Saturday, January 31, 2009

Birthday Madness

I am really shocked that it's been so many days since I've written. We are, however, in the middle of birthday madness around here. Maddy turned 11 on Thursday and Hailey turns 14 tomorrow. Dear Lord...I have a 14 year old. Kills me.

Unfortunately we sort of set ourselves up for a week of total chaos. This craziness all started when Hailey was about 5 ...I think. Each girl gets a party and a birthday dinner at the restaurant of her choice. It's really my stepdad's fault for starting this tradition when they were so young. Anyway, usually it's one whole week of bday hell. Sometimes it spills over in to the next week as well since you can't always do two parties in the same weekend.

This year, those sweet little girls decided that they didn't really want parties (OMG they are growing up too fast) and they decided that they would both like to go to the same place for dinner!! They actually agreed to have one big joint bday dinner. THANK GOD!!

And the best part...they decided to go to my all time favorite restaurant in the whole wide world. Sweet little girls. The birthday madness is basically over and it was quite painless.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gardening at Night

I know very little about gardening. It's one of those things that I hope to learn more about in the near future. I developed an interest in gardening when I actually owned my first house. Working full time and mothering children sort of squashed what little time and energy I had though. When I became a stay-at-homer and moved into a new house, I thought about it a lot again. We had a small front yard with no established landscape so I thought it would be the perfect time. I did manage to do a little with the front yard but by then my marriage was starting to fall apart and I just didn't care about the house or the yard much at all. I was struggling to stay afloat those days.

After the divorce, I went back to work and I no longer own much of anything! My dad actually owns my car and we rent our house. The actual owner of the house does NO yard work so even though this is a very nice neighborhood and the houses around here cost a lot...our yard looks like crap. We soooo look like the renters on the block...the little rough section of the hood. It really bothers me sometimes. I have often thought I would like to spruce things up in our front yard (we have been here 2.5 years) but I just can't seem to let myself spend the money or the time on someone else's yard. And it would take a serious amount of money to make the whole yard look any better. I look at the yard almost every day and think, "Man our yard looks like crap."

Tonight, as we were returning from the day's adventures, I discovered one little daffodil!! Beautiful little flower, shining in the night, right there beside the stairs. For some reason it made me feel really happy. Partly because I love any sign of spring in the middle of winter and partly because there is now something beautiful in our yard. One little flower. After I looked at the flower for a while, I took a good look at the dark yard and suddenly the trees started to look beautiful too! The air smelled really good and clean, the trees looked confident and wise, and I felt really calm on the inside.
Maybe I should learn how to garden at night! In any case, our yard may not look so good in the morning but tonight...our yard looks beautiful.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Baths with Bubbles

Stella loves her bubble baths. I am thankful for this for several reasons but the most important reason is that the poor babe gets very constipated and taking a bath, when she needs to go, seems to help tremendously. At first she won't sit down because she is trying desperately to NOT go because it hurts. (And as we all know, the sitting position makes us have to GO!) But eventually the bubbles will win her over and she will start to play and forget about her little (maybe I should say BIG) problem.

Today I put her in the bath because I knew she needed to go. I left the room for 2 seconds, I swear, and when I returned she said, "Mommy! Mommy!!" I looked down to see what she was soo excited about and there she was...with a big pile of her hand.
Gross. Wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but hey, the bath sure did work!
That kid was soo happy and proud of herself I just had to take her picture.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Every gymnast has to have her grips. Worn in and chalked up. Hailey has had the same grips for years now! I keep thinking she will need new ones but, for now, she loves these old, dirty, smelly ones.

She is going to her 2nd meet of the season this weekend and I can't go. I am sick. Makes me ill to think about it. Seriously. She laughs at me because she knows that she will be perfectly okay without me. I am now the owner of the separation anxiety...not her. I really wish I could be there. I love to watch her. I love to watch all of those little girls who have grown up in that gym together. I get excited for all of them. They really are an extended family at this point. Hailey spends 20 hours a week with these level 7 girls and she has been with most of them for 6 years. That is a long time when you're 13!! And A LOT of time!!

At the last meet, Hailey had to scratch beam. In the gym world that means she didn't get to compete on the beam and she had to get a 0.00. She had to stand there and salute the judges, touch the beam, and then salute the judges again. She didn't quite have her back handspring without a spotter yet (a required beam skill for level 7) so her coach just wanted her to scratch and hopefully be prepped for the next meet. Hailey was okay with scratching. Not happy but ok. I was happy that her coach stood beside the beam with her and gave her a high 5 after she gave her final salute. That showed that her coach supported her...and had trust that she would get her skill in time.

