Jul 222016
 

 

measurement

by Stephanie Pletka

Growing up, I was quiet the active child; I was an expert tree climber, a running, tumbling, flipping, cartwheel-ing, energetic girl. You might even say I had ADHD on top of my ADHD.

Oh look, a quarter!
Ok, I digress.
My poor parents.

I was so skinny, I acquired the nickname Bird Legs in 5th grade. I couldn’t gain weight to save myself. My mom even took me to the doctor for a check-up to see if I had worms. That was fun.

I ran to the bus stop, rolled through the house with folded laundry, from one end to the other, I was non-stop. You never knew how I would enter or exit a room, but I was quick.

Fast forward 20 years and I can gain weight smelling a Snicker bar and THEN I had my first child. What happened to this body? The one that could loose 5 lbs just by skipping lunch?

So one day, a few weeks after having my first child, our cable tv remote went kaput and needed to be exchanged. I hopped in the car, grabbing diapers, strollers, as if I were moving, and away we drove to the cable store.

I arrived early, something that hasn’t happened since, and hung out a few minutes, waiting for the doors to open.

And that’s when I saw myself in the Largest Mirror known to man. It was an executive building made of all reflective glass.

I looked at myself, while pushing the stroller, gave a critical glance at who I had become, then thought, if only I were as fat as the last time I thought I was fat. I wonder what my butt looks like. You know what I’m talking about.

So I turned around, to make sure no one was looking, gave myself a quick glance with a few looks of disgust, a couple of eye rolls, then looked again to assure my eyes hadn’t deceived me. At that moment, an executive quickly rushed through the front door in a hurried, yet giggling sort of way and said:

Ma’am, we’re having a meeting inside this building and 10 people have been watching you look at yourself for a couple of minutes.

What?
Oh! My! Gosh!

And if that weren’t bad enough, I could hear a roar of laughter inside, as they viewed my reaction!

I was horrified! Was it not enough that I’m judging myself for the body I’ve become and now humiliated by a group of executives that I’ve entertained in a corporate meeting?

I surely burned calories pushing the stroller to the car in record time. It was a lesson learned that day: Not to be so hard on myself.

You can’t have a baby and look the same. You can’t have the jaws of life un-hinge and look like your old high school self. You’re not going to be in a car accident and come out pristine. Life happens. The processes you’ve been through, make you better, stronger, tougher.

Yes, there are days I wished I had appreciated all the times I was younger, got more sleep, had more energy, wishing I was as fat as the last time I thought I was fat.

But it’s important to give yourself grace, unmerited favor. It’s not what you deserve, rather a gift. Love who you are at whatever size, fitness or energy level.

Romans 6:14 says For sin shall no longer be your master; you are no longer under the law, but under grace.

Give yourself time to make a comeback. Whatever goal this may be for you, love yourself during the tough times; being a true friend to You.

This will also prove to be a great example to your children as well, allowing yourself grace, a little slack.

So the next time you see the world’s largest mirror, just smile and keep walking. Grace girl, grace! Is there something in your life that a little grace wouldn’t hurt?

Here’s to living the best version of you!

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 Posted by at 2:56 am
Sep 172012
 

 

When I sold my business to stay home, I figured – if I was the CEO of my company, I’d call myself the CEO of my home.  Hey, I run this ship, right?

Kids don’t care what titles you hold, who you know, or what you do for a living . . . When they’re little, it’s all about what THEY want.  I notice that each time I go to the bathroom to pee or even take a quick bubble bath, it must set off a silent alarm somewhere in the house.  As soon as the bathroom door closes, the kids come running.  It doesn’t matter if they’re watching a movie, playing in the backyard or riding bikes on the cul de sac.  As soon as I close the door to the bathroom, it becomes someone’s duty to knock, bang, cry, shove notes underneath or plead urgently for food.

In the minute it took me to pee, one of the kids colored their tennis shoes with a blue highlighter.  Why did you do that, Johnny?  Well, I was trying to tell you I couldn’t find paper and you weren’t listening.” Yes, it’s because I was IN the bathroom.”

I can hide in the closet to eat rice crispy treat, (because it’s the last one – and frankly, I don’t wanna share) and what happens?  They come running.  It’s like they were born with dog ears, that can only hear high pitched sounds, cookie wrappers and bathroom doors closing.

I can say:  Clean your room – And what do I hear? Nothing,cricket sounds.  But you go to the back yard to sneak a piece of chocolate and their hunting you down like a heat seeking missile.  If I holler for the boys to clean their room, they can’t hear me.  If I call their name with a high pitched voice, they’ll come running; like a whistle that only puppies can hear.

Like Bert is to Ernie, and Ying is to Yang, so it is with our children – doors close, they knock.  Wrappers rattle, ears perk up.  That’s what kids do.

