Beauty from the Ashes

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Want some inspiration and HOPE over the next 10 days?

My friend and fellow Christian author, Ginny Priz, is hosting an interview series called “Beauty from Ashes” on her website.  She is interviewing 10 amazing women about how God helped them find HOPE in spite of their bad circumstances.  And guess what??  I am one of them!  I will be sharing about how God helped strengthen me through my battle with Infertility on Thursday, August 25th.

Please take a few and hop on over to Ginny’s website, sign up for the series, and be inspired!

 

How We Are Ditching the Girl DRAMA

Giggling. Dancing. Hugging. Singing Adele in 3 different keys. . .

And that is all in the first five minutes of my 9 year old daughter’s sleepover.

Then in the next 5 minutes. . .

Huffing. Puffing. Foot stomping. And of course….the dreaded eye roll.

GIRL DRAMA. As irrational as it is, it is totally natural. Or as my husband, Eric, insists when there are more than one females in a room together…it is inevitable.  😜

I LOVE that my daughter has found other strong girls with likewise strong personalities. I can’t wait to watch them grow up, take on this world and see what God has in store for them.

However, when they are young, sometimes they can trip over their big personalities and bruise some feelings on their way down. That is where us big girls who have been there and done that can help. We can’t totally ditch the Drama.  However, we can help our girls side step some of the theatrics and learn to face it head on when it can’t be avoided.

So this morning before our fruit, bacon and waffles, we had a Mama and girls pow wow. We brainstormed what we could do to take care of our friendships.

Here is what the girls pledged to Ditch the Girl Drama:

  • Be Kind.  Kindness comes from the heart; it is love in action.  I love my friends, so I Southern Lady-8will treat them with love and respect.  But…
  • If I Get My Feelings Hurt, I Will Talk it Out With my Friend…Not Other Girls.  The best way I can deal with a situation is to go straight to my friend and talk to her about it.  Talking to someone else about it is just gossiping and may hurt someone else’s feelings.  Who knows?  Maybe I just misunderstood! But if not…
  • Ask for Forgiveness & Forgive Easily because…
  • I Understand We All Make Mistakes.  No one is perfect!  We all talk or act before we think sometimes. And then I will…
  • Learn From My Mistakes.  I love and respect my friends, so I will do my best to make better choices next time.  And, of course, I will. . .
  • ALWAYS Have My Friend’s Back!  Even though we decided to ditch the drama, there are girls that thrive on drama.  We will support and take care of each other.  Always.

As I type this, they are again giggling, singing and dancing to JT.

Funny. I plan on doing that very same thing this weekend on my Girls Weekend with my girlfriends of over 20 years.

I pray these sweet girls will be doing the same with each other in 2036.

the girls

 

Patriotic Pinterest on POINT

Cute.  Easy. Low time commitment.  Those are my criteria for Pinterest.  If I see more than 5 ingredients –  X out of that immediately.  If it looks like it will take me more than 30 minutes – Get outta my Face with that thing!

So when Eric and I decided to have a 4th of July Eve party, obviously I got a little Pinterest happy with all things Red, White & Blue.

Here are  few things that I did that met all my criteria!  And the best thing is almost all could be done the day before 🙂

Jello Fireworks from  Kraft Recipes.   These were a HUGE hit with the kids!

Jello Fireworks - The Southern Lady Mama

Patriotic Strawberries from The Idea Room.  These were so easy and my daughter, Ella, helped!

Patriotic Strawberries - The Southern Lady Mama

My Patriotic Fruit Pizza from House of Hawthornes was the only exception from making the day before because I wanted the fruit to be fresh.  However, I went ahead and made the crust and topping then refrigerated them.  I also washed and cut up the strawberries.  It only took me about 15 minutes (with Ella’s expert help again!) to top and glaze the pizza before the party.  Score!

