How I Got SCHOOLED in Dodgeball

How I Got SCHOOLED in DodgeballMonday night I hit “Publish” on my latest blog post.

“Whew, “ I thought, “Don’t have to worry about that for a few days.”

But I have nothing in my pipeline to write this week. “Oh Lord please give me some inspiration!”

So He hit me in the face with a big, red kickball…


Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous. We were enjoying a beautiful Indian Summer day in Tennessee. The kids all worked hard on their homework. Books – Read. Math – Common Cored. North Eastern States – labeled…kinda.  Now it was time for some fun outside.

I was showing off my bball skillz. Let me be clear. I am 5’2” on a very good day. My three sweet, beautiful children haven’t quite… shall we say…grown into their feet 😉 So showing off my basketball abilities was pretty much dribbling and walking at the same time. And they think I rock. 

I was getting ready to show off my awesome chest pass to Ella, when I hear, “DODGEBALL!!” from Ethan right before I get nailed in the face with our red kickball. I mean NAILED. Completely Marsha Bradyed. Tears poured down my face. I saw stars. I was pretty sure my nose was oozing blood. The pain was instant and completely unexpected.

I looked at the 3 Greer kids and they all had identical “Oh sh*t!!” expressions on their face. I am pretty sure I saw a squirrel with the same expression. The birds quit chirping. There was absolute silence on our street. Everyone knew it was about to go down for real in the driveway.

I narrowed my crazy eyes on Ethan and said between clinched teeth, “Get. Your. Bottom. Up. Stairs. NOW!!!!” I am not a cusser at all, but it took every last restraint in me to not pull out the A double S. I did, however, certainly emphasize the two syllables of bot-tom.

His eyes turned frantic, “But Mama…But Mama…But Mama…” he kept stuttering. “I said Dodgeball!!”

“That doesn’t mean you can tattoo me in the face with the DODGEBALL!!!! We are playing Basketball!!!” I cried.

“But Mama…But Mama…But Mama..” he started again.

“Now!!!” I roared. “Get up in your room and don’t come out until I come in there!!”

He scurried up the steps with his proverbial tail between his legs. Ella and Matthew slowly backed away from me to get out of the line of fire. I took a deep breath, wiped my eyes and nose then calmly said, “I am ok, guys. Don’t worry.”

I took a deep breath and wiggled my nose to make sure it wasn’t broken. I went straight to the bathroom to assess the damage. My face was tear streaked and bright red. I wasn’t sure if it was from being hit, being mad, or if was just a transfer of the red paint from the ball! I leaned in to see if there were the tiny swirls imprinted on my face from the kickball. Deep breath. Deep breath.

Ethan was in his room with the door closed. I had to take a minute to get my cool. Deep breath. Pray for patience and a clear head. Deep breath. Check the chicken in the crockpot. Deep breath. Check the rice. Deep Breath. Deep breath.

I walked to Ethan’s room, let myself in, and my heart melted.

He sat on his bed in the Lotus position. His little hands clasped tight in front of his face with tears streaming from his closed eyes.

I insisted on the kiss; Ethan insisted on the cartoon bubble :)

I insisted on the kiss; Ethan insisted on the cartoon bubble 🙂

I rushed to him, gathered him up in my arms, told him that I forgave him, and showered him with hugs and kisses. I asked for his forgiveness for laying into him, and he gave it to me immediately.

How lucky are we that we have a God that forgives immediately. He doesn’t have to take His time and get His cool. He doesn’t have to take deep breaths….repeatedly. He doesn’t have to see us broken to forgive us. He just forgives because He loves us so much.  And once He forgives us, it is gone.  No “Remember that time you hit your mom in the face with the ball??”  Or no, “Stephanie, remember that time you completely lost your cool and yelled at your son when he made a mistake?”  All is forgiven.  Instantly.  And forgotten.  Thank you, Jesus.

“And I will be merciful to them in their wrongdoings, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 (TLB)

How Over Scheduling Can Make You Miss Your APPOINTment

SLMI started the day the same way I always do with a nice, brisk 3.5 mile walk. Just me, my iPod, and my God. As I walk I pray over my family and day. I end each prayer with “Lord, help me make good choices with my time. Make this your day, Lord.”

You see, since I quit teaching last year to focus on my writing, I have become very cognizant of how I spend my time. Call it responsible or call it stay at home mom guilt. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Either way I am really trying to make a conscious effort of being a good steward of my time.

This actually fits quite nicely with my Type A personality. Eric calls it crazy. I call it very organized. I have my iCal organized to perfection with seven different color-coded calendars. It helps me know where I need to be and what I need to accomplish during my day.

