You Might Be on Weight Watchers™ if…

lolIt’s the first day of Fall, I’m 9 pounds closer to making my skinny jeans shut the heck up.  They have been sitting in my closet mocking me.  “Ain’t no way you are fitting in me – – let alone zipping!”

I know.  I know.  A few too many #1’s from Chik Fil A, a few too many leisurely cookouts with a few too many margaritas.  Add to the fact that, apparently, the closer you get to the big 4-0, your youthful metabolism takes a NOSEDIVE.

So I got serious.  I am okay with not being skinny as a rail; that isn’t how God made me.  But clearly I had gone off the rails a bit and needed to reign this crap in.  So I started my standby – – Weight Watchers™ because it works.  It helped me through the freshman 15, birthing twins, and then birthing my 3rd child less than two years later.

If you have ever been on a Weight Watchers™, you might have:

  • Curled up in a ball crying when you looked at what you thought was a healthy option and see it was a gazillion points.  Thank you every salad on the menu EVER!!😩
  • Scoured the Tostitos bag for 12 WHOLE chips.  If you are going to burn WHOLE points, you better believe you are not wasting any bites eating partials.   Then you…
  • Slapped your husband’s hand when he tried to take one of your chips.  Because just like Joey, Steph doesn’t share food.  😡
  • Savored a bag of Pirate’s Booty for supper, so you could still have the blessed 5 points for your wine.🍷
  • Ate an entire pint of strawberries as you washed them because, you know, they are free!🍓
  • Looked up the food you ate on my cheat day, and they are so bad that they aren’t even listed in the app.  😳  I mean come on – – Pimento Cheeseburger and Duck fat Fries…that can’t be so bad!!  😂
  • Realized how many times you finished the kids’ crust or took bites as you cooked since you are tracking everything that went into your mouth. 🙊
  • Got yogurt all over your face from licking the top and inside the container because, hey, you gotta maximize your points!😋
  • Found your motivation to clean your house when you saw that you earned FitPoints™ for doing it.  4 points, thank you very much!  (then I looked up chasing kids, brushing teeth, anything to get more 😜)
  • Logged a food, then deleted it when you took a bite and it wasn’t Point-worthy.🙅🏻
  • Dethroned your BFF of 20 years to a mom that asked if you had lost weight.  (Just kidding Jodi – you will always be my BFF.  And Brea, you totally made my Tuesday 😘)

I joke about all of this, but I love everything about the program.  Weight Watchers ™ helps you create healthy habits with your eating and your physical activity.   And the app is super easy to use.

It’s not about getting skinny (or even into skinny jeans).  It’s about getting healthy.

 

 

 

 

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

 

How to Survive VBS

“If you want to make the leap from awesome husband to ‘out of this world husband,’ you will go get me a Sonic Diet Coke every morning this week!!” I hinted to my husband.

#DesperateTimes

Loud music. (played on repeat in your head forever.) Louder kids. (outnumbered 5 to 1.) Running around. (Non-stop for 4 straight hours)

And I signed up for it. With a smile.

It’s VBS.  Say Ya Ya Ya Ya Yes for the Va Va B B S!!!!! (Now that is stuck in my mind!!)

I have taught VBS for the last several years. Every year I say it is my last year. And every year I sign up for more responsibility the following year 😉 VBS is like childbirth. You forget about all the aches and pains and just remember the pure JOY. Like watching my sweet 1st graders sing, “I Am Remarkably Made!” Their precious smiles shine with their belief of every word they sing to the tips of their sweet totsies.

Here are 10 ways I Survive VBS:

  1. Procrastinate Not –   Some people work best under pressure. I just curl in a corner and cry if I get overwhelmed. VBS can make you feel like you are swamped with so much material! Bible Lessons, crafts, memory verses, games, and the list goes on! I start 6 weeks before VBS and tackle a day each week. On the sixth week, I review the whole week. For each day, I will make lists of materials I need to buy and materials I need to bring from home for that day. I will also go ahead and complete any copies or cutting out that needs to be done. Spreading it out makes is less intimidating. I get a big grocery sack and put all the materials needed for each day and label with the day of the week.  Has the procrastination ship already sailed?  Skip to #9 😉
  2. Teamwork– Get together with your fellow teachers. 2, 3, 4 heads are better than 1! Talking through the lessons with your peers will help you decide what will work best for your group. You can also go in together and get some wonderful things from Oriental Trading to help your week. Decorations and small prizes are reasonable and worth every penny. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to!
  3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate – If you are fortunate to have extra helpers for your VBS, then use them! In my classroom, we split up the Bible lesson, craft and game. Whoever owns that task they OWN it! It is their responsibility to make sure all the supplies are in order and lead that activity. You don’t have to do it all on your own. I love to involve our Youth in VBS. Some are proactive and others may need a bit more direction. Even if it is getting them to just sit between Chatty Cathy and Handsy MaGee, it is all appreciated!! And the kids LOVE to have the cool teenagers in the classroom. Honestly, it is as much a ministry to the youth as it is to our little ones! They are all the future of our Church.
  4. Visuals Engrave the Lessons in Their Little Minds – Any time you can include a
    Ocean Trenches