Patriotic Pizza - The Southern Lady Mama

Easy peasy lemon squeezy as Ella would say!  Finally I got to sit down just in time to enjoy our fireworks :Fireworks - The Southern Lady Mama

Have a similar minimalist Pinterest attitude? Follow me on Pinterest for some great easy recipe ideas!

Have a Happy Independence Day!!!

How Conservatives Screwed the Pooch w/ this Bathroom Brouhaha

Southern Lady-7Am I missing something? Was there a rash of issues in public restrooms in North Carolina and Georgia that made Conservatives believe that a law was necessary?

As a mother of 3, I am an expert at public restrooms. It doesn’t matter if I demand that every kid hits the potty before we leave the house, inevitably someone will have to pee again. They love to go one at a time at restaurants. As soon as we sit down, Ethan will need to go. As soon as the queso is put in front of me, Ella will need to go. As I finally get to dig into my dinner, Matthew will decide that even though he didn’t need to go when I took Ethan that he is indeed about to burst. So I throw my napkin on my seat and take my 3rd child to the public restroom in the span of 15 minutes. For the love!! I just want to be able to sit through one meal where I don’t have to get up every 5 minutes!!!

Call me overprotective, but I accompany my 9 and 7 year olds to the restroom every time. In all of my public restroom patronage, I have never had any encounters with transgendered individuals. No I take that back…I probably have many times, and I never even knew it because it wasn’t an issue. I peed. They peed. We washed hands and left.

I am not a theologian, but I am a girl who loves Jesus. You know the question… “What would Jesus do?” Well, I don’t believe he would make a law to purposefully alienate anyone. And that is what this law is …”Us” vs “Them.”

I have no worries about going to a public restroom with stalls with a transgendered individual. In fact, I would rather Caitlyn pee in a stall next to me than in a men’s room with my sons.

SO HERE IS MY BEEF….

Thank you, Conservatives, for making a mountain out of a molehill. Now you have given a green light to sexual predators to take advantage of this situation. I guarantee it. It is not if they will, it is when they will. I am not talking about transgender individuals. I am talking about the people who already prey on women and children. Now they just don’t even have to be as stealth about it. They can just walk right on in.

I consider myself a Conservative, but this whole business of proposing laws just to create more division has got to stop. It has and will continue to backfire. This latest effort to alienate transgendered people has not only failed, but it has opened the bathroom door and rolled out the welcome mat to the sickos of the world.

The Day I Realized a “Phase” Was My New Normal With My Autistic Child

I thought it was just another pretty day to play in my backyard with my four sons. Little did I know that it was a day that would rock my reality to its very core….

God had blessed us with a break from the rain with sunshine. My 4.5 year-old twins and I were soaking it up in our backyard.   I am always on high alert. I don’t want them to leave the safety of our backyard and wander to explore the front yard (and beyond) by themselves.

One of my twins has Autism, so I am especially vigilant when it comes to him because he is very unpredictable. That day it started off as his usual game where he starts to run off toward “no man’s land.” I shout his name and tell him to stop. Most of the time he runs in place as he turns to look at me. After a moment, he runs back to me, giggling the whole way. Every once in a while he continues to run on, but now in a playful “chase me” sort of fashion. However, this particular time was different, he started running and he didn’t stop. He didn’t respond to my shouts. He didn’t stop. He didn’t hesitate. He just kept running.

IMG_7946When he reached the street, he was in my sights but not close enough for me to grab him. I shouted louder and in a very stern manner. I meant business. He ignored my plea and ran straight across the street without even looking. Then he started running up a very steep slope that is a common area in our neighborhood. He has NEVER gone that far before! I was getting very scared, and I tried to push my body climb up that hill as fast as I could. At the top of the summit is a backyard with an iron fence and a pool. I know this, but my son doesn’t. I start to feel a little better thinking that fence would slow him down and allow me to catch up to him.

