A Fifteen Year Reunion

Sometimes we have to do hard things.  That’s life. 

I tell my boys this ALL.THE.TIME. 

“I can’t pass that swim test.  It’s too hard.”  That’s life. 

“I can’t do all of those math assignments they gave us at the end of the school year that we’ve waited all summer to do. They're too hard.”  That’s life. 

“I can’t run that fake twenty-three blast with a backside George reverse.  It’s too hard.”  That’s life.  (And, also, football.)

 As an adult, I have to do hard things, too.  We all do.

Like seeing your mother for the first time in over fifteen years.  Which I did earlier this month. 

Since I’ve been back from Vegas, those who knew that I was going to see her seem to want to ask how it went but are afraid.  Maybe they’re afraid I’ll cut them off with an, “I don’t wanna talk about it.”  Maybe they’re afraid I’ll go into the fetal position.  I can assure you that neither will happen because it went well. 

Not just well.  It went better than I could have ever imagined the reunion to be. 

Now, that’s not to say that it wasn’t awkward at times because it was.  It was much like talking to a stranger except a stranger who birthed you thirty-something years ago. 

But it was good.  Details of conversations aren’t really of importance.  We talked about my boys, I showed her some recent pictures and shared a little on their personalities. 

While we didn’t go into many details of her current life, I think it’s safe to infer that she’s living a tough one — very little money, roommates, disabled husband.  It was certainly not picturesque. 

Physically, she looks at least twenty years older than she is.  I was not surprised by this as I know what decades of drugs and alcohol use can do to a body. Mentally, there are some hiccups but, again, all typical of the use.   

But you know what? There was more laughter than tears.  There were more smiles than frowns.  We weren’t dwelling on the things of the past but simply talking about the here and now and enjoying our limited time that day. 

And, for the first time in a very long time, I felt like the daughter, not the mom.  After about a thirty-minute lunch, my mother headed to her bus stop and we headed back to our hotel.  And I was one hundred percent okay with how things went. 

While I had a good bit of anxiety emotionally preparing for this reunion, I am so very glad I did it.  Friends, we never know when our last day on Earth will be.  Not a one of us. And regrets go with us forever.

Forgive.  Today, forgive.  For you.  For them.  For everyone around you.  Bitterness is toxic and will strangle from the inside out.  From one (former) Bitter Betty to another…take the first step.  It's not life changing, it's life giving.   

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Taco Bell & Twizzlers

We, as parents, often live in ignorant bliss about some things. 

·         Potty training will go the way I say it will go. 

·         No fresh-mouthed kid will live under MY roof. 

·         Our family get away is going to be SO relaxing. 

 

The last one just makes me chuckle out loud. Not then, for sure.  But now I can laugh about it. 

You see, Dallas and I recently returned from a five-day trip to Las Vegas.  If you follow me, this is old news. The nutrition company that we have partnered with had their conference and we flew out to attend.  And it was great!

Our boys stayed behind and spent a week with the grands.  Before our trip, we promised them a few days away in the mountains when we returned but, more importantly, a visit to Story Land.  Because they care not one actual thing about the mountains themselves. 

So after we finished laundry from our desert trip, we packed all seven of us up — oh yes, even the dog — and headed three hours north. 

Friends, can I just tell you that I truly and honestly had such high hopes for these three days? Aside from the drive, I had planned to have a no-screen policy.  I wanted us to truly spend time talking to each other, listening to each other and enjoying each other. 

Not one of these things happened.  Well, no, that’s not true.  There was a lot of talking, just more in the form of shouting and crying.  But zero listening and zero enjoying each other. 

From the moment we stuffed them all into the ole’ Odyssey, there was fighting over who would sit where, who would hold the dog in their lap, who would suck the most life out of the parents.

At the first rest stop, they all had to have something from the vending machine.  Because why not?  Let’s pay $1.50 for a bag of Gardettos that, for $2 more, I could buy a box of six from Target.  Seriously.  The tightwad in me does not handle these situations well but it was just whatever. 

Once we arrived in the town where we were staying, we found a Dairy Queen.  SCORE.  Ever since we moved to MA two years ago, we have found a total of two DQ’s and both were walk-up windows that only served ice cream.  As lovers of their onion rings and mushroom burgers, this has been very sad so, when Dallas and I spotted the sign, we were pumped.  Too bad no one else was.  Why? Well, because who freaking knows?!?! Maybe because it wasn’t their idea? Any other time, they would be psyched.  But this was really just setting the tone for the days to come. 

The bright spot for our trip was that Story Land was awesome.  Even for the twelve-year-old.  We wondered if it would be too babyish but, after battles with that pre-teen “I-know-it-all” attitude, we decided that he could deal with it.  Turns out, it was right up his alley. 

For a day and a half, they rode the Bamboo Chutes (forty-five times in an effort to break the record, which they fell six short), the Roar-A-Saurus and the Polar Coaster until their punky hearts were content.  The lines were short which was even better…well, until Tuesday afternoon when the sky opened up…which shortened the lines even more. 

