A Good Book

I spent most of the weekend with my nose in a book. A dramatic, action-packed, romantic, comedy with an interestingly different cast of characters.

I’ve had my eye on this book for quite some time. Each and every time I get my hands on it, I never want to put it down. It excites me, mostly because the main characters are dynamic individuals. I open the book and get excited to spend hours at a time really getting to know these characters and all they bring to the story. I do my best to clear my head, because sometimes this story is a difficult one to follow. Failing to pay close attention to all that is going on could cause me to miss out on details that are important to the storyline. I like all of the characters, even though some of them prove to be difficult. My absolute favorite is the one whom I most closely relate to. He has a big heart and absolutely loves what he is doing, even though he is in a supporting role and is rarely given the opportunities that some of the major characters receive. His role in some chapters are more impressive than others, but, it is evident – to me at least - that he makes this book so much more interesting.

I never dreamed in a million years that this would be the type of book that I would enjoy. Through the years and most certainly in this stage of life, lots of things have change in my life and I find myself all wrapped up in this type of tale.

The particular storyline has been building for weeks, and just like any good book, each chapter seems to excite me more and more because I see the prospect for new possibilities, as well as the scenes that get me all fired up . It is action packed and difficult to follow at times because the OH THE DRAMA, but aren’t most good books filled with pages full of drama? Sometimes, before I know what is happening, I get so wrapped up in one character, that I lose all track of another. I absolutely hate it when that happens. When you take into consideration all that is transpiring - funny scenes, jam-packed action, DRAMA, and various love situations, it’s any wonder that any of us can keep up with the dramatic twists and turns that happen at every corner.

The love is evident – at least for most of the characters. If not for love, how else could they do what they do? Why else would they try so hard?

I’d be lying if I said I never get frustrated when my nose is in this book. The characters – from all walks of life – are so different, but each one brings something unique to the story plot. Other times, these crazy characters make me laugh out loud. I love when they keep me guessing, because that usually means something wonderful and exciting is about to happen. And when it does, I can hardly contain myself.

Y’all. There are fewer things I like better than a good story.

It does me no good to speculate on how the story will end. All I know is that I keep opening the book, excited to find out what will happen next. The blend of characters, a great story, genuine love, exciting twists and turns, and DRAMA keep me guessing and no matter how many scenarios I work out in my head, I can never figure out how the chapter will end.

What I have figured out is that this story is well worth the time and trouble it takes to keep up with it. And, if you ever have a chance to take on a good read such as this one, you should do it!

Drama, love, action, comedy and excitement.

A good book doesn’t get much better than that.

 

 

I Think I Can

I got a little panicky today when I discovered that Alex and Stevie have only five days of school left.

Y’all.

Only five days stand between me and sleeping past seven in the A.M.

Aside from sleeping in late, I am OH SO SAD that in five days, we will have a 6th grader and a 3rd grader in the house. This school year has flown by, and I am just days away from surviving Stevie’s first year of Middle School. I can barely believe it. I am forty years old, but honesty, it seems like just yesterday I was finishing 5th grade myself. I remember the year well. As fate would have it, I drew the short stick that year and landed in a split class with both 4th and 5th grade students. For math and reading, we walked down the hall and joined the rest of the fifth graders. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Hackworth and she had a whiny voice. I can still remember the way she said my name - JULL-LIE – especially, the way she drug out a bunch of “L’s” in the middle.

It was a miserable year.

But enough about Mrs. Hackworth and her whiny voice.

I volunteer at Alex’s school on Thursdays making popcorn with several other mommy friends. Each week, our biggest decision is where we will have lunch after we finishing popping the corn. Most weeks, we eat at local Mexican restaurant. Some weeks, we hit the local Subway or McDonalds. Today, in celebration of the school year ending, of course, we decided on Mexican. This time though, we to ate a restaurant we don’t normally go to. While we were there, I remembered why I am not a fan of change. I am a creature of habit, and I typically find one entrée at a restaurant that I enjoy and order it every single time we go there. For example, at Chili’s, I order Chicken Crispers. At Olive Garden, I order a lunch portion of spaghetti with meat sauce. At Bob Evans, I order the Wildfire Chicken Salad, or occasionally shake things up and order Turkey with dressing. At a Mexican joint, I order either a chicken chimichanga with fajita filling, or a Chicken fajita taco salad. At our usual Mexican joint, the gal there knows us and she knows without hesitation that I do not – under any circumstances – want any guacamole anywhere on my plate.

At lunch today, I ordered a chicken fajita salad.

I was surprised when the waiter brought a plate of fresh, raw vegetables (onion, green peppers, lettuce, tomato) with cheese and chicken strips. That’s it. No taco salad shell. No melted cheese. No sautéed onions and peppers. After explaining to the waiter that I thought I was ordering a taco salad with chicken fajita stuff, he took the salad back and returned a few minutes later with a chicken fajita taco salad piled a mile high with guacamole.

