Monday, February 28, 2011

The Gift of Time

Time is one of the most confounding intangibles in life. We have such a love/hate relationship with it. When we're stuck in a boring class in college, we need it to move faster. When we're racing to make it to carpool line as adults, we need it to move slower. There is no way to control time itself, only ways to learn to manage the time God gives an hour, in a day, in a month, in a year, in a lifetime.

If I could choose one art to master, it would be not just managing time, but savoring time. As parents we wish for nothing other than the ability to stop time altogether in those especially poignant moments with our little ones. I sometimes rush so much through my day struggling to make it to one location or another that I find myself at night staring at my sleeping babies wondering how in the world I let the day slip by me so fast. Did I love them enough today? Did I validate them? Can I criticize a little less tomorrow? Can I listen more attentively---even when I'm listening to the fourth recap of how Spongebob drove Squidward insane on today's episode?

No matter how confounding or complicated our relationship with the concept is, there is no denying time is one of the greatest gifts we've been given. Tomorrow I will try harder to be present in my children's lives. I will try to make eye contact more often, reminding myself that what seems trivial to me is extremely important to them. I will examine and praise each rock, pine cone, and acorn Hudson and Lawson gather for their "collections" and remember they're trying to convey their appreciation for nature. I will try not to cringe as Camden gives me the run-down of every classmate's behavior for the day and remember what he's trying to tell me is that his behavior was exemplary and he wants me to be proud of him. When Scout cries after me to pick her up for the fifteenth time, I'll try and keep in mind she's telling me she loves me and needs me to help her feel safe, loved, and secure. Each of these moments is a gift; sometimes I just need to be reminded of that.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Use Your Big Kid Words" and Other Condescending Favorites

My husband and I are struggling to see eye to eye on what I like to call the Equitable Division of Responsibility. This argument also masquerades under the unfortunate aliases of Why Are You Home From Work So Late?, Whose Fault is it the Kids are Late for Basketball?, and the real gut-kicker, What Exactly Do You Do All Day? We've been having these discussions since I had our first child six years ago and chose not to renew my contract as a special education teacher.

Being a stay-at-home mom is a double edged sword. In exchange for a complete disregard for privacy, I get the gift of time with my children. In exchange for the loss of a guaranteed shower, I get the flexibility to set up playdates for my kids (which of course are also playdates for me). In exchange for sitting in carpool lines four times a day, I get to participate in my kids' school parties and field trips. Now in my opinion, a working parent functions on an exchange system, too. In exchange for putting in a full stressful day at the office, Jason gets the liberty of riding in a car alone with no one screaming or fighting and with the radio blasting something other than the Laurie Berkner Band.

He also gets a guaranteed shower and can put on snazzy work clothes every morning. Okay, fine. I only envy the nice clothes thing every once in a while. My jeans and T-shirt days are kind of awesome. Tonight he was ever so bold as to tell me I looked like a "mom." What?!!  "Like a pretty mom" was tagged on at the end when my face very clearly conveyed how I felt about being told I looked like a mom. I mean, my hair looked a little rough, but it's not like I was rocking Mom Jeans. But I digress...In exchange for doing something he loves and which supports our family, Jason misses out on some really good stuff with the kids. He counts on me to make up for that, but it doesn't always ease the guilt a parent feels when he wants to be there for his kids more than he is able.

We may always have discussions over which parent bears a bigger burden, especially when one or both of is stressed or not feeling well. The truth is, I know how hard Jason works, and I believe he knows how hard I work, too. We've tried being a two income family, and it just didn't really work for us. I've swallowed the last of my feminist pride and embraced the fact we're happier as a family when I'm in a traditional role as "housewife." Neither of us wants to switch places with the other, but it still seems we're always looking for that perfect division of responsibility that leaves the other feeling validated and supported. Basically, I will always envy his ability to interact with adults on a daily basis, and he will probably always envy the flexibility of my schedule a little bit. Despite this fact, I still love him in the same stupid, sappy chick flick way I have for ten years. I'd say that's a pretty big accomplishment for a married couple with four little monkeys bouncing off of us every day.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Come Buy Pot Roast and Croissants With Me

Have you ever noticed friends make everything easier and less mundane? This morning I needed to go to the grocery store, which I've been dreading. Solution? Call up a bestie, lure her with the promise of Starbucks, and whiz through the store in half the time and with half the bad attitude.