It comes with the territory.

Just as death and taxes will always be with us, so will little hands knocking on doors and pint-sized sniffers smelling chocolate, after they’ve gone to bed.  Embrace the little-ness while it lasts.  One day, you’ll get to pee in peace, eat that last cookie in broad day light and be a respected CEO, once again.  But until then . . . embrace it ALL.  They are your little chocolate sniffers and door knockers. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Here’s to the Living the Best Version of You!

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap a harvest, if we do not lose heart.”

 

 

 Posted by at 11:38 am
Mar 272012
 

I was in a BIG BOX Store the other day, hauling 4 kids (something I don’t recommend), trying to quickly get in and out, when the 6 year old decided he wanted to touch everything he passed.   Since he was successfully grabbing everything, his little brother thought it would be cool to PUSH everything he saw.  Things were flying off shelves faster than I could give them the “MOM LOOK.”  You know the LOOK that sends shock waves of fear, without having to say a word!

In an effort to ease tension and keep us from being thrown out, I delegated pushing the cart to my 10 year old with the baby inside, while I grabbed 2 little boy’s hands and gently guided them down the middle aisle, quietly threatening their lives if they touched one more item; when a woman walked up, (you know, the kind walking slowly toward you, but you’re not sure why).  She smiled and said:  THESE ARE THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE.

Now let me pause . . . because my first thought, was NOT Pretty!  An Attitude of CRAZY wanted to rise to the top.  As I slowly regained my eye sight, it was more like, Where’s the Roof, I May Jump.  If this is THE BEST . . . I mean,  The BEST, then we’ve got a problem.

I was hoping more for:  “Hang in there, it gets better.”  If someone dangles a carrot of hope, I can keep going, but telling me this is IT:  We have arrived at the station! These are the BEST Days, left me exiting the store, like a deflated balloon.  I could have walked across the street, never seeing oncoming traffic, thinking this IS IT?  I’ve heard horror stories of rebellious teenagers; heck, I was one myself.  But hearing,  These were the Best Days, left me in a state of despair.

As I lay in bed, in the dark hours of the night, pondering what she meant, I began to access my life, our situation, the crazy, loud life of raising a gaggle of kids so close in age.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  I couldn’t help but review my circus-filled life of my 2 year old flapping her little chicken arm, trying to do an “arm fart” at the kitchen table, something she had seen her 3 brothers do.  I laughed at the thought of my 4 year old playing the violin, still wearing his bike helmet or my 6 yr old writing the words:  Left and Right on the top of his new tennis shoes with a SHARPIE Marker, so he wouldn’t forget.

If we redefine what is GOOD in our lives – these are good times, if we see it for what it is, and not the unrealistic expectations of what it could be.  If we understand that our house is probably going to look like 12 people live in it, then our mindset will change.

Instead of taking things too seriously and always seeing the bad, the negative aspects, we need to lighten up and think, what would we do if the kids weren’t here?  Ok, Italy comes to mind, but for the long haul, this journey we’re on:  leading, guiding, loving; this adventure we’re on, eventually leads to them leaving the nest.  Embrace the good, the bad and the loud; so the next time you are walking the aisles, gaining attention of judgmental eyes – smile and whisper to yourself:  These are the Best Days of My Life, because they are MINE!

Here’s to Living the Best Version of You.

 Posted by at 7:40 pm
Nov 272010
 

When I moved to Atlanta, one of my new friends invited John and I to meet-up with their friends at a person’s house for a little party, meet and greet.  They sent us an invitation, told us meet them on Tuesday at 7pm at a certain address: in which we would be meeting in the basement, where it was designed to look like a 50’s diner.  Sounds like a no brainer.  And a lot of fun. New town, new friends.

John and I got dressed, drove over to their house, walked in the front door – didn’t see anyone, so we headed down to the basement, “Yes, this is the place – 50’s Diner.”  We waited for 10 or 15 minutes, giving ourselves a personal tour of the house.  Still, no one else had arrived.  John saw their foosball table and wanted to play, but I got this uneasy feeling, so we headed back upstairs.

We came around the corner, and this couple was eating dinner with their 3 kids.  They looked at us, sorta stunned, like:  Who are YOU and WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?  We smiled and said, OH our friend invited us to your house to meet everyone on Tuesday at 7pm.  He slowly pulled his reading glasses down below his eyes and said:  That’s NEXT TUESDAY AT 7PM.

I wanted to DIE of embarrassment.  Honestly, I didn’t want to go back next Tuesday.  They had no idea there were random people in their basement for 15 minutes.  That’s pretty scary to think about.  They kindly invited us to stay for dinner, OH Dear God, I just wanted to run.  Highly embarrassed, we quickly said our goodbyes and jumped in the car.  John shook his head, saying:  This sort of thing NEVER happened to me, until I met you. We laugh about it now.

