Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Favorite Christmas Presence

::happy (tired) sigh::

As I type this very sentence (on my teeny, tiny phone's screen) we are driving back home from our tip to visit our families for Christmas. 

WE SAW ALL THE PEOPLE this year, y'all. 

The kids are lined up like human sardines behind me with a dog, three blankets and 47 DVDs smushed around them. The back of our car is crammed with garbage bags of dirty clothes, picnic totes of leftovers, (An awesome friend of mine gave me a 9x13 pan of her homemade bread pudding yesterday so my breakfasts and suppers are pretty much complete for the next three days. Thanks, Maggie!) gigantic suitcases, two cookie ions and one tiny training potty. 


Traveling with kids is not for sissies. It will erode your patience, test your resolve and irritate you more than a pair of contacts than have been worn for 72 hours straight. (Because I may have done that recently. Admittedly, it's not the smartest thing I've ever done.) 

And while we've given and received some pretty spectacular gifts over the past few days, 
I have to say that my favorite part of Christmas this year were the moments we had in between all the wrapping paper and gift bags and envelopes we opened. Especially since we missed everyone last year. 

I saw people from every side and every part of my family. I spent time with in-laws and cousins and extended family I usually only see on Facebook. We ate stuffed crabs and seafood gumbo and my Mom's incredible homemade cinnamon rolls. We told jokes and stories and forgot to fix the turkey gravy. My three kids rode with their three cousins through more mud than Tangipahoa Parish should ever make on a humid, 80° Christmas Day. 

It was perfect and exhausting and wonderful.  

As I logged onto my accounts this weekend, I noticed a lot of Christmas presents being opened and posted and boasted and shared. My NewsFeed began to look more and more like a "Look What I Just Bought/Gave/Opened Don't You Wish You Had My Life" contest.

What on earth?? 

 When did Christmas turn into a competition? Why do we have to broadcast to the world how hard "Santa" worked this year, unless it's because we want others to see and notice and be impressed? And while I can enjoy a picture of a beautifully decorated tree as much as anyone, (You just have to scroll through my blog's Facebook page to see ours. SO MUCH TINSEL!) I can't help but wonder when we post proud "look at all our presents!" pictures, what does that mean we value more: the presents underneath the tree or the presence that surrounds it. 

My hope is that as our three kids grow and give and get each Christmas that they'll remember where the true richness of the season lies: in the memories and moments and magic they'll make together. And that's a gift that just won't fit under a tree. 

"The life you see on social media isn't reality. It's everyone's highlight reel." -Dave Ramsey 

Monday, November 16, 2015

When God is Still Good

Luke woke up a full 90 minutes early this morning. After throwing off my initial frustration at having my quiet time interrupted early, I soaked in the unexpected 1:1 time it allowed me to have with him. We got out a snack and some snuggles and were able to work through nearly our entire day's worth of school work in record time while Jo and Nathan slept. 

Josie eventually woke up and we were able to all three have our morning devotions in a still somewhat quiet house while Nathan continued to sleep on. I fixed our oatmeal, unloaded the dishwasher (a chore that usually takes me no less than 90 minutes when all three kids are awake) and got to sit down to breakfast with my two bigs without the interruptions that having Nathan at the table usually brings like spilled drinks and frequent (read: NEVER-ENDING) bathroom breaks. 

After breakfast, I was able to give them an extra special treat since the largest part of our school day was already completed: Watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. 

It was while I was cueing up the show that I first heard Nathan stirring in his room. I got the big kids settled with their show before I went to the end of the hall to get him up for the day. It was when I opened his door, before I even turned on his light, that I knew something was wrong: the air smelled like the Brown Death. As soon as I hit the lights switch I knew my worst fears were confirmed: Nathan and his bed and his sheets and his blankets and all his stuffed animals were covered in biological waste from every available orifice of his body. 

As bad as things were- I can't help but see the blessings God had seen fit to provide me with, even when I couldn't see them for myself. Sure, Nathan was covered in all manners of stink and vomit, and cleaning it all up was going to be a daunting task, but school was finished, breakfast was over, my kitchen was clean and my two bigs were happily occupied with a special movie treat that I knew would allow me to have the 27 minutes I'd need to get all the bedding and babies and bottoms cleaned up and washed down. 

Even now, I'm sitting here in my recliner, typing on my phone with a sick boy blissfully snuggling in my lap. His older siblings are playing and there is literally NOTHING ELSE that absolutely has to be done until nap time today. I have the next two hours free to sit here and snuggle and swaddle and rock my sick baby. On any other typical Monday, I'd be running around nonstop until about 2pm cleaning and 
clearing and schooling and scrubbing. BUT NOT TODAY. My obligations are obsolete because God saw that I was going to have a need today blessed me accordingly. 

Because God's plans are higher than mine, my prayer is that I can continue to allow my desires to decrease so that He will increase. {John 3:30}

Because even while pillows are coated in a Brown Death/vomit combo, God is still good. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Halloween Call To Arms


Nearly everyone out there is preparing for an extra hour of sleep tonight, but we know that all "Falling Back" means is that starting tomorrow morning, our kids will wake up (at least) an hour early for the next twelve days. IN A ROW. 