Until my grocery store trip, I had one of those mornings that left me feeling like a grumpy, snarly mom who started her kids off on the wrong foot with my rotten attitude. What was left of my short illness was a massive headache, and every time Camden yelled "MONSTER TRUCK!" at the top his lungs or Scout crawled after me crying for me to pick her up, I cringed inside. Scout's separation anxiety is by far the worst of my four kids, and my patience is waning daily when I have to do every task with a baby whining and pulling at my pants legs. Yes, I know this is temporary. Yes, I know she's an awesome blessing. Yes, I love my daughter to pieces. But any mom who spends two weeks trying to take care of four children with one constantly demanding an unusual amount of attention in a such an ear-piercing, teary manner is bound to reach her limits. Today after I dropped Hudson and Camden off at school, I just needed a solution to improve my attitude so that I can pick them up from school a different kind of mommy--the kind of mommy who inspires and encourages rather than nags and discourages. Friends can always offer me just the right pick-me-up.  

Whether it's walking around the neighborhood, venting your frustrations, grocery shopping, or folding laundry, friends make everything easier for women. We not only take care of our kids and our husbands, we take care of each other. I never really realized that completely until I moved away from my family--who had spent so many years taking care of me--and learned to lean on a different kind of family. A chosen family of incredible women and moms who are there to listen, to advise, to bring me ginger ale when I'm sick, to take my kids to McDonald's, to give me hand-me-downs because they know I'll use them and appreciate them, and most of all, to make me laugh when I need to the most. I can only hope I give back to these women what I receive from them--a sense of unconditional love and friendship that I thought I wouldn't have in a new city. I'm so thankful to have added these ladies to my kaleidoscope of beautiful friends and look forward to the opportunity to introduce my best Atlanta women to my best Savannah women. The awesomeness will be epic.   

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It's Murphy's Law when a mom brags like I recently did that I rarely catch the cooties that fate will soon set out to disprove my theory that I have become immune to most illnesses. Last night I developed sidelining nausea that sent me to bed before midnight (this almost never happens) and left me struggling to crawl out of the covers this morning and get my little ones off to school.

I did experience a moment of amusement when Jason asked me if I needed time to get myself dressed. "No," I told him plaintively. I happen to think my ratty hair and wrinkled T-shirt make the grade for venturing outside the walls of this house. To humor him I put on a baseball cap. I'm sure by now most other moms have learned to honor a two foot parameter of distance.

I'm sitting here watching Scout relish a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and waiting for the zoo crew to descend upon the house from their playdate. It's time to gather my wits and get ready for action because moms don't get to go down when there are adorably loud, endearingly dependent little guys and gals in need of our time.

Disclaimer: It occurred to me as soon as I published this post that most people would assume a mom of four kids sidelined with nausea is about to enjoy the blessing of a fifth little one. No worries--I just caught a stomach bug from my husband. Unless he's pregnant and it's contagious, our brood stands firm at four.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A glimpse into the mind of a six-year-old boy

I've decided Camden's mating ritual when he gets a little older will be a combination of silliness and slapstick comedy. He really likes his friend Alli, but he's quick to tell you it's only as a friend. On the playground today, I saw that boy go to some great lengths to elicit a giggle from her. First came faux tripping over stumps, which only incensed me. I'm sure there's nothing more embarrassing for a six-year-old peacock spreading his feathers than his mama threatening to make him do his own laundry if he doesn't quit falling down. I later watched him propel himself off a zipline platform into a pole and then heard the second hand story from Alli's mom on how he chest-planted from a leap off the top of the slide.

