Friday, April 29, 2011

Fight. Fear. Guilt.

My pounding head could not withstand another moment of whining. My patience was stretched too thin, like a rubber band about sting my skin with a sudden snap. The pressure expanded in my chest; was I nearing a heart attack at age 32?

It was fall. 2010.

I was in the midst of my worst mommy moment.

Amelia was nearing 2 1/2 years old. She was having difficulty dealing with boundaries, rules. She could likely feel the stress that entered our household earlier that summer when her aunt had a bad accident and became paralyzed. Our summer was full of concerned houseguests, hospital visits, long weekend days at the rehab center. Amelia was placed in front of a movie a few times too many. She was brushed aside more often than she would like.

My daughter lashed out in anger when things didn't go her way. Rage erupted from her small body and discharged through her hands, fingernails, and teeth. I was afraid of her.

I cried. I worried. Did I do something terribly wrong to create such a monster? I had physical bruises and scratches. I was abused by my own young child.

Finally, my patience could take no more. My stress level was through the roof. One additional outburst from Amelia, and I lost my cool. I yelled. I spanked. I dumped her in her room. As she tried to escape to dig those little claws near my skin, I pushed her back. I pushed her with more force than intended. She fell backward into her room. For a moment, her rage ceased. She looked up at me with those big blue eyes, and I saw the hurt. I felt her fear. I had lost my grip on the calm Mommy voice. I let my stress level go too far. I frightened my child.

I collapsed on the floor and began to cry alongside my crying little girl. I hadn't the faintest idea what to do with this angry child. I could not come to terms with my own frustrations. My heart shattered when I let the guilt seep in. Did I deserve to be a mom? How could I let it come to this?

I will not forget that day. That fight is etched in my mind. I can still see the look in Amelia's eyes when her rage turned to heartbreak. Her Mommy, her safety, became scary that day.

I vowed never to let things get that bad again. I sought out professional help. I learned how to better handle child anger issues. I learned how to ensure consistency in my discipline. I learned how to calm my nerves when the terrible twos reared their ugly head.

Nearly as quickly as they began, the violent tantrums improved. Amelia and I became a team again. She looks at me with absolute trust again. She understands my discipline, even though she may not like it.

I had no idea I could fail so badly at mommyhood. But I am thankful for that failure, as it solidified my will to make things right.

I am a good mother.

I am a good mother because I learned from my mistake. I refused to let my stress manipulate the relationship with the most important girl in my life. I took control of the reins again.

- - - - - - -

This week's prompt from The Red Dress Club:

This week, we want fightin' words. Write a piece about a fight. What happened? Why? Who "won"? What were the repercussions?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Video Blog!

Got 5 minutes? Please watch my very first vlog!

Talkin' About 3 Moms In 1

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Can we go NOW?

Dreaming of our upcoming vacation!

On my agenda? Hours in the pool. Maybe a fruity drink or two.

Photo credits: Hilton Hotels and

Monday, April 25, 2011

A taste of peace

Ahhh, springtime in the mountains.

We spent our Easter weekend surrounded by greens, reds, and whites. Dogwoods in full bloom. Huge azaleas bursting with red and hot pink flowers. Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day with clear skies and sunshine. You could see the surrounding mountains miles away.

Amelia's eyes sparkled with excitement when she awoke and realized it was time to check the purple basket she so gently placed beside the door 11 hours earlier. She giggled with happiness as she hugged her new Miss Bunny and played with her funny hopping chick. She wiped her chocolatey mouth on the back of her hand as she finished off the first bunny treat.

Later that morning, we tested her patience at church. We attended a service with family, at a church we had not previously visited. The sermon was a bit long. For us, and especially for Amelia.

"Mommy!", she exclaimed mid-sermon (not quietly), "He is talking too much!" I could see a couple grins and stifled giggles from the people directly in front of us.

And a bit later, questioning the screens that only showed song lyrics and bible verses, "Where is the bunny movie?!? I don't like this show!" The poor kid thought we were at a movie.

As always, we could count on our girl to bring laughs and excessive cuteness to a beautiful holiday.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Time to feel

Today is Good Friday. The day in the Christian calendar to reflect upon an ultimate sacrifice. And in a few days, we will celebrate the joy of Easter.