This particular day was packed to the gills. I had a lot to do while the kids were at school, and my parents were coming over for dinner that night. I was ready to strap on my roller skates and hit that to-do list from drop off to pick up like a BOSS. I got my three kids loaded up to head to school. We were on a roll… no fighting for the second day in a row on the 5-minute ride to school…Holla!

Just as the alarm rang for the kids to hop out of the car, my oldest son asked, “Mama, can you come eat lunch with me today?” I was surprised. Ethan never asked me to come eat with him anymore. In fact, the last time I ate with him at school, he practically ignored me the whole time as he chatted with his friends. My feelings weren’t hurt. Those kids work hard all day and are excited to just get to visit with their friends as they shove lunch in their mouths. That was their time. Feeling as if I was almost intruding on their friend time, I hadn’t made it a big priority to go eat lunch with them at school this year.

calendarI glanced from his big, beautiful brown eyes to my full iCal with a little bit of panic. “Oh no! Oh no! I don’t have this on the schedule. I haven’t even showered yet today!” I thought frantically. Oh, but those eyes! And I remembered what I prayed…Lord, help me make good choices with my time. How could I choose anything over spending some time with my baby when he asks? “I’ll make it work, Buddy,” I said as I kissed his cheek. He beamed at me and jumped out of the car.

Skates strapped on, I raced to accomplish as much as I could before lunchtime. I squeezed in a shower and put on clean workout clothes…because the hair and make-up bar is automatically set lower if you are sporting workout clothes 😉 I sat at the lunch table in a rowdy cafeteria with my three kids and three of their friends. I celebrated with Ella about the test she was sure she aced. I encourage Ethan and his friend about the test they were going to take after lunch. Matthew and his friend caught me up on the gossip of first grade. And it was wonderful. The best part was getting to give them each a hug before they left. Maybe they needed that extra bit of affection in the midst of the day. I know I did. I left the cafeteria knowing I made the right decision. I was able to finish everything I wanted to accomplish that day and even got to make some cookies that weren’t even on the agenda!

How often do we schedule ourselves so much that we miss out on the little things that really are the big things? The school lunches with our kids. The walk with a friend. Just being available to sit and talk to someone who needs a friend. Or just not feeling like a zombie by the time you lay your kids down, so you can actually stay awake to spend time with your husband??

I think my goal of being a good steward of my time is a positive goal. Being able to stay home is a gift that I never want to take for granted. However, I need to remember to keep my ears open and listen to God as He directs my day. It’s what I prayed for after all, isn’t it? Praying for His day then filling it with all My plans makes me miss God’s APPOINTment.

I am a work in progress. I am far from being “fly by the seat of my pants,” but I am at least leaving room in my schedule to attempt to be spontaneous 😉

How This Simple Game Can Solve Any Problem

“Rock, Paper, Scissors, GOD!!!!”How This Simple Game Can Solve Any Problem

(God is jazz hands in case you were wondering…)

This was the new game that my three young children were playing. Over. And over. And over again.

Have I mentioned that my kids are a tad bit on the weird side? I have no clue where they came up with this variation on the classic game. The rules were similar to how I played:

Rock smashes Scissors.

Paper covers Rock.

Scissors cut Paper.

Then there was their addition. God. Simply put, God beats everything.

Even given that divine slam-dunk, they didn’t choose God every time. Then they would be shocked if their sibling chose God and won. My husband, Eric, and I would die laughing.

Why wouldn’t you choose God every dang time??

But we are all that way, aren’t we? When we are faced with a tough situation, do we always make the right choice? Do we immediately choose God? Or do we choose:

Rock (trying to deal with the issue on our own),

Paper (avoiding the issue by filling up our life with distractions) or

Scissors (talking to everyone else about it except God)?

Rock? Paper? Scissors? God?

BAM. God Wins. Every dang time.


My youngest, Matthew, put a different spin on it this weekend. Instead of doing Rock, Paper, Scissors, or God, he added a new one. He made a motion in sign language. When I asked what it was, he yelled, “I just went all Holy Spirit on you!!”

Never in this world has this phrase ever been uttered.

The Two Greatest Mama Directions

Mama Directions-2

Be kind. Say please and thank you. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Say your prayers. Eat your fruit and vegetables. Read at least 20 minutes a day. Keep your hands to yourself. Wash behind your ears. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Please quit tooting.

