9.5 Things My Mother Would Never Do

I was driving down the road the other day eating a deep fried chicken leg from Kroger’s and thought to myself, “Hey, I could write a blog post titled ‘Things My Mother Would Never Do’.” Here is a quick little list I generated after examining my life for a markedly short period of time.
Continue reading “9.5 Things My Mother Would Never Do”

2 Missing Chapters

I recently boxed up and got rid of all my parenting books. I’m not kidding. All of them. Originally, I had planned on just thinning them out and getting rid of the ones we’ve either “mastered” or were age sensitive, infant/toddler books that deal with sleeping, eating, potty training, and 2-year-old tantrums. Then, something came over me and I decided it would be absolutely freeing to not have one…..single….. parenting book in my house. Continue reading “2 Missing Chapters”

Mixed Emotions

I’m struggling this morning with some mixed emotions. You see, a couple months ago I was exercising with my younger, hipper sister on our family beach trip when she suggested I upgraded my workout wear for something that looked a little less homeless. To clarify, when I say “exercising”, it means walking at a brisk pace with intermittent faster walking that we like to call jogging, that makes us feel better about going out for ice cream later on in the evening.

I don’t think I have really purposely worn workout clothing since I was in high school and would wear biker shorts and a sport bra to the gym. I’m not kidding I can’t believe I did that either. We all did it though. I also remember however, thinking it was cool that my percent body fat was equal to my age, which at that time was 18.

In my mind, I wasn’t interested in wearing workout clothing until I felt I looked good in them. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Therefore, I’d usually just throw on an oversized t-shirt, often the one from my High School 15 year reunion, along with an old pair of athletic shorts that doubled as my painting pants and had hints of every wall color in my house on them. It just felt safe… Other than when I was walking alone that is. When I wasn’t pushing my jogging stroller I was regularly concerned that drivers passing by might assume I looked down and out and was walking to get a gas can and might offer me a ride. To avoid the possibility that I might truly get in a car with a stranger to avoid the embarrassment of telling them, “no, I’m just exercising”, I’d pump my arms vigorously and walk in a manner hoping to exude the fact that I had no true destination or goal other than to return to my home after walking around in circles for 45 minutes. In the exact same way, I’d definitely answer “$10” if a passer byer of my yard asked, “how much will you take for that bike?” Just so I wouldn’t have to admit I wasn’t having a yard sale.

I would like to make one clarification, I do not, I repeat, DO NOT wear my stroller leash on my wrist to try and fool people that I am a runner that intermittently lets go. I simply have very weak ankles and one, even small, acorn could have me down in a flash and I know I would never again be able to happily sing “The West Virginia Hills” without remembering the time I had to watch Haley tackle one alone in her stroller without a driver.

Laura convinced me otherwise and I went shopping. I took three young critics, whose behavior might make you think they were rabid monkeys, into the handicapped dressing room to try on my new workout wardrobe. Unable to make a decision on my own and not trust my monkey’s opinions, I took several things home to try on for my sister the next time she was in town. It felt like prom all over again. I even consider accessorizing with a new pair of tennis shoes and maybe a headband but then thought that might be pushing my new look too far.

I kept everything she didn’t laugh at and returned the rest.

On Monday I think I took my first walk ever where I matched… and it felt good. I even think my more fitted t-shirt that said, “Just Do It” even helped me push Haley up some tough hills. When the first car passed me I could almost feel them thinking to themselves, “Hey, she’s working out”. I did wonder however, if they questioned if I had under pants on. I then reassured myself that while I didn’t specifically put on any separately, my new shorts had some in them that made it count.

Today was a little different however. I wore some capri length spandex and a flowy tank top that I believe was designed to modestly cover your bum but left the bottom third of mine exposed. I was cool with that though, telling myself that surely “they” wouldn’t make spandex pants in sizes that wouldn’t look good, right?

Anyhow, I took a quick look at myself in the mirror before heading out and was somehow reminded that I had some raw, boneless, skinless chicken breasts wrapped tightly in Saran Wrap in the freezer from a Family Pack I’d only cooked half of that might be nice for dinner if I could get them thawed out in time. I then refocused and told myself I could think about dinner later; it was time to bounce! “Come on Haley, lets get shakin’, cause time’s a wastin’!”

A Moment Captured

As much as I wish I was… I am NOT a photographer. Not only do I lack the talent, I lack the ability to remember to get out my camera or even my phone, that’s with me all the time, because I’m usually too busy chasing around one of my children to get a shot of another. And then…there are times when the moment is so absolutely beautiful, I wouldn’t dare disturb it.

