To My Mama

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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?

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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!

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

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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

Carrie On Parenting: You’ve Gotta Love Childhood Innocence

When the doctor first handed me each of my three children, I couldn’t believe that here in my arms was a perfect, untainted little soul, a sweet baby smell, a head full of soft hair (at least for my kids), and, scarily enough, a blank slate, completely devoid of experience in how the world works and as yet unfamiliar with our family dynamic.

Yep…that’s scary. My kids are still relatively little (ages 7, 4, and 2), so we aren’t dealing with the ever-frightening tween or teenager-y aspects of growing up too much yet. However, there have been a few instances of childhood innocence gone awry in my family recently that have given me pause to consider just how mediocre a parent I am.

Tate, age 4: “Please help me find my damn shoes, mama.” I *ahem* have no idea where he heard this *I could throw the Hubs under the bus here, but he could’ve heard this from either of us, most likely on a Sunday morning when we’re late for church*. I think the added bonus of the word please helped soften the blow. I’m sure we’ve never said damn shoes together in a sentence, right?

Sawyer, age 2: “Shit.” (after dropping a toy down the stairs) He was laughing and pointing at the toy as he said this. Again, who is cussing in front of these kids? I think they assume that the natural consequence of dropping something on the floor is to say shit. So…probably ought to work on this one, too.

Sarah, age 7: “Mama, we found a turtle in the yard!” Imagine how thrilled we were to find the box turtle in the yard, just hanging out. I’m sure he was less than thrilled that seven neighborhood children just happened upon him while he was minding his business and doing his slow little thing. I’m sure that, had he not been a turtle, he would have hightailed it out of there post haste. “Mama, we have to make a home for him!” Sarah begged.

I agreed, but only under the condition that Spatz the Turtle not be confined in a box (because I can’t be worried about another mouth to feed or keeping one more thing alive…RIP house plants). The kids had to make a natural habitat for him.

And this is what precious, innocent little Sarah came up with.

Phallus Turtle Palace

I hope that God will forgive me for snorting the afternoon iced tea I was drinking out of my nose when I saw Spatz’s new home, proudly displayed in my neighbor’s yard. You can even see Spatz, resting comfortably in one of the testicles of his flowered abode. When Sarah asking why there were tears running down my face, I had to tell her that it was just such a beautiful home for a sweet turtle that it made me cry a little.

So, you’ve gotta love the innocence of children. And y’all, please don’t ban us from play dates this summer because your kids might pick up bad language or phallic pet habitats. We’re working on it. Any charming innocent moments you want to share in the comments to make me feel better? I’d appreciate it!

Carrie on Parenting: 10 Truths I’ve Learned as a SAHM

Two years ago, if you had told me I would be a stay at home mom living in Arkansas, I would have laughed in your face and asked if you’d had your meds this morning.

I was days from giving birth to our third child and an 11-year veteran high school English teacher in the Nashville suburbs. I was trying to wrap up the semester and prep my sub for what she would be dealing with in the last few weeks of school (seniors who were close to graduation…you’re welcome, Mrs. Seat!). My plan was to give birth to this surprise baby on May 1, 2013 (the gender was a surprise, and well, the baby was kind of a surprise, too!), spend the summer at home with my three kiddos, and be back at work torturing a whole new crop of seniors who thought they knew everything by August. Easy peasy.

And then, when baby Sawyer was three weeks old, my husband got a job offer from his company in their Arkansas office, and there was the summer of PTSD: husband gone to work at his new job, moving to new state, buying new house, selling old house, and, oh wait…A NEWBORN BABY, a 2.5yo, and a 6yo.

So I’m now almost exactly 2 years into the SAHM gig, and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way as I navigate being a recovering teacher and newly employed as a domestic engineer.

