The plane is NOT your living room!

So I have had the occasion to travel a LOT in the last year and a half. There is truly no better place to people-watch (other than maybe Walmart or Disney World) than our nation’s airports. Am I right?

Naturally, I get the desire to be comfortable when flying – but there are several things I observe when flying that absolutely make me NUTS! They can pretty much be summed up by this one statement – THE PLANE IS NOT YOUR LIVING ROOM! Here is a little list of what I believe should be hard airplane rules – feel free to add your very own in the comments!

#1 – CHECK YOUR BAG! Ok…I get it. You don’t want to have to wait at baggage claim. But seriously, if you can barely get that sucker down the aisle without clobbering people that are already seated and even a harder time getting it up into the overhead, then it needs to be checked! Get one of those credit cards that give you a free checked bag, and then check it and forget it!

#2 – PLEASE wear something that resembles actual clothes – NOT your pajamas, and not anything that looks as though some part of your body is going to pop out at any moment. That includes your boobies, your backside/crack, or even your hairy beer belly when you lift your arms to wrestle your oversized bag into the overhead compartment (see #1).

#3 – LEAVE YOUR SHOES ON! No one wants to see/smell/think about your smelly toes touching ANYTHING around them! Again – the plane is not your living room! And if you happen to be wearing flip flops, your toes need to be properly groomed! No one wants to see your nasty-ass man feet with scraggly toenails! And ladies – as a wise friend once said – “if you can’t take care of your toes, it makes people wonder what else you aren’t taking care of!” Cue the “ewwwwwww!” But really…

#4 – Your feet do NOT belong on ANYONE’S armrest! Period. And ESPECIALLY if you are lacking in any area in #3 above!

#5 – Ladies – your hair needs to stay on your head in your own seat area – if you feel the need to “fluff” or toss – save it for when you can do so without whipping the people around you. Oh, and that includes tossing your long hair over your headrest into the seat area behind you. Yes, that really happens.

#6 – For the love of GOD – if you have the need to pass gas, break wind, or whatever else you’d like to call it – PLEASE save us all by heading to the lavatory and doing it in private. Just because you are surrounded by people when you do it and you think that makes it somehow more “anonymous,” believe me – we know who you are! And if you couple your nasty actions with the aforementioned scraggly toes or exposed body parts, it only makes us wonder if your momma taught you anything!

#7 – If you have boobs, you need to be wearing a bra! And this is made all the more critical if they are the size of milk jugs! They do not need to be let loose in an oversized t-shirt, or even worse, some sort of cami or tank top. I don’t care if you paid a ton of money for them or if you’ve just “given up” – those puppies need to be caged!

#8 – Cover your FACE if you are coughing, hacking, clearing your throat loudly, sneezing, blowing your nose, or otherwise doing anything that involves mucous and germs leaving your body. I mean, we all know that sometimes you have allergies or a cold and you can’t help doing it, AND we realize that we are sitting in an enclosed tube of recirculating air and will be exposed to your germs anyway – BUT please at least give the 6 rows of people around you some hope that you are not purposely just trying to give your cold away to anyone you can! Please?

#9 – Ease the seat back please! I mean, we all know the seats have gotten about as small as they can get. I am not a particularly tall person, but when the person in front of me slams the seat back as hard as possible without warning, my kneecaps tend to feel a bit like I imagine Nancy Kerrigan felt when Jeff Gillooly whacked her during the Olympic Games! Would it be too difficult to ease it back or even just turn and let me know so I can make sure my knees don’t end up bruised?

#10 – Ok, so this is #10 so I will stop, even though I think I could keep going for a while…what’s with the slamming of the overhead compartment doors? I mean, do you slam the doors in your house every time you come and go? They latch, people! Just gently close them! Good lord, flying is stressful enough without being subject to the rude, super loud SLAM of the overhead bin door! KaBOOM! And yes, I’m speaking to the flight attendants on this one too! Literally makes me nearly jump out of my skin – and I’m sure it takes years off my life, especially when I don’t see it coming!

I absolutely love the opportunity to wake up in one place and land in another within only a few hours! Unfortunately, the getting there is not as glamorous as it sounds. Flights are full and planes are cramming in as many seats as possible, making the space crowded. And when people treat the flights like they are sitting in their living room, all kinds of unsightliness occurs. I have seen diapers changed on the tray tables (GACK!), toenails being cut mid-flight, flossing of teeth, painting of fingernails, bare feet on the back of seats at tray table height, and we all know the legends of the “mile-high club!”

I mean, c’mon! The plane is NOT your living room! What ever happened to pure, simple manners? I mean, what would you mom say if she saw you doing what you are doing? Or your boss? Can we bring some dignity back to the skies please?