That’s how it is with God.  No matter how many mistakes and mess ups, regrets, failures, and wrong turns, He invites us back to the table with unconditional love, grace and forgiveness.  No matter what we do or don’t do, whether we’re deserving or not, God always invites us back with an open invitation – a do-over of sorts.  It’s called GRACE.  Pass it along.  Just take note:  The next time you find yourself in someone’s basement, don’t play foosball, until you meet the Host first.  : )

Here’s to GRACE!

Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

 Posted by at 9:14 pm
Aug 242010
 

Do you ever teach your kids things like sharing, honesty, responsibility you know, all the character stuff, and hope to goodness it sticks?

The other day we (me, my 4 kids and husband) spent the day at the pool; as soon as we walked in the door, the kids are hollering:  What’s for dinner?  I mean, we just got home.  If I could click my heels, dinner would be on the table, but give a mom a break, would ya?

Where’s my shoes?  Can you untie this?  I need socks!  Where’s my piano book? Where’s the PIANO?  I mean, really?  I think kids get so use to relying on mom to do everything, they begin to ask questions they already know the answer to.  I said:  Do you know where clean underwear comes from?  And, as if I was about to reveal where Santa Claus lives, the excitable 4 year old said:  Where?

I felt like a rebellious teenager.  I rose up and said:    The Laundry Room!  Eight little eyes looked at me as if I had said:  no more cartoons for the rest of your life!

Where are my shoes?  Wherever you put them.  Do I have underwear?  I hope so.  I felt rattled.  I said:   I quit. . . I quit . . . I quit.  They stood in Silence – Then came the giggles.  “Mom you can’t quit.”  You’re MOM.

Of course, I couldn’t  quit.  Nor did I really want too.  I mean, if someone else tried to walk in and take my place, I’d give them a run for their money.  We may complain, but we still want the job, right?

But what I have learned, is kids can be responsible for things, even at the smallest of ages, and while they may buck the system in the beginning, they sorta like the whole “team spirit” I’m apart of something “greater than myself” mentality.

It gives them a chance to see how life really works; they aren’t the center of everything, rather they’re one of MANY spokes on the family wheel.  It’s good for them to see how dinner gets made, and how clean shirts make it from the laundry basket to their closet.

They begin to take pride in helping with the dishes, the laundry, cleaning out the car and sweeping the kitchen.  Look at your to-do-list, tear off a piece and give it to them.  Before long, they’ll expect a chore or two, and before you know it, they’ll be cleaning the house, making dinner and doing the laundry. . .  I’m envisioning it now.  It’s all a process.  Just stay consistent and the rewards will be great.  Until then, has anyone seen the piano?

Teach me to number my days, that I might gain a heart of wisdom and fulfill your purpose for my life.  Psalm 90:12

 Posted by at 11:12 pm
Aug 172010
 

When I sold my business to stay at home, I figured – if I was the CEO of my company, I’d call myself the CEO of my household.  Hey, I run this ship, right?

But kids don’t care what titles you hold, who you know, or what you do for a living . . . When they’re little, it’s all about what THEY want.  I notice, each time I go to the bathroom to pee or even take a quick bubble bath, it must set off a silent alarm somewhere in the house.  As soon as the bathroom door closes, the kids come running.  It doesn’t matter if they’re watching a movie, playing in the backyard or riding bikes on the cul de sac.  As soon as I close the door to the bathroom, it becomes someone’s duty to knock, I mean – bang, cry, shove notes underneath or plead urgently for food.

In the minute it took me to pee, one of the kids colored their tennis shoes with a blue highlighter.  Why did you do that, Johnny?  Well, I was trying to tell you I couldn’t find paper and you weren’t listening.” Yes, it’s because I was IN the bathroom.”

I can hide in the closet to eat a rice crispy treat, (because it’s the last one – and frankly, I don’t wanna share) and what happens?  They come running.  It’s like they were born with dog ears, that can only hear high pitched sounds, like cookie wrappers and bathroom doors closing.

I can say:  Clean your room – And what do I hear? Nothing, but cricket sounds.  But you go to the back yard to sneak a piece of chocolate and they’re hunting you down like a heat seeking missile.  If I holler for the boys to clean their room, they can’t hear me.  If I call their name with a high pitched voice, they’ll come running; it’s like a horn blowing for a cattle call.

Like Bert is to Ernie, and Ying is to Yang, so it is with our children – doors close, they knock.  Wrappers rattle, ears perk up.  That’s what kids do.  It comes with the territory.