We must fortify ourselves, ladies. 
Stockpile coffee. Set your pot to automatically brew 45 minutes early tomorrow. 
After bedtime tonight, stash yourself a secret cash of Halloween candy in the back of your pantry. (Call it Mom Tax to absolve any guilt over pilfering your kid's candy buckets.) 

Lastly, pray that The Lord is with us as we bring our Post-Halloween-Candy-Binge-And-Then-Up-With-The-Sun kids to church with us in the morning. Pray for loads of patience and a short sermon. Pray for peace. Pray for naps. 

We will survive this. We are Moms. 
We will fight valiantly and defeat this sugar crashing and sleep depriving foe. 

Happy Halloween! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Unpacking: an All-or-Nothing Story

We got home last night from another whirlwind weekend trip. After two fun filled, nonstop days visiting family, we drove back through four states and survived twenty seven back seat squabbles before our tires hit our blessed and beautiful driveway late yesterday afternoon. 

As we pulled the car into our garage, I could already feel the forces starting to move within me. It was the feeling that strikes about the same time at the conclusion of every family road trip we make. It has only one resounding call: UNPAAAAACK. 

Y'all, there are only two ways that I can unpack after a long and tiresome trip. I either unload every single bag, empty coffee cup, DVD case and stuffed animal from the car, methodically and fluidly unload every said item, quickly stowing dirty clothes in the laundry room, dropping off shoes in their bucket by the back door, and rinsing the kid's drink cups from the car before loading them into and starting the dishwasher, leaving nothing but empty suitcases and bathroom bags in my wake.


The bathroom bag gets hung over my closet door and emptied over the course of the next three days as I require each item that's stashed within it. The suitcases gets pushed into a corner of my bedroom floor, and then propped up open on my bed the next day when it will take me 7.5 hours to get the spare socks and undershirts and extra pajamas brought back to the dresser drawers where they belong. 

There is no middle of the road for me- I either unpack everything and all the things in 3 minutes or 3 days. 

We got in last night, fed the kids PB&Js and tucked them into bed at 6:00pm. It's now 8:30am and THEY ARE STILL SLEEPING. I had nothing in the icebox for breakfast but an expired 1/4 gallon of milk and some applesauce, so I went out to the grocery store to buy essentials. My husband, Matt, began unpacking for me (BEST HUSBAND EVER) and when I got home, nearly everything had been emptied out of it's bag and had mostly been put away. 

I stashed the rest of our bathroom stuff earlier this morning and threw the kids' shoes into the back door bucket. All that's left is this one bag of clothes to hang up/put away in the kid's rooms once they wake up. I have it waiting for me in a conspicuous location in my living room to hopefully motivate me to get it put away before 7:00pm today, but- let's be honest, there is a good chance it will still be there tomorrow.

(above: a really poor quality iPhone picture. Sorry 'bout that. I'm not a photographer. But you get the idea, right??)

Happy Monday, y'all! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Busy Boys Are The Best Boys.

I've heard it said that Mothers of boys work from "son" up to "son" down. 
Y'all, I'm here to tell y'all- THAT IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. 

I love this boy. This moving, shaking, wiggling-from-the-moment-his-eyes-open kid. Giving him an outlet for his energy hasn't always been easy, but I think ::crosses fingers:: I'm beginning to get the hang of it. 

His endless energy doesn't bother me like it used to. I've had to learn to remind myself that, at the end of the day- HE IS A BOY. HE IS FIVE YEARS OLD. He's not made to always be still. So, if standing up helps him get through the last page of our math lesson then by all means, let's stand up while we work through some problems together. 

Things have quieted down around these parts lately. I would say I'm sorry about it, but- as y'all can see- my hands have been full with more important work. Teaching and mothering my three kiddos has become way, way, WAY more than a full time job. 

Things like haircuts and dental appointments have been pushed to the back burner, and my writing/blogging hobby has been shuffled even farther down the list than that. (I'm pretty sure it's been sandwiched somewhere between luxuries like manicures and wearing  unstained pants with zippers and showering without an audience.) 

But don't despair! 
I've got some flash posts in the works so it's not going to be this quiet for long. 

Thanks for sticking with me, friends! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We Love Mean Girls.

As a parent, there are times, and there are moments, and there are days that will stand out to you. 

Today was one of those days for me.

Given the 71ยบ cool snap that we are currently experiencing down here (C'mon Fall, amIright?!), we split our school work down the middle and drove across the highway to our neighborhood park to play for Physical Education for about an hour or so after we finished our morning work this morning. 

On the whole, my three kids had an awesome time. The sun was shining, and there was a breeze that brought the seagulls in overhead from the beach, and there were loads of kids to play with. We met up with some of the other park regulars (One of my Luke's very favorite is another boy named Luke. "MOMMA! The other Luke is here today! We can both play together. AGAIN!") as well as some new faces that we were excited to get to know. 

