My Mother’s Day Wish?

Mother’s Day is only a few days away and I can’t believe that I will be saying “Happy Mother’s Day” to my mother for the 39th time. I would do the math and tell you how old she is, but I have learned that certain things only anger her, so why light that match? (Mom, if you are reading this, you are just as young and beautiful as I remember you from my childhood!)

Speaking of my age… I am getting ready to have my 14th Mother’s Day as a mother myself.

Wait………… WHAT? My first baby is already 14 years old? Something just doesn’t add up there. Where are the little babies who relied on me for everything? We used to worry about diapers and formula and detergent allergies, but now we are worrying about high school and peer pressure and bad attitudes.

How is it that everyone in my life seems to be getting older (except me, of course)??? Every day on Facebook lately I have noticed that another one of my friends has turned 40 years old. FORTY!

I may be holding on (not so gracefully) to 39 with every ounce of my being, but lately I have noticed a few things that may be indicators that I really am older than I think I am…

I know more about beauty/anti-aging products than I would care to admit. My conversations with my friends used to be about milestones our babies had reached, but lately I have noticed we spend more time talking about glycolic acid, retinol, fereulic acid, vitamin C serum, and tretonoin. Instead of comparing dates like we did in our twenties, we are now comparing day creams, night creams, eye creams, and fillers. Most conversations begin with, “Your skin looks so good, what do you do?”

I can’t do everything I used to do. In our youth, most of us enjoyed spending entire days out on the beach greasing up with baby oil mixed with iodine, drinking bottomless beers, and smoking cigarettes. Now we know that every ray of sunshine becomes an age spot, beer belly is a real phenomenon, and smoking makes your skin wrinkle up like used wax paper (not to mention CANCER).

The recovery time after a fun night is brutal. It’s just not worth it. I have to recover for days and often feel worse for wear on day two after a big night, then I did the day following it. The bags under my eyes are tell-tale signs that I either had too much wine, stayed up too late or ate too many salty chips with my margarita at the mexican restaurant.

Sleep is a NECESSITY now. I used to enjoy taking naps just to get a little extra energy, but now, if I don’t get a full eight hours of sleep a night then I am pretty worthless the following day. I have to take a nap or I am no good to anyone. My brain is cloudy and I spend every waking second focused on when I can go back to bed. And that is to SLEEP, not to “nap” (wink, wink). I’m so tired of being tired.

WHY IS MY BODY TURNING ON ME???? What was once enjoyable would now wreak havoc on my body.


This would make my rings tight and my eyes puffy for DAYS…

Life goes by too fast. Maybe I am older than I’d like to admit. I do not feel old enough to say that I have been doing anything for 23 years, but I have officially been driving that long. I feel like I was just in college a few years ago, but in actuality, I graduated from college 19 years ago. I often find it hard to believe I am married, let alone married for the second time. And my little babies, whose lives revolved around me, now choose to spend their time with friends or locked in their rooms.

Things sure do change in a hurry and admittedly all of the changes are not necessarily bad ones. I feel so much wiser than I was 15 years ago. I have learned so much by becoming a mom, living through a divorce, and being a single mom for so long. I’ve grown to value the importance of a well-planned schedule and I am not late for things like I used to be. I love others more than myself now too, which wasn’t always the case before having children. I am more passionate about life, my hobbies, and my marriage than I ever was before.

However, it would be ideal to have the wisdom I have now with the skin and energy I had at 30. Yep, I think that will be my Mother’s Day wish……….

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Choose Your Own Life…

The alarm jolted me awake at 6:25am, but my body was just not ready to get up.  I reached over and hit the 9 minute snooze button and rolled back over right into the arms of my handsome husband.  We laid there silently embracing while I thought about the day ahead of me and listened to the rain outside.  The cloudy weather made it darker than normal in our bedroom which made it even more difficult to venture out of our warm cocoon.

It’s sad that at 6:25am when I had not even spoken aloud yet and my feet had not even touched the floor, I was already trying to figure out when I would be able to go back to bed.  I verbalized my thoughts to my husband, who laughed at me (while probably looking forward to getting back in bed with me too, but for other reasons).  Men…

I reluctantly fought my way out of the sheets and went to wake up my 13 year old son.  He had obviously had a restless night because his head was where his feet had been when he went to sleep.  He sat up and said, “I don’t feel so good.”   Not a great way to start the day.

My step-son was asleep in the other bed, so I whispered to my son to get up and shower and that it would make him feel better (yes, mothers always tell you that if you get up/shower/eat then you will feel better).

After rushing around to get ready and pack lunches, we were ready to head out the door to school promptly at 7:45am.   RAIN?  I was not expecting rain.  Obviously I was not expecting rain since my umbrella was IN my car and my car was in the driveway… in the rain.  We ran to the car trying to protect our “i-stuff” in the process.

