Traveling Husband Survival: Coffee, Wine, and Satire

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

Well, as the hubs heads off for a few days of work in sunny Austin, I am gearing up to survive my three days of married-single-parenting a cooped-up toddler. (Thank you, freezing Montana winter.)

Good red wine and extra coffee have been purchased. . .and some satire therapy was in order!! 

Here are 5 Ways Traveling Husbands Are The Best Thing Ever When You Have Kids

(In case you were wondering.)

They are. Just ask me. Anyways, go have a quick laugh at my expense, and enjoy the other hilarity on MockMom (the satirical little corner of Sammiches and Psych Meds that I love so much). Now go!

Enjoy!

Hurry home, honey!

Gratitude, Always

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

This week, I got humbled.

A few days ago, I ran an errand on my way to the office, so I went a different route than I normally would. Heading up 27th meant I had to cross the railroad tracks, and of course, a long train was rumbling through as I pulled into the long line of waiting cars.

As I sat there waiting, I tapped my steering wheel and looked all around me to gauge whether I should peel off and take another route. It has to be nearing the end, I thought; so I stayed in my northbound lane and grew increasingly more antsy and impatient. Increasingly more negative.

I make my own schedule and work for family, so it’s not like I had a boss waiting to scold me for arriving to work late, but I was still stressed out about running behind schedule.

Finally after what felt like an eternity, the tracks cleared, and after two rounds of stoplights, I got to the other side of the tracks. Held up at yet another red light, I felt like pulling my hair out–that is, until I got humbled.

I noticed a tall, lanky, nice-looking man waiting at the crosswalk, carrying a grocery sack. As he started to walk across the street, right in front of me, it was like he let me look right into his soul. He looked kind but troubled, somehow. His hair was long and looked like it hadn’t been washed in days, and his clothes most likely hadn’t been either. He was dressed nicely though, and I got the feeling that he was a genuinely good person.

As he walked right past my windshield, I saw that his plastic grocery sack held a loaf of bread, and sticking out of his jacket pocket was a half pint of milk.

The milk is what got to me.

The milk is what caused hot tears to immediately fill my eyes as that light turned green.

I pulled away from that stoplight, in my nice warm Tahoe with its heated seats, thinking back to my blessed morning in my warm, cozy house.

As I had raced around the kitchen that morning getting a lunch packed for my toddler, I’d mistakenly poured fresh milk into his sippy cup from the night before that was still in the fridge. As his daddy walked into the kitchen with the correct cup, I poured the “old” cup of milk down the sink, threw the sippy in the dishwasher, and topped off today’s cup from our brand new gallon jug of whole milk.

I wanted my son to have a fresh sippy cup of milk.

I also knew there were two more full gallons in the garage.

In our extra fridge.


Now, I don’t know how far that man had walked that cold morning to get that bread and that milk, but he certainly had to work a whole hell of a lot harder to get to his half pint of milk that day than anyone in my family did.

Our cup–literally–runneth over. My blessings and my privilege smacked me right in the face, as I sat there watching that man walking back to who-knows-where with his bread and his milk.

And then it clicked.

I was supposed to go that way to work, and get stuck behind that train, so that I could see that humble man and his half pint of milk. So that I could see that what mattered was not being perfectly on time for my perfectly planned day.

What mattered was that I had a job to go to, in my nice warm car, and a nice warm house to go home to afterwards. What mattered was the privilege of having my healthy family’s company to enjoy when I got home.

What mattered was that I had the luxury of a hot shower this morning.

What mattered was that we almost always have a two gallon box of milk in our garage fridge, because we can.

All of these blessings made me cry big tears, of overwhelming gratitude. I couldn’t stop thinking of my Hank, his amazing daddy, and his sweet big brothers. My biggest blessings.

I cried because I had wasted perfectly good milk, that a hungry man would have walked across blocks of traffic for, and I didn’t even give it a second thought.


Well, I did give it a second thought, all the rest of the way to work. And as soon as my hubby got home, I gave it a third thought when I told him how a half pint of milk in a man’s pocket on a cold morning had humbled me.

