Best advice for a high school graduate?!




When I tell people that I coach high school JV cheerleading, I usually get the response, “You’re a SAINT! I could NEVER be around that many teenage girls and keep my sanity!” or something along those lines. Most people definitely pity me, or tell me how awful high-schoolers are, even if they don’t have kids that age yet. Funny huh? 😉

Coaches!

I’m quite quick to tell them that the young ladies I’ve met and coached, are some of the nicest, most polite, respectful, hard-working, funny, and fun people I’ve ever met. It’s actually been my honor to be in THEIR lives. I also tell people if you’re looking for a self-esteem boost, get around 15 teenage girls, as they tell you all the time how great you are and how much they looooooooooooove you (heart emojis are everywhere)!!! 😉

Loving on me! Such a sweet group of girls!

But seriously, I tell them (and their guardians) all.of.the.time how they have given me hope that my minis will be just fine at that age. I ask their guardians often, “what did you do to keep them so sweet? I don’t want to screw mine up because they’re so great now!” Many of them simply say, “she is just a good egg,” “she’s always been this way,” “stay firm and have boundaries, but lead with love,” “I trust her and she trusts me,” and so on and so on…

One of these girls, who was on the Varsity and competition squads, is named Bailey. And not only did she cheer for the school, but she also babysat my minis a few times. I was happy for every moment I (and they) got to spend with her because she is delightful. She never seemed too busy to listen to my old a$s talk about my gymnastics glory days, even though she was probably like, ‘okay Coach Mandie…I get it!’ She would make time to spot Lilly on her tumbling skills, even though she certainly didn’t have to. I never saw her so much as roll an eye at anyone…adults, coaches or peers, during a practice/game/competition/warmup…no matter how much stress she was under.

Bailey…she just LOOKS like a nice person, right?!

So it’s no surprise to me when her mom posted this on Facebook the other day. I’m not facebook friends with her mom, Tracy, but because I am with Bailey (and she was tagged), it came up in my feed. By the end of it, I was SOBBING bit fat tears. Certainly, part of it was because I pictured myself in her shoes, a mother of two daughters. Kids that are so great, that I almost ALWAYS want to be around them. Another part of it was putting myself in Bailey’s shoes, and thinking back to when I was a female headed off to college, and the scary/exciting things that it brought up in my memory.

Mother and daughter!

But this list of advice is spot on, and in my humble opinion, a MUST READ, and a must share. Our graduating girls (and guys even) need to read this. And parents, you do too! Naivety doesn’t work, I promise. Prepare them for the REAL world, as that’s exactly what they’re entering.

Bailey and Tracy! I love the “Be Nice or Leave” sign 🙂

In Tracy Barnett’s words…

“You see, I have this amazing person in my life who will be leaving me soon and I’m supposed to be all chipper and cheery and all “life awaits you” about it. “She will become such a brat that you will be glad to send her off to college” they said. “This is the natural course of events and this is part of your job” they say. “She’s ready” they say. Well….she’s not a brat, I don’t want this particular job to end, and I’m not ready. I am sooooo not ready. And I’m being a big fat baby about it. So I am going to write down my feelings, a stream of conscious thoughts and awkward motherly advice in an attempt to work through the worst of it, so that I truly don’t eff up this most amazing, exciting rite of passage for the best person that I know. Because, in fact, my kid is a way better person than I am, and I am going to miss having her around to aspire to. She really is just that nice, kind, honest, true to her convictions and a good influence on me. So this note to her is part unsolicited advice, part apology and part catharsis solely for my benefit, and likely will be in no logical order.