Two of these new faces belonged to two little girls who appeared to be a bit older than my daughter, Josie. They were obviously BFFs and were not at all interested in expanding their current circle of friendship. I watched from the side lines as several of the other kids, all three of mine included, attempted to draw them out into games of freeze tag and backwards slides and handstands on the astroturf. They weren't concerned and made no attempts to sugar coat their distain at these unsolicited invitations. 

It hurt to watch. 
A hot lump began to form in my throat that no amount of water could dissolve.

As several failed invitations fell flat, most of the kids realized there was more fun to be had with their other friends who were more like minded, and the two other girls were left to play by themselves away from the rest of the group. Except my Josie. 

She's at the age where anyone older than her is the absolute bees knees. Anything they say or do is immediately awe worthy, and these girls were no exception. They had manicured faux fingernails, sequined sandals and matching designer play purses filled with tiny notebooks and pens that lit up when you pressed on them. Jo was enamored with these glamorous girls and continued to press them to "Please play wif me, too". The girls responded with a second, duplicated icy round of "WHY?? We don't even KNOW YOU." 

And that's when I stepped in. 
(And started praying like a madwoman for strength and self control.)

I encouraged her to go find someone else that would like to play with her. I reminded her that not everyone wants to be together all the time and that sometimes, there were going to be people that wouldn't want to play with her, and that that was OK. She shrugged it off and happily went to go find her little brother and drag him around take him by the hand to all the slides and stairs. 

We played for a while longer before it was time to go. The kids still had a great time, as was evidenced by the wet, sweaty dog smell that permeated the car on the drive home. I suspected that the incident with the cliquey girls would come up again and, as we arrived home, it did. I killed the car and swivled in my seat to face the kids as they relayed to me how the girl's actions had hurt their feelings. 

Parenting is hard, y'all. 

I don't want to raise my kids to be doormats or bullies. I want to help them find a balance between turning the other cheek and standing your ground. AND THAT IS TOUGH.

I reminded them of what the Bible teaches us about loving others. How we are taught to love our neighbors. And our enemies. And each other. And, how sometimes, people can fit into any and all of those categories. 

We may not like how someone acts sometimes, and it's OK to tell a friend that your feelings are hurt, but that doesn't mean that we retaliate when we are hurt. We just keep on loving them like Jesus. We forgive others, and love them when they're not lovable because our Jesus loves us when we aren't lovable, too. People will still hurt us sometimes, but we can use that to understand how to better love others. By remembering how we feel when people on playgrounds don't want to play, we can recognize how to better treat our other friends and others, too. 


I swallowed the lump that was still in my throat as I got the kids unloaded. We washed up and grabbed as snack I gathered up my oldest Luke's table work to complete before lunchtime while Josie and Nathan settled into the living room with their toys and coloring books. 

There were a few minutes of peace and quiet until I heard Josie pipe up from her spot on the couch with her colors and paper. "Momma! I just made-ah letter foh doze girls at da pahhk. Can you'sah mail it to dem?" I asked her to bring her letter to me: a scribbled sheet full of pink and red circles. I told her it was a wonderful letter and I asked her what it said. Her response broke the dam of emotions that had been simmering below the surface since the first time I watched her timidly approach the glamorous girls to play earlier that morning.

 She told me it said "I forgive you." 

I lost it, right there at my table, y'all. I could live a thousand years and still never work hard enough to deserve a daughter with a heart like hers. She's teaching me more about encouragement and patience and unconditional love than I've ever known was humanly possible. 

My prayer is that my heart will continually change to reflect the purity I can see in hers. That my faith and endurance and love will be refined to shine with the kind that she emanates. 

Like I said, today was a stand out day, y'all. 

A three year old girl just gave me one of the best lessons I've ever learned on forgiveness. I wanted to write it all down now so that I'll be sure to never forget it. But, if I'm being honest, I probably never will. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Slow Down. Get Grace.

"When a child gives you a gift, even if it is a rock they just picked up, exude gratitude. It might be the only thing they have to give, and they have chosen to give it to you." -Dean Jackson
I caught my oldest son, Luke sneaking out our back door earlier this week with a pair of scissors in his hand. He had the hunched back crouch of a jungle cat stalking it's prey and I knew right then that there was trouble afoot.

"Luke Andrew! WHERE ARE YOU GOING??! You know you can't go in the backyard without permission; and why do you have A PAIR OF MY SCISSORS in your hand??!!! Come back here and explain yourself, Son!" 

With his bottom lip trembling, he started to protest, and I quickly jumped onto him with some no-nonsense, authoritative-Mom action: "Luke, when I tell you to do something, I expect you to listen and obey IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT respond with excuses, Son. You have to come to me when I call you. PERIOD. Now.Come.Here."

At this point, his bottom lip had gone from trembling to quivering and huge puddles had formed in his eyes. He took a shaky breath, put on a brave face and replied as tears rolled down his face: "But, Momma. But, Momma- I was just trying to sneak outside and cut you some flowers. You always like when you have your pretty flowers out, and I just wanted to surprise you."

At that moment, my anger evaporated and my heart shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.