Would love to hear your stories – please DO comment!

 

Your job is not to be the best…

“Your job is not to be the best; it’s just your job to DO your best, and let God take care of the rest.” (Rebecca Lindenbach)

Today was a tough day for my Littlest (or should I say youngest?) – and probably just as tough for this Momma, who isn’t as great as their Dad is at controlling her emotions when it comes to our Littles.

So today was Taylor’s 3rd gymnastics competition EVER. She loves gymnastics. Actually, that is an understatement. She eats, sleeps, lives, dreams, and breathes gymnastics. She has since she was really little – like 2 or 3. Forget board games, playing with dolls, coloring, watching kids’ TV – she’d rather be flipping around, hanging on her bar, or watching endless hours of gymnastics videos on YouTube. Our garage looks like an extension of her gym, with panel mats, other kinds of mats for which I do not know the name, a bar, a balance beam, and even something called an air-track, for which she spent all her own money to acquire.

She spends about 13 hours in a week at practice – soon to be 16 or 17 when we add Saturdays. She insists on being at the gym AT LEAST a half hour early for practice every time. And when she’s not at the gym, she is practicing at home. She is utterly fearless! Her passion is infectious – even for a mom who has NEVER been even close to as fearless as she is.

I finally put her into gymnastics “formally” because I knew she needed to learn how to do all of these things SAFELY. And I haven’t regretted one minute of it…she is strong and fit, and because she is my sassy one, I love that she has something to keep her so busy – which will help her stay out of trouble when she’s older (or at least I hope that’s the case)!

So I’ll say it again…today was her 3rd gymnastics competition EVER. The 2nd one, which just happened to be last weekend, was really great – she powered through, earning places on the podium and even 6th place in the all-around for her level and division. I beamed with pride for her, and inside, was praying that she could feel and enjoy that rush of being recognized for all her hard work and effort. She gave it her all and it showed.

So today, I was expecting no less. She is a competitor…tough and proud and skilled. The competition started at 8 a.m. and was about 45 minutes away from home. That meant a short night of sleep for me, worrying that I would oversleep and she would miss it or something. But the alarm went off as planned, and bleary-eyed, I dressed and did hair – both for her and me, and we headed off together for the meet, stopping only for chocolate donuts (breakfast of champions) and some coffee for mom.

Then the warmups began – her first event was floor, and I immediately noticed she wasn’t warming up her required double-back-handspring. Then she tried it, and landed flat on her bum-bum hard. I knew that was going to be a problem. Now mind you, she’s thrown that double-back-handspring a thousand times, but it’s the one thing that has gotten into her head before, and I knew this wasn’t a good sign. I tried signaling her for her attention – or even her coach’s attention – to no avail. I wanted her to practice it more before her judged routine.

Nothing…

Excruciating as a parent NOT to charge out on the floor to make her do it.

She also didn’t have that game face on. The one she had in the first two meets. She was goofing around with her teammate and her coach. Her body seemed relaxed and undisciplined, vs. her normal serious, stoic and concentrated self. It was annoying.

The day before, she had been in the garage on her equipment. For about 5 hours straight. Practicing all sorts of things, including a skill that is one level up from where she currently stands. I didn’t think anything of it. This child can’t sit still. Her love for it almost seems like something a future Olympian would have. So I don’t try to stifle it or hold it back. In this case, I should have.

She was tired.

And guess what? She did her floor routine. It looked amazing. She was in time with her music. She was tight and precise. She did everything – EXCEPT the double-back-handspring. Just didn’t do it. You can see it here.

I was crushed. I was mad. I was disappointed. Did I mention I was mad?

She scored a 6.750. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me. Then I had a hard time with the fact that I was actually feeling mad at her. I felt like I should be that proud Momma no matter what. I didn’t like the fact that I was disappointed. But I knew she didn’t do her best. I knew she had given herself permission NOT to throw that back-handspring.

The rest of the meet went ok…but she was off. And her coach was not thrilled. He loves coaching her – she is coachable and talented. He was disappointed. And he was hard on her, as he should have been.

It was a somber drive home. There were amazingly grownup talks about being your best and giving your all – and choices about whether or not you want it. It was that very hard balance of showing your disappointment and also not crushing her spirit. It was hard. She cried, quietly. She was mad at herself. She should be. I was proud of her for it. She didn’t do her best and she knew it. Coach told her she was lazy. She was. She knew it.

We went home and took a nap. Snuggled together. Talked some more. She decided she wanted to quit because “it’s so hard.” But I think what is hard for her is the thought of facing her coach tomorrow evening. She will be fine. She won’t quit. She really doesn’t want to.