We gave it another thought when he and I decided that evening to donate $100 to our local “Flakesgiving” fund, so four families could have Turkey dinners on Thanksgiving, who might not have been able to otherwise.

I gave it another thought waiting in the drive-thru Starbucks line the next day, while running errands with my mom. As we sat there being humbled, yet again by that man and his milk, we decided to buy the coffees for the carload behind us. I hope they did the same for the car behind them.

And still, I haven’t stopped thinking about that man and his milk.

I haven’t wasted a sippy cup of milk, since; either.

I am grateful for that man and my lesson. And I am also grateful for the mantra I have been saying over and over in my head ever since that humbling; a few lines borrowed from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert:

“Gratitude, always.

Always, gratitude.”

Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friends, family, and readers far and wide. Maybe my lesson can be a lesson to you, too.  

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

~Luke 14:11

Always.

Jeannette Rankin’s Legacy Lives On In Montana, and Beyond

Uncategorized, We Are In This Together

Regardless of the outcome of the election–2016 has already been a paramount year for women in politics. For the first time in history, a woman earned the honor of being one of the nominees in our presidential election.

It’s about time.

It seems almost too perfect that it has been exactly 100 years since our first great stride for women in politics.

In 1916–exactly 100 years ago–Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to be elected to a federal office when she was voted into the United States House of Representatives by the state of Montana. I am incredibly proud to call that great state home.

Equally noteworthy is the fact that when Jeannette Rankin was voted into Congress, women in our country hadn’t yet earned full voting rights. It wasn’t until four years later, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, that women were actually allowed to vote in both state and federal elections. She fought hard for that right as one of the first suffragists in Congress, and women voters have been thanking her and her fellow suffragettes ever since.

Jeannette Rankin is a Montana legend. A role model to all women, both in our state and across the nation; she paved the way for women in politics. Ms. Rankin’s Montana memorial site is featured in an almost-haunting photograph taken and recently shared on Instagram by Kurt Wilson, a photojournalist for the Missoulian. The picture showcases how her headstone (located in the Missoula City Cemetery) got some special visitors on this unprecedented Election Day.  Of course; I can only speculate as to who put their “I Voted” stickers on her headstone, or brought her the lovely fresh flowers, but I do have a hunch.

I choose to believe they were women; women coming directly from their local polling places, proudly celebrating the fact that they had just cast their vote for the first woman to ever have a shot at being President of the United States of America.

Today, I wish more than anything, that Missoula wasn’t a six hour drive away, as I would love nothing more than to add my own tribute to that revolutionary lady. I would love to take my own mason jar of white roses to leave at that significant headstone, to thank her for her hard work. 

A woman didn’t win this election, but a woman ran

Jeannette Rankin, on behalf of women voters everywhere, we thank you for being brave. Thank you for your determination, and thanks for proving to our country that women can be leaders, too. May we carry your torch, and do you proud.

And I sure hope you are looking down on us, so you can see those beautiful stickers on your headstone.

(Photo Credit:  Kurt Wilson on Instagram)

Puzzle Pieces

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood, Step by Step, We Are In This Together

 

My little boy, Hank, has three heroes: his three big brothers. When they are with us, they throw balls with him and dive onto pillow piles and build endless towers to knock down. They make him laugh like neither their daddy or I ever can. He idolizes them; he wants to be just like them.

There is an electric charge in the air on the days when daddy arrives with Hank’s three big brothers in tow. He can sense when they are coming, and he can hardly contain his excitement. The door barely clicks open and he is running to the top of the stairs, squealing; racing to get to them. 

His puzzle is complete on the days we have the boys; all the pieces of our family are in place and his world looks as it should.

But three days later the puzzle falls apart; three major pieces of it suddenly go missing, and he has to try to make sense of it in a one-and-a-half year-old brain which knows nothing of parenting plans or shared custody. Nothing of divorce, or of real mamas and step-mamas. I am sure he thinks I am his brothers’ mama too—why wouldn’t I be?

“We”—our six-pack—is all he has ever known. I do not look forward to the day I have to explain things like divorce to my precious boy. Explain why his brothers have another mama; how it’s not me. Why they have another home, too, on the other side of town, or why he will go to a different school than they do.

