Monday, September 1, 2014

Curse #54 - Unexpected Milestones

As a mother, there are those milestones in our children's lives that we know are coming; their first steps, their first day of school, their first car.  As tough as these milestones can be on a mother's heart, we know these milestones are coming, and we can properly prepare.

 However, there are some milestones that a mother can't see coming, and can't prepare. Next thing she knows, she feels like a mack truck ran over her heart smushing it into a million tiny little pieces and she still has to keep going on like nothing has happened.


Is my analogy a little strong?

Well, I had one of those unexpected milestones last week, and that's exactly how it felt.

Last week, we celebrated B's eighth birthday with his traditional birthday week.  (Yes, every person in our family gets an entire birthday week.  Yes, my future daughters-in-laws are going to hate me.)

For the past six years, B and I have a tradition of going to the Choo Choo Barn on B's actual birthday. (You can read about how that started here.)

The night before the big event, I asked Brandon, "Guess where we are going tomorrow and dad gets to go with us this year too!?!"

He replied, "uhhh, where Mom?"

What? That was odd! We've been to the Choo Choo Barn every year since he was three and suddenly he, who has an excellent memory, forgets that fact! And you know what else was odd! B hadn't even reminded me we were going all week. In fact, he hadn't said a word about the Choo Choo Barn, and he always drives me crazy reminding me about it every year.

Oblivious to his subtle hints, I told him, "C'mon crazy! Where you and I go every year together. We are going to the Choo Choo Barn!!!" (You have to say the last three words in your best Oprah voice because that's how I said it.)

Not sharing in my excitement, he looked at me and said in the same tone of voice that my parents used when they told me my cat Frisky had been eaten by the neighbor's dog, "Awww Mom. I don't like trains anymore. I've grown up."

Honk! Hooooooooonk! Splat.

B tried to let me down easy, but his words hit like a mack truck to my heart.  I squeaked out, "Okay Baby...I mean Big Guy. We will think of something else to do."

With a big smile on his face, he said, "Thanks Mom," and he went back to watching tv like this monumental milestone didn't just happen.

Spontaneous tears erupted from my eyes.  I just couldn't control it.  Shad, who saw the whole thing, held my hand and chuckled as he said, "Poor Momma's heart."

Fortunately, B was still distracted by the tv and didn't see my whole meltdown. Even in my sadness, I was glad that he felt comfortable enough to tell me the truth, and I didn't want to make him feel bad for growing up.

Grateful for the tv distraction, I took the opportunity to slip out of the room, and started squallin' as soon as I made it to the kitchen.

If you are not familiar with southern vocabulary crying is a couple of tears, but squallin' is ugly crying.

Why did this bother me so much?

I just kept hearing his words over and over in my head, "Awww Mom. I don't like trains anymore. I've grown up."

Suddenly, I was in a spiral of sorrow that sounded a little like this...

Since when is he too grown up for anything besides drinking from a bottle and needing me to change his diaper?

As they approach manhood, boys to pull away from their moms in normal psychological development. Is this the beginning of that?

We had the best time last year. If only I had known it was our last!!!

Eight years old is only one year away from nine which is half way to eighteen.

Half way to adulthood!!!!!

When my squallin' had calmed down to a controllable sob, I decided I only had a few options to handle the situation.

 I could just force him to go. It is a tradition after all! However, the only thing more miserable than not going to the Choo Choo Barn would be going with a grumpy little...I mean grown up....boy.

 I could rebrand the trip. Choo Choo does sound a little babyish. The same trip to the Choo Choo Barn followed by the Petting Zoo and Candy Store with a different, more mature sound may win him over.

"Hey Brandon, do you want to go to the Model Train Agricultural Community? Afterwards, we can go observe some billy goats and get some coffee."

That plan almost worked, but I knew he wouldn't agree to the traditional "sit in the big train and act like a conductor" picture, and then we would be back to the same he's grown up problem again.

