Thursday, March 12, 2015

Holding Hands

As a mother, I know that my children sometimes learn from what I say but most of the time from what I do.  They will learn how to handle situations by how they have seen me handle them.  And as the years go by, I have realized that I am actually still learning from my own mother.  I believe the learning truly never ends.

I watched my mom walk into the nursing home that day without hesitation.  She had been there several times before to visit our dear friend, Shirley.  I traveled with her on Sunday because I knew it would probably be my last chance to say hello.

And also goodbye.

Shirley had suffered a stroke, so she could not really speak.  She could open her eyes slowly and could make sounds that were sometimes understandable if we knew how to listen. My mom sat beside her in a blue rocker and pulled it up close to the bed.  She reached over and held Shirley's hand, and I watched as Shirley squeezed it gently.

"Hi, Shirley.  It's Susan.  I have Christina with me today!  She wanted to say hello."

In a way I can only describe as what a deaf person sounds like when trying to speak - but actually much worse - Shirley slowly muttered, "Hi, Christina."  That moment was very special to me.  I believe she was heavily medicated, as a hospice patient often is, so she did not stay awake for much of our visit.  I truly didn't mind.  I just wanted to sit beside her.  I know she knew we were both there.

And I watched my mom do all of this with ease.  It was not uncomfortable for her.  She kept holding her hand.  She brought her iPhone which had a few songs that Shirley liked, so my mom would play them for her.  "I think you will like this one, Shirley.  It's a newer one by Michael W. Smith."  She kept it on repeat.  It was beautiful.  I remember thinking it sounded like going to heaven.

Shirley went to be with Jesus on Tuesday.

I pray that I can be just like my mom when I need to be.  I find those kinds of visits to be difficult, but once I was there, I was so glad I was right beside her.  I didn't have to say anything.  I just needed to be there.

Mom - you are always so good at just being there.  You are a blessing to me and so many.  Thank you for being you.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The (un)Perfect Child

Recently, it seems that I have seen a flood of posts about kids and parenting.  Specifically, if your kid does something horrible - if they are bratty or have the nerve to call another child a name - you must be an awful parent.  You must be aloof and not ever go over how to treat others and you must be just a jerk to others yourself.  I mean, where else would they pick up that kind of behavior?

 Now I understand the sentiment of such posts.  As parents, we are to guide our kiddos to be the best little people they can be.  We should teach them manners and kindness to others.  We should demonstrate this in our own lives, and we should be always on top of this so that our child would never be THAT child who does something uncouth.

After all, who can argue with Proverbs 22:6?  "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

There you go. Plain and simple.  We are to train.  So that must mean it's our fault!

Except...I don't see it that way.  Not at all.

If you look at that verse, it says, "...and when he is OLD, he will not depart from it."


Do we all realize that our children are in constant training?  It doesn't say, "And if you train them, they will be perfectly behaved at age 7."  Nope.  That's not it.  Unfortunately, our natural tendencies as children can sometimes be unkind.  I don't understand it, I wish that wasn't the case, but it is. 

Adults can have these tendencies as well.

I think my kids are great.  I love watching them play together, and I especially love seeing them play with other kids to see how they interact.  Sometimes I will drive by the playground when I know Sarah (my 1st grader) is out there (when I am running early for Gabriel's preschool drop off).  I would love to think my child would NEVER call another child a name.  I go over this with them constantly.  Every morning before Caleb (3rd grade) and Sarah leave for school, I say, "Have a great day, and be kind to others!"  I feel that my husband and I demonstrate this to them.  We do not talk about people unkindly in general, but especially not in front of our kids. could happen.  They could say something to another child that could be hurtful or unkind.  And if it does happen, I honestly hope that the parent of that child comes to me with respect and kindness and we could work together to fix it.

I suppose I say all of this because I don't believe it's always the parents' fault if a child does something horrible.  We do the very best we can, and sometimes our kids are going to mess up.  They will let us down.  But we still love them and keep working to train them.  Our children are a work in progress.

Keep fighting the good fight.  And be mindful that other parents are doing the same.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The (Unofficial) End of Summer (Almost)

Hello, July 31st.

I am a little sad to see you.

This summer has been good to me and my family, and the fact that I see you on the calendar means August is tomorrow.

And tomorrow means 5 days until my husbands goes back for teacher meetings.

