parenting

Mommy Fuel

To the mom at pick up:

Hi. We don’t know each other. I have a feeling we’re more alike than we realize. For starters, I imagine you’re pretty tired. Did you rush here to pick up your little with as much excitement as you felt when you dropped them off this morning?

Me too. Free at last!

“Free at last!” can mean so many things! Maybe you’re at home with the younger kids or doing the laundry and errands to simply make life simple when your husband comes home. Maybe you’re rushing off to a board meeting, leisurely off to the gym, or maybe you’re battling depression alone all day.

I love nothing else more in this life than my son. My only child. My only four eyed, combed hair, argumentative son. But man… does he wear me OUT!

Don’t act like you can’t relate! You aren’t alone.

I’ve always said being a parent is the hardest job you will ever love. Don’t believe me? Would you give up everything in a second for them but you’re constantly tired and finding fuel in places you didn’t know existed?

Let’s credit our littles with unknowingly forcing us to find parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed. That’s some powerful mommy fuel they’ve given us!

Recently I’ve done my best to look at people around me and have a glass half full. I’ve focused more on what we could share rather than how we are different. The word “differences” is often used in a reason for divorce. Irreconcilable differences. I’m looking for more reasons in my life to connect to people than push them away.

Look for the connections. It’s powerful.

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A Quest for Peace

2018 is here but I’ll be writing 2017 until June as per the usual. If you stumbled upon my blog in 2017, you know it was a hell of a year for me. Most of it I was in the dreaded “fake it till you make it phase.” I made it. Sometimes barely but I’m here and standing.
There are good people that unfortunately got the worst of me. I owe apologies to some of you. I think life has finally leveled out for me. I was blessed enough to wrap up the year with a life changing trip to Africa over Thanksgiving. And boy, did it ever change my life. But now what?
I want peace. 
But what does that mean exactly? It likely has a different definition for each of us. Having peace from struggles and bondage we manage to walk through life with will be different. We’re all human. We all fail. I think failing forward is something to celebrate though.
Why do I want peace?
I came out of the womb struggling. Literally. The cord was wrapped around my neck. I’m stubborn so I managed to wedge my foot in between the cord and my neck. That likely saved my life. That same perseverance has saved my life both physically and emotionally time and time again.
I want peace so badly because I finally felt it in Africa. I’ve never felt it so powerful and obvious. I vividly remember a moment where I stood at the top of a hill at a school. With my back turned to instruments being played, singing and laughter, I took in the greenest rolling hills I’d ever seen.  I was finally alone. Tears filled my eyes because I was so overwhelmed with the feeling of peace. Excluding the absence of my son, I could have taken a one way ticket and stayed until my welcome was worn out.
Let me paint a more clear picture. This is day four of our journey. At this point I had spent days feeling guilty for where I was blessed enough to rest my head each night. I had a clean pillow and a mattress. I had windows. A lock on my door. And an actual toilet. I had just gifted a child I connected with a mosquito net. When she realized what was happening she gave me the most fierce hug I had ever felt.
How do I get that peace? Here. In America. In Dallas.
What I’m finding is in our busy lives here, it’s more about evaluating what is in our lives first. Personally, I can’t possibly add in something else to my life without removing some things. Ask yourself a few questions. Is this bringing me joy? Peace? How is it enriching my life? If you don’t have a valid response, opting out of it may not be a bad option. Let’s take social media as an example. (Ironic I know since I’m writing a blog that is shared via social media… stay with me though.) If you removed yourself from all social media, do you think you would be as connected to your current group of loved ones or friends? What percentage of the relationship is part of the “fakebook” world? I’m not dissing social media as much as it may seem.  It’s more of a personal inventory. Am I pouring my energy into what I should in my life? If I answer honestly, no. No I’m not.
What’s the plan?
My plan is simple. Delete my social media for one month. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. After one month I’ll write about what I’ve learned, what I miss about it, and how it’s affected my life mentally, physically and spiritually. I plan to spend more time taking care of myself. More time in prayer and reflecting on where I am. Sitting in silence and taking in life isn’t a bad thing. It’s often quite difficult to do for this small town girl in a big city. I’m always on the go as I juggle being a single mom, employee, friend, and my sometimes nonexistent love life. However, I think if I just slow down and take in what’s actually happening in my life, I’ll find more of what brings peace to the world around us that so many of us miss daily.

Finding Home Base

I’ve done it again. The first step is admission, right? I’ve overcommitted myself in many aspects of my life. While my intentions are well it’s left me feeling like I’ve half assed many things I truly care about. That’s when guilt sets in. 