Every year Rick and I attempt to take Christmas pictures…and almost every other year we get one that’s decent enough to send out to friends and family. I’m well aware that it’s impossible for my children to give us precious, beautiful, natural, smiles when the entire photo shoot has gone so downhill we are yelling at them by the end to “JUST SMILE and it will be over!!!” Or,  “so help me, if you don’t smile I’m going to… not get you that toy I promised I would get you if you JUST SMILED!”

There have been so many times that I’ve wished I had top of the line, miniature cameras sitting right behind the retinas in my eyes. Times I wish I could simply blink my eyes and capture the image that I see before me and want to remember forever. Not just the still image, but all of it! The sound of her playful giggle and how squishy soft her little arms felt or how perfect everything seemed when she fit in my lap…this will help me remember.


That summer when he lost his first baby tooth and how proud he was to show off the “man tooth” that had replaced it. How he ended each day covered, head to toe, with scents of grass and dirt and little boy sweat that I could smell when he wrapped his arms around me ending yet another day of boyhood, summer, adventures. This will help me remember.


And the way he smiled when his arm was around his first “best bud ever” and for the man who always found time for him…especially when I really needed a break!!! This will help me remember.


And then, the one who made me “Momma”… whose eyes haven’t changed since she first called me that. The one that made me realize I’d never see another thing more precious or beautiful than the 3 children God gave me and how no one could ever convince any mother otherwise regarding her own. This will help me remember.


And this last one of me… I could jokingly say, will never let me forget that I was always having to turn around and go back for something I forgot, but I would regret telling you what this picture taught me, that I hope to always remember. I felt awkward posing alone but followed my directions to “walk a ways down, then turn and look back”. Simple enough I thought. When I turned around suddenly, I of course saw the camera’s eye pointed right at me, but just behind her, I saw several more eyes looking right at me; with mouths gently smiling as well. I had a sudden moment of feeling lost and separated, standing alone, by myself, without those now in front of me; who so often make me who I am and how I identify with myself. I didn’t like that sudden feeling of not knowing me like I had before without them. At that moment, I made a decision, not just to benefit me, but for them as well; I’d never again get so busy being “me” for them that I’d lose sight of and comfort in being “me” alone. I would nurtured and rekindled the woman I am outside of mom and wife or even daughter and sister and do my best to remember that, guilt is a thief that can steal your life from your hands, ultimately leaving you less of yourself to give to them. This will help me remember!


So thankful for Amanda Reed and others like her, who practice their talents and share them with us, capturing moments I wish I could by blinking my eyes!

Amanda Reed Photography

Gateway Panties

Believe it or not, there have been several times in my life that I have wondered when and how the transition from the average pair of hipsters or bikini cut panties to the excessively full-coveraged undergarment occurs. I mean, it has to be a process…or should I say slippery slope? There’s no way you simply wake up one morning and decide to set your bikini cuts to the side and slip into a pair a humongous underwear and feel great about it? While I’m sure that the when and how differs for almost everyone; from my experience, with working with the older adult population, the transition is INEVITABLE! Just be prepared. Some may say, “oh, it won’t happen to me, I won’t give in, I can handle the peer pressure”…but you just wait!

All of you who have read Quitters are aware that my family has recently suffered from some laundry mishaps. Well, Rick and my children weren’t the only victims! Several pair of my everyday underpants have what I decided to happily consider (on optimistic days) pull-up handles. Then, there are days when reality sets in and I come to grips with the fact that I simply have holes in my undies where the elastic waistband has given way from the body.
So, not too long ago, I decided to replace these, along with others that were simply tired and worn or who had without question… shrunk. I was having an optimistic day and decided in that moment that there was simply no other possible reason for their ill fitting.

I decided to take my new undies selection options up a notch and drove past Walmart to our local department store in our strip mall in rural West Virginia. I began looking at this and that and skipped over many that I’m sure Rick would have approved of and stayed on task to replace my functional, everyday, get ‘er done, work panties. I was desperate to find some undergarments that I didn’t have to think about! Some that could hang with me blasting through my To Do list on my “day off” at home with 3 kids. That was all I wanted! Some that would simply stay in place! No more hoping that the people in the pews directly behind me at church truly close their eyes during prayer; allowing me to get everything adjusted before sitting down for a long Baptist sermon. I was no longer up for the near impossible task of attempting to a de-wedgie with yard gloves on! I mean, come on! Is there not a reasonable answer out there without crossing over into my mother’s generation of underwear at the age of 38!

