Why traveling with kids is worth losing my sanity.

There we were.

We were in hour seven of what was supposed to be an eight hour trip. The girls and I had spent the previous several hours sounding out words, making up new lyrics to our favorite songs and played round after round of I Spy. I’ve become pretty comfortable making the drive from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, where all but two of our immediate family members live. We’ve travelled this same stretch of highway since we moved to Georgia so I’m familiar with every grimy gas station bathroom and each of the three Starbucks along the route. When we moved to North Carolina and the trip was cut from a miserable 13 hours to a more manageable eight, the girls and I began making the trip ourselves. Josh has a hard time getting away from work so I needed to become comfortable making the trip alone.

The coloring books had been filled and the books reread from memory. Heavy rainclouds stole any bits of sunlight that may have remained after daylight savings time but we were in good spirits – one more hour to go. I topped yet another of the rolling hills and winding roads that carry us through Southern Pennsylvania when I saw it: miles and miles of red, angry brake lights staring at me through my rain spattered windshield.

A traffic jam. In the middle of the Pennsylvanian countryside.

With no where to go, no where to reroute, the girls and I sat for two hours.

Do you know what’s exciting? Traveling.

Do you know what’s exhausting? Traveling with children.

We sat and whined, sighed and scowled. I prayed with a ferocious intensity that neither girl would have the sudden and immediate need for a bathroom break. An eight hour car trip is manageable. But when that eight hour gets stretched to nine and then 10… that’s enough to make a Momma lose her mind. I may have said some things to those sweet children that aren’t fit to repeat.

But we do it. Many times each year. And it sucks. Yet I do it gladly.

We made the decision to move away from home. Our families live in Western Pennsylvania – some just a stone’s throw apart. The issue of traveling and distance wasn’t bothersome when we were in college or when we moved to Ohio. But when we had children, we all became more concerned with quality time. When we agreed to move farther away and began collecting children, we had to make the decision that where we decided to live had to be worth the distance we were placing between our children and our families.

We chose to move away because it was what was best for us, our careers and our children. Yes, there are aspects of life that would be easier if we were near family but currently the benefit to living where we do is worth the sacrifice of a few miserable hours in the car.

While our families do visit and willingly drop their lives to come and help when we need it, it’s harder for our siblings and extended family to make their way south. It’s not fair to our children and our parents, siblings, cousins and dear friends that they don’t get to see us or our children. But they aren’t the ones who moved. It’s our responsibility to make sure that our children know and have memories with their extended family.

I don’t care if the drive is eight, 10 or 15 hours. We do it because family is important and memories like these aren’t made on Facebook on FaceTime.

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That being said, I’m putting away my suitcase for awhile.

 

Why parenting never gets easier – and why it’s amazing.

The countless diaper changes, sleepless nights and dirty dishes create a blur of beautiful chaos those early years of parenthood. Add in siblings close in age and you lay your head every night thankful everyone survived another day. The kids get older, you become a bit wiser until eventually one day goes by unnoticed as anything other than unremarkable. And it becomes two and soon a few weeks and then you realize that without the pomp and circumstance that celebrated your entry to parenthood, you’ve entered an entirely new phase that involves noticeably fewer tears from everyone.

I am never so naive to think that I’ve got this parenting thing down. But we seem to have travelled through the survival phase known as babydom and toddlerhood and arrived at the other side: school-aged.

And things become markedly calmer and you think, “This is easy! We could totally have six kids.”

Then you’re kid does something awesome like break her arm in such a way that it’ll require surgery, pins and a full arm cast. Because, you know, God is hilarious and has awesome ways of gently reminding me when I’ve become too big for my britches.

The kids get bigger and so do the problems. I’m not talking strictly about physical injuries. While I’m no longer concerned with the perils of potty training, I’m now facing the challenge of raising two young girls with healthy body images and leading them through the maze of mean girls and self esteem. While this chapter of parenting is typically less physically demanding – although the shuttle service between school carpool and ballet classes and traffic is exhausting – it is a race of emotional and mental endurance. I’ve shifted my energy away from the day-to-day and toward the long task of character-building and emotional development.