Well we are pretty sure she IS competing on beam this time. AND I WONT BE THERE!!!! Oh well. I will be there in spirit for sure. Prayers her way! Grounding time...for both of us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Will it snow????

The weather forecast says snow....but this is Charlotte, NC so I'm not counting on it!!
The sky definitely looks like snow. Here is the view outside my bedroom window.

I must really be getting old. I have never really liked cold weather but I am starting to really dislike the cold. And as for snow...I could totally live without it. A school day off would be great...until we had to make up that snow day...on one of my teacher workdays. Yep, I can totally live without it.

My poor kids don't even have appropriate clothing for snow. We just don't really plan for it around here.

I did LOVE snow when I was little though. I remember a few really good snow days. I remember how silent it could be when there was snow on the ground. No noise. No one outside, no cars on the streets. And because we rarely get snow, we used to do really goofy things like putting plastic bread bags over our shoes so we could keep our feet dry!!! How hilarious is that? My kids would rather die than put plastic bags on their feet. And we used to sled down hills on metal trash can lids! HA. Now I sound REALLY old. We didn't care how goofy we looked in the snow though. Then we would come in and strip down in front of the fire. If we were really lucky, we could have hot chocolate. Good times.

I guess a good snow day would be okay. As long as it doesn't stay too long! :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009


This is how my little gymnast entertains herself when she is bored. Apparently her brother doesn't mind. And yes, he does a complete flip and manages to land on his feet. Scares me to death.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Nick and I went shopping today! He heard that a store that we love, Little Dreamers, is going out of business and everything is on sale. We went there and found the cute little green outfit and then the owner told us that everything at Oilily is 50% off right now too. So we went there and bought two more outfits. Nick loves to shop for Stella. Sometimes he lets me pick things out for her, but usually...he has the final say on her outfits. Freako. That's why I like to shop without him sometimes!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Here is that little trigger's bedroom. Notice the mess. As I entered the room, camera in hand, she gave me the speech about knocking. She says I never knock. I actually do usually knock but she had her door cracked so I just came in this time....with my camera and started taking pictures. How nice. No wonder she doesn't like me right now. She is used to the camera though...nobody says a word about my picture taking anymore. Anyway, I asked her if she could ever remember knocking on my bedroom door and she said that she never goes in my room. Please. She came in there last night to lay with me for a bit before bed. (Thank God. I am so glad she still likes me enough to do that.) AND NO. SHE DIDN'T KNOCK. Man, this is gonna be tough. I am going to really have to choose my battles I guess.

I love her room. It's always the messiest room in the house. I'm not sure why, but I sort of like the fact that her room is a mess. She is so picky about so many organized with assignments and school work. Every now and then I surprise her by cleaning it and you know what?? She loves it when I do that. She doesn't yell at me for invading her space or anything. Maybe she will before long. Who knows. I love all of her stuff. Even the trash in the corner and her clean clothes on the floor. I am sort of sad at myself for not painting her room yet...we have been in this house for 2.5 years! I am also realizing that she has out grown her sweet little girl bedroom furniture. I think I am going to try to get her some grown up furniture for her birthday. Some how. Some way.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I have known for a while now that I have certain triggers...things that people say... that cut me to the core. You know the ones. Those comments that people make that cause your "pain body" to puff up and start swinging. Not too long ago I discovered that any comment, made by a loved one, questioning my mothering skills was too much for my pain body to handle. Sent that pain body flying right off the handle. Any suggestion that I might not be the best mom in the world, really hurts my feelings. Crazy, I know.

I spent my whole life wanting and waiting to be a mother. I majored in child development and became a teacher knowing the whole time that, in doing so, it would make me a fantastic mother. I felt like I was in training, preparing for motherhood from the time I was about 16.

Once Hailey was born, I learned very quickly that I didn't know shit. Seriously. All the training, books, babysitting, teaching in the world could not have prepared me for DAYS without sleep and a baby that needed me 24/7. Yet, I still seemed to know in my heart that I would always be able to figure out what she needed. With each child I've had, I have relaxed a little. I have succumbed to fact that I am in no way a perfect mother and that, in fact, there is no such thing. And I am okay with that. I realize that all children are different and that you can't actually parent them all the same way. I have learned to expect the unexpected...most of the time.