In his defense Alli is a catch. She can burp like a trucker, a feat that is most impressive to my little dude. My closest friends and family know how much I appreciate a good belch (much to my husband's chagrin), so Alli won my heart the first time she opened her mouth to display her phenomenal talent. I did have to avoid the "mom stare" from my friend Barb--who happens to be Alli's mom--when my high five was interpreted as a way to encourage bad manners, so I had to stifle a giggle each time she burped after that. I think Camden knows he better bring his A game with Alli, and he was trying to work some magic this afternoon. Hopefully I won't be my son's mojo killer for the rest of his natural born life, but I so enjoyed being a spectator in his social life this afternoon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Everybody was kung fu fighting....

What a weekend! Only the Jones family could leave Savannah with one sick kid and show up in Carrollton six hours later with three sick kids. Hudson developed an especially barky case of croup, and Scout kept the pace by sporting a booger crusted eye. Luckily everyone rested and recuperated at Gran's and enjoyed spending time with old friends at their "Carrollton birthday party" on Saturday.

Trips to Carrollton are always bittersweet for me. There is never enough time to see all my family and friends, and I'm always sort of sad to leave. Luckily I'm usually armed with at least one grandmother's homemade goodies, which never make it past Macon. Usually I perk up when we cross the bridge over the marsh, and I breathe in the scent of salt air instead of cow patties. Nevertheless, I probably would have been a lifelong Carrolltonian like my parents and grandparents before me had God not had a better idea.

Instead I'm in Savannah blogging when I should be sleeping, and Jason is snoozing on the couch with a Jimmy Carter documentary playing in the background (snore....I can't imagine why he fell asleep). Tomorrow I will start working off the three straight days of biscuits and bacon my mother-in-law spoiled me with and totally disregard the high bar she set by serving Pop Tarts and frozen waffles for breakfast (hey, you can't beat Leggo my Eggo). Our season of birthdays in now on hiatus till September, and for that, I am extremely thankful.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's that smell? Oh, it's me.

I know my personal standards are WAY lower than they used to be because today I went to the grocery store without taking a shower for the second day in a row. I didn't even bother to put baby powder in my hair to absorb the grease, and instead of brushing my teeth, I ate a few breath mints. I looked down at my pants in the car and realized I had ketchup and mustard on one knee, which was left over from Superbowl Sunday. Huh, I thought to myself. I should really try to do a better job keeping up with the laundry.

I talked to two other moms when I went to pick Hudson up from school and caught a whiff of one mom's perfume. She smelled great--all clean and ladylike! I figure she's really on top of her game and has time to shower and apply perfume, or she's stinking brilliant and used the perfume to disguise her mom stench. Just to make myself feel better, I'm going to assume the latter and try out her trick.

Anyhoo...I did finally grab a record-breakingly fast shower AND brush my teeth, so maybe Jason will keep the faith that I still value my own cleanliness. I may even give a homecooked meal a shot in the hopes it will smell better than I did the majority of the day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Boys, Barf, Boogers, Baby, and Bronchitis

First of all I want to give a shout-out to my quick witted friend Barb for inspiring this catchy blog title. She clearly has mad alliteration skills (I mean skillz) and a keen insight into life in the Jones household. It has been four days since my last blog, and the five elements in the title are the culprits of my delay.

Lawson and Hudson's Double Trouble Party was a great success! Instructor Mason is a masochist for giving up his Saturday afternoon to herd twenty-five children into a circle and attempt to endow them with kung fu knowledge, but I'm so grateful he did. Jason let the boys rip into their gifts the second they came in from the garage, and our kitchen was a toy minefield as a result. It's with great shame I admit our kitchen was a minefield for three days. Okay, fine. It's still a minefield today.

It wouldn't be a party unless someone hurls, and Camden was happy to oblige at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. For the first time since we had kids, I actually choked back my own urge to barf while cleaning up after him. Cupcakes, cheese puffs, and breakfast for dinner. Enough said.

What I can only attribute to the mythical "Savannah crud," boogers are running rampant in our house. My favorite mucus moment came when Jason picked Scout up only to put his hand right on a sticky concoction that was clinging to her leg. It was epic--but only because it happened to him and not me.