And there they were before for me… I almost dropped my previous selections in my moment of hopeful curiosity…The Modern Brief… Huh? They were made by Jockey. How bad could they be? Were they the answer to all my problems?!?! I picked them up for further inspection and immediately knew I should put them down.. but didn’t. They were briefs for sure but with some… edginess. The side seams were “only” 5 inches long, possibly going on 6 but who’s counting, and they flaunted something about reaching only the natural waist, in comparison to their full coverage brief who easily hides the belly button.

I was tempted. I’ll admit it. I looked at them and knew they could handle all the bending, squatting, and lifting requirements of a part-time PT, mother of 3, landscaper extraordinaire, and family courier without fail or repositioning needed… But I couldn’t pull the trigger. I kind of felt like I needed to discuss it with Rick or something? It was that big of a decision. I imagined it going something like, “Hey honey, do you have a minute? I would like to discuss something important with you. I’m thinking about… you know… making the transition. How would you feel about that? Do you think it would be confusing to the children to see me in that amount of coverage?”

It all then became suddenly clear. I had in my hands a pair of “Gateway Panties”. Sure, I would promise myself that I would only buy a few and wear them only on special occasions… you know like when doing yard work or running errands on Saturdays. But then, next thing you know, I would want more and more of them, and have plans to wear them every day; despite the activity level.

I’m sure that the first few times I left the house, wearing underpants with 6 inch side seams, I would be paranoid that everyone would know as they watched me walk by. I’m sure with time however, the inspecting of strangers walking by would switch to my side of the court. “Could her coverage be better than mine? She has absolutely no panty line and didn’t seem to be looking for a place or opportunity to reposition after picking up her 2 year-old, throwing a fit in the grocery store floor. I know she has on some 10 inchers. Where did she get them though? And how could I get my hands on a pair? The need to find some panties that could reach higher and higher on my waist and extend farther and farther past my groin and on to the tops of my thighs, would be my unfulfilled desire. I’m sure that all I would be able think about would be finding longer sides seams! I bet I’d feel invincible in them…despite their awkwardly large size. I’d be confident that there was nothing I couldn’t do in them and nothing I’d be scared to try! Nothing could make them budge! NOTHING!

I stayed strong that day and left those “Modern” Brief, Gateway Panties on the rack and avoided that first step onto the steep, slippery slope into a pair of nude-colored, nylon-blend, Sateen underpants by the age of 40.


There’s only one thing worse than realizing you have been fooled… It’s realizing it took you longer than expected to realize that the fooling had taken place.

When my children were infants I remember meticulously washing their tiny, super-soft clothing and bedding separately; of course using Dreft. I wouldn’t have dared to wash their innocent clothing with what the rest of us brought home on ours, from the world outside. I was only comfortable with our own personal germs.

At some point, I don’t really remember when, their newness would wear off, just like new a car, and I’d begin washing all of our clothing together. I’d of course separate my whites from my darks and would never wash dedicates with what I like to call “hard pants”.

This never really happened with my girls, but there came a day when I remember not wanting my clothes to be washed with Harrison’s. If there was a public floor to whaler on; he did. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have to dump out his laundry hamper to free it from leaves, small sticks, and fine dirt that collected from the dust off his clothes. At night in the bathtub, he’d kick back and have a little smile on his face when his tub water was particularly dingy. It seemed to me kind of like validation that he had truly had a day as great as it had seemed.


This controversy was first evident when I threw his “white” socks in the same pile with my crisp, white, spring capris and I noticed a drastic difference in their pre-washed, dirty whiteness. I’d question myself, “should his socks go in the dark pile because that’s how they start out or should they go in the whites because that’s how I hope they turn out?” One thing I knew was clear, if I did keep washing his “white” socks with my white capris, there would be no question whether these pants would be fashionably acceptable to wear after Labor Day.


(hands he had supposedly washed)

So one day, I watched the Clorox commercial for the last time before getting up off the couch and writing “Clorox” on my grocery list. Their whites were so white and they seemed so happy! I had to get in on the secret! Why had my mother never used bleach?

My mother is a bonafide laundry specialist. Some would even say a “Stainmaster”. All she needed to know was what, what, and when and she could get it out. The who would be obvious when I handed her the favorite article of clothing. In my frustration I usually offered the unnecessary where and why sounding something like, “we were trying to have a nice meal out and he wanted spaghetti but I suggested chicken tenders since he was wearing a white shirt. However, to avoid an argument I gave in. Now look who is paying the price because he wasn’t paying attention of course.” What Part A= substance that caused the stain. What Part B= what treatments have been tried yet failed. Finally, when=how old was the stain. The Stainmaster made it clear and did not guarantee any results from her work if the item had been dried. We all knew this up front as we delivered a beloved item to her door step with hopes that she could do her magic.