The youngest seemed petrified of everything except the train and the tractors (think Antique Cars) so Dallas and I rotated through with him on those two rides.  While it was frustrating in the beginning that he wouldn’t ride all of these rides that were so perfectly matched to his age and interest, it was actually pretty relaxing to draw the Daly card and chill on the little blue train. 

An even bigger bonus of our time at StoryLand is that we learned some of our buddies were going to be there, which was so fun for the boys {and we sure enjoyed the company, too!} Life is always better with friends!

So why am I complaining so much about the trip?  Listen.  I’m really trying to not complain.  It’s just that, at the end of the second night, I really wanted to sit down and eat dinner together in a restaurant.  Any restaurant. I just wanted some time where we all sat and looked at each other and appreciated our party of six.    

I realize they were all tired and hungry and felt like they couldn’t wait a second longer to inhale a meal but their behavior in the waiting area of the restaurant we chose was ridiculous.  After one of them started rolling around on the floor where all patron’s wet shoes had just walked, we made an abrupt exit and ate Taco Bell drive-thru instead, determining that we could no longer go out to eat.  Mostly because of the youngest but not entirely.

Let’s be real.  At this point, I was ready for the vacation to be over.  Sad, right? Who wants vacation to be over?

Well, I do.  When you’re away, I feel like everyone sees it as an opportunity to lose their dang minds and push you further off the proverbial ledge. 

I tried to be carefree.  I tried to let things slide.  No, I did let things slide for the sake of vacation.  But, by Tuesday night, I was forcing them to their iPods so that I could go to mine.  So that I could see everyone else’s “lovely” vacations and chuckle knowing it’s not actually all that lovely. How’s that saying go? Misery loves company.    

Oh but wait.  There’s more.  I clearly had a momentary lapse of reason and forgot all about floor-rolling-incident, Taco-Bell-for-dinner from the night before because I suggested breakfast at a little café on the way out of town the next morning.  I just wanted some freaking memories of a meal!

We found this cute place called The Blueberry Muffin and dropped in. They had seating right away.  Score! We all chose our meals, ordered our food and were impressed with how quickly it arrived on patterns of china that Dallas grew up on.  This seemed like the perfect venue for my memories. 

Until Daly saw his food, decided it wasn’t actually what he wanted and threw it across the table.  Dallas warned him that if he did that again, he would take him into the bathroom for some action.  Those words to Daly…merely a challenge for which he was ready.  The French toast went flying again, the father and son went marching and, ten minutes later, Daly came running out of the bathroom with Dallas close behind.  We thought he was ready to eat his French toast, that the reinforcements had set in…until he threw them again. 

Dallas and Daly excused themselves to the van, we finished our meal (where one would steal off another’s plate when they weren’t looking and suck down the orange juice as if it had free refills, except it didn’t) and did the walk of shame out the door…as usual. 

For lunch, they had Twizzlers from a gas station.

The end.  

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#carryCarried

In the world of social media, Thursdays are known as #thankfulThursday.  I have no idea who invented these themed days but I actually like them.  It forces me to reflect a little more - #motivationMonday, #transformationTuesday, #wellnessWednesday….

So, in honor of #thankfulThursday, I wanted to share some specific things I am personally thankful for: 

*I am thankful I woke up this morning with eyes to see and air to breathe.  I believe we take those things for granted far too often. 

*I am thankful for my four children who are healthy, vibrant little people that have only seen the doctor in recent months for routine check-ups.  And who have many, MANY words with which they feel they need to say ALL.DAY.LONG. 

*I am thankful for income to pay the bills, give to my church and still have a little jingle left to take my boys out for burgers every week.  I recognize that, while we may not have a huge discretionary income, we are well above the global average. 

Now that I’ve established the items with which I show serious gratitude, now I would like to tell you something I’m thankful for that is just icing on the cake…and it’s YOU. 

Because of YOU, my very first book has sold more copies in its first three weeks than the average non-fiction sells in its first YEAR.  Like, wha…?!?!?

I’m not finished.  Not only has it surpassed the national average but it currently has over (40) five-star customer reviews on Amazon.  I’m just…shut the front door, people.  Wow. 

And before you start accusing me of paying people to review, you should know that I have read each and every review (multiple times) and, while many are anonymous, most of the named reviewers I don’t personally know.  Which is even more incredible to me. 

This means two things: 1) many of my own close friends, my fRamily, have probably not even reviewed it and, if you’re reading this and are one of those people, I will find you and 2) “Carried” is literally reaching people through people through people who are loving and reviewing…which just blows my mind. 

I mean, yes, it was my hope that this ultimate story of redemption and hope would be read by those who need it most but I am baffled that it’s actually happening. And I'm learning that reviews are important for many ways, one big one being that Amazon will grab some of the books with the best reviews and throw them into email blasts to their bazillion customers which, in and of itself, is crazy awesome.

Which leads me to this, a challenge, a contest if you will (with a prize!). 

Because I am self-publishing, I have a limited amount of marketing. And, by limited, I mean zero.  It’s all word of mouth.  It’s social media.  It’s through my network.  But, you guys, IT’S WORKING. 