These are the directions that I pepper my children with daily. At times, it can be overwhelming for them (and me!) but it is necessary. Raising children is tough work. There are some days when I lie in bed and think, “Well, I really blew it today!” Instead of talking about good choices with Ella, I made a bad choice and argued back with her. The kids fought all afternoon. I yelled. Their dinner plates did not have a single vegetable or fruit on it. My dinner plate was a bag of microwave popcorn. I didn’t read with Matthew today. I ran around all day and still didn’t accomplish everything I meant to. And I am pretty sure I nodded off during Ethan’s prayer. Mama. Of. The. Year.

Even though I fail sometimes, all of these lessons are necessary. I mean we want kids who can function in society with manners and no tooting, right? As I sat in Sunday School this week, I was reminded that of all the lessons I teach my kids, there are a couple that are the greatest.

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 15: 37-39, NIV)

We have been singing Amazing Grace and Jesus Loves Me since they were in my belly. My babies know how much Jesus loves them, and they are growing to love Him more and more each day. What a comfort to me that they will grow up having Jesus in their heart and by their side.

The second commandment can be tough. When everyone is getting along and it is good times, it is easy to love your neighbor as yourself. But what about those times when thy neighbor isn’t being nice? What about when your neighbor can be down right un-neighborly?

Ella came home last week upset. “Mama, can we have some alone time?” She crawled in my lap and cried big, fat tears as she told me about how her feelings were hurt at school. My Mama bear side wanted to say, “Sissy, what would Taylor say?? Shake ‘em off, girl. Go swing with someone else! You don’t need friends like that!” What was that scripture?   Oh yeah. Love your neighbor as yourself. There was no condition like “Love your neighbor as yourself….so long as they are loving to you too!”

After some rocking, hair smoothing, and praying for the right words, I gave it my best shot. “Ella, sweet girl, I am so sorry your feelings got hurt. You can’t control how they act, but you can control how you act. Continue to be kind to them, and let’s pray for them to make better choices. Spend time with your friends that are being kind and don’t take your friendship for granted. When the other ones realize they made a bad choice (because you know they will because girls are fickle as all get out!), forgive them. Your best friends, however, need to be those friends that treat you the way you treat them…with kindness. Those are the best kinds of friends that you hold close to you.”

I may fail on a lot of my Mama Objectives. I can’t make my boys quit burping or tooting (and Lord knows I have tried!!). I don’t always succeed by having the perfect food pyramid in my kids’ diet. I may have to shoot “crazy eyes” before I get a please and thank you.  And I get frustrated and raise my voice more often than I care to admit.

But if I focus on the great commandments in my family’s life, it’s all gonna be alright.

Daily Prayers for My Children

“Thank you God for my Mama, my Mimi, my Pa Pa, my Daddy, my Nana, my Papa, for Ethan, and Ella…and for Lady. In Jesus name, Amen,” prays Matthew every night – in 5 seconds flat. Ella prays the identical prayer to mine and adds a sentence of her own. Ethan says a heartfelt prayer that lasts at least 10 minutes. He prays for everything that has been laid on his heart…and that is a lot.

I feel blessed to be part of my children’s growing and maturing prayer life. Goodness knows it has been an ongoing journey for me!

Sometimes the need for prayer in my life can be overwhelming. I could pray all dang day for all the hurt in this world. As a mom though, I try to really focus on praying for my children. They are my world. They are young (8 year old twins and a 6 year old) and have so much to look forward to.

Here are the ways I pray for my children daily:

Great list of ways I can pray for my kids every day with scripture too!