Not even two blocks away we encountered a very long trailer that was having a hard time turning onto Glenwood from Anderson.  He had the intersection blocked and there were cars just sitting around everywhere.  I remember sitting there thinking that I had not even been awake for two hours and my day was already MISERABLE.

photo 1

Yes, that is the back of the truck that is basically scraping the telephone pole on the right…

After a lot of trouble and waiting and sitting in the carpool line, I was headed into work.  With my music playing, I tried to think about happy thoughts but was overcome with thinking about the difficulties I have been facing with a negative force in my life and I started just getting ANGRY.

By the time I parked my car I was just mad and tired.  And it was only 8am.

As I was walking to work from the parking garage, I heard a weird crack coming from the ground and I noticed my shoe felt strange.  I looked down and realized that my heel had broken.   So now I was tired, mad and wet with a broken heel.  It was almost more than my head could handle which made me feel like breaking something, well, other than my heel.

photo 2

In Joan & David’s defense, I have only had these shoes for EIGHTEEN YEARS!!!!!!! Gotta love well made shoes!

So thoughts were bombarding my brain as they so often do during that short walk from my car to my office.   It came to my mind that life is just like those books I used to enjoy reading when I was a child – the books where you got to choose which direction the story takes next.


Our lives are our own “Choose Your Own Adventure” book!

I realized I was CHOOSING to allow these negative thoughts to take over.  I was choosing to allow a difficult morning to take happy time out of my life.  I was choosing to let a little bit of difficulty caused by an unhappy person to take my focus off the 99% of AMAZINGNESS I have in my life every single day.

I made up my mind at that moment that the gloves were coming off in regards to unhappy thoughts.  I was not going to give control to something that deserves NO control.  Negative people too.  DONE.

And it worked!  When Warren called me to pick him up from school because he couldn’t make it through the day, I was walking out the door for a birthday lunch with a friend.  Instead of my birthday lunch, I had to rush to the middle school to get my baby.  I could have been upset about missing my lunch date, but I focused on how thankful I am to have a job that allows me to just leave when necessary to care for my babies.

Anytime a negative thought tried to creep into my head (which let me tell you with some of the stupid in my life at times, it’s hard NOT to let it creep in) I replaced it with happy thoughts.  I thought about how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family.  I thought about how lucky I am to wake up every single morning next to a man with whom I am madly in love.  I thought about how much I love sharing soccer with my stepdaughter when I can and watching my son play basketball.

There are so many more happy thoughts than negative in my life, but it does often feel like the negative thoughts are so much heavier on the brain and heart.  So DON’T LET THEM IN!!!

This is also a great point for families in a divorce situation.  Too many parents focus on the one or two “bad things” their ex does rather than just trust in them to make the right decisions regarding the children.

Now don’t get me wrong, if your ex is doing something that is harmful to the children – getting drunk to the point of passing out with them around, leaving them alone at night to hit the bars/clubs, hurting them in any way physically or emotionally – then fight, fight fight for your kids.  If, however, your ex is just not doing things in her/his house like YOU would do, then replace the bad thoughts with good thoughts and MOVE ON.

I got a comment from a reader earlier this week about this very subject.  Here is a copy of her comment:


As I said in a previous post, we can only control what we can control.  And we cannot control our ex.  And no matter how much we beg and plead to them to change something that we may not agree with, we are NO LONGER MARRIED.  So basically your viewpoint means nothing to him/her and you are wasting your breath.  As a matter of fact, he will probably fight you on it and do whatever it is more in an attempt to prove you wrong in some way.


I read a lot about this subject because it’s common for married parents to disagree about parenting issues.  AND THEY LOVE EACH OTHER!  So if you two are divorced, then you can’t expect to agree on things.  And the only time you have a right to get involved is when it is detrimental to your children.  And not that YOU BELIEVE it is detrimental to your children, but you have valid proof that it is indeed harming your kids in some way.  Unless you have that, then there is absolutely nothing you should do to try to change what happens at your ex’s house.  Because it’s pointless and it only makes you and everyone around you miserable.

I tell friends who are dealing with this the same thing EVERY TIME.  You have to CHOOSE how to deal with this and rather than trying to force your goals and views on your ex, choose to live the best life you can and be the best role model that you can in YOUR HOME.  You can control what happens in your own home and the beauty of it is that if your children are old enough, then they will be able to choose parts of each of you that they want to emulate as they mature.  They will see one parent who is living life in such a way that is not admirable and they will the see you living the best life you can and being a good role model.  Which one do you think they will want to emulate when they have children of their own??


