that?  

No, that's not what I mean.  I mean training as in leading workshops for teacher's continuing education.   Lord knows my jiggly bottom ain't training and consulting on anyone else's jiggly bottom. 

Well, I take that back...  I do talk about this kind of jiggly bottom training.  


And no, she did not use the potty.  And yes, she does like to pretend she is talking on the phone while she doesn't use the potty.  

Anyways...  Back to me not being a personal trainer.  Since the type of training that I do do is on early childhood, there is a very common reflective activity that we do that involves asking the class to think back on the type of play they enjoyed most as a child.   Then they are asked to share as they feel lead on what they recalled.  

Often times you can see the happy emotions bubble up in the speaker's face as they explain exactly what type of play they enjoyed.   It almost becomes like when you find an old photo album that you haven't seen in years, however, as soon as you start to see the pictures you are instantly returned to those moments and emotions.  

Having the type of childhood experiences in which you want to return, even if it is just in the form of memories, is exactly what I want to give to my children.  

I want them to 20, 40, 60 years from now to be able to return to playing mountain climber on our back hill. 

Or to playing Pretty, Pretty, Puppy Princess Mommy. 

Or to swinging so high that for just an instant you teeter on joy of the ride and fear that you may actually tip over the swing set this time.  

I want them to remember the walks around our subdivision.  Our trips to the park.   Or that our kitchen was their art gallery that was theirs for the designing.  

What I am saying is that I want them to experience a rich childhood. However, I am finding that if I want that to be the case I have to be very deliberate about it.  

Many of the "I will never..." that I said I wouldn't allow BEFORE having children have crept into our lives.

You know the ones... 

"I will never allow my child to watch tv."

"I will never let my children go to bed without a bedtime story."

"I will never let me children eat french fries." 

And a hundred other things. 

But, the truth is they watch way too much tv. 

Some days go by and I realize I haven't read to them.  

They eat fast food at least weekly.  

Sometimes they put on so much make-up while you're not looking that they look like an extra for Jersey Shores.  


Sometimes you send them to their room for sassing you, and they end up falling asleep like a homeless man under the Sunday paper.

Errr... I think I'm getting off track. 

What I am trying to say is that I've learned that in order to be a good mother, you have to let go of being a perfect mother.   I am going to say it again and expect a chorus of "Amens". 

In order to be a good mother, you have to let go of being a perfect mother.   And really maybe having a good mother (and/or father) is truly the key to having the kind of childhood to which you want to go back. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

10 Things I Lub about Goose...

10.  Her love of her "barn boots" (i.e. fuzzy brown winter boots that are 5 sizes too big that are permanently muddy).  My favorite is when she wears them with just her diaper.  

9.   The fact that she would rather have a new kitten than a new baby.  And she means it.  And no, I'm not pregnant, Mom.  

8.  That my lexicon has been altered to use lub and bootiful in place of how the rest of the English speaking world says them.  Sorry... can't help it.  

7.  That when in Sunday School the craft was to make a best friend bracelet, she gave it to me.  

6.  That she is a listener.  A really, really good listener.  

5.  Don't confuse number 5 with me meaning she listens to what I ask her to do.  That would not be on the 10 Things I Lub about her list...

4.  Where her brother has loved us (and everyone he knows for that matter) since he was old enough begin to grasp it, you have to earn Goose's love.  You know her love for you is genuine.  

3.  She is completely okay and 100% insistent that she is my baby.  See number 9. 

2.  She loves to take care of other people.   If you need a Band-Aid or someone to hold a icepack on your boo-boo, homegirl is on it.  

1.  She makes me smile and laugh like no one else.  She frustrates me like no one else.   She envokes some of the strongest emotions in me.  She teaches me everyday something new about myself, about her, about the world.  She is, after all, my baby. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Actively Loving

If you know me or have read any of my blog, you likely hopefully have gathered that family is very important to me.   I have a really great family and am glad that it extends beyond just the three other people who contribute to the laundry pile.   In addition to those three, the faces of my parents, in-laws, sister, sister-in-law and clan, Mamaw, and even a couple of friends come to my mind when people ask me about my family.  

