Monday, February 28, 2011

My Mom Roles

Being a mom is always an adventure. Even on the dull days, there is typically drama that abounds. Most moms know they wear many different hats. Here are just a few of mine:
• bread-crust cutter
• notebook signer
• grocery shopper (I actually had this one on the list twice—guess you know what’s important in our house)
• fish, frog and dog feeder
• pillow fluffer and bed straightener
• shhh-er (even made one of the girls cry last night by doing this one)
• the one who always knows where the band-aids are
• night-light bulb finder (or new night light buyer if we can’t find more bulbs)
• personal shopper and daily clothes picker-outer (I envy those of you whose kids pick out their clothes—I’d even be okay if mine looked like Rainbow Brite, as long as they did it themselves)
• dish washer
• laundry folder (although I will admit, this one I’m always 2-3 days behind on)
• sock matcher (yes, this could be included in laundry folder, but I think it deserves it’s own bullet point—if you’ve had to ever pair up socks of 2 girls who are only 2 shoes sizes apart, you’ll understand why)
• frozen waffle cooker (yeah, I know “cooker” is a stretch, but someone has to put them in the toaster, butter them and pour the syrup)
• chauffeur (even though they don’t treat my car like they would a limo)
• orange peeler, apple cutter, and banana peel starter
• apple juice maker
• reading buddy
• birthday party planner
• doctor, dentist and dermatologist appointment maker
• bad dream sleeping partner
• soccer schedule knower
• pony tail maker
• hair straightener
• hair curler

And those are just my daily tasks. I’m sure I left something off. What about you? What would you add to the list?

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Birthdays are a big deal to me. They always have been. Most people have their traditions and we are not exceptions. The birthday girl wakes up to her door decorated with streamers and cheesy signs like, “A 9 year old lives here.” Then, we have cake for breakfast followed by presents. The cake is one I bake—the birthday girl picks out which kind she wants, helps bake it and licks the beater. We typically do it the night before and I take it out of the oven and decorate it after she is in bed (that way, she’s somewhat surprised by it in the morning). Nothing unique or awesome—just some basics.

There are other things I’ve had to give up. I used to make the girls’ birthday party invitations. I spent way more money than it would have cost to buy them and spent lots of time shopping for just the right look. This year, Caroline’s friends got and e-Vite and poor Hope’s either got an email or phone call. This is one of those things I grieve—I loved doing them, but not because my girls wanted it—they could honestly care less how their friends get invited, as long as they come. I did it because I love creating something unique and because it filled a need in me that said I was a good mom because I put the time and effort into them.

We have simplified birthdays at the Royal house the past few years. Part of me is relieved, the other part is just sad. I love the planning that goes into figuring out what kind of party bags to send home from Caroline’s Orange party (one of my faves—you’d be amazed at home many orange things I found to put in there) or Hope’s polka dot Pump It Up party. While I love having a party elsewhere, finances have dictated we do them at home. And, judging from how the guests have reacted, they’ve been just as much fun. But, a lot of work.

So, is the work worth it? I truly don’t know and I guess I won’t until my girls are grown and they talk about how fun or how horrible that one birthday was. I wish it were clear cut and as a mom, I just knew what activities would pay the best dividends in the end—then I would know where to invest my time. Would they rather have really cool invitations and themed parties, but have a mom who doesn’t have a lot of patience with their friends or would they rather just go jump in a bunch of bounce houses and come out sweaty?

But, part of being a mom means you do things you later regret. Maybe that’s just part of being a person, but when you’re a mom, the things you regret almost always affect the people you love the most.

I think I need a pay raise…

Getting Gas in Downtown Dallas

Last week, I had to drive downtown and was running late, so I didn't get gas at the QT by my house where I usually do. I thought I would be fine getting there and just find something on the way home.

Well, I made it down there, but the gas light came on when I exited the highway. I had about 30 minutes to kill (driving downtown for an 8:15am appt means you either leave really early or sit in traffic and walk in late to your appt.). So, I started driving down Gaston, looking for a gas station.

I pulled into one where a police car was sitting—I figured it was a safe one—got out and pumped my gas. It’s funny how easy it is for me to drive by the people on the street and not give them a second glance, but when you’re staring across the gas pump from them, you have to acknowledge their presence.