  1. Expect to do at least one load of laundry and one load of dishes every day. Am I perfect at this? Nah. But this is the minimum standard to keep our house running. We wear so many outfits and use so many plates and dishes that the crazy piles up quickly.
  2. It never ends. SAHM’s, actually ALL moms, need to accept that your house will never be 100% clean and you’ll never have 100% of chores, toys, dishes be completed, put away, and washed and back in the cupboard. Want to know how I know? Look down. See those clothes you’re wearing? Gotta wash those.
  3. There is no shame in chicken nuggets. Or mac n cheese. Or Lunchables. My kids are healthy and outside all the time. And even when I make an effort to cook, I get the hairy eyeball about what awfulness I could possibly be feeding my poor children. And I am in survival mode sometimes, so…chicken nuggets for dinner. Again. You’re welcome.
  4. Silence is scary. Silence means someone is trying to flood a bathroom, burn down the house, or stuff our dog in a closet. Not good. I still have a message in deodorant on my bathroom wall from a mere 5-minute silence. That’s all it took.
  5. We are still late everywhere we go. Does it matter that we really don’t have to be anywhere on time except school and church? Nah. Even if we began leaving an hour in advance, someone would need clothes changed, someone has lost one shoe, someone needs to potty, and I can’t find the car keys (yes, it’s sometimes my fault).
  6. You may as well put them in the cute clothes. They’re kids, so they’re going to get messy, but if those clothes just hang in the closet and are never worn, that’s no good either. Better to have worn and lost than never to have worn at all. I received an awesome compliment on my daughter’s clothes the other day, and I couldn’t stop smiling for an hour. And yes, her clothes are nicer than mine.
  7. More kids at a playdate=they entertain each other. This was a new one for me and one I never would have tackled before SAHMotherhood. 7 kids in my house? Crazy!! But the first time I had my three kids plus another four and all I had to do was feed them? SO amazing. I never turned on the TV. I never refereed arguments (they did that themselves). They couldn’t eat until they had cleaned up the toys. The moms got to socialize. Winning on all counts.
  8. Exercise places with child care rule. I never worked out when I was a teacher. There were not enough hours ever, and if I had extra time, I wanted to hang with the kids rather than hand them off to another sitter so I could work out. Now that I’m at home with them, I love me some Jazzercise. It’s the place to be in our Arkansas town…a great work out and the kids are welcome there. Any place where you can work out while someone else watches your kids is the SAHM’s saving grace.
  9. Outside is always the best option. I would rather my kids be outside than anywhere else. They’re away from screens. They aren’t jacking up the house I just straightened up. And they’re happier. They are more creative, they make up games and role play, and they’re on their bikes and scooters. There’s nothing like Vitamin D and pink cheeks.
  10. This is the best job ever. I truthfully thought I would crawl up the walls like a crazy person after two months at home with my kids, but that hasn’t been the case. It’s exhausting and busy, but it’s also beautiful to step back and see them growing each day. It happens quickly, and I’m glad I have a front row seat.

This isn’t a perfect or definitive list, but it’s true. Anything you’ve learned in this role? I’m interested to hear!

The Bro-Mantic Mom-edy: An Analysis of the Two-Couple Friendship Dichotomy (and yes, I’m a weirdo)

The Bro-Mantic Mom-Edy: (n) Two couples hanging out together, trying to decide if this four-person-friendship thing is gonna work.

Please forgive the combining of words, but this is a thing that needed a name. It’s like dating, only harder in some ways, as there are now two couples and four personalities making sure they can co-exist in a fun, social environment…not just two people awkwardly getting to know one another. I give you…the BRO-MANTIC MOM-EDY. (Here’s a tissue if you just threw up in your mouth a bit.)

One of the things the Hubs and I worried about when we moved to Arkansas was having to make new couple friends. I talk to walls, but the Hubs is quieter until you get to know him. And then he is a hoot. Anyway, we were leaving a fun crew of people, and we feared never finding the same balance of tolerable husband-wife combos again. (We needn’t have worried…our new town is chock-full of awesome people.)

But you have to know what I’m talking about. Sometimes, the BC can go horribly wrong. For example,

  • The husbands love each other, but their wives have a competitive, love/hate, out-Pinteresting each other “frenemy” thing going? Might work, but probably the boys are better off as drinking buddies.
  • What if the wives are BFF’s, but the boys have nothing to talk about and cheer for completely different sports teams? Might be time for the boys to babysit and a GNO.
  • And then there’s the awkwardness of Husband A/Wife B and Wife A/Husband B…do they like each other (but not too much, obviously, *yeesh*) or can they not stand to be in the same room because she’s a PETA member and he’s a deer hunter or they disagree politically or blah, blah, blah? Can the A/B members of the opposite sex co-exist in a friendly manner before everyone retreats to the kitchen or man cave or wherever?

Other factors, too, contribute to the successful Bro-Mantic Mom-edy. Obviously, successful BC couples most likely have similar value systems and senses of humor. Most of the people we hang out with are in a similar life stage ( 30s/40s parenthood) and can feel (or have felt, or will feel) the parental pain we all go through with our, ahem,…perfect progeny.

And I’m not gonna lie, I tend to get uncomfortable around people who, after a certain time of day (noon)…(okay, 3pm), won’t indulge in a drink or two with me. Is she judging me? Is she a better mom because she isn’t holding a wine glass? Why do they not drink? Am I going to be the object of a vague “pray for my friend, she’s battling some things” Facebook post on their way home? Yes, I worry about this. But not enough not to indulge, ya know?

And let’s talk quickly about BC and kids. I love kids…we have a girl and two boys, ages 7, 4, and almost 2. They are fairly well-behaved. To my knowledge, they haven’t rolled up in someone’s house and put a hole in the wall or anything, so I consider that a win. But, in a BC relationship where kids are also invited and involved, I won’t sign my kids up for being terrorized by other kids, even if their parents are our perfect BC match made in heaven (but they probably wouldn’t be if I freak out about their kids, right?). Similarly, in our house, we don’t negotiate with terrorists. So if a BC-pal wants to correct my kids if they are behaving heinously, I’m okay with that.

Good couple friends are (sometimes) hard to find, so hang onto the good ones. The possibilities are so fun…play dates, double dates, backyard grill-outs with the kiddos, and vacations to the beach. I’m grateful for the people in my BC club, and we are always looking for new members….

