Breaking Mommish

Only a few months after I married my husband back in 2006, I peed on a stick, there was a plus sign, another plus sign, and two lines a couple of times (this was kind of a shock, so I needed lots of confirmation), and I became a mom.

I had always wanted to be a mom, and while marrying Prince Charming made the picture even more clear, it was a bit startling to have this go down about 15 minutes after we returned from our honeymoon.

When our daughter was born, I became a working mom… I was a high school English teacher in and around Nashville, TN for 11 years, but two years ago, we moved to Arkansas and I decided to try staying at home with our three kids.

And I became Mommish (Mom + Amish = Mommish…see what I did there?)

My life is much simpler now, and in embracing my mommish lifestyle, I want to point out a few ways that motherhood is like being Amish (even though I have only the vaguest concept of Amish lifestyle, learned primarily from three episodes of the very *documentary-esque* TLC hit show Breaking Amish).

1. Unflattering Clothes. So no one is burning up the runways here. And my SAHM clothes aren’t as bad as the mom jeans from SNL. I still try to revive moments of fashion greatness because it’s fun, but I am so old, so cheap, so larger-than-I-used-to-be, so not-fooling-anyone. And I think all my clothes have permanent kid-food-stains. So yep, not a fashion icon.

Sweet family, but not strutting the catwalks anytime soon, amiright?

2. No Make-Up. Neither the Amish nor I go for make-up. Yes, I donned the requisite bit of make-up when I was working, but now that I stay at home? Well…let’s just say mornings are a lot easier. Even though I look like I haven’t slept in days (no eyeliner), I did enjoy those extra 10 minutes of sleep this morning when I wasn’t applying make-up, thank you very much. #sorrynotsorry

3. Hair Back. Here’s another difference in Working Carrie vs. SAHM Carrie. The Hair. Dear me, the hair. I used to make an effort, y’all, but ponytails, messy buns, pinning my newly-cut  bangs (I have NO CLUE why I did bangs to myself except for a sordid haircutting history) back with bobby pins…that is my hair these days. The Amish girls understand, and maybe they might lend me a bonnet on particularly bad hair days.

4. Limited Technology. I barely watch TV anymore. I get my news not from actual news channels or even our local news…I subscribe to the Facebook school of very-important-news. I assume that if anything is cutting-edge (TV shows, music, etc.), then I will eventually hear about it on FB. Many people wrongly assume that the Amish reject all technology, but that isn’t the case. They just choose technology more carefully and make sure it’s for the greater good. On the “greater good” note, I have close and loving relationships with my dishwasher, my washer and dryer, and my iPhone…because motherhood.

5. You Would Think I Drove a Horse and Buggy. Y’all, I love my car. It’s a paid-for GMC Acadia, and while still an SUV, it has the soul of a minivan. And though I’ve only been on maybe three carriage rides in my life, I know that it’s sometimes smelly to ride behind a horse. I can easily commiserate with the Amish about smelly vehicles, seeing as how my kids eat 85% of their meals in the back of my car. While I send food to the back seat and no matter how much I threaten them to neatly dispose of detritus, leftovers and trash inevitably go on the floor. Our dog loves to ride in my car for the free buffet when she gets in. I know…ew. At least my buggy goes faster than a horse because we’re always late, y’all. Always.

6. Simple Food. I.Love.Food. From a fairly early age, I became an adventurous eater, and I’ve been rewarded with fantastic meals and happy taste buds because of it. However, since I became Mommish, not so much. I eat like my kids because kids are picky and who wants to cook even more? Not this girl. So now it’s endless chickennuggetsmacandcheesehotdogsfruitgoldfishveggiesifIgetatreatlater… I will keep trying to give the kids more adventurous, healthier food. But I will also not be purveyor of the three-times-per-day meal fight because…ugh.

This weekend, for the first time in two years, I will be Breaking Mommish. I’m heading to Baltimore for my very first BlogU Conference, a place where I will learn the science and art of blogging, as well as learning how to reach more readers and perhaps make a little spending cash. I am BEYONDEXCITED. I get to meet writers I admire already and those who are new-ish like me. I want to soak it all in and my inner nerd is dying to pull a Hermione Granger and be in every class they offer all at once.