The sweet-looking older man put $10 worth of gas in his car, and drove off. As I sat in my car to wait until my tank was full, I was struck by how blessed I was to be able to fill up my whole tank. Sounds simple, but I remember times where I had to only put $5 or $10 in because I didn’t have the extra money to fill it completely.

I usually think I have a pretty good grip on thankfulness. But watching that man drive away, I realized I don’t. I take for granted that I am going to have 3 meals a day (and probably a few snacks in between). I assume I will come home to hot water and lights to be able to watch TV by because my electric bill is paid. I know that, while it means we have to cut the budget somewhere else, if my girls’ shoes fall apart, we can get them some new ones.

I really don’t want to be that person who just assumes I will have what I need. I want to be constantly grateful.

Lord, may I always SEE the goodness You have given me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Butt Ache

Caroline woke up today, for the 2nd time in the last week complaining about a "butt ache." I, being the smart-alec, had to let her know that I had never heard of a butt-ache, but I often had a pain in my butt. My humor was lost on her--she just limped out of bed and into the kitchen for breakfast.

Sometimes, being a mom means you're okay with sharing an inside joke with only yourself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baha Anniversary

Last year at this time, I was preparing to undergo surgery to get a BAHA. For those of you who have been under a rock and haven't heard me talk about my hearing loss, you can look back in my older posts, esp. One Week to get the scoop. (Do you like how I refer to “those of you”—as if I have a huge following and more than three of you are reading this?)

Anyway, I had my 1 year check-up a week early. This appointment was so very different from the one I had this time last year. First of all, going to the ear doctor is actually kind of fun for me now, since I know that I have options and am not going to be deaf. Secondly, it’s the only place I go where I am decades younger than everyone there (plus it’s fun to have the little ladies look at me—I can just see the questions forming in their head and am hoping one day, one of them will just come out and ask me what the heck I’m doing there).

Back to the appointment…it was a quick one—no tests this time—just Dr. Fred looking in my ears and asking me some questions and then I left. The most exciting thing about the morning was getting gas in downtown Dallas (which I’ll probably blog about later).

Almost a let-down. I mean, a year ago, I thought going deaf was an idea that I had to get used to. Then, almost overnight, I found out that I would be able to hear again. I thought it would completely change my life. I expected to cry at the sound of bird singing and get warm fuzzies when I heard my girls’ laughter. I know it’s cheesy, but that’s where my mind went as I thought about having a surgery that would enable me to hear again out of both ears.

It’s not that I’m ungrateful or take for granted the restoration of my hearing. Honestly, every morning, as I put on my BAHA, I think about how fortunate I am and thank God. But I haven’t had any break-through moments because of it. It has made a difference, but it is more subtle than I thought it would be. I’m able to talk on the phone easier and am not always asking “What?” when people talk to me.

Oftentimes, we fall in love with an idea and build up our expectations. Then, whether our expectations are met or not, we immediately start looking for another project—or something else to look forward to. When I say "we," I really mean "ME." This is what I do.

What I wish I did is to celebrate the daily-ness of what happens to me, and not just be looking for the next big thing. I want to feel that it’s okay to be steadfast and that there isn’t anything wrong with me because I’m not living on the edge. Does that even make sense?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I really hope that God is just as happy with me when I am living in my daily-ness of things and not just when I am overwhelmed with His goodness. I say hope because I'm not sure I believe that yet--even though I want to.

I guess the question I have to ask myself every day and every moment is, "Am I wasting this opportunity or living it out the way He is leading me?"

Now, if only the answer was always as clear as the question.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


My family was blessed today. Actually, we were blessed sometime in the past few weeks, but just found out about it this morning. I debated even writing about it because it means I have to tell some other personal stuff (I know—seems like I share A LOT here, huh—what else is sacred, right? I actually DO have some stuff that just seems too private to let the world know about).

The past few months have been more challenging financially for us than they have been in a long time. We both work hard, but neither of our career choices has given us the ability yet to make a lot of money. I work for a church where I am blessed, but still make a substantial amount less than the last job I had. Brian works for himself and he has had some setbacks that I won’t go into detail about here, but they have caused us to question whether or not we are doing what we should be doing right now.

