Thursday, November 9, 2017

Our Little Bundle of Drama

My poor second child gets a little neglected on the ole Mommy Memoir.  Back when I was a regular blogger, if Eli made a good poop I wrote about it, but Ellie's major accomplishments don't get recorded as promptly. 

Don't worry too much though.  She's seems to handle it pretty well by channeling her inner Disney Princess, and her current favorite is Ariel. Last year her Nanna bought her some fins that you can actually swim in and her Gigi got the matching wig.  Good times, ya'll!

We've had a few meltdowns over this little ensemble a time or two, including a full-blown temper- tantrum during a high school performance of The Little Mermaid.  We were in the front row...need I explain more?

On another occasion, Ellie wanted to wear this outfit to the ballpark, but as you can see from the photo above, that would have made her completely immobile. In a moment of frustration I said a four-letter word in reference to the fins.  When Eric asked her where I was going, she innocently replied, "To get the d*mn fins."  Clearly, that was not one of my finer parenting moments. 

Every Halloween, Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon one (I can't remember) asks parents to submit videos of them telling their kids they ate all the candy.  Eric and I laugh hysterically at this each year, but Eli never reacts to it.  We decided to try this year with Ellie who very dramatically through herself on the floor crying, "Why did you ruin my life?"

What's so funny is that she only left the room long enough to use the restroom, so there's no way that was even possible!  One of my greatest regrets in life is that Eric didn't give me a heads up so that I could record this display of ridiculousness. 

I know this will shock you as much as an insensitive Donald Trump tweet, but our Little Prissy Sissy loves a lot.  Bless her, I had no problem handing down my old ones for her enjoyment.  I felt like it was a real bonding moment when she asked to take one to daycare for Show and Tell, although she probably took full ownership of them and gave no credit to her momma.  

She wears her little head ornaments just about everywhere, including restaurants, the store, and even an occasional hiking trip.  You just never know when you might other royalty. 

Ellie is also a big believer in the proper role of accessorizing, especially boring outfits like baseball uniforms. And hours spent at the ballpark is no excuse to look less than glamorous.

The other night we had the following conversation that was super good for my self esteem:

Me: Ellie, when I grow up, can I be beautiful like you?
Ellie:  No.  God made you ugly. 

She's also a great artist!  Just look at this unicorn she drew for us. 

We call Ellie our "Little Bundle of Drama" and enjoy her BIG personality.  We can't wait to see what God has in store for her, although we are slightly terrified of the teenage years...bless it!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

For What It's Worth

Have I ever told ya’ll that I love weddings…like a lot!  When my parents owned their wedding business, I would help out on the weekends that I was in town, and more often than not, I had never even met the couple.  But that didn’t stop me from crying like a fool and making a blubbering mess of myself.  There’s just something so sacred and beautiful about marriage!
Of course we live in a Pinterest-crazed society where we get so busy planning a wedding that we forget to prepare for a marriage. Don’t worry…I’m not getting on that soapbox today because I am too excited about celebrating a very special couple this upcoming weekend!!!
I’ve said before that you’ll never find me blogging about marriage tips cause Heaven knows I don’t have any business giving martial advice since I have the patience of a toddler waiting on milk. I actually thought about writing a sappy post about the things I wished I had known before getting married, but some things are just sweeter when experienced first hand...or something like that. Ha!

How about nine martial observations for nine years of matrimony...

9 - Honeymoon(ish) Babies Happen...So Practice Caution. Don’t believe me, please allow me to introduce you to my little, blonde “Exhibit A.”  Turns out the doctors were wrong, and we were indeed able to get pregnant...and at record breaking speed.  We married in October and found out that our little bundle of shock was on the way in December.  It’s a great story, really.  There were tears galore and not the good kind (at first) and four different pregnancy tests because we were certain that they were all wrong. They weren’t. I’d love for you to read about that fun little surprise here. So, honeymoon babies happen, but what a great adventure and beautiful blessing.