And tomorrow means two weeks until my kids have to go back to school.

So I guess you could say, that while summer's end is still officially over a month and a half away, you make me realize that summer is basically over for our little family.

I do love the fall, and I do love everything that comes with the change of the seasons, whether the official change or the school-year change.

But I willl miss summer this time.  Probably the first time in a long time.

Because of moments like this...

And I'm glad I have this guy to share those moments with...

July's nothing personal.  I just wish you didn't arrive so quickly this year. 

Take your time next year, ok?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Bridesmaid Dress

This is a really flattering dress in a really flattering pose...and I'll take it.

It's been two steps forward, one step back on my journey to look nice for my sister's wedding. 

I have lost 22 pounds.  When I was measured on Wednesday, it was the first time in I-don't-know-how-long that there was a distinct difference between my bust, waist, hips.  For years I was VERY square.  My measurements were literally all the same.  Now my waist is 5 inches smaller than my bust and hips.  I almost cried (happy tears).

I still have more to lose to reach my goal.  I am happy with how I look in that picture, don't get me wrong.  I feel pretty and am ok with admitting that. :) I do have work to do on my arms as they do not look like they do in the picture when I'm holding them down as to carry a bouquet!

I do love that picture and that dress...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Keeping Kids Rooms Clean

Have you ever gone through your facebook picture albums and had fun looking at a bunch of old pictures?  I did that this morning.  I'm not sure why, I just had a whim!  But one of them made me cringe- it was a picture of what the play room used to look like.  I took it as a "before" picture because I was about to tackle the mess and make it better.

Yes.  That was what it looked like all. the. time.

I hated it.

I would summon the determination to put everything in its place, only for it to look like this all over again a few weeks later.  Usually, I would just keep the door closed.

No, I was not good at making them pick up each time OBVIOUSLY.

But then came time for us to rearrange and get ready for another baby.  When I knew we would have two boys and two girls, I realized that the rooms would have to be for both sleep and play.  So I came up with a revolutionary plan to help keep the kids rooms clean.

It's amazing.


You will want to do this.

I can't believe I'm sharing this secret.

Here goes.


That sounds harsh, right?  But I am not kidding.  Over the course of the last year or so, we have donated or sold on a yard sale TONS of kids toys.

I am not horrible...I promise.  Caleb helped me with the boy stuff, and it didn't even bother him.  We have  kept the few things he and Gabriel actually play with, and that is Legos and some Imaginext castles (and the good guys/bad guys that go with it).  Same for Sarah.  We have a doll house for her Barbies, several Barbies, a container of My Little Ponies, and some Lalaloopsy dolls.  That's about it.  We have a few baby toys for Leah, too.

The girls' room - former play room.

The boys' room.

The result is less clutter of course, but I also feel like this helps the kids when it comes to cleaning their rooms.  When I say, "Go pick up!" they know exactly where everything goes, and it doesn't take much time at all.

I know I have friends who are amazing at organizing their kids' toys and can have all the stuff we used to have.  If they can keep their rooms looking nice with tons of stuff, that's great!  I just couldn't, and my kids couldn't.  And frankly, we don't have the room for it.

A friend of mine sent me a text with this picture...

She was reorganizing the kids' toys.

I said she should get rid of it. :)

My current challenge is trying to figure out how to stay free of stuff.  How do you keep a happy balance of allowing gifts for your kids at birthdays and Christmas while not becoming OVERWHELMED with STUFF?

So difficult.

If each of my four children received only ONE gift from each of the  five primary gift givers - that is Parents, Mama & Papa A, Mama & Papa V, Uncle Stevie & Aunt Rebecca, Uncle Chris & Aunt Sonja - for their birthdays...and then only ONE gift from each of those for Christmas...that is  5x4 two times.  That's 40 new things each year in our house.  And Lord knows...ONE gift doesn't happen. 

What do you do when it comes to the toys that accumulate?

How do you/how can I change the amount that comes in, or should we just let it all come in and then donate it away??? 

And how can I write about this without seeming ungrateful for the nice gifts  my children receive?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Real Me. Really.


Have you heard this term?

If not, let me help.  It's sort of self-explanatory, right?  You basically put a bunch of awesome, happy pictures online coupled with awesome, happy status updates.