My first week with this magical solution was just that…MAGICAL! I was in awe after my first couple loads. My whites were so bright! I felt like I was on the Clorox commercial! Why did my mother, the laundry specialist, not use this amazing solution! It seems like the answer to all my dingy problems. It didn’t even seem to bother me, like it had in the past, when I had one sock left over without a match. It was so white I couldn’t help but love it sitting on top of my dryer…waiting. I found myself flitting around the house singing, ” Just a cup full of Clorox help my whites come out briiiiiiggghhht, my whites come out briiiiiight. (Of course since I played trombone for 5 years I never miss out on the opportunity to sing in a long trombone slide and gave briiiiiigggghhhhhht an extra long slide.)

I had my first mishap during my second week with Clorox. It was far from stopping me, however, from regular use. My respect for this potent cleaning solution was simply raised. I inadvertently splashed one of my favorite shirts with it and the beautiful blue color vanished before me in minutes. Before placing my beloved shirt in the yard-work wearing pile I attempted to artistically spritz my shirt with Clorox in the garage; hoping to create a masterpiece but ultimately just learning a lesson. I do now have some sweet yard working attire.

It was in the third week I began to discover some of the repercussions of Clorox. When Harrison ran quickly, his socks began to slide down his legs and blouse at the ankle; like you do after tucking in your shirt. By the fourth week, however, they simply draped over his tennis shoes and flowed gracefully like a white tablecloth at a beautiful outdoor wedding. I wasn’t singing anymore as I filled my children’s sock drawers with bright white “quitters”; a perfectly coined term from my brother-in-law. I could no longer bear to watch my son struggle, holding these little white bags in place on his 6-year-old foot until he had them secured with his tennis shoes. I found myself warning Rick to not apply the usual amount of tension to his white undershirts when tucking them in. They were only one wash away from becoming mesh like and without the most tender care the body would surely separate from the reinforced crew-neck.

I was near rock bottom and my family had become the victims of my desire to appear sparkly white…..to feel perfect…..in at least one area of my life. After of course trying to blame or ridicule the person who came up with the brilliant idea to make socks, of all things, white or the Clorox Company itself, I humbly realized that I… had been fooled and it took me longer than I’m proud of to realize it had happened.

Since we’re talking about laundry, I don’t think it’s necessary to hang all your “dirty” out on the line for everyone to see. Nor do I believe you should ever quit trying to improve and grow. I just think it is easy to forget that we all have dingy white socks as well as less than pristine children, marriages, or _________. You fill it in. That doesn’t mean they don’t feel secure or comfortable, or do the job well most of the time. I’ve learned that making perfection your goal can slowly but surely destroy your tensile strength or elasticity; weakening your integrity or ability to bounce back or even create an overwhelmed quitter.

So today I’m going to replace all our white quitters with life camouflaging black, navy, or khaki ones, that don’t fatigue when my son runs. A simple fix for a silly problem. I’m going to try to view the dirt or imperfections in my life as evidence in the bathtub water that it truly had been as good as it had seemed.

Do someone a favor today…be real.

It might just be the magical solution to help them manage their “whites”.


2013-06-06 09.00.45

Good thing for me he chooses navy and khaki over white when he dresses himself! SHAZAMMM! What a looker 😉

12 Things I Should Probably Quit Doing

You know all those small, insignificant things that you do and plan to continue doing despite having the feeling that you should really stop? Things that really aren’t THAT bad and probably won’t kill you or your kids yet you can’t fully enjoy the experience because of that guilty voice?

I’ve comprised a list of my top 12 things, in no particular order, that I should probably quit doing yet I have no plans to put them on my “things to quit doing” list at this time.

1. Microwave watching.

Sunday nights at our house is popcorn night. My younger kids love to watch the little package of Kroger brand Movie Theater Butter microwave popcorn spin, then slowly unfold. With their noses inches from the door they relay to me what’s happening to their soon to be snack awakened by dangerous microwaves. “Mom it’s getting bigger! The pops are slowing! Can I push STOP? Huh mom? Can I push it? Mom, mom?” It is quite the event. I can’t deny that I don’t enjoy the temporary trance I received from watching a hard stick of cold butter turn round and round as it slowly caves in on itself. I try to tell myself that they wouldn’t have put a window in the door if it wasn’t safe for me or my children to look in, but “they” say it’s not safe, so I can’t fully enjoy the experience for my children or myself .

