The GRINCH Who Hated Football

The Grinch Who Hated FootballI am not sure if my youngest, Matthew, is actually related to me. I mean I look at him and see that he is the perfect combination of Eric and me, but there is something that is just off about him.

He hates football. Seriously. Hates it. He can’t honestly be a Greer and hate football. I mean it is our family tradition.

We can usually convince him to go to the first few games, but I never make it to a game past mid-October. Eric still goes with Ethan and Ella rallies sometimes too. I stay home with the Grinch who hates football.

Yesterday on the way home from our trip, I asked Matthew why he hated football. Without skipping a beat he growled (just like the Grinch)… 

When they get in the stadium it is filled with that

Noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise!

Then they Feast!

Feast! Feast! Feast! Feast!

They feast on popcorn and nachos and hot dogs

And they Sing!

Sing! Sing! Sing! Sing!

They Sing Rocky Top every time they score!

I cannot take it any more!!!

 Drop the freakin mic.

I am just passing the MacBook on to him.

Peace Out.

Black Friday PERFECTED

I have done the “Black Friday” experience a number of different ways, but this year I freakin NAILED it.

A couple of years ago, my sister in law had the “iPad Christmas” for her triplets.  Obviously, that mandated a late night Wal-Mart run in order to save literally hundreds of dollars.  And we had a blast.  Our husbands came too and it was like the most hysterical, entertaining, pitiful double date.  And I didn’t even have to get dressed up.  We plotted and strategized.  Drank caffeine way too late.  Found the Blu-Ray player I didn’t even realize I HAD to have.  Made friends with complete strangers in line. Searched for the ever-elusive $3.99 chopper for Nana.  Combed through $5 DVDs that we would never watch.  Sent the boys to investigate when we heard there was a fight over a basketball goal.  But the bottom line was even though our goal was to get gifts for kids…there were none in sight.  Holla!

This year that was no big item that necessitated Wal-Mart crazy.  There is one thing on my kids’ list that was $50 off.  After thinking about it, we decided we would pay $50 to have a chill Thanksgiving night. Since I was sawin’ logs before 10:00, that was a solid choice.

Southern Lady-6Our Black Friday morning tradition is to go to the town square in Eric’s home town, Paris, TN, to see Santa come to town in the fire engine.  How many more years will our kids be excited to do this???  “Santa is coming!!!” (You have to read this like Buddy the elf).  We saw Santa come in and even got a hug from Mrs. Claus.  Afterwards, we went and shopped at some local businesses that were full of Christmas cheer.  My favorite, of course, is “My Favorite Things,” were Nana works.  It is such a cute shop with tons of character and is filled with lots of things that could become my next favorite thing 😉

We went home to have a plate of leftovers even though we were no where near hungry…because I will have to wait a whole other year to eat Thanksgiving food again, so why not??!!   We packed up our stuff ready to head back home to Nashville.

As soon as we got home and got everyone squared away, I headed out to do my Black Friday shopping…a full 24 hours past the official start.  And friends, after 6 days of non-stop family, I was seriously needing some Steph Time.  I love my family; there isn’t a single one that I don’t love to freakin pieces.  But sometimes it is nice to just not have to talk.  Just have peace and quiet.

So naturally I went to my zen place – Target.  I pulled into the parking lot with my list and nearly got a front row Joe parking spot.  Score.  Sure I had to flick some stale popcorn from the bottom of the cart, but there were plenty of carts to choose from.  Score.  Found my 7′ un-lit tree (because I have sworn off pre-lit trees because the lights always go out and look janky)  Score.  Got all our super cute clothes on sale for our angel.  Score.  Scanned, bagged, and paid for with my Red Card in less than an hour.  Score.  And I figure since a lot of the DVDs and Door Buster things that I would have just thrown in my cart were gone, I actually came out ahead savings wise!  SCORE!!