They ask Big Life Questions that I usually feel wholly ill-equipped to answer. You must formulate a concise, spur-of-the-moment response when your five year old explains that sometimes she feels like God isn’t close and wonders if I’m sure He really thinks she’s special enough. Or when she confides that she isn’t sure she’s pretty enough. Or if I’m sure there isn’t even one thing that would ever make me stop loving her – what if she steals a rainbow? Because to a five year old, there is nothing worse than stealing a rainbow.

I want to blame the influence of peers and society but truthfully, I’m confident most women struggle with the same questions regardless of our age, social circle or upbringing. The lessons that we instill now – or don’t – will have a lasting effect far into adulthood. Nurturing a sense of value and self-worth, cultivating grace and generosity and taming arrogance and superiority. Are we ever good enough? Interesting enough? Thin enough? Strong enough? That stuff is hard.

When Josh and I decided to have kids, it was a pretty short conversation and a sudden shift from my career-oriented life goals. And my view of parenting was very short-sited and I, embarrassingly, didn’t think what it meant to be a parent past the first year. I never entertained the idea that God may bless us with daughters instead of the enviably less dramatic male option. Instead, He gave us and one then another incredible little female human with tender hearts that need guarded and guided and given a safe place to flourish.

I want them to grow strong – physically and emotionally. I will teach them to shine brightly and boldly. I will show them that vulnerability is not weakness. I will encourage them to embrace difficulties and remain joyous through the challenges.

I miss the simpler days of parenting when snuggles and Momma milk made everything better. But how fortunate am I to be tasked as steward of such precious gifts?

Please, please don’t let me screw them up.

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Worry.

Parenting has a way of amplifying qualities in a person, doesn’t it?

Hi, I’m Liz and I’m a worrier.

Raising two girls, close in age and in the midst of a chaotic life has left me grasping for control. When that isn’t feasible, I get a little crazy.

This isn’t healthy, right? So I’ve been working to let go of what I can’t control. A healthy level of concern is a good thing. Worrying about every worst case scenario is not.

I’ve made a real effort to stop worrying so much about my children’s safety when they are playing outside. I survived years of wandering the farm from sunrise to sunset without seeing a single adult – I want my children to have the same opportunity to experience things without an adult hovering above, narrating and stopping them short of discovery.

This morning, we got a late start and missed church. We decided to take advantage of the gorgeous autumn weather and take the girls to a nearby park with great trails for scooter and bike riding. Josh and I had some reading to do so we settled on nearby bench and set the girls free to explore.

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They played flamingo and spun around in circles. They swung to the moon and raced down the slides. After awhile, Emery called us over to see what she learned. She jumped from a platform and reached her arms up to catch a bar above her head. She pumped her legs and tried to work herself into a chin-up position before losing strength. I was ecstatic to see her pride and accomplishment. She repeated this over and over and I encouraged her to try it again.

She jumped from the platform. Only this time, only her fingers gripped the metal bar and she slipped. She fell to the ground and landed on her elbows and knees. It was evident by the way she laid in the mulch that the landing hadn’t been kind. Josh was standing near and helped her to her feet. The sobs turned to shrieks as he tried to touch her arm. He carefully removed her sweatshirt to inspect the arm and her pain was undeniable.  They made their way to the truck while Blair and I gathered our books and the scooters they had intended to ride. After a few minutes, we concluded this warranted a visit to the Emergency Room.

I thought we were nearing the end of our childhood firsts. No, today we got to experience our child’s first broken bone. A fractured humerus, to be exact. Our sweet, adventurous girl will be sporting a full arm cast for the next six to eight weeks. This means no climbing at recess, no hopscotch in gym class and a hiatus from her beloved ballet class.

How can a momma not feel guilty? In my efforts to not worry and to let her explore, did I fail at my job to protect her? Common sense assures me not but her tear-filled question, “Momma, why did this happen?” breaks my heart.