2. Eating raw cookie dough.

One of my favorite parts of making cookies when I was a kid was eating the dough. This delicious childhood memory is now plagued with the fear of salmonella. I used to sneak and eat it, popping little bites in here and there, while making cookies with my little ones. They quickly caught on that it is fabulous, really even better than the cookies themselves. Fruits and vegetables can have salmonella on them and we push those down our children’s throats thinking rinsing them under cold water kills the bacteria. Nooooooo! “They” gave the bad rap to raw cookie dough! Well, we don’t make homemade cookies near enough so I feel our odds are low. Therefore, we all enjoy at least one cookie’s worth of dough and pray for the best.

3. Using bubble bath in my jetted tub.

The man who installed our tub specifically said, “no bath salts or bubble bath in the tub”. I remember looking at him and thinking to myself, “are you kidding me”? Well sometimes you’re just tired. It’s nice to put a few squirts of bubble bath in the water, throw the kids in and start the jets. Following the wash cycle: 1. Drain the dirty water, 2. Turn on the shower for the rinse cycle, 3. Towel dry. Bath…Time…DONE! Not to mention the kids have a fabulous time and think you are awesome at least until teeth-brushing begins! Additionally, if you are skilled at pretending you are deaf and blind, you can get a few peaceful minutes to yourself to read a magazine while sitting on the toilet lid during the wash cycle.

4. Offering Sweet Frog as a reward for good behavior.

I try to offer non-food rewards to my children but sometimes I really want dessert and using their questionable “good” is a great out. What’s more confusing than bribery is when their behavior is terrible and you still take them because warm weather makes you think about ice cream and frozen yogurt all the time. I sometimes think my odds would be better if I said something more like, “if I can get through this shopping trip without yelling or wanting to cuss, we’re going to Sweet Frog!” I don’t think they have quite figured me out but I think they are on to something after hearing me yell, “so help me Harrison, if I don’t get to go to Sweet Frog because you can’t stay out of the store’s floor I’m going to…”

5. Streaking.

I regularly run from one end of the house to the other insufficiently clothed. We have a neighborhood road that goes in front of our house as well as one in the back. We also have lots of windows in our house because I enjoy lots of natural light. We also have some new neighbors that I didn’t know had moved in yet. I do own robes but they are such a hassle, Gosh! Well, I know that I saw him and I’m quite that confident that he saw me because he quickly picked up his toddler and started heading home after looking my way. In addition to mastering the art of selective deafness, I have mastered the ability to pretend that my eyelids were shut during an unpleasant event completely erasing it from my visual mind. This will make it possible for me to talk to my neighbor on our back road while our children are riding bikes. Another time I was running from one end of the house to the other in just a towel. I looked up to see a man taking pictures of our house and possibly me in the background. I’m not sure if that helped or hurt our recent house appraisal. Did I forget to tell you the towel was on my head?

6. Using things that are not tissue to clean noses.

I do my absolute best to make sure that I have tissues, wipes, and even paper towels on me or in my car at all times. I even carry a gallon jug of water in my truck in the event that I may need to give an unexpected roadside bath. It seems that more often than not however, my children decide to have an explosive, sinus cleansing sneeze when we are at the park and I only have my keys. Trust me, if you don’t know for yourself, leaves do a poor job and hurt. I’ve been tempted to use the bottom of their shirt but then know when they do it themselves I can’t ask them, ” just who taught you how to do such a disgusting thing”! I’ve had to pinch the snot from their nose with my bare hand and wipe it on the grass. Any residual slime left behind on your hands seems to disappear after you rub them together for a bit. If you’ve never done this, I haven’t either, it was just a made up story I told you.

7. Wearing clothes taken from the dirty laundry hamper.

My son always seems to come out of his room dressed in clothes that I know he wore earlier in the week. Same thing with pajamas. He has several pair but he alternates between them like they are his bedtime uniform. I sometimes make him change and always regret it. It takes him twice as long to put on clothes that he doesn’t want to wear compared to the unusual amount of time it takes for him to put on clothes he does like. If Febreeze came up with a scent called, ” I swear I just washed it” I think it would sell like hotcakes, and if hotcakes didn’t sell, we wouldn’t have Pancake Suppers to raise money for our schools. I guarantee school buses all over the place would reek of the stuff in the mornings.

8. Taking an afternoon coffee break to calm down.

Sometimes in the late afternoon, when the kids are home from school, I decide I want to take a little break before we start homework and running here and there for activities and making dinner. I love coffee and the thought of it makes me feel really nice, so I decide to have a cup. Every time, I repeat, every time I decide to do this it is not good. The caffeine usually kicks in mid math or right when I discover we are running late for dance class and all need to get shoes on and buckled into the car and her black leotard cannot be found.

