Saturday, December 6, 2014

Have Yourself a (Shut Up) Merry Little Christmas - Toddler Style

Let me preface this post by saying that I have had many of you tell me what a great mom I am and what great kids I have.  First of all, thank you.  Second of all, I am just like you and my kids are just like yours or any other kids out there.  We all have our moments - good and bad.  And while I don't like to highlight my boys'  bad moments this was entirely too good not to share.

I dedicate this post to all of you parents who have kids who can be just as naughty as they are nice.  To those of you who have tried everything...and I mean everything... to rid your kids of some bad habits with no success, and realize that this "phase" may take a little longer than you expected.  To those of you who remain patient, consistent, loving and dedicated to raising well behaved kids.  To those of you who realize that sometimes you have to just sit back, laugh at (and record) the ridiculousness of the situation you are in.

This morning Ethan was being super sweet.  We were heading to the store and as we walked outside he went on the other side of the car.  By the time I got to him he was halfway in our street.  I sternly asked him to come back to the sidewalk as I was running out to get him and he just turned and ran away from me.  After I caught up with him (and gave him a little pop on the bottom for doing something so dangerous) he started screaming, crying and yelling "Shut Up" at me.  This is his favorite rebellious word.  We have tried what I feel like is EVERYTHING to get him to stop saying this word to no avail.  (I welcome any suggestions you parents might have by the way.)  We proceed to get in the car and he continues screaming "Shut Up" at me.  At that point getting on to him, further discipline, etc. is of no use so I just simply ignore him.  I decided to turn on some Christmas music.  And this, my friends, is the result.

I can't wait to show this video at his wedding one day.  Can't.Wait!


Friday, November 28, 2014

Women Who Inspire Me

I used to only be inspired by women who had a life I wanted or always seemed to have favorable life circumstances.  Lately I have learned that I am just as inspired by women who lead completely different lives from mine.  This has been a reminder that while we are all different we can all learn so much from each other - as women, as human beings.

Recently I have been inspired by...

The woman who thought she was just starting to get her life together and then found out she was pregnant.  Instead of choosing the easy way out she chose to not only have and raise that baby but to truly appreciate the precious gift she was given.

The woman who held so much anger and bitterness in her heart but refused to give up on her marriage and family.  Through faith and help from others she decided to fight for and dedicate herself to her role as a wife and mom.

Women who went through unfathomable heartbreak in their first marriages and found the strength to trust and love again.  And the love they had prayed for, a real and lasting love, has come.

A woman who did not succumb to the norms of this world by settling to be anything she did not want to be.  She has freed herself from harmful relationships and pursued her dreams and passions.  Nothing will stop her.

The woman who has always held it together, no matter what.  She was always in control no matter what the situations.  And lately she doesn't necessarily have it all under control but she sees the beauty in the mess and chaos of it all.  She sees that it doesn't always have to be perfect.  She has the strength to wake up each morning and conquer one day at a time.

The women who stay home and balance the chaos of multiple kids and their schedules.  Who sometimes do this on their own when their husbands have to work long hours or travel.  Who may be dealing with their own pressing needs in addition to everyone else's.  Who somehow still find a way to serve others and make each person in their life feel extra special.

It would make total sense for me to look at the full time working mom of two who "has it all together" and try to model my life after hers.  But what I have learned from some of these other women lately ~ Courage, Gratitude, Faith, Forgiveness, Strength, Patience, Trust, Passion, Dedication, Acceptance, Perseverance, A Servant's Heart ~ has been far more valuable.  I feel like God has been showing me that it really is okay to step out of my bubble.  I can learn so much from the world around me and appreciate the beauty in my differences with others.  The beauty He has created.

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  ~John 13:35


Friday, October 10, 2014

Juggling It All

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post.  So much has happened and I will just give you the highlights.

Garrison turned 9.  NINE - how is that possible?!  This boy amazes me every day with his character and love for others.

 Garrett turned 32!  We celebrated by having dinner with his family.  What a fun night!

 Getting bday kisses from our oldest fur baby.

The card Garrison made for Garrett.  This was the best gift he received I'm pretty sure.

This girl got a new job...and got my hair done! :)

I have truly loved having extra time with this cutie patootie.  He's as feisty as he is cute but I wouldn't change one thing about this boy.  <3 

Although I have really enjoyed my involuntary time off work and extra time with my boys being a SAHM is exhausting!  I have fallen asleep on the couch while my husband was in the middle of a conversation with me, in the afternoon while Ethan was napping and my favorite - in the carpool line.  I have said it before and I will say it again... I have mad respect for you SAHM's.  How do y'all do it?!  I am more exhausted being home all day with an almost 3 year old than I was working full time.  I am excited but nervous about starting my new full time <eek> job on Tuesday.  It's been over 2 years since I have worked full time and although it's only 10 more hours per week I am still going to have to retrain myself on how to juggle it all again.