I don’t know how to explain why some mamas and daddies don’t speak to each other, even though they share the same children.

And most of all, I worry about explaining why his big brothers have to leave us for half of every week. Because before he can truly understand, he won’t understand, and I know there will be tears.

I don’t want him to be heartbroken half of every week, his best friends in the world lost to him again. I know it is coming. I can already see the gears turning in that precious little head, wondering; the start of the dissonance.

Lately on the days without his brothers around, his little lip trembles when he sees their pictures. He runs into their rooms, just to check.

We will see them soon, sweetheart, I tell him, soon.

Hank’s big brothers have huge hearts buried under their tough exteriors. They play and wrestle and high-five and cuddle and pick up and carry and comfort their little brother. I know they miss him, too, when they are away.

They don’t treat him any differently because I am not their mama, too. They love him just like they love each other, even though they don’t say it.

Hank has no place in one of their two worlds, but they live for him in our world. They amaze me every day with their maturity and compassion. Their resilience as they bounce between lives; their acceptance of their new family.

When daddy loads them up to take them back to their mama’s house, Hank stands in the doorway waving his special wave. He opens and closes his little fist to each of them, saying I Love You, even though the words don’t come out yet.

His big brothers answer him with the same wave, their code, their secret send-off. The words don’t come out of their mouths, either.

But they don’t have to. He knows.

 

Originally posted on Tribe Magazine at: http://thetribemagazine.com/puzzle-pieces/#ixzz4OodjbHiL

Best Buds

Bookends

Dear Restoration Hardware: Save $10 and Keep My Catalogs 

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

So I just finally got caught up on the one thing I love to put off–my mail pile. I always marvel at how much money (and trees) are wasted on junk mailers and catalogs that simply get thrown away. 

Right now, if it has a politician’s face on it, it goes DIRECTLY into our garbage. My husband and I are so over this election, and the onslaught of mailers just seems like such a waste.

But there–at the bottom of my pile–wrapped in plastic, was the biggest waste of all. 

My very own, personal library of Restoration Hardware Sourcebooks. 

Unsolicited. 

This probably five-pound bundle of three huge glossy catalogs had to cost you at least ten bucks to print and ship to me, without me requesting it

While I love wandering through your gorgeous store on the rare occasion we happen across one (usually in Seattle for a football game) I am by no means a good return on investment for you to ship these ridiculously luxe anthologies to. I am not in the market for any $8,000.00 Chesterfields, nor will I probably ever be. 

I also know your website is one quick Google search away. If I want to spend $5,000.00 making Hank’s room *perfect* after he outgrows his already perfectly beautiful crib and changing table/dresser (from Target) I will happily find your website at that point. I may look for inspiration, and then still, save those extra $4,500.00 for either our Disneyland trip (which we will be saving for until at least 2020) or his college fund. 

So save a tree, and keep my Sourcebooks from here on out. We’re good in our house–furnished in head-to-toe hand-me-downs and the two sofas we just paid off monthly via Ashley Furniture’s Outlet Store finance plan over the last two years. And we love it. We are so very proud of it, and our eclectic style that comes from merging two adult lives plus a passel of kids.

We may never be on “Cribs,” but we also feel like we can sit on our furniture. 

We LIVE in our house. Hard. 🙂

Sincerely, 

A Tired Mama who needed a rant today after some idiot on a crotch rocket woke her sick baby up from his nap. 

P.s. (I feel so much better now. But really, take me off your mailing list.)

That kind of luxe just ain’t for us

Putting the Devices Down: How Un-Plugging Tuned Me Back In To My Family

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood, We Are In This Together

Even though I have a lot crammed into my 24/7, I adore my crazy life. I am a mama of a toddler, stepmama to three older boys, wife to their amazing daddy, and manager of a large commercial building. Whenever I have free time (we’ll get to that later) I love to write.

The one thing that has allowed me to keep so many irons in the fire (aside from my own amazing mama who babysits for me) is technology. I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do in a day if I didn’t have wireless internet, a smart phone, a Chromebook, and my Google Drive.