Last week, we made the decision to get rid of our iPhones and to drop Hope from soccer. Both were hard. First of all, let me address the iPhone. I feel very materialistic for grieving the loss of it—esp. since it is a luxury. I can justify it by telling you how few luxuries I allow, myself and all the other things you hear defensive people say. Fact is, even if another phone is only $20 cheaper a month, its $20 more to add into our budget.

Then there’s Hope’s soccer. Caroline decided she wanted a break from dance last fall and we have not pursued anything else with her yet, partly due to finances, partly due to just being busy all the time and my unwillingness to take on another thing at this moment. But, Hope loves soccer. She will never play professionally, but she loves being on the field and she is surrounded by girls who appreciate her leadership gifts and love her. It has been instrumental in building her self-confidence this past year. Not to mention that we adore her coach. I was heartbroken at the thought of telling Hope about our decision and told Brian he had to do it (see what teamwork we have in our marriage?).

Last Saturday, she played the best game she has ever played. She didn’t score any goals or make any game-saving moves, but she played solidly and consistently and was always in the right place, making the right move. It was bittersweet watching her and seeing how far she has come in the past year, yet knowing she was not going to be able to go any further.

So while we were procrastinating the inevitable, someone chose to bless us. Our coach told us this morning that our spring soccer fees had been paid by an anonymous donor. REALLY? My first thought was that Stan (her coach), in his generosity, was taking the hit himself—not because Hope is an all-star, but because he’s just a good guy. He swore to me that was not the case, and that the league would not tell him who had taken care of it.

Huh. So, once again, God has chosen to give abundantly to my family. We have food, we have shelter, we even have love (most days-ha!)—that’s really all we need. Soccer, while well-loved by my family—is not on the list of things we HAVE to have to survive.

BUT, God chose to bless us anyway, again. In a BIG way.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What to do when your dog wakes you up at 2am and you can't go back to sleep

Yeah, I know it’s a long title, but I’m putting it out there in hopes that someone else has some great ideas. It’s now 3:30am and I’ve given up trying to lay in my bed and sleep—even though I’m not going to be a happy camper when 5am rolls around and I have no choice but to get moving on my day.
So here’s what I do when I’m up and the rest of the world is enjoying their pillow:
• Read a work email and question the way I handled a situation. Worry over it for a half an hour, weighing all the pros and cons
• Send said email on to someone else to see if they would have done it differently and hoping for words of wisdom
• Go to the bathroom
• Peruse facebook to see if anyone has posted anything fun since 11pm when I last looked
• Curse the dog, again for waking me in the first place (guess I forgot to put the first curse at the top of this list)
• Discover a great blog and read the last few months worth of posts
• Leave the blogger a message, telling them how great they are
• Add the blog to my list that I follow
• Worry that the blogger will now think I’m stalking them
• Go to the bathroom
• Worry about the dang email situation again
• Try to figure a way to drive in the HOV lane downtown this morning so that I don’t have to leave at 6:30am and sit in traffic for over an hour
• Think about what bills need to be paid today
• Wonder if there is something wrong with me because my leg often goes to sleep and feels like the circulation is cut off (and then start thinking about when it first happened and why I didn’t tell the doctor about it at my last physical, and should I even worry about it or just chalk it up to getting old)
• Curse my hubby because he went right back to sleep after being woken up by the dog
• Go through my blog post ideas and realize I still don’t have inspiration on any of them
• Get up and turn on the computer instead of doing everything on my phone
• Decide to start a blog about not sleeping
• Start wondering, once again, if I should just journal instead of blog
• Think about my ear appointment in a few hours (started to say “in the morning,” but IT IS MORNING!)
• Wonder what I will do if my ear doctor retires
• Continue blogging—even though I know this is technically too long and I’ve lost anyone who was reading up to this point
• Worry about whether I’m blogging to get approval from others or a need to satisfy something inside me—in which case, should I even care if I’ve already lost my audience—or am I the only audience that matters (and if so, why don’t I just journal)
• Think about going to the bathroom again
• Wonder if I REALLY need to shower before leaving the house today
• Try to decide whether to post this blog.
• Decide to post it so I can have something to laugh about later
• Wonder whether I should link it on facebook
• Wonder if I should worry that I have lots of pageviews but not very many followers—are people out there stalking me and should I be careful what I post in case someone decides to hunt me down?
• Start to feel tired again
• Play a couple of Words With Friends rounds, thankful I’m actually beating someone for a change
• Wonder why I’m so competitive
• Decide this has been long enough and I need to go to try to go to sleep again

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Day After...

