Welcome!

Hi! I’m so glad you stopped by. If this is your first visit, you can learn more about me by reading the Welcome Start Here page. I hope you’ll come on in, grab a cup of coffee, and kick back for a while. This is just my little place on the web where I like to share my stories and hear yours, too. And we all have our stories! Some days it’s an adventure, some days a drama, and a lot of days feel like a slapstick comedy. No matter the day and no matter our stories, I believe we’re meant to share them to encourage one another. Wherever we might be in our story, we can’t give up. We never know what’s ahead for us around the next bend. We just have to keep turning the page.

Ho Ho No – 5 Reasons We Don’t Do Santa

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The tree is trimmed. The stockings are hung. The gifts are ready. And by that, I mean the gifts are ready for me to find them at the store, buy them, hide them, wrap them, and put them under the tree at approximately 1:37 a.m. on December 25th. It’s okay. I’m good at other things.

The only thing that’s missing is a jolly old bearded guy in a red suit. And his reindeer. Oh, and that creepy elf dude.

Yes. We are one of THOSE families. We don’t do Santa at our house. I know, I know. It’s okay to go ahead and roll your eyes. We get that a lot.

It’s not like we’re marching indignantly on the North Pole, picket signs in hand, but it does come up a bit during this time of year. The reaction is generally one of disappointed surprise mixed with polite disapproval. “Oh, is that so? I didn’t realize. Well. I guess the children will find other ways to have a childhood.”

In an effort to reclaim some of our parenting points in the eyes of society (not that I was already in the running for Mother of the Year), here are some of our reasons for sacking Santa.

Santa’s unlimited resources don’t match our very limited budget.
As much as I love the idea of writing a letter listing all my dream requests to someone with the hopes of them being granted (wait–Ellen, are you Santa?), this would only set my kids up for disappointment. Because while the elves might have some back channel connections, Mama isn’t paying $250 or arm wrestling a trucker for a Hatchimal. Sorry, baby girl. Mama still loves you.

We don’t want to share credit with a cartoon.
Okay, so this one is admittedly a little selfish. But over the last decade of Christmases, we’ve worked really hard to scrape together enough money to be able to put a couple of modest gifts under the tree for the kids. It’s not much but ohmygoodness when they open those gifts and we see those huge smiles? I didn’t really want to hear, “Thank you, Santa!” I wanted some hugs.

For all my kids, but especially my literal-thinking aspie, it’s kind of creepy.
If I told my kid that there was a man out there who sees him when he’s sleeping and knows when he’s awake and knows when he’s been bad or good with the thinly veiled threat of “be good for goodness’ sake,” he wouldn’t sleep for a month. It does make Santa sound less like a jolly philanthropist and more like an unsub profiled on Criminal Minds.

It only takes one child in need to make you question the whole system.
Once upon a time in a world far away, I was a 2nd grade teacher. I will never forget the day an eight-year-old broke my heart wide open. I was on playground duty just after winter break when I spotted a student playing alone and decided to keep him company. We started chatting about his holiday and I asked him if he had a good Christmas. He looked up at me with confused eyes and said, “Santa didn’t come this year, Mrs. Pooser. I don’t know why. I tried so hard all year to be real, real good. But he didn’t come anyway.” That moment took my breath away. I just couldn’t bring myself to pass along a tradition that has the potential to make a child feel like his behavior is somehow responsible for his family not having any gifts under the tree.

Our holiday is less cluttered.
When we shifted our attention away from the material side of Christmas, we were able to focus more clearly on what we’re truly celebrating. The long-awaited Messiah, with Calvary already in mind, born to a desperate and dark world, bringing with him the light of hope, joy, peace, and love. And with the love of Jesus in our hearts, we do talk about St. Nicholas and how his spirit of kindness and generosity can live on in our Christmas traditions. We try to think of ways to spread joy to our neighbors and our community. Whether we’re able to sponsor a whole family from the Angel Tree or if we can just swing a few dollars to leave a Starbucks gift card on a stranger’s porch, there are lots of ways we can spread Christmas cheer. We’ve learned to step outside ourselves and think of others.

So even though we don’t do Santa Claus with our kids, there is still plenty of room for St. Nick in our Christmas.