And that’s what our goal has to be.  They may learn behavior at the other parent’s home that you will not allow in your home.  I can’t tell you how many times with four kids we say, “You won’t do that in OUR home” when they try to convince us that they should be able to do something since they do it at the other parent’s house.   If they are old enough, then they will be mad, but they will also think about why it is allowed at one home and not the other.   And hopefully they will learn something in the process.

It’s the same thing on the flipside too.  If you happily encourage your kids to love the other parent and encourage them to be a daily part of the other parent’s life even when they are with you, they will remember it when they grow older and respect you more for it.  As I have said in previous posts, the kids will remember which parent truly respected their love for the other parent.  It’s the parent who is not threatened by the child loving the other parent.  It’s the parent who is mature enough to know that the child has enough love to go around so they encourage the children to view themselves as having ONE LARGE FAMILY rather than separate lives with either parent.

So, choose your own adventure!  Choose to be happy!  And choose to always put the kids first!  That should be your new normal.  And you won’t have to even talk to your kids about it, because they will know what just feels right… and they will know who truly had their best interests at heart every step of the way.

THIS is how I choose to live my life... (20th class reunion last summer)

THIS is how I choose to live my life… (20th class reunion last summer)



Update – After posting this blog this morning, I ran to the grocery store to get the ingredients to make my famous Brunswick Stew.  What I thought would be a quick trip to the grocery store took a lot longer than expected because there was a little old lady in front of me in line who wanted to run back and get some ice cream that was on sale.  Then she had a rain check item to talk about.  Then she used coupons.  Then she wrote a check.  The entire time she was just smiling and chatting with the young cashier and the young bagger (both looked like they were in high school).   She looked at me and apologized for taking so long and I smiled at her and said, “Not a problem.  Have a nice day.”

After she walked out, the cashier said, “I am SO sorry she took so long.  Thank you for your patience.”  She looked at me with a genuinely apologetic look.  I thought about my blog and I said, “I could choose to be in a rush and be angry, but who would that help?  It would have hurt her feelings, it would have made you unhappy and it would have just made me feel bad.  So I might as well be patient and enjoy my day.”  Both of them looked at me like I was crazy.  After a pregnant pause the young cashier said, “And it wouldn’t make it go any quicker.  I wish more people thought that way.”

She got it.

We smiled at each other and I told her to have a wonderful day.  I truly hope she does…

Los Pantalones Del Fuego

I am definitely not perfect… of this I am acutely aware. But if there is one thing I am NOT, it is a liar. I am absolutely honest to a fault. I learned a long time ago that as someone with expressive brown eyes, there really is no point in trying to lie. I had to accept the truth that a poker player I will never be. I know I will never be perfect, but no matter how imperfect I may be, I know I should always strive to be a good person. And good people should not lie.

I have a hard time understanding how some people can lie as easily as breathe. And how confusing to have to keep track of your lies and who you told what so that they don’t catch you. I would have an absolute panic attack trying to keep up with my lies. I would have to create some sort of app for my iphone that kept track and cross-referenced my lies so that I wouldn’t worry about it nonstop.

I have dated people throughout my life who have lied to me continuously and I was too naïve to even think that they were not being honest. Over the past few years I have become much better at figuring out who to trust and who not to trust. As a general rule I chose to just not trust anyone. Admittedly that is not the best attitude to have, but now that we have two teenage boys in our home it is probably a pretty good policy to have.

As a friend of ours who has three teenage daughters told us one night, “They are all liars. Just know if anything comes out of their mouths, it is lies.” And we are learning this is true… in small but upsetting ways.

So why DO they lie? And where in the world do they learn such behavior? Joe and I strive to live honest, open lives that are full of trust and love and communication. So why do we find the kids lying to us about small and insignificant things? And if they lie about something as small as, “I didn’t text you back because I didn’t see your text” (when you saw the read receipt and can see on the phone bill that he was texting friends at the very same time), then what else are they lying about?

I think a lot of this culture of lying is learned behavior. So many parents are unaware of just how much their kids hear – driving in the car talking on the phone or talking in another room while the kids are home. The kids hear one thing being said and then another being said and they process it all… They hear their mom telling a story about their dad that they know isn’t true or they hear their dad lie to a customer about why they can’t meet that afternoon. How can we expect our children to tell the truth if they see us being less than truthful?

The worst is when I hear about parents who encourage lies to the other parents – seemingly as an “I’m on your side” thing, but it is teaching the child that lying is okay. What may seem like an innocent little white lie, “You can call your dad back in the morning… I will tell him you were asleep,” essentially says to your child, “It’s okay to lie to dad if it’s convenient for you to do so.” As a parent, you need to model the behavior that you want to see in your child. They are like puppets and they learn from what they see in you.

