An Open Letter to my Husband upon the tearing of his ACL at 31.

Dear Clint,

I’m so sorry. You made quite the run as an athlete without any major injuries, or at least any that required surgery. Getting old is the worst. It’s going to be rough having to rehab and not being able to do active things.

But I’m more sorry for me.

You see, we have 3 kids (the oldest being 4) and a two-story house. Neither of those things are changing when you get surgery this week. While you are drugged up and watching Netflix I’ll be managing all of them.

Recovery is going to look a bit different than if you had done this before we had children. I probably would have taken some time off work, given you a bell to ring if you needed something, rented movies, cooked for you, and written encouraging notes on post-its all over the house. Instead, you will need to set your own alarms for when you need to take pain meds, I’ll put a case of water and snacks on your nightstand, and I’ll see you around 7:30 pm…best of luck. I didn’t drop being a nursing major solely because of Anatomy and Physiology, I discovered that compassion isn’t exactly my gift set.

Also, if you by any chance have a secret wife I don’t know about, now is the time to come forward with complete amnesty from me because I could really use her help the next couple of weeks.

Next, we need to discuss your athletic endeavors moving forward. This injury took place while playing adult league flag-football. There were a few problems with this: 1. You never played football growing up. 2. We live in Texas where Football is life and everybody that played in HS was bound for the NFL until some coach didn’t see their true potential. 3. You were playing with 20-year olds.

Whoever says 30 is the new 20 is not talking about playing sports. 30 don’t play.

There are lots of ways to get exercise; we are surrounded by running trails, we belong to a gym, and we have 3 small children you can chase. In the future if you could stay in shape by doing things that involve running in a straight line that would be fantastic. You can run races, do triathlons, or even the MS 150! However, if it involves cutting, 20-somethings, or keeping score…the answer is a firm NO. 

We will get through this. But as a small request, if someone asks you what they can do please let them know they can bring dinner, take a child or 2 or 3, or give you a ride to work.

Love Always,

Your Wifeimg_0311

 

 

20 books, 20 outlooks.

One of my goals for 2017 is to read 20 books. Originally, I was just going to read some fiction and some books by Christian authors.

Then the 2016 election cycle happened.

Amidst all of the questions I have, the biggest one I keep coming back to is “How?”

How did we get to a place where so many people are angry, frustrated, and unwilling to listen to differing opinions?

So I’m starting with me. My Dad taught me not to just complain about something, come up with a solution. So here is where I am coming from…

I am white. I am a female. I love Jesus. I have a savings account. I have a master’s degree. I have 2 parents that are still married to each other. I have 3 healthy kids that all call my husband Dad. I can go running in shorts and a t-shirt by myself and I don’t give it a second thought.  I’ve always had the ability to vote, to protest, and to speak freely. I’ve never missed a meal because of financial concerns. I’ve never had another adult hit me.

This isn’t the norm. My experience does not represent the majority.

This is normal to me; in my sheltered, upper middle class, white american life. But I’ve come to find out that most people do not live like this.

I want to know more. I want to look at life through the eyes of people who aren’t like me. I want to understand more. Obviously there are a lot of ways to do this; missions, volunteering, going to places that are outside my comfort zone, talking to strangers at parks, etc. I’m going to do these things. But I want to learn more along the way.

So I’ve changed what I am going to read this year. I am going to read 20 books that each present a different perspective from my own because the only two things that are going to change my life/views/perspective are the books I read and the people I meet. 

I’ve finished reading my first book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. 

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This book is written by J.D. Vance who is 31, a Yale law graduate (against all odds), and grew up in poverty-stricken Appalachia. The stories he tells and the glance into the culture he grew up in is shocking. It’s on all of the best seller lists right now for good reason. I came away from his book with new knowledge on what the word “poor” really means and greater understanding of the problems that people face throughout that region of the country.

I am committed to learning more about people in the world this year. Whether it is about Syrian Refugees, Women in Saudi Arabia, Inner-Cities in the U.S., Mexican Immigrants, Asian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, LGBT people, etc. I want to hear their stories, to get inside their heads…even if it is just for 200 pages.