  1. His Words. The most powerful way to pray to God is to pray His words back to Him. I have some of my favorite scriptures for each prayer point.
  2. Their Protection. Although we have issues here and there, we are so fortunate to have pretty healthy children. I praise God for that blessing, and recognize that it may not always be that way. I ask for God’s wisdom to guide my maternal instincts about their care. Help me be their advocate when needed. I also prayer for a hedge of protection around them each day. After watching the news, some times I don’t even want them to walk out the front door!  (Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not worry about anything, but in everything through prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Also, Psalm 91, Job 1:10, Psalm 5:11)
  3. Their Faith. Ethan and Ella are new Christians and Matthew is continuing to seek. I pray for them to persevere in their faith. I want them to ask questions and for God to guide my answers as I lead them. I also recognize that being a Christian in today’s world is not as easy as it was when I was a child. I ask God to strengthen and help them stand tall in their faith.  (Ephesians 6:10 “ Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Also 2 Peter 3:18, Jeremiah 17:8)
  4. My parenting. I implore God to give me the discernment about how to parent each of my 3 children according to his or her individual needs. What works for one doesn’t work for them all! I also ask for guidance about skating that line of authority and friendship. I want them to respect my authority, but I always want to be approachable to my sweet babies. Also I beg for a lot of patience…every. dang. day. (Proverbs 22:6 “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. Also Isaiah 40: 30-31, Galatians 5:22-23)
  5. Their Behavior. I pray that their behavior is a good example of Christ’s love. They are kind, forgiving, brave, and loyal. I want them to be Jesus to someone in this world. (Romans 5:5 “God pours His perfect love into my imperfect heart.” Also Matthew 5:16, 2 Timothy 1:7, Ephesians 6:14, & again Galatians 5:22-23)
  6. Their Friends. I have impressed on my kids what I have learned in my life – it is not the quantity of friends you have, it is the quality. I don’t care if my children win any popularity contests. I care if my kids have a core group of really good friends. Friends that are kind, encouraging, loyal, and forgiving. (because they are gonna mess up sometimes!). (Proverbs 13:4 “He who walks with the wise grows wise.” Also 1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 27:17)
  7. Their Teachers. Since my kids are all in elementary school now, we have unfortunately, moved into the era of their lives where they spend most of their awake hours away from me. (Pardon me while I wail and beat my chest ;)) It is so important that their teachers are absolutely covered in my prayers. I pray that their families and administrators will be supportive and encouraging. And because they are with 20 kids all day – I pray for their patience. Every. Dang. Day. (Colossians 1:11 “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” Also 1 Peter 4:10)
  8. Their Future Mr. or Mrs. A wise woman once told me to pray for my kids’ future spouses. I am not gonna lie. I wasn’t even ready to go there mentally… and I thought it was kind of weird. Now I am older (and slightly wiser) and I realize how important it is. This person is going to become my baby’s other half, why wouldn’t I pray fervently for that person? Not only that, he or she will become another one of my babies. How awesome is that? Oh yes, I desperately want to pray for them too! (Titus 2:4″ …encourage young women to love their husbands.”  I also pray for them to have the qualities in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)
  9. Their Future Career. I pray for my children to be in tune with God’s whispers in their heart about where He wants them to serve. I pray that I will be supportive and encouraging no matter where they are led to go. God has blessed them all with unique talents and personalities to do just what only they can do for Him. I want to do everything I can do to encourage His plan for them along the way. (Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Also Psalm 32:8, Psalm 188:6-7)

I know it seems like a lot. I don’t go through the list and pray each of these every day. That would take me forever, and I fear would turn too monotonous. I don’t want it to be a “form prayer.” However, I do try to hit each of these areas every few days.

Except for the patience. Every. Dang. Day. 🙂

Special Thanks to my Mama and my sister for their help with the scripture references!  xoxo

First Day of School! Pictures to treasure forever

Phineas and Ferb get 100 days of Summer Vacation. We got 77 days of Summer Vacation.  I’m okay with that because my kids never know “what they are going to do today!!”, I don’t have a Candace to help watch my kids, and we are all pretty much ready to spend time with anyone that is not related to us.

ready for school!

A few years ago I saw something on Pinterest that I actually did (as opposed to pinning and forgetting 😉 )  I started taking pictures of the kids on the first day of school with a chalkboard that had the grade and what they wanted to be when they grow up. I have loved seeing how much they have grown up and how their dreams have changed.

My oldest – Ethan.  In Kindergarten, he wanted to be a Paleontologist.  In 1st Grade, he wanted to be in the Air Force (with back up of course!).  In 2nd grade, he wanted to be an Inventor (flying car is his top priority!)  And this year in 3rd grade, he wants to be a baseball player.  (When he retires, naturally, he will be an accountant like most MLB players) Ethan's First Days Collage Ella was very practical in Kindergarten and wanted to be a Princess when she grew up.  In 1st grade, she decided she wanted to be a teacher (my bet is on this one in the long run!)  The last two years, she has been consistent about wanting to be a Vet (sorry cat lovers.  Dr. Ella will work strictly with dogs!) Ella First Day Collage Matthew used his ever present imagination in his preschool class when he said he wanted to be a Dragon when he grew up.  In Pre – K, he decided he could just be a clown because “he was already silly and wouldn’t even have to go to school for it.”  In Kindergarten, he decided he was going to be a triple threat – – a Farmer, Scientist and Actor.  This year in 1st grade, he narrowed it down to focusing on Science 🙂 Matthew's First Days Collage What about y’all?  What first day traditions do you have?

My Last Kindergartener

My Last KindergartenerI always have such mixed feelings as summer is coming to an end. Sadness because I spend all day with my three precious kids. Happiness because I spend ALL day with my three precious kids. 😉

Let’s get Real. We need a little absence to make the heart go fonder in the Greer house.

And that is for all of us. The kids came with me to help volunteer at the school this week and they were in Heaven. They were thrilled to be back at their school and get to see some of their friends. The moms worked hard, and the kids played hard. For them, it was like The Breakfast Club minus the weed, and I am pretty sure no one crawled in the air conditioning vents 😉 They cannot wait to get back to school.