9. Allowing rodent affection.

As many of you know from Warm Blooded Love my kids have their first furry friends. They aren’t dogs or cats but rodents…I mean hamsters. My son’s hamster is named Mickey and he loves him so much. They are best friends and have so much fun playing together. (I’m only speaking for my son right now). Anyway, he’s always wanting to kiss him! On the head or back, I don’t know. I don’t like any of it. I just try and pretend it doesn’t happen. If I told him not to I know he would sneak and kiss him when I wasn’t around anyway. It hasn’t been a problem lately however. My son has been grounded from playing with Mickey for the past several days for not playing nicely. He gets him back on Saturday and yes I have to write things like this on my calendar or they try and trick me.


I had been doing laundry earlier in the day and Harrison was letting Mickey walk around on the top of an overturned laundry basket. Thinking this was harmless, I turned around to my work in the kitchen. When the tone of my son’s laughter sounded mischievous, I turned around to further examine the cause. He had been depressing the center of the laundry basket in, then would wait for it to pop back into shape, throwing his furry friend into the air and would catch him precisely at the point where he stopped going up and before heading down!!!

By the way, I promised myself that I would not Google: Do hamsters carry diseases?…but guess what? Small rodents and reptiles are big carriers of salmonella! So, with the rodent kissing and the cookie dough eating, our family is basically a ticking time bomb for a salmonella outbreak!

10. Eating my children’s Easter and Halloween candy when they are not at home.

I don’t really feel like it is stealing. I’m quite sure they would say “yes” if I asked them and made them feel guilty. They really have way too much anyway and I’m just protecting their teeth. We all know that children don’t have the manual dexterity to thoroughly brush and floss to prevent cavities. Plus, if they filled up on candy their bellies would be full and they couldn’t eat their fruits and vegetables thoroughly rinsed with cold water of salmonella.

11. Expelling gas with my family.

We all do it and most all know where and when it is appropriate, despite the occasional accident caused by sneezing, etc. There’s a time and place for everything and gas being expelled with your closest family is funny. Always was, always is, and always will be…but not at the dinner table . I will never get tired of hearing someone in my family say, “did someone step on a duck in here”?

12. Asking everyone I know, including those on the internet I’ve never met, for advice before listening to the Spirit of God inside of me.

Sometimes I don’t ask or listen because I don’t want to hear, “wait”, “not now”, or “NO”. I then keep seeking and searching for advice from others until I find what my flesh wants to hear. I find advice but I find no peace. Other times, I know exactly what I’m supposed to do but I’m scared or lack faith to act. It is then easy for me to find advice that will further discourage and stop me in my tracks. I find advice but I find no peace. Sometimes, I know immediately when the advice I’m receiving is some I should take.  It gives me chills because it sounds like it is coming from the same voice I hear from within me but too often tune out. I’ve made a mistake. This one needs to go on my “Wise Things to Work On” list.

Dear Cinderella,

I just saw your newest movie and I had to write and tell you how much my children and I loved it! I of course knew how the ending would play out, but I loved experiencing it through mature eyes. You looked absolutely stunning in your blue, Fairy Godmother designed gown. How it spun around when you danced I will never forget! You couldn’t have looked a bit more in love as you twirled with your Prince Charming on the ballroom floor. I was so happy for you. As a mother, I was proud of the good and gentle spirit you had maintained despite your circumstances. What wise advice your beautiful mother left you with; “be courageous and be kind”. And how wise of you for listening and always remembering her words. I left the theater feeling all bubbly and silly and in love. Then…a little smirk came about my face as well and I was happy that your step-sisters and evil srep-mother, lets say “broke you in”. Cinderella, as your years with Prince Charming continue together, you must always do your best to remember and follow your mother’s advice; “be courageous and be kind”.

I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing honeymoon. I hope you went somewhere warm? I understand that when it’s “true love” time doesn’t matter, but if you had asked me I would have told you your courtship seemed a little short. I prayed you wouldn’t notice any odd or unusual hygiene rituals on your honeymoon that you weren’t expecting? I do keep forgetting that you’re in that stage where everything he does seem cute and sweet! What about the odd way he brushes and flosses his teeth?  Don’t worry, it will get to you. Remember Cinderella, “be kind”.

What are your plans after the honeymoon? What exactly does “Happily Ever After” look like? I’m sure you look forward to cooking delicious meals for him night after night and tidying up the house and doing his laundry so he can come home and relax in the evenings after a long day of being King. I think I’m a little too mouthy to be the wife of a King. I actually think I’m a little too mouthy to be a wife at all sometimes. Does he like to go away on “guys’ trips” yet? You know, to blow off steam? I’m sure he will soon, if not yet. Doesn’t he like hunting? Something’s in season all the time, you know. If it’s not elk or deer it might be football, basketball, or baseball. I know you’ll miss him…at first. It’s hard to believe this now, but at one point you’ll look forward to your own peace and quiet while he’s gone….until he leaves you alone with all your children that is. Then, you will feel a little mad or jealous or even for a split second not really care if he comes home at all! “Be kind”, Cinderella.