And here are a few ways I’ll be Breaking Mommish this weekend:

  • Cutest clothes I’ve got (except for when I dress like a middle-schooler on Saturday night at the Nickelodeon #MiddleSchoolAwkward party)
  • Make-up…don’t want to scare anyone (AND I won’t be getting anyone else ready except myself! Score!)
  • Hair: making.the.attempt. You’re welcome, BlogU folks!
  • Technology: bring it. Even when I’m clueless about blogging terms, I will soldier on.
  • Transportation: teeny rental car, baby!
  • Food: as adventurous as I can find. Sushi in the airport? Yes, please. Seafood since I’ll be right by the ocean? Yum.

And y’all, as I’m Breaking Mommish, please forgive me for any stories and blog posts that begin with, “This one time at blog camp…”  Until next time!



Bartending for Moms Everywhere…You’re Welcome

One of my favorite movies from childhood was the 1991 blockbuster hit City Slickers. You’ve probably seen it, so I won’t bore you with the plot summary, but the screenplay’s writers were definitely onto something with the Barry and Ira Shalowitz characters, a pair of adventure-seeking brothers who owned an ice cream empire and one of whom, purportedly, could name the “perfect” ice cream flavor to pair with any possible meal.

The whole idea is ridiculous, of course, as the perfectly-paired ice cream flavor is a 1,000% subjective talent, but actor Josh Mostel’s Barry Shalowitz bravely soldiered on in the face of such adverse conditions as being asked to name the perfect ice cream flavor for sautéed sea bass.

As I’m familiar with both parenting and drinking, I propose, a la Barry Shalowitz, to name the perfect cocktail to go with any parenting situation. I dare you to contradict me. Enjoy.

Bringing Home the Newborn Baby…The White Russian. It’s practically milk, so that’s good, right? With a little Kahlua and vodka thrown in?

Letting Junior Cry It Out for the First Time…Bourbon and Coke. You will NOT, under any circumstances, give in on this. You have to sleep, for goodness’ sake. There is a camera’d/wired-for-sound baby monitor…right…there. Junior will be fine. Will it suck to listen to his heart-wrenching screams for 45 minutes? Sure. Will a glass of Jim Beam and Coke perhaps take you back to college football games and make you believe the screaming is for a first down or tackle for a loss? Sure.

Teething…Whiskey. This is pretty self-explanatory. If you ask Granny, it’s for the baby. If you ask the parents, well, be prepared to wrestle the half-empty bottle from their nerve-fried shaking hands. I grew up right down the road from the Jack Daniels’ distillery, so I’m a bit partial to JD. But the main thing is that you don’t want kids (in pain from/screaming about) teething longer than necessary…that would be the real tragedy.

A Huge Pile of Laundry…Red Wine. Ever noticed that huge pile of laundry looming in the laundry room at the end of the day? It’s the job that’s never finished. Have some vino while you sort, fold, and pair the socks. But be careful about spills. Red wine stains on freshly clean laundry would be unholy punishment.

Post-Target Tantrum…Beer. Any beer, your choice. You may need three. One for each judgmental old lady who gave you the stink eye while your kid lost it in the home goods section. In fact, have an extra for that mom who had four kids who were pretty good considering they outnumbered their mom 4-1 and only one melted down briefly. You can drink one for her, too.

My Kid Is Hosting a Birthday Slumber Party…Sleeping Pill. This is happening later in the summer for me. I’m pretty sure that swallowing a Tylenol PM with a chaser of just about anything will ensure that I sleep, even if the girls don’t. Right? (I’m so nerdy-rated-PG that I can’t even fathom figuring out how or whom to ask for a stronger sleep med. Feel free to make fun.)

Any Girls’ Night Out During Motherhood...White Wine.You know that night out you’ve been dreaming about? The one where you and your girls have on your new cutest post-kid-married-mom-on-a-wild-night clothes, have a sophisticated meal that doesn’t involve chicken nuggets, get hyped up to dance all night, and end up with two awkward girl-jams on the floor before you’re all yawning? White wine is the answer. I recently saw a shirt that I need that said: “Trust me, you can dance. –wine.” Yes, ma’am. I’ll have another.

I’m happily open for suggestions on any parenting situation cocktails. And I have a few situations that I just can’t quite match. If you have the right Barry-Shalowitz-esque cocktail for “my kid flooded the toilet three times today,” “I’m not judging the who-can-scream-louder contest,” or “why do my kids only quote me when I have road rage,” please let me know. Thanks, y’all.