How did I let this happen again? Early 2017 was by far my most hectic and emotionally draining time period in years. I’ve previously mentioned how I mindfully chose to throw myself into everything positive I could get my hands on. It was very intentional with the purpose to avoid some devastating events to not swallow me whole thus affecting both my life and my son’s. Mission accomplished! I can’t even count the number of beautiful people that have walked into my life. I can not recall ever feeling more proud and humbled at the same time. My friends, both old and new, have picked me up when I needed it and celebrated my successes this year. Personally and professionally this year I have had lows that would make you shake your head and highs that would make even a stranger proud. So what’s next? 


I honestly feel like I’m exiting that “fight or flight” phase in my life. I’ve spent months just grinning and bearing it, faking it until I made it. Well, I’ve made it through and now I’m exhausted. I’m happy but tired. At least I’m not sick and tired of being sick and tired, right?

I’ve spent a lot of time just regrouping and evaluating things in my mind. I have intentionally been on a small hiatus regarding my blog. I needed a minute to not dissect everything I was going through. I needed to just live for a minute and then see where that left me. 

I know how and why I overcommitted myself. It was to keep my mind and heart busy. I was constantly surrounding myself with volunteer work and drowning myself in my “be humble, be grateful” mantra. I have no intention of stopping either of these things. I do have intentions to be balanced though. 

The million dollar question is what matters the most to me? That’s easy. My son. I’ll be room mom again this year. I’ll make copious amounts of videos with cheesy sayings scattered throughout while not giving a crap if anyone else actually watches them. I’ll spend my nights striving to be that Pinterest mom crafting the most adorable party favors with my hot glue gun loaded as I swim in a sea of craft ribbon. And yes, I could have easily just bought the damn favors for a reasonable price on Etsy. But that won’t satisfy me nearly as much.

The point is that balancing life is difficult enough for all of us. I like to think we all manage the best way we know how and it’s okay if we have some missteps. Admitting it and being introspective about how it happened and how we can get back on track is the real success. I believe the first step is asking yourself two simple questions. What or who is most important to you? What do you identify yourself as? When I did this I instantly felt like a ton of bricks were lifted off my shoulders. My answers to those questions were, “Landon” and “a mom”. While I firmly believe I have an identity completely separate from being a mom, I know that will always be my home base. 

Thoughtful Thursday: 26 Days

It’s been 26 days.

photo226 days since I closed my front door and fell apart because I wouldn’t see the better part of myself for 30 days. I’ve almost made it. Only 3 more days to go! I’ll be back to complaining because he didn’t really brush his teeth and nagging him to put his dishes in the dishwasher. I can’t wait for him to ask me to read just one more story or have that stinky boy smell back in my house. I have a feeling it’ll smell a little sweeter.

As I reflect on what I’ve done with myself this month, I realize how busy I’ve purposely made myself. If you judge my life during the month of July solely by my social media you will be deceived. I know I used a lot of my free time for good. I volunteered, worked towards goals personally and professionally, had a lot of meetings, and spent more time with friends than I probably will the rest of the year combined. My social media profiles look like I’ve had the time of my life in July! Another reason why many people call it “Fakebook.”

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Don’t get me wrong, my friends are amazing. I’m so grateful! I have a lot of really amazing things happening in my life right now. But there hasn’t been a second go by that I didn’t know how long he’s been gone and how many days until he comes home.I’ve had to stay busier than ever to keep myself from being so sad that I bury my face in tacos and ice cream. (Not that there’s a single thing wrong with that!) I’ve had to keep his bedroom door shut. I waited until this past weekend to do all of his laundry. I wonder if I will ever get used to this?
If I hear one more parent tell me, “Oh that sounds amazing! How nice to have a break!” I will scream. You have no idea. It’s not amazing to not know if your child is okay. It’s awful. It’s pretty helpless and exhausting to go a month without a hug from your little. This isn’t a situation where they are off to camp for a week.
I can’t wait to get back to eating popsicles and building pillow forts. Perhaps the silver lining of my lonely July is that I have a reminder every year that I’m truly so fortunate to have a child as magical as mine.


Don’t forget to submit your thoughts to info@adventureswithalley.com 
to be featured on Thoughtful Thursday!
-XOXO

Thoughtful Thursday: Guest Blogger- Shelby Hill

Our guest blogger this week, Shelby Hill, shares a story that would make any parent proud. As parents we often lose sleep hoping our children grow to become adults with integrity and generous hearts. Shelby is one parent who can rest easy tonight. Her story is authentic and is an incredible example of the mother I know her to be.

“Working in Dallas has unknowingly hardened me to the many homeless people living on the streets. As usual, it took the love and kindness of a child to reopen my eyes. This time it was my very own child.