My face hot, I dropped to the ground and wrapped him up in a hug. My throat was tight and my voice was pinched as I apologized for snapping at him. I reminded him that there are reasons why he can't go outside without permission, but I also told him that I should have asked patiently first without immediately fussing at him. 

I needed grace. I got it.

Still intent on his big surprise, I covered my eyes while he slipped away on his covert mission. He returned a few minutes later with a huge handful of the Black Eyed Susans that were blooming in our yard. 

I got them into some water and asked him to pick the perfect spot for them: in our living room on a bookshelf my Dad made for me. I've passed them dozens of times this week, and every time I've looked at them, I've remembered that bittersweet morning. 

It made me realize I need to slow down more when I parent. I've got to give out more leeway and fewer orders. I should dole out heaping helpings of grace- for my kids, for my husband, and for myselfI don't want to become a harsh foreman and forget to be a loving Mother. These childhood days pass so quickly, I don't want to be distracted by enforcing 100%-perfectly-perfect-behavior-protocol that I miss them completely. 

Things get so busy and crazy and chaotic and LOUD here that I sometimes snap. I get overwhelmed and overloaded and overstimulated and in those weak moments, I can crumble. And I remembered that Paul did, too. 

"And Jesus has said to me, "MY grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." -Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

My flowers will stay fresh for a few days longer, but my prayer is that their lesson to slow down and get grace will abide in my house for much, much longer than that. Hallelujah.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Time I Fell Off My High Horse At Big Kahuna's

One day, when I die, I'm donating my body to science. 

A medical study has to be done because I'm convinced that the amount of fluid my body is able to retain should qualify me as some sort of medical marvel. Y'all, I can just look at a bag of salt and vinegar chips and swell up like a diaper in a kiddie pool. A piece of Popeye's fried chicken will make my hands look like Vienna sausages. Please don't ask me what happens after I inhale eat crawfish: let's just say that it isn't pretty. 

Trust me when I say that body can hold onto some serious fluid. 
It's borderline miraculous, really, when I think about it. 

Last week, the bloated planets that circulate within my life aligned when my in laws visited and arranged to take us all to a water park. (Cue ominous music playing in your head.) 

I was rapidly approaching the horrific 28th day in the fierce and ferocious merry-go-round that is a ladies' favorite monthly countdown. I'd noticed that the numbers on my bathroom scale had been not so subtly creeping and creeping and creeping up in anticipation of this month's jubilant celebration of my empty womb about three days before my in-laws came to visit. THEN, I spent four.consecutive.meals dining at varied and various restaurant establishments consuming things like French fries and pizza slices and a stack (or two) of blueberry pancakes as tall as my toddler. 

Suffice to say that the morning of our slated water park trip dawned and I wasn't feeling like my best self. I wasn't even feeling like my worst self. 
I was feeling fat. And huge. And puffy. And swollen. 

It was as if, over the course of the previous week, my body decided to back log a dump truck full of fluid around my midsection and my cheekbones and neck and hands and feet. My rings didn't fit, my jeans mocked me from their hangers in my closet and the elastic in my socks had slowly begun to squeeze my ankles like some sort of medieval torture device. 

Hoooray for me! Because in approximately 18 hours we were going to get to go to a waterpark and spend the entire day dressed in swimsuits surrounded by friends and family and strangers alike. Funnesses of funness, amIright??! (Not.)

I was dreading it. Not the fun-family-togetherness-bonding part of the things. We had an awesome time with my in-laws during our staycation week together. It was the required attire that made me want to cringe and cry and crawl in a corner and call in sick. 

Y'all, the idea of squeezing my squishy, bloated abdomen into a spandex rashguard and board shorts while splashing around a humongous water park full of hundreds pairs of staring eyes made me want to throw up in my mouth a little. (Or a lot, if I'm being honest.) I didn't relish the idea of scarring innocent tourist's retinas with my pale, pasty, puffy persona, but my kids were so, so, SO EXCITED to go I knew there would be no getting out of it. So, I went. I was feeling self conscious and unattractive, but I went anyway. 

We arrived at the park and I begrudgingly shuttled myself and the kids into the dressing rooms to change into our gear. I got the kids squared away and finally squished my way into my SPF 50 ensemble. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride, and left the dressing room ready to face whatever jeers and public humiliation I knew awaited me on the other side of that swinging door. 

I stepped into the bright sunlight, and as if on cue, a young boy next to me let out a blood curdling scream. Knowing that his poor innocence had just been violated by my enormous muffin top/Lycra combo, I hesitantly glanced in his direction. Much to my surprise, he wasn't even looking at me. He was flailing his arms like a chicken and hopping around like the cement was lava. 

He was crying because his mom had accidentally sprayed sunscreen in his eyes. 

Bullet: DODGED. 

