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.

Urine For A Treat

In case you’ve been waiting with sweet anticipation, I thought I should let you know that I was able to deliver the big orange bottle of urine to the lab without incident.

There are just some sentences you never thought you’d write on your blog.

And here’s where I must admit that I contemplated taking a picture of the big orange bottle in my fridge to share here on the blog.

And all I could think about was, “REALLY, JULIE?” and thought better of it.

You’re welcome!

When I arrived at the lab, I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be full of people. I just knew everyone in that joint would be gawking at me and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, OH LOOK, THAT CHICK IS CARRYING A PEE JUG UP IN HERE.

I’ve heard the older you get, the less you care what people think. I guess you need to be older than 39 for that to happen.

Much to my relief, there wasn’t one single soul in the waiting room.

Sweet hallelujah.

I sat down and waited for my name to be called. Once I made it back to registration, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was able to get in and out without being seen with the pee jug.

And now?

I wait.

I wait for some poor sap to analyze that mess.

I hate to wait.

And then I wait for my appointment next Friday when the Doctor will hopefully deliver some good news.

And then I WAIT to see if I ever get another dang kidney stone.

Have I mentioned that I absolutely HATE to wait?

I was not wired to wait.

Seriously, I suck at it.

It just dawned on me that using “suck” on the blog isn’t very ladylike.

My momma always said, “I’m trying to raise a lady, not a street urchin!” So, just to be clear, she would want me to tell you that I’ve been raised better.

And I have.

And now that I’m a mother myself, I get it.

I really get it.

There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t find myself shaking my head in disbelief. Some days, I sound exactly like my mother.

  • You know better.
  • Did you just roll your eyes at me?
  • Are you crazy?
  • If you slam that door one more time…
  • Look at me when I’m talking to you.
  • What were you thinkin’?
  • You better watch that mouth.
  • This hurts me worse than it hurts you.
  • Because I said so. (Oh sweet mercy, I hated this one!)
  • PICK UP YOUR JUNK!
  • You will understand this one day.
  • As long as you’re under my roof, you will listen to me.
  • Quit running in and out!
  • Do you hear me?
  • Someday, I hope you have a kid just like you. (HEY MOM! I GOT HIM ALRIGHT!)
  • I will not tell you again. (Except I probably will)
  • I want this room cleaned up! (One time my mom told me to do this, I crammed everything that was in my floor into my drawers and into my closet. When I returned home from a friend’s house later that day, I walked into my room to discover that she had dumped every. single. thing. from my dresser drawers in the middle of my floor. You best believe I never did that again!)

And last week, as I was cleaning Stevie and Alex’s rooms, I had to chuckle because I realized this thing had come full circle.

I am a mother. Who is like her mother. I now understand why she hounded me about cleaning my darn room.

And don’t think dumping the drawers on the floor never crossed my mind, because oh yes ma’am, it certainly did!

But instead, I cleaned and I organized.

And I will wait.

Because I know it won’t be long until their rooms are a hot mess. Again.

And I will no doubt say, “PICK UP YOUR JUNK!” followed by, “I want this room cleaned up!” And then I will ask, “Do you hear me?”

And when my little darlings attempt to ask, “WHY?”

I will respond with ”Because I said so!”

It’ll happen.

Just you wait.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

My fellas and I spent the weekend camping with McDaddy’s sister, her four kids, and another family from our church.

When I picked up Alex from school on Friday, I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. He told me he was just sad because his class didn’t get to go out for recess, but I could tell he wasn’t his normal, smiling self. We had an hour at home before it was time to pick Stevie up from school. My heart sank when he said, “Mom, I’m freezing.” I got out the thermometer and my suspicions were confirmed.

101.7

Just great.

We were literally walking out the door to pick up Stevie and hit the road, and now we had to make a split-second decision about whether Alex and I would go or stay.

McDaddy and I decided that Alex and I would drive a separate car. That way, if his fever didn’t go away or he started feeling worse, he and I would make the hour drive back home. He slept the entire way to the campground, and by the time we arrived, his temperature was 102. I put him in a cool bath, and within minutes of the bath and the Tylenol kicking in, he was wound-up like an eight-day clock.

The fun was short-lived because by bedtime, he was hot again.

If you know me in real life, you know that I am a straight-up crazy person when it comes to the medical issues. Especially, medical issues involving my kids. I realize that a fever is not uncommon in young children. I also realize that I am very fortunate to have healthy kids. Still, I can barely stand the thought of my boys feeling bad. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make them all better. It is, in my opinion, the worst part of motherhood.

By Saturday evening, he told me that his throat hurt when he swallowed. His fever had been up and down all day, and it seemed to be hanging steady at 101. I made a trip to the Google to find the nearest Med-Express and away we went. I was pretty sure he had strep because his throat was red and raw, and strep is “going around” at his school.