She has handled this like a champion but my Momma worry is on high alert.

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Neither here nor there.

There is this really awkward stage when you’re newish-ly pregnant that I fondly call the “pregnancy pudge.” People look twice and say, “…Is she? No, maybe it’s just the shirt she’s wearing. Well, maybe…?” You walk a fine line between insatiable hunger and spontaneously hurling your breakfast when you walk past Starbucks. Conversations with your non-pregnant friends are different because you’re no longer interested in running races or trying the new wine bar in town. Your pregnant friends acknowledge you as a member of their procreating club but, alas, you aren’t in the midst of swollen ankles and sciatic pain so you aren’t quite one of them yet. You fit neither here nor there.

I’m in the moving equivalent of the pregnancy pudge. I no longer feel like I belong in Savannah but haven’t yet moved to Charlotte to start our lives. I still have dear friends in Savannah to meet up with but the conversations are abbreviated and focus only on the present. Topics that were once relevant – kindergarten plans, summer birthday parties, new restaurants – hold little interest for me. We won’t be here. When we leave the playground and share goodbyes with acquaintances, there is the awkward, “See you soon! Or maybe not. If not, uh, goodbye and it was nice knowing you.” Until you see them again the next week and have the same uncomfortable exchange again.

The girls and I visited Charlotte last week and had a chance to scope out some of the neighborhoods I’ve spent the past few months researching. I was the creepy driver who looped the same block three times in search of the rental. We took some time to visit a museum and I was naively hopeful I’d meet some incredibly friendly Charlotte mommies who would take me under their welcoming wings and tell me all their secrets about the best neighborhoods, schools and initiate me into their awesome Charlotte mommy group. Yes, I may be a bit crazy. While the moms I talked to were all really friendly, it’s evident I’m not one of them yet.

Charlotte Mom: “What part of Charlotte are you moving to?”

Desperate Liz: “Oh, we aren’t sure… maybe insert neighborhood or other neighborhood. But we don’t really know where my husband is going to be working, so commute times will be an issue. So…. yea.”

CM: “…Right. Well, uh, good luck with the move.”

DL: “Oh, uh, yea, thanks.”

awkward pause.

DL: “WAIT! Where do you live? Do you like it? How are the schools? Tax rates? Tell me everything you know.”

I’m a stray cat meowing to be fed. They smile politely and provide informative but brief answers. Because, honestly, we aren’t going to be friends – I don’t live there. And the odds of us crossing paths again are very slim. Charlotte is a big city. We likely won’t live in the same part of town, school district, subdivision or neighborhood. I can’t identify with their laments about traffic and commute times.  I can envision what life will be like but I’m not actively living it. I will be one of them soon but until then, we won’t be friends.

We’ve found a few houses we’re interested in renting but we can’t pursue them until we get an offer on our house. I’ve found jobs I’m interested in but I can’t apply until we get even our short-term living situation squared away. The Savannah weather has been uncharacteristically cold and wet and real estate activity across town is slow as a result. I’m still practicing my patience and keeping the end goal in sight.  Life in transition is hard – especially for the girls – so I’m trying to keep things as calm and pleasant as our current situation allows. In a few months, this will (hopefully) be a distant, mildly uncomfortable memory.

Oh, and to be clear – I’m not pregnant. Not even the tiniest bit. So let there be no confusion as a result of my pregnancy/moving analogy. Just a crazy momma with too much time to think.

Trying.

Life can be a bit trying, can’t it? And despite our best efforts to try, try, try, sometimes all you really need is to stop. Stop trying.

Several times a week, after I get my morning coffee, I sit down and begin to write a blog post. What’s new (a lot). Where we’ve been (a far). What’s changed (bunches). How I’ve grown (by miles and miles). What delicious things I’ve eaten (lots). And inevitably, within the first 100 words, someone – typically a rather loud, persistent 2-year-old – comes and demands my attention. And unless I give it freely and in its entirety, we both grow increasingly irritated and until I set my keyboard down a bit too hard and stomp into the kitchen/bedroom/living room to, you know, parent. Be a mother. I know, they have such high expectations of me.

