What Moms Really Want for Christmas

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In a recently conducted, extremely reliable, incredibly scientific poll done by–um–me on my social media, researchers (also me) have discovered what moms truly want for Christmas.

The question posed to moms was simple: “If Santa could bring you anything, real or imagined, what would you ask for?”

The responses came and a trend overwhelmingly presented itself. While Santa might have a hard time filling the requests exactly as hoped, I took the liberty of offering up a few, slightly more realistic, alternatives.

CHEF
Every evening around 6:00, these people who live in our houses want to eat. Again. Which means we’re supposed to feed these tiny humans. Again. There are only so many times we can get away with frozen nugget-shaped meat product and leftover shells and cheese. Believe me. I’ve tested those limits. So if Santa could bring moms a chef to do all your menu planning and shopping and cooking? Dream come true. A personal chef is sadly out of reach for most of us. But what about these alternatives to make mealtime a bit easier?
– Meal Subscription Service that could deliver fresh ingredients and detailed recipes right to your door. No thinking required. Which is great because I have zero brain cells left by dinnertime.
– Grocery Delivery or Curbside Pickup is now a thing at several major supermarkets. Not having to become the People of Walmart twice a week sounds heavenly to me.
– Menu Planning and List Making Service would at least cut down on the time it takes to plan the weekly menu and shopping lists. This would save us all from being stuck in a repetitive dinner rotation.

To discover the next four must-have gifts for mom, please click through to Atlanta Area Moms Blog. Because while Santa might have trouble gift wrapping a maid, there are some great alternatives waiting to go under the tree! http://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/what-moms-really-want-for-christmas/

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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

10 things in 10 years motherhood

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.

caleb 10 years jellyfish
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.

caleb 10 years lake
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.”

caleb 10 years beach
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.

caleb 10 years beach 2

5 Ways Moms Are Total Ninjas

5 ways moms are total ninjas

To celebrate the beginning of summer, I took my kids to Family Night at our favorite chicken restaurant. The place was absolutely packed with kids hyped up on the promise of freedom. The play area looked like a giant ant bed that had just been kicked over and sounded like the 10th circle of hell that Dante could never have imagined in his worst nightmares.

Let’s just say it was a long night.

Once we got home, after I finally got the kids in bed, I sat on the couch and held my breath. I didn’t want to do anything to wake them up. I knew if I so much as twitched, they’d wake up. A few minutes later, I needed to walk past their bedrooms to check the laundry. Halfway there, I realized if anyone happened to see me, they would worry about me. Each step took all kinds of planning and I was hopping all over the hallway, avoiding those squeaky spots.

And that’s when it hit me. Moms are total ninjas. Need more proof?  Read on…

 

To read more about the ways moms are total ninjas (including stealth, speed, endurance, unagi, and wisdom), please visit Atlanta Area Moms Blog:
http://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/moms-a-ninja/.

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Connecting with God When All You Have Is a Moment

dawn-nature-sunset-womanOnce upon a time, I was an adventurer. I was fearless. I lived each day to the fullest. Carpe diem and all that. I climbed mountains and flew across oceans. My passion to share Jesus was a fire burning, and I wanted to spread it across the world. I prayed aloud all the time, whether in the arms of my dearest friends or with complete strangers at the next gas pump.

As time passed, though, that fire died down until it seemed only embers remained. I think I got lost in the haze of day-to-day life. Over the last decade, my adventures have consisted mostly of navigating Walmart with three kids without causing a major public incident. The only mountains I’ve climbed have been the lofty peaks of laundry I step on to get to the dryer.

When I became a mother, I think I hit a pause button on being me. I think this self-imposed hiatus is something to which all caregivers can relate. It’s in our nature to give and give and give to our families. That’s part of what makes being a wife and mom so fiercely beautiful. This system we’ve set up seems to work–until the time inevitably comes when we have nothing left of ourselves to give.

That’s where I was just a short time ago. Drained. Short-tempered. Exhausted. Spiritually parched. Easily frustrated. One day, I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d prayed aloud. There were the bedtime prayers and meal blessings with the kids, but other than that, it just didn’t happen anymore. I’m not sure why. With church and small group and Bible study and MOPS meetings, there were plenty of opportunities. I would just sit there, though, with the weight of the pause pressing on my shoulders and the heat of the moment burning my cheeks. It’s not like I thought my friends or church family would jump to their feet, laughing and pointing at me. Why was I so self-conscious? I realized it was because I was out of practice.

I was disconnected. In my frantic need to take care of everyone else, I wasn’t making time to connect with God, and that disconnect was spilling over into all the other parts of my life. My identity is found in him. Unless I am spending time with the One who created me, I am bound to lose myself…

This post was challenging for me because it felt very vulnerable. Vulnerability is scary but authenticity is so worth it if even just one person is encouraged or says, “Me, too!”

To read more of this post, please visit The Glorious Table:
http://theglorioustable.com/2016/06/connecting-with-god-when-all-you-have-is-a-moment/.