 

Dear 25yo Carrie (A Letter to Myself from the Future)

Dear 25yo Carrie,

I’m writing to you from the future. Yes, the future. Right now, you’re 25, and I’m about to be 37. I have 12 years of intimate Carrie knowledge (and a few surprises) to pass on in only a short amount of time. So, listen up. ***And if you want some MAJOR spoilers, you can skip to the end and see some craziness about your life that you probably never would have expected.***

You know that guy Jeff you’re dating right now? He’s going to ask you to marry him soon. He will confess that he bought the ring months ago because he knew you were The One, but he wanted to wait until he was less scared. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but the proposal was awesome. You said yes, of course. Your wedding registry was a little random. The wedding was amazing. The honeymoon in Jamaica was sublime.

A mere four months after your wedding, you’re going to get a big surprise. Like, a surprise in which you need to be glad you didn’t use all the Target gift cards from your wedding because you’re going to need to forego the adorable outdoor salad set in favor of onesies, diapers, and car seats. That kind of surprise. And try to ignore the people who ask you about your anniversary date and your baby’s due date, trying to determine if yours was a shotgun wedding.

There are so many things I want to tell you…but I really want to give you some “youth is wasted on the young” advice. You always hear people say that, but I’m actually feeling that way about you right now. So here are a few things I want you to appreciate and embrace your life right now, at 25.

  1. Getting in and out of the car. It seems trivial, I know. But please just enjoy your little two-seater convertible and your ability to bop in and out of stores at will, without regard for car seats, strollers, diaper bags, nap times, snacks, extra changes of clothes, and small people begging for eye-level sugar. In fact, you’d better sneak some pre-kid candy now because if the kids see you eating candy, they want it, too. Babies with sugar is its own can of worms.
  2. Leisurely shopping in actual stores for cute clothes. This goes away quickly when you have kids because of several factors. A-Shopping with babies/kids is exhausting and mostly not worth it if you can at all avoid bringing small children into stores. B-Those cute clothes you were shopping for? They don’t fit anymore. Nothing fits. Ever again. Your best shopping bet with kids is to have a plan, get your stuff, and move out. Any other attempts are futile and sad.
  3. Laying out by the pool. I know you had a pool at your single-girl condo and it was the greatest thing ever, but those days will soon be over. Remember reading a book in the sunshine? Falling asleep on a float? Meaningful conversations about the future with your girlfriends? Going to the pool with kids is 180 degrees different. You are on 100% death prevention, sunburn prevention, and pre-planning snacks, drinks, swim diapers, and the overly wet ride home. All this effort is now in the name of a good, solid, 3-4 hour nap for all parties involved. If you can stay awake after the pool, you’ve earned your alone time, darlin’.
  4. Dining out in restaurants. Just enjoy the ability to eat your own food, in peace, at a reasonable pace. The first time you go out to eat with your perfect daughter, to Logan’s Roadhouse which should be acceptably loud and therefore non-judgmental, you will have to leave the restaurant to breastfeed her in the car. And don’t get me started on your later children’s tantrums in restaurants. And you know the money you used to spend having a beer or two? Now you get to use that money to buy overly expensive kids’ meals, and your kids will inevitably not eat what you get them.
  5. Not paying a babysitter. Right now, you can just head out whenever you want. Some of your friends, even after they become parents, can just leave their kids with the grandparents for free, but you are RWG (Refugees Without Grandparents). But guess what? Once you start paying a sitter by the hour (and you will pay well because you want the best), you will learn to have fun in a shorter amount of time to compact the babysitting budget. You need date nights, but you need to be able to put gas in your car, too.
  6. I know you think you’re fat right now. You will kick yourself for not losing weight before your wedding. You will attempt to squeeze into clothes that are too snug just so you don’t go up a size. You will berate yourself for a size 10. TEN!! Let me just tell you, ENJOY your size right now, because it’s been almost eight years, and you haven’t gotten back to that pre-pregnancy weight. And guess what? You don’t really care anymore. Heavier? Yes. Happier in your life today? Absolutely.

So 25yo Carrie, I hope you will accept this letter from the future as gospel. Pass it along to your friends who aren’t parents yet. Make sure that you say a little high-five of thanks to your guardian almost-37yo Carrie every time you enjoy a little slice of life mentioned above. Being a mother is the best job in the world, and you will love it, and you will hope that you’re good at it, and on some days you’ll be great at it (other days…just hope no one is watching). But you can take this advice from older you…don’t let youth be wasted on you.

Love,

You (almost 12 years later)

***SPOILERS ABOUT YOUR LIFE***

  1. You have THREE kids. Yes, I’m sure you would have guessed two, but you’re wrong.
  2. After 11 years teaching high school English, you are now a STAY AT HOME MOM. And you love it, and you’re busy, and it’s awesome and worth it.
  3. You live in ARKANSAS. I know, right? And you really love it!
  4. You were once a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. And you won a trip to HAWAII!!
  5. You are writing a BLOG after Randle talked you into it, and you LOVE WRITING again. Score!