The last option was that we just didn't go to the Choo Choo Barn this year.

As much as it stung, this was really my only option.

After processing the milestone for a few days, I realized why this hurt so much.  The Choo Choo Barn was my last bit of "four year old Brandon." The Brandon obsessed with tractors, trains, dirt, and the pair of rain boots that he wore every day for six months.  Four year old Brandon was sweet and fun, but I had to mourn him, let him go, and move on with Brandon today.

As B grows, I don't want to be a mom that freezes in her relationship with her child. I don't want him to grow up, and our only conversations are from years past and never in the present.  I want to know him as he is today. The eight year old who's still sweet and fun, but is now obsessed with books and Star Wars.

So that's just what I did.  Friday, we didn't go to the Choo Choo Barn, but we took a family day and still had lots of fun.

On Saturday, we were all supposed to go to Star Wars Day at a local children's museum for Brandon's Birthday Adventure.  The night before the adventure, Shad said, "Colli hates people in costumes.  Why don't you just take Brandon by yourself."

This was not a man trying to weasle his way out of an activity.  This was a man that knew his wife well and knew exactly what she needed, and that's one of the many reasons I love that man so.

Shad was very right. Star Wars Day with Brandon was so good for my hurt heart.

Although there wasn't a single train in sight, Star Wars Day felt an awful lot like the Choo Choo Barn.

There was still a little...I mean grown up... birthday boy obsessed with his favorite thing.

And there was still a mom that loves that grown up boy so much she loves his favorite thing too.

And that mom occasionally embarrassed that grown up boy.

Someday I'm sure B will tell me, "Awww Mom. I don't like Star Wars anymore. I've grown up," and I will probably squall all over again as that mack truck barrels straight into my heart.

Next time though, I will know that although his interests and hobbies may change as he grows, our connection and love must stay the same. That knowledge really is what got me out of the spiral of sorrow.

Wellllllll, that knowledge and one more thing....

Guess who's going to the Choo Choo Barn on his birthday this year!!!

I figure I can get four more years of trips out of him.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Blessing #226 - Brandon Turns Eight


You're eight!!!! Can you believe it? Sure you can! You've been talking about it for months, but as much as you reminded me I always feel surprised when your birthday rolls around. 


How in the world can you be eight?  

It feels like I just recovered from you having colic your first six months, and now you're eight.  

This year has been such a big year for you.  You've grown so much physically and mentally.  You just seem to be becoming a young man.  

One of my favorite conversations we had this year was about tattoos. You love tattoos.  Soon after you turned seven, you got an airbrush tattoo, and refused to wash your arm.  I'm not kidding.  For a week, you stuck your arm out of the shower curtain every time you took a shower.  You were committed to this tattoo!

One day, you had about five temporary tattoos on, and you started talking about getting a real tattoo when you were older.  

Now, I know you well enough to know that if I say, "NO YOU WON'T!" that later, you absolutely will, and besides I don't really mind tattoos. I might even get my own in a few years (shh don't tell Poppy). I did say tell you that a tattoo is permanent. You want to wait until you are older and know you want something on you for forever. 

You thought for a second, "I love Star Wars." 

I replied, "Yes, but you used to love hunting and tractors and what if you had gotten a tattoo of that?"

You didn't argue, but thought for a second and asked, "Does a tattoo hurt?"

I answered, "Remember when you got your flu shot? Well, every dot of color in a tattoo is like getting a shot."

After hearing that, you said in a very grow up voice, "Well, I need to strike that from my life list." 

I couldn't help but laugh and then asked you what else was on your life list. I think you mentioned getting married to your "girlfriend" first. That was just one of many funny conversations we had.  From the time you were a toddler, talking to you has felt like talking to a very small old man.  You are just so sensible and quick witted.   

We've also had many fun moments together this year.  Out of all the moments from your seventh year, my favorite moment happened when we were visiting Mimi and Poppy in Georgia. While we were down there, you learned to ride a bike! Soon after learning, you and I would ride around the subdivision together. 