Funny thing happened this morning. I was making my family’s lunches. That in and of itself is pretty ordinary (my girls won’t eat at the school very often—can’t say I blame them when I see the delectable stuff the cafeteria serves). Anyway, I made their lunches pretty much the same way I always do: Brian gets a sandwich and chips and fruit—have to put ice packs in his to keep it cold. Hope gets a peanut butter only sandwich (my kids have a strange aversion to jelly, although they like everything else that is sweet and sugary), with crusts cut off, cut diagonally, chips, fruit, string cheese and Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pie. Caroline’s is the easiest—she gets a lunchable, juice box and a peeled baby orange.

So other than the fact that I pack a totally different lunch for each member of my family, doesn’t sound odd does it? In comparison with most days, it isn’t. BUT, as I was making it, I kept thinking about yesterday. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Yesterday, I did lots of extra things to make their lunches extra-special for Valentines. I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make their sandwiches pretty. I surprised them with some heart-shaped cookies I made after they went to bed the night before. I even cut their napkin in the shape of a heart.

This morning, I loaded up their lunchboxes—without the heart stuff.

For me, it’s so easy to do something once, maybe even twice, but to be consistent is more of a challenge. Jesus called us to love well—not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day. On Valentine’s, it seems easier—maybe because the entire world gets into it, too. It’s in the day-to-day loving that I have to rely on Him to love through me.

I was reminded of a great passage in 1st John this morning:

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God.
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!”
1 John 4:7-12 (the Message)

Happy Day After Valentine’s Day! Love well, my friends!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I'm a nerd. My hubby and oldest daughter are constantly exasperated by the fact that I would rather sit snuggled in a blanket with a book than hiking through the woods. Actually, it doesn’t really bother them anymore since they can keep each other company, but they do still make fun of me.

One of the nerdy things I love to do is put together a large puzzle. There’s just something about a puzzle that makes me happy. I know—I’m really incriminating myself here, but I gotta be honest.

First of all, choosing the puzzle is fun. While the overall picture is important, I study the details to make sure I’m not gonna get stuck with 5 different shades of brown that are the majority of the puzzle. I love finding the ones with vibrant colors—or at least parts of it are vibrant and distinct. Not only do they make the puzzle easier to complete, they give you a place to start grouping pieces together.

Then, I love to separate the outside pieces from the inside and put together the border. There is something reassuring about a solid boundary. You know your limits and it gives you a place to start. The boundary is not a bad thing, but a good thing meant to help guide and direct.

Puzzles can be done alone or with others. While it’s frustrating for a person who just walks up to find a piece you’ve been searching for the past half an hour, it’s also fun to see another part of the picture complete. It's also very refreshing to be able to work in solitude and not feel like you have to invite anyone else to join you.

But what I love most about doing a puzzle is that it has a clear beginning and end. That and the fact that you can visually see your progress along the way—there’s no guesswork. So many times in life, we have projects that do not ever seem to end and it’s often hard to see what you have left to accomplish. Or, due to the size of the overall project, it’s easy to forget what has already been accomplished and get overwhelmed at the scope of what is left to do. With a puzzle, it’s very clear what you’ve been able to accomplish and what is left to tackle—often, you even have a clear picture of what the individual pieces look like based on those around it.

So, give me a puzzle any day and I will enjoy every minute of putting it together, as well as breathe a sigh of relief if—I mean, WHEN, I finish it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Joy Sucker vs Joy Booster

A few months ago, my sweet friend Marcelle led our Kids staff team in a great exercise during a devotional time. Now, let me take a time-out here for a minute. Many of you probably think that since I work for a church, we sit around around, reading our Bible and praying all day (picture Kum-bah-ya by the campfire). Well, there is a little of that, but not that often--at least not during work-time. Most days are spent in meetings talking over what went well and how to improve what didn’t go well and how to get the work done to make it happen.