We’re Ready for Anything with the Britax B-Ready Stroller

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{I was so excited to partner with Britax for this post! I received a sample of the B-Ready stroller to use and test in order to provide my honest feedback and share my thoughts with you.}

When there are six years between your second and third babies, there are no baby items left in the house to pass down. We got rid of all that back when we hadn’t had any babies for five years and assumed we were all done.

When you’ve been a mom for almost a decade and that third baby comes along, you have a more laid back approach to collecting all the baby items you literally just sold at a yard sale the year before.

Your sweet new baby ends up with a collection of pre-loved car seats, cribs, and clothes. And you’re thrilled because baby is dressed, strapped in, and doesn’t really sleep anyway.

So when Britax gave Abby the chance to ride in style in her very own brand new stroller? I was thrilled! And so was Abby!britax-post-1

Then when the 2017 B-Ready stroller arrived and I started reading about all the features? I was almost jealous. This thing is a nicer ride than any car I’ve ever owned.

Thanks to a fun meet-up hosted by Britax, Atlanta Area Moms Blog, and Squash Blossom Kitchens, we got all the details for the bells and whistles. Plus, delicious snacks and adult conversation.

With tons of cool accessories and twelve different seating options, you are literally ready for anything life might throw at you. This could very well be the last stroller you will need to buy.

With a few pops and clicks, you can face your child forward or backward. Have two kiddos with you? A second seat attachment is super easy to slide on and you’re ready to go. Baby fall asleep in the car seat? Just pop off the seat and pop on the carrier.

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Photo courtesy of Britax

Being a sleep-deprived and slightly clumsy gal, I was very impressed with the safety features. The five-point harness is super secure. Abby can try as hard as she wants, but she won’t be able to unlatch herself. And that’s a definite win for mom.

With our previous strollers, the basket has been a pain to access. So I tend to hang my diaper bag on the handle, which is a big no-no. Because we take five years’ worth of stuff with us to go to Kroger for ten minutes, the diaper bag is super heavy and can make the stroller tip over. Britax is looking out for moms like me and has made the stroller basket totally roomy and easily accessible. No more stroller tipping!

In my permanently exhausted state, I have been known to press the brake for one side of the stroller and forget the other side which sends the baby in a spin. Again. Britax cares for the absent-minded mamas. The B-Ready stroller has a one-step brake with green/red indicator to make it clear whether it is set or not. Abby sends her gratitude and love.britax-post-4

Besides being reassuringly safe and totally convenient for seating arrangements, Britax has used the B-Ready stroller to just show off a little bit with all the unnecessary awesomeness.

The handle has several positions to adjust to your comfort level.

The seat reclines almost flat for maximum napping potential. You know. If your baby sleeps. britax-post-3

The canopy is huge and can keep your child from permanently squinting in the hot Southern sun.britax-post-2

The foam-filled rubber tires and suspension system make for a ridiculously smooth ride.

Even the foot rest has several adjustable positions to make sure baby is as comfortable as possible.britax-post-5

If you’re in the market for a stroller, I definitely recommend you check out the B-Ready. It might just be the last stroller you’ll ever need to buy!

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Photo courtesy of Britax

Check out the B-Ready stroller and more amazing products from Britax at their home on the web.

So You’re Thinking Your Kid Might Have Autism?

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So you’re thinking your kid might have autism?

Okay, mama.

Deep breath.

It can be overwhelming, I know. Seven years ago, I was right where you are now.

At first, I thought it was an adjustment to his new baby sister. Then, I thought maybe it was a lack of experience, so we enrolled him in a part-time preschool class. It only took two days for his teacher to see what I couldn’t.

I will never forget that conversation. His sweet teacher was loving and gracious and could not have handled it better. But still. My stomach sank to my toes. For the entire ride home, every time I glanced in the rearview mirror at his sweet three-year-old face, the tears came hot and fast.

We wrestled with the idea of an official evaluation. We resisted the idea of a “label.” We didn’t want this to change our kid.

But here’s the thing, mama, an autism diagnosis is not the end of the road. It’s just the beginning of a new path.

Actually, it’s not even a new path at all. It’s just a signpost for the path you are already on.

Because a diagnosis cannot and will not change your child. Your kiddo is still the same awesome kid, fearfully and wonderfully made. The only thing that changes is your filter…

I’d love for you to continue reading this post and join the conversation at Atlanta Area Moms Blog. Click here: So You’re Wondering if Your Kid Might Have Autism? Share it with a mom (or dad) you know who might be going through the evaluation and/or diagnosis process. Let them know they are not alone! 