8 - Travel Together...As Often As Possible And As Far As Possible. We were in the process of planning a trip to Europe when that little bundle of shock (mentioned above) made his way into our lives. Obviously, we did the responsible thing and cancelled our trip.  Right then and there, we made a promise to take a trip together every year no matter what, and in 100% honesty, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done for our marriage.  Since Scotland was out, we went to Atlanta for our first anniversary and I will never forget it because we spent most of our time in bed.  SLEEPING, ya’ll!!! Goodness, what did you think I was going to say? SLEEPING because had a six week old bundle of shock waiting for us back home. Anyway, we look forward to our trips so, so much and have the best tradition of getting an ornament for our Christmas tree each year to remember all of our adventures!  

7 - Enjoy Each Other's Activities...Or At Least Pretend To. That first anniversary was spent in Atlanta where I saw my first Braves game. When I married Eric, I had been to maybe three baseball games in my entire life...true story.  I mean, I called the umpires referees for goodness sake!  But I was young and in love and more than happy to accompany my man on his quest to hit up some MLB Fields.  So far I’ve checked off the Reds, Braves, and Rays with the Dodgers and Angels coming up next year.  I realize my exposure is weak, but keep in mind, that you’re talking to someone who didn’t know there was a difference between a strike, ball and foul. In my defense, the whole thing about the first two fouls being a strike is a little confusing at first.  Turns out, baseball is kinda fun and I’m quite enthusiastic about the sport now...just ask the other Pee Wee moms in our league...

6 -Competition Is A Good Thing...Most Of The Time. While we’re on the subject of enthusiasm and sportsmanship, just be aware of the potential for it to get a little out of hand from time to time.  I accidentally had this happen at a Pee Wee baseball game, but it’s all water under the bridge now.  So is the very first fight we ever had as a couple. It was also over a game, Phase 10.  We used to not play games together because it never ended in a love fest, but recently we have been able to keep it civil while we play Rummy, Yahtzee, and Farkle. I guess it’s a sign that our relationship is maturing.  This competitive streak has been passed on to our children, so Family Game Night is considered a “character building opportunity” in our home. I’m convinced we’re going to be a very virtuous couple by the time our 20th anniversary rolls around.

5 - Mornings Are The Worst...Need I Say More? Since we’re already talking about our less than glamorous moments, let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room...mornings!  Adding fuel to the fire is the whole cliche that “opposites attract.” I wake up in Mary Poppins mode while everyone else in my home is more along the lines of Chucky.  There’s whining and crying and eye rolling and that’s just from Marry Poppins.  I’ve learned that the best thing way to address these pre-dawn differences is to avoid speaking.  If you must communicate, I think it’s advisable to become an expert with the phrase, “I’m Sorry.”  I’m sorry I used my “outside” voice when you asked for a different flavored poptart.  I’m sorry I threw that shoe at your head; it just slipped out of my hand.  I’m sorry I used that ugly word instead of your name.  Take it from me, “I’m sorry” will become an important part of your vocabulary, especially during the morning hours.

4 - Have a Sense of Humor...Preferably Of A Similar Nature  The fact that Eric and I can laugh about our morning chaos makes me love the man even more...most days. Shared humor also comes in handy when your husband plays practical jokes on you. Like when he puts rocks in your pillowcase when you get up to pee in the middle of the night, or when he puts clear tape on the spray nozzle of the sink so that it will squirt you when you turn on the water, or when he prank calls you like you’re still a middle schooler.  I act annoyed, but it cracks me up every single time.  I also love having “inside jokes” with my hubby.  I can’t share them with you because if I did they wouldn’t inside jokes anymore. Plus, my grandmothers read this blog. It’s just fun to be able to cast each other knowing glances when certain things come up in regular conversation. We “get” each other.