T-Ball Practice Is Cancelled, and Other Ballpark Drama

Every time a t-ball practice is cancelled, the coach gets his wings. Yesterday afternoon, I received the BEST group text ever. IMG_3626 No practice tonight and NO GAME on Saturday morning? This is my kinda team! Can I tell you how happy things like this make me? Just…giddy, if we’re being completely honest about it. I will not pause to evaluate why we sign up for all this crap these extracurricular activities when my 4yo Tate spends most of his time on the t-ball field with his hand down his pants rather than in his glove, but…what-ev.

We’ve all heard stories about horrible parents at the ball field, and by comparison this incident is quite mild…but still… I was literally the only person who heard it, but it has bothered me ever since.

I was sheep-dog-herding my two boys at my 7yo daughter Sarah’s softball game. I can’t sit in the stands with the boys…they’re too annoying to people around them, and they’re easier if they have some room to play.

A few weeks ago, I sat on a low brick wall behind the plate next to a mother whom I didn’t know, and we had a nice but brief chat about how hard it is to take little kids to the ball field, watch out for them, and still manage to watch your kid on the field. After our exchange, we sat in amiable silence, watching the game, my head turning like a submarine periscope to make sure the boys weren’t being too rowdy or trying to go home with strangers.

And then I heard it. The mom sitting next to me said, Drop it.

Drop it, drop it, DROP IT! She said it urgently, gaining momentum as she repeated, but certainly not very loud. I’m sure I was the only person who heard her. A kid on her daughter’s team had hit a grounder and was running to first base. A kid on Sarah’s team fielded the ball and threw the runner out at first base. To the chorus of this mother hoping an 8yo little first baseman would drop the ball so the runner on her daughter’s team would be safe.

Really?!? the word came out so quickly that I had no idea I’d even spoken it out loud. My “really” was no louder than her tacky comment, but I’m sure there was no doubt it was aimed at her. She stood up, huffed away, and proceeded to middle-school-whisper to another mom behind her hand while giving me dirty looks. Maturity levels were skyrocketing at that point.

But really…can we please not cheer for 7 and 8yo little girls to fail? Doesn’t that seem way harsh for girls who were probably picking daisies on the t-ball field only two or three years ago?

Since then, I have had time to gather my thoughts on this subject, and I have laid them out here, advice for both myself and Drop-It-Mom (DIM).

  1. DIM, our daughters are 7 and 8 years old, and this is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Our priorities should be encouraging them, helping them learn the game, and teaching them good sportsmanship. Not in any league is it appropriate for parents to encourage children to fail.
  2. DIM, in ten years…hell, in ten minutes, our daughters will not remember or care who won this game. They are thinking about the popcorn at the end.
  3. DIM, where did you learn sportsmanship? From the Texas Cheerleader Massacre mom?
  4. DIM, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and hope that I caught you at a bad moment. Surely you don’t normally go around hoping that other little girls mess up for the betterment of your daughter, right? I purposefully waited to write this post because I didn’t want to remember anything about you. I don’t remember what you look like, what you were wearing, or even which team your little girl plays for. I haven’t felt death stares at the ballpark, so you probably don’t remember me either.
  5. Carrie, maybe this is a bit neurotic to worry weeks later about an incident that only took about 4 seconds? Let’s take ‘er down a notch.
  6. Carrie, stop judging. Not your monkeys, not your circus.
  7. Carrie, how would you feel if Sarah heard you being the morality-sportsmanship police? Thanks goodness that DIM didn’t start some crazy altercation. Behind your sass mouth lies someone who doesn’t want to be “that mom” at the fields.
  8. DIM, how would you feel if your daughter heard you cheering for another child to fail? Is that a lesson you’d be willing to teach her, or one that you want her to learn??

Sarah had another game tonight, and her team didn’t win. I don’t know if this was the team DIM’s daughter is on or not, and I really didn’t care. I watched Sarah run to the concession stand for her popcorn, a beautiful smile on her face just to have played this evening. I asked her if she had fun, and she said it was one of the most awesome plays of her life when she dove for (and missed) a ground ball late in the game. If DIM was in the other stands, I hope she was happy that my precious daughter missed that ball. I didn’t care either way.

Carrie On Parenting: The (New) “Would You Rather” Game

Our friends laugh out loud when they see my husband Jeff and me play Rock-Paper-Scissors in parenting situations. The rules are time-honored: we play the best of three rounds, the winner may not gloat, and the loser must do the assigned task without too much griping. After all, he/she lost it fair and square. We have been settling dirty tasks this way for years.