But it was a hard day. I hope I did the Mom thing right. I really do. I am so unbelievably proud of her and how far she has come in only one (formal) year in the sport. I love her more than life. And those words don’t even cover it. Balancing the “disappointed” in this moment with the “I love you more than life for forever” seems easy. It’s not, only I want her to know that I need her to be her best “her.” The best version of her she could ever be. Because that version of her is the most precious gift SHE or I could ever receive.

She is a gift. She is a champion. She is my baby girl.

(and she wants me to write that I am not mad or frustrated or disappointed or angry…or just scary…LOL) So that is my gift to her for today. 

October already? Musings…..

Wow…it’s October…where did the year go? Yes, October 1st! Christmas decorations have been in stores for at least 6 weeks. I’m starting to believe what I’ve been told – that the older you get, the faster time flies. I’d choose to just believe that time flies faster the more fun you are having. And boy, are we having fun!

The Littles continue to surprise and delight – and how different they all are! Fourth and third grade, each with their own personalities. All BIG personalities! Teaching me new things everyday – about what is important, how each needs attention, how to discipline, coach and, above all, LOVE!

Sometimes we make mistakes (who doesn’t), but we remain super close and I am so grateful for the smiles, snuggles, love and security that is our home and family.

My cousin Jake, who was the cutest ring bearer a wedding could ever have (20 years ago), just got married. I know someday that we will be giving a child away to the love of his/her life – and yet I’m so grateful I still have at least 8-10 years to enjoy my Littles before that happens.

Colton continues to be more his Mother’s son – more interested in creative endeavors than sports. Shameless plug – he has his own YouTube channel – called “TwoTwistedKids” – please subscribe if you have a heart – he will be so excited. He’s determined to be the next YouTube star – or actor, director, producer…Lord help me if he decides he wants to move to New York City or Hollywood someday!

Lauren is our little giver and lover – the most thoughtful little person I’ve ever known. Teaches me to be mindful of being thoughtful every day – and makes me envious of how naturally it comes to her to think of the littlest things that can affect others. What a lovey little girl. Latest obsession? Unicorns, of course!

Taylor is my diva – need I say more? Can’t wait until she’s 13, loves taking selfies and SO careful and particular about her wardrobe. Little fashionista! Sassy as the day is long, and will surely give me a run for my money in the parenting department. She is our athlete – gymnastics her sport of choice. She is her Daddy’s daughter – I don’t have the sassiness and he does. Witty and clever…OMG may spell trouble!

And then there is Trump – AKA “dumdum” – our yellow lab puppy who has brought his own kind of teaching to this already crazy family. We can’t help but love him…he is such a cutie pie. But he is also a big baby, reminding us that he will NOT be ignored! And without enough attention, he will uproot plants, chew on throw rugs, and otherwise make it impossible to pay attention to him when we need some time to relax! Good thing he’s so cute! Just sayin’!

So what’s the point of this post (other than just a good record for my memory lane later)?

It’s this:

Live every moment – IN IT! Be present!
Take time to stare…really look at those you love…because with every day that goes by, they change.
Take time to talk…just sit quietly and find out what is on their little minds…during whatever time of day works best. Sometimes the best conversations I have with my Little ones is when it’s bedtime and during snuggle time.
Appreciate and learn their differences…it will make all the difference in the world – at least I hope and pray.
Let them teach you…every day, in the Littlest of ways. It will be worth it.

Happy October!

The jar…

So I have this jar I bought. Nothing fancy…just a jar with a lid. It’s clear glass and rather large. Glass lid. Has a little label on it that you can use chalk to write on – whatever you want to label the jar with. Simple. Plain.

I bought it with the intent to label it “2017 Blessings” – then “2018 Blessings,” “2019 Blessings,” and so on. My plan was that on Thanksgiving, we would open the jar, pull out our blessings one by one and read them over dinner – so many reasons to be thankful that year. Nice, right?

Well, it’s June 11 and the jar is empty. Yes, that’s right. Empty.

I am embarrassed. I am disappointed – mostly in myself.

There have been so many blessings thus far in 2017 that I cannot believe I haven’t written them down and put them in the jar.

Let’s start with the fact that my Dad made it through Christmas 2016 after a really terrible scare through the holiday season. Then the visit I had with him the first weekend in January – the one during which we had some precious time to just

sit and talk – about a lot of things. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the universe. I left there not knowing if that was goodbye – what a life changing series of moments. Thankfully he’s hangin’ in there and another visit is coming!

And then there is the new chapter in my career – my new role with Olympus. True testament that God provides. HE must have known I needed a change, and HE provided it – and I have never been so happy to share what I have learned and share my gifts with an organization and the people who truly appreciate it. Yet another life-changing blessing for the jar in 2017.