One of my friends going through a divorce told me about a talk she had with her four year old that I thought was good. She said that she told her daughter, “If either your father or I ever say to you, ‘Don’t tell your mom’ or ‘Don’t tell your dad,’ then we have done something we know is wrong and the first thing you need to do is tell the other parent.” I think that’s a good rule of thumb for a divorced family. If one parent doesn’t want the other parent to know – where the kids spent the night, who spent the night, how late the kids stay up, what someone said – then it’s probably something the other parent needs to know.

This has been on my mind lately because the other night, my sweet bonus daughter said, “Valerie, you lied to me.” I looked at her baffled because I know that I never lie and asked her what she was talking about. She said, “The other night I asked you if we had any ice cream and you said no.” I made a quick inventory in my brain of everything we have in the freezer and I said with confidence, “We DON’T have any ice cream.” And she said, “Yes we do. Come here.” She led me into the pantry and showed me some peppermint ice cream in the deep freezer that may have been there since the 1900’s (not really, but that’s fun to say).


We would have to use an ice pick to chop that ice cream out of the deep freeze!!

Joe and I both had a talk with her about how we will not lie. I explained that the ice cream she was talking about was so old it was stuck in the freezer and that if we HAD ice cream I would tell her, “Yes, we have ice cream, but you can’t have any right now,” before I lied and said, “Sorry, we don’t have any.” That is just not how I roll. There are some parents who don’t like to be the “bad guy,” so they would rather lie than just tell their kids “no.”

I think the kids all know that Joe and I are true to our word. As you have heard me say before, our home is a home of open communication and no fear. We want to teach our children that words may lie, but actions will always tell the truth. They will grow up and know whose word to believe based on how they see us live.


We Love Being Home Base…

Our kids are going to eat us out of house and home… Now that Joe and I are married, we have four kids under the same roof a lot of the time. I used to go to Costco once a month, but now we are finding that we reach a “dire need” status within a week of the last trip. We easily go through three half-gallons of milk and two loaves of bread in a week. Lately we have noticed when it comes time to make lunches in the morning that the snack food is depleting fast.

Last week I came home from work and started getting dinner ready. When I went to throw something in the kitchen trashcan, I was AMAZED at how many snack wrappers were in there – chips, fruit roll ups, Oreos, Babybel Cheese, a box of chocolate milk. Basically everything I send to lunch with the kids was in the waste basket and my son had not even been home from school for two hours.

As I was sitting there in awe over how much he had eaten that afternoon, it hit me…. My son has at least two boys who walk home with him every afternoon. They hang out for a little while and shoot hoops or go fishing before their parents pick them up. No wonder I feel like we never have any food — I have three or more teenage boys at my house every day after a long day of school!

I sat my son down and told him that from now on the pre-packaged snacks were for lunchboxes only and that while I did not mind his friends coming over every day that I could not afford to feed them all. My son was NOT HAPPY.

The next afternoon I came home to find a mess on the sunporch – Doritos packages and blue Gatorades. I asked the sitter where the boys were and she told me they went fishing and added, “And Jed’s mom came to get him but then left without him for some reason. Weird.” Joe walked in at that moment and I glared at him, “Can you believe this??? I told him YESTERDAY that I do not want to feed all of his friends every day and look what I walk into????” All the while I was pointing at the junk food wrappers scattered on my sunporch.

Joe looked at me and said, “Baby, I don’t think we had any Doritos or blue Gatorades… they must have brought them from school.” I was so confused, so I called my son from the fishing pond and asked him to come home. When he walked in I said, “Look at this mess! And where did this food come from???”

My son said, “We called Jed’s mom and asked her to bring snacks over since you said we can’t eat our food anymore. So she brought us some snacks.” My mouth dropped open due to my immediate embarrassment and my unexpected pride at the boys’ initiative. He then hit me with, “I mean, what were we SUPPOSED to do mom???”

Joe and I laughed so hard thinking about what my friend Jamie must have thought when the boys called and said I would no longer feed them… I explained to my boy that I meant they could not eat the pre-packaged snack foods, but if they wanted to have Spagettios or Hot Pockets or Easy Mac, then that was fine. He seemed to feel much better about them being allowed to eat SOMETHING at least.

The thing is that we love being the home where all the kids want to be. At least when the kids are congregated at our house we know they are being supervised and we have more control over what they are doing. At this age, the boys especially can really get into trouble when left unattended, so I love that the boys all like to come over and go fishing at the neighbor’s pond or walk down to play basketball at the elementary school down the street. I love that our house is their home base.

I guess if I want to continue to be the home that the kids like to hang out in then I better start going to Costco more often to have better snack foods. I would hate to lose them over some Cheez-its (or lack thereof)………