It's official. I have given birth to the Duchess of Destruction who also happens to have an unusually healthy set of lungs on her. She has developed a diva-like attitude seemingly overnight, and every time her tiny little demands aren't met, we are rewarded with an ear-piercing screech of frustration. When I tell her no, she flashes a toothy little grin at me and adds an extra adorable nose wrinkle in just to throw me off my game. It looks a little something like this.
See! She even sticks that cute little tongue out. Tell me how in the world I deal with her screeches before the other five members of our family suffer partial hearing loss. I'm open to all suggestions.

And Finally, Bronchitis
Today I took Lawson in for his four-year-old checkup and mentioned a persistent cough he's been battling for two weeks.  A week ago I was told he was suffering from allergies and given samples of Allegra. Today I watched him sit in the doc's office and receive a breathing treatment right on the spot. I want to hit my head against a wall and pray to God for a break from illnesses and medical bills, but I'm just trying to be patient while my babies adjust to the new climate. It's like I told one of our favorite couples when they did us a huge favor this past weekend. I'd offer you our fifth-born child, but I already promised him/her to the pediatrician.

Disclaimer for anxious family members who follow this blog. There are no plans for a fifth child. It's just a joke. Seriously, don't freak out.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I don't think I ever want to see another box of Duncan Hines again. The economic changes in our lives mean that the Publix Bakery can't rescue me from my disastrous ineptitude in the kitchen. At 1:00 this afternoon, I set about cracking eggs and mixing batter. At 10:00 this evening, I finally set down my spatula and took inventory. I have 56 sad little frosted cupcakes and 12 rejects. Six were snarfed down by my husband and kids (okay, and by me), and a dozen never made it past the batter stage because I was just too tired to muster up the energy to pour anything else into cute little cupcake liners.

Now I'm sitting here wondering if five-year-olds care if my cupcakes are lopsided. Tomorrow I will buy those nasty Cheese Puffs I only let my kids eat on rare occasions and embrace the fact I will be covered in Capri Sun and processed orange dust for the majority of the afternoon. It's likely I'll have a little frosting in my hair, much like I did today when I showed up for a 4:30 appointment without having bothered to check a mirror before I left the house. I'm hoping it will all be worth it when I see Hudson and Lawson karate chopping with their friends, and I manage to scarf down a few more cupcakes while no one is looking.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Joy of Surprises

Today is my baby boy's fourth birthday. Lawson is our third son--in three years' time. Camden was nineteen months old, and Hudson was four months old when I saw two pink lines again. I had just gotten back to my pre-pregnancy weight and was giddy to be a bridesmaid in one of my best friend's weddinng. I had been in two weddings while I was enormously pregnant, once masquerading as a belted pear and once as a beaded firetruck. I had planned to look svelte and lovely in my chocolate brown dress, and now I was going to masquerade as a Hershey's Kiss--one of the giant ones you can only find on Valentine's Day.

I cried. A lot. I feared for my marriage (being a cranky, hormonal pregnant wife for two years is tough, much less for three years) and for my two little dudes (missing out on Hudson's infancy because I was huddled over a toilet puking was overwhelming to think about). In fact, I cried for five months straight, and the multi-faceted "mom guilt" nearly consumed me. I was snarky to my husband, short with my babies, and crying uncontrollably about one of the greatest blessings God can give someone.

When Lawson was born, I was still afraid. In all honesty having three boys 28 months old and under was daunting. But Lawson Charlie Jones is joy incarnate. He is the quirky, laid-back corner of the Jones boy triangle. He is my cuddle bear who will tell me he loves me out of the blue for no reason at all. He is also so stinking cute that I have to hide my giggles when his mischievous side kicks in. He embraces his stereotypical role of pesky little brother with gusto.

My three little men are best buddies who will have each other for the rest of their lives. Watching the three of them grow over the years has been an honor. They learn from each other, support each other, and laugh with each other. They also fight with typical rough and tumble boy rambunctiousness, which makes my life colorful and hilarious. I watch the three of them hover over Scout cooing and crooning to her, and I think what a lucky girl she is to have big brothers who adore her.