I know I’ve mentioned a time or ten here on the blog that I don’t eat guacamole because I think it looks like baby poop. Plus, it stinks. Because I know what happens to food that is sent back to the kitchen, I decided keep that salad. Then, I did what I do when I don’t want to gag. I pulled my shirt up over my nose and mouth and started digging the guacamole out of that salad in an attempt to get any trace of it, OUT of the salad, plopped it on a salad plate and passed it to my friend, who said she would eat it, and then I took a napkin and wiped any trace of green off of the shell, just to be sure. And after all that, I enjoyed my salad.

This school year has been a good one. Despite my anxiety about Stevie starting Middle School (an entire year early, thanks to our local BOE sending our 5th graders there due to overcrowding in our Elementary School) he has enjoyed every minute of it. Alex has the same awesome second-grade teacher that Stevie had, so thankfully, it’s been a wonderful year for him, too. The only problem is, the year has flown by. With just one full week of school left, I am sitting on the big, blue, bloggy couch attempting to keep my calendar straight because “The Little Engine That Could” is straight-up BURNT OUT! (And speaking of burnt, I have a huge blister on my thumb because apparently I can not be trusted to operate a hot glue gun unsupervised.

Surely, I can make it through one more [fun] week – reward parties, field day, pajama day and electronic day, right?

I think I can.

Have a great weekend, y’all.

Pick A Stick

Our boys are great playmates. They play well together a LOT more than they argue. At eight and eleven, the spanking ship has sailed for the most part. I mean, I would still pull out a pampered chef discipline tool if needed, but for the most part, it seems silly to spank when the kids are bickering over a LEGO mini figure, or like yesterday, when one of them pinches the other in a fight over the Xbox 360 wheel.

How do you teach that your hands are not for hurting when you follow that up with spanking?

And then there are the times when all heck breaks loose in the back seat and I scream something like WHY CAN’T THE TWO OF YOU SIT BACK THERE WITHOUT TOUCHING EACH OTHER, I’M TRYING TO DRIVE!!!!

After months of taking away all electronic devices as the major form of punishment in this household, something had to give.

And Lord knows, my hollering fits weren’t working any more. Not like they really were ever all that effective, it’s just hard to keep this big mouth-o-mine under control sometimes.

While perusing Pinterest one day, I found an awesome discipline idea. It was cheap and EASY and I just knew this was gonna be effective, so I was all like, SIGN ME UP!

I headed to the Mart of Walls to get a bag of popsicle sticks.

I have deemed our new method of discipline the “PICK A STICK” method. We have used the method three times, and I feel like I am disciplining LIKE A BOSS.

I used some ideas from the Pinterest post, but really, I catered the sticks to meet our MY needs. With a sharpie, I wrote on 14 of the sticks.

  1. Run the sweeper upstairs
  2. Wipe dining room table off
  3. Dust living room
  4. Clean toilets
  5. Take laundry downstairs to laundry room
  6. Clean the bathtub
  7. Run sweeper upstairs
  8. Clean front door
  9. Put ALL laundry away on laundry day
  10. Say 5 nice things about your brother
  11. Straighten brother’s room
  12. Make brother’s bed

And my two favorites: GRACE

Yes, you read that right.

GRACE.

In other words, this discipline method also serves as a reminder to us about the grace of God. What better way to learn about God’s grace than to experience it firsthand. I wrote the word grace on two sticks and I want them to serve as a reminder of God’s love and grace in our everyday lives. In the three times the PICK A STICK method has been used, grace has never been picked. But if it ever is picked, I intend to talk to the boys about God’s greatest act of grace: the gift of salvation.

I placed the sticks in a Longaberger basket and it sits in our living room.

When things get out of hand at our house, OR EVEN IN THE BACKSEAT, I tell them to pick a stick.

So far, Stevie has swept the upstairs, Alex has swept the downstairs, Stevie has cleaned the bathtub, and Alex has cleaned off the dining room table.

You know what I say about that?

WINNING!

The boys understand that they perform whatever they pull. I was pleasantly surprised the last time they had to pick a stick. They asked if they could work together to complete their tasks faster.

You know what I say about that?

Hallelujah and Amen.

The Pick A Stick method works up in here. The boys haven’t fought nearly as much. And my list of chores is a bit shorter. Finally, a quick, easy, effective answer to the discipline madness.

I say it all the time, people. What did we ever do before Pinterest?

Forty and Fabulous

I had a fabulous weekend.

On Friday, McDaddy hosted an open house birthday party to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was an enjoyable evening full of laughs and thankfulness.

I have the best friends and family.

My friend, Linda brought me this lovely bag full of awesomeness.

I absolutely love it.

    • Some people say that turning 40….
    • is a sticky situation – post-it note
    • is rough – nail file
    • is sweet – Lindor truffles
    • stinks – a candle
    • blows – bubble gum
    • sucks – candy canes
    • is golden – goldfish
    • drives you to drink – bottle of Coca-Cola classic (Because that’s what I drink)

My sweet friends, Gannett and Katheryn gave me a yummy candy bouquet, a Yankee red-velvet candle and this hilarious card.