When God Writes Your Story

light-forest-trees-morning.jpgThe bickering from the backseat couldn’t dampen my good mood. We were setting off on our one and only family vacation for the year, taking our six- and three-year-old kids on a weeklong camping trip. It wasn’t quite the Disney cruise I’d dreamed of, but we had a good tent, a great campground, and my stubborn determination to make it an Instagram-worthy vacation.

Adventure awaited!

And waited. After eight long hours of driving through Georgia, we finally made it to the cool mountain air. Except the air wasn’t cool at all. It was 109 degrees. The record-breaking heat wave that drove me to walk my young children into the beer cooler at the gas station was relentless.

No matter! There was a beautiful mountain stream to splash in and a shady barnyard to explore. The kids had a blast, and I got some great Facebook documentation of our potential as future farmers. We held bunnies, chased chickens, petted horses and goats, and even milked a cow! Our first day at camp was exactly as I’d envisioned. It was definitely hot, but we were pushing through. I planned to end the day with the perfect night: showers, s’mores, and “Kumbaya” around the campfire.

We could smell the bathhouse before we even got close. An apologetic sign informed us a water main had broken and there would be no running water for two days while it was being fixed.

Two days of no flushing and no showers for people living outside in a massive heat wave. Throw in some barnyard animals for flavor, and it was a recipe for a smelly disaster…

Seems like a slapstick comedy? Find out what happened next! (Spoiler: a bear is involved.) God used this trip to teach me some valuable lessons and give our family some lifelong memories that we will cherish forever. Click through to The Glorious Table to read the rest of the story:
http://theglorioustable.com/2016/08/when-god-writes-your-story/

10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Motherhood

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My first baby just had his tenth birthday. He was just born five minutes ago. And then I blinked. I can definitely testify to the truth of that old saying: “The days are long but the years are short.” I’m no expert, but I have learned some valuable lessons along the way.

Here are ten things I’ve learned in ten years of motherhood.

  1. Expect the unexpected.
    From minute one, motherhood has been full of surprises. Our firstborn was named and the room decorated in various shades of pink just as soon as we left our gender-revealing ultrasound. The kid was five minutes old before someone thought to tell us that she was a he. Our poor ultrasound tech must have had an off day. Oops.
  1. Haters gonna hate.
    No matter what we choose for our children, there will be plenty of people who passionately disagree with us. Breast or bottle, cloth or disposable, free-range or Pop-Tarts. I’m still somewhat shocked at how freely people will shame a mom for her choices. After ten years, my skin has finally thickened up and I’ve learned to own my decisions.
  1. Coffee and wine.
    The only two things I can think of that I get to enjoy on my own without sharing with my kids. They don’t even ask anymore. Cheers!
  1. This, too, shall pass.
    Whether it’s teething, potty training, or the crazy drama of threenagers, there are seasons of motherhood. I thought I would never leave the house without packing for a three-day safari. And then suddenly, I was carrying a cute purse again. (Would someone please occasionally remind me of my own words because we started over with a new baby last year. Ahem. See #1. Also, #3.)
  1. Choose Laughter.
    When they draw whiskers on their faces in permanent marker the day before family portraits. When I drop the diaper and the contents fall out in front of a crowd. When I’m carrying a screaming kid half my size all the way through Target. These are the moments that could easily send me into a mommy meltdown. It took some practice, but I learned to laugh. Especially when I realized these are the stories I’ll get to tell at their rehearsal dinners…

To read the remainder of this post and join the conversation by sharing your lessons and tips, please click through to visit Atlanta Area Moms Blog. While you’re there, check out some of the other great posts by some amazing mamas!
http://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/10-things-ive-learned-10-years-motherhood/

And Then I Blinked: 10 Years with Caleb

I was a week past my due date. It was mid-June in Florida. My ankles and feet could have matched a sumo wrestler whose dinner was a little too salty.

It was a full moon.

There was a tropical storm coming.

And yet this baby girl was in no hurry.

I walked. I ate the magic eggplant parmesan. I walked some more. I tried a little glass of wine and a bubble bath. I walked again.

I did all I could to get things started.