When we were dating and before kids, these decisions and tasks were more of the “I-want-pizza-you-want-Mexican-which-is-it” vintage, the “who-has-to-grab-the next-round-from-the-fridge” debate, and of course, ever-important decisions about movies and TV shows.

And of course as it does with every aspect of our previously-cool lives, parenthood forever changed how we structured Rock-Paper-Scissors. After having our first baby, we would use RPS for diaper changes, retrieving objects from the car (usually the diaper bag we were too lazy to bring in), which of us would heat up the bottle/baby food/chicken nuggets, and who had to put the baby to bed while we had friends over.

And then we had more kids, and RPS, while it could still work in some situations, evolved rapidly into the “Would You Rather” game, parenting style. Do you remember this game from junior high? We would ask each other inane questions of which horrible or awesome thing we would rather do? For example, would you rather slide down a razor blade into a bucket of lemon juice or remove your fingernails with pliers? Would you rather kiss Screech from Saved by the Bell or Steve Urkel from Family Matters? Clearly earth-shattering revelations came from tweens’ creative imaginations in the Would You Rather game on afternoon bus rides.

So now, in our mid-thirties and the parents of three young children, Jeff and I still play the Would You Rather game, albeit in parenting form. Imagine a game show host/over-enthusiastic narrator asking us these questions.

Congratulations, Jeff and Carrie, you’re the next contestants on Would You Rather, the Parenting Edition! Come on down!  Since you have three young kids, no task will ever be easy again. We’re going to ask you a series of questions. You will each take turns answering the questions first, rendering your spouse to do the less-appealing task you didn’t choose. Maybe you’ll even be nice, and take the crappier task for yourself? Let’s play!

  • Jeff, would you rather clean ketchup off every available surface in the kitchen or give three kids a bath?
  • Carrie, would you rather cook dinner at home and clean it all up or risk going out to eat, knowing that you are going to spend money and be the exiled-to-the-car parent if any kid melts down? (Trick question: your youngest skipped his nap today!)
  • Jeff, would you rather mop your stupid white tile floor or sort, fold, and put away four loads of laundry?
  • Carrie, would you rather bathe and groom your dog and cat or organize your kids’ playroom, making sure all small pieces of every toy, game, and puzzle are returned to their proper bins?
  • Jeff, would you rather mow the yard or take all the kids shopping for shoes?
  • Carrie, would you rather go grocery shopping with all the kids or stay at home with the kids while Jeff gets to go out in public by himself and goes grocery shopping?
  • Bonus question: Would you rather take a nap yourself or allow your spouse to take a nap? Napping together is impossible, as the kids will most likely break something or put a hole in the wall.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Do you play this game with your partners, too? I think there’s the real possibility of a successful game show in here somewhere.

Making the Case for On-Site, Cost-Competitive Daycare in Corporate America

I’m lucky enough to have experienced motherhood both as a working mom and one who now stays at home with my children. I was a high school English teacher for 11 years, the last 6 of those years in a Nashville, TN suburb.

What drew my husband and me to that particular suburb was that the school system offered on-site daycare for teachers’ children in the school where I would be working. We were expecting our first child. We were new to parenting, but we also needed the money I would be making. And of course, as a 21st century mother, I knew I could do it all.

So I secured the teaching job, and my children, for the next six years, were right down the hall from me. I saw their classes walking in the hallways, their classmates were my colleagues’ children, and their teachers were Early Childhood specialists, trained, degreed, and hired by the same school system I worked in.

What’s more, the daycare’s tuition was subsidized by the school system, so we paid exponentially less for better, on-site daycare.

And I thought, “This is a perfect situation for me and my kids.” And then I thought, “This is a perfect situation for every company. Why isn’t everywhere like this?”

In 21st century America, we ask women to do it all. Be the doting wife, the perfect mother, the corporate executive, the ace housekeeper, the PTO volunteer, all while making organic meals, exercising constantly, and maintaining sanity. Sound about right? While women are expected to juggle all those balls in the air (and look good doing it), there are ways that corporate America can make it easier for women to have a reasonable balance of their families, homes, and careers.

Admittedly, more and more companies are allowing flexible work hours and work-from-home scenarios, but there are still jobs where people just have to be present to win.