 

Oh my sweet mercy, I crack up every single time I see this card.

Y’all know I love bling, right?

And I also love baseball.

My sweet friend, Jessica, brought this perfect gift.

That, my friends, is a rhinestone MOM baseball bracelet and a rhinestone baseball ring.

It is fabulous.

My friend, Becky, brought another snowman to add to my collection.

And, as an added bonus, she filled it full of chocolate.

And speaking of chocolate, I found these on Pinterest and thought the kids might enjoy them.

They were a huge hit.

In addition to a wonderful evening of laughing and visiting,

EATING,

and sharing memories, my wonderful friends brought a variety of gifts that I absolutely loved.

I have a whole new outlook on turning forty.

I am thankful.

I am blessed.

And I had a happy birthday.

And from the looks of my kitchen, I think our guests did, too.

I say it all the time…. I call myself a Princess, because I am married to a Prince.

Of course at forty… I suppose it may be time to upgrade my Princess status to Queen.

 Oh, and I almost forgot that McDaddy surprised me with these beauties,

Thank you, McDaddy! For the party, the trip to New York, for the sandals, and for loving me.

I am truly a blessed FORTY YEAR OLD.

On Turning 40

I spent the day reflecting on my forty years of life while I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more. It was a snow day for our school district so the boys were home too. They enjoyed half of the day before I made them clean their rooms.

I have been dreading this day for many months. Maybe even an entire year.

FOR.

TEE.

It even sounds OLD.

And weird.

I’m not sure why this has hit me so hard. I’m not really *that* kind of person. Age has never mattered to me before this BIG one. Plus, I don’t think I look that old, despite the appearance of that stubborn wrinkle between my eyes that refuses to go away whether I’m smiling or frowning, and the gray discoloration in my hair.

As I spent the day cleaning out and organizing most of my cabinets, I began to reflect on my forty years of life. I received a text today from a friend asking for prayer for her dear friend who is fighting pancreatic cancer. I found out on Sunday that my 40-something neighbor is in an ICU bed fighting for her life. If that isn’t enough to snap you out of your funk, I don’t know what is. I decided that instead of dreading this rite of passage – this 40th birthday – I should count my blessings and thank my lucky stars that I am alive, well, healthy and loved.

I have led a charmed life. I have seen and done things that most people only dream about. I don’t say that in a prideful way. Rather, I mean simply, that I have been blessed beyond measure throughout my life.

I grew up in a loving home. We weren’t rich, but we didn’t want for much, either. I had a beautiful lavender-gingham bedroom with a big, canopy bed. I have fond memories of sledding on inner tubes on snowy days, twirling my baton on our front walk for HOURS, and Sunday dinners gathered around our family table. My twin brothers and I were taught that honesty, respect, and hard-work are more important than material possessions, and my mom always told me you never do wrong and get by with it – words that I find myself telling my own kids today. I enjoyed playing school or office on our back porch and every Christmas was magical and memorable. I thought those were the best years of my life.

I met the man of my dreams in high school, even though it took me a couple of years to figure that out. We dated all through college and I could hardly wait to marry him. I worked my way through college and attended graduate school. If I had written a thesis I would have received a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Counseling. That is probably the biggest regret of my life. Still, at this stage in life I have no desire to go back or finish. Our college years were busy and fun, and I remember McDaddy and I would often hop in the car on the weekends and take a day road trip to Virginia or Kentucky. I thought those were the best years of my life.

After we were married I entered the workforce. I enjoyed the craziness in jail. I enjoyed my job. And I appreciated doing a job that I really enjoyed doing. During this time, McDaddy and I travelled the world – having visited ten countries – romantic places like London, Paris, Switzerland and Rome – and we’ve been to 36 states. (Just last month in fact, he took me to New York City to celebrate my 40th birthday.)

Back then, McDaddy and I were foot-loose and fancy-free. If we wanted to go on a trip, we packed up, and we went. I thought those were the best years of my life.


After trading in a career for motherhood I realized that I had it all wrong. These children – these two human beings that I helped to create - arehealthy and beautiful and wonderful. Realizing that this is the most important job I would ever do, I prayed that I would get this thing right. There are days that I lose my temper. There are days that I feel like I have lost [what's left of] my mind. There are days I feel like a complete failure and I go to bed knowing that tomorrow is a new day. I am not a model mother. But I try to give it my best every day of every year. I have so much to be thankful for.

I am not a perfect wife. I am not always the best friend. I am certainly not the best Christian. I am impatient. I have strong beliefs and opinions, and often times my mouth beats my brain off the starting line. God has been so good to me, even though I fail Him often. His grace and His mercy is something I will never understand.

And that, my friends, is something you can’t put a price on.

I am loved by so many people. I have wonderful parents, a husband who adores me, children who are healthy, and friends I could call on any hour of the day.

Who cares that I am FORTY years old? These are the best years of my life after all, and I don’t want to waste another second dreading it.

So here’s to my F-O-R-T-I-E-S.

May they truly be the best years of my life.