3 - Practice Safe Texting...Especially When Your Mother-In-Law Might Be Reading  Sometimes we text throughout the day about our “inside jokes.”  This is a fun way to stay connected, and be silly, and lighten each other’s stress levels a bit.  Except sometimes things go wrong.  Like the time I sent him a flirty little message that happened to pop-up at the exact moment he was showing his coworker and boss something on his phone.  Or 
the time he thought he was texting my brother about the new, spacious Dick’s Sporting Good in town...except it was my mom. I’ll let you figure that one out on your own. Good times, ya’ll!

2 - Fake It Till You Make It...Or Something Like That  Have you ever heard the quote that says something along the lines of “every expert was once a beginner?”  It’s true.  None of us know what we’re doing in adulthood, and marriage is no exclusion.  I’m the worst cook on the planet, and while I have never faked it in that area, Eric might have pretended to like a meal or too. Now he just cooks or helps me add a little flavor to my dish. Bringing a baby home from the clue! Parenting...we’re a work in progress. I mean, the first time we cleaned up puke, we were a mess figuratively and literally.  Now we rock it.  One person tends to the kid while the other starts the sheets in the laundry and cleans up the yuck. It’s not about having it all together, but learning it together along the way.

1 - Don't Be Afraid Of A Good Fight...Cause Some Things Are Worth Fighting For  Since, I’m getting sappy, why not dive in head first. Not everything in life will go as you planned.  There will setbacks, disappointments, tears and pain.  It’s only natural to feel the emotions that are associated with those losses, but don’t let those seasons break you.  Instead, embrace the fight.  Fight for yourself.  Fight for each other.  Fight for your marriage.  Fight for your dreams.  Fight for your family. Fight with everything you have in you.  And when you think you’ve run out of fight...keeping fighting anyway.  Because what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, and there is nothing better than knowing that you’ve stuck it out through the hard parts of life. Together.  Through infertility or surprise pregnancy.  From dollar menu date nights to fabulous vacations. From sports cars to mini vans. In sickness and in health.  Through joy and heartache. The new city, the new job, the new home, the new dreams, the new you.  Fight for it because some things are worth fight for and I can’t think of anything more deserving than sacred blessing of marriage.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

This Is My Story

When my grandfather passed away in 2013, there was one thing my siblings and I all asked to have...his Bible.  The man was an incredible business owner with four decades of experience in real estate.  He had no shortage of possessions to leave behind for us, but the one thing we all wanted was his Bible. What a testament to his character! There is something so precious about being connected to him through the Word of God.  His greatest legacy and gift to us was his unshakable faith.

As I sat in the calm, quiet stillness of my family room this morning while my family slept, my grandfather’s favorite Bible verse started to work its way into the rhythm of my thoughts, and it wasn’t long before I felt compelled to stop my own study to read the familiar verse.  Except I didn’t want to just read it in my Bible, I wanted to read it in his.

So I moved from my spot on the couch and sat in the floor by our bookshelf that stores this family treasure. There I flipped through the worn pages of his Bible until I found those precious, familiar words.  Words he had marked, underlined circled and repeated to me a thousand times growing up.  As I sat there, I wondered what made that particular passage so precious to him.  In what part of his spiritual journey did those words become the breath of hope that sustained him?  In what season of his life did those words give him the the strength he needed to face another day, another storm?

Then it hit me, what story does my Bible tell about me?  Obviously, my story will never literally appear alongside our heroes of the faith like Adam, Abraham, David, Jeremiah, or Paul.  But what if tucked inside the pages of scripture, those holding my Bible could find my story?

Will the well-worn pages tell them about all the mornings spent quietly in prayer before the rush of the day began or the sleepless nights when only the presence of the Lord could bring peace to a weary soul?

Will tear-stained pages tell the story of brokenhearted moments as well as times of overwhelming joy?

Will the intimate and tender instruction from a Heavenly Father to His beloved daughter be apparent simply by reading the passages that are circled and underlined?

Will my story of spiritual growth be evident by stringing together the dates and notes scribbled in the margins of my Bible?

Will they know what brought me hope, peace, joy, and comfort by flipping through the chapters?

Will I have lived a life worth imitating?