I've read two (maybe three?) blogs/articles about this recently.  Some funny.  Some down right serious.  And they are basically calling out those who just go through life putting up a fake front...via facebook anyway.

I totally get what they are saying...really, I do.

But here is my problem with this concept.  Who on earth thinks to take a picture (or wants to?) of what they look like first thing in the morning?  Or who thinks to take a picture (or wants to?) of their child throwing a fit or being defiant or puking at 3:00 am?  No pictures?  How about a status update about the time I almost died when my daughter said someone was ugly.  That's not how I've raised her.  Why would she think that?  Or say it?  Why should I go to facebook and type, "My daughter really disappointed me today when she said a woman we know is ugly."


I'm not going to do that.

Having a rough day?  Yeah, I have those.  Lots of them.  I have four kids for God's sake.  And I'm's not always blissful.  And I have family and friends who can, at times, let me down.  I'm sure I let them down, too.  But do people want me to update my status every time I have a fight with my husband?  Or yell at my kids when I should keep my cool?

Is there a balance when it comes to keeping it real?  I'm sure there is.  I mean...I guess there is.  I'm not sure I've found it, though.  I honestly don't think people want to  hear my problems.  They don't want to always know when I've been up all night with one...or two kids.  When I was on the couch all night with a fussy baby only to get up at 5:30 so I could go work out...because I desperately want to lose weight, and sometimes that doesn't always go well.  They don't want to know when the dog puked on the carpet right as I'm trying to leave to take a child to preschool.  I don't think they want to know when I question if I'm being a good mom...or a good wife...or a good friend.

Really.  Truly.  I think people are ok with this...

The Chrissy who pulls herself together each day to tackle the world.  Or maybe not the world.  Maybe it's just tackling what the day will bring in her own little world.  The Chrissy who wakes up each day with the attitude of, "This is another day He's given me.  I will rejoice and be glad in it."  Through all the crap...through all the joy...ALL of it is ok.  Really, it is.  Am I thrilled when something bad happens?  No, of course not.  But keeping it real might have different meanings to different people.

"My life on Facebook is an airbrushed and Instagrammed image of my real life. I edit the suckage because I want people to think I have my [stuff] together. I give everything a hipstacular filter to make the drudgery look interesting. Most of the time, I think I’m a decent mom, and I think I’m giving my kids a pretty good life. But I also think I’d be a better mom if I stopped pretending, and making friends on Facebook feel like they have to pretend as well." -Sarah Emily Tuttle-Singer

The thing is...I am not pretending.  I do not, for one second, expect others to pretend.  And I don't think they are.  What you see on facebook is the real me.  It really is.  And if you think it's not real because I don't share the crap in my day...then I'm not sure what to tell ya! :) 

But I want to know...
Do you think we're all pretending?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Leah Turns ONE

My sweet baby girl turns ONE today.  As I went through pictures to try and put together a sappy post, I actually had a mini meltdown halfway through.  It's just hard to believe it's been a year already.

Leah have made me smile since the first day I met you.  And you make me smile every. single. day.

When we took you to your first Cardinals baseball game, you were a champ.  They won that day.

On your first 4th of July, you slept.  A lot.  Even though it was REALLY hot.

And when we play in the back yard, you smile.

For your first DCI show, I'm sure those sitting around me thought I was crazy for bringing a baby.  But you were good.  Very good.  Just watched like the rest of us.

Your brothers and sister adore you.

We enjoy family trips with you.  This was your first time out at Maramec Spring Park.

And this was your first time at Chuck E. Cheese.

We shared a first together...our first NLDS game.  It was a winner, too.

We stayed up late watching them play on tv.

 You love your daddy.  He loves you, too.

You love to cuddle with Papa.

And I guess I was waiting to have you so I could take this picture at the Zoo...with four kids.

 You just looked so cute on your first Halloween.  Mama was proud.

And I think you look a lot like your Great Grandma (because I look like her, too...and you look like me).

I think you had fun on your first Christmas morning.

And your first snowfall. 

You love this Papa, too.

 And the first time you were sick, you didn't even cry.  You just cuddled with me more.

Did I mention your siblings love you?

And I love to read to you.

You are beautiful and fun.  You seem to always be smiling.  I didn't know what our family dynamic would be like when you came along, but I can genuinely say that you complete us.  You really do.  I can't image what it would be like without your crinkled nose and sweet giggle. 