So I think I have this Black Friday thing figured out.  (For me anyway).  Enjoy Thanksgiving and Friday morning.  Let the crazies get off the road and out of the stores 😉  Then the world (or Target) is your oyster.  At least until we have the “iPad Christmas.”  Although, Mama doesn’t even have an iPad yet, so we have some time yet 😉

So tonight I can relax with a glass of Chardonnay, while I watch my husband put up my new tree and string the lights.  (Because he won’t let you touch the tree or lights because I may have strung them one year and it looked janky, so I lost Christmas tree privileges.  Really who is the winner now??? 😉  Score.

Happy Holidays??

Happy Holidays PicIt is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Full of happiness, cheer and all that jazz….

It wasn’t until I was struggling with infertility that the “most wonderful time of the year” turned into the worst. It was a time when I would want to go to bed and wake up after the New Year.   Why is that, you wonder?? Similar to how someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, people who are infertile are grieving the child that they want desperately in their life. If you are blessed enough to not have even had to deal with infertility, then this will help you have some insight into how hard the holidays are for infertile people. Give yourself a pat on the back. You are about increase what I like to call your CQ – Compassion Quotient 😉

Thanksgiving. A time when you, hopefully, are able to sit around the table with your family. It is a day that you can focus on all the many blessings that you have in your life. But what if the one thing that your heart desires most is out of your reach? What if you are at the adult table staring at the kid table wondering, “When is it my turn?” Ironically, the main topic of conversation at said adult table is….kids. What can you add to the conversation? The failed cycles? The horrible side effects from the evil fertility drugs? The nights you spend crying yourself to sleep? Sure. Go ahead and put on that “Hello My Name is: WET BLANKET” sticker on your shirt! There will be updates on friends and family. Judy is pregnant. Susie just had a baby. And Lisa just had her 5th baby!! Each one is like a dagger to your aching heart. You may even hear one of your family members saying how thankful they are to be able to send their kids to another table so they can have some peace and quiet. (Believe me as a mother of three now…I GET IT!! But it still hurts to hear.) Your heart breaks because you would give anything to have every second of your day consumed with a precious child. Do they realize what a blessing they have? You try hard to focus on the blessings you have in your life. However, the hole in your heart that only a child can fill, feels so hollow today. Will it be filled by next Thanksgiving?

Christmas. In 2013, it started before the holiday. I was ordering my Christmas cards. I had it all planned out. The cute Christmas card with a clever pregnancy announcement all in one. It was going to be so precious. But things didn’t go according to my plan. After nearly a year of fertility treatments, there was no announcement to be made. I just had a broken heart that no one even knew about because infertility just isn’t something that you talk about openly.

As much as this holiday should be focused on Jesus’ birth, it is still very much centered around Santa and children. I am blessed to have a close knit family and love to be around them. I am proud to call myself Aunt Teppie to six nieces and nephews. As much as I love them, it wasn’t always easy to be around them. I would spend all day with my game face on. My smile plastered on my face and ready to play. I would fight the thoughts about wishing I had one of my own. I would smile and give a trite answer when asked when Eric and I were going to have one of our own. “Our kids are going to be so far apart in age that they won’t be close!!” “I’m trying the best I can!!” I would scream in my head as I smiled and shrugged.

At night, I would be exhausted from playing the happy Aunt Teppie all day. I was emotionally drained. How long would I just be Aunt Teppie? When would it be my turn to be Mommy? I wanted to be up late at night wrapping baby dolls and toy cars. I wanted to have silly fights with Eric about how to put together the $@$% play kitchen. I wanted to have my baby on my knee reading “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for the umpteenth time. Would it be different next Christmas? Last Christmas I was sure I would have a baby by now. Will it ever happen?

Oh then New Years. Did I even want to reflect on the last year? Failed cycle after failed cycle. Ups and downs. Waiting for test results. Waiting for a phone call. Waiting for an appointment. Waiting for another cycle. Hadn’t I wished away the better part of the last year? Would next year be any different?