Riding bicycles with you was a full circle moment for me.  Many of my happiest childhood memories were on a bike riding through that subdivision. To ride those same roads and to make brand new memories there with you was a really big, meaningful moment for me. 

One day, we were riding bikes with your cousins from Alabama.  Being your mom, I could tell you were frustrated that they were faster than you, but c'mon! You had only been riding bikes for a week! Give yourself some slack!  

Anyway, I could tell you were frustrated, but you decided to play it off.  As you peddled to the back of the pack to me, you told your cousins, "Y'all go ahead. I'm just going to hang back here.  I just want to spend some time with my Mom."  Seriously!?! Bulling your way out of something is one of your gifts.  You are so good at bulling, I wouldn't be surprised if you become a salesman, a politician....or a conman.  .  

Even though I knew "hanging with my Mom" was just your cover, I didn't mind, and enjoyed the time with you.  As your cousins rode ahead, you and I peddled and talked.  Somewhere in that conversation, you turned to me and said, "I'm really glad I have a mom like you." 

You didn't say, 

"I'm glad I have a mom that can cook all sorts of baked goodies," 

"I'm glad I have a mom that irons my clothes perfectly," 

or "I'm glad I have a mom that keeps an immaculate house."

You just said, "I'm glad I have a mom like you." 

Brandon you just do not know how much your words meant to me.  That was simply the best compliment you could have ever given me.  

You see, earlier in the year, I decided to stop trying to be super mom.  

At the start of the year, I decided to stop feeling bad about the things I wasn't and to celebrate who I was.  I decided to believe that God gave me just the right strengths that you needed in a Mom, and to focus on those strengths. 

Your words that day were validation for me that I was on the right track.  

In the moment, I told you thank you and something kind back. In the moment, I didn't want to embarrass you by crying my eyes out, but I felt like it (and I did later).  

B-man, I'm really glad I have a son like you.

A son who gets obsessed with tractors, hunting, and now Star Wars

A son who loves tattoos

A son who has a stubborn streak and a strong will

A son who has seemingly infinite energy

A son who has a huge heart that sees peoples needs

B, thank you for your words that bike ride. I will remember them forever. 

I love you so much. Thank you for being crazy awesome you, and thank you for letting me come along for the ride.  

I'm really glad I have a son like you, 



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blessing #225 - A Necklace Holder

Hi my name is Stephanie and I am a Real Housewives of Anywhere fan.

I was trying to give you a little time so you could gasp and judge me, but I will give you a bit more.

I know it's deplorable.

I know it's terrible television, but I have already established that my television tastes aren't that high.

In my own life, I cannot stand gossip and drama, but for some reason watching these two faced women flip tables and argue over if someone is lying about having asthma just fascinates me.

Often in a typical Real Housewives episode, a housewife will be in her closet getting ready, picking out clothes, and recapping the day's drama with her husband.

As I watch these scenes, I really struggle with envy.

Am I envious over the designer clothes, purses, and shoes.

No! C'mon I'm a Goodwill queen!

When I watch these scenes, I drool over the closet organization. It's so pretty, neat, and organized!!!!

Will I ever have a Real Housewives giant organized closet? No, probably not, but I can make my closet pretty, neat, and organized.

I wish I had a before picture to put right here, but I don't have one.  When I started the closet makeoever, I just planned on purging my closet, but then one thing led to another, my ADDD kicked in, and the next thing I knew I was painting everything pink!

Because I purge regularly, I didn't expect to purge my closet much, but this time I decided to only keep clothes that I wear often. When I purge, I normally ask, "Have I worn this in the past year," but this time I asked, "Have I worn this more than five times in the past year?"

As all the bags piled up, I couldn't believe the difference, but I loved my stream lined closet.