I'm so glad that God has allowed me to be your mom.

Happy birthday, Leah. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


My kids like tortilla shells right out of the bag.  They probably get that from me.  I used to eat them that way, too.

The other day, Sarah wanted one.  I told her they were in the pantry on the second shelf.

She went into the pantry, grabbed one, and came out saying, "You were right that they were in the pantry, but they were on the third shelf."


From her view, looking at the shelf from the bottom up, she saw it differently than I did when I look at the shelf from the top down.

I've thought of this a bit since it happened.  This seeminly unimportant difference made me think about how we communicate and how perhaps we argue or differ with others on certaing things.

We might be saying the same thing...

Just in a different way...

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Journey (round two...or is it three or four?)

I have been contimplating writing about this again, and each time I sit down and start putting my thoughts together, I change my mind.  So if I actually hit publish, it will be a miracle.

You're reading...that means I hit publish!

Two years ago I wrote an entry entitled Don't Hog Your Journey where I chronicled my changing weight through the years.  I even posted real numbers.  I felt bolder back then for some reason, sharing that at my thinnest and most tone I was 165, and at the time of the entry it says I was 205.

For the record, I've had to start over.  After having another baby since then and having gall bladder surgery, those two things did not give me a kind number on the scale!

With my sister's wedding just over eight months away, I have been pretty diligent with my efforts to lose weight (again).  Since January 1st, I have lost 17.2 pounds.  I'm not going to share my starting number this time, but I might share it later as I post updates.  Those updates will only be after I hit two main goals (which are getting under a certain number - not hard to guess that number I'm sure - and when I reach my ending goal).  Total weight loss goal is 66.8 pounds, so I still have about 50 to go. 

In October, my in-laws had us over, and all of us went outside for a family picture.  Their two sons, daughters-in-law, 5 grandkids, and the two of them were posed for a sweet snapshot.  Everyone said what a great picture it was, when they posted it on facebook, there were some very nice comments.  But when I saw the picture, I couldn't believe it.  It was the first time I finally saw what the last year or so had done to me...or what I had done to myself to be more accurate.  I was not happy.

I know that sounds sort of boo-hoo.  Sorry.

I'm not going to post that picture...but I might post it later as a perfect "before" picture!

It was that day, even before my sister's engagment, that I knew I had to do something.  I had to stop going back and forth with my weight.  I gave myself through the holidays and knew that when January 1st came, I would have to buckle down.

Some may disagree with this approach, but it's what I'm doing.  Some say START TODAY!  I knew it wasn't realistic with all the get-togethers we had coming up...I tried to take it easy on the cookies and pies and turkey, but I did not count calories until January 1st. 

The other side of this is the fact that I'm actually a pro at losing's keeping it off that's hard.  I am loving MyFitnessPal...I just wonder what I'll do after I hit my goal.  No more babies being had.  Hopefully no more surgeries.

No excuses.

I share all of this because I know I'm not the only one who has this battle.  I know that when someone loses weight, everyone wants to know, "WHAT'S YOUR SECRET?"  The truth is, there is no secret.  Sure, there are gimmicks.  There will always be lose-weight-fast techniques or whatever.  But for me, I just knew I needed to suck it up and do the work.  I needed to count calories and go out for walks.

I'm tired of positioning children or items in front of me for pictures...

Christmas 2012

Or cropping pictures for that matter!

My sweet friend, Kassie, is also on this journey.  We are almost side by side when it come to weight loss numbers, so that makes it fun.  I fun as two competitive people can make it. :)

I would like to be halfway to my goal by April and done by August.  I'm not sure how that will work with bridesmaid dress fittings, but we'll do what we can!

Encouragement from friends.
And prayer.
This is my current weight loss plan.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Four Years of Blogging

As I sat down to create a blog entry this morning, for some reason it dawned on me that today is my 4th blogiversary.  Yes, my brain really works that way.  Yes, I really remember the date!

And as I reflect over the years of keeping up with my blog, I know without a doubt that it was a great thing to have started writing and posting. I keep thinking that someday I will get back to writing about my thoughts on issues: parenting, politics, relationships, name it.  My thoughts have even changed on things I've written about in the past.  It's interesting to even see how I've changed over the years.

Right now it's used to watch my family grow.

And we certainly have.