When I think of my grandfather, I often recall his favorite verse, but more often than anything, I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

My grandfather’s favorite verse is precious to me because I know that it sustained him through difficult seasons of growth and pain.  And because of his example, I know that I too can find comfort and hope on this side of glory.  

My prayer is that in the same way, my Bible will tell a story of faithful endurance, daily surrender, constant hope, and love never ending.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Love Always Perseveres

Today is our nine year anniversary, which just seems so crazy!  Nine years - It’s a weird place to be because I still feel like we’re newbies at this whole marriage thing (and we are in the grand scheme of things) but I also feel like we’ve covered a lot of ground and faced a lot of giants, so that’s gotta be worth something, right?  Anyway, we’ve reached nine years, and while I don’t feel like that qualifies me to be giving marital advice, I do think I’ve gained a little wisdom about love...all kinds of love and not just the romantic kind.  In fact, aside from this paragraph you are reading, I’ve had the following post written in my journal  for several months, but I never felt the time was right to share it publicly until now.  In light of our anniversary and the recent events in our nation, I think it’s an appropriate time to talk about what the world needs sweet, love!  It’s not a traditional anniversary post, but I hope you enjoy!

This past weekend we attended a beautiful wedding for Eric’s cousin, and along the center aisle was a beautiful display of pallet art with the familiar verses from I Corinthians 13, “The Love Chapter.”

I may be the only person on the planet, but I don’t get all gushy when I read this passage of scripture.  I’m fairly certain it’s because I fail daily at this list:

Love is patient.
Love is kind
It does not envy
It does not boast.
It is not proud.
It is not rude.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.
Love keeps no records of wrong.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.

I’m gonna keep it real here and go ahead and admit that before I leave the house, I’ve already failed at most of these for the day. I’m not patient when my people are moving slower than a herd of elephants in peanut butter.  I am not kind when the whining starts over something like teeth brushing or who gets the cherry Pop-Tart. While I’m straightening my frizzy hair, I may or may not envy the ladies with long, beautiful locks, and I sometimes boast at my mad parenting skills on the rare occasion that we make it out of the house on time.  I don’t even want to talk about the whole being rude thing.  Let’s just say that we choose not to conversate in the mornings at the Watson house.

Easily angered?  Who could possibly lose their temper in the middle of searching for shoes, comparing schedules to see who will pick up the kids, drop them off, and feed everyone all within a 45-minute time span while simultaneously trying to find something in the fridge for lunch that doesn’t have mold on it?  And even though I can’t tell you where my keys are at the moment (true story) I can rattle off  at least a few dozen less than glamorous moments from a decade ago, so the whole “no record of wrongs” things isn’t my strong suit either.  

So, yeah – the “Love Chapter,” doesn’t leave me feeling lovey-dovey.  It leaves me feeling more like a big, fat failure!

But as I sat there under the beautiful, sunny sky watching a precious couple begin their life together, something started to shift in my heart slightly as I looked down the aisle and saw the artwork with one simply phrase painted on it…”Love always perseveres.”

All of the “does not” statements of love faded as I stared at the word “always,”  The verse says, “Love always hopes, always protects, and always persevere.”

That’s an interesting way to end the “Love Chapter.”  Love perseveres.  Why couldn’t it have ended with something like, “And they lived happily ever after...The end?”

The word perseverance doesn’t do much for me, especially in the context of love.  Yet, the author put it in there.  At the very end.  As a final reminder.  

As I sat there staring at that simple piece of pallet art, the Lord started stirring a truth in my heart…love always perseveres.

I should have been focused on the couple standing before me or the sight of my sweet daughter in her flower-girl dress, but instead I started mentally recalling every passage of scripture I could think of that had to do with perseverance.

I can’t help but think that the Lord knew what love would cost us. After all, love cost him his son on a cross.  Let that sink in.  He loved us so much that he was willing to suffer the sacrifice of his only son so that we could spend eternity with him.

He knew what love would cost on this side of glory, so maybe that’s why he chose to end the Love Chapter with a final reminder that love perseveres.