To that end, the system of on-site, cost-competitive daycare could and should become the standard in all large corporations and, frankly, in any place who can afford it. Why? I’ll give you a few reasons.

  1. The Female Element. Modern corporations know that having bright women on their teams is the smartest form of business, and in order to hire women, especially those young women who are starting careers and families (often simultaneously), those corporations need to find ways to make those women-who-want-it-all happy. Therefore, businesses should give them a place where they can have it all, a place where they can work hard and yet still have their children nearby. And of course, any employee (from the CEO to the custodial staff, dads, grandparents, and guardians) should be able to take advantage of this deal, too.
  2. The Financial Element. Many women choose to stay at home or postpone their careers for financial reasons, often because of the prohibitive costs of daycare. Bringing in subsidized daycare allows women to realize that they aren’t just working to pay the babysitter. They are earning a salary, contributing to the family’s financial bottom line, furthering their careers, and ensuring their children are well cared for all in one. On the corporate side, encouraging well-trained, hardworking women to work while their children are at an on-site daycare ensures a better, more-focused workforce.
  3. The Time Element. Providing on-site daycare allows women to be at work longer. Eliminating drive time to drop off and pick up children brings corporations more working hours from their staff. Period.
  4. The Teacher Element. Now more than ever, colleges are turning out Early Childhood Education specialists, people who have acquired associates or bachelors degrees and who specialize in teaching young children the basics, not just letters, numbers and colors, but also socialization, creativity, and fun. Kids with working mothers are in better hands than ever before, and corporations can regulate their daycare operations just as they regulate their own employees.
  5. The Human Happiness Element. Juggling family and career is an ever-teetering balancing act. Guilt goes hand in hand with being a parent, and most working parents I know wish they could just have more… More hours in the day to keep the ship afloat, more time with their children, more ways to focus in the workplace and not be so torn. And this, this is a viable solution. Speaking from personal experience, having my children on-site made me a happy employee, increased my hours and productivity, and made me a more effective working mother knowing that I could be with my kids almost instantly if I needed or wanted to be.

The results, I believe, would increase the quality of corporations’ employees (those reliable parents who need to feed their kids) and a happier, more productive workforce.

Similarly for businesses, hiring daycare (and even after-school-care) staff for employees is much less expensive than hiring, training, and accounting for the learning curve of countless employees who decide leave a position because they’ve had children and quality daycare is so prohibitively expensive.

I would also argue that working mothers would be less likely to leave positions for another company if their current positions offer good, on-site childcare options. That, friends, is a benefit for both the business and the employee that is worth its weight in gold.

On-site daycare isn’t a viable option for every employer or employee in America, I realize, but it also doesn’t have to be a minority solution for a select few. On-site, cost-competitive daycare is a smart way to lure women back into the workforce and to retain those female employees who are already working.



Growing Up Online: Mistakes on Social Media

Facebook.Twitter.Instagram.Pinterest.Flickr.Google+. The other day, my 8 millionth TimeHop update popped into my phone, and I realized that my kids are growing up online. Not because they want to, but because I am posting their pictures (both adorable and unruly), their cute sayings, the messes they make, my good-bad-ugly parenting moments, their good-bad-ugly kid moments, and our lives in general.

And I realized something: Our children will be the first generation in history to have their whole lives chronicled online in one social media form or another. This is uncharted territory, and our actions as parents could, unbeknownst to us, have far-reaching effects, positive or negative, for our children. But this is just the beginning for our kids.

At age 13, our kids will legally be able to sign up for social media accounts, according to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Sadly, however, this new generation of tech-savvy teenagers and twenty-somethings (not to mention the upcoming tweens and even elementary school kids who are now sporting their own smart phones) do not have the luxury of going out and making typical teenager mistakes without the world possibly knowing within seconds. Seconds. Why? Because mere seconds are all it takes to photograph or take a video of something stupid, upload it to social media, and tag everyone the offender ever knew…from a smart phone.

We all make mistakes. Nowhere are mistakes in judgment more prevalent than in the formative teenage years and yet now, mistakes made by those teenagers, the most tech-savvy generation in history, can and will follow them online, and once they’re out there, it’s hard to make them go away.

But my main concern here is the inflexibility of being able to make mistakes in the first place. In my day, I made a million mistakes…we all have. Imagine the parties in high school and college, when you dated people who didn’t quite work out, when you wore something unflattering or said something stupid… Mistakes are the best. Not because they are the moments of which we are proudest…it’s more because our mistakes give us battle scars, build character, help us forge our way when we’re young in a way that hollow victories never can.