Steve and I celebrated 20 years of marriage in 2017, and took the time and opportunity to share it with our precious Littles through a beach vow renewal on the stunning island of Maui. Makena Cove was the spot, and special it was!

From the Christian/Hawaiian tradition, the blowing of the conch shell, the ukulele serenade to the sweet reaffirmation of our love for each other while our Littles snuggled at our sides. I just know that they will remember it for a lifetime – and pray that they remember it when they are in their own marriages, so they understand what commitment truly means. What an incredible blessing – again – the jar…

Now we are in summer, and another blessing fell in our lap. Trump, the yellow lab puppy, introduced to us through Facebook of all places – is now a member of the family. He is so sweet, and bad, and sometimes we call him “dum-dum” for the silly stupid things he does (and eats). But he couldn’t have come at a more perfect time…the Littles are a perfect age to learn what it means to love something living that counts on them for their well-being. It’s been fun (and tiring). But mostly fun.

Again…still haven’t added that to the jar.

It may be the end of the year before I remember to actually get some cute paper and start adding stuff to the jar. But that doesn’t mean the jar is empty. I guess it just means we are living the blessings – not just putting them into a jar to remember…

Maybe that’s actually the best way.

Maybe the jar needs to be filled with puppy food instead.

Here’s to looking forward to filling the jar of life – metaphorically speaking!

2016…go ahead and drink the wine…

What a year, what a year. Let’s put it this way…it’s was a year full of surprises, and not always the good kind. But when that happens, one hopes that there are lessons learned along the way that make you a better person. More to come on that…

It started out fairly quiet, with the usual falling asleep too early on New Year’s Eve and setting an alarm to (sort of) wake up and watch the ball drop in Times Square. Yes, I am that old! LOL

Early in the year, we were still in moving boxes and getting settled in, while I worked to bring some modern HR practices to a company seemingly still operating in the dark ages in so many ways. It was challenging and invigorating, and despite the challenges, I loved it! I had a fabulous HR staff, and felt great about the progress we were making. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my profession, and that I take pride in working to create an engaging, productive, and fun culture. The rewards are great, and in this company, I became comfortable and confident in the work we were doing.

In May of 2016, my family received a tremendous blow. My Dad, the best man I know, was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer. Even though they caught it early, it was Stage 3 because it did reach the lymph system. And yes, Dad was a smoker years ago, but quit at least 30 years ago, so this was unexpected and obviously super scary! Simply put, I am NOT ready to lose EITHER of my parents yet! They are too young, and so am I!

I went up to visit just before he started treatment, just for moral support and to spend some time…worried about how he would handle the aggressive treatment they had planned. I took Taylor with me, with the plan to lighten the mood with her infectious silliness and laughter. It was fun, even though our moods were somewhat darkened by the upcoming treatment implications.

After that, Dad went into 2 full months of very aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, and I think I just held my breath to some degree during that time. He thankfully handled the treatments well – no extreme sickness, but it did wipe him out in terms of energy. For that, I was grateful, because it could have been so much worse.

As if that wasn’t enough, on July 8th, 4 p.m., I was unceremoniously fired from my position. Apparently, according to them, I did not “fit the culture” of the organization. The real truth was that the owner’s father, an 83 year old “old school” type of leader, didn’t have an appreciation for Human Resources in general, and certainly not my commitment to a more empowering, collaborative and less dictatorial style. So just like that, I was dismissed.

If you’ve ever been fired, you know how it feels. For me, someone raised with an incredible work ethic and a history of stellar performance, it was unbelievable – and that’s an understatement. I mean, seriously – even when I was in high school and had a part time job (and probably thought about quitting just so I could go to a party) – I was never disciplined or fired – I just simply couldn’t do anything but the right thing.

It was confirmed that my departure had everything to do with the old man – not fair, but blood is thicker than water, so it was what it was. But it still was quite the blow to my confidence and made me re-evaluate where I was in my career and where I wanted it to go. It goes without saying that trusting another corporation with my livelihood was not at the top of my “desired” list, so there was a lot of soul-searching about my next career move that went on over the 2016 summer.

Honestly, considering the “shit-show” (as I affectionately call it) that was the company’s operation, there was a part of me that thought, “they are not worth my efforts and contributions!” That in itself can be empowering and positive! I can find something better! A company who will appreciate me! That will be grateful for my contributions! YES! YES! YES!

But…the hardest part of the whole thing was that I had hired a fantastic HR team – both ladies who were amazing and competent and that I grew to know as close friends – and when all this went down, I lost one of those friends. I’m not sure if it was due to fear for her position, or if I really didn’t know her as well as I thought I did, but regardless, it simply HURT. Still hurts. Badly.