Ok, back to my story...A few months ago, Marcelle was leading our team and she asked us to write down our Joy Suckers (those things that suck the life out of us) and Joy Boosters (those things that fulfill us).
One of my Joy Boosters was margin. Not the profit kind (although that IS good, too). The margin I’m talking about is room to breathe. I like to think I’m efficient. How this plays out in reality is that I schedule every minute of my life and don’t often schedule some down time. Or, because it is scheduled downtime, it doesn’t feel like true rest. What I’m finding is that when I have spontaneous downtime—allowing margin in my schedule—I am a much nicer person to be around AND I have time to dream, create and write—without it adding stress to my life.

So, what are your Joy Boosters? I really would love to hear—even if it’s getting out of the house without your children after being cooped up with them during the ice week of 2011 (believe me, I was a stay at home mom for a while--I do understand the "fun" having little ones brings). What will you do to nourish the things that bring you joy?

For me, its being okay with the fact that I may never have a huge following on my blog (I am up to a whopping 12 people now) since I’m not consistent and don’t have a lot of really important things to say. (Face it, hearing about my girls' house shoe drama is not gonna change anyone's life.) I tried at one point to post on a consistent day, or to write my posts and have blogger post them on a consistent day, but it made my ramblings mechanical for me and not a creative outlet. So I stopped. Writing is a Joy Booster for me and I don’t want to ever lose the excitement and fulfillment it brings me.

Ok—back to you (I’ll shut up now, I promise). What brings you joy? Seriously.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Living in the Moment

"We are fortunate, all this time we have been given. We must use it well." --from the movie Beyond the Gates

We all have different views and different thoughts on what it means to live in the moment. This week has been a great reminder of what that looks like in my life.

We have been snowed/iced in for 4 days now and I couldn't be happier. I was fortunate enough to go to the store on Monday (not because of the impending weather, but because our pantry was B-A-R-E). Brian has made quick trips every other day for us to replenish firewood, buy bread, get baking ingredients and get out of the house for his own sanity. I could sit in front of the fireplace for another week and still be content.

I admit, this week has been easier for me than for many others. First of all, I am a homebody, so being cooped up in my house, with work and school closed, has been a slice of heaven. As long as I have access to facebook, I could go weeks without seeing anyone. Secondly, my girls are old enough to entertain themselves and even me at times. If this would have happened when they were little, there would have been many tears--mostly mine. Unlike most regular days, they actually got along great this week--we only had a few minor squirmishes and for the most part, they treated each other kindly (which is reason in itself to celebrate).

Here are some things I learned this week:
...Making snow ice cream rocks (even if it's not as good as BlueBell)
...Doing a big puzzle is therapeutic for the soul--it has a start and an end (unlike most things in life which are ongoing projects)
...Caroline always wins at "Sorry" (she thinks it because the yellow is the luckiest)
...Spending 30 minutes to bundle up is worth it (even if you only play in the snow for 5 minutes and have a bunch of dirty, wet clothes afterward)
...Hot dogs always taste better when roasted in the fireplace (esp. when your hubby roasts yours while you watch What Not to Wear on TV)
...When your kids get bored, send them to the store with your hubby to spend their Christmas money (they'll be occupied for the next day and a half with their new stuff)
...You can go several days without taking a shower and as long as you aren't going out in public nobody will notice (except your family, but they stink just as much, so they won't complain)
...Staying up until 3am to watch the snow fall is soooo worth it (and waking up your girls to see it makes it better--even if they don't fully appreciate it)
...A good fire in the fireplace can warm up an entire house (but when it goes out at night, it can get down to the low 50's)
...Even if gumbo is not your favorite food, try it (it will make your hubby happy and may surprise you at how good it is)
...If your kids want to walk 2 miles in the snow to the store, do it (just take an extra scarf and hand warmers for when they take yours--and be prepared to pull the wagon 3/4 of the time)
...When your 9 year old can't sleep, and she doesn't have school the next day, let her stay up and watch tv with you (esp if she enjoys all the Alaska shows on that your hubby flips between)

So, all in all, I will be sad to go back to reality. I would like to stay in my cocoon for a little while longer, but, if I did that, I would not be seizing the next moment that I've been given. I would be living in the past and missing out on the here and now. So, I will happily go to a friends for dinner tomorrow and jump in to work on Sunday morning.

BUT, there is more snow in the forecast for next week... :)