As I think back to last year when my youngest, Matthew, was getting ready to enter Kindergarten, I was full of anxiety. My last baby was growing up. And I wasn’t ready to let go or move to the next season in life. A life where all my kids were in school all week. A life where I don’t have my little guy to snuggle on a Monday morning. A life where the teachers get their best, and I get their leftovers at the end of the day.

Below is my very first blog post that I published on my previous blog. I share it again to encourage those who going through a change in season now. It is incredibly tough. However, once you get used to your season, you will find the blessings in it.

August 2014 

I love living in Tennessee. I love the mountains. I love the valleys. I love the lakes. Of course I love the football. I love enjoying four glorious seasons each year. I love feeling the changes in seasons. I love to feel the warm sunshine on my face after a long, cold winter. My favorite smell is the crisp fall air after a sweltering summer.

In life we go through a lot of seasons. The change in seasons in life isn’t always as pleasant. This week I had a change in seasons. The last eight years my season has been one of a mother who spent the majority of her day caring for and nurturing my three children. This week, my youngest son, Matthew, started Kindergarten. Sure my primary role will still be their caregiver. However, the majority of our days we will be apart.

Last year when I thought about the day Matthew started Kindergarten, I wondered if I would be walking him in with his new baby sister or brother or would I need a double stroller for twins. Today I walked my baby….my last baby….into Kindergarten and walked out alone. The season of having my babies home with me is over. There is no sunshine on my face or crisp smell that cheers me up. I am sad and quite honestly lonely.

I have a choice I can make.   I can refuse to leave this season and take things into my own hands. I could go through IVF again and possibly get pregnant again. Or, there are lots of babies that need a good home. Maybe I could adopt? But let’s be honest. That baby would grow up and go to Kindergarten and this season would finally end. If I could have my way, I would probably have a baby every five years until Eric finally cut me off!

I could just be bitter about it. I could be angry. I could cry. A lot. Why won’t God let me have the children I thought I would? I had four embryos. Couldn’t one of them have worked? Why did He take away any remote chance for me to able to conceive when I had my surgery last year?

I have a confession to make. I flirted with the first choice. I camped out on the second choice for a good while too. Then, when I finished shaking my fist and yelling at God, I took a breath and I listened to God. The change in seasons in life can be tough. Sometimes down right scary. We can refuse to accept it. We can be pissed off about it. But here’s the deal, IT DOESN’T CHANGE A THING.

Here is the choice that I made. I chose to focus on the three beautiful, healthy children that God blessed me with. I chose to be thankful for the amazing supportive husband that is in my life and make up for all the romance that infertility stole from our marriage. I chose to continue to teach in a preschool so that I can share the abundant love that I have for children. I chose to share my story…no matter how hard or private…because I know that there are women who are suffering alone. I chose to praise God for the blessings and heartache. The heartache helps me to remember to focus on all of the blessings that I do have. The heartache helps me relate to other people. The heartache makes me stronger, so I can weather the next season.

Since I made that choice, I haven’t looked back. Today I am getting ready to send two third graders and a first grader to school. Would I turn back seasons if it meant I could have another child? Honestly, probably. But God has different plans for me and His plans are perfect.

During the first week of school last year, the days were soooo long. I would look at the clock and think, “How is it possible it has only be 5 minutes! 3:35 is forever away!”

Now I feel like time races by. I drop the kids off and it is like the theme from “24” is playing in my head. It is my to-do list and me against the clock. Can I get it all done before 3:35? Sure I miss having them with me during the day, and I can’t wait to hug their necks and kiss their heads when I pick them up.

I have been able to make the acquaintance of another person to help me pass the days. Her name is Stephanie Greer. I lost sight of who I was apart from my three precious kids. I am enjoying rediscovering myself and what God’s perfect plans are for me.

Embrace this chance to rediscover yourself too.

10 Reasons the Most STRESSFUL “Relaxing” Vacation for Parents is … The BEACH!

10 Reasons the Beach is the most stressful relaxing vacation for parentsIf I had my choice of where to go for vacation, it would be the beach. Every. Dang. Time. There is something so calming and relaxing about sitting with your toes in the sand, feeling the ocean breeze, and the sun shining on your face as you gaze out at the crashing waves.

When Eric and I were newlyweds, we would go any chance we got. Everything I needed was in my cute, little monogrammed tote. We would lie on the beach for hours upon hours. Talking. Reading. Listening to Jimmy Buffett. Drifting in and out of sleep. It was glorious and so relaxing.