You see, Scout was our second surprise baby. (By now you're thinking, good grief, do something about that already.) I was scared when Scout came along, too, but I was armed with the knowledge that God doesn't make mistakes. Lawson is an incredible gift from God, and Scout is equally as amazing. Sometimes our lives are just meant to take unexpected paths that are more fulfilling than we could have ever imagined. My life is rich beyond measure because I was blindsided by the element of surprise.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Unusual Accountability Partner

I've discovered a great new accountability partner for harried moms. It's called an open window. My neighbors can now make an educated decision whether to pity me, applaud me, or simply nod in understanding when the kids' level of rambunctious activity and whining suddenly spikes at 5:00 p.m., the witching hour in our house. When the windows are open and the broadcast of WPPR Kid Crazy can be heard throughout the hood, I don't feel the need to walk onto the driveway and make a public service announcement that we are not, in fact, beating our children. It's just bathtime.

In all seriousness I sometimes do my best parenting in public. I'm calm, on the ball, and prepared to handle crises including but not limited to hunger, boredom, "crate bottom" from sitting in the shopping cart too long, sibling rivalry, hitting, biting, crying, peeing or pooping emergencies, and inadvertent shoplifting. The kids usually respond pretty well to cool, collected mommy, so much to the point that I've rarely shied away from taking them out in public when I need to. That being said, I still have blog-worthy public incidents with the kids. I just respond to them better.

When I'm at home, however, it's sometimes easy to fall prey to the 2:00 p.m. energy slump or get distracted by the computer or phone. Sometimes I get so engrossed in laundry or the dishes that I neglect to interact with the kids like I should, or I raise my voice with impatience when I'm interrupted. The open window always helps me out, though. It's like a smaller version of the public at large. You would be amazed how calm you are when you know others might be listening. I stay in better control of my emotions, and I'm able to see the kids' points of view more objectively. I take more time in explaining their consequences and reassuring them I love them no matter how many times they sit in time-out for telling me they hate me.

The open window will not endow you with an endless supply of patience, but it may just help you think outside the box for more effective ways to resolve conflict. My continued goal is to practice Open Window Parenting at all times, even during those months it's thirty degrees outside and an open window would do nothing but increase your heating bill and lead your children to question your mental stability. I know even if the neighbors can't hear me when I'm Demon Mommy, my kids can. And they deserve Open Window Mommy all the time.   

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Train Wreck Mom Strikes Again!

Here's a quick rundown of today so far.

1. I rolled out of the driveway at 8:54. Camden and Hudson needed to be at school by 9:00.  By what I can only attribute to divine intervention, I made it to Camden's school with a minute to spare, and Hudson's teachers happened to wait three extra minutes to end drop-off.

2. It was forty degrees and breezy this morning, and Camden's coat was in Jason's truck, which was at the jail. I drove twenty minutes to Chatham Parkway only to discover Jason had forgotten to leave the coat in the back of the truck for me.

3. I gave Scout a Dum Dum sucker to calm her while we waited for Jason, and she promptly put it in her hair. They call them Dum Dums because dumb-dumb mommies give them to their twelve month old babies and expect them not to put sucker in their hair.

4. By the time I got the coat, the weather was warm and beautiful.

5. I saw a gorgeous home with my friend Barbara that could potentially be a rental house we love. Unfortunately, we admired it right up to 12:05. Hudson was supposed to be picked up by 12:00. I did not have my phone, and I really should start wearing a watch.

6. I fed my kids waffles and Pop-Tarts for lunch.

7. Hudson went ballistic because he lost a game on When I put him in his room to calm down, he screamed that he hated me and wasn't my friend for five minutes straight.

8. I am supposed to be working on a freelancing article right now, but instead I'm ADD mom who's blogging about her crazy day.

It can only get better from here, right? Right?

Monday, February 7, 2011

All in good time....

My baby girl is a year old today. She's a living timeline of the changes that have taken place in our lives over the past thirteen months. As my mother-in-law says, Scout is a little gift from God we unwrapped in the midst of economic chaos. She's been a ray of sunshine and a source of continued strength for us since she arrived.

I used to pray for God to somehow add a little girl to our group of cool little dudes. I honestly believed Jason and I would adopt one day when we were at a place in our lives where a fourth child wouldn't be overwhelming. I could only laugh when He revealed He had his own ideas for the timeline of our family's completion.