The singular, scary difference is that in today’s world, those mistakes and battle scars don’t remain ancient history; they get their own hashtag. Frighteningly, they don’t even have to be coming from people who know the offender or care what happens in the aftermath.

Most battle scars are of the internal variety (i.e., I will never again drink Jagermeister as long as I live), and some stay with us on the outside, too, but I can honestly say that none of my battle scars from mistakes past would cost me a job. But for my kids? It could.

Colleges, graduate schools, and companies looking-to-hire as a rule go straight to social media to find out the real story on their potential candidates, and “friend” or not, what we choose to post on social media is a matter of public record. Similarly, online dating sites, which have gained popularity over the past several years, are inherently linked to social media as well. Of course, you would search for everything you could find online about someone before you met him/her for a cup of coffee. That’s just what people do these days.

So what do we tell our kids?

We tell them that the world is different from the way it was when we grew up, a time-honored mantra adopted by parents from all time periods. We tell them they have to be careful. We tell them not to give personal information or passwords out online, or to allow strangers to “friend” them.  We tell them that, even though it’s a hard new world to navigate, social media is an inescapable reality in the 21st century. We tell them that we’ll be watching like hound dogs, and that we know all the tricks (alternate accounts where “mom” isn’t a friend, or blocking mom from seeing posts, for example).

And we tell them it’s okay to make mistakes. We all do. And if they make a mistake in front of a camera and it goes viral (or your small town’s version of viral), then we will cross that bridge when we come to it. And we will still love them. After all, that TimeHop update from 10 years ago just popped up on your phone, and it was the sweetest picture ever.

A Dose of Sweetness, Reality, Humor, and Murder on Mother’s Day

You know the Mother’s Day when you get the sleeping late, the spa pedicure, the cut flowers in your favorite colors, the showering of gifts, gift cards, the afternoon nap, the blah, blah, blah? I got some of it. Not all of it. And I totally love my Mother’s Day, complete with its dose of sweetness, reality, humor, and murder. Yes, MURDER.

Sweetness: I got breakfast in bed! Coffee, milk, and cinnamon rolls from the pop-open can that 7yo Sarah baked herself. She was so proud as she tottered in, fully dressed for church holding the tray (decorated cookie sheet). Adorable, appreciated, and I wish I could wake up like that more often. I didn’t even have to cook lunch…ordered out my fave BBQ, y’all.

Reality: 2yo Sawyer had to be excised from the lunch table for excessive, inexplicable crying. Jeff bought me a steam mop for MD, a nod to my hatred of all things cleaning but a Prince Charming-esque valiant attempt to alleviate my hate/hate relationship with my white tile floor. 4yo Tate peed in his pants while on the couch but swore it was his younger brother, and he and Sarah almost got into a fistfight about who had actually urinated more in his pants, Tate or Sawyer. (Magical.)

Humor: The kids got in trouble with Jeff for saying “What the what?” Yes, there have been a few slip-ups and bad parenting moments lately wherein the kids may have overheard me use language I’d rather they not repeat. So I’ve replaced my usual under-my-breath-mutterings with “What the what?” ….What?!? It’s way better than other things they could hear me say. As it is Mother’s Day, I pled the Fifth and let Jeff referee that one. And secretly giggled…so…humor.

Murder: We wanted to get a few pics of the kids and me on MD outside on our front porch. It seemed to be going well (except for my unfailing ability to look weird in pictures, squint at the camera, smile too much, smile too little, and hold my body at awkward angles so that I actually appear at least 40 pounds heavier than I actually am, etc…we found this all out later upon closer photo inspection).

It seemed to be going well until Sarah let out a bloodcurdling scream, followed by about 8 birds, also screaming and mad.

Followed by our golden retriever Lexi emerging from the bushes with, you guessed it,…a baby bird coming out of her mouth.

Our screams startled Lexi, who proceeded to drop the bird and pick up it several times. Each time she dropped it, the bird would attempt escape, Jeff would try to grab Lexi’s collar, Lexi would wiggle out of his grasp, and the kids would yell, “NOOOOOOOO!!!!!” It was a macabre display, and we had to hustle the kids back in the house before all was said and done and before we were attacked by an angry mob of birds.