These are the people who love us in an active way.   Their love for us goes from just being a sentiment, but being an action in the daily way they interact with us.  

They are willing to watch our children in a pinch.  

They remember our birthdays.

They always ask about the babies colds and boo-boos.  

They tolerate our dog and our chickens.

They see our house at its dirtiest, our children at their naughtiest, and us at our ugliest.  

And even with all that, they show-up daily in our lives just in the way we need them.  

Just one of those examples is my dad.  He is one of those people who is able and more importantly willing to fix anything.   This week it was working with the Rooster on creating the drain in our backyard (he didn't even complain about those stinking chickens).  A couple weeks before that he was putting together shelving for us.  Before that it was unclogging our garbage disposal.  

I don't think there is anything he has not been able to fix for us.  He never ask for anything in return.  He always has a good attitude about it. 

We hope he and the rest of our family knows how we appreciate them loving us in these active ways.   It is this active loving combined with our shared history that makes them family.  These are the people who we want our children to equally treasure and who we also want them to emulate.  

I want my babies to learn that actively loving someone, being part of someone's family, comes with responsibility to those people.  

I want them to someday be like my dad who is willing to use his gifts to serve others with an attitude that let them know they can ask again.

I want them to be like my mom who tirelessly puts others before herself and rarely find herself with idle time. 

I want them to be like my mother-in-law that makes the decision every morning to be strong for another day.  

I want them to be like my father-in-law with a strong work ethic and high organizational skills.  But, most of all I hope they get his ability to be on time.  Even if on time is an hour before everyone else thought they were suppose to start.  :-)

Perhaps that it is inevitable that in the act of my children learning to actively love them back they will pick those things up along the way and use them as they widen their family by actively loving others.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Greys Of Life

As a child, I often played "When I grow-up..."  

When I grow-up, I'm going to be a Momma to 8 perfectly behaved,  always happy, always healthy children.

When I grow-up, I'm going to be a wake-up every morning smiling at my husband.  

When I grow-up, I'm going to be a teacher to a classroom full of equally gentile children.

When I grow-up, I'm going to live in a house with a white picket fence and flowers that grow year 'round.

When I grow-up, I'm going to cook all our meals from scratch.

Well, I grew up.   And much to my surprise, my 8children 2 cchildren sometimes are defiant.  Sometimes they get angry.  Sometimes they get sick.   Sometimes they get hurt.  

Sometimes when I wake-up, the last thing I want to do is smile at my husband.  Sometimes I am to tired to even open my eyes to see my husband.   Sometimes my breath is so bad my husband doesn't want me to open my mouth to smile.  

And that classroom full of children I envisioned didn't include anything about endless funding paperwork, or politics, or catty co-workers, or when those gentile students call you names you aren't even exactly sure what they mean. 

I had no clue that you'd have to pressure wash that fence and water the flowers, nor the cost of the house it surrounded.  

And little did I consider the fact that some days many days by the time supper rolls around I have already worked 13 hours and someone has swim lessons or church or one of the dozens of other obligations that are part of life here at the Hen's House.  

The truth is that life is a lot more complicated than I could have ever guessed or, for that fact, believed. What once was so black and white has now become a complex and puzzling world of greys.   I am at a point now, though, that instead of that being frustrating that I find comfort in it all.   The grey is what makes it beautiful. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Dachshund Pocketbook Incident

I mentioned this here before, but thought you may enjoy reading the full story.  

When I was 5 years-old I got a black and tan Dachshund (a.k.a. Weiner Dog for my visual readers... visual readers, wait, is that an oxymoron.  What? Huh?  Where am I?  Er.... Anyways) that spent most of her time growling at people and running away from me.   I swore that I was gonna love her, and hug her, and call her George Biscuit.   And I did.  