And that brings me to this post.  I am pretty sure I have blogged about this topic before so forgive me if this is repetitive.  Why do we wives and moms feel obligated to please everyone all the time?  It's just not possible.  Well, I guess it could be if we use every last ounce of energy we have and try to run on a few hours of sleep and lots and lots of caffeine.  After being married for 11 years and a mom for 9 years I have learned that it really is okay to have my priorities in the order God wants them - God, Spouse, Children.  Everything else comes after that.

I am so thankful to have girlfriends who live by these same priorities.  So they completely understand when we have to plan a girls night a month in advance.  It is okay to keep in touch with your best friends by text, emails and phone calls until you have time to hang out.  I know people say you should make time for your friends but listen up Mamas.  I'm here to tell you to not feel an ounce of guilt for choosing a date night with your husband or a family movie night over a night out with your girlfriends.  It is okay to say no sometimes if you just have too much on your plate.  It's okay if you can't be the room mom, team mom, PTA treasurer, party hostess, guest speaker and HOA board member in the same year.  The classroom will survive.  Someone else can monitor the dugout for a few games.  The PTA will go on.  The party guests will not notice.  Life goes on, I promise.  

My opinion is that other than a personal relationship with Jesus a strong and healthy marriage is the greatest gift you can give to your children.  And we only have the privilege of being with our kids for around 18 years so we have to soak that time up, teach them everything we can and let's be honest - learn everything we can from them.  Any genuine friendships I have will be lasting.  Those girls will be there for me as I raise these boys - and I will be there for them.  And we will have plenty of time for lots and lots of girls nights when we are empty nesters.  I have the rest of my life to volunteer for things and attempt to make this world a better place.  Right now I want to focus on strengthening my marriage and raising my boys to have the same values and goals we do - to spread God's love in this world.

Can I get an Amen?!

~ Jewels*


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You Can't Have It

Dear Satan,

Guess what?  You can't have my joy!  Not now, not ever.  The JOY of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

~A girl who knows where my joy comes from
John 10:10

I realize Satan is probably not reading my blog.  But when declaring something as powerful as this I find that it is sometimes best to declare out loud.  Or in writing. :)

Life has been pretty rough lately.  One thing after another just keeps going wrong.  The worst of this was when I found out on Monday that my company will be letting me go next week.  I had a feeling this was coming.  I knew that a great paying part time gig would not last too long. 

Rewind two plus years... I was contacted by a recruiter out of the blue about this job when I needed it the most - while at home on FMLA with our youngest, Ethan whom we had just adopted.  See, Ethan was two months premature and was not able to go to daycare right away.  He was extremely susceptible to RSV and other illnesses.  The thought of putting this teeny tiny newborn in daycare while I went back to a crazy stressful full time job was overwhelming and heartbreaking.  It was no coincidence this job came along right when our family needed it the most. 

Do you know some of the thoughts that went through my head when I realized I was going to lose my job?
I have never been fired or laid off.  I have always had excellent reviews, raises and bonuses.  I am really good at what I do.  I have supported some of the most difficult people on the face of the earth.  This is not even a real Executive Assistant role.  I'm bored here anyways.  At least I will make more money now.  I have never had a hard time getting a job so I'm not worried at all. 

I have been job searching for a couple of weeks now trying to get a head start on things.  I have had a couple of leads but no official offers yet.  My overconfidence quickly shifted to worry and hopelessness.  Through this process I have heard God's response to my over confident thoughts about myself and my abilities.    
How about a little humility, Juliana?  How about recognizing that any gifts you have come from me?  Are you ready to give up control and TRUST me yet?  Let me take this and stop worrying.  Maybe I have something so much better for you in mind.  TRUST me.  TRUST me.  TRUST me.

Monday was a bad day.  A really bad day.  I am normally someone who is full of joy no matter what my circumstances are but not on Monday.  EVERYTHING kept going wrong.  To the point where at the end of the night the hubbs and I finally sat down to eat dinner and my dog started peeing on the floor right in front of me.  Instead of jumping up and steering him outside I just sat there and watched him, laughing.  I'm sure I looked completely insane to my husband.  And thank God for my husband because he brought me back to reality.  Garrett: "WHAT is wrong with you?  I know you have had a bad day and things aren't going right but you need to snap out of it.  Being in a bad mood all day and night, taking it out on me and the kids is not going to make anything better."  Notice I didn't say he lovingly brought me back to reality.  Ha!  But he knows me and he knew that was exactly what I needed to hear. 