After dry-heaving my way through the majority of my pregnancy, I was scheduled for induction at 37 weeks because of complications, and I went in confident Scout would arrive the fastest of all my children. Thirty-three hours and two failed epidurals later, she debuted at a whopping 8 pounds, 12 ounces. Believe me, I was really thanking God for His time when he saved me from delivering a 10+ pound baby. (And women who labor naturally on purpose are insane.)  

When we moved here, Scout was only four months old, and I was heartbroken, homesick, and teetering on the edge of misery. Those of you who know me well understand I am probaby a little overly attached to my family, friends, and home town of Carrollton, Georgia. However, living with a tight ball of fear in the pit of my stomach for six months had left me exhausted and eager for a new beginning. I fully opened my heart to my faith for the first time in many years and gave God control of our situation. I really didn't know what was going to happen, but I believed He had a plan in store for us.

It took four months of loneliness and one killer tan (thank you, Tybee Island) to experience a breakthrough. I finally let my neighbor and new friend keep the kids so that Jason and I could go on a "Savannah date" and reconnect after so much change. I introduced myself to another mom as she walked around the neighborhood with her little man and made my second new friend. Then I attended my first MOPS meeting. The blessings I've experienced in doing so continue to astound me. I've made many incredible friends and met inspiring moms.

Over the past few months, I've gained the confidence to take on a new career and finally let go of the fear that held me back in embracing my beautiful, eclectic new community. Sometimes I still worry, and sometimes I still miss my grandma's cooking. But I know God will do great things with our family if I just allow Him to take His time with us.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Power of Mom Guilt

I'm having one of those days when I'm plagued by anxiety, self-doubt, and what can only appropriately be described as "the blahs." Rationally, I know these feelings are exacerbated by PMS and lack of sleep, but the blahs have a funny way of pushing ration right out the front door.

These are the days I retreat from the world because if I let people have a glimpse into this part of my personality, they might think I'm a fruitcake. However, I've always read that if you face your fears head-on, they'll seem less frightening. So I'm blogging about it. If you read this and determine I'm a nut, so be it. I'm hoping maybe someone else out there feels nutty, too, and the crazy, sometimes contradictory, ramblings I'm about to unload might make you feel less alone.

In an attempt to at least organize my crazy, I'll use bullet points.
  • My kids are sick. Scout hasn't slept in three days, and when she finally quit wheezing long enough to fall asleep, Hudson crawled in our bed with a high fever. We're scheduled to go to Carrollton tomorrow for a baby shower for one of my dearest friends AND for a triple birthday party for the three youngest kiddos. I need antibiotics and steroids to work stat, and I need a serious stretch of good rest.  On the flipside I know parents with children who are truly, critically ill, and the fact that I'm stressed about my babies' illnesses makes me feel guilty. I can't imagine what these parents go through each day, and my kids will get well with five days of medication.
  • My house is a wreck. The Laundry Monster is on a rampage, even after two of my incredible girlfriends came over yesterday and folded and put away six loads. I know I have clothes on my back, a roof over my head, a washing machine, and great friends who will eat chocolate and fold clothes with me. So I feel guilty for being frustrated with the insane amount of laundry I have. The blahs have also left me colossally unmotivated today, so I feel like the five loads I have left are taunting me. Craaazzzyy.... 
  • My perfectionism is problematic. I just wasted five minutes of my life trying to figure out how to properly space my bullet points because they won't look as nice listed without spacing. Technology glitches: 1. Me: 0.
  • I let my kids watch TV and play computer games all day. I am so tired today, and I let the kids stay in their pjs and watch PBS all morning and afternoon. I even stole a power nap while snuggling with Lawson and Hudson and watching Curious George (Scout was snoozing in her crib). I haven't even thawed anything to cook for dinner yet. Bad mommy.
  • I am wallowing when I should be taking action. I'm letting the blahs have me when I feel like what I should be doing is unearthing the living room from the mountains of toys and whipping up a well-balanced meal that my kids will refuse to eat.
Well, there you have it. Just getting these thoughts out is enough to at least motivate me to cook dinner and psych myself up for a more productive evening. I think I can, I think I can.....