    Ocean Trench “Submerged” VBS

    visual aid in telling your story, it will help leave a lasting impression in the kids’ hearts and minds. Costumes, acting out scenes, and science experiments all engage the children. Engaged kids are listening and learning.  I also love any visual that the children can take home as a conversation starter. Now VBS is reaching others that didn’t even attend! This week we gave our kids a sticker with a porpoise on it. When asked, the kids can explain that God has a specific purpose for each and every one of them 😉

  5. Decorating: Less is More –In this Pinterest world, it is easy to get caught up in “who has the coolest room” mentality. The focus of the week really needs to be God’s Word and sharing His love with the children. I am not crafty. My prize decoration was a jellyfish made out of a Dollar Tree shower cap and curling ribbon. (I will admit I got a ton of compliments on it that made this girl feel pretty Miss Crafty!) Don’t worry about the decorations. After the initial excitement of walking into the cool VBS room, the kids are over it. They are ready to learn and be entertained! You do that…not the room J
  6. Don’t Overschedule – VBS week can be energizing and exhausting all at the same time. When we get home after a morning at VBS, I just need a bit to sit and decompress. I am so glad that we made a decision to not plan much of anything during the week of VBS. We go to VBS, enjoy family time, rest up and maybe have some pool time since it is 100 degrees this week!!!
  7. Invite Friends – Every year I ask my kids to give me a list of kids to invite to VBS. Southern Lady-7Most years I get a lot of no’s, but we never gave up asking. This year I hit the jackpot. I got six awesome kids to come with us! I had the extreme privilege to hold one of our sweet friend’s hand as she prayed and asked Jesus to live in her heart.   Bless. It doesn’t get better than that.
  8. Trust the Holy Spirit – Often the parents have been planting seeds of God’s Word and Truth throughout the children’s lives. As teachers, we throw some VBS Miracle Grow on those seeds. Sometimes we have the privilege to introduce God’s love to kids to the first time. We do our part. We plan. We prepare. We practice our lessons. But it is the Holy Spirit that will prepare their little hearts for Jesus. We don’t have to carry that burden. We just do our part in God’s plan for the children’s salvation.  It’s not our job to “save” anyone.  Only Jesus can do that.
  9. Pray, Pray and Pray Some More – The whole week needs to be wrapped in prayer. From the workers to the children to the children’s parents. We need to be praying for the Holy Spirit to be present, for our words to be His, and for His love to be overflowing through us.
  10. Don’t Skip the Snack Table – Did I mention that the snacks are miraculously negative calories during VBS week?  A Twix bar and a Diet Coke two hours after breakfast every day are totally necessary.  Ministering to God’s children can boost your mood and your appetite.  😉

Now for a week long nap if I could just get that music outta my head…

20 things I would say to my 19 year old self

TheSouthernLadyMamaLogoWhat would I say if I ran into my 19-year-old self back in 1996?

“You are totally rockin the Rachel haircut, but you may want to rethink the overalls and Birkenstocks”????

Probably, but I would like to think I have learned a few other things in the last 20 years that I could pass along…

  • Embrace your college years. It really is the time of your life.
  • I know you desperately want to move into an apartment and be grown up. You have the rest of your life to worry about paying bills. Enjoy the cafeteria and showers you don’t have to wash while you can.
  • Pay attention to the one class in college that teaches you about the internet aka “the world wide web.” It will kinda be a big deal.
  • Don’t be afraid to stray from the pack. Sometimes the pack takes the wrong path.
  • In a few years you will get your first cell phone. Several years after that, your iPhone will take the place of your watch, planner, calculator, camera, and Discman. Don’t let it take the place of real life. You never had all those things in your back pocket 24/7, so don’t feel like you have to now.
  • Pound the pizza now. Your metabolism sets sail at 38 with no return in sight.
  • You will never need to be ashamed of your NSync obsession. Get a poster of the curly headed one for over your bed, he too will kinda be a big deal.
  • Save your $$ and don’t buy those Rollerblades. Your mama will make you buy a ton of safety gear that will make you look like a dork. And you suck at skating.
  • Don’t just go for the nerd, be the nerd. Nerds rule the real world.
  • Go ahead and move to NYC after you graduate. If you don’t do it when you are young, you never will. Just know that you won’t have a big periwinkle colored apartment and drink coffee all day at Central Perk. And you can always move back home.
  • Listen to what your parents say. They actually have been there, done that and want to help you. And one day you will have kids and payback is a b!tch.
  • Embrace how God made you and quit trying to change it. (IE… no amount of squats will remove the junk from your trunk and put the flat iron in the drawer for good.)
  • Hold tight to your girlfriends. The same ones that stay up late watching “Fear” with you now, will be the ones that hold your hand and wipe your tears later. It will take a conscious effort to stay close as you age, but it is worth it.
  • You can’t change him. Love him the way he is or move on because one day you will have children with him and they will inherit all of his…quirks 😉
  • Enjoy whatever stage in life you are in…even if they last a little longer than you anticipated.
  • Learn to praise God in the hallway while you wait for the door to open. Look behind you. The door you expect to open isn’t always the one that does! Trust in God’s plan for your life.
  • Many things will go your way, but some won’t. It’s when they don’t that you will have the opportunity to become a better person.
  • Learn from your mistakes you made and forgive yourself immediately. God already has. You are no better than Him, right?
  • Be diligent about taking your quiet time with yourself and the Lord. These quiet moments are where you will find your true strength.
  • Never be afraid to reinvent yourself…even at 39.

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.

IMG_6527

 

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.