In the first few days of the release of “Carried,” I asked you to read it, review it and share it.  So many of you have done just that.  THANK YOU.  Now I’m going to ask you to do it again…or for the first time.  Either way, here is the challenge.  And, because Amazon has been good to me, each action performed below earns you one entry into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card.

*Share “Carried” on your social media platform (FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) by copying the Amazon link and pasting into a post.  Within that post, share either 1) your favorite memory of us or 2) your favorite part of the book, highly recommend it to your friends and make sure to TAG ME. Use the hashtag #carryCarried. (1 entry)

 

*If you haven't already, click the "Subscribe" button to the top and right of this page and subscribe to my blog.   (1 entry)

*For those not on social media, email your contacts a link to the book, sharing why they should download and read it and cc: me on the email. (1 entry)

*Post an Amazon review, using your name so that I know it was you. (1 entry) 

And when I ask you to post a review, I truly want your opinion.  It doesn’t have to be a five-star if you think it’s not worthy of a five-star.  I want to grow as a writer and appreciate your honesty.

There you have it.  My first official give-away.  Because I think this is what authors do. 

You up for the challenge? GO. It ends this Friday at midnight.   

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

Things I like to do in my free time:

Read
Write
Gamble

Bet you weren’t expecting number three, huh? Probably because it doesn’t quite fit the mold of a mother in her mid-30’s but BACK OFF - I CAN STILL HAVE A WILD SIDE, TOO.  Ok, fine, maybe sitting at the $5 non-smoking Blackjack tables with a glass of water isn’t quite the “wild” side but I sure feel bulletproof when I double down on an 11. 

And…I’ve officially lost the non-gamblers. 

Why am I writing about gambling? Because in just five short days, I am hopping a plane for a very long ride to LAS VEGAS with my handsome husband where we will spend four days living it up at Treasure Island and taking in the crazy chaos that is Vegas.  Without children. 

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. 

You get four days without children and you pick one of the busiest cities in the world to spend your free time?

Short answer: yes.  Except we’re going for a conference with our nutrition company and, well, since the company chooses the location, what can we do except go and have an amazing time, right?!

Well, and I’ll be seeing my mother for the first time in fifteen years…so there’s that.

If you've read my book, you understand the heaviness of the above sentence.  If you haven't read my book, what the what, yo? Like, do we need to talk? 

 

Life Lessons Learned in Little League

Life Lessons Learned in Little League

Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was watch sports.  Sunday afternoon NFL games were always something I looked forward to with my grandma.  Cheering on high school friends as they beasted their talents on the basketball court bring back some of the best memories. 

As luck would have it, I now have four boys, three of whom are competitors in every sport.  Like, they play ALL.YEAR.LONG.  For the last four years or so, I don’t feel like we’ve had a season with a whole lot of down time because they were always involved in either basketball, baseball or football.  And one season of soccer…which just was not for us.    

But baseball has always been my favorite. I can’t figure out why.  Maybe it’s the warm weather.  Maybe it’s the flavored sunflower seeds (oh, dill pickle, how I love thee!). Maybe it’s all of the above but I love to hear the *ping* of the bat drive that ball to left field.  I get fired up when I hear an umpire’s gruffy voice yell “Yep, he got ‘em!” after one of my boys have laid down the tag on a thieving baserunner. I am that mom in the stands screaming obnoxiously. 

Now, because it’s who I am, I don’t wear this role of Baseball Mom without having a few complaints.  So can we please discuss Porta-Potties? Because chances are, if my only option to relieve my bladder lies in that of a plastic stall on a cement sidewalk shared with hundreds of others at a tournament when the 90-degree sun has been bearing down on it for hours, I would almost rather shoulder the embarrassment of wetting my own pants before utilizing those things. Like, you want me to put my hiney where? Just NO.    

And let’s talk about the insanity that is some parents and grandparents of these little players.  I mean, why are we screaming, “Strike that loser out!” at 8-year-old baseball games (yes, true story).  Fortunately, it was not to my child because, so help me Lord…but it was to someone else’s child.  And I just cannot even comprehend the reason behind this.  Yes, I am the crazy mom screaming, “Go, baby, GO!” when mine are rounding third and facing a close call at home plate.  Sure, I even get a bit frustrated if he bobbles a seemingly easy ground ball instead of tossing out the runner in his typical fashion.  But then I remember that these are kids.  CHILDREN.  And they are trying to have fun if we as spectators would only let them.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  If my kid needs a talkin’-to by his coach, I’m behind that coach 100%.  I believe that organized sports are great character building activities because, let’s be real, they need to learn how to win humbly and lose graciously.  It is, undoubtedly, preparing them for the real world.  Some of these things cannot be taught in words but have to be learned in action and I fully support these opportunities. 

And while their often conflicting schedules have me going insane on the daily and running in different directions for practices, scrimmages, tournaments…I could not think of anything I would rather do more than to watch them do what they love.  It is an absolute joy.  Even on the hot days when my shorts are stuck to my legs, sweat is dripping down the back to the crack and the 3-year-old is ingesting parasitic dirt instead of being monitored by his mother.  Yes, even then. 

Because, while this life of mine started off a little broken, it sure is playing out quite beautifully.  Curious about the “broken” part? Read about it here…