When I think back a few years ago to New Year’s, Eric and I were energized. We were about to start fertility treatments with our frozen embryos affectionately called our “totsicles.” We couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for us because in our mind it meant a baby or even babies!! Unfortunately, instead of a baby it was a year of pain and sadness. By the time New Year’s rolled around again, we were ready to throw a party to declare “So long 2013. Don’t let the door hit you in the …”

Now I look back to last year’s New Years Eve when I was celebrating publishing my book about what I learned on my journey through Infertility. I feel that same energy I felt a couple of years ago but about a completely different journey. God did have a plan for me. I never in a million years would have dreamed two years ago that this would be His plan for me.

So my message for you is to stay strong. When you go to bed feeling emotionally drained, pray. Pray for strength. Pray for patience. Pray for clarity about all the choices you are faced with every day. God loves you and hears you. He will give you the strength that you need.

You may not find out what the plan is for you and your family as quickly as you want to, but there is a plan for you. You may be celebrating New Year’s in a year or two and have a better reality than you could have ever dreamed of…

How I Talked To My Kids About PARIS

How I talked to my kids about Paris picSometimes I would like to place my family in a big, ole bubble. Safe from sadness…pain…fear…harm.

Unfortunately, that utopia is not the world we live in today.

I admit I try to create my own pseudo bubble. I rarely watch the news for two reasons. I never know what atrocity may be covered that I don’t want my kids to see. Secondly, I want to block out the evil in this world for myself too.

On Friday evening, we were loaded up headed to dinner as a family when I was scrolling though Facebook and saw some references to Paris. I glanced back at the kids who were chatting away and whispered to Eric, “What happened in Paris?” The details were still coming in, but what I heard was horrifying. We got to the restaurant and were surrounded by ten TVs. Nine of them had basketball and one had news coverage of the attacks in Paris. I silently willed Ethan’s eyes to stay trained on the Kentucky basketball game inside our bubble and away from the news channel.

After we put the kids to bed, we turned on the TV news to get caught up on what was going on in Paris. It was heartbreaking to see all these innocent people terrorized and killed. It was apparent that it was an orchestrated terrorist attack on the people. We watched until one channel showed a particularly gruesome scene from one of the cafes. The commentator proudly boasted that they only showed this picture once an hour, left the image on the screen a few more moments than was appropriate, and then left it on even longer.

I decided I had enough and went to bed to pray for Paris, to pray for the world leaders, and especially to pray for my children and this world in which we are rearing them.

We are at a point where the bubble has burst. I knew I had to talk to my children about the tragedy and what it means to us. I have twins that are nine and a seven year old. It is not a conversation that is easy to have with kids, but I felt like they were old enough that I could have an age-appropriate conversation with them. Because here’s the deal: If I don’t take charge and talk to them about it, they will hear about it from somewhere else. It is my responsibility to make sure that they hear about the scary things in this world from me so that I can reassure them.

I sat them down on Saturday and told them the high points about what happened in Paris. I didn’t go into a lot of details, but I let them know the truth. I told them that a group of radical Islamic people attacked and killed innocent people in Paris. We had talked about radical Islam before when they learned about September 11th. We also spent a lot of time talking about the difference of the majority of peaceful Muslims, like some of their friends at school, and radical Islam. My German teacher in high school, Frau Colley, used to always say, “All generalizations are false,” before she told us anything about the culture. That has stuck with me. I have also passed it on to my children. I am a Baptist and worship a loving, forgiving God. I would hate if I were lumped in with a well-known group of detestable Baptists.

However, I did let them know that there is a group of hateful people that make it their mission to terrorize people. They do not worship God like we do. They do not know peace and love. They have a very twisted and evil form of their own religion that is based on hate.

I also reassured them. Granted we do not know what the future brings, and we can speculate all we want about radical Islam infiltrating our country. But that is nowhere near appropriate to discuss with my children. This is my job: to assure them that Mama and Daddy will keep them safe, and to emphasize that the police officers and soldiers that we just celebrated on Veteran’s Day make it their life’s mission to keep them safe. They are learning about government in their Social Studies classes. We talked about the importance of electing politicians that will keep them safe. And the most important thing that they can do is to pray. We can pray to God to watch over us, our police, our armed forces, and our world leaders to help keep our children safe.