The next book I’m reading is Jean Sasson’s Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. 

It’s just reading books but I think the more people who start listening and learning about the world around them the better off we will be. We don’t all have to agree, but we need to understand each other.

 

**I still have titles to select but here is what I have so far. Please recommend titles if you have read any that are great!

Poverty in America- Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, White Trash:The 400 year untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg, Losing Ground by Charles Murray

Mexican Immigration- Captivity Beyond Prisons by Martha D. Escobar, Wall and Mirrors by David Gutierrez

African-American- Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America by Charisse Jones, From #Blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation by Kenanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Refugee Crisis- City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence.

Muslim- Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. by Jean Sassoon, Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America by Ranya Idliby.

 

 

 

Running in your lane.

I have friends that do big things.

Like move across the world to help Iraqi refugees big.

Like being on broadway or TV shows big.

Like being the CEO of their own company big.

I LOVE getting to watch their journeys and cheer them on from afar but at times it makes me wonder what I’m doing. Because it doesn’t look big.

When I started staying home with our kids a couple of years ago it was a weird transition. I remember the first time I was filling out a form that asked for my employer’s name and I had nothing to put. I guess I’m employed by small humans that demand snacks and poop in their pants?

I know this is a limited season of life that I’ll be home with young kids. I kind of think of it as a really weird vacation. The most stressful part of my day is getting to preschool on time (not that stressful). I get to workout in the middle of the day at the gym. I take a shower after working out and change back into workout clothes because why would I wear pants that zip in my own home? It’s awesome yet strange all at the same time.

What I’ve come to realize is that this is my big thing right now. It looks way different from other people’s big things, probably because it’s covered in fecal matter and spit up.

We are all running a race and we all have a lane we are running in. Your lane may be climbing the corporate ladder, putting out a record, making the fastest PBJ sandwich ever, or getting partner at the firm.

Find your lane. Know what works in your lane. 

There are things I can’t do in my lane at the moment. There are awesome, great things I have to say “no” to because it’s not my season of life. One thing I have said “no” to is volunteering with my husband’s youth group. We have a million young kids (at least it seems like that) and it’s not the most feasible thing for me to be at every youth event. I like to think of myself as the white whale of the youth group actually. It’s ok and healthy to say “no” to things. If people don’t like your “no” tell them to step off your lane. I am thankful we are in a church that doesn’t try to tell me what should be in my lane and loves our family in the season we are in.

I’ve found my lane. It’s the loving on and playing with our young kids, working out at 10:00am, helping friends out, occasional writing, building community and supporting my husband lane.

I’m going to run like the wind in my lane. I hope you are running the race of your life in yours.

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First child vs. Third Child

When you have your first child you have all the time in the world to focus on them and their needs. Your world revolves around them. When you have your third child things change. You are just making it, nothing is perfect, but you know that they will be just fine regardless. Here are some of the differences from when you have your first child to when you have your third child.