My heart is heavy this week from too many personal tragedies among friends. Babies dying before opening their eyes to the light of day. A child battling the effects of chemotherapy. Moms trying to find the strength to overcome their own health issues. Elderly loved ones nearing the end of their lives.

I struggle to understand. My trust waivers, but I stand strong. I focus on my own blessings and give thanks. Through the long Easter weekend (maybe longer), I am going to step away. I need some time to hurt for my friends and laugh with my child. I need time to relax. A few days to unplug.

I will be back when I can write with energy again. And share more tales of the joys in life.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Class of 2014...

- - - - - - -
To the graduating class of 2014,

Pick a career that will allow you to retire early.

Burned out 30-something
- - - - - - -

Working years are long. Stressful. Monotonous. I don't remember my father working the kind of hours most of us are subjected to these days. Somehow, in the past 10+ years, our society has turned rewarding careers into pressure cookers. More work, tighter deadlines, fewer employees. Low overhead. Save money.

I look backward; I long for the days without stress. Weekends were meant for staying out late. For dancing, flirting, movies, and  road trips. But now? Weekends mean projects, household chores, and desperate attempts to catch up on sleep (failed attempts... because a certain child doesn't sleep past "sun come up!").

Retirement? Sounds awesome! No deadlines. No rationing vacation days because you only get so many each year. Spending a month in a house by the ocean just because you can.

I'm a few weeks away from 33 years old, but I am really ready to slow down. Begging to slow down. Not as much for me, but for my husband. I want to see him carefree again. Loose. Calm.

I would also like to stop worrying that he'll have a stress-induced heart attack before age 40.

So, retirement? Wait right there. We trying to reach you as quickly as we can!

Photo credit: Bumper Sticker by Top Tees, available on

(This post was inspired by fatigue. And Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop prompt: "Something students these days should know".)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wordless (almost) Wednesday: Contentment

Contentment: The state of being contented

Contented: Accepting one's situation or lifewith equanimity and satisfaction


We are doing great these days.

    My girl is kind.
       She is smart.
          She is creative.
             (She is potty trained!)

We are finally moving past our nightmare called the terrible twos. I can only remember putting her in one timeout in the past three weeks!

Every night, Daddy and/or Mommy ask her, "did you get any timeouts today?"

Her face brightens and her eyes twinkle when she is able to exclaim, "No! No timeouts today!"

Kids crave praise. They want to make us happy.

Amelia makes me happy. Finally, I am having fun being Mommy.

*Definitions from

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Festivities

Good Friday and Easter Sunday are coming up! We have been enjoying some gorgeous spring weather and fun holiday festivities.

Amelia's very first Easter Egg Hunt:

"All Afloat On Noah's Boat"
Amelia's first preschool performance:


These are the kind of days where nothing beats being a parent. So proud!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Can I see some ID?

My precious Amelia loves her stuffed animals. To her, they are more than just toys.

They are her best friends..

Her students...

Her babies.

A couple weeks ago, Amelia decided to throw a tea party. She helped her favorite fuzzy friends get all dressed up. She arranged them in a circle so they could converse and enjoy each other's company. Then she distributed the "teacups".

I was not invited to the tea party that morning. So I took the 25 minutes of free time to do a little computer work.

When it was time to check on the tea party again, I was shocked. This is the scene I found:

Apparently, Amelia serves more than tea in those cups! Long Island Iced Tea, perhaps?

Looks like a pretty fun party.

And I wasn't invited.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fallen star

(This is a work of fiction for The Red Dress Club)

She was on her way to the Walk of Fame.

My childhood friend.

Actress. Singer.


You didn’t just watch her; you could feel her. Her presence captivated every being in the room. A fly buzzing around a warm spotlight? It too, probably stopped and fell silent.

She achieved greatness – reveled in ever-glowing Broadway lights and eventually made it in Hollywood. Yet I still felt her friendship. She maintained a private connection between us somehow, the only true confidante I had ever known. My best friend.

I was afraid when she faltered. I was shattered when she crashed.

She lashed out at paparazzi. She couldn’t sleep. She turned to negative influences in a feeble attempt to regain the comfort she used to know. This shining star? Squandered her light. My poised friend? Lost her grace.

Eventually, I forced myself to tell her goodbye.

A ringing phone burst through my dreams around 2 a.m. on a rainy night. I heard the sobbing even before I croaked out my semi-conscious hello.