I have the luxury of working from home when I need to, answering emails as soon as they hit my inbox; writing leases and setting up showings right along with cooking meals. I am a working mama who sometimes stays at home, or a stay-at-home-mama who also works. However you want to look at it. I guess you could call me a “Hybrid” Mom. Basically, I am just very blessed to have the best of both worlds.

Whenever I am caught up at work, and the kids are fed and entertained (or sleeping!) I write. I write to keep my head clear, my stress level low, and my blessings in the forefront of my mind. And these days, even my writing happens online; it is much easier for me to write on a device than to carry around a notebook and a pencil all day long to record those spur-of-the-moment random thoughts.

But here’s the thing.

Some days it seems like I spend more time looking at screens than I do looking into the little blue eyes I live and work so hard for.

I find myself saying “please hang on, mama’s trying to finish an email” or “one second, honey” or “mama has to make a phone call first.”

To make matters worse, now that my baby has hit toddlerdom, motherhood has shifted from pretty much all-encompassing to FULL-TIME HANDS-ON. I have been so busy that lately my morning coffee time with my husband has become my best time for an online check-in.

So when that dear husband of mine asked me if I NEEDED to be online the other morning, I asked him what he meant. He spoke his heart: He missed our mornings of coffee and visiting and watching Hank dance to Baby First and laughing while he bounced back and forth between us for bites of our coffee-cakes. Together. I was there, but I wasn’t there. I was off in cyberland.

It was a definite wake-up call.

So? I woke up.

I snapped the chromebook closed, grabbed my coffee, and tuned back into the blessings that I was missing. Right in front of my face.

All that day, I thought about my online work and social media habits. I thought about how present I was being when I wasn’t at the office. I thought about how much time I spend working on my various devices throughout the day and evening, and decided it was simply too much.

Do I really need to share my latest post right then, during my best quality time with my husband?

Do I really need to reply to every comment on my social media accounts, right when my phone buzzes?

Do I need to waste precious time (and these days, my time is precious) scrolling through pages of ridiculous political memes on Facebook?

Do I need to answer every work call or email the second that I get it, on days when I am not in the office?

Nope. I sure don’t.

Not right now.

Right now all I need to do is be one little boy’s amazing mama, one husband’s loving wife, and three boys’ supportive stepmom.

So I am putting down my devices. As often as I can.

Even more importantly, I am also choosing to LEAVE it down, in my car. I don’t know about the rest of you busy gals, but I am 100% guilty of checking my email quickly or texting to check on the baby from the road, and I know that needs to stop. I am never SO BUSY that I need to be plugged-in while driving. 

I am putting down the device.

I am vowing to be more present as a wife and as a mother.

I am vowing to be a completely safe, focused driver.

Facebook can wait.

Email can wait.

The blog can wait.

My family shouldn’t have to.

As if I wasn’t already convinced, my wise young toddler cemented my decision with what I think was a sign from above. Yesterday morning, while I was down on the rug playing cars with him, daddy went upstairs for a refill on his coffee. Hank saw me grab my phone to steal a quick glance at my news feed. I didn’t even think to grab my half-empty cappuccino that was sitting on the end table behind me, getting cold.

As soon as I swiped the screen on my phone, I felt a strange sensation begin at my left shoulder and spread all across my lap. In that brief moment when my brain was online, my entire criss-cross apple-sauce got completely covered in lukewarm coffee and perfectly foamed milk. I slowly turned to look behind me–in shock–and saw my adorable toddler sheepishly holding my big green mug. My big green EMPTY mug.

Well, that sure showed me, didn’t it!

I don’t know whether he intended to bring me my coffee as a sweet gesture, or to pour it on me to say “put the phone down, mama!”

From the look on his face, I’m guessing it was the latter.

So after I changed my clothes and spot-cleaned the rug, I took the hint. I put the device down.

Today, our morning coffee time was technology-free.

And it was lovely.

He’s so much better to look at than a screen!

The Picture of a Family

Motherhood, Step by Step, We Are In This Together

This past week I did something I thought I might never get the privilege of doing in my lifetime. 