In addition, I understand that all families will choose differently about how they address or not address the current events. For that reason, I also told them that they were not to discuss it at school or with their friends. As is my normal rule, they will never get in trouble if they come directly to their dad or me to talk about anything that they hear at school that upsets them, they don’t understand, or that just doesn’t sit right with them. However, if they talk to their siblings or friends about it, there will be consequences. They know and feel comfortable enough to always come to us first.

The bubble has burst y’all. I am going to educate my children. I will support my law enforcement and armed forces. I will pray for the world leaders and educate myself before I vote in the next election so that I do my part to keep my babies safe. 

I will do all these things while knowing in my heart, “The Lord is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” Psalm 46: 1-2a (NKJ)

Sometimes You Gotta Hit a WALL

Sometimes You Gotta Hit The Wall

Hey. It’s me. Steph? The Southern Lady Mama? Remember me?

Whew. Good. Sorry it has been a while. I had to peel myself off of the wall that I hit last week 😉

Last week was cra-zy. Some good crazy. Some bad crazy.

I am fortunate enough to spend a good bit of my free time volunteering at my kids’ school. Last week was Book Fair, and I am Scholastic MONSTER Book Fair at LESon the committee that runs the show. It is incredibly fun and extremely rewarding. We sold almost $30,000 in books in five days. That’s HUGE! It was fun to be part of, but at the end of the day, I looked forward to my heating pad and a glass (or 2) of Chardonnay. In the midst of that, we had a health scare with both my uncle and my dad. Needless to say, there were some sleepless nights, tears shed, and numerous prayers said.

When we finally closed down the book fair on Friday afternoon, I had another big event on my calendar. 20 Brownies camping at my house the next day. And I hadn’t cleaned a lick all week. And Eric, my husband, was leaving to go out of town for a much needed guys weekend. And I have never started a fire by myself. And I have never pitched a tent. And I had a solid foot of leaves on my back deck. And I really wanted to shove the 4 pages of directions that Eric left for the tent and leaf blower up his nose. Can you feel my anxiety level rising?

Saturday morning I pulled out the tent and the 4 pages of directions (complete with diagrams) and tried to tackle pitching my first tent in all my 38 years. Ella “helped” me by swinging on the tree branch and running and catching pages when the wind caught them. At one point when the $%## pole went the wrong way for the 10th time, she said, “It’s no use. We can’t do it without Daddy’s help.” That made me even more determined to get it up. I made her help me more and after another painful 20 minutes, we got the tent up. I asked her what she learned and she answered, “That you can say the ‘s’ word and I can get away with saying ‘crap’ when we are pitching a tent!” #Truth However, I was thinking more along the lines of us putting our minds to something, perseverance, determination. But no, she gets the free pass on a foul mouth.

Ella and I tentWhat she did get from her Brownie campout was a great lesson about friendship. They played games. They just ran around and were silly. They told stories around the campfire that I started!!!! (Where’s my badge!!??) They wrote poems for each other. They had a dance party. The moms even Whip Whip Ney Neyed for the girls. (To which Ella quickly told me, “I would rather not see that again.”) They made smores and drank hot chocolate. They made memories that would last a lifetime.

The ultimate compliment was when one of the Brownies asked if she could come camp out at our house again next week J

So while I look at the last week where I literally ran myself ragged, I am just so thankful that I can. I am thankful for my uncle and dad’s health, which I was reminded this week, can turn on a dime. We cannot take it for granted for one second. I am thankful that Eric is supportive of me “working” full time and not earning a cent. I am thankful that I can use some of my talents at my kids’ school. I am thankful that I didn’t miss a second of the excitement of the book fair. It won’t be long before kids will be ashamed to be so openly excited about books. I am thankful for a home that my daughter’s friends want to come back to again and again. I am thankful that my daughter is making friends and memories that will last a lifetime and that she wants me to be a part of it. I am thankful that I am making new friends through the other mamas because this Mama thing is tough and we need each other,

And I was very thankful for my fuzzy blanket, comfy chair and Kindle coma day that I had on Sunday (and maybe part of Monday) to recuperate.