So it’s become easier to just stop trying to accomplish all the unnecessary and focus that attention toward my kids. It’s hardly revolutionary but I’m still surprised by how much more pleasant my children seem. In reality, they’re just as sweet and inquisitive as always but I’m changing my perception.

Last time I found a moment to chat, I briefly told of the struggles Em and I were facing with school. We had enrolled her in a full-time program at a wonderful little school but it just wasn’t clicking. We tried. Every day. And every night, I continued to chew my lip and lament to anyone who would listen. I even broke out in a rash from all the worry. I wish I was kidding. We considered our options. We could stick it out. We could scrape every extra penny and send her to a costly private program four days a week. Or we could homeschool.

A brief tangent here – hang with me for a moment. It’s pretty incredible how God works and how clearly His hand is moving once you see things in hindsight. For the past few months, I’ve been struggling a lot with going back to work full-time. I’ve said it before – I never, in a million years, imagined I’d ever be a stay at home mom. Never. Even when it happened, it was always intended to be a short-term situation until we got settled in Savannah. This summer was hard for me, personally, and I’ve been struggling to figure out where I’m supposed to be in life and what really makes me happy. So I started looking for part-time and freelance work. The field of communications isn’t exactly a booming industry in this small town, so I broadened my options to include full-time work. But I kept trying to make it happen. With Em going into full-day school, I was pretty sure I was being called back to the professional world.

Then she actually started school and things quickly disintegrated. They didn’t fall apart, nothing tragic happened, no disasters ensued. Simply and one by one, our beliefs and motivations for having her in this program just began to fall apart. Her temperament changed and she became increasingly nervous and unsure of herself. Every morning, she asked how many more days were left that week before she could spend a whole day with me. Even her attitude toward her younger sister shifted from patient to annoyed. It became glaringly apparently that despite our sweet girl’s independence, excitement for life and people, and eagerness to be a big kid, she still so badly needed to be cared for by her momma.

There are no words to properly convey how relieved and happy I am that the perfect opportunity never arose for me to go back to work. Because that would have made an already difficult decision much more complicated and messy.

After giving it three weeks, we decided to pull Em out of school. PreK drop out – it has a nice ring to it, I think. We decided to try a casual homeschool curriculum. I’m hesitant to even call it homeschooling because really, she’s four years old. Regardless, I’m sure a lot of people were surprised by this because I am not known for my patience or excitement for all things kid-related. But it just made sense. We can visit family whenever we’d like. We can tag along when Josh travels for work. And throw in some phonetics, motor skill development and penmanship along the way. We’re still figuring out the social aspect of things because, really, this girl loves other children and this momma needs a break every now and again.

I’ve been hesitant to make any formal, “HEY! WE’RE HOMESCHOOLING OUR KIDS! LOOK AT US!” announcements because then people seem to pay particularly close attention to what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, if you appear to be succeeding or following whatever rules they think should exist. But the beauty of this is that I don’t have to try to meet expectations because, really, they’re my kids.

So, here’s to hopefully finding more time to write. And not trying so hard. And having fun.

 

Quitter.

My jaw is sore from clenching and my teeth ache from grinding both day and night. My lips are raw from constant gnawing and my tongue tingles after five days of chewing the tip.

This was Em’s first week of preK and things haven’t been swell. It started on a high note – laughter, smiles, twirls and skipping to the car on Monday. As the week progressed, her enthusiasm has waned. By this morning, she complained of a belly ache and asked if she could please stay home with me.

She misses her momma and thinks this is just too much school.

I’m inclined to agree.

Eight hours.

That’s a long time to be away from home.

I leave to join the carpool line in 7 minutes. But who’s counting.

We’re giving it some time. I want to challenge her to go outside of her comfort zone. But she’s four. And there is a whole lot of life ahead of her to learn lessons.

And missing your momma is a pretty solid reason to be a quitter.

All quiet. Unless it’s not.

