Monthly Archives: January 2014

Atlanta Snowfest 2014 – Lessons in Humanity

Family Snowfest 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014, is a day that will go down in Atlanta history, for a myriad of reasons. My day didn’t start with anything out of the ordinary. While out with my youngest son, I got word to pick my oldest up from school due to early dismissal. Snow had started falling. I rushed past the grocery store to grab a few items, picked up my son, and noticed the snow fall increasing. It was a slippery drive home.

Thankful to make it home safely and enjoy playing with my babies in the snow, I got word that both of my sisters-in-law were stuck in gridlock traffic. Making it worse, my mother-in-law was stuck at one of their houses … alone. Ugh. My husband tried to brave the roads to pick up his mother, while his sisters set up camp at our house – once they arrived after their 6-hour commutes. Sadly, my hubby couldn’t get to his mother. All roads were blocked – including one by two school buses. Thankfully, she was warm, safe and fed. So five hours after he left, my husband returned home alone.

I was grateful to at least have all of our family safe, sound and accounted for. I read the countless stories of horror, fatigue, and frustration of stranded motorists and separated families. As night descended, my heart fell. I could only continue to pray for those who were stuck, and pray that no hurt, harm or danger would befall them. And that’s when lessons in humanity took over for me.

You see, when I thought of those people stranded, nowhere to go, I thought of them being taken advantage of, being hurt or worse, or a general lack of compassion or kindness. Despite my outgoing personality that loves talking to people, I can inwardly be giving the side eye until I know you’re “ok” (lol). So the distrusting part of my nature was surfacing. But what I was grateful to find is that I was wrong.

I woke up Wednesday morning to stories of Chick Fil A giving free food to motorists, two people bringing hot chocolate and food to those who were stranded, and countless Facebook posts of people opening up their hearts … and homes … to others. People showed the love of Christ in so many beautiful ways.

I try to believe the best of others. But often hearing so many disheartening news stories it can be hard to stay optimistic. Well, instead of looking to my thoughts on human nature, I’ll trust God to always have people who want to help and teach others – especially me – lessons in humanity.

What my 2-year-old has taught me …

My baby is growing up so fast. He’ll be three this weekend. I have got to be the sappiest mother in the world. I get so nostalgic when my kids’ birthdays approach. I walk down memory lane, sometimes with tears in my eyes, as the three men in my house found it hilarious that I get so emotional.

Anyways, in light of this momentous occasion in his (and my) life, here’s a look at what my 2-year-old has taught me.

1. Messes can be fun, as long as you don’t have to clean it up.
2. Singing and shouting at the top of your lungs is fun.
3. Folded clothes need to be placed up high.
4. Car rides can be exciting.
5. Crayons are not a good mix with: mom’s clothes, the walls, photographs, the rug (you get the picture)
6. Milk tastes better warm before bed.
7. You can never get too many tickles.
8. Make pretend inspires creativity.
9. Watching TV so mom can rest is a brilliant idea.
10. Sometimes you just need a good nap.

I’d Rather . . .

My husband and I do parental checkups every so often. There’s no standard rhyme or reason to it. Every few weeks or so if something major happens with the kids, with anything from attending an event to disciplining them, we’ll evaluate if we need to make any parenting adjustments.

A frequent topic I’ll bring up is if I’m spending enough time with the boys. Inevitably the answer is yes. Subconsciously I know I do, but sometimes the slightest incident can cause me to question if I’m doing enough. Then I go through a range of emotions. First is contemplative wonder – am I doing enough? Then, it turns to concern – am I doing enough? Next I progress to fear – am I doing enough? Finally, I settle into confidence – am I doing enough?!?

By the time the assurance hits, I’ve convinced myself of all the things I could be doing instead of doing things for the kids. The litany of questions goes something like this:
Don’t you think I’d rather be writing than researching these activities for the kids?
Don’t you think I’d rather be resting than running around town for this toy?
Don’t you think I’d rather eat out than cook every night?

At the end, I’m pretty pumped that yes, I’m a good self-sacrificing mom.

A few days ago I had a chance to get some writing done when my son asked to play a game. As we played, the familiar “don’t you think I’d rather…” rang in my head. It was then that I realized … no, I wouldn’t rather. I wouldn’t rather be writing or resting or networking or watching tv right now.

In fact, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing …. than this.