About half way up the slope, my heart sank as I saw him open that gate. Suddenly I was screaming his name, praying to God, and willing myself to overcome my exhaustion to get to him as fast as I could. What was I going to find? Was he going to be submerged in water? He cannot swim. Is the pool empty and he falls in and has a head injury or worse?

Eventually I managed to get to the fence. I was out of breath, overwhelmed with my fears coming to fruition, I see my little boy standing next to a pool full of water, staring at the warm steam coming off the surface. I calmly said his name; I didn’t want to startle him. He turned and looked at me for the first time since this ordeal began. I felt a huge relief come over me as he walked toward me. He willingly took my hand and walked with me without argument.

We started walking around the neighbor’s house to their front yard. No telling what the neighbor thought when he came out of his house. He heard me yelling at the top of my lungs in his yard. And then when he sees me, I am out of breath, exhausted, tears streaming down my face, and blood trickling from my temple from a branch that scratched me in my pursuit.

What did my neighbor think of the little boy that was calm and compliantly holding his mother’s hand as I tried to explain the situation between sobs. Did he know what almost happened? Did he understand when I said “he has autism,” that I wasn’t an irresponsible mom who wasn’t paying attention to her child?

Does anyone know what this means for me and my family? This is a game changer.

As I’ve traveled…stumbled down the path of parenthood with my boys, every challenging phase I’ve come across has been just that, a phase. From baby proofing the home, to toddler meltdowns. Time and development have pushed past that barrier and off we go to the next phase!! Until now, I have counted on these temporary lifestyle changes to be just that, temporary. However, a brush with a potentially tragic outcome with my Autistic son, made me realize that with ASD, some phases will never be over.

For the two years that my 4.5 year old son has been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, I have done countless hours of reading and research about the issues I might face with my son. Since he is still technically a toddler, I haven’t really been able to apply these potential behaviors to my son. Meltdowns in public? Similar to “toddler tantrums” to the outside observer. Nonverbal? Many young children shy away from talking to strangers. Not listening and responding to people? Have you ever tried to talk to a young child who is deeply enthralled with their favorite TV show? Wandering off without regard for personal safety? Absolutely a concern for all young children. However, consider these behaviors on an older child and everything changes.

For most children, an improvement in speech and communication helps a child to eventually express their frustrations and feelings in more productive ways than through tantrums. Children that learn social cues eventually will effectively communicate with other people and, hopefully, not be misinterpreted as rudeness, disrespect, or worse; aggression. With the exception of my older boys and their video games, they do learn to respond to questions and requests from others. With maturity and training, children begin to understand what is unsafe and how to act accordingly.

According to the CDC and the National Autism Association, 49% of children with autism will “wander” or bolt in this case. Accidental drownings account for close to 90% of lethal outcomes, second is being hit by a vehicle.

Strides are being made in communities to minimize tragic outcomes. Prevention is key, but it is not completely effective. The back-up plans include involving the neighborhood in search efforts (like an amber alert), and preemptively giving information to local EMS about an individual. If 911 is called, they have pertinent information ahead of time, so miscommunication can be minimized.

We are called to love our neighbors. I am counting on my neighbors to love my son.

 

 I appreciate my friend, Beth Moore, for sharing her story. Beth is an autism advocate in Tennesse. What can you do to help? Pay attention when you hear about these needs in your state by going to Autism Speaks and sign up to receive emails. You can also inform others about the need and have them sign up as well. If you are in my state of Tennessee, feel free to contact Beth to get more involved in making this change. The truth is, everyone will be touched by someone on the Autism Spectrum. Your children will be in class with them, your coworker may be taking care of a family member on the spectrum, you will be among them in everyday society. You will be fortunate to know these remarkable people, so let’s help them and their families get them the treatment they need.

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Who Said Miracles Don’t Happen Anymore?