We made our way to the clinic, and I was relieved that there were only three others in the waiting room. We were seen rather quickly, and much to my surprise, he tested negative for strep. The Doc – citing his raspy cough and raw throat – handed us a prescription for an antibiotic, and we were in and out in about an hour.

We are now 56 hours into the fever, and 24 hours into the antibiotic. I am hoping we’re on the downhill side of this thing. I don’t like it when my babies are sick.

And speaking of babies, look what I found in my picture files.

I love this sweet child so much!

I hoping he feels better tomorrow.

And pleading with time to slow down.

A Letter To My Firstborn

As he walked past me, I grabbed on to his gray Nike t-shirt and pulled him onto my lap. He is too big for me to cuddle, but I cuddle him anyway. His lanky legs hang almost to the floor. I lean down and kiss him on the forehead, noticing his ridiculously long eyelashes. He is my firstborn. My baby boy. And McDaddy’s namesake.

Dear Stevie,

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that these past ten years have been the best years of my life. Back when I was 25, I thought I was in the prime of my life. I know now that I was so wrong about that. This motherhood thing? It is the most challenging job I will ever love. And you, my sweet boy, are the reason that Daddy and I became members of the Parents Club. We failed you in so many ways in those early years. We didn’t make you ”cry it out” at night until well after you were able to speak and yell VERY PLAINLY “Daddy, buddy, daddy, buddy” and the two of us sat on the bed in utter disbelief wondering which one would beat the other to your crib side. You didn’t come with an instruction manual, so we’ve had to pick this thing up as we go. When we carried you in the house for the first time, your dad sat the bulky car seat (with you in it) down and we looked at each other and said, “Well, now what?”

We knew nothing about raising a child. Thank you for being patient with us.

The years have flown by.

And I am dreading the next ones.

These next few years will be tough for me. (Not for daddy, because he handles stress and change like a normal, sane person.) I, on the other hand, will be a basket case. I can hardly think about dropping you off for your first day of middle school without crying. It literally seems like just yesterday I was in an uproar about taking you to Kindergarten for your first day of school. Once you enter that war-zone Middle school, I know the unchartered waters could, and probably will get rough. Soon, you will start to notice girls and undoubtedly one will break your heart. And then, so help me, I will want to pull every hair from her head for hurting my baby. There will be things that happen at school that you will forget to tell me. Or refuse to tell me. I just hope you know that you can come to me and daddy with anything. I am slowly learning that I cannot blow my ever lovin’ top each and every time you are wronged. But it’s not because I don’t want to. I am your protector. And your biggest fan. And I would lay down my life for you without hesitation.

Oh sweet boy, you are so intelligent, I often wonder if you are really mine. When we joke about home-schooling you, I have to laugh because you have knowledge about things I have never even heard of. And Lord knows the only thing I could teach you about math is how to calculate 50% off of a sale item because I am a whiz at that. I am thankful that you took more than your good looks from your dad.

You are a statistical monster and you don’t forget one single thing. EVER. At four years old, you could recite the whole “If you have diabetes, and you’re on medicare, you may qualify for a free meter from Liberty Mutual” commercial. Several people suggested that we record you doing that, and sadly, I never did because it didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. Man, I could kick myself for not doing that. While I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, you could probably tell me what you had for lunch seven months ago. And we learned a long time ago not to discuss anything important in front of you because no matter what you are doing, you are also LISTENING (you did take something from me, after all!)

You are kind-hearted and you love to laugh. You are a good friend and a child of the King. One of my proudest moments as your momma was the night you told me you wanted to ask Jesus into your heart. Because Daddy was deployed, I wanted to wait until he called so that we could discuss it together. You prayed right over Skype and your dad and I are so thankful that you made the decision to follow Jesus. As you enter this new phase of life, keep Jesus close to your heart. Love like Jesus. Consult Him when you are unsure about things. He loves you even more than Daddy and I do, and you will never go wrong keeping your sights set on Him.

You love the game of baseball and your heart for the game is unmatched. One of my favorite things to do is watch you play ball. I love that you are such a kind-hearted teammate. And I also love that you don’t mind me being your “team mom.” It is certainly one of the things I love the most about this season of life.

You are protective over Alex and you love to teach him things. He looks up to you, and I hope you keep that in mind when making decisions. The two of you love to play together and it makes my heart smile when the stars align and you jokers are getting along and laughing together. You take your role as big brother very seriously and I am happy about that. I have a confession: I often stand at your bedroom door and listen in on the conversation between the two of you. You talk about all manner of boy stuff. Farts. Lego’s. Cars. Friends. Dreams. Mini Figures. Baseball. Superheroes. And school. I hope the two of you remain close even when you are grown.