Everything was ready. As soon as we left our gender-revealing ultrasound, we’d named her and decorated her room.

We were ready! For labor, for the baby, for parenthood.

23 hours of induced labor. Three hours of pushing. All four pages of my birth plan had gone out the window at about hour seven.

The baby was five minutes old before someone mentioned that she was a he. Oops. Big, big ultrasound oops.

From that moment on, he’s been surprising us.

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When he was 18 months old, he could point out about half the United States on a map. His favorite shape was an octagon. He was absolutely fascinated by windmills.

Then he discovered trains.

Yes, there was the token Thomas the Tank here and there. When someone would ask him about his favorite engine, they would expect a short answer about Edward or Percy or maybe even Chuggington. What they got was 15 minutes of dialogue about the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 and how it compares to the Union Pacific 4-6-6-4.

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Thomas episodes were quickly replaced by hours-long documentaries about Amtrak’s Sunset Limited or The Era of Steam. He could hold his own in conversations with the old pros at the Model Railroad Show.

When he was four years old, he became interested in the human body and decided he was going to learn all about it. So he did. He pored over anatomy books. When someone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d answer, “A train engineer for my job and a pulmonologist as my hobby.”

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This kid.

He is one in a million. He has changed my life and molded me into the person I am now and will continue to change me as we each grow.

I became a mama when he was born. I became an autism research professional when he was two. I became an advocate when he was three. I became the proverbial firewalker when he was four.

There have been some long, hard days. When his little body just could not handle the barrage of sensory input. When the world was overwhelming. When every transition was so very hard.

And yet.

This kid.

He has pushed through. He has shown up. He has kept trying.

He has overcome so much in his ten years.

He has taught me more about love, courage, and perseverance than I even knew there was to learn.

I could have never imagined the crazy ride parenthood would take us on when we were waiting and waiting for him to get here.

I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything in the world.

He was so worth the wait.

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Can We, the Church, Please Get It Together?

I have no words for the news this morning.

I feel like the world is quickly running out of words for days like this when dawn breaks yet again on a new depth of sorrow.

Our souls are weary. Our hearts are heavy.

How do we explain this to our children?

How do we look into their sweet faces and explain that someone had such incomprehensible hatred for their fellow human beings?

I just don’t know, y’all.

I’m a peacemaker. That’s probably code for people-pleaser. I can’t stand the idea of someone being mad at me and I feel sick when I have hurt feelings or offended someone.

Because of that, I have remained publicly silent on a number of issues in the past. Under the assumption that someone else will always say it more eloquently, I’ve let others speak out. And while I nod along and silently wave my pompoms from the sidelines, I’m content to let them take the heat for it. I’ve kept my head down.

I’m done with all that.

So, Church?

Listen up, please.

We need to get it together.

When we come together now and offer prayers for the victims of this shooting, but have been unwilling to acknowledge our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community except to shame and ridicule, we are not taken seriously.

Can you blame them?

How can we be so strong in our pro-life conversations and then tell a grieving community “they reap what they sow,” belittling every ounce of humanity they have?

Could times like these point out our hypocrisy?

Our brothers and sisters are hurting. And have been hurting for quite some time. Sadly, we who are to be loving our neighbors as ourselves, are responsible for some of the pain.

We’d rather point fingers, shout about bathrooms, or carry picket signs.

Look, we can disagree on every issue under the sun. But we are called–commanded–to love.  Tweet: Look, we can disagree on every issue under the sun. But we are called--commanded--to love. http://bit.ly/1tkWfIb via @ashleydpooser

We’re talking LOVE love.commanded to love 2

Radical love.

Without limits.

Extreme love.

Without qualifiers.

Jesus love.

 

We, as the church, need to pause and reflect.

Are we showing Christ to a hurting world with our chronic indignation? With our outrage about bathrooms and holiday coffee cups?

We have much work to do.

Because love wins in the end. We already know that. So let’s get it together. Let’s enjoy being on the winning team.

Please. Let’s be extra kind today. And show love.

Love neighbors. Love strangers. Love the guy who cut you off in traffic.

Just. Love. Period.

To all my LGBTQ friends, family, and neighbors: I love you. I see your pain. My heart hurts with you. I stand with you. I love you all.

And the idea that that statement could be deemed as controversial is heartbreaking.

 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31, NIV