Much to my surprise, we made our way through the snack bar area and down into the wade pool without any further incident. We put our towels down and entered the lazy river without my making any small children cry out in fear or disgust. I'd barely noticed anybody glancing our way to jeer at my midsection's cushy circumference I couldn't believe it

It was like nobody had even noticed or even cared how unrighteously bloated I was. Could it be that I was not, in fact, the Quasimodo of the water park that I thought I was?? It was as if, within a crowd of dozens of people meandering down a fake lazy river that I wasn't a social pariah at all. I wasn't hideous. I was completely ordinary

Settling into the wave pool with the kids, I had a mind blowing realization about it all: NOBODY CARED ABOUT MY MUFFIN TOP. 

Out of the hundreds of people attending that glorious water wonderland with us that day, exactly zero of them cared to waste even a single second of their time judging me. The only person that was hesitantly having a good time because of my muffin top/PMS bloat combo situation was: me

As self important as I'd tried be and as paramount as I though my precious feelings and my tender, fragile self esteem were- nobody gave two hoots about me. They were there to have a great time with their families. They'd paid to spend the day making memories with their kids and wives and husbands, not to sit around nitpicking other people's giggly places. I got so worried about how I was feeling about myself that I totally forgot about having fun with my kids! I was missing out on my family's memory making day by focusing too much on myself. 


Y'all, I felt about the size of an English pea. 

That water park had not only doused me in a torrential downfall of over-chlorinated water, but also in a hearty stream of healthy self-realization. 

Before that day, I never thought I had a problem with an overinflated view of myself. If you would've asked me, I would have said that I considered myself a pretty humble person. I thought that humility and low self image went hand in hand. But it doesn't. My self image was ROCK BOTTOM that day, but I was walking around like my issues were the biggest and the baddest and the darkest of anybody's out there. I was as self important and self righteous as any OT Pharisee out there ever was. Because even though I was feeling reserved and self conscious and hesitant, I was still far from being humble. 

Nobody cares about my muffin top, and, y'all, nobody cares about yours, either. Do yourself a favor and learn from my character flaws. Stop wasting time obsessing about yourself like I did. It's not worth it. Focus that energy somewhere else. ANYWHERE else. It'll be better spent there, I promise. Our appearances just aren't that important.

It's pretty pathetic, when I really stop to think about it. How much time have I spent unnecessarily focusing on myself when I could've been thinking about more important things- like dried in grease stain removal or balancing my checkbook or the perfect foam-to-coffee ratio??

As I sat in a wave pool full of swim diaper runoff and sunscreen overspray I realized that underneath my swollen ankles and puffy eyelids- my ego was  I left that water park with renewed resolve to reroute my own self-obsessed thoughts into more positive directions. 

And get this: I'm actually doing it. I'm intentionally hydrating to try and give my poor overworked kidneys a break. I'm exercising self restraint when my jeans fit a little more snugly than I'd prefer. When I've tried on the 17th outfit before we need to leave the house and I can't find anything I like about any of them- I and walk out the door anyway. (Thanks, Elsa.) 

And, when the goin' gets tough, and I start to feel pathetic and puffy and want to crawl back in bed and hide in my covers instead of leaving the house- I stop and focus on what Peter said when he wrote the verses I read in 1 Peter 3:3- 
"And don't let your adornment be merely external- braiding your hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." 
These verses remind me that an obsessive focus on myself isn't Godly. It isn't holy. It's not what I'm called to be. My body won't matter when I get to heaven, but focusing on it to the extent that I neglect my family and husband and the entirety that is the rest of my life will. I want to strive to possess that gentle and quiet spirit that is precious to God. 

I'm a work in progress.I learned an important lesson about myself that day. 
It was a gritty, humbling and unflattering lesson, FO' SHO. 

But I'm so glad I did. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Interview With A Preschooler. (Or three.)

I jumped on the "Father's Day Interview" bandwagon with our three kids this year. 

Much like the others that I'd read, our results were funny and heartwarming and tear-jerking, all at the same time. 

I think it's safe to say that a new tradition has been born. 
Below are the results of the survey, as given by Luke (age 4) and Josie (age 3) and *Nathan (age 1.5). 

MY DADDY... by Luke
My Dad's name is: Daddy McReynolds. He is: years old. 
His hair is: green and his eyes are: blue. He is as big as: a giant.
His favorite food is: cereal and his favorite color is: blue.
My Dad likes to wear: church clothes. 
He is smart because he knows: his work.
My Dad works hard at: in Pensacola.
He likes to go to: work. 
If he could go on a trip, he would go to: work and bring: his lunch and tools.
My Dad always tells me: do you want to give me a hug? 
I really love it when my Dad: gives me bubblegum.
For fun, my Dad likes to: play with me in the pool.
It makes my Dad happy when: he comes home from work.
Daddy always tells me: Love you, Luke. 
If I could give my Dad anything, it would be: a hug.
My favorite thing to do with my Dad is: wrestle with him.
My favorite thing about my Dad is: when he comes home from work.
I love my Dad because: I just love him; he wrestles with me and hugs me at night.