I picked out five nice dress shirts that matched (but not too much) for the five handsome boys in my life; put on a scarf from my closet that tied them all together, and dragged my six-pack down to Two Moon Park for a half hour with our favorite photographer. 

We actually took family pictures

Professionally-done; a true family photo shoot. 

I almost couldn’t believe it happened, but I know one of these days, that amazing photographer is going to email me a link to check out the proof that it actually did. 

The pictures that will prove that I have my dream family, when sometimes I feel the need to say “pinch me” because this can’t actually be MY life. 

I have a husband who is not only hard-working, caring, and smart; but a wonderful daddy as well. (And handsome, to boot!) He is my soul mate and my best friend. It took me a while to find him, but I know I was supposed to find him in my lifetime.

I have three stepsons who are the sweetest, most well-behaved boys you will ever meet, and even more importantly–the BEST big brothers.

And we all have Hank. The little boy I dreamed of all those years and finally have; blue eyes, blond hair, and a beating heart. 

I still have to pinch myself about him, too. Every day.

This family of mine is my whole world now, and I have been focusing on my gratitude now that fall is here. Things are slowing down–thank goodness–we’re catching our breath after our crazy summer, and Thanksgiving time is right around the corner. I have never had a year to be so grateful.

I literally have everything I have ever wanted. How many people can say that? I mean, say that and TRULY mean it? Probably not very many.

It’s not what you have in life, but who you have in life that truly matters. And I have the most amazing people in mine.

I want for nothing. My cup runneth over.

And maybe I will believe it myself, once I have one of those amazing Tina Stinson photos on my wall as my proof that it isn’t just a dream I’m about to wake up from.

Until then, will somebody please pinch me?

Killing It as Parents

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

My hubs and I, we are not perfect. But we sure do try.

Friday night was one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of nights. A sick (teething) baby, errands to run after work, a birthday party to get ready for the next day, etc.

Attempting all of the above with the sick baby quickly deteriorated into a CRABBY baby situation, so we decided to divide and conquer.

Hubby dropped me and the poor lil one off at home, then headed back into town to finish the grocery shopping. I went in to try to soothe Hankers with some fruit and baby advil, but when I grabbed the box with the new bottle, I panicked.

On my way home from work that afternoon, I was in a hurry, and I had accidentally grabbed children’s advil, not infant!!! I immediately called up daddio, the math genius of the family, to try to figure out how to convert?/titrate? the big-kid medicine into little-one dosage.

Let me just say this: trying to compare Mgs per mLs, on two different ratios, over the phone with a husband who is driving, while both trying to use the phones we are talking on as calculators, is as hard as it sounds. And of course, the small print for dosage for 24 months and under simply said “call your doctor.” Which reinforced my fear that I might get this important calculation wrong. So I gave up. I told him to just go ahead and pick me up a few bottles of the RIGHT MEDICINE!

Which, he did, after turning back around once he realized (halfway to the store) that his wallet was still in his pickup, at home. Grrr.  (I hate when I do that, too.)

We. Are. Awesome.

Pretty much NAILING IT!!

Parenthood can be hard. But–when you get to do it everyday with your best friend, with adorable little cherubs running around creating mayhem all around you, that you love so much your heart almost bursts open just looking at them–the hard parts really don’t even matter.

Even when you want to scream, or pull your hair out. (Or when the little darling does scream, and pull your hair out, for you.)

Even when the same little darling dumps a whole bowl of rice crispies all over your lap, on the couch. (Yeah there was that, too.)

Luckily, there was a silver lining. By the time daddy finally got back with the groceries, there was a hot breakfast-for-dinner coming right off the stove, which hasn’t happened in a loooooong time (me actually cooking him a hot meal, that is).

We divided, and we conquered. And then we had a lovely dinner together for about ten minutes until the baby decided it was playtime again. Yet again, we divided and conquered–daddy entertained jr. bacon cheeseburger while I cleaned up the kitchen, and then it was bedtime. Glorious bedtime. For the baby, and then immediately thereafter, for his tired mama.

Do you know what goes surprisingly well with breakfast-for-dinner?

Seven deadly zins.

Truth 🙂

Try it sometime. Especially on one of those kind of days!