In addition to my closet, I have a dresser of clothes, but with this purge, I cleaned out the dresser and put every item of clothing in the closet.

My closet looked so much better with fewer clothes in it, but the closet was a boring space and that's when I knew I needed to make it over.

In my normal state, I am a messy person just ask my mom. I have learned though if I make something pretty, I will keep it clean.  It seems crazy to make a space pretty where the door stays closed all the time, but I knew if my closet was pretty, I would keep it clean.  No one will ever see it but me, but isn't that enough? I am worth a pretty closet!!!

I decided to start with the top of the closet and all that wasted space.  The walls in the closet are plaster so I knew a shelf would be too much weight on the crumbly walls.  If the space couldn't be functional, it might as well be pretty.

A sign with my favorite word would be perfect for the space, and a few hooks made it an awesome necklace holder.

Before, my necklaces just laid around the room or shoved inside a box. Now, I love that I can see all my necklace options now as I pick out my outfit.

I hung all my belts on the hooks that were already in the closet.  Just ignore the magnetic circle things.  I am taking them down.

Originally, I put my earrings in those containers, but I need to see the earrings more.  I think I am just taking the containers down and trying something different.

I tried the circles on the side, but I don't like that either because I need symmetry. If you have any ideas or see any pins to help please send them my way.(Here is my pinterest. )

I'm already working on the bottom of the closet, and I will show that later.  For now though, here is my progress.

No, my closet is not Real Housewives worthy yet, but it is much better than before.

This sign organizes my necklaces, but also serves as a good reminder every morning of my favorite word and my life's goal.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blessing #224 - The Comeback


Could it be?

Yes! A new post!

I know. I know. It's been a while.

The reason for the big interruption is simple. There was no big drama, no juicy gossip, but just a major case of writer's block. Major.

So many times, I sat down to write a post and  just stared at the screen. Finally, I decided rather than beating myself up for the block, I just needed to take a break.

But, I'm back now!

Just in case you were wondering what I've been up to here are a few things I did on my blogging break.....

1. After months and months of not knowing what I wanted to do in my living room, I had a major break through and almost "finished" the whole room!

2. After sitting on a love seat for over a year, we finally found a couch that we both liked!

That's the love seat, and not the new couch.  We were able to negotiate and get the price down dramatically.  We used the money from selling our chesterfield couch and some money I had saved up to make it a great buy.

The salesman tried to get us to buy the matching love seat and tables.  He said, "A lot of times people come back to get the matching set, and it's gone." Shad and I both laughed and explained that nothing in our house matched and that's the way we like it.

Six months later, we still love the couch.  It's a miracle we found a couch Shad and I both like, and it only took us two years! (This post was inspired by our couch hunting adventures)

3. At Easter, I went in to get a hair trim, and got a bad hair cut instead.  Then I decided the only way to fix my hair was to cut it short.  The meltdown was major.

It made this meltdown look like a little tantrum.

How bad was it?

Well, the next week I sent my friend a "thank you for answering all my crazy hair texts" card.

I'm not joking.

I told you with Treat you can make a card for anything.

 4. In April, Shad and I started getting really focused (yes, gazelle intense if you are a Dave Ramsey nerd) and paying down on the debt from Collin's accident and all the testing I had done when I was sick.

Paying down medical debt stinks.

With car debt, you may have a car to show for all your efforts.

With credit card debt, you may have a few accessories or something for your house to keep you company as you pay down your debt.

With some medical debt, you may have a nip or tuck or maybe a face that looks constantly surprised.

With my medical debt, all I got was a crummy allergy and an inhaler!!!

Note to self: That would make an awesome tshirt.

Maybe some day I will write about the whole experience, but for now Shad and I are really growing through it all, working as a team, and learning a lot about each other.

5. Remember how I was trying to lose 50 pounds before my 30th birthday? Well I didn't.

Wah Wah Wah Wahhhh.

However, I did lose the 50 pounds before my 32nd birthday. Yay! It's amazing what not being able to eat an entire food group can do.