I had some prayer warriors that day and I was assured of that when I woke up the next morning FULL of unspeakable joy.  It was at that moment that I decided I would not let Satan take my joy.  Go ahead and make me clumsy, put me in crazy traffic, take my job, make my dog pee on the floor multiple times, overflow the toilet, make my kid poop his pants (no lie, y'all) but you WILL NOT TAKE MY JOY!

"Satan has no refuge when joy is present."  ~Jerry Savelle

God has never failed me.  He has remained faithful in my lowest of lows and highest of highs.  The least I can do is give him control of this and everything else in my life. 
Maybe I will get a job tomorrow.  Maybe it will be next month.  Maybe I will get the money I want.  Maybe I won't.  In the meantime I choose to TRUST Him and live my life for Him - full of JOY! 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Kid's Perspective on Mom Mornings

I know you moms (and dads) feel me when I talk about how chaotic some of my mornings can be trying to get myself and two kids up, ready and out the door...on time.  I previously wrote about one of my Mama Mornings if you want to take a read.

This morning was pretty similar.  I woke up with a killer sinus headache, took my shower and then went to wake up Garrison.  His room has been smelling super funky lately.  The only way I can think to describe it is dirty socks.  I really thought it was just that "boy smell" really starting to come out strong.  Let's be real - I knew he wouldn't smell like Johnson & Johnson lavender shampoo forever.  This morning the stench hit me again right when I opened his door.  I went to get a shirt out of his closet and stepped into a pile of wet clothes on the floor.  My boy is known for sleep walking so my first thought was that he peed in the closet last night instead of the bathroom.  I did the whole bring the shirt to my nose 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch and then took a small whiff and THERE IT WAS - the dirty sock aka mildew smell.  Apparently he has had a pile of wet clothes on his closet floor this whole time.  Whodathunk.  I did check the walls to make sure this was not a plumbing leak and thank goodness it wasn't.  I still have no idea where the water came from but with a 2 1/2 year old and almost 9 year old I really don't care to go through the whole investigation routine.  I was just excited to find the source of the smell. 

Moving on... as I was moving the wet clothes to the laundry room I look up to see one of my dogs squatting and peeing right in front of me.  Really?!  This dog has been potty trained for 10 YEARS by the way!  I ask Garrison to go let the dogs out while I clean up the mess.  I even go to the door and help him with the leashes (of course our fence is down from a recent storm).  I'm standing there in my tank top and underwear (I apologize for that visual) and with the door open he quickly hands me the leashes and announces he has to pee.  So I'm standing in the open doorway half naked.  Apologies to any passers by who may have witnessed this. 

We finally get things moving along and we are already about 15 minutes behind at this point.  Garrison, who is supposed to be brushing his teeth, comes into the kitchen with a toothbrush in his pocket and a mouthwash cup full of suds.  He starts singing a song that goes something like, "I'm the tooth fairy with a cup of beer."  What?!  I'm thinking... is it too early for a beer?  I go wake up Ethan and get him ready.  Garrison was sweet enough to let the dogs out for me.  Bags on, coffee in hand, Ethan ready...aaaaaand Garrison walks in with dog poop on his shoe.  I mean, C'MON!!!! 

I was so proud of myself for keeping my patience through all of this.  We finally get in the car and are headed to school (20 minutes late) and I am on the verge of tears.  Out of nowhere my almost 9 year old says this from the backseat.  "Mommy, we sure are lucky that we have a school to go to and you have a job to go to.  We are so lucky we have a house.  I know you have had a really hard morning but isn't it great to know that Jesus is always with us?!"  I put the car in park, looked right into that ridiculously wise boy's eyes and said, "Thank you.  I SO needed to hear that.  And you are SO right!"

Sometimes all we need is the perspective of a child to realize that life isn't all that bad!  ;)

And by the way, I heard this song just before I got to work.  I really don't listen to much pop music but every now and then there is a song like this that comes along.  And you can bet I cranked it up and danced like I had tinted windows and no one watching!

Happy Tuesday friends!  And to all you moms (and dads) out there - we are all in this together!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Give Me...and You...and Her a Break!

Attention Moms:

The time has come.  No, not nap time.  It's not time to leave for school.  Whew, you're not late for work or one of your kid's doctor appointments.  That is definitely not the timer going off on the oven.  If you're anything like me you have thoughts like this running through your head constantly. 

We are all busy, probably too busy. 
  • Some of us work full time, go home to four kids and no husband, have to keep up the house and oh yeah - feed those four kids.  God bless y'all!  When do you have time to sleep?
  • Some of us work part time, have two kids, a husband who works his butt off for his family in a blue collar job and just wants to relax when he gets home, aka not much help around the house.  And we still can't find the time to get it all done.  I just might be talking about my own situation here. 
  • Some of us are stay at home moms who spend every.single.waking.second with our kids.  We spend our days resolving conflict, teaching independence, teaching preschool curriculum, cleaning floors, cleaning messes, preparing meals.  And oh yeah - we try to be somewhat presentable and dig deep for those last few ounces of energy when our husbands come home in the evening.  I don't know how y'all do it, SAHMs.  You rock!