Now that we are a family of five, it is still our favorite place to go, but it is far from relaxing. We don’t travel a lot, but our week at the beach is held sacred to us. Eric works so hard to provide for our family, and it is a week to just enjoy time with each other. What better setting to do that than the beach?

As much as I love our annual beach trip, it also can be incredibly stressful. Here are 10 reasons why going to the beach is the most stressful “relaxing” vacation for parents:

  1. Packed to the Gills. It starts weeks before as I make piles of stuff we can’t forget. We couldn’t eat on our breakfast table for two weeks because of the piles of sunscreen, beach towels and random kitchen stuff we needed for our condo. I continue to make piles of clothes, sand toys, chairs, and tents. By the time I am done, it consumes half of our garage. Then Eric (aka – the master packer) has the not so small task to fit all of it in our SUV. Even though it is all ready to go the night before, the master packer waits until an hour before we leave to put it in the vehicle. Breathe in. Breathe out. Miraculously, he gets it all in and we are on the road. Then we make our first right turn and a tower of pool noodles tumbles on Matthew in the back seat.
  2. The Drive. When I went on road trips with my girlfriends in college, it was a blast. We listened to mix tapes, read Cosmo, and laughed until Diet Coke came out of our noses. Getting there was almost as much fun as the destination. Once you have kids, it is the exact opposite. We make a tick mark sheet for the number of times our kids ask “are we there yet?”  By the time we get there and the ticks consume an entire page, Eric and I are laughing like maniacs. The kids probably have their own tick sheets for the number of times I say “Keep your hands to yourself!” And to make matters worse, I-65 in Alabama is a nightmare. What genius decided to close lanes on one of the main corridors to the beach weekends in the summer??? Eric tortures himself by staring at his “trip average mph” on the dashboard going down, down, down. No, we are not there yet. As soon as we get going a decent speed, we hear “I gotta go poop” from the backseat.
  3. Sunscream.  I am kind of a maniac about sunscreen. It takes me a good 20 minutes to slather the 50 SPF on every square inch of my three kids. (Can’t forget the booty cracks that inevitably peak out! My son has the tannest top inch of his crack this side of the Mississippi.) It is impossible for them to stand still. I either have to chase them around the condo to lotion them up or plant them in front of the TV to put them in a Disney trance. I am just soooo thankful they are finally old enough to know to not rub their eyes. That was the worst when they got sunscream in their eyes. Inevitably they would then rub their eyes with their sandy hands. Do not miss those days one bit.
  4. I’m a Pack Mule. The amount of stuff that we bring to the beach is epic. We have tried wagons, huge bags, anything we can use to get all our crap down to the beach in as few trips as possible. Eric and I will load up with bags, coolers, chairs, tents, sand toys, and more sunscream. Then the kids will complain when we ask them to carry a towel. By the time we make it down to our spot, my flip flops weigh ten pounds from all the sand that has collected in them. We spend 20 minutes getting everyone and everything set and then we hear – “ I gotta go poop.” Rock, Paper, Scissors over who takes Poops Magee back to the condo.
  5. But I wanna go to the pool. So you finally have your little beach oasis set up. Kids Pottied. Chairs out. Umbrella Up. Sand toys properly strewn about. Boogie Boards ready to boogie in the surf. We finally sit down to take a breath and look at the ocean. And the kids start whining, “I wanna go to the pool now!!” Really? We could go the pool every dang day in Tennessee. So then you have to bargain whine free beach time so that they can have pool time after lunch. Which will most definitely not be wine free for mama after the morning.
  6. Water. Our kids are finally old enough that they can venture into shallow water without me being right by their side. Holla!! But of course, there were reports of shark attacks the week before we left in none other than shallow waters. So although I am allowing them to test the waters with their newfound independence, my eyes are constantly scanning the water for danger. Drowning kids. Jellyfish. Sharknado. Why did I bother loading down my Kindle with new reads?
  7. Sand, Sand, and more Sand. Nothing makes me happier than sinking my toes in the sugar beach. The kids love to play in it. Heck they roll around in it making sure they get as many granules in their scalp, ears, and booty cracks. But I want to leave all that sand at the beach. No amount of hosing off, showering, or bathing can get it all off. I can’t even walk around our condo barefoot because the sand on the floors drives me straight up crazy. Don’t even talk to me about the sand that we are bringing home in our suitcases despite my efforts to get it all out.
  8. Family Pictures are a Beach.  You spend a lot of time and money for the perfect picture that says “look how cute, color coordinated and happy my family is!!”  Bribes are made with ice cream if they just for the love of God smile and quit pinching their sister. When that doesn’t work, you threaten no beach through clinched teeth and a plastered on smile. And thank God for digital cameras. Ten years ago, you would have done all that and gotten your pics back days later after you dropped them off to get developed. You remember…you would get this beloved box chock full of what you know are the best pictures ever. You couldn’t even wait to get home to look at them. You would sit in your hot car and frantically flip through your pictures. And the best one looked like this:

Family Beach picture FAIL

  1. Eating Out is for the Birds.  It really is a perfect storm. The kids are tired from staying up later and playing hard all day. They are mad because I made them put on actual clothes.  There is always a wait to be seated because it is the summer and it is the beach. By the time we are seated, everyone’s blood sugar is low, we are grumpy, and we are just trying to get through the meal so we can go home. Why did we spend so much money to do this?
  2. The Drive Home Straight Up SUCKS. It is just as long of a drive (if not longer, thank you again Alabama interstates), but you don’t have the benefit of the pre-vacation adrenaline hyperness. You just have a car full of sand that makes you depressed, dirty laundry, and tired, cranky kids. But you can eat a fat cheeseburger without the guilt of living in a swimsuit the next week, so there’s that. 

Truth be known. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat (and a good night sleep) just to see this one more time…

Kids playing in the Ocean

10 Ways I Can Help My Daughter Have the Confidence It Took Me 30 Years To Find

10 Ways I can Help My Daughter Have Confidence It Took Me 30 Years to Find
Last week I celebrated my 38th birthday. It amazes me to think that not too long ago, I used to think being 38 was old. In reality, at 38, I finally feel comfortable in my skin. No, I am not talking about having the confidence to strut my stuff at the neighborhood swimming pool. After birthing 3 kids – 2 of them at the same time – I only got the confidence to venture into bikini territory last year… And it took a lot of inner pep talks…And if I have to walk more than three feet, you better believe I am reaching for the cover up!

No. My outer appearance is just a small portion of who I am. Unfortunately, as women, that tends to be what we struggle with the most. My 8-year old daughter, Ella, is just now starting to notice her appearance. Of course I want her to feel beautiful, but I want her to feel confident in all the many qualities that make her so special. 

Here are 10 ways I  can be intentional in my parenting, so  I can help my sweet girl gain some of the confidence that it took me 30 years to find:

  1. God’s Girl – Remind her that God created her just the way He wanted her to be. He knew exactly how to make the best Ella, and He does not make mistakes. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14. That really should be enough said, but since we are human, there are numbers 2 – 10 😉
  2. Unique Girl – Embrace your differences and don’t be ashamed of them. Those differences are what make you unique! When I was little, I hated my freckles and would try to cover them up. Now that I am in my late 30s, I love that they make me look younger. My kids actually get excited when new freckles pop up in the summer because not everyone gets to have freckles. Within the last week, my face has sprouted at least 100 new freckles from our pool time. And I love every one.
  3. Healthy Girl – Teach her to take care of herself in a healthy way. I think this is so incredibly important as they are growing. Their little bodies are growing and changing so quickly. Often times they are growing at different rates than their friends. At such a young age, they are already hyper aware of being bigger or smaller than their peers. I encourage my kids to make healthy choices in terms of their nutrition and physical activity. I want them to grow to have a complete healthy lifestyle. They have balanced meals, are active, but look forward to treats too. I do not talk about dieting or weight. EVER.   I talk about being healthy, strong and taking care of the body that God gave them.
  4. Complete Girl. Build her confidence with praise about all aspects of her. We wonder why girls allow their confidence to be tied so closely to their appearance. Most likely because most of our compliments usually are geared towards that!   You look so pretty! I love your dress!! When they are kind to their siblings, recognize that. If they answer a question correctly, praise their intellect. If they use good manners, encourage them to continue. And absolutely tell her that you think she is the most beautiful girl in the world. She needs to hear that from you too. She needs praise about her total package!
  5. Daddy’s Girl – Fathers play a HUGE part in their daughter’s confidence today and for the rest of her life. My husband, Eric, is always a great example of how a gentleman treats a lady. Whether it is what she experiences first hand on their Daddy Daughter dates or what she observes in how he treats me, she will know how she should be respected. Eric’s greatest fear is that Ella will date a jerk.  Talk about a way to kill her confidence before she even finds it! If we show her and talk to her about how she deserves to be treated, then she will not settle for anything less. Just in case, Daddy has a shotgun and isn’t afraid to use it 😉
  6. Good Girls – It is so important for our daughters to have a good group of supportive friends. Since I am her social secretary, I can encourage friendships with girls that are kind and a positive influence. As much as I hope that Ella will always come to me when she is sad, I know she will talk to her friends too. She needs to have friends that will build her up, not knock her down to make them feel better about themselves. There is no room in my daughter’s life for mean girls.
  7. Independent Girl –  I taught two-year olds in preschool last year. At every parent teacher conference, I encouraged the parents to let their child do more on their own. Then I would go home and micromanage my own! I had to let her spread her wings too! She could do so much more than I was letting her do. When she tries something new and succeeds, the pride on her face is priceless. Yes! I can do that! Whether it is doing chores or helping fix dinner, they all give her a sense of accomplishment when she masters them. And even if it is something little like picking out her own clothes for school, she is fostering her own identity. (Even if she looks like Punky Brewster!)
  8. Persistent Girl – Try and Try Again. Encourage her to keep trying until she finds her unique talents. Maybe she will get lucky and find her niche right off the bat. Maybe she will go through 10 activities until she finds something that she feels good about. Maybe she won’t discover her talent and passion until she is 37 like me. Don’t let her give up trying.
  9. No Shame, Girl!! Sometimes we have to let them spread their little wings and let them fail. As a mom, this is probably the hardest thing because we want to help them succeed. However, sometimes getting knocked down is the best way to build confidence from within Knowing that life doesn’t end when she fails at something, will give her to confidence to try again.