I realize the customary thing to do right here would be to post a before and after picture, but I'm not.

When I turned 30, I realized I had spent an entire decade feeling bad about myself and my struggle with my weight. I just didn't want to do that any more.  Maybe one day I will have the right words to say about it all, but right now I just don't have them.  What I can say is that I was awesome before and I am still awesome 50 pounds lighter...........and humble too.

6. This year, I knew my birthday would be scaled back so we could continue to pay on the medical debt.  After having a small pity party, I decided to give for my birthday.

I passed out "shine" signs to different people in my life, and it was hands down the best birthday ever.  I will definitely have to write more about it later.

7. In June, our good friends moved to another state.

 I am so happy for them and this brand new, amazing opportunity that the Lord has provided for them and their family.

Did that sound believable?

Good. That was my "I'm a mature adult" answer.

Sometimes though, I'm not so mature and a lot selfish and just want to say, "This stinks!"

8.  In July, we took our annual big trip south.  We all spent a week at my Mamaw's, and then the boys and I went to GA for a couple weeks.

The whole trip was so refreshing and fun, but my week at Mamaw's was really special.  One morning, my Mamaw and I went to Bojangle's and ate breakfast.  I really need to write about it.

Note to self: Bojangle's post title ideas...."Country Ham with a Side of Love", "Tuesdays with Mamaw", "And I Said What About Breakfast At Bojangles."

Well, I think that's about everything from my break.

Hey look! I wrote a whole post! Woohoo! Take that writer's block.

I'm glad to be back.

Oh! And in case I have never said it, thanks for reading my ramblings and being patient with me.  I hope you had a great summer too.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blessing #223 - The Reading Nook Bench

Friday, I shared how we are making over the boys rooms for the Christmas present.


It's January and we are still working on their Christmas present?

I know. I know.

Anyway, we live in a house that is about 150 years old.  It's beautiful.  It's quaint, and sometimes it's a little crazy.

The boys rooms are side by side.  You have to walk through Collin's room to get to Brandon's room.  There's no actual door between their rooms, but a little landing.

This picture isn't really a before pic.  This picture was after I had cleaned out the area and painted it.

Originally, we had a cheap book shelf on that tall wall, but that didn't work at all so I boxed up the important books and gave the shelf to Goodwill.

Parenting Lesson Learned: Never put a bookshelf with precious keepsake memory books in a room alone with two little wild men.

The landing is kind of awkward.  Let me show you the other wall you can't see in the previous picture.

Yep, two doors on the same wall. Nope, they don't match. Yes, the one door is so high off the ground my entire dust pan can fit under it.  Like I said, 150 year old houses can be crazy, but isn't that one latchy door nob on the right just gorgeous!?!

Because the space was so awkward, I really didn't know if I was even going to do anything with it, but one day, B was talking to Shad about his hopes for the new room and said, "Dad, I would really like a place to read."

When Shad told me that, I said, "Wait! That's all I need to know!"

See, I am not only a math nerd, but I am also a book nerd.  I love, looooove, LoOoOoOoVe books, and I always have.

When I was in the sixth grade, I had a notebook where I kept record of all the books I read and I wrote little reviews of each book.  I still remember that I read 65 books that year.


No, I was not very popular in middle school. Why do you ask?

Yes, I love books.  If Brandon showed the slightest interest in reading, I was going to run with that.

I asked my friend if she saw any ideas of book nooks on Pinterest to send them my way.  She then suggested me, "What about a crib mattress?"

I really didn't think it would fit, but the crib mattress was in the attic so I had to try.

Do you see it? No, not the dirt on the mattress. It fits. The mattress fits perfectly!!! I couldn't believe it! My friend that suggested it was my new hero!!!

I knew I would like to get the mattress off the ground, but I really didn't want to spend much money for a base.  Also, I needed a base that was movable if I needed to get into that door. When I told Shad about it, he suggested I use some plastic crates he had saved for me at his work.