My point is this.  We are all trying to juggle someone or something.  Some of us may be struggling with heartache, relationship issues, health issues or depression.  I would bet most of us feel inadequate sometimes as a wife, mom or woman.  I would bet most of us are constantly wondering if we are making the right decisions for our family.  Should I work full time to bring in more money?  Should I stay home with my kids to give them more support?  Should I home school?  Should I get him tested for ADD?  Should I let him play more than one sport at a time?  Is she too young to start dating?  Should I force them to go to church with us? 

The point of this post is to remind y'all that it's not just you.  You are not alone.  Every other mom you see at your kid's school, in the doctor's office, in the grocery store or at the park is like you in some way.  It's time that we start seeing the similarities in other moms as opposed to the differences.  Focusing on our differences is when comparisons, judging and jealousy start and it can get ugly. 

Remember we are all in this together.  Remember that we should be supporting each other instead of criticizing each other.  And on the toughest of days, remember that the time we have with our kids should be enjoyed and cherished because we will one day look back on these years and wish we had them back.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Destin 2014

Our friends invited us to go on vacation with them to Destin, Florida this year.  We already had one fun beach vacation in Port Aransas but how could we say no to Destin?!  And we are SO glad we went! 

My husband felt the need to replace the brakes and shocks on his truck the night before we left for vacation.  Please tell me he's not the only guy that does these things.  So after lots of frustration and last minute running around we finally left late afternoon on Friday.  Our plan was to stop in Mississippi to spend the night and drive the remaining four hours on Saturday.  We had pre paid for a hotel the week before but when we got there (with a sleeping 2 year old, almost sleeping 8 year old, luggage and a play yard) they informed us our room had a leak.  My husband, ever the patient and polite customer <hoping you sense the sarcasm> asked to see the room so he could see how bad the leak was.  We were told that was not possible.  We knew good and well there was no leak.  They booked us at a hotel next door that was not even close to the same caliber as the one we booked but at 11 pm you'll take what you get.  And you can bet this mama called the next day raising cane and got both rooms refunded.  Apparently they overbooked 7 other rooms at the same hotel.  For shame.

Anyhoo, on Saturday morning we met our friends for breakfast and then headed over to Alligator Alley, a really cool alligator park they had been to a couple of years before.  With the exception of the ridiculous heat we all loved it!

You can barely see Ethan.

Feeding the gators

Get ready...

 <3 these guys

Yep, he's holding a real live gator!

Him too!  I'm shocked he didn't topple over.

We finally arrived in Destin Saturday afternoon and decided to have lunch at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.  The food was pricey but it (and the drinks) were delicious!  What a great view of the gulf bay water.  (I'm embarrassed to say I was corrected by an 8 year old for using the wrong one and I still can't remember what it was.  Ha!)  Look at these guys... triple sweetness right there!

I'm gonna 'go out on a limb and say he's a beach guy! :)

This boy was ready to hit the water!
These are some excited boys!

WHEN did you grow up Garrison?!  Sigh.

Too much sweetness to handle.  These guys seriously got along so well.  For 4 boys who were together for 8 days that is huge!

I hope we can do a recreation of this photo in 20 years with these guys! ;)!


Ethan and I spent every morning on the swing out front watching the squirrels and neighbors take their dogs on walks.

The big boys and little boys played a lot of football.
We went to this cute little town, Seaside, and the kids painted pottery at a place called Fired Up.  It was H-O-T that day but we had a good time.

I taught Conner how to play chess and then he taught Ethan.  They had a serious game going on right here.  Check out E's expression.  :)

Oh my cuteness!
Movie night and cookies compliments of Amy.

He sleeps!!!  He actually did surprisingly well on vacation with his sleeping.  Notice I didn't mention him doing well with his mini tantrums.  Baby steps.  :)

Coming up with their game plan on looking for fish.  I later learned they came up with hand signals under the water to communicate.  Love it!

Ethan and Daddy enjoying the ocean

We went to the Back Porch on our last night because a friend recommended it.  The food was delicious.  Love this picture of the boys with the exception of Garrison's crazy eyes.  What?!

Ice cream after dinner was a hit for all of these guys!

My favorite family picture of us on the beach. 

I purposely did not take/post any pictures of me in a swimsuit.  You're welcome.  And I just realized I didn't get ANY pictures of all of the adults together.  Bummer!  Looks like we will just have to plan another trip Brian and Amy.  ;)

Oh Destin, how we will miss you!  I am still finding little grains of white sugary sand in random places like under my phone screen.  Is it weird that I left it there to remind me of that beautiful beach?!