So for five months, I spent my time looking for a new position – something I’ve never really had to do – and boy is that depressing. Anyone who has been in that situation knows the job search market is NOT a friendly place. But I won’t digress…let’s just say it wasn’t fun.

I spent the summer looking for a new role, while also planning trips with each of the Littles to fly up to Ohio to visit with Dad…those were bright moments in an otherwise tough times…Dad was looking tired, but was otherwise ok…and I am grateful beyond belief for the time with him, and for the individual travel time I had with each of my Littles. What fun!

To prove there are blessings that come out of trials, I will tell you that I became closer to God than I think I’ve ever been in my life! Church and prayer became a refuge, and I am really feeling the tangible comfort that comes with being closer to HIM. My best friend gave me a daily devotional book, and it is my new addiction – I don’t feel complete if I don’t have that quiet moment with God each day.

We have also made some new incredible friends in the past year since moving back to Texas, and for that we are grateful. Most were made through the Littles’ school and activities or from the actual move itself, and we know what it is to be truly a part of the community, even if there is not enough time to get together as often as we’d like. I’ve also reconnected with old friends from the last time we lived hre (you know who you are), and there’s nothing like picking up where you’ve left off after all those years. Truly a blessing!

Another true blessing was Thanksgiving this year – we drove to Ohio for a full family holiday – my sister Julie hosted – and it was really amazing. All of my siblings, their families, and Mom and Dad, all in the same place, laughing and loving….truly a gift! Dad was tuckered out, but enjoyed the food, and I got extra snuggle time with him on the couch! Yay me!

And then, like magic, upon return from the Turkey Day holiday, I received a position offer from the most amazing company – Director of People – with the best culture, beautiful offices, progressive leadership, and more…and 5 months to the day of being let go, I started my new job! God is good!

So just in time to make sure the Littles had an amazing Christmas, I was back at work! Christmas was magical, especially since all of the Littles are still enthusiastic believers! Christmas morning, it looked like a gymnastics gym that had the American Girl Doll store explode around it, mixed with LEGOs, a bike and a drone for my Little big boy!

Christmas was not without some scary drama, with Dad ending up in the hospital with possible pneumonia and other heart-related complications, but the good news is he was released shortly after the holiday and is resting at home with therapists and my mom there to support his recovery. Again, proof that God is good!

So now I am sitting here, reflecting on the lessons of the past year, and looking forward to a much more (hopefully) simpler and humbler, uneventful 2017. Lessons learned? Yes….simpler is better…don’t get too comfortable….show love to those important to you…move forward no matter what…forgive those who hurt you (and move on)…know your worth, know your strengths…don’t be afraid to ask for help…follow your dreams…make it happen…keep going even when you don’t want to…

And finally….drink the wine!  LOL

 

The tummy bug…and my boy…

The dreaded moment you know…the tummy bug has entered the house. As a mom, you want to run like hell, especially if you are anything like THIS mom – one who would rather be subject to just about anything BUT throwing up! And you just KNOW that once it enters the house, you are on the path to vomitville! Gaaah!

So that aside (and no, it hasn’t reached me yet – maybe all the excessive hand washing and loving from afar actually works), this post is more about my Little Colton and his particular, very personal tummy bug!

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It all started yesterday – I was at a professional appointment, and the Littles were with Daddy at Colton’s soccer practice. I had just called to let them know I was on my way, when Steve had to cut the call short because Little Lauren had just thrown up on the playground. Twice.

One of the blessings (if you can relate blessings to being sick) about my girls when they are sick is that they don’t really complain. They just throw up and move on – sleep, lie around, so easy! I’ve always attributed that reaction to the resilience of kids – you know, they bounce back very often more quickly than we do as grown ups!

So we managed to get through the night – the worst was over with her by bed time, but I awoke early in the morning to the sound of vomiting in the hall bathroom. Thinking immediately it was Lauren, I hopped out of bed ready to console her and help clean up any potential “misses.”

To my surprise, it was Colton. Poor little kid. One of those scenes where he’s sitting on the potty with diarrhea, and vomiting on the floor. Not too much of a mess – there really wasn’t much in his stomach (thank GOD), so we cleaned up and got him tucked in lying on the couch. That would be TWO home from school today!

As the day progressed, we dealt with more dry heaves and diarrhea, and through all this, my theory of the resiliency of kids became challenged.