Love isn’t a feeling or even an emotion.  Love is an action.  It’s a choice - it’s a choice to lay down one’s own life to serve another.  To love is to persevere through the pain because of the promise waiting on the other side.

It’s the child who perseveres through the peer pressure to stand up for the friend being bullied.

It’s the teenager who perseveres through the ridicule of his or her counter-cultural choices because of their relationship with Christ.

It’s the college student who perseveres through the mockery of choosing a mission trip to India over a week in Panama City.

It’s the young adult who perseveres through the financial strain to donate to those in need.

It’s the mother who perseveres through the exhaustion and post-partum depression to give comfort to the tiny newborn.

It’s the couple who persevere through the broken trust and shattered dreams because giving up is never an option.

It’s the family who perseveres through the devastating diagnosis, endless medical treatments, and broken hearts because no matter what the outcome, their legacy will live on for generations to come.

It’s the mother, father, sister, friend, or widow who face another lonely day staring at the empty chair and persevere through the pain because they grieve with that hope that one day they will see their loved one’s face again.

Love always trusts, always hopes, always protects, and always perseveres.

My favorite bible verse has become Romans 3:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame.”

I may fail miserably at the long list of  “love does not” statements in I Corinthians 13, but I pray that I never grow weary of persevering through the hard seasons of life because when we persevere, we are in essence loving - and what’s what our world so desperately needs right now.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Night Before Life Goes On

There’s an old country song called “The Night Before Life Goes On” that chronicles the night before a young, small-town girl moves away to college leaving behind her tiny community and her high school sweetheart.  It’s full of all the things that make a good country/western song…but that’s about all it has going for it.

The title though, it plays through my head over and over again as each new season of life is ushered in.  The night before college graduation. The night before walking down the aisle.  The night before becoming a mother.  The night before leaving your childhood home for the final time. The night before the job change.  The night before life goes on -we’ve all been there, in that bittersweet place of letting go of what “once was” and embracing all that lies ahead…both the good and the bad.

Sometimes “the night before,” comes and goes without us even realizing it.  The night before the diagnosis.  The night before the car accident. The night before the truth comes out.  The night before the job loss.  The night before the mass shooting. The night before life changes completely. That’s when it’s the most cruel, when you don’t even have the opportunity to savor that last moment of normalcy before everything you’ve ever known becomes unfamiliar and foreign.

Today I came across this photo of some of my very best friends from college.  It was the night before graduation and we were snapping pictures across campus enjoying being together one last time.  In the years since, we’ve had weddings, baby showers, and even girl’s weekends, but it was the very last time we were all together as a collective group.  It’s not a sad story, really. We’ve stayed in touch and have gone on to be blessed with amazing careers, incredible personal experiences, and wonderful families – I just wonder if we had known that it would be our last time together, if we would have savored it a little longer.

Maybe more than the company, I wish I had savored the days when picking out a homecoming outfit was my biggest concern, when juggling three social events was a stress trigger, and when a bottle of wine, a chick-flick and a night in the apartment with my best friends could mend a broken heart.

Life’s not quite so simple these days.  There’s more at stake when you’re raising two little people, running a home, working full time, and trying to be a good wife.  But at the core of it, some things never change.  Instead of homecoming outfits, we’re in the season of princess dresses and tiaras, and seeing a preschool twirl across the room is the most important concern of the day.  Instead of juggling three social events in a week, we’re learning how to balance baseball practice, work schedules, and family commitments. And even though a bottle of wine and chick-flick won’t fix a broken heart, being surrounded by incredible women and some good chocolate can lift the weariest of souls.

I guess what I’m getting at is the realization that life goes on…and on…and on.  Sometimes the changes are magical like a marriage or the birth of a child, and sometimes they are unexpected.  Either way, we have to learn to embrace each new journey and both the joys and challenges it brings. Because tucked in between the good and the bad, the planned and the unexpected, and the laughter and tears is the precious journey we call “Life.”