MY DADDY... by Josie
My Dad's name is: What's his name?. He is: 3 years old. 
His hair is: black and his eyes are: blue. He is as big as: a house.
His favorite food is: chicken and his favorite color is: blue.
My Dad likes to wear: work clothes.
He is smart because he knows about: God.
My Dad works hard at: in Mobile.
He likes to go to: Chinese Barnhills.
If he could go on a trip, he would go to: Mobile and bring: work clothes.
My Dad always tells me: No.
I really love it when my Dad: works.
For fun, my Dad likes to: play with me.
It makes my Dad happy when: I not sit on the baby.
If I could give my Dad anything, it would be: a huggy.
My favorite thing to do with my Dad is: go somewhere.
My favorite thing about my Dad is: giving hugs.
I love my Dad because: he plays with me.


MY DADDY... by Nathan
My Dad's name is: Daaaahdeeee. He is: gung years old. 
His hair is: gung and his eyes are: (pants like a dog). He is as big as:gung.
His favorite food is: (claps hands) and his favorite color is: (smooches face with palms).
My Dad likes to wear: (grunting noise).
He is smart because he knows about: gung.
My Dad works hard at: (interviewee pushes finger into his nose).
He likes to go to: gung.
If he could go on a trip, he would go to: (blank stare) and bring: (longer blank stare).
My Dad always tells me: Daaaahdeeee.
I really love it when my Dad: gung.
For fun, my Dad likes to: gung.
It makes my Dad happy when: (loud squeeling sound).
If I could give my Dad anything, it would be: (inaudible).
My favorite thing to do with my Dad is: (blink).
My favorite thing about my Dad is: gung.
I love my Dad because: nu-uh.
(*I know, y'all. That one was informative. I set the bar really low this year.) 

My plan is to interview the kids each year around Father's Day and keep each as a record of how their answers change as they grow up. As funny and lighthearted as we think they are now, I'm sure they will be a treasure to us when they've grown and flown the coop. (Not that I am wishing that day to come anytime soon. Believe that.)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What We've Been Through: a 10th anniversary post

Somehow, someway, even though we are obviously still newlyweds, today is our 10th wedding anniversary. 
A DECADE, y'all. 
It's insane. 

We've been through a lot these past ten years. It hasn't always been pretty. It hasn't always been fun or easy or romance novel worthy- but I love our journey. And our story from single kids to newlyweds to working professionals to parents hasn't been perfect. But marriage takes work and dedication and choosing love and there is literally nobody else out there on the entire planet that I would ever want to go through life with than my husband. 
I love you, Boo.

All women think that their husband is the best and noblest and funniest and hardest working and best father and most Christlike man to ever walk this Earth- but I'm right. I really am. Because mine is. 

A lot has happened over these last ten years, y'all. 

We've broken two coffee pots, but not our promises to one another. 

We've gone through surgeries and sadness, but not separation.

We've killed house plants and microwaves and 2,763 swarming termites, but not our love for one another.

We've battled stomach viruses and hurricanes and flea outbreaks but never our marriage vows.

There have been broken dishes and cracked windshields but our union has never shattered.

We've birthed three babies and raised our standards for marital joy.
We've given away countless outdated outfits and unloaded boatloads of petty arguments. 

We've gotten over the first few rocky years of marriage and our own self centered view of what marriage should really be like.

We've changed diapers and our own stinky attitudes.

We've planted trees and put down roots together. 

We've decimated dollarweed and died to ourselves for Christ and each other.

We've had roommates and housemates and fights that dragged on way longer than they should have.

We've bickered and bugged each other and been blessed beyond measure.
We've brewed one another enough coffee to float the Ark. 

We've compromised on paint colors and supper choices and laundry folding techniques but never on our convictions. 

We've gone to bed mad but always woken up beside each other.

We've fought with each other- but we've given up keeping score.
We've binge watched Netflix and gorged on Chinese take out but still haven't gotten sick of one another. 

We've settled the white Christmas lights vs. colored Christmas lights debate but still can't agree on what type of milk is superior.  

We've nursed one another through surgeries and childbirthing and migraines and the worst sunburns that have ever occurred in the history of The Gulf of Mexico. No joke.

We've come up with countless inside jokes and dorky ways to amuse ourselves like hiding dirty socks in pillowcases and stashing outdated yearbook pictures into lunch boxes. 

We've sacrificed time and money and sleep and priorities and used those resources to build a Christ-centered home for the family we've been given. 
And our blessings have abounded. 

We've been through trials. Tons of them. And we've used those turbulent waters not to drown our relationship or erode our union but to force us even closer together as we battle the waves that crash into our lives. 

With loads of prayer and the Lord's help, we've made the foundation of our marriage a strong one and formed an unshakeable bond through the vows that we made in His presence that afternoon ten years ago today. 

We've clung to Him through this 1st decade of our marriage will continue to do so for the next 6 or 7 that we'll spend together as husband and wife. 
"And the rain fell, and the floods came down, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on The Rock." -Jesus, Matthew 7:25
*emphasis mine

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

For Luke To Read in 2027

Like most families, we dyed eggs before Easter this year. An uneaten, colored egg remained in the butter cubby of my icebox door for a few days after we'd finished and I'd noticed in the days after Easter that it had disappeared, but I had assumed that was because it was eaten. 