Crime Scene Photo. Don't be fooled by the adorable kids. Note the dog going off the front porch. Something is about to go very, very wrong.
Crime Scene Photo. Don’t be fooled by the adorable kids. Note the photo-bombing dog going off the front porch. Something is about to go very, very wrong.

Has it been a perfect day? Almost. I could’ve done without peed pants, screaming toddlers, unflattering pictures of me, and bird murder (bird-er! Lexi is a birderer!). (Gosh, sorry for the slap-happy wordplay joke.) But…it’s just another day in paradise. Not sarcastic paradise. Real paradise. I’m the luckiest mother ever.

To My Mama

Tinsley 100 b&w

Carrie, age 6: Mom, why can’t you throw the ball like I do? You aren’t a very good water skier, are you? That’s okay. You’re a pretty good singer. I still love you. What’s for dinner?

Carrie, age 12: Ugh, Mom. You are SO embarrassing! Why won’t you let me do what all the other 7th graders are doing? It’s so unfair. You are ruining my life. I will never be cool, and it’s all because of you!

Carrie, age 16: I think I’m at the age where I’m past being embarrassed by my mother. I’m sure you could still find something to do or say that would mortify me in front of my friends, but I have a car. So I could just drive away if you got too weird.

Carrie, age 18: Mama, I thought I was ready to leave home and be far away, but I’m really homesick at college. Was this a mistake? Can I come home?

Carrie, age 18 (three days later): Mama, this is SO fun. I LOVE college! Thanks for encouraging me to stay here! I can’t believe I just said you were right. Weird, huh?

Carrie, age 21: I’m moving to Nashville after graduation. I have a job! I have an apartment! Don’t worry, Mom. You’ll love my boyfriend once you get to know him.

Carrie, age 22: Mama, this job sucks, and my boyfriend sucks. I’m going to grad school. I can be a college English professor when I get out!

Carrie, age 24: Mama, I met this boy, and I think he’s the one. I’m terrified, though. I’m so bad at picking boyfriends. But he’s different. And I couldn’t stand it if you didn’t like him. But I trust you, too. If you think something’s wrong with him that I don’t see, please let me know. And guess what? I’m going to be a high school English teacher, just like you were.

Carrie, age 26: Mama, he asked, and I said YES!!! You knew? He asked you first? Oh my goodness, I love this man, and I’m so glad you do, too. Please help me plan our wedding. Will you help me look for a dress?

Carrie, age 28: Mama, you’re not going to believe this, but we’re going to have a baby! You’re going to be a grandmother! You will be the best grandmother in the world. We’ve been saving our toys since we were kids! I’m so scared. I know nothing about babies!

Carrie, age 29: Mama, meet Sarah Seaton. Isn’t she perfect? I hope I can be half the mom that you’ve been. Muzzy is the best grandmother name ever.

Carrie, age 31: Mama, I’m heartbroken. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to have another baby. Why do we keep failing? I want to be the kind of mom you were, but I’m sad all the time. I’m letting Sarah down.

Carrie, age 32: Mama, this is Tate, your new grandson. A girl and a boy, just like our family! Our family is complete, and I’m so grateful that my kids have you as their Muzzy.

Carrie, age 34: Well, Mama, I thought that we were done having kids, but guess what? One more on the way! You will have to go into Muzzy-overdrive!

Carrie, age 35: Mama, I’m so glad you stayed with me in the hospital when Sawyer was born. Those were such sweet days, days I’ll never forget (even though we were both sleep deprived!) I’m terrified…we are moving to Arkansas. I don’t think I can be so far away from you! Jeff is already gone to start work, and I have two little kids, a newborn baby, and a house to sell. I can’t do this by myself! Can I even BE at stay at home mom? Can we survive this summer?


Carrie, age 36: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, I am my mother after all. I sing in the grocery store aisles. I try to be cheerful when I wake the kids up. I’m sewing, and volunteering for the PTO. I was in a play this year. I am staying at home with them so that I can be there when they need me and help them grow. I am mothering my children in many of the same ways that I grew up because I was given a great childhood…not overindulged or spoiled, but given great love and joy in the little things, and given roots and wings. There is no mother in the world I would rather be like. I adore you, Mama! Happy Mother’s Day!

Y’all, A Versatile Blogger Award Nomination? Yep!