Baby boy, as it turns out, is quite the drama king! Seriously, he was moaning, crying, shouting out, “Tummy bug – what do you WANT with me????” I mean, as a mom, it’s so sad to see them sick and hurting, but c’mon – how do I stop myself from nearly spitting-out-my-drink laughing when that happens? Add to that the writhing on the couch shouting, “why me?” and “I’m not sure I’m going to make it!” and you have a full-on reality show script!

In his drama, though, he is SO sweet it just makes me want to cry! Here are some quotes from the day:

“Mommy…even though I know there is nothing you can do about the tummy bug, you are my only medicine.” Cue the “awwwwwwwww!” Seriously? This kid – my love! I have my own tummy bug prevention strategy, BTW…

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He asked late in the day to get into the tubby for a nice warm bath, which of course I accommodated – who doesn’t love a warm tubby? While he was in there, he asked me to pour water over his head, face and down his back. With each pour came different remarks, including:

“That one felt like a warm snuggle…”
“That one felt like a thousand kisses…”
“That one felt like a long warm hug…”

I’ve said it before – he is the sweetest little boy I’ve ever seen in my life, and he’s gentle, kind and loving. And apparently I can add “poetic” to that list!

So even though the tummy bug is here (still hoping to escape it), I am grateful for the insight into this Little guy’s persona as I love him through it. And yes, like any good mom, I started thinking – college scholarship for drama in his future? LOL JK

Pray the bug leaves soon – but I’ll always have these memories!

It’s official! I am a “soccer mom!” And…

So it’s finally official! After dabbling in extracurricular activities with the Littles on an intermittent basis, largely because it’s been hard to get them to said activities with all the hours I’ve been working. Now, I have some time and flexibility, and so being the “overachiever” (and I say that tongue in cheek) that I am, I have jumped into that world with both feet!

I am now a soccer mom, a gymnastics mom, and soon-to-be swimmer mom! Gaaah! What are the odds I can keep up with all of this? Seriously, so far I am LOVING it! There is something truly magical about watching your little ones out there “doing their thing,” and enjoying it! Whether they are a superstar or just doing their best, I simply love it!

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I am a big believer that keeping your Littles “busy” because then they are too busy to get themselves into something naughty – thanks, Mom! My hope is also that they continue to grow into and display their very own gifts and personalities, and learn to know what it is to be on a team or what it is to excel in something that they love. Making new friends is awesome too – I love hearing them say “hey” or “bye” to each other as they come and go. Mom gushing…though this crazy schedule has just started, I look forward to the continued chaos!

Ok…enough gushing – now let me offer some musings about my observations so far…

Colton has chosen to continue with soccer, and boy is he the cutest soccer player I’ve ever seen! I love to see him all dressed in his uniform and ready for a game. I have fond memories of playing myself, and as such, I know the game and can follow along, offer “relevant” cheers and advice on what to focus on and what we need to practice. He so clearly loves to run and chase the ball and so on, so long as it’s not heading his way by another kid coming straight at him! He tends to play defense, which is very slow when our team is down the field trying to score, but the second it’s heading his way, he’s raring to go. The kicker (no pun intended)? He is afraid. Afraid of getting hit with the ball, afraid of getting hit by another kid. Just the visual that a kid is about to kick the ball in his direction is met with a flinch and even his arms up and head turned away “just in case!”

I can’t remember if that was me when I played or not. What I do remember is that I ended up quitting right about the time I started to get (hooters) – let me tell you – a soccer ball to a pre-teens ta-ta’s HURTS! LOL

So I plan to practice with him – to teach him to be a bit more aggressive with defending – and as long as he wants to play, I’ll support it of course! But in the back of my mind, I wonder if a non-contact sport may be more up his alley. You know, swimming, track…? We’ll see! But right now, he’s still the cutest little soccer player I know.

Little Lauren is starting swimming lessons in a few weeks (wow are they booked up fast here). She loves being in the pool, and she has a fierce competitive spirit! Her love language is most definitely 13445542_10206908370687657_3478816580629499935_n-2“words of affirmation” and the biggest motivation for her is praise for what she is accomplishing. She gets SO excited and SO proud of herself when you honor her accomplishments – and the giggle that follows is the most delightful thing a mom and dad can hear.

Now the other part….this child, this beautiful, gifted child….is about the most uncoordinated Little I have ever seen! She literally could fall down standing still, and we’re constantly looking 5 steps ahead of her to try to prevent an accident. It seems she is just too busy to pay attention to where she is and where she’s going. We’ve tried gymnastics with her (ooooh, too scared on that beam!), tennis (she fell and scraped knees and elbows) – and now, she’s decided she wants to try swimming! Mom says, “yea!” For those of you who don’t know, I did swim in college. Certainly wasn’t Olympic material, but I did ok. It’s a great sport – with both team and individual accomplishments – and the best part? You really can’t get hurt! Ok…tendonitis, maybe, but that’s repetitive motion.