As you’ve noticed, things have been pretty silent here on the southern front. Actually, that’s rather presumptuous of me to assume you’ve missed my random ramblings but, hey, we’re all a bit narcissistic in these parts. Regardless, I haven’t had much to say the past few weeks. And I’d rather not say something just for the sake of it, you know?

Things are good. Just busy in that no school/holiday sprinkled/too hot-buggy-muggy to go outside/is it Monday already way that summertime seems to pass by.  I’ve been meaning to stop in to say hello, so, that should count for something.

Even now as I’m trying to type this, I have a cranky, post-nap 2-year-old angrily shoving finger puppets on my fingers. Which is really making me want to hit “save draft” and never come back to finish it. Instead, I named the post which makes it all feel more substantial, thus committing me to its completion.

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So, what’s new? Lets see.

Courtesy of the four-day weekend, we finally had some time to hit up the Forsyth Farmer’s Market after our CSA pickup at Urbanna Farms. We’ve been getting loads of tasty squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and other goodies from our farmers but I’ve been missing the market’s fresh eggs and our freezer’s is getting low on good, local meat. So after an early CSA pick up, we ventured downtown to join the sweaty masses.

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We arrived at the market shortly after it opened so there was a good variety to choose from. I scored some peaches, an incredible canary melon from Walker Farms, some beef from Savannah River, two homemade peach popsicles for my overheated girls and two dozen of my ever so desired fresh eggs.

After some shopping, basketball watching and twirling – by the girls, not me – we needed to head home. I know, I know, I’ve said it a million times. But Savannah is really hot and humid this time of year. I’m not exaggerating when I say I avoid all absolutely vital outside time from June 15 – September 15 (at least). The heat paired with a 4-year-old who was really, really tired after spending the night wandering the house and checking out the stray animals out our front window is a really bad combination. Were done with this family outing.

We walked the short distance to the car and it dawned on Em that we were, in fact, leaving the market. Despite warnings. A popsicle. Sing-songy voices.

There is no rationalizing with an exhausted, overheated child.

As I wrestled to get her in the car and out of the busy, traffic congested street, I dropped my eggs. My 24 beautiful, multi-colored, rather expensive eggs toppled to the cobbled street.

I may have said some not-Jesus-approved words in a not-positive-parenting fashion and perhaps shut the car door a bit too hard and went slightly overboard as I “explained” to Emery why that behavior is unacceptable and a perfect example of why she needs to stayinherbedallnightlongandSLEEPinsteadofwanderingthehouse. Because a child cannot thrive on 7 hours of sleep.

It was my frustration over the eggs and not so much the tantrum that fueled my tirade. I’ll admit that.

When we visited Em’s new pediatrician for her 4-year-old visit, we discussed Em’s less than stellar sleep habits. The doc agreed that her mid-night shenanigans, although often normal, aren’t acceptable and gave us a few suggestions. Although we have already tried many of her ideas without success, we decided to revisit the reward chart system.

Let me tell you, there is very little I can convince this child to do. But throw a little bribery – nay, rewarding – into it and she’ll be obedient forever. Or at least until she gets the promised ice cream.

I sincerely apologize to my high school art teacher. Once upon a time, I actually knew how to make things that didn't look like an 8-year-old girl got bored in math class.

I sincerely apologize to my high school art teacher. Once upon a time, I actually knew how to make things that didn’t look like an 8-year-old girl got bored in math class.

I have no problem dangling the proverbial carrot in front of the horse. The key is in how long you make the stick. We tried a “good morning”  chart a few months ago but promised the reward after 10 nights of good sleep. No bueno. Too long and the girl lost interest. Anyway, four nights may seem to be too lax but Momma is tired and we all want sleep and ice cream. Win-win.

How are you? What’s new? Are you surviving the summer? 

Recovery.

Often times, you don’t realize just how mentally and physically exhausted you are until you get a moment to sit and catch your breath and thoughts. The past few weeks have been strange. Or, perhaps, I’ve just been strange. Or, just stranger than usual.