The King seems like a really structured, organized kind of guy. I bet that feels really nice and secure right now. Always knowing where he’ll be and precisely what and when you’re going to be doing “said” activity with him. That lack of spontaneity may kill you in a few years though. You think his jokes are cute and funny now don’t you? Wait till you hear them over, and over, and over again. “Be courageous and be kind.”

I can’t tell you how excited you will be one day when you find out you will be a mother! Talk about magic! Your waist will go from 28 inches to 44 in what seems like overnight! Your beautiful, milky white skin will stretch to its limit and before your eyes purple, iridescent, vertical stripes will appear! You will get those breasts you had hoped for in high school but will soon find out however, that they really just act as a counterweight for your butt so you don’t fall backward all day. Just a warning Cinderella,  you will also become very sensitive and irrational and convinced that songs such as ‘Baby’s Got Back’ were written about you. This is normal and remember; “be courageous”.


Ten years from now, after your third, precious baby is born, your beautiful hair will usually be found dirty and in a sloppy bun on the top of your head. You’ll wake up exhausted, having been up every 2 hours all night nursing the baby, and head towards your life blood, the coffee pot. Your middle child will see you and holler for a chocolate milk. Your oldest will want help finding her favorite jeans and ask why you wear purple eye-shadow under your eyes. That together with your husband’s complaining that his back is a little sore from sleeping all night long in one position will make you want to yell “if your nipples aren’t bleeding and your butt’s not flipped inside out, I’m really not in the mood to hear it right now”. You will only be refrained by remembering your mother’s sweet advice and head on to the coffee pot like you’re deaf and dumb, skills you’ve mastered over the years. There is a plus Cinderella, by the time you have your third child you can doze off in the rocking chair at night, barely slumped forward and still nurse the baby lying in your lap. I’m not joking, the equipment will reach. “Be courageous and be kind.” There is a woman named Victoria and she has a Secret.

I don’t want to sound like a ‘downer’ Cinderella, I just want you to be prepared and not misled by the Fairy-tale world you live in. However, before I end my letter I have to tell you about the “Fairy” parts!

I know you’ve seen pumpkins turn into stagecoaches and mice into horses but I can’t wait for you to see the “magic” that I’ve seen. You see, I’ve had center stage on the day each of my children were born. I was the first person to touch each one of their faces since being touched by the hands of God! Their skin is so soft Cinderella, you have to look with your eyes to make sure you’re even touching it. There will be nights when you’re up all alone with this child and you’ll be afraid that your heart might just burst with love. But “have courage”, it won’t.


Sophia Grace


Harrison Michael


Haley Kathryn

Over the years, you and your Prince Charming will suffer losses and celebrate joys. I pray that with every one, when you look around, he’ll be right there beside you like mine has been. There’s a good chance he will have his arm around you, telling you one of his stupid jokes trying to make you laugh and feel better, and guess what…you will. When you’re needing a rest but there is so much to do, I hope your Type A Prince lovingly says to you, “it’s done or scheduled to be completed this afternoon”, go lie down. When you can’t imagine him not being there when you look around during your next high or low, “be courageous”, I pray he will.

And lastly, when your Fairy Godmother shows up at your front door offering a post-baby, full-body makeover, I hope you gratefully decline. You will be tempted I promise, but if you accept Cinderella, your little boy inside playing will forget to ask to hear the story. You know, the one where you first think he’s teasing you when he asks you why you have stripes across your hips and belly? But then like every other time you remember; he just wants to hear the story about how you loved him even before you knew him. You’d miss his smiles when you told him he was practicing somersaults and jumping jacks inside there and that’s what striped your belly.

Cinderella, I pray you have a wonderful “Tale” to tell but I hope it’s not too “Fairy”. If you don’t have to work for it, you’ll have nothing to be proud of really. If you don’t run into your weakness, you won’t have something to improve. I’m even afraid that if you don’t have some “lows” you’ll take all your “highs” for granted and even miss out on the joy you can find when you are down there. So with all my love Cinderella, I’m praying that you have a beautiful “Tale”, with just the normal amount of “Fairy”, just like the rest of us. I would hate for you to miss out on a wonderful life just because the “normal” you are living isn’t the “Fairy-tale” you thought it was supposed to be!