So she starts in a few weeks with lessons on how to do the traditional strokes. She is great in the pool, but doggie paddling will never be an Olympic sport. So I am eager to see how she does…stay tuned!

And then there is Taylor…

Taylor, by far, is our most athletic child. She is strong, stocky, and fearless – which scares me quite a bit actually! She just started gymnastics and tumbling classes, which, truthfully, I had to sign her up for because I need her to know how to do these things SAFELY – because she practices all around the house! Literally cartwheels everywhere, and has been threatening to do a back handspring!

So here we go, her first class at gymnastics – a free trial class provided by the gym to give her an opportunity to see if she “likes it.” HA! I told them, “Oh, she’ll like it!” I then told the coach to keep an eye on her, because “she thinks she’s ready for Rio!” He laughed and assured me she’d be ok.

To keep a long story short, let’s just say she loved it AND aced it! Coach came out after and said, “Well, she certainly is confident!” Ya think? And he told her that if she could just master a particular bar movement (hard!), she’d be moved right up to the advanced class!

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Oh, boy…how awesome is that? I was so proud of her! And wouldn’t you know, the very next class, she mastered that move, and she’s moving up! We celebrated with ice cream at Baskin Robbins, and I gushed over her success (as all moms do, of course)!

Next, her first tumbling class – again – aced it and a different coach told her she would be moving up quickly! She is SO excited!

Of course, I’m proud – of course! However – all this moving up and gushing I think has unleashed a bit of the beast of EGO! Let me tell you – she is SO proud of herself! And she should be, don’t get me wrong. But she is super SUPER proud! Like, do a perfect cartwheel, then hands-on-hips-(kind of like this photo)-strut-around-like-the-Queen-of-Sheba-proud! And although it is so incredibly cute and funny to me when she does it, I need to reign in the “I am SO much better than anyone in my group” pride.

Yes, we’ve had talks about it. And at the end of the day, I think moving up is going to be good for her skills AND good for leveling the playing field a bit. After all – those who are already in the advanced class will likely be a bit ahead of her – something to strive for and something a bit humbling too.

Parenting is hard. You want them to have all the confidence in the world, but in all of that confidence they also have to find humility. So I am a soccer mom, a gymnastics mom, and a swimming mom. But most of all, I am a loving mom that wants and needs for them to understand ALL of the highs, lows, sportsmanship and grace of sharing their gifts with the world. I think I may learn more during all this than they will!

Wish me luck!

The Unexpected Gift

I was given the most unexpected gift on Friday. I was fired. Yes, the proverbial, out-of-the-blue, pack up your box, kind of “let go.” Now, don’t get me wrong…I know it sounds crazy to call that a gift. At first, it was shocking and disappointing and strange. After all, I’ve never been fired before! (The reason cited, by the way, was “poor culture fit.”)

Sad businesswoman carrying belongings in box after loosing job

But I’ve had the weekend to process it and have come to the conclusion that this really is a gift. For years now I’ve wanted to move from a corporate office-bound 8-5 (or 7) kind of role to one that gives me full control over my destiny and life – one in which I choose my schedule – I choose my priorities – I choose who I want to work with – and I get to balance my work and my family on my own terms.

Yes, my friends…I am moving toward becoming an Independent Consultant!

It’s a liberating feeling to know your own worth – it’s taken me a long time (46 years) but I believe I am there! Am I anxious? Yes! Do I have questions? Yes! Is the prospect a bit scary? Yes!

But what I know is that I have 20 years of progressive HR leadership experience and a TON of contacts, colleagues and acquaintances that know me and have valued my contributions! And what I has even bolstered my resolve over the past two days are the wonderful friends and colleagues (and even new acquaintances) that have reached out to offer their help and support.

I firmly believe that God is in control and puts circumstances and people in your life in His timing and in His own plan. And God is good! I’m sure I’ll have some moments in which I wonder if this is the right path for me, but for now, I am accepting this gift of time to reinvent my professional life and enjoy some quality time with my precious Littles and incredibly supportive husband.

This profession has been good to me – and I’m looking forward to being able to share my experiences with companies that will value my advice. And that, my friends, is a gift. An unexpected one, but aren’t those the best kind?

**And…shameful plug…if you know of anyone who could use some help, please share! I’ll take great care of them – I promise! 

My Dad

My Dad…

The head of the household (although my mom might debate that). A military man, he believed and exemplified discipline and respect. As a child, I remembered the AWE of him…an officer…in charge…dressed to the nines. The blues, the buttons, the pins…the prestige!