Life can be a series of highs and lows. My life has certainly been a testament to that. Met and married my wonderful husband Eric – High. Tried to conceive for a couple of years, failed fertility treatments, surgery – Low. Successfully got pregnant through IVF – HUGE High! High risk Pregnancy that left me on bed rest for what felt like most of my pregnancy – Low. Delivering premature but healthy twins – High/Low. Six weeks being separated from them in the NICU – Low.

I could go on and on. Today I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite Highs. He is my little Miracle High. Eric and I were told that there is absolutely no way that we could conceive. That is why we went through IVF to conceive Ethan and Ella. I have no doubt that it was indeed a fact. As I said this is a Miracle High.

Here is an excerpt from my family blog in 2008:

Ah I woke up just like the day before. I had no idea that this morning would change all our lives so much! Eric was getting ready for work and I was in bed watching Sports Center (his choice not mine). I remembered that I needed to call in a prescription that day. Before I could get it, I had to take a pregnancy test. My cycle was running way too long and I needed to get on progesterone to get me back on track. I always thought this was a funny thing for me of all people to have to do. I mean we know I can’t get pregnant. On top of that, I went back on birth control after I had Ethan and Ella. I simply was taking it for convenience sake. Eric and I often laughed about all the money we wasted on all those birth control pills early in our marriage. So off I went to pee on my little stick. Unloaded the dishwasher, sat down and watched TV for a minute. Should I get the kids up? Oh no wait….better go check the test and get that out of the way.

I walked into the guest bath and looked at the test on the sink. Double take…..was that TWO lines? Huh? I must be seeing things. I heard Eric say something, so I threw the hand towel over the test and jumped back in bed. Eric said, “Why do you look so weird?” I was still in shock so I said, “just tired.” He went back to the closet to finish getting dressed and I ran back to the bathroom for a second look. Yes. Definitely 2 lines. How did this happen??? I mean I know how it happens for most, but not us! We were told that we couldn’t get pregnant on our own. Holy cow. Eric’s birthday was the next day. Boy could I have fun with this!!! I ran upstairs to get the babies up and whispered my secret in their tiny ears. I am pretty sure they smiled.

Thankfully Eric left shortly after that. (I was told later that I was in MAJOR trouble for letting him go to work because he would have called in sick. Whoops 🙂 I quickly called my mom, my sister, and Kristen. Kristen, my personal OB nurse, reassured me that the home tests were pretty accurate. Even so I had my mom come over so I could get an official blood test at the doctor’s office. I still didn’t believe it. I went and looked at the home test again. Still 2 lines! When I called the doctor’s office to get the test they acted like I was crazy. “Mrs. Greer, we usually don’t do blood tests if you have a positive home test.” I replied, “I know, but I don’t believe it. When can I come in?” I went in immediately, got my blood drawn, and paid to have the results to me stat.

All day I was avoiding calls from Eric and his sister, Amy. How in the world could I play this one off? I couldn’t even sit down I was so excited! I finally got the “official positive” test results from the doctor. Hallelujah! Praise God!! I checked the home test one more time and finally threw it in the trash.

Now how in the world would I give Eric the total shock of his lifetime??? The way we found out we were pregnant with Ethan and Ella was so impersonal. We called into a voicemail box and listened to a stranger tell us the good news. Not that we minded one bit. We were finally pregnant!!

I decided I would get the kids Big Brother and Big Sister T shirts, take their pictures in it, frame it, and give it to Eric for his birthday. Well I am not sure how many of you have tried to get a 16-month old kid to stand still so you can get a good picture of them. Now throw in a second child. It isn’t possible. Just take it from me. So I decided the next best thing was to just wrap up the shirts and let Eric open those.

erics bday

We waited on pins and needles until Eric got home. Of course since we were anxiously awaiting him, he didn’t get home until after 7. After the kids bath, Eric read them a story and they just had to give their Daddy an early birthday present. He didn’t know it, but I was recording the whole thing : )

I turned the camera off right after I told him so we could all snuggle. There were lots of happy tears all around. I was told later that Eric was thinking “Why in the world did she give me some shirts for the kids for my birthday?” Apparently what I thought was pretty plain isn’t plain to a man.