I’m the proud mom of two amazing children. My son, Brock, is 14 and sweet Katie is 10. Recently the three of us spent an extended weekend in San Antonio and Austin to support Brock in a baseball tournament. Although our time in San Antonio was short, was it ever so sweet! What free time we had was spent at The River Walk, dining, and The Alamo. Brock and Katie were itching to spend the money my parents had sent them to “buy anything they wanted!” 

Walking towards the Alamo there are carriage rides, ice cream trucks line the streets, and copious amounts of candy and games. Their eyes lit up. I encouraged them to hang on to their money and “don’t spend it all in one place!” Brock didn’t listen. 

As we approached the Alamo, Brock noticed a man who was dirty and his clothes looked like they hadn’t been washed for weeks. The three of us couldn’t help but notice him digging food out of a trash can. The kids whispered to me, “Is he homeless?” My confirmation provoked an even more concerned tone as they asked, “Mama, is he going to eat that food out of the trash can?” Again, the answer was yes. A couple of steps later Brock stopped me and said, “Mama, wait just a minute.” Before I could question him, his plan was in action. As soon as I realized what he was doing I told my daughter to come look at a monument to give Brock a moment. I was overcome with emotion and so proud of my son. I stood in front of The Alamo with tears streaming down my face. I pulled myself together enough to let him know how proud I was to be his mom! I asked him what he did, although I knew what I had witnessed. He said, “Nana gave me this money to do what I wanted with it. I wanted to give it to him. He looks like he needs it more than I do.” I gave him a hug and told him how proud I was.

I’m blessed that my children are kind, generous, loving and grateful. I will never forget the time my child reminded me that sometimes people just need a little help. ”

Want your thoughts to be featured on a future Thursday? Email your story to info@adventureswithalley.com

Thoughtful Thursday

 Have you ever considered the way your children view your commitment to your community? I do now more than ever. Let’s be honest, kids can be very egocentric developmentally. This isn’t a product of poor parenting or being spoiled. It’s life. 
I’m feeling a bigger sense of responsibility the more involved I become in community service projects. I’m not sure if it’s coming from volunteering just being in my life all of the time or my true self awareness to the world around me. Would the feeling go away if I stopped leading projects to better our community? The truth is that I don’t know. 

A Letter to Myself: July Sucks

I know July will be a mixture of feelings you don’t quite understand. You may feel like you should be prepared. After all, you have 11 months to prepare and it’s been happening for the last 6 years. 

When his dad arrives to pick him up, you’ll be engulfed with a feeling of panic. That lump in your throat and pit in your stomach you seldom feel, it’ll be larger than life. 

You will feel sad. Hurt. Maybe angry at times. You’ll walk around his room just looking for tiny messes to pick up. The granola bar wrapper you find under his bed won’t upset you this time. You’ll wish he were around to exclaim, “Don’t pull the cats tail!” or “Go back and actually brush your teeth this time.”

You’ll have all the time in the world to sleep. That’s something you often dream of! Yet, it’ll be a struggle to shut your mind off because you’re wondering if he’s okay. Is he safe? Is he feeling loved? Where is he? Does he need you? Does he miss you? Save yourself the sleepless nights and know he loves you, he misses you, he’s having fun yet he needs you. Forever.

You may feel a little more free than usual. It will be fleeting, but you are allowed to feel that way. Don’t feel guilty. Isn’t it you that has always described being a parent as, “The hardest job you will ever love.” This also sounds familiar, “You never know what it means to say you’d literally die for someone until you’re a parent.” You deserve the break. After all, there’s only one of you and he is coming back. 

You know there are pros to this time of the year. He gets to spend uninterrupted time with his dad and your son deserves that. All children deserve to feel that their daddy sports a red cape just like their favorite superhero. You’ve done all you can to preserve that image for as long as he will believe it. You will have hit that reset button you reference. You’ll be the best version of yourself when you see him again and you both deserve that. 

Enjoy July. It’s not sad. It’s a time for both of you to renew the love of your everyday simple life together. 

Thoughtful Thursday

Summer is here and I love it! More than anything I enjoy being more relaxed in the evenings with my son. I’m not stressed out with the hustle from work to pick him up only to rush home to realize I have nothing to cook for dinner. On a school night, this is when I realize we’re now an hour behind schedule if we expect to get homework done, play, shower, prepare for tomorrow and read a book all before waking up to do the same thing all over again.

Our evenings during the summer leave me feeling much more like the mom I dream of being. A mom who always lives in the moment. A mom who seems to exude joy while picking the few weeds in her immaculate yard and waving lovingly to each passerby.

I seem to hear his giggles more clearly and the hugs are a bit sweeter. There are games on the patio, hanging out with neighbors, swimming, biking, ice cream and staying up too late. Summer is filled with all of the moments we hope our children will replay in their minds as they remember their childhood.