My memories as a child whose love language is physical touch, focused mainly on his “plump” belly – a great snuggling attribute! It was like this little pillow that you could sink your head into and feel “at home” and “comfortable” and “loved.” At one time, he got into playing racquetball and got very fit, and lost that belly. We all knew it was in the best interests of his health, but I still couldn’t help but miss that snuggle factor!

Dad was always an adventurer…let’s go camping! And we did! Some of my greatest memories involved driving in the station wagon to destinations most people only dream of visiting! The Lego Land in Denmark, the Keukenhof in Holland, Berlin (when the Wall was still menacing), Munich and the German Concentration Camp at Dachau…

We (mostly Dad) would pack the back of the station wagon with our camping gear – the sleeping tents (built like a little hotel), the dining tent, and all the cooking gear – and we would head off…

We lived in Germany – so central to the majority of Europe, so we would just pack up and drive to anywhere we wanted to go! For the most part, the borders were open, but every now and then we would run into the American equivalent of border patrol, and they would want to conduct a full search of the very well-packed Chevy station wagon.

Dad would calmly say, “no problem! Go ahead and search everything! BUT – if you unpack everything to search it, you will HAVE to re-pack it as it was when you have finished!”

That was usually enough to get them to let us pass without incident.

Every year, and I’m not sure where this came from, Dad would joke about getting a Mercedes for Christmas…and it just recently dawned on me that my love for Mercedes must be a product of his love for the car maker….amazing how these things pass along generationally.

Dad…with 3 girls and 1 boy…

Served his country….travelled the world….supported his lovely wife (my mom) and 4 children along the way…

Retired…worked in the private sector…struggled with the transition but has remained the Dad I know and love…

Daddy has taught me so much – I can only hope that he is proud of who I have become. He is my Dad…my Dad…my only Dad. And I love him. And I am so proud he is my Dad. He is a great man.

I love you, Daddy! You mean more to me than you can possibly know!

Those moments that hurt…

We all have them. Those Mommy moments that hurt. Today, it was Lauren climbing into the car in the pickup line, sobbing because she misses Daddy, who is traveling to Chicago. That is a routine occurrence any time he travels. They are so close, so I get it, but I also can’t help but feel inside that feeling of “so what am I? Lunch meat?” Funny, I know. But unfunny too. Even though I have three, and two of them are so very attached to me, I still can’t help but wonder why the third one (or second if you consider birth order), just doesn’t seem to feel the same way about me as the other two?

I, of course, know the answer. When the girls were born, Steve and I did the best we could, each of us taking one of the twins through the night, trying to “switch it up” over concern about bonding. But their schedules and demands got the best of us, and Lauren, being the most predictable and therefore “easier,” ended up being with Daddy through the night since he had limited time off and had to return to work sooner than I.images-2

Well, for anyone who has questioned it, the bonding thing is REAL! To this day, Taylor (my nighttime infant snuggler) is glued to me like Gorilla Glue, and Lauren is a Daddy’s girl all…the…way!

And honestly, I’m happy for Steve and his relationship with Lauren – she loves him so very much and he is so wrapped around her little finger. It’s so precious, and I know that since Mommy gets most of the Littles’ lovin’, he treasures having his very own little sweetheart devoted all to him!

Then…after a long day of work and Steve traveling, I had the dinnertime blow. Meatballs and broccoli for dinner – not their favorite (the broccoli part of course). Add to that the girls’ tormenting of Colton during dinner – something the poor kid will probably have to live with his entire life – and the meltdown began. Sadly, it came out in the form of “I just want to move away and leave you all!”

Gaaaaaah!tumblr_m6afxp2Rxk1r3docro1_500 Whaaaat? You want to leave MOMMY too? When asked about where he would go, he said, “China.” So then, playing along, I asked if he knew anything about China – to which he of course said, “no.” So next, he decided he was going to Germany. Then seemed perplexed when asked how he was to pay for the airfare and his housing once he arrived.

I know…childish, right? Still hurt my feelings. Wants to leave Mommy???

And to boot, made me wonder what the drama is going to be like when they reach the hormonal teenage years! Oh, boy! I can’t imagine any of them leaving here, even when all grown up and ready to go…can’t I just keep them little?

As much as the rational part of me understands this is normal, it still somehow makes me sad to think they have these little thoughts of their own that tell me someday they will be their own person and learn to live without me in every detail of their lives. But that’s being a mommy, right? I just wish the time between infancy and the kickoff of independence was longer…much longer!

Can anyone else relate? Please share!

Oh…and BTW…all is well in the Grant House…a temporary teary meltdown – now they are jump-roping together and snacking on Easter candy – loving Little buddies once again. Sweet dreams, everyone!