Was My Diploma A Waste of Time?? SLM Collective Post

When I went away to college at The University of Tennessee, I didn’t know a soul.  At my mama’s urging, I went through Sorority Rush.  I was hesitant.  I didn’t want to feel like I was “buying” my new friends.  However, my mama’s argument that it would be a good way to meet a lot of people quickly was compelling enough for me to look past my naive notions.

And how glad I am that I did!  On the first day, I met my friend, Becky.  I don’t know if we hit it off so well because we were both from Kentucky or our mutual love of Days of Our Lives.  Nonetheless, as I sat with her on Preference night with tears running down my face, I knew I had a friend for life.  Of course ours were tears of muffled laughter while others surrounding us were much more serious 😉

I am lucky to have a lot of strong women in my life that learn from every day.  Becky is one of those people to me.  I have selfishly been looking for something for her to write about for my blog, so I could share some of her wisdom and wit with my readers.  She posted something on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and it was my aha moment!  As a Stay at Home Mom, it really resonated with me.  Enjoy!

Recently, an older gentlemen asked me what I studied in college. I answered in a humble manner explaining my degrees to which he replied “How does that help you raising kids?”

Awkward silence.

When he asked me this question, I just made a face and shrugged it off. I am not one to engage or confront.  His question insinuated that I wasted my time going to college. I allowed this thought to rent space in my head for a few days. Now, I am thankful he asked me.  It gave me the opportunity to put words to my convictions.

There is so much to say. Where do I start?

Children are sponges.  Ever heard that phrase?  Well it is true.  You pour more into those fast changing little beings with your actions and example than with the lectures you give them.  Want them to be kind to others, be that kind person.  Want them to work hard?  Show them your hard work, past and present.  Want them to have skills and succeed?  You continue to build your skills and help those around you doing the same.

Example to Pursue Learning – I hope I never stop learning.  Of course it may have started in the classroom, but those habits to follow my interests in a meaningful way are still very much alive in me.  Never stop learning, folks!  It doesn’t have to be at an expensive college, but never stop moving your mind forward. It is invaluable for your kids to see those efforts. Who wouldn’t want their children to love learning?  They are more likely to follow that path if you go first.

Discipline to Achieve Goals – School was not always fun and certainly not always easy. I had bigger goals. I set and achieved those goals.  My kids know that I worked diligently to achieve my goals and with hard work, they can too!

Equipping for Employment – I provided for our household while my husband pursued his higher degree full time.  My income bought our first home and helped us save for the flexibility to stay at home after our first child was born.  We worked together on a seemingly endless path to make a better future. I consider it a tremendous blessing for my kids to understand the partnership of hard work and mutual support involved in those early years of pursuing degrees. Unfortunately, that future we build towards is not guaranteed to be easy. I have two friends who became young widows in the past two years. Life can change so quickly and dramatically.  If I had to go back into the work force to provide for my family, then I would be better equipped to do so. It is about creating better opportunities for ourselves and our families.  My kids will understand this more and more as they mature.

Community – The future we were building was for our family, but also for friends, church and community.  We serve in different ways inside and outside our home.  Was my college education part of preparing me for that? Absolutely. If I can teach my children to place a high value on serving my community, then I consider that a huge win. My pursuit of higher learning showed me the larger communities out there to serve in ways that I never would have realized otherwise. I have friends of various backgrounds and cultures. I was blessed to see perspectives outside my immediate circles.  That sense of community holds value in the way that I influence my young children.

I do not currently earn an income outside the home. A person’s education should not be considered irrelevant base on that fact. I may never get another paycheck in my life.   I have no regrets about the time and money I spent to get those little pieces of paper called diplomas.  The whole experience shaped me for the better into the Mom I am today.

Countless blessings can come from a lifelong dedication to learning for my family and myself.

~ Becky Thomas

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