Something unexpected happened today. My child commented that the food I cooked for dinner was "nasty." The bowtie pasta with broccoli in a lemon garlic sauce...that she has had maybe 4/5 times before in her life and enjoyed...was just "nasty" and added, "why do you make me eat this all the time?" Hailey complains about food a lot.
Hailey is almost 14. The comment she made was not the unexpected part. The surprise was that I let that comment completely destroy me for a moment. My pain body was screaming, "nothing i ever do is good enough for you!!" I managed to remain fairly calm on the outside (fairly meaning it was fake) but on the inside I was fuming. My little smart-mouth teenager was able to talk down to me like mean old mother and shake her finger at that little child I used to be.
I wanted to smack that kid for a second. I don't know why it made me so upset. She's 14 and hormonal and showing me how independent she can be, right?.

Then I decided I needed to write for a minute. I knew that stupid pain body thing had to be involved. I still don't know the exact trigger or what it stems from but I am going to think about it some more. Something to do with not being good enough...that's all I know. And I still feel weird about it.
And the scarier question, how has my pain body taught her pain body to fight so well!? Oh lordy. Somewhere, somehow she probably feels inadequate as well. Sweet girl.

Hide and Seek. Stella Style.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Finn's pretty funny about his feet. He knows how much I love little baby feet because I still munch on little Stell's toes all the time AND he remembers how much I loved his little feet. So when he is feeling all cuddly he will often offer up his feet to be kissed upon. The thing is....he is 7 now. And while I still love his feet dearly, they often smell like the feet of a 7 yr old boy. Dirty. Sweaty. I have told him that I still LOVE his feet but that they really need to be clean for me to smooch on them. So today, after a bath, he offered up his foot. While doing so, Stella had to stick hers up too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hailey. My first little angel has learned how to fly.

Hailey A. has taught me more about being a better person than anyone I know. When she was a baby, I thought it was her job to prove that I knew absolutely nothing. She was a baby that NEVER wanted to be put down. She slept with me until she was two. She clung to me everywhere we went and everyone thought she was very shy and very "spoiled". (I still hate that word)
Doctors and inlaws used to tell me to "put her down and let her cry" both during the day and in her crib at night. During the day, I could handle it because as long as she could see me, it was a manageable cry and I could do it out of necessity. At night, however, she freaked. Even at 5 mos. she got so mad in her crib that she pulled up for the first time, held on the the crib bars, screamed hysterically until she threw up.

When I tried to explain the way she cried when she couldn't see me, I always said she sounded terrified. And of course was told that she was manipulating me. Please. She was 5-6 mos. at the time. But when you are a new mom, you listen to your elders with experience. I thought I was ruining her.

Long story short, she always clung to me and was very shy. Finally, in third grade she got a teacher that also thought she was spoiled and "had a little attitude". And Hailey quit talking at school. Completely. Not a word. Still the teacher thought she was stubborn. I promptly took her to a wonderful child psychologist who gave her a label that was hard to swallow, but easy for me to believe. She had Severe Separation Anxiety Disorder with Selective Mutism. She told me that Hailey was not stubborn or shy...she was terrified.

Okay I said long story short. My almost 14 year old baby girl has grown up to be a straight A student and a competitive gymnast. She actually gets out there and competes with everybody watching her. (something i never would have imagined possible at age 7)

She has taught me more about courage than anyone I know. I love that little teenager.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Maddy's Game

This little girl is SOMETHING ELSE on the bball court. I absolutely love to watch her play. I mean I fill up with pride ...and it often just chokes me up. This sport comes to her so naturally.
People come up to us often and complement how well she plays. Coaches ask to have her and she just plays for the Y!!! She is so talented in a sport that I knew NOTHING about until I was a cheerleader in middle school. Even then, I didn't know exactly what was going on half the time!! It was all a social event to to have a child that can really play is pretty cool. I have learned a ton from her about sports in general. Every time she plays a new sport, I suddenly want to know all about it.
Sometimes I look at her and I sort of feel like she came from another planet or something. Ha! Not really, but she certainly didn't get her skills from me!!! And you know...our daughters are supposed to be like us Moms right?? Sure. Actually we are a lot alike...just not the sports thing.
She is so good at bball and that is definitely her favorite but she is probably not going to be very tall. She is already so much shorter than the other girls her age...esp the basketball players her age! But she can definitely hold her own.

They lost today. They got fouled a bunch and the other players kept stealing the ball from them. I mean stealing the ball...coming up and taking it right out of their hands. Looked almost comedic. Sad and funny all at the same time. She does not like to lose. She kept talking about how she just wanted to hit somebody and start a fight. (I cannot imagine this kid EVER doing that but she sure was mad.) I had to give her my speech about that...the good sportsmanship, not if you win or lose, always keep your head up and play your best speech. She thought it was all a bunch of crap I think. Bless her heart. She was fired up.