As I was vacuuming behind a bookcase in the Big Kid's bedroom this morning, I discovered that it had, in fact, not been consumed. That single, solitary, red dyed egg had been shoved in the dark recess between the back of their bookcase and their wall and was left there to slowly crumble and disintegrate into a pile of pink shell fragments and dehydrated yolk bits.    

**SCIENCE FACT: Boiled eggs do not stink like you'd expect them to when they're abandoned in a corner for three and a half fortnights. When left unattended in cool, dark places, the shells will become brittle, crack and expose the whites and yolks to the outside air, then therefore slowly dry and dehydrate their insides until nothing but a crumbled pile of crusty yellow yolks and fragile egg shells remain. 

I questioned the kids about it and quickly surmised that Luke, my oldest, was the culprit. Upon further pressing, he explained that he'd hidden the egg back there because he "just didn't like those stinky ol' eggs too much" and didn't want to have to eat the last one. 

Well at least he's honest, amIright?? 

When Luke moves away from home, I'm going to send him on his merry way with a boiled egg secretly stashed in one of the toes of his shoes because revenge is a dish best served cold. 

Boom. MomLaw for the win.

So Luke, when you're reading this, prepare yourself because approximately 12 years from now you're gonna need to get your game face on BECAUSE MOMMA AIN'T PLAYIN' AROUND, Son. 

ps- I still love you.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Holy Sandpaper

I saw a quote online (read: Pinterest) recently that said "Children are holy sandpaper. Raising your kids will expose every flaw and weakness you have. And that's a GOOD thing." 

I've talked before about how motherhood is a refining fire because I've learned first hand that IT IS. 

My kids don't turn me into a mean spirited, short tempered, impatient woman. My kids just expose me for the mean spirited, short tempered, impatient person that I can be. The pressure of having and raising and loving my three tiny little people is the surest and fastest and most efficient way to widdle me down to the very core of my character. 

Women that I see who are loving and giving and patient and kind to their kids aren't that way because they're a Mom. They're that way because they possessed those qualities before they ever had children. And when the pressures  of motherhood came, when the rain fell, and dissolved away their superficial, exterior layers and exposed their core self, that's where their good lived. 

They had worked to store up a lifetime's worth of long suffering and gentleness and peace and kindness and all those fruits of all those spirits so that when they were finally wrung out and tired and running on empty, they were still left with the good inside them. 

I've redoubled my efforts lately to own my attitude because I've noticed lately that when I'm exhausted and the coffee pot it empty and the day isn't done and the supper isn't fixed and the dog's water bowl has been overturned for the seventeenth time, there sometimes isn't much good left in my tank. There're loads of frustrated outbursts and frazzled responses, but no gentle answers and patient ears. 

My kids deserve a better example than that. 

I've formed a habit that has really helped to ground and center me and my impatient, easily irritated, quickly aggravated attitude. Before I finish up my morning Bible study, at the end of my selected readings, I thumb through to Proverbs and read the corresponding chapter for each day's date. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so each date of the month will have it's own unique reading, no matter which month I'm currently in. I've been doing this for several months in a row, and it's been awesome.

It's helped fill my soul with loads more of the good stuff that I've been training my heart to heavily rely on as my three kids smooth out my rough spots like the holy sandpaper God made them to be. And, as I'm learning and growing and striving to set better examples for them, I'm able to fall back on those good reserves that Proverbs has given me when my coffee pot has been drained and it's 5:30pm and my casserole still hasn't gone in the oven and the load of towels that I put in the dryer but never turned on has soured into a boiled-egg-and-mildewy-smelling mess. 

I still get short tempered sometimes. I may or may not have cried a little on my deck in an exasperated heap yesterday afternoon when my youngest, Nathan dumped two toddler sized handfuls of garden soil into the 6' blow up pool that I'd just spent 39 minutes emptying, cleaning, rinsing, and refilling. Trying to carry on a phone conversation with me still sounds like a preschool mosh pit is happening in my living room. 

I'm still not Mary Poppins. But then again, I'm not Cruella de Vil, either. 
And I reckon that's a good place to be. 

"A Mom who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and she who rules her spirit is better than she who conquers a city."- Solomon. Proverbs 16:32 
(Katie McReynolds' version)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

An Open Letter Of Advice To A Future SAHM:

*I received an email from a sweet girl in our family who is about 10 years behind me in her life. She's in college (Go girl. Woot, woot!) and can't wait to get married and have babies and stay home with them and raise them to love Jesus and each other. (How she tapped into my family motto, I'm not sure, but I digress.) 

I ended up sending her a word vomit covered message of completely unsolicited advice from me as her 10-years-in-the-future-self. Below is a rough transcription.

And I realize that, for many wives and Mommas, being a full-time SAHM is not a realistic choice for them. There are all sorts of good families out there, this letter is not meant to discount those Mom's whose family dynamic looks different than mine. This is my story.

So this letter, sweet reader, is meant to show you how, even before I was ever married or engaged or even dating my husband, I was making choices that would eventually affect my ability to be able to choose this path that I am walking with my family and how, as a young college girl, I began empowering myself to navigate it.