Death Is Never Easy

A young man I previously worked with died yesterday. Suddenly. He had beautiful curly hair, a great smile, and a daughter he loved more than life itself. I didn’t know him as well as some. We spent time together working on set during production, viewed Facebook pictures and connections; yet I feel profound sadness. I haven’t stopped thinking about him or his family since I heard the news.

Maybe it’s the fact that he was barely 30 years old. Or perhaps it’s the face of his precious toddler daughter staring back in pictures with Daddy that once seemed heartwarming … but now are haunting.

But deep down, I think my heart aches because of the abrupt finality of it all. I am shocked, then saddened, but above all burdened with the fact that this young man is never coming back. Death strikes without warning, leaving a hole in its wake. And that, is never easy.

Farewell, my friend.

Budget Momma

My husband and I threw my son an awesome birthday party. My son and his friends had a blast, it was relatively low maintenance, but here’s the best part … the location was free!

I thought I’d just share a few of the secrets I use to take full advantage of any deals and bargains I can find. Parents know how astronomical prices for kids’ parties can get. A kids’ “jumpy place” (as I officially call it) can run upwards of $300 for about 15 friends. No food. No drinks. No cake. Just jumping. Yikes.

So armed with this pricing knowledge and determined to spend nowhere near that much, I started a brainstorm session. Where can kids go to play that may not be considered a “party venue”? I was flooded with thoughts – and pursued many of them. A YMCA rec room? A church with a nice-sized gym facility? Maybe a craft store? I did come across some other cool, unique venues, but they were costly. And that’s not what you’re reading for. You wanna know how I got the free goods. I finally hit the jackpot when I called … Home Depot.

Now, I must issue a MAJOR DISCLAIMER – All Home Depots do not allow you to have a birthday party. And for some that do, there may be a cost. But more important than the location is my method. Here’s a few quick steps to having a party, or doing pretty much anything else with kids, for cheap.

1. Ask what they offer. I cannot believe how many people are afraid to just ask. I’ve always had the attitude that the worst they can tell me is no. And I’ve been told no plenty. But I’ve also scored free stuff.
2. Always be honest. Tell them exactly what you’re looking for and why. Trying to play up your cause or shading the truth just isn’t worth it. Honesty truly is the best policy.
3. When it comes to attending an event or getting coupons, I exhaust every option. I once wanted to take my boys to an expensive event. Well, with my hubby there were four of us. I called the group sales to find out if we could get group pricing for my family with four people. Turns out we could. You have not because you ask not.
4. Keep your eyes peeled for “free days”. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta has free admission on Target Tuesdays. Fulton County residents can get free admission to some museums on the first Saturday of the month.

My children have had exposure to some incredible events and opportunities. And I’ve been blessed to provide it … for a lot less than most ;).

The Dance (Getting My Groove Back)

The music starts, the rhythmic beat,
Slowly my foot does tap.
I begin to move my feet
My fingers start to snap.

I fight it, not sure I’m ready
For the moves about to start.
I begin to sway, slow and steady
It’s what I want, in my heart.

I hesitate; then I embark
On this timeless mother’s dance;
Within me there’s a yearning spark
To seize upon this chance.

I stepped away from the beat, you see,
To care for two so sweet.
“Juggle” “balance” was told to me
But with craziness I can’t compete.

Filmmaker, mother, writer, friend,
Overwhelming at one time.
I learned to change, to pace, to bend
Not just focus on job climb.

Sometimes it feels like two steps forward,
Sometimes like two steps back.
Inside I know I’m moving toward
God’s purpose – that’s a fact.

So I will jump back on the dance floor
To find out what’s in store.
Long days on set, post, prep and more
All things that I adore.

For this elusive “balance” I’ll reach
To work and have family time.
It may be hard, but I will teach,
Being true to my heart and mind.

Here I go, moving in step
To a song I don’t yet know.
Unfamiliar territory I trek
Getting ready … here I go.

Watch me dance now.

Taking Back My Time

To-do lists. They are the bane of my husband’s existence. But I absolutely love to-do-lists. I feel so accomplished and so full of purpose when I can cross off an item. I feel like my time is being used wisely. And this year, I am determined to regain and repurpose my time. For years I have allowed others to tell me what to do with my time. Don’t get me wrong, in some instances this is necessary. If you don’t do what the boss says with your time while you’re on the clock, you’ll find yourself with more time to spare than you know what to do with. However, as I take a look back and evaluate past actions, I can see what tweaks are needed for the future.