Today was another example of how work and play seem to hold hands in the life of a child. Yin and Yang, dark and light. Present in EVERYTHING we do. You sure can learn a lot out there on the court. And on the side lines. :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

photo a day?? not exactly.

Okay. So I am already falling behind on my photo a day plan. I think I forgot, while I was on my joyful vacation, that when school is in session....I am exhausted! I am pretty good about remembering to take the photos, I just don't always get them posted! Anyway, here is the latest. Brother and sister...watching Noggin.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Work and Play

I learned a long time ago that, for children, work and play are the same thing. Children have to experience the world through play. They have to be able to explore in order to find out what the world is all about. Sometimes adults don't really take children and their "work" seriously because they are after all...children.
When Stella paints, she takes it very seriously. She makes careful choices about colors and where to place the paint on the page. This is her work. Her accomplishment! Even though she doesn't yet care about the finished product, she sure does put a lot of thought and effort into it. For her, work and play are the same.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

photos 6?? not sure it counts but here goes...

Here are a couple of photos I have been playing around with. I still have a couple hundred photos to go so I didn't actually take any new photos today. In fact, I haven't left the house today. I haven't left the computer much! But the kids are all home and getting ready to for school tomorrow so I have been instructed to step away from the computers and the cameras! And I agree. It's time.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Wedding photo 5

Wedding photography.....way harder than I thought. It was okay...but man it was challenging.
This is how I feel after taking photos for 5 hours....

Photo Shoot

I am shooting my first wedding tonight and I am terrified. I am so nervous it's ridiculous. I am doing it for a friend. This friend has NO money so I am doing it for free. She is very gracious and I think she will be happy but I really want to do a good job. Fingers crossed. Will post images later.

OH...and it's all indoors. AT night. Great.

Friday, January 2, 2009

the soul's windows

Today was an interesting day. I had to return to work after a wonderful winter break and I was certainly dragging my feet. We had a staff meeting just before lunch and our friend, also a board member, came to guide us through some meditation techniques. My first reaction was one of resistance. None of the teachers knew that she was coming...a well devised plan by our administrator because she has the ability to see the future and knew that there would be resistance! Anyway, she took us through a visualization technique with a rope of light as a "grounding cord". We have done it before and I really enjoyed it. It took a while for me to relax and REALLY visualize. Of course I also had to bring myself back after a few minor distractions...but here comes the interesting part.
She usually stays away from any type of religious words. But today she actually mentioned God and I think even the word Christ! I fell out of my meditation momentarily to ask myself..."Did she just mention Christ? Is she assuming, here in our urban, public school that we are all Christian?" I then thought about the fact that I was focusing on whether or not she had said "Christ". I then turned in a different direction and thought..Did she say Christ, or is that just what I was feeling? So I immediately went back into the visualization. And every time she said, "Feel as though you are letting the light fill up your head...Feel as though the light is traveling through the rest of your body..." I kept picturing "THE LIGHT". I was feeling/visualizing Christ all through my body. I had been freezing cold earlier and I was suddenly very comfortable. When it was over and she told us to open our eyes, I discovered that I had tears streaming down my face.
My first thought...I look like a fool. I realized very quickly however, that everyone else was still stretching and coming out of it. I don't think anyone else even noticed it. Once I let that ego thing go...I felt extremely peaceful. I then managed to feel that way for the rest of the day.
I am telling you, meditation is a powerful thing. And so is resistance. I don't know why I feel the need to resist Christ sometimes. I love the life and teachings of Jesus. I love everything he represents. I guess I just don't always agree with other's interpretations and when you feel shut out or judged by people who claim Christ as get a little turned off. I just know that Jesus and I had time together today and I am going to invite him back.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

photo #3

Maddy in the middle. My only middle child for 8 years. (She now shares that spot with her little brother.) She tries desperately to make everyone happy. She has even started to model for me every now and then. She hates candid pictures of herself. She only likes to see herself with her well prepared grin. SO, I have been teaching her how to model and pose. She still doesn't like the same images I like, but she does it because she wants to please me and I take full advantage of that. Sweet girl. I think she is beautiful and I find that I get much more of her true personality when I ask her to model something for me. Today, it was a magician's hat.

I don't like the harsh light from my camera's built-in flash and I was too lazy to put on my big ole bounce flash, so I played around with the built-in by diffusing it in various ways. I liked the look on her face in this one. She looks like she might be up to something....and she often IS up to something. :)