Just as death and taxes will always be with us, so will little hands knocking on doors and pint-sized sniffers smelling chocolate, after they’ve gone to bed.  Embrace the little-ness while it lasts.  One day, you’ll get to pee in peace, eat that last cookie in broad day light and be a respected CEO, once again.  But until then . . . embrace it ALL.  They are your little sniffers and door knockers. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap a harvest, if we do not lose heart.”

 Posted by at 11:55 pm
Jun 032010
 

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I’ve had wonderful role models over the years.  Between what I’ve learned from them and discovered on my own, (and the “on my own thing didn’t always go so well) I thought I’d pass those “successes and “don’t try this at home” along to you.  Hey, us girls have to stick together!

Don’t Try this at Home:

I have 4 kids.  I brought the two little ones to school to pick up my 2nd grader and Kindergartner. After getting everyone in the car, buckled and unloaded at home, the school counselor called and said:  Are you missing someone?  I had left the 3 year old in the lobby, starring at the fish aquarium.  When I got back to the school, he said with a loud voice:  You left me!!  I said, Nooooo . . . I just wanted you to finish looking at the fish . . . and with squinted eyes, he said:  You left me!  lol  Smart kid!

Tip #1  Falling down the stairs:

When my little ones were old enough for me to remove the stairwell gate, ever once in a while, even the best climber would find themselves tumbling down the stairs.  So in an effort to pad their fall, I placed a large bean bag at the foot of the stairs as a nice “hello” to greet them in the foyer. Usually mom beats them to the bottom, but just in case.

Don’t Try this at Home:

It was a nice day for a stroll in the park, so I took our fox terrier and 5 month old baby for a walk.  It was hard to push the stroller and hold the leash, so I tied the dog to the baby jogger, you know – kill 2 birds with one stone. As I walked thru the park, all was well in the world, until the dog spotted a squirrel and tore out across the field with the baby in the stroller, bucking’ and flying behind him.  That was the only time I ever outran the dog.

Tip #2 Kids & Money:

We don’t pay the kids for standard family chores, (like laundry, dishes, cleaning their room) because we have a big family and we try to instill “team effort.”  If each family member makes 1 or 2 messes, it can become exponential, in a heart beat.  Each person is responsible for cleaning up the mess they made or put up what they took out.  But we offer them bonus chores, such as cleaning the car, yard work, sweeping the garage or picking up dog poop in the back yard.  No one wants to do this one, so it makes the most money.  : )

With the bonus chores, the kids have an opportunity to make money, which we divide into 3 groups (Spend, Save, Give) 10% goes to Save, 10% goes to Give and the rest goes to Spend.  So when they see 10 dimes or $10 dollars and only have to give 2 away, with 8 left over, they’re so excited.  We then go to the Dollar Tree or similar store at the end of the week, where they get to use their money to purchase whatever they want.  This way they connect hard work to how much something costs . . . and how long they need to work to buy a specific item.

Don’t Try this at Home:

Before I had kids, my friend and I had a lunch date at my house.  She brought her 6 month old baby with her.  With a sigh, she said she had forgotten the baby food and before I could catch myself, I said:  I made chili last night! There was silence!  I’m sure you can imagine the look on her face.  She was like:  Feed my baby chili? Logically I was just thinking it was soft food, but uh, it probably WAS a bad idea.

Stay tuned for more Successful Tips and “Don’t Try This at Home” ideas.  I’d love to hear yours.

 Posted by at 3:52 pm
May 262010
 

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Every woman needs a girl’s night out, a girl’s weekend, a fun lunch with the gang, (you know, the girls who have your back in a crisis, who know just what to say when you’re feeling down, celebrate the good, help you cry through the bad and laugh your rear end off when you need to blow off steam)- these are ya peeps and everyone needs them.

We have G.R.I.T.S. Night (Girl’s Raised in the South), we have quarterly “girl’s night out” to catch up, lunches to celebrate birthdays, showers to celebrate babies, tennis matches, margarita night . . . we’ll get together because the sky is blue.  We could come up with all sorts of ways to have fun, laugh till you think you can’t laugh anymore, someone snorts . . . and then, IT’S OVER!  If you don’t have these sorta girls in your life, start lookin.’

My friend Kim invited our core group of girls to her Lake House for the weekend.  It started off slow, catching up on what everyone’s kids were doing, new career moves, yada yada.  And as the day progressed, a bunch of us ended up on a ski boat with one of those crazy inner tubes and the world’s smallest life jackets.

Well, actually, Kim said they were Standard size, but for someone who had just had a baby, well . . . there was no way my chest was going to fit into that thing.  [the upper part of MY life jacket was not gonna make the cut.]  The girls were looking at me – and then looking at that life jacket – and away they went with the jokes, the snickering, the snorting and the laughs.