Biscuit, despite her persnickety personality and desire to run, was a really good dog.   And you may not know this if you have never personally owned a Dachshund, but when you do people have a tendency to give you Dachshund themed gifts.   I got stuffed Dachshunds, Dachshund brooches (what child doesn't love a gold plated brooch of her favorite dog?),  shirts with Dachshunds on them, books about Dachshunds, even little figurine Dachshunds.   I could have easily opened a gift shop from my bedroom.

Out of all my mementos honoring my favorite pooch was actually one I chose myself.   While at the beach the summer before starting high school I found the perfect accessory that just screamed to me to be the perfect mix of "sophisticated 9th grader" meets "fun, funky, and carefree".  

That accessory was a Dachshund shaped pocketbook. 

I could hear the acclimates now.

How cool, LeeAnn!

That thing is the bomb!  It's a dog!  It's a purse!  It's a dog-purse!

LeeAnn, you are so awesome.   Let's hang out with our stuffed animal handbags. 

Oh yeah!  That baby was going to be my icebreaker into the world of high school.  

I can still remember my first day of high school it like it was yesterday.   I got up and excitedly got my stuff ready.   The outfit was an ankle lenght skirt that was blue tie-dyed with a matching tie-dyed short-sleeved button-up blouse (get all that?).  To really send it over the top, it was all made of a nylon type material.   To round out the outfit, I had on one of my first pair of cork, wedge heeled shoes.  

My hair was pulled back into a (very) tight ponytail and hair sprayed down to ensure not a hair was sticking up.   I hadn't really gotten into make-up much yet, but I think I remember something about a red lipstick.  

I grabbed my new pocketbook and gave myself one last look in our hallway bathroom.  I knew I was ready to meet my destiny. 

I go to first period.  Things go well.  I'm rockn' cork wedges and the purse.   I whip my hair back and forth.  I'm ready for second period.

Now, for those who are not familiar with Gibbs High School, I probably need to set this up a bit.   Between my first class which was nursing downstairs underneath the Home Ec rooms and my second period class which was in the science hall there are two long hallways.   Connecting those two long hallways is connector hallway where it was traditional for the senior boys to gather between classes.   And that connector hallway has a ramp.   A ramp with a handle.  

And that ramp with the handle is where I met that destiny I envisioned just hours earlier.   I don't know if it was my anxiety of getting to my class on time, or my natural grace, or the cork heels, or perhaps it was the trifecta that caused the following to happen.  

But, right as I began up the ramp, my Dachshund Pocketbook got caught on the handrail resulting in me hurling through the air landing with me in a heap on the ground.   Miraculously, I believe that all 850 students who attended Gibbs High School were standing in that small connector hallway during that very moment.   I think I remember someone whispering "Is that a Basset hound purse?"

The rest of the day was a blur, but I do remember going home and putting my pocketbook with my Dachshund brooch to never been seen again.  

Thank you and Amen.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

He is Ready for a Change

One of the best things about having a 4 year-old is that they totally march to the beat of their own drum.

The best thing about having a 4 year-old little boy?  The tempo of that beat tends to be in the fashion of techno music.

And the best thing about my 4 year-old little boy?   He encourages everyone around him to dance to that beat with him and it is impossible to refuse.  

I have said it before , but I love Bub's personality and hope it never, ever changes.   Today was a reminder that even if his personality doesn't change, he is still growing up a little bit each day.

I have finally figured out to prevent frustration on both our ends I need to give Bub as much time as possible to get dressed.  Unfortunately, the warmness of the bed held me captive an extra 30 minutes this morning.  So, I was running around like the Girls when the neighbors dog pays a visit.

In the mist of the chaos that is my home, Bub came and asked me a question I was not quiet prepared to answer.  

You may be thinking he asked me "the baby" question?  Um... no. 

Or some deep, meaningful question about the depths of my love for him?   Not that either...  