Oh my goodness! Someone thinks I’m versatile (not usually the first, middle, or last thing anyone would normally say about me), so I’m jumping up and down thinking that I might not be so bad after all! My buddy Brandi over at A Girl Named Wanda nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, and I’m so grateful! Brandi (and her awesome alter-ego Wanda) write(s) about being a SAHM (and how hard it can sometimes be), and she eloquently quotes conversations with her two children as they grow up, say funny things, and learn to make sense of our crazy world. I’m a fan, and YOU SHOULD BE, TOO! Get over there and follow her, y’all!

Thank you, Brandi, you sweet rock star!

Here is a list of rules to accept this award:

Show the award on your blog.

Thank the person who nominated you.

Share seven facts about yourself.

Nominate 15 blogs.

Link your nominees’ blogs, and let them know.

Seven Facts About Me:

  1. I’m a Tennessee girl by birth, but the Hubs swept us away to romantic Central Arkansas (which I really love!) almost two years ago. I stopped teaching high school English, which had been my thing for 11 years, and started my new gig as a SAHM. Best. Decision. Ever. We have a girl (7yo) and two boys (4yo and 2yo), and they are a hoot. Sometimes I have bad parenting moments, and lucky for y’all, I’m not ashamed to share them on my blog.
  2. I’m a recovering teacher (thank heavens I’m no longer grading papers during every waking hour…that can drive a person to drink… a lot more than usual). I still fly my nerd flag, though. And I’m a YERD (yearbook + nerd = YERD). I ran the yearbook for the high school where I taught, and because I love it and can’t seem to stay away (and I’m a glutton for punishment), I produce the yearbook at my daughter’s elementary school.
  3. I was once a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. It sounds crazy, I know. But I did it. The Hubs, my mom, and my 92yo grandmother who never missed a WOF episode flew to LA in September, 2012 (when I was 6 weeks preggo with Baby #3, thank you…not fun partying in LA) and my episode aired the day before Thanksgiving of that year. I was the second place player, bested by a lady named Kat (I still cringe when I think of her), but I won the prize puzzle, which was an all-expenses paid trip to MAUI. Yes. MAUI. We had a blast.
  4. I am a crappy housekeeper. Since keeping house is now officially part of my job description (according to the Hubs), I’m getting better, but y’all will probably want to leave the eating off the floor to my golden retriever. And the white tile floor and I have a hate/hate relationship, too.
  5. I should not be allowed near scissors or hair clippers. I think this is the blog post where Brandi refers to snorting out her coffee.
  6. I do not give fashion advice on my blog, but I do have some questionable fashion magazine choices where I try to match my activities as a SAHM with fashion I see there. It’s an award-winning two-part series. Okay, not really. But it’s kinda funny.
  7. My best friend and cousin Randle encouraged me to write a blog because she loved following my misadventures in parenting on Facebook when I moved six hours away. I’ve been blogging less than a year, but I love writing again and sharing sometimes serious, mostly idiotic stuff about life with my kids and husband. And I will be attending BlogU in Baltimore in just a month! Cannot. Wait.

And now for some Versatile Blogger nominees…

  1. Underdaddy – This sweet dad is all about his wife and kids. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes sweet, always worth reading.
  2. I Refuse to Follow Your Blog – I feel like I’m reading a continuation of Office Space, as written by Peter Gibbons. Check out the snarkfest. And I’m kind of honored that, despite the name, he follows my blog.
  3. Within Normal Limits? – I have the honor of knowing Lauren personally as well as admiring her writing. Lauren is a mom, a therapist, and I love how she writes about her own quirkiness. She is one funny gal.
  4. Imperfectly Nice – April is another writer I know personally (okay, so we were sorority sisters and drinking buddies in college), and I just appreciate her outlook on the world. Her post about choosing to have only one child is just amazing.
  5. Domesticated Momster – Trista is a fellow SAHM, and I feel like she gets what I’m going through, and we seem to cope similarly (wine).
  6. Ben’s Bitter Blog – Ben has found over 500 things to be bitter about. And that’s just today. Just kidding, but Ben has an awesome, snarky take on the world, and I appreciate his humor.
  7. Modern Mommy Madness – Harmony has it all: humor, heart, and her kids manage to drive her crazy, too. Check her out if you haven’t already!

I hope you will enjoy reading all these awesome bloggers (and if any bloggers aren’t into this sort of thing, you don’t have to participate). Thanks so much to Brandi for thinking of me, and I hope y’all have a great week! Thanks, carrie