You are growing up everyday, but I love that you still like to play. I am dreading the day when you no longer want to do these things. Soon, you will ask to attend sporting events without me. And school dances. And you will no longer play with that little bit of hair (the bit that rarely ever lays as it should because you won’t leave it be – it even shows in that picture above, and below!) as you read, or eat, or watch television. I dread the day that you trade a matchbox car for a real car. And you trade a Big Nate book for a chemistry book, or Lord have mercy on me, a college handbook. Oh my sweet baby boy (daddy says I must quit calling you that!) I can’t hardly imagine that time.

Stevie, I am so proud to be your mom. Teachers have always commented to us about what a great kid you are. I am so happy to hear that. There is a reason I tell you every single day when I drop you off at school to do the right thing even when no one is watching. Aside from loving Jesus and others, it is the most important thing you can do. I love you and I want you to know I will always be in your corner. You can count on me to be honest and supportive and loving. And you can also count on me to go nine kinds of crazy on any girl that doesn’t treat you right.

I am only kidding.

Sort of.

As I count down these final eight days before you start Middle School, I do so with a heavy heart and a great big dependence on Jesus. He will be with you when I can’t be. And that comforts me. I know these next eight years are going to fly by, and there will be a lot of changes. One thing that will never change, my boy, is my love for you.

Don’t ever forget that.

Love,

Mom

This Season Of Life

The bad news is – it was 319 degrees today with about 98% humidity.

The good news is, the visitor side of the baseball field we were playing at this evening was completely shaded.

I remember the first season the boys signed up to play baseball. The evening of our first practice was cold and muddy and I remember remarking to McDaddy that we shouldn’t have ever allowed the boys to sign up for baseball because holy crap! there was a lot of mud and I would never ever be able to get our shoes clean, and both boys would probably end up on nebulizer treatments after spending hours out in the cold, wet air because it happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

No, I am not exaggerating.

And yes! I am a joy to live with.

After each practice I scrubbed cleats with a toothbrush because I couldn’t stand the thought of ALL THAT MUD.

And when I found out BOTH boys would be wearing white baseball pants, I was shaking my head at the stupidity of it all.

I knew absolutely nothing about baseball except that there was an umpire and eventually we’d be singing about peanuts and cracker jacks.

We received a schedule for both boys and I almost swallowed my tongue when I realized that between the two of them they had 51 games scheduled.

IN EIGHT WEEKS.

With 51 games on our schedule, I had no idea when I’d see my next nap or even if I’d be able to catch The Bachelor. What had we gotten ourselves into?

And then it came time for our first game.

Y’all.

The first time my boy got up to bat, I screamed like a lunatic. He cracked that ball, I stood up, and before I knew what was happening, I dribbled on myself.

Not my proudest moment, for sure. But all the moms sitting around me understood my excitement. We whooped and hollered all afternoon. I was new to this whole baseball thing, and surprisingly, I thought it might be something I could eventually enjoy because there was lots of time to sit and talk!

And so began, a new season in my life.

Baseball Season.

It is precisely the reason I bought a fancy DSLR Canon Rebel.

It is the reason, my left calf is scratched and scabbed over.

And it is also the reason I am constantly behind on the laundry.

After that first season, Stevie’s coach asked if I might like to learn how to keep the baseball book. (I feel certain he asked me this because I was so loud in the stands he thought I might be quieter if I had to actually SHUT UP and PAY ATTENTION.)

I told him if he needed me, I’d give it a shot, and so I went to YouTube and taught myself the absolute basics about keeping the book. I remember being so afraid I would miss something, or screw up the batting order. I was a nervous wreck, mostly because that’s how I operate. During our first game one of the dads stood with me to help me catch and record each play. By the end of that first season, I felt pretty comfortable with keeping the book even though I was only keeping basic stats.

Stevie has been blessed to have the same three coaches throughout three (or is it six?) seasons of fall and spring ball. That means that we are a pretty tight-knit group of parents. I absolutely LOVE our baseball family. Both of our boys have been blessed with wonderful coaches who are wonderful examples on and off of the baseball field. (And for that, we are thankful!)

I’m in my third year of keeping the book, and I now e-mail stats after each game to our three coaches that includes pitch counts, batting averages, season stats, and positions played. Tonight, I sat and talked leisurely with my friend Missy as I kept the book AND the batting order rolling. I’ve come a long way since that first game.

I get a lot of flack about our book. It is neat, it is orderly, and it is often recopied if I consider it to be too messy.

These days, there’s very few places I’d rather be than the ball field. I have Baseball Mom shirts, baseball bling flip-flops, baseball jewelry, and baseball visors. I never ever dreamed in a million years I’d be a baseball mom.

Yet, here I sit tonight wearing a baseball mom t-shirt with my last name on the back of it.

When I’m watching Alex’s game, I have to keep track of the score because I can’t stand sitting in the bleachers and having no earthly idea what the score is.

Our boys don’t know it yet, but they are learning life lessons that will help them throughout life. And we are all forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

We have met some wonderful friends on the baseball field. When I look back on this journey of motherhood, I feel certain, our time spent on the baseball field will be among my fondest memories.