Between our Disney trip, Em finishing school for the year, my Fred Flinstone foot, Em deciding sleep is for sissies, and a slew of other hiccups, I think I went into survival mode. I didn’t realize it at the time because, well, you rarely do when you’re in the thick of things.

We planned to visit our family in Pennsylvania for Emery’s birthday and it really couldn’t have come and a better time. I needed to get out of Georgia for a while and let my momma take care of me and love on my babies. I needed to sit with my sisters and listen to them put things in perspective. I needed to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in years and laugh until tears streamed down my face. And my girls needed to run free through the wide open spaces and catch lightning bugs in their pudgy, dirt-crusted fists.

I even got the rare opportunity to spend an entire day out with my momma and three sisters to shop, eat and relax. There is no better medicine, I swear.

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I ran in the mild Pennsylvania weather most mornings and we ate dessert most evenings – which is a perfect display of balance. Bonus points in you eat ice cream while wearing running clothes. Those calories don’t count.cousins62013

The girls could not get enough of their cousins and I had to physically carry Em to bed each night because she didn’t want the fun to end. We stayed up too late, woke too early and ate more delicious Italian food than I care to remember.

But it was all necessary. It was a recovery. These visits recalibrate me. I love the time at home not only because of who is there and the memories tied to the places but also because it reminds me of how much I love being where I am now with the people in my life.    This tether gives me the confidence to be where and who I am while knowing that when things get a bit strange, I can come back to center and regroup.

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Catching up.

You know when you run into a friend that you haven’t seen in a while and they ask, “So, what’s new?”

And you reply, “oh, not much.”

But in reality, a lot is new. Too much time has gone by and too many things have happened to even fit into a conversation. It’s easier to glaze over the details because, really, where do you even start?

If I thought Disney was a time-warp, I was not prepared for adjusting to life back in the real world. An entire week has gone by and I’m just now getting around to unpacking our bags. Yea, that’s a little embarrassing.

And a lot has happened. So much, in fact, that every time I sit down to blog I end up on Buzzfeed instead because ohymgosh I’m tired of typing and thinking and forming coherent sentence.

So.

I’m still putting together our vacation recap but, dang, there was a lot crammed in those 5 days. But I’ll get it up, soon enough.

Until then, here’s life in brief:

Children.

Tomorrow is Em’s last day of preschool. I may cry. Not just because my child is growing but also because I’ve become accustomed to having two mornings each week with just one child. Which is almost the same as alone.

Remember how concerned I was about where Em will be going to school next year? While we were on vacation, I made a call to the school where Emery was #20 on the wait-list to see there was any movement. By some act of mercy or miracle, a spot had opened up for her. Hallelujah! I can’t wrap my mind around how she got in with 20 kids ahead of her but I not questioning it and accepting this blessing. We’ll more than likely have to do this dance again next year for Kindergarten but for now, I am grateful.

When we were at Disney, the girls shared a bed and slept fairly well. Now Emery wakes up ridiculously early every morning and comes into my bed because she says she’s lonely. This wouldn’t be an issue except the girl fidgets. This morning (at 6 a.m.), she told me she wants to share a room with her little sister.

We took a ride on that crazy train last year and it was a disaster. It resulted in mattresses being moved at 2 a.m. and lots and lots of tears by everyone.  But the girls are older now. I’m still hung up on the logistics of nap time but the idea of having a spare room/office is tempting…

Birthday.

I celebrated the big 2-8 last Monday and have solidly rounded the corner to almost 30. And it feels pretty good. This is the first birthday in recent years that I’ve felt content with another year passing. I usually spend my birthday a little panicky and feeling like there isn’t much to show for the year gone. I don’t really know why this year is different. But I’m glad. For the first time, I don’t feel like I’m still 19 and pretending to be a grown up. I suppose I’ve become more comfortable in my skin, my friendships, my marriage. I know what I like, what I believe and that it’s okay to change my mind on both.