  1. How you tell people your child’s age. First child you do exact months. i.e. “They are 16 months old”. This sometimes goes on until they are 2. Third child is just a rough estimate for their entire life. Their age progression is as follows: newborn, 4-months or so, 6 months I think, almost one, one, oneish, a little over one, one and a ½, almost 2, two.
  2. First birthday party planning. First child has invites sent out a month in advance, family comes in from out-of-town, a new outfit is purchased, cake is homemade or bought from a bakery, and gifts are brought. Third child either has no party at all or has a group text sent out the day before, grocery store cupcakes, champagne for the adults because we are celebrating survival, no new outfit, and no gifts because they have all of their siblings toys and outfits and they don’t know how to open presents anyways.
  3. Going out and about post-baby. First child you go on lockdown for a few weeks or a month because taking a baby in public is terrifying to you. What if they cry, poop, or scream in the car? I went to the grocery store a few weeks post partum with my first and I was on sensory overload from the fluorescent lights and all the people since I’d been a boob hostage in my home for a month. Third child you go out to dinner on your way home from the hospital because you know this is the easiest they are ever going to be in public. They will sleep anywhere, they can’t run away from you, and they can’t tell you their opinion yet.
  4. Getting them dressed. First child you put them in clothes to go to the church nursery or daycare because it is daytime so they should be wearing something other than pajamas obviously. Third child lives most of their life in pajamas because who cares? Unless they are getting pictures taken or it is too hot for pajamas that is what they are in until they start walking.
  5. Feeding them. For your first child starting solids is terrifying. I knew how to feed her milk and now I’m supposed to try something new? No thanks. They can maybe try real food once or twice a week until 10 months, then we will try 3 times a day. Third kid can be eating steak by 10 months because they have been introduced to everything way earlier.
  6. Teeth brushing. First child has a tooth pop out and you start brushing it right away. Third child has 4 teeth and the thought has never crossed your mind to brush them. (The nurse at our one year check asked if we brushed her teeth once a day and I laughed out loud, whoops.)
  7. Tummy time. First child you start this immediately. You follow all of the guidelines and increase their time each week because you are SO excited for them to roll over and be mobile. Third child you don’t want them to move because you know the time between rolling and walking is THE WORST. No tummy time for them because once they can roll over things get nuts. Our third didn’t have tummy time but 5 times in her first 6 months of life. She walked by 1 so I don’t think we set her back too much.
  8. Naps. First child this is sacred time. You never wake them up and you plan your life around this. They take two naps a day for at least a year. Third child takes 80% of their naps in their car seat as they are being dragged from preschool pick-ups to Sunday school. If they are actually sleeping in their crib they will undoubtedly be woken up by having to leave the house or by an older sibling yelling.
  9. Sugar intake. First child has little to no sweets in their diet before they turn one. The smash cake at their first birthday party is a novelty item to them. Third child has been force-fed a skittle by 5 months of age by an older sibling and has had countless bits of cookies and cupcakes at toddler birthday parties.
  10. The TV Mom gets to watch while nursing. First child I watched all of Prison Break while I breastfed because there weren’t little eyes and ears that were aware. Third kid I watched Curious George, baby bum music videos, or Dora the Explorer because the last thing I needed was a 4-year-old having nightmares about T-Bag and Scofield.

If you aren’t the first born in your family this is why you are so resilient. You know the world doesn’t revolve around you and you have what it takes to survive, congrats.

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Third child after getting doused by the hose while nursing.

 

 

 

Blue Apron: When I discovered that I’m an idiot in the kitchen.

Cooking. Some people love this. For me, it’s just something that has to happen if I want to eat. I feel like I can hold my own in the kitchen; I can throw a dinner party or cook a meal for a friend with a new baby confidently. I’m probably not going to light your world on fire but I’m also pretty sure you aren’t going to have to swing by Jack-In-the-Box later.

My mother has taught me a lot of things in life; how to spend time in the word, how to workout like an amazon woman, how to show hospitality, and how to have to good time. Something that I didn’t learn from her, how to cook fancy things. She is more utilitarian in nature as a cook. Simple, not fancy.

As a result, I’ve been completely self-taught as a cook. If google and YouTube didn’t exist my family would be living off of frozen pizza. We also don’t have cable so I have never watched the food network or anything of that nature. This has led to some embarrassing mispronunciations of common ingredients. “Quinoa” for instance is not pronounced phonetically. As a general rule, these are the types of recipes I will attempt.

  1. It needs to have 5 ingredients or less. Any ingredient list that is half a page long…no chance that is happening.
  2. It must have 3 steps or less. I have small children all over the place, I don’t have an hour to cook dinner.
  3. It can only require one google or YouTube search. This is pretty much only for special occasions.
  4. It can not be spicy. I don’t do food that makes me sweat (which my friends will tell you doesn’t take much). The other day I sampled a piece of sushi at the grocery store and it was so hot that I was sweating for 30 minutes aftwards. I almost had to leave the store because of it.

We have a dear friend, Joel, who went to culinary school. He has been having Blue Apron boxes arrive at his house for a while now (Blue apron gives you a recipe and all of the ingredients you need for that recipe already measured out). He could send a few people a free week worth of recipes/meals and he picked me. Great, right? I figured I could use some new recipes and get outside my comfort zone in the kitchen.