Hello there, College Gal!

I believe, for my life, there has been no higher calling than for me to stay home and love my husband and raise my family and cook them yummy food and teach them to love Jesus and each other, just like you dream to someday do for yours. 

I'd like to talk to you a little about how I came to the place I'm in now: staying home with my three young kids, preparing to start teaching them at home and surviving and thriving as a SAHM with a house and a family and a dog and a cat and a tank full of fish and a couple of backyard turtles to love and raise and care for. How I made choices even in college that still affect where I am today. So, if you're interested in some a lot of unsolicited advice, please continue reading...

My first bit of advice: LOVE JESUS. And not just in a "He died on the cross for me so of course I love Him." kind of way. Really love Him because you've actually gotten to know Him. Read through The Gospels and walk with Him. Learn to rely on Him for every single ounce of strength that you'll most certainly come to need when you're raising a small army of preschoolers who can't seem to sleep through the night or make it through a single meal without spilling something or crying. 
Because trust me, those days will come. And when you're running on empty and you're cranky and you want to pick a fight with your husband over not wiping off a high chair tray or not dumping the water out of the bath toys, you're going to need to fall back on that relationship you've formed with Christ. Some days, you're just going to need to lean into His grace for the energy and strength and fortitude to make it until bedtime without turning into Cruella De Vil. 
And if you haven't started cementing that personal relationship with Him now, it's gonna be monumentally harder (but not impossible!) to form that bond with Jesus when you're sleep deprived and your shirt is schmeared with peanut butter from shoulder to hem and you can't remember the last time you flossed your teeth. 
(Please don't judge me.)

Secondly: CREDIT CARDS ARE LEECHES. Hon, if there was a single bit of truth I could give you as a wide eyed 20 year old, it would be to eschew debt. Treat credit cards like they are either the black plague or a really old glass of sweet tea that you've left on your nightstand for 6 straight days in Louisiana. In July. Accruing debt while you are in college is like drilling massive holes into the bottom of you and your husband's future joint checking account. Work your tail off for scholarships. Work on campus. Work off campus. Save all the pennies that you can. (Within reason, of course. Because TacoBell is going to happen. I'm not a dummy. Just eat a Nacho Supreme for me while you're there.) But seriously, getting married without debt and actually having some money in the bank is BANANAS awesome. You should really do it. 
**If you've got student loans- use only what you need for the semester. That lagniappe money that's left over is not for clothes or eating out or Starbucks or pedicures. Buy your books and a fresh ream of loose leaf paper and a new fine-tip Bic. Then take the rest and pay it back. Immediately. Then, work like crazy to pay off the remainder of your loans WHILE YOU ARE STILL IN SCHOOL. I had to take out loans for a few semesters. I was newly married and taking full course loads and still managed to pay them off, in full, before each semester was over. It was hard, but I did it. And I believe in you! 

Thirdly: DO NOT BUY A BIG HOUSE. When I graduated and went house hunting with my husband, we could have pooled our joint incomes to qualify for a much, much larger mortgage than we needed or wanted. But, we house hunted and mortgage brokered with ONLY my husband's income in our budget. 
That gorgeous, adorable house with the hand laid hardwood floor and extra bathrooms and pool and attic recording studio and bubbling fountain beside a gazebo may sound like a dream, but let me tell you, in five years when you've got a newborn (or two or three) screaming like a banshee at the top of their lungs while you're staying home and racking up debt like nobody's business because you can't pay your bills with cash every month, you're going to want to jump off the deep end of that pool you just had to have every month when the mortgage is due.  

Fourthly: SAVE YOUR MONEY. I worked for three years after I graduated and before my oldest son was born. During that time, when my paycheck would come in, we would deduct our tithes and offerings, and then put the rest of it in our savings account. No lie. While we were DINKs (dual-income-no-kids), we only lived on my husband's income. So, for the nearly three years that I drew a paycheck teaching we were able to set aside a comfortable nest egg for our future selves and rainy days. 
Because, trust me when I say this: RAIN WILL COME. Our house needed new windows. And then a new deck because someone literally fell through our old one. (That was an awkward BBQ, believe.) Then our air conditioner went out. Then we bought a reliable used car. Then we had medical bills. And then, and then, and then… Our nest egg as dwindled a lot lately- but we are still afloat. And, since we have been disciplined in our spending thus far in our 10 (awesome!) years of marriage, we are going to be able to stay that way through these lean years while we build it back up. 

So, sweet, lovely, wonderful college girl with wedding and house hunting and baby having dreams- CONGRATULATIONS. Hold on tight to Jesus and throw away those credit card applications. Work your tail off and save your tip money. Spend way less than you make, sock away everything you can- and when the day comes that you'll drive home from the hospital with that precious bundle of joy in your arms, you'll be financially stable enough to stay home with that amazing, sleep depriving miracle God's blessed you with. And, most importantly, you'll be strong enough in your relationship with Jesus to survive the SAHM storms that sometimes come.  

Just don't forget to send me a wedding invitation!
Love, Katie