“She’s gone. She’s dead!”, her mother managed through tearful outbursts. My friend who had it all was no more. She pushed the limits on her life – and the prescription bottle of Valium on her nightstand.

Her funeral was simple. Elegant. I glanced out the church window and glared at the photographers with disgust. I prayed for the anger and pain to release through the tears that rolled down my face. For days afterward, I struggled to get out of bed. I nourished myself with the few staples remaining in the pantry. I cried. I beat myself up. I cried more.

The phone rang incessantly. Friends, neighbors, and reporters wanted to talk about the now-sensationalized news story. I yanked the cords and vowed never to answer the phone again.

Mail was overflowing on the side table where I haphazardly tossed it each day. I sighed. It was time to take a small step towards life again. There, in between a utility bill and flyer full of coupons, was a pink 4x6 index card with no postage, my name scrawled on one side.

I collapsed onto my knees. My blood pressure spiked. Was this a joke? No... I‘ve seen that handwriting for 22 years. It was her.

Later, with shaking hands and vomit rising in my throat, I pushed open the door to the pizzeria. Except for one table with three sauce-covered children, the place was quiet. I scanned the room – there she was. Now a blonde in a baggy sweatshirt.

“What the hell?!?” I demanded in an angry whisper. I slid into the booth, relived but trembling with fury.

She looked up, her face still gorgeous but her eyes filled with tears.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I tried to call sooner, but you never answered. What happened to your phone?”

“You have no idea,” I said through gritted teeth. “I… I don’t know if I’m ready to face you. Just talk. Quickly.”

She tried to stifle her tears by pressing on her eyes with a napkin.

“I ordered a deep-dish pizza.”

I glared at her.

“It takes a while to bake,” she blurted out quickly, “so the waiter should stay away for a bit.”

I continued to stare as she chewed on her bottom lip. She closed her eyes, held her head in her hands. I was losing patience. Finally, she looked me in the eye.

“I was lost… I had it all… but it was… wrong.”

My walls began to crack. “The pressure?”

She sighed. “Pressure, yes. Suffocation. I missed…. life. Me. I know what I did was totally screwed up. I’m so sorry. But… I... needed to start over.”

We stared out the greasy window, unspeaking. The pizza was placed on our table. Drinks remained untouched. She sobbed. I turned to her tear-streaked profile, saw her shoulders shuddering.

I made the first move. I stretched across the table and gently retrieved her hand from her lap. I held it in mine. Eventually, she broke her stare out the window and looked at me.

I smiled.

Tentatively, she smiled back.

I asked for the pizza to go.

Prompt #2: One week after attending the funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard in the mail with the words, 'I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's Pizzeria. Tell no one.'


The future

What will Amelia be when she grows up?

I really don't know yet. Will she use her creativity in the arts? Her intelligence in business? Her height and beauty in fashion?

Sometimes, we get a glimpse into her future. Maybe Amelia will grow up to be a..



Blogger? Writer?

Or... maybe a lawyer?
(click below to view the video)

This post prompted from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Breakfast

The new Breakfast of Champions
(most important meal of the day, you know...)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm a Tuesday Traveler

Pretty please... send some love over to Carrie With Children today! My recent post about Atlanta family activities is featured as today's Tuesday Traveler.
(click the button below to visit)


Monday, April 11, 2011

An extended family summer

Get up! No lounging in bed today!

I opened my eyes to the sun peeking through the blinds and a smile stretched across my young face. It was not going to be a run-of-the-mill Saturday. Our annual neighborhood picnic was set to begin just before lunchtime. It was always a special day, one I looked forward to year after year. This year? This year was going to be even better. My cousins were visiting from Ohio and would share in the cul-de-sac festivities just outside my front door.

I scarfed down my cereal and giggled at Saturday morning cartoons. The clock ticked and tocked until, finally, it was nearly 10:30. I popped up from the floor, tossing my pillow on the couch. Then I, along with my sister and cousins, bounded down the front porch steps to watch the picnic preparations.

Back then, good southern neighbors did not settle for an ordinary neighborhood gathering. My father began loading the electric wooden bucket with ingredients to make his memorable grape soda ice cream. Moms and dads unfolded old card tables and arranged them around the circumference of our circle. Vinyl tablecloths were placed and topped with homemade salads and sugary treats. A few women took a quick drive to KFC for buckets of fried chicken with fluffy biscuits on the side. Riding lawn mowers were parked in the crisp, dry summer grass, awaiting their turn in the spotlight - the men’s lawn mower races. One year prior, we even had pony rides.