Or even a question about the omniscience of God?   Naw.

Bub:  "Hey mom, I need to ask you something." 

Me:  "Make it fast, Baby.   Momma gotta put on her compression garments clothes."

Bub:  "Well, uh, you see.   I wanted to know if I could wear my underwear the right way now because I'm growing up."  

Me:   Speechless, near tears.  

If you are scratching your head, thinking, "Say what?" I probably should explain.   You see, I have never asked Bub to wear his underwear backwards. 

Heck, I'm just glad on the days he actually remembers to put them on.  

But, shortly after Bub became potty trained he decided that his preferred style was to wear them with the picture in front.  His rational?  If the picture is in the back he can't see it.  

Perfect sense, right?  


Next thing I know, he will decide that he is too big to try to bite his own toenails.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Who are You Going to Be??

Do you ever think back to what type of play you enjoyed as a child?  What, given all the choices in the world, you would choose to do?  

Did you enjoy pretending that you were an architect building huge structures with blocks or Lego's?   Or did you prefer to play outside that you were on an expedition looking for dinosaur bones?   Or did you favor making your own library where you were the librarian?  

As a child I had two primary types of pretend play I enjoyed.   The first was that I was a mommy.  At one point I remembering deciding that I wanted to be the mommy to 8 babies.   My friend Shelly quickly shot that idea down telling me that she sometimes pretended she had 10 babies, but then days would go by without thinking about one of them and that was just wrong to forget about your children.  Her rational made sense at the time. 

And today as the mother to two, who lucky has not forgotten about either of her babies, I realize Shelly had a good point.  I do not think I could adequately keep up with eight.

The second type of pretend play I enjoyed was playing school.  I would have a classroom bedroom full of Cabbage Patches and Barbies ready to learn.   

Reflecting back, it is odd that I chose this second type of play because I did very poorly in elementary school (related to a diagnosed learning disability).  Middle and high schools were better academically, however, socially it was a negative experience for me throughout.  

Remember this picture:

I pretty much looked like that all through school.   Not exactly the coolest girl on the block.  And add to that a heaping helping of quietness

What is even more odd is that regardless of that negative experience I had in school I went on to get a degree in education and have been a teacher in one way or another since.  

I have given this a lot of thought.  Why is it that I decided to pursue a career in a setting I hated so much?  My family wanted me to become a nurse, but I quickly dismissed it.   Why?  I would have certainly made more money and I could have still been in a "helping" career (which was important to me).  

But, nonetheless I went into education and though I no longer teach in a school, I am still in that field.  

I believe that the play I enjoyed as a little girl lead me to the path I am on.   I had an aptitude for working with young children and then I was given an opportunity to foster that aptitude through the type of play to which I was given access.  

Now, as a mother to a preschooler and toddler I think a lot about the kind of people they are going to become.  Please don't mistake what I am saying.  I fully am enjoying the people they ARE now, but I do think about who they are becoming. 

I love to watch them play and how they each have distinctive interest and styles in their play.

Bub loves to pretend his is a policeman, or a bounty hunter, or a monster hunter, or animal rescuer, or detective, or any other role he can think up where he helps the good guy and gets the bad.   He loves to collect clues and figure mysteries out. 

Bub on a mystery hunt while in the hospital.

I wonder if this is a sneak peek into who he is going to be someday?   And more importantly, if this is something he has an aptitude towards, what can do to encourage it so he can develop it to his fullest potential? 

Goose is just beginning to formally engage in pretend play and it seems to focus largely around animals, but I am equally as interested to see what it is that makes her tick. 

Goose, the Dog Trainer.
 And, perhaps, they may go on a totally different path and that will be just as great.  But, in the meantime I will try to encourage their interest anyway I can. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you see traits of the type of play you enjoyed as a child in the type of work you do (or would like to do) today?  How about your children?   What do they enjoy and what do you do to encourage them? 
My  bounty hunter and puppy.