For example, when asked to come to a function/volunteer/participate/do a task, I will smile politely and say “I’ll get back to you.” I used to be so quick with a “yes” and “of course”, as it was the polite thing to do and seemed to roll off my tongue naturally. But also being a person who keeps my word, saying yes too fast can place me in an uncomfortable position. I buy myself some time. And I get back to you.

I also do a better job of budgeting my time. A wise friend once told me that he picks three major goals for the week, and strives to make those things happen. I’ve had great success using his method. Of course this doesn’t include the mundane tasks that have to be done. Rather, it refers to larger projects you want to focus on.

My husband has given me valuable insight on this one. I make sure each goal has a system. (Hubby says he can’t take full credit, he read it in a great article). Nonetheless, it’s working wonders for me. If my goal is to read every day or workout, it won’t magically happen. Especially if my two little ones have anything to say about it. But if I say I will read at least 10 minutes per day between 9pm-10pm, now we have a system to accomplish the goal. And one more item checked off of the to-do list :).

Lastly, I make lists. Then make lists again. My lists have lists. I may be exaggerating (but only slightly). I note everything I want to accomplish for the week, break it down by what I will do each day, and then each day keep those scheduled items written in a small notebook with me. It sounds like a lot, but is really my key to a calmer, less-cluttered life, that allows me to enjoy my tasks … and my time.

Too Cheap To Buy Tickets?

This post is dedicated to all of my friends and acquaintances who have attempted to sell me tickets to events. You think I don’t want to go. Maybe she’s just cheap, you say. Why can’t she be more supportive, you wonder. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s none of those things. Nine times out of ten I want to go. I would love to go. Here’s the kicker – I can’t buy tickets in advance. Before you cry foul or cop-out, let me explain to you why parents of small children hate to buy tickets to events in advance:

1. Money. You don’t have money to waste on an event you may never see. Or step foot into.
2. Your kids may get sick on the eve of a concert you’ve spent months waiting to go to, or a Gala you can’t wait to wear that too-expensive dress for … And you’ll have to stay with them.
3. You may get sick from your child who was sick and wanted you to stay with them.
4. Moolah. You don’t have money to waste on an event you may never see. Or step foot into.
5. A major event in your child’s life that you presently have no knowledge of can be scheduled on the night of your event – awards ceremony, basketball championship, spelling bee, the list goes on….
6. The sitter could get sick. Now in all fairness, this could happen when you buy your tickets last-minute. But still…
7. Cheddar. You don’t have money to waste on an event you may never see. Or step foot into.
8. Going to the event necessitates buying a new outfit – since the ones in your closet have magically shrunk since you had children.
9. That money you spent on those tickets? You’ll now need it for doctor bills, braces, emergency car repair (that could happen to anybody, kids or not, I know). But it still leads into …..
10. Dinero. You don’t have money to waste on an event you may never see. Or step foot into.

And A Child Shall Lead Them….

Happy New Year!

My oldest son turns 7 tomorrow. Seven! Where has the time gone … the phrase uttered by mothers worldwide. Sometimes I just watch him – the carefree joy in his laughter, the innocent curiosity when he doesn’t understand, or that face he makes that reminds me that he is truly my child. I’m in that contemplative state where I’m awed by the miracle of God giving me this joy, and this blessing. My life. My love. As I reflect just before he crosses that threshold, I think about all I’ve learned from his precious life.

What my 6 year old has taught me …

1. My job is to help him be who God created him to be, not who I think he should be.
2. Listen to what people have to say. It could be interesting. It could teach you something.
3. Friends make it more fun.
4. The words “I love you Mommy” NEVER get old.
5. You should not gain weight for eating too many cupcakes or cookies (ok that’s partly me, but he agrees).
6. Moms give the best surprises (sorry Dads).
7. It can be very difficult to let your child learn hard lessons.
8. Their pain is worse than anything you could feel for yourself.
9. Ice cream always makes a day better.
10. Skipping makes you happy.
11. It’s bad enough that there are things about me I can do without. It’s worse to see those traits in my child.
12. Kids know a whole lot more than we give them credit for.
13. Sometimes the best thing to do is just go outside and play.
14. You can never laugh too much.
15. Books are a great adventure.
16. Catch a cold from the hubby – no biggie. Catch it from the kids, it’s like the plague. Their colds are the WORST.
16. It is a privilege to mold and shape a young life.
17. It’s an incredibly beautiful thing to watch your child grow. Equally as beautiful is to realize how much raising them has helped you grow.

Do you have any others? Please post them to my blog. Don’t forget to click “Follow”. :)