And Kim . . . well – she couldn’t stop laughing. As soon as I put on the life jacket, it was obvious, unless the top portion had 3 inches of stretch band in it, that zipper was not gonna fulfill its purpose.  I swear those were kid’s life jackets, but whatever!!

I jumped into the lake to show off my water skiing skills.  As the boat came around, I grabbed the rope, felt the slack run out and the pull of the engine.  I could hear all 5 girls cracking up . . . about how my boobs were weighing the boat down, how the engine was having a hard time pulling them, when out of the blue, as if on cue, as I was being pulled up out of the water, the Boat Caught on Fire!!!  It Caught on Fire!

It abruptly stopped, I fell back into the water, and with a bewildered look, saw smoke billowing out of the engine!  Girls were hollering, trying to call for help on cell phones with no service, and I’m thinking . . . Did my boobs really cause the boat to catch on fire?  I buoyed back to to the boat; we grabbed a bucket of water and poured it over the engine, but to our dismay, the boat didn’t make it.

To this day, we laugh so hard when Kim tells this story:  She says the life jacket was never the same, the boat didn’t survive . . . but WE DID – and when we get together, it’s like coming home.  We pick up where we left off.  We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve celebrated and we hold strong to our deep-rooted friendships. Here’s to “Girl’s Night and Great Stories.”  We all need them. But for the record, those were Children’s Life Jackets!!

“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
Prov 18:24 New King James Version

 Posted by at 11:10 pm
Oct 232009
 

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I was sitting on the back porch swing one night, hanging out with my dad when he said:  “You were an easy kid to raise.  I can’t think of One bad memory; you were a pleasure growing up.”  Well, the first thing I thought, was he needed to be checked for Alzhemers.

I smoked my first and only cigarette at 6, never ran from an argument I didn’t believe in, didn’t take baths for most of year 9, stole the family car at 16, and most evenings, it was my dad’s job to be the family mediator.  And I was EASY to RAISE??  Is there a Dr. in the house?

We often reflect on the good, forget the bad and change our life story.  Milestones are memorable, boring stuff … ’em, not so much!

You can be in labor and think you’re giving birth to a bowling ball and a week later, you’re looking into those sweet baby eyes thinking, “When are we going to do this again?”  Oh how quickly we forget.

Growing up, I lived a pretty normal life and like most, we remember those major events: our first date, first kiss, broken bones, stitches from a bike crash, graduating from college, the day you got married, the time you ran out of water hiking the Grand Canyon and we make our own story as if life is “Connect the Dots.” Except our story is constant.  We often live for the next BIG THING, the next big event or mile marker, and life never really stops; it keeps going.

There are certain things that stand out in life, but there’s a ton of stuff in between that we forget.  And they are just as important as the blinking lights along the side of the road.  All the events, great or small, led us to the place we are today.  If we forget, it’s as if we have deleted those files, making them obsolete, as if they never existed.

My dad has some of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard.  Growing up with 7 brothers and sisters, he could have you laughing for days and never repeat a story.  Often, the memorable stories are those that include drama, heart ache or surviving a situation by the skin of your teeth.  It was a story that was exciting.  Every day humdrum life is not exciting, but it’s valid.

My mom and I took a trip to Miami once and had a blast, but the one thing I remember most was being chased by a crazy taxi driver, who thought we owed him money.  Now I’m sure we had some great conversations and exchanged heart felt moments, but that’s what I remember.

Write it down, keep a journal of the funny things your kids say, moments enjoyed on a fishing trip, a story your dad told, meaningful conversations with friends.

Let’s face it, as we get older, we get further from our story. In the movie “Australia” the little aborigines boy tells his friend that he has to go on a journey, a “Walkabout” to get his story.  If he doesn’t go, he will have no story and will never Belong.

Getting a D on a Geometry paper or riding the bus home everyday is not memorable.  Having someone spit Redman Tobacco out the front of a bus and have it hit you in the face, as it came through the back window, now THAT’s memorable.  That’s my sister’s story.  And I’m sure one that stands out in her mind.

Life is slow and long and there are incredible moments that happen in our lives that tend to stand out more than others, but don’t neglect the small things, the mundane stuff, the laying in the floor with our kids on a rainy day, hearing them laugh.  The time you climbed a tree and secretly wished you lived there, listening in silence to the wind blowing quietly through the leaves.

Write it down.  Record those giggles; they won’t always sound like that.  Write down the little moments that seem so insignificant.  We can go on the journey and find our story, but if we don’t write them down to pass along to the next generation, it’s as if they never existed; they never belonged.  Go write your story.

 Posted by at 8:15 pm
Oct 162009
 

Do you ever take your kids shopping with you, thinking – “It can’t be as bad as last time.  Hmm.  You might as well put your finger on the stove girl, cause you are fixing to get burned . . . again!