With love and sweet thoughts until I write again,                                                                           Susan


It’s that stressful time of day between 5 and 6:30 PM when everyone is hungry, Rick, my hubby, will be home from work at anytime, the house is a mess despite working all day, and the kids are laying on the couch watching some absurd, brain rotting show on Nickelodeon. I’m however am in the kitchen, kickin’ it in high gear, trying my best to keep it together. I reach into my junk drawer to get my scissors and…..THEY’RE GONE!!!

That’s it, the last straw fell…”WHERE ARE MY SCISSORS!!!!” The kids look this way. I repeat the same phrase, this time banging both fists on the counter for more emphasis. “GET UP, GET UP, GET UP, FIND MY SCISSORS NOW!” My 3 precious offspring jump up in fear and begin scurrying. I grip the counter and try to “breath it down” like I learned in child birthing classes. It was too late for my essential oils. I could tell my breathing techniques were going to fail me today as they did in the labor room each time. There was no epidural for this pain however! Beyond my control I needed release. It needed out. I tried to hold back but it was going to win. I grabbed the underside of my chin and tore back my “sweet gentle mother” mask. I rolled my head around backwards and side to side morphing into this creature I’ve yet to tame. ” I….. NEED…… MY……SCISSOOOOOOORS!” said in an echoing low voice. Then the rant began…

“How am I supposed to make you all a healthy dinner without scissors? The Dinner Creations package clearly states that I am supposed to cut the package open with a tiny pair of scissors. I am not to tear it, or cut it with a knife, and unlike other people around here I try to follow the rules. Do you see me taking your important things and breaking or hiding them? Of course not! You leave all your stuff everywhere for me to pick up and put away. All I do all day is carry your junk from one end of the house to the other like a rented mule. I can’t take it anymore. ( that’s one of my favorites) I can’t believe Santa brought you all anything this year. I’m going to get that elf on the shelf some glasses for his birthday, then maybe he’ll tell Santa the truth. You know you’re supposed to keep your grubby hooks off those scissors. They are MINE, MINE, MINE!!!! ( I stomp my feet sometimes too for added effect). I think I could buy scissors at Walmart every week and I still don’t think you could find a pair around this pig sty. Actually, right now I’m going to go and write “scissors” on the top line of every page of the grocery list. So help me (another one of my favorites) when I find those scissors I’m going to… ( thinking about what I’m going to do) I’m going to…(still thinking) I’m going to cut that package open then do something so bad you’re going to hate it. Then I, unlike YOU, am going to put the scissors back in the drawer. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do.” (I use hand motions too).”

Moments later I saw a shadow toss the scissors on the counter and runoff. Since I don’t live in a convenience store and don’t have a tape measure extending vertically from floor to ceiling at my back door, I couldn’t be positive but I believe the image stood at the approximate height of my middle child. I found them all cowering in the playroom, huddled together gently pushing Haley, my youngest, forward. We are all aware that she gets off a little easy with my tendency to blame her acts of blatant defiance on mere childhood innocence. After-all, she is my third and final. I tell them “I am going to buy my own pair of scissors and keep them hidden and so help me ( see, there again) if you even ask to use them, you’ll wish you hadn’t”. “I don’t even care if it is for a school project.” “I’ll even deny that I own my own, secretly hidden scissors to cut your gauze during a major emergency.” (I head-bob too for added effect) “Are you picking up what I’m puttin’ down?”

As you see, I did get some new scissors…

They are so sweet I almost wish they came with a holster so I could wear them around, always prepared and ready to cut. They are designed with a comfort grip and a razor edge so sharp it needs a protective sheath. Kudos to the iridescent packaging marketing strategy that grabbed my eye that day. The scissors will be hidden but were clearly marked first. Hopefully, they will be reminded of what went down and how they barely made it out alive, on that cold December day.

Moments after a scenario like the actually benign one described above, my kids seem fine and back to their normal business. It is me however, who stands at the pantry door eating Little Debbie’s, filled with guilt and disappointed in my inability to control my anger. After a while, I tell them I’m sorry and remorsefully ask for forgiveness, which they always happily give me. Their unasked for hugs and smiles for me let me know they’ve moved on.

You AGAIN have compassion on me(us); you will tread my(our) sins underfoot and will hurl all my(our) iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19  Just like my children, who also know my heart’s desire, You let me start over again, like a new fresh day, even if it is 8 PM. I hesitantly reached out to take the gift I undeservingly came seeking. A fresh slate, a gift, knowing that otherwise I’ll be stuck in my shame, unable to move on….to be better for them….where I’m the worst….in the walls we surround ourselves with….called home.