All that being said, I am still a work in progress. I sat on a conference call last week in tears. It was to help me get prepared for upcoming appointment with book publishers, and I felt so overwhelmed…inadequate…not at all confident. I looked over at my notebook where I was brainstorming ideas for this post and thought, “Ha! What a joke. Why the hell am I writing about having confidence??” And then it hit me. Confidence isn’t just doing something that you know you can do. Confidence is having the courage to try knowing you may fail. 

So my last bullet point is this:

10.  Get Real Girl. Let your daughter see that you aren’t perfect and you have insecurities too.  However, you don’t let them rule you.  You face them head on through prayer and the support of your family and friends.  And even if you do fail, it isn’t the end of the world and you are gonna keep on trying.

Confident Girl

I Am Your MAMA Not Your Cruise Director!!

I lay in bed relishing the last few minutes of peace before the day starts. I sense that someone is standing next to my bed. I roll over and open my eyes.

Ethan’s head is inches from my face. “What are we doing today??”

It is 6:17 a.m. I haven’t even fully woken up yet.

I roll out of bed. Rub my eyes and trudge into the bathroom. Matthew bursts through the door. He gives me a quick hug, grabs my face, pulls me down so that we are eye to eye, and asks intently, “What are we doing today??”

It is 6:20 a.m. I haven’t even had time to brush my teeth yet. (Nor has Matthew – holy morning breath!)

I stand in the kitchen trying to decide what we will have for breakfast. Eggos? Mini Pancakes? Cereal? Muffins? “What are we doing today??” Ella asks, making me jump. I didn’t even hear the little ninja get out of bed.

It is 6:36 a.m. I haven’t even had any caffeine yet.

“Can we go to the zoo?”

“No. I want to go to the pool!”

“We still haven’t gone to the American Girl store yet and it is sooo unfair!”

I whirl around to see all three Greer kids anxiously awaiting my answer. “Who do you think I am? Your cruise director??”

Blank stares. Oh yea. They have never been on a cruise, so they don’t have a clue what a cruise director is or what they do. But to answer my question – YES that is exactly what they think I am!

Cruise Director

When did I become this tap dancing monkey? Oh yea. When I gave birth to these amazingly adorable kids. No back that up – the second I even got pregnant with them, I knew my life was forever changed and I would do anything for them.

That hasn’t changed, but I realized that sometimes doing anything and everything for them is not the best thing I can do for them as their Mama.

Alas, I will still strap on my dancing shoes and take them to the zoo, the jumpy place that makes my skin crawl, and the pool every pretty day I can. I am extremely grateful that I can be a stay at home mom and am blessed to be able to enjoy my children’s summer vacation with them.

However, although I don’t receive a paycheck, I very much still have a full time job taking care of my family of five. Laundry to be folded. 3 meals a day to be prepared. A house to be cleaned and then cleaned again when they undo what I just cleaned 😉 All that along with lots of other little things that add up to much more that a full time job!

So on those days when Mama just has too much to do or just needs a break, these kids are going to kick it old school. You know. PLAY OUTSIDE. Build a fort out of blankets. Do some chores. Play a board game. READ A BOOK. Play with the 38 Barbies in the closet. Walk the dog. Have a dance party. USE THEIR IMAGINATION.

Day 19 of Summer of 2015.

58 days to go. It will be over before we know it.

Make it the MOST for EVERYone in the family!