Why we think something so horrible will get better, I don’t know.  The minute you walk through the doors of the Mall to make a quick run for that cute blouse, Timmy has a melt down, Mary has to go to the bathroom and Sam can’t sleep in public.  Dear Lord.  It’s just sheer “Will Power” to really want to go shopping, for us to take our kids, after repeat offenses.

When I was 7, my mom took me shopping at a department store.  While she was in the fitting room, I saw this mannequin on a platform.  My 1st thought was – Is it wearing underwear?  So, while I waited for my mom, I climbed up the ladder onto the platform; as I was putting my head under the skirt to see what was under there, the W-H-O-L-E thing fell 10 feet . . . and I came down with it.

The older ladies ran and got my mom, who was embarrassed beyond belief.  My mom grabbed me by the ear (remember that trick?) and hauled me out to the car, hollering, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?  I said:  I wanted to see if the mannequin was wearing any underwear.  She looked at me with those stern mom eyes (the kind that puts chills down your spine) and I said:  If you were wondering, it WASN’T.

And that’s why you don’t take kids shopping, if you REALLY want to joy yourself.  Get a babysitter, trade play dates with a friend, go shopping in the evening or on the weekend, mow somebody’s lawn, just get time alone, Girl!

Then you think, “I’ll take “laid back” Johnny with me and leave loud Suzy with Dad.  Forgetaboutit!  It’s like trying to loose weight.  We work out hard all week and eat junk food on the weekends and never really get where we wanna go.

Keep the kids all day or all week, but when it’s your turn to enjoy PEACE and QUIET, get that Star Bucks coffee, find your favorite music on the ipod, jump into the car (ALONE) and head out to that “Well Deserved” time away.  You can’t do it half way.  Oh, No!  As the song says:  Go Big or Go Home!  Here’s to Peaceful Shopping!

 Posted by at 7:43 pm
Sep 272009
 

When I was 6 years old, my friend eh eh “Tammy” stole a pack of her Grandma’s cigarettes that were sitting on the window ceil.  I can remember her Grandma saying a few choice words that morning, while looking for the pack of missing cigarettes. After 10 minutes of searching high and low, she headed to the store to buy another pack and we headed to the barn to smoke our first.

For reasons unknown to us, maybe boredom or just wondering what it was like to smoke a cigarette, we headed out to the barn and lit one up.  We were 6 years old.  I can’t imagine my 6 year old doing something like this today.  I still hold his hand to cross the street.  But way back when, we ran around barefooted, explored the back country and the world was our oyster.  If you had a bike and a buddy, you ruled the world.

There were 4 of us in the barn that day.  We had a “look out man” a “cigarette lighter”, a “cigarette smoker” and one, whose job was to double dog dare us into more shenanigans than we were prepared for.

The barn was creepy.  It was full of huge pieces of meat hanging to dry from the rafters; there were 40 or 50 jars of can goods (green beans, slimy okra and tomatoes) sitting on the shelves and about 10 jars full of something clear, not identified at this point.

The barn had a dirt floor; between the smoking and coughing our lungs out, my friend “Sara” placed a jar full of clear liquid in the middle of the dirt floor and double dog dared each of us to pee in the jar. Sounded reasonable to me!  One by one, each girl pee-ed in the jar. NO problem.

When it came my turn, I wasn’t one to loose a Double Dog Dare, I mean, I AM a Southern Girl and you can’t back down from those.

As I was squatting down to pee in the jar, one of the girls lit a match to light her cigarette, something we had all done.  But this time, as I squatted down to pee, she flicked the match into the jar.  As if in slow motion . . . the match hurled toward the clear liquid.  When the match hit the jar,  the force of the BLOW shot me out the front door.  I just remember holding on to my pants as I flew through the air.  I had no idea what happened, I was just IN . . .  The AIR.

When I hit the ground, I flew across wet grass as I scrambled to pull myself together.  When I got myself in order, I realized the barn was ON FIRE!!  Two of the girls ran, one was on fire and I (sorry to say, at 6 was scared to death) I ran too.  I ran home as fast as I could.

My mom, barely 23 years old herself, looked at my smutty little face and singed eyebrows and said:  Did you have ANYTHING to do with this?  I froze in fear and said:  “NOoooo!”  And that was the end of that.

By the time the fire department arrived, it was too late.  The barn had burned to the ground and my mom never mentioned the incident again. I later learned the jars of clear liquid contained 100 proof liquor, Moonshine, to be exact.  Did you know that when Moonshine ignites, it produces a Blue Flame.  That explains what I saw when I flew out of the barn that day.

Tammy’s Grandpa had hidden it on the shelves.  It almost killed us.  As a matter of fact, no one ever mentioned the incident again.   Grandpa kept in on the down low because he was hiding Moonshine, and we kept it on the down low for fear of going to jail or WORSE, getting our butts whipped.