Last Friday our blue apron box arrived. I looked at the recipes and was immediately intimidated, probably because I didn’t recognize half of the ingredients or the names of the dishes. I texted our supper club group text (Joel included) about how intimidated I was by these recipes and ingredients. His response, “What?! They’re really easy to follow. You got this!” Easy to say for someone who goes by “Chef.”

Saturday night I decided to tackle my first meal, Sautéed Beef and Potato Latkes. Turns out that Latke=fancy word for pancake. This meal had a ridiculous amount of steps and way too much hot oil. I singed my eyelashes because if you add cold water to hot oil it pops…a lot (you’re welcome). My husband was in charge of grating an onion and he cried for 10 minutes afterwards. The meal was delicious, however quite painful and it took way longer than originally estimated.

I attempted another meal yesterday, this time while I was solo and all 3 children were awake. I learned quite a few things during this cooking adventure.

  1. I had no idea what a scallion was. I’ve been calling that a green onion all these years.
  2. I learned what kale looks like. I love the kale salad bags from the grocery store but if you would have given me a quiz about which ingredients were which I would have failed miserably. I was pretty sure that kale was the long and clear stringy things in the salad bag.
  3. My children will steal and eat an entire bag of cheetos puffs if I am distracted by foreign vegetables in the kitchen.

Needless to say, I think I’m going to stick to my 5 ingredient meals and keeping my eyelashes in tact. If you want a free week of blue apron, let me know. Hopefully you don’t discover all of your deficiencies in the kitchen like I did.

What your child’s teacher really wants for Christmas…and what they don’t want.

 

Christmas. The season of glitter, parties, too many cookies, warm adult beverages, and gifts for every person in your life from your garbage man to your spouse. If you have a child in school you probably have started thinking about what you are going to get for their teacher.

I used to teach high school English. As a high school teacher you maybe receive 5 or so gifts because parents have stopped giving teacher gifts a LONG time ago. Let’s be real, a high schooler also has 7 different teachers so that is a lot of gifts to get. Elementary teachers on the other hand get inundated with lots of….”things” at Christmas because there is one teacher to shop for and parents don’t see elementary teachers as soul-sucking dream-crushers generally. Here is my list of things your child’s teacher would and wouldn’t like from students and parents at Christmastime that they are too afraid to ask for.

  1. A nice e-mail or a note. If your child enjoys their class in any way shape or form, share that with them. Do you have any idea how many nasty/crazy e-mails your child’s teacher receives? Too many (I’d say 1 of these is too many). This gift is FREE, takes very little time, and goes a long way.
  2. The benefit of the doubt. Before you leave a public servant a 4-minute long voicemail the day of the final exam listing the reasons as to why they are a kid-hating, dream crusher because your child that has obviously never done something wrong has a 65 since their grade book is filled with zeroes; take a step back and don’t pick up the phone. I have a secret for you. Teachers aren’t out to get you or your child, that is completely in your mind. If they really wanted to crush dreams they would have become an insurance claims agent, a cheerleading tryout judge, a dentist, or an IRS auditor. This gift, also FREE.
  3. Gift cards. Do they look exhausted when you see them? Starbucks. Seem stressed out and you are positive they aren’t a Mormon? Spec’s. Crafty? Hobby Lobby. Do they eat food? Restaurant gift cards. Human being with a pulse? Target or Amazon.
  4. Baked goods…if they are worth the calories. You get a lot of cookies and baked goods thrown your way this time of year. If you are going to commit to being a baker of gifts you better bring your “A” game and stand out amongst the crowd. Dry banana bread? Not worth the calories. Homemade chocolate toffee? Worth it, every time.
  5. Not a mug. As much as you may want to get mugs and fill them with candy, just stick to #1-4. If you want to give someone candy then put it in something disposable so they don’t feel guilty throwing it away. I know you may feel the need to dress up said gift with a cute christmas mug…please stop. You know how many mugs someone can use at once? One. You know how many Christmas mugs someone needs in their life? 5, tops.
  6. Not bath goods. I don’t understand this gift to be completely honest. Do you look at someone and think, “They seem dirty or smelly and they are a teacher so they probably can’t afford soap so I’m going to buy it for them?” If you think they need soap that bad just get them a Target gift card. Not everyone wants to smell like vanilla or sun-ripened raspberry.
  7. Not a candle. This gift says “I have no idea what to get you because I don’t know you at all so I am going to get you a $1 candle so you can have a small, poorly-scented fire in your house.” You don’t know what smells I like. Just do #1 and #2 because those are FREE.
  8. Not knickknacks. Have you ever thought to yourself, I need more clutter in my life? No? Your child’s teacher hasn’t either. Don’t give them things you wouldn’t actually use or enjoy yourself. So this should take random ornaments, decorative jars, Christmas socks, and Christmas dish-towels off your shopping list.