My sister and I took the lead, introducing our cousins to neighbors who whom we’d known since infancy. We kept our eyes on the food, our mouths watering as we willed lunchtime to arrive quickly. We joined in a game of kickball with several other kids, cheering each other on as the red rubber ball flew through the air after a powerful boot. We felt the sting on our wrists as boys and girls tried to burst through our wall of bodies and linked hands in a competitive game of Red Rover.

When the signal was given for the picnic to begin, the perspiring, red-faced kids were first in line. We grabbed our paper plates and scooped up potato salad, fruit salad, chips, and banana pudding. We reached into the greasy KFC buckets and selected our favorite pieces of chicken. Our plates sagged with the weight of our humongous lunches. We smacked our lips and gobbled and grinned. Despite full bellies, we returned for clean plates and attacked the homemade desserts. Cookies and apple pie, with a side dish of my dad’s grape soda ice cream. We were content and exhausted. We had sticky hands and dirty faces. The soles of our feet were black from the pavement, as we had kicked off our shoes hours earlier.

As bright afternoon turned to dusk and the card tables were carted off to garages and closets, most of the picnic sounds ceased. But if you wandered past the cul-de-sac and around my house, you could still hear giggles and little girl squeals. No bath on picnic day; the backyard sprinkler was all we needed. The droplets of water spun and flew into the sky as the last of the sunlight faded.

This post was inspired by the photo above, a writing prompt from The Red Dress Club:

"This week, we're giving you a photo to take you back in time. In 700 or fewer words, show us where your memory takes you."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Birthday Fun

I apologize in advance for my lack of creativity on this one, but we're still recovering from a whirlwind birthday weekend. Amelia is officially a 3-year-old. She had a great time being spoiled by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The weather decided to cooperate so we could gather with neighbors, family, and Amelia's BFFs at a nearby park for playtime and cake. My girl is spoiled rotten, but soooo happy!

Weekends like this remind us how blessed we are to be parents.

A special thank you shout-out to for Amelia's birthday signs! Our girl loved the custom signs on her big day.
Click the photo to see all their fantastic sign and banner options.

Some highlights of our party weekend:

A life-size Minnie Mouse balloon!

Ready.... Aim....


Playground time

Yummy Publix cake - Minnie Mouse, of course!

Sugar and spice - sweet girls

Here's to a great 2011! Love you, my precious daughter.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Put on your party hats!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my spunky, hilarious, brilliant, and beautiful daughter!




2011 - all grown up!  

Princess Amelia,

Mommy and Daddy love you so much! We wish you a very happy birthday. Watching you grow and learn has been the greatest joy in our lives. We are so proud of our 3-year-old!

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Does neon make me look fat?

November 2007.

A chance to get away from it all and celebrate our last big vacation before the arrival of our bundle of joy.

Whose bright idea was it to go to Las Vegas?

A pregnant woman in Las Vegas fits in about as well as a small-town country girl without a penny to spend.

As my husband and I snaked our way through the crowded Vegas sidewalks, I felt enormous. Amidst all the young and pretty people, I was a whale. My feet were aching and my jacket barely zipped over my protruding belly. The guys handing out those little strip club cards? Took one look at me and quickly pulled in their outstretched arms. I could barely even entertain myself at the roulette wheel for fear of choking my baby with secondhand smoke.

There is a lot of walking to be done in Las Vegas...

A multitude of photo opportunities...

And way too many reasons to stay up late at night.

However, this pregnant mama found some comfort in the midst of sin city.

Large hotel rooms for naptime...

And buffets! Buffets with multiple dessert options. Nothing cures what ails a mommy-to-be like creme brulee. Like gelato. Oh, and cheesecake. Cookies? Yep, those too.

My child is addicted to sugary snacks. I think I blame Las Vegas.

- - - - - -
This week's writing prompt from Studio 30 Plus: LAS VEGAS

"Studio30 Plus, the brain child of Jerrod from The Yellow Factor and Jules from Mean Girl Garage, began one snowy, wintery day in January 2010. Looking for a place where bloggers over the age of 30 could meet up, exchange ideas, make some friends, and find new blogs to read, they put their minds together and formed this growing community." partner:

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