Little things can turn into big things.  I mean, I was just bored that day and we went from stealing cigarettes and smoking them, to burning down a barn and running for our lives.

It’s important to have a Life Plan, goals to strive for.  I didn’t wake up that morning and think:  “I’m gonna smoke a cigarette.  But I woke up with NO PLAN and ended up following others who DID have one.

Where do you want to be in 5 years, Mentally, Physically, Financially, Spiritually?  Are you gonna let people peer pressure you into things, or are you gonna be the Peer Pressure?

Know what you want – and go for it; otherwise, all it takes is one person to “Double Dog Dare YOU” into something you really didn’t want to do in the first place; and then small lies becomes big lies and the truth ends up on the “down low” and you end up on the side lines of life – missing opportunities and wishing you had stayed true to yourself.  Send me your story!  I Double Dog Dare You!


 Posted by at 11:45 pm
Sep 142009
 

One day after hearing my girlfriends talk about shaking things up a bit in the bedroom, I thought I’d go get a Brazilian Bikini Wax. Not thinking very clearly, I decided to make an appointment with the full service spa next door to my video production company.

What I should have done was made an appointment with a spa in the next county and walked in mysteriously under an assumed name with a bag over my head and just went for it.  But oh no, I had to go next door to my office, where everyone knew me.  I walked in, not really knowing what to expect  It’s kind of like having a baby.  You go in smiling, you come out bargaining with God, promising anything if he’ll just make the pain go away.

I walked in, they put me on this waxing table and asked me to put a thong on.  Hmmm.  Red Flag. . . Next thing I knew she’s poured honey on everything and when she goes to Snatch, I shot off the table crying “Mother of God!”

She tried to distract me by asking questions, like  – how much does it cost to have old reels transferred to DVD?  Yank!!!!!!  and as I was giving the answer she snatched again.  She snatched twice before I could take a breath.  “Oh Lord Jesus, I can’t take this anymore.”  You can fool me once, but not twice.  I told her I didn’t care what it looked like down there, if the honey stayed or went, I was outta there.

I grabbed my clothes and left.  I’m sure they had a big laugh that day, as I headed next door to my office.  At the end of the day, I made sure I parked in the back just to avoid passing the front of their store.  There’s got to be a better way to shake things up in the bedroom, because I can assure you, no husband will ever appreciate the pain you go through, getting a Brazilian Bikini Wax.

When I told my husband what I had done, he fell off the bed laughing.  You know, men are not complex.  He said I didn’t need to go to all that trouble to Shake things Up.  But was wondering if I brought home the thong.  I said honey:  I think a piece of it is still down there.

 Posted by at 6:00 am
Sep 142009
 

Many of my friends are cleaning out closets, drawers and finding interesting discoveries in their kid’s rooms.  From rocks and muddy shoes to stinky underwear that was thrown in the top of the closet to fossilized socks under their bed.  It’s interesting, the aromas that can come from a child’s bedroom, making its way into the foyer.

When I first got pregnant, it was around Thanksgiving and I couldn’t stand the smell of turkey, ham or the dog.  Poor Max, he lived outside for about 6 months and was scrubbed with bubbles and pretty fragrances until his fur was just about rubbed off.

That must have been God’s way of preparing me for what was to come.   Do you ever jump into the car or walk through the front door after a L-O-N-G day and think . . .  “What … Is THAT SMELL?

And it’s never the good smell, like a friend coming over to bake a pie.  Yeah, Right!!  It’s a weird smell, like a bottle of curdled milk hidden under a recliner or a forgotten diaper that made its way behind the couch. . . hmmm.

Smells can be slightly subtle but enough to keep the neighbors away.

That’s when you say:  Hey Kids, We’re Gonna Play a Game:  It’s Called: “The first one who finds the smell gets a Prize.  They’ll turn into little hound dogs sniffing’ and looking.   Promise of a reward equals a guaranteed find.

When I was 5, my birthday was on Easter.  I was lucky enough to find the Golden Egg, and with it, came $5.  It was a real egg and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to it, so I hid it in a little bucket on my book shelf.

By the time May rolled around, my mom had every family member on the look out for the smell coming from down the hall.  A week into the hunt, a line of ants marching up the wall, led us to the disaster in the bucket.

So, I’m going to follow in my friend’s footsteps, clean a few drawers, closets and turn those “What IS that Smell” into the “Smell of a friend baking pie in my kitchen.  So thanks for the incentive girls; And as a Bonus, Max may be getting a bubble bath!!  Here Boy!

 Posted by at 6:00 am
Aug 272009
 

After giving birth to my 2nd child, my husband gave me and my mom an 8 day trip to Europe.  I was beside myself with excitement.  He agreed to watch the kids, a 2 year old and 4 month old, and I agreed, for a greater cause, to take the breast pump and keep pumping while I was there.