Happy shopping or note-writing! Remember, it’s the thought that counts until someone has 20 Santa mugs filled with bath beads on their desk.

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Not this. Never this.

Getting in toddler shape.

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The holidays are upon us and this means lots of Grandparents are going to spend time with their precious grandkids…and get completed dominated by it in the process.

It’s because they aren’t in toddler shape. 

Nature eases you into this as a parent. At the beginning you start out with a baby that can’t move. This is what I like to refer to as easy street. They can’t run away, roll over, crawl, anything! The only way they make it from one place to the next is by someone else physically moving them. Grandparents, childless Aunts/Uncles, and childless friends are ALL ABOUT this stage. It’s because the baby will sleep in your arms so you get to snuggle AND relax on the couch all in the name of service to a new parent. Win-Win.

But then things get complicated. They start moving. So you have to move with them. This is fine for about an hour or so but by the end of a 4-day visit you need a massage, a professional cleaning service for your home, another week off of work to sleep, and 24 hours of silence.

If you find yourself completely exhausted by the end of a visit with your Grandkids or nieces and nephews I have some tips to help you get into toddler shape before they hit your house next week.

  1. Buy the alphabet magnets for your refrigerator. This way your sweet Grandkids can spell out “I love Grandma” on the Fridge for you to see everyday. Now, knock them off the fridge. 10 times a day. At the most inopportune time. By picking these up over and over again you will be conditioning your body to bend over multiple times and giving those patience muscles a good workout.
  2. Start doing things with one hand. Make dinner, coffee, put your shoes on, go to the bathroom, anything! Make a game out of it and if you are feeling real crazy you can try it with your non-dominant hand. This way when little Sally wants you to hold her while you are brining a turkey you got that on lockdown.
  3. Have a peaceful, long conversation with another adult. Now, set a timer for every 34 seconds and interrupt this conversation to answer a question or listen to a comment that CANNOT be ignored.You will also need to brush up on your spellings of any words you do not want any young children to understand: B-E-D, N-A-P, C-O-O-K-I-E. This is how you will be communicating for the next few days while you have little people in the house. Spelling and incoherent conversations. This is why parents have to text eachother instead.
  4. Get a box of blocks. Next, clean your house for your impending company. Then, have your spouse or a friend “surprise” you by emptying the box and scattering the blocks throughout the house. This will help with those patience muscles and your bending over conditioning.
  5. Find your friend that can not handle silence (or someone that is super draining). We all have one in our life. There must be conversation going all the time so you are constantly “on.” Spend the day with them. When you get home you are not allowed to take a nap. You surely have more magnet letters to knock off of the fridge before you can rest.
  6. Play hide and seek with your spouse or a friend for 1.5 hours everyday. This will also assist you in toddler proofing your house because YOU NEED to be the one to discover that your Mother’s crystal china is at knee-height.
  7. Go for a walk. When you go for this walk you need to carry something that weighs 30 pounds. You can fill up a laundry bag with wet towels, bags of flour, free weights, you name it. Even better if you have a dog about that size because that will better depict the wiggliness you will experience while holding a 2-year-old. Now carry this on your hip for a mile or so. Every 20 yards or so stop and pick up a stick without dropping the laundry bag.

Thanksgiving is only 8 days from now so you need to start training. Hopefully these tips will help you feel like you’ve been run over by a smart car instead of a Greyhound bus after hosting your Grandkids for a few days.

In a pinch, Starbucks sells espresso as well.