I’m guilty of filling my plate too full more often than I’d probably like to admit. And I’m certain I’ve missed an extra hug here and there with my son. However, others in our lives that are incredibly important need us to slow down for them too. It may be a friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker who is stressed out from the daily happenings that can wear us down. You never know when slowing down for someone and simply asking how they are could really change the momentum in their life.

XO
Don’t forget to submit your warm thoughts and questions to info@adventureswithalley.com to be featured on Thoughtful Thursday!

Dear Son, I am not your friend.

I don’t feel compelled to be my son’s friend. 

I have a desire to act lovingly towards him. Nurture. Protect. Guide. Provide him with tough life lessons. All of those lame parental terms. He’s literally the only person I’d actually lay in the street for. Does it make me lame? Boring? Maybe to some. #idontcare.

I recently filled out documents that had this question: “Describe how you define the role of a parent. Additionally, list your strengths and weaknesses.” How would you answer this? It was much more difficult than I thought it would be.

What a double edged sword!  Strengths and weaknesses?!? That list could vary depending on the status of how the morning went at drop off. Or what color my son was on that day. (The dreaded color coded behavior chart!!!!) Did I have to threaten to give away all of his toys to get him to tie his shoes? I can’t be the only one who has those types of mornings.

The truth is that I have strengths and weaknesses. Both as a parent and a person. Sometimes I’m a crappy friend who becomes very caught up in my own day to day life. Thankfully, I have very forgiving people in my world.

It took a long time to really absorb the question. My reflex was just to answer in genetic bullet point responses. But the question really got to me. I did make the list. I had more strengths written down than I thought I would. My biggest weakness is stress management. I have some stressors that I simply cannot control. I have to be committed to letting those go. At the end of the day, all it does is steal my joy. It robs my son and me of moments. I own that and it’s getting better everyday. Remember the bachelor season where that diva had the anthem, “Don’t let anyone steal your sparkle!” Her mama was right, guys! 

My biggest strength by far is acknowledging that I don’t know it all. I will never have this parenting thing down. I will never stop growing, evolving as a person, or know everything about the world. It doesn’t mean that I’m always chasing the next thing or that I’m unsatisfied. It doesn’t mean I don’t have confidence. It means I’m always growing. I feel that is the best thing I can show my son. My heart strings pull when I see that our shoes are almost the same size. But I don’t ever want him to stop growing.

Did you hear about the HEARD?!

My son and I had a roaring good time this weekend! We’re talking fort building, pizza party, mountains of legos kind of time. One of the highlights was THE HEARD MUSEUM, located in McKinney. 

I haven’t heard many people mention it so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ll admit, I usually gasp at the thought of going north of 635. So the questions is… Is it worth it?  Here’s my take on it…

  • Cost:   Very reasonable Adults: $10, Seniors 60+ & Children 3-12: $7, Heard Museum Member & Children 2 and Under: FREE
  • Parking: #Winning. Parking is limited. However, this was not an issue and I magically found a front row spot. It didn’t seem like a packed place. And I didn’t see any jerks inventing parking spots. 
  • Staff: Very nice! A young girl provided tickets and pointed us in the right direction.
  • Play area: Humble & Historic. As you begin and end the trail outside, there is a small play area, Pioneer Village. This is primarily 50 million pounds of wood mulch with numerous wooden old houses. 
  • The Main Event: Dinosaur Live!            My son LOVED this! The first Dino on the trail was a life sized T-Rex that actually startled him. It moves in ways that makes it pretty entertaining for anyone. The small details, like the eyes scanning visitors, make it so much fun!                   

          My son enjoyed the ease of the map and it made him feel like he was really leading us to the next big find. Each dinosaur moved, made realistic noises, and one even spit! There’s even a spot for a photo op with a Triceratops. 

         We made it through the main event in about 30 minutes. It’s a casual, not congested stroll through the trail. 

  • Animals of the World Exhibit:              This was unexpected! Just off from the front desk, is a great exhibit! I think I may have enjoyed this more! They have lemurs, an iguana missing a claw, owls, Texas sized snakes, and giant shells collected by Miss Heard herself! 

My favorite find had to be the Mosasaurs! This giant sea reptile was excavated in 2008 from Duck Creek in Garland. It is sure to impress anyone AND IT’S LOCAL!

In all, the price is fair and the kids will love it. As a parent, the highlight was just getting outdoors and feeling like we checked out of city life for a minute. There’s something about being on a trail outdoors and experiencing life through your child’s eyes that is magical. 

Check ’em out!

http://www.heardmuseum.org/