I laid the crates out and realized it would take two rows of three crates, but fortunately, we had enough!

The crates were nice, but I really wanted them to be the same color so my good friend spray paint saved the day!

A while ago, my mother-in-law gave me a few cans of orange spray paint when it didn't work for a project.  Orange was a perfect splash of color for the book nook...especially free orange!

YaY! I found an awesome gray chevron crib sheet from Target for $15, and the pillow is from our living room that graduated to this space.

The blanket is a teal blanket from TJ Maxx for $15.

The crates are attached to each other with zip ties.  The crate base probably isn't strong enough to support two adults, but for two little boys, the crates work.

B was so thrilled with the bench! When we loaded the books into the crates, B said, "I am putting my fiction books in this crate, and my non-fiction books in the other crate."

I don't think I've even been prouder.  I almost said, "Yeah! Great idea! Do you want to use the dewey decimal system or the library of congress system?" I reigned in my nerdiness though and just gave him a big kiss.

As thrilled as I was with the crates, I knew it needed one more step.

A pop of polka dot fabric! I wanted a pin dot, but Hobby Lobby didn't have it. This big dot works though.

The fabric was about $4.  The orange pillow is a pillow cover from Hobby Lobby that I used a 40% off coupon to make it about $4 or $5. Again, I used another pillow from our living room that was getting a little old to fill the pillow cover.

Suddenly, what was an awkward, wasted space, is now my new favorite space in the whole house!

The view out the window is gorgeous! I really wanted to space to feel magical like a special little hang out just for the boys.

I am just loving this bench and reading nook!

And so are the boys!

All the pictures of the bench perfectly styled are pretty, but I love this picture most of all.

This is how, I've been finding the bench every morning piled with B's sleeping bag, stuffed animals, dinosaur book, and a flash light. B has been falling asleep there every night, and I couldn't be happier.

If you are keeping track, the total spent on this bench was...

crib sheet $15
blanket $15
fabric $4
foam core board (to put fabric on) $3
pillow cover $5

The Reading Nook is not done yet.  I still have to dress the walls, and I might do something fun with the ceiling.

I just love that a wasted, awkward space is being filled with many supplies I already had to make something magical!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blessing #222 - B's Dresser

This year for Christmas, we decided to give the boys a room makeover. Their rooms were struggling majorly, and they were both really excited for it.

For the past three weeks since we got back from Georgia, Shad and I have been working in their rooms.  I can't wait to share several projects, but first I will start with Brandon's dresser.

Here's what we started with....

It's a mid-century modern $5 yard sale find! I'm terrible about taking before pictures so Shad snapped this picture for me right before he sanded the drawers.

When we asked Brandon's opinion for his room, he wanted camouflage and hunters. At first, I was really not excited about that style.  I wanted a bold orange and navy combination, however it wasn't my room so camouflage it was.

Shad and I brainstormed for the room, and decided to do rustic camouflage.  When I showed Shad East Coast Creative's Anthropology Knock Off Ordinal Dresser, he loved it, and we decided to try that on B's dresser.

First I painted the shell with black chalk board paint.  I really wasn't sure how this dresser was going to turn out, and the chalkboard paint would give me a solid black look or a different look when it was primed with chalk.

Shad sanded the drawers and I stained them with weathered oak stain.  Weathered oak was gray but not too gray.

I painted the numbers, and finished the drawers with polyurethane.  The hardware was problematic and we debated over what kind of hardware to use for a couple days.  Finally, we found a knob that we both really liked.

Here's the finished product!

This picture is more true to the actual color of the drawers, and I had to put the decoy we got B for Christmas on there!

Until I painted the numbers, I was really unsure about how this dresser was going to look.  I'm so pleased with how my knock off of East Coast Creative's knockoff  looks! It's just perfect for the rustic look we are going for in B's room.