Josh did a wonderful job of making the day special. We started with a trip to Fleet Feet where I picked up a pair of Newton running shoes that were seriously on sale. I tried them on in Orlando and couldn’t wait to get my feet in a pair of my own. My Nike Free Runs have been giving me some pain recently so it was time to switch it up. My legs and feet love, love these shoes so I look forward to many miles being logged (once this crazy peroneal tendonitis clears up – more on that in a moment.)

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– We had a late breakfast at The 5 Spot which was pretty tasty. Apparently they are changing up their menu but I hope, hope, hope they keep the biscuits and gravy. Oh, yum.

birthdayBurn, baby, burn. 

While we were in Disney, I though I had sunburn on my right ankle. I’m sure it’s happened before, right? Alas, it was not sunburn. With all of the walking/standing/curb hopping at Disney, my legs and feet were so sore I didn’t notice I strained my ankle at some point. I also failed to notice that my ankle was bruised and clicking. But a slight burning sensation? Noticed that.

It turns out that I developed a mild case of peroneal tendonitis. I paid a visit to a local running store where they were kind enough to show me how to use KT Tape to give my ankle additional support. I don’t really understand the science behind it but I’m just glad it works. Momma’s back in business. I gave it a 2-mile test run tonight and it feels great.

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Alright, I think that’s all of it. Or at least most of it. Or at the very least, the gist of it.

For the school-aged Mommas out there: Do your kids share a room? How was the transition? Do both kids nap?

For the runners: do you/have you run through an injury? 

For everyone: Any good recipes to share? I’ve lost my cooking mojo and need some inspiration to revive it.

Just say no.

This morning, I was at my tri-weekly —

Wait, is that a phrase? Thrice-weekly? I’m there Monday/Wednesday/Friday to have my ever-so-fickle back, neck and shoulders put back where they belong. I think I see my chiropractor more than my husband.

I think this is a new record for getting sidetracked so early in a post. 

Anyway.

This morning, I was at my second home/chiropractor’s office and managed to read five or six sentences from a waiting room magazine while Blair caught up on a back issue of Rolling Stone.

IMG_6064I don’t remember what magazine I was holding, but there was a pull quote from Kathy Ireland (a supermodel, says the all-knowing Google) that said:

“I was 40 before I learned that ‘no’ was a complete sentence.”

Oh my goodness.  YES.

Yes, yes, yes.

I have no idea who this woman or why she is in a magazine but this quote spoke to me.

I realize that she’s probably referring to the point that as women, we’re taught to say yes. Be helpful, be polite, be social, be hospitable. And if we have to say no, then we’re expected to have a darn good reason. And to share that reason for others’ approval.

And that’s spot on.

But then I looked down at my sweet child who was then trying to lick a picture of Jon Hamm’s face (wouldn’t we all like to?) and I said, no.

I took the magazine away. She let out a shriek and tried to grab it from my hands (girl loves some Don Draper) and asked, “why, momma?”

I replied, “because I said ‘no.'”

Never mind that it’s a magazine from a doctor’s waiting room, or that there are germs, or that we don’t lick things, or that we’re in public or any of the other reasons 50 reasons I may say no. They are good reasons but that doesn’t mean they need validated.

I really do try to make most situations learning experiences for the girls. I explain the rational behind my decisions so that they can eventually (hopefully) make their own good decisions. You know, like not like not licking a well-handled magazine or accepting an invitation to a frat party luau.

Other times, ‘no’ or “no.” or “no!” or “I SAID NO!” is a complete sentence and all the explanation needed. I will not go through the science behind communicable diseases to a 2-year-old (or 18-year-old, so be it). As a parent, my children need to respect my rules regardless if they understand or agree.

Oh my gosh, I’ve become my mother.

But it’s true.

“No” has a negative connotation (duh) and is considered mean, stubborn, pessimistic and selfish. And yet every single time I shout “No!” as my child tries to run across a busy parking lot, it comes from a place of love and my intent to keep my children alive long enough to wipe their own noses.

So, say no. Mean it and don’t feel bad. Don’t apologize, whether it’s when declining an invitation or stopping your child from melting off their face with a hot glue gun.

just say no