As we’re checking into the Four Seasons, my mom, in all her excitement, agrees to watch the luggage while I check us in.  Upon my return, I lean down to grab the pump, inconspicuously hidden in a black back pack, and IT’S NOT THERE! I panicked, because you know women, you can’t quit pumping cold turkey, or your boobs will inflate like a Macy’s Day float; and then you are in big trouble.  I searched the lobby, asked my mom if she had seen it and even spoke with hotel security.  I didn’t care if I lost all my clothes or money, but I needed that PUMP, not only for my son, but I knew in about 2 hours, my boobs were gonna be coming out of my sweat shirt and then what was I gonna do?  I was looking at little kids on the street, in a different way.  Hmm, does anyone need milk?

We reviewed the hotel security tapes and much to my amazement, you can see a hand slip next to my mother’s legs and a back pack is slowly removed, while my mom is looking around with anticipation and excitement that she’s really in Europe.  Say good bye to the breast pump, it’s gone!!  The security camera didn’t pick up a face, only a hand grabbing the bag; so now what?

We called every hospital in town, looking for a breast pump.  My mom was on a mission to save her daughter and her grand baby!  After calling just about every pharmacy in town, she found a “hand pump.”  Oh dear God, what was I gonna do with a little hand pump.  At this point, we’re 8 hours into no relief and my boobs are practically touching my chin, “no lie, I was scared!”  It’s 2am when she called the hotel lobby and requested a cab to take her to the pharmacy.

My mom said (in her Southern Accent ):  You won’t believe who showed up. It was Mohamed Al Fayed’s personal driver, you know, the owner of Harrod’s in London.  The guy shows up in a stretch limo; that’s right, a stretch limo.  My mom looked around as if the “Candid Camera Crew” was filming.  So off they go, mom in a stretch limo heading to the pharmacy at 2am to pick up a $20 breast pump! Dear Lord!  I couldn’t believe it.

At this point, my boobs are so big, I can’t move.  It was like carrying two huge boulders on my chest.  It was insane.  I had no idea that something so great could “TURN ON YOU” so quickly.  Here I was, lying in bed at the Four Seasons Hotel, watching those crazy English Channels, you now, the ladies with blue hair and fast cars, while my mom and I took turns pumping.  That’s right, by by pride, we took turns pumping, telling stories and laughing about the predicament we were in.

That was an unforgettable moment.  I never dreamed I’d been in a situation where my mom would be hand pumping my boobs.  “Mother of God” we pumped 18 ozs that day, as we laid in twin beds laughing our tales off at the situation we found ourselves in.  One of us would snicker, which turned into a “pee in your pants”, giggling fest.  I prayed that day, that whoever stole my breast pump would find no comfort or rest until they asked Jesus to Save them.  : )

AAHHA Moment:

Carry Your Pump at All Times.  Never let it out of your site, or you may find yourself in another country, feeding little children that you don’t know.  : )


 Posted by at 6:44 pm
Aug 252009
 

What is Baby Brain:  Stephanie’s Dictionary defines it as:  a temporary brain fart caused by baby hormones.  It’s when your brain sparks but doesn’t quiet complete communication, leaving a pregnant mom trying to think of words like:  vehicle – but instead you say:  that thing full of cheerios in the driveway.

I was on my way to a Birthday party last year and noticed, after I had run errands that morning, that my black pants were inside out. Ok, my excuse is I’m pregnant and my brain cells had temporarily left the building.  The obvious one inch seams running down the sides of my pants were a dead give away. I took them off and changed during a red light, trying to hurry as a rather large truck pulled up along side of me. I think I gave myself a hair lip in the process. Oh, the joys of baby brain.

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Aug 252009
 

I heard Michael J. Fox on the David Letterman Show describing the difference in how the first child was treated, vs. the fourth.  It was quiet hilarious.   I’ll Paraphrase it:

With the first baby, when you drop the paci on the floor, you boil it before handing it back to the baby.  With the 2nd child, when you drop the paci, you place it under the faucet and rinse it with hot water.  With the 3rd child, when you drop the paci, you lick it and hand it back. With the 4th child, when you drop the paci, you let the dog lick it and hand it back. Isn’t that the truth?!

Stephanie’s View:

With the first child comes home from the hospital, you make everyone wash their hands.  If anyone coughs or looks like their gonna cough, they don’t get to hold the baby. They are one step away from wearing a haz-mat suite or being banished from the room. By the time the 3rd and 4th arrive, and the oldest says”  Mom, little Henry is eating the dog food, you stop and think “well, if it’s good for the dog . . .

 Posted by at 12:22 pm