  1.  Learn to like beer. Seriously. Stay away from liquor. And shots. NEVER do shots, I don’t care who is chanting your name over and over. You, and your conscience, will thank me later. That one bit of advice, alone, will save you from much humiliation and self-flagellation. You’re a tiny girl; you won’t need a lot of alcohol to alter your judgment and make really crappy decisions (especially when it comes to boys, see #3) – I’d like to ask you not to drink at all but I’m not totally naive. So drink beer. My hope is that it will make you feel super full and miserable before you can actually drink enough to get sloppy. Don’t get sloppy – don’t be that girl.
  2. Limit the borrowing of expensive clothes from your roommate. It will be oh so tempting. But…you will spill something, rip something, lose something and it will ruin your friendship and it will piss off her mom. The reverse holds true as well.
  3. Trust your gut and be true to you. Your body is YOUR body and you alone get to decide your boundaries. And sometimes, boys…well, they might fib to sway you. They just do. Not all boys, and certainly not always, but booze-infused boys will pretty much say whatever they think you might want to hear to achieve an end game (see #1, impaired judgement is not limited to girls). Now, here is where I insert a huge blanket apology to my friends who have boys. Your sons are not whom I’m speaking of, but someone out there is raising that arrogant, entitled kid that thinks he can do whatever he wants with whomever he wants – that’s who I’m worried about. And I hope this doesn’t this offend anyone but if it does, then please include the statistics on girls date raping boys on college campuses in your admonishment of me. I’m not a total alarmist on this topic, but I would be lying if I didn’t have some tinge of hesitation about sending my daughter into the arena.
  4. Remember the long game. You are at college to lay a foundation for your future, as an adult. Adulting sucks, in general. But it will suck more if you squander your opportunity to prepare yourself as best you can for the competitive landscape that awaits you upon graduation. I’m all for the work hard/play hard approach to life. Hell, I live it! Gleefully, in fact. But it’s all about the mix. Keep in mind that whichever proportionality you choose, it affects your options in 4 years. I truly feel bad for your generation. Yeah, you’ve got technology by the tail, and yes you are far academically superior to my generation when we were your age, but man are there a lot of you! There is just a much greater percentage of really super smart kids out there today. So if you think the college acceptance process was a discerning bitch, just wait until you and all your peeps are out their vying for a real J.O.B. The competition will be fierce so prepare yourself accordingly.
  5. Be smart on social media. (One of) my proudest moments, as your mom, was recently when a mother of a freshman approached me at your cheer banquet and said “You don’t know me, but I’m (your new favorite person because I’m about to shower you with mommy accolades) and I just want you to know that I, and the other moms, stalk your daughter’s Instagram and Facebook page and hold them up as examples to illustrate to our daughters that this is who they want to emulate.” That, right there, sums up social media and its vast butterfly effect. Oh if only I followed my own advice…but this isn’t about me. Anyway, your take away: Don’t put stupid crap on your social media. People everywhere are judging you (and honestly, you don’t want Nanny calling you too…it’s annoying and she’s usually right about whatever complaint she might have about your posts).
  6. Fake it til you make it. Be confident in yourself, your abilities and your decisions! This is life advice. If you aren’t confident, then figure out how to exude it. It’s a differentiator on almost all playing fields: social, academic and professional. Now, this is not permission to be arrogant. That is also a differentiator of a different sort, which – as a female, will take on the label of “bitch.” That is not what we are going for here. What I am proponing is being confident enough without breaching the tipping point. It’s a delicate balance. Find it.
  7. Leave high school and its drama behind. You don’t want to peak in high school so strive to learn from the lessons that surviving high school teaches you. College is where you come in to your own, better understand the value of true and sincere friendships and become a better version of a friend to others. Always keep in mind to look for those who may be “eating alone” – be friendly and remember how it feels to be left out and don’t be a leaver outer.
  8. So let’s talk about this YOLO approach to life….I’m 50, so a “you only live once” mantra resonates with me much greater now than when I was your age. But you see, if I had applied that philosophy to my decisions at your age, I probably wouldn’t have even made it to 50. Your decisions and actions have consequences. There is life after that Instagram post or Snapchat story where you thought “YOLO, I’ll (fill in the blank with some stupid decision). As you continue to get older, the stakes get higher. So, YOLO has a place…but shouldn’t be a lifestyle.
  9. Try to let me bother you without seeming like I’m bothering you. Meaning: please bear with me and try to put up with me as we walk through this transition together. I will, I have no doubt, be as annoying from 167 miles away as I was (and am) within the same house. Obviously, you can ignore my calls and I haven’t always modeled the best behavior for you on that front (sorry Mom….) but be patient with me. I apologize, in advance, for how much I am going to miss you. 😊
  10. Know that you are supported and loved unconditionally and you can always come home, in the emotional sense. College will bring forth challenges that will seem overwhelming and you may sometimes feel that things are getting the best of you. Always know that we are here for you to guide and support you even if we aren’t physically there. No doubt you will have friends to turn to for much of your emotional needs, but for those things that just seem SO.BIG. know that you can “come home”. We will always be here.

Now go carpe some freakin’ diem!”

ARE YOU CRYING?!!!
{SO.AM.I…AGAIN.}

Tracy, her hubby, Bailey, and her sister. I will blink and this will be Joshua, the minis and me. 🙁

But seriously, HOW GOOD IS THAT?!!! Thank you so much Tracy, for putting this into words! I hope that it is this hard when it’s time for my minis to head off to college (or wherever life takes them after high school). I have a feeling if I’m already hysterical, it will be. Please share if you thought this was great advice…knowledge is power for our kids. And as my friend G always says, “we belong to each other,” and “there’s no such thing as other peoples’ kids.” They’re all our kids you guys. Let’s take care of them. And pretty please, start talking kindly about teenagers…there are some really good ones out there…I promise!

Happy graduation loves!

DON’T FORGET TO PIN IT! IMAGE BELOW (for reference to this post)…

I hate the beach. There I said it.

 

It’s that time of year again! Nope, not referring to the end of school, although that is upon us too! I’m referring to the time of year when my minis are going to start asking us to go to the beach, and the stud and I, through gritted teeth, are going to say, “OF COURSE WE ARE SWEET CHILDREN! WE CAN’T WAIT!” Why?! Because parenting means sometimes doing things that you don’t want to do. And for us, that means going to the beach. I know I know, you LOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVE the beach. Good for you! Can my kids go with YOU then?! Kidding!!! (sort of)

Before I get too far in to why I hate the beach as a 35-year-old, let’s go back to a 12 year old Miranda. I was visiting the beach for the first time ever in my life. I was there with my gymnastic’s team, and my mom was a chaperone so she got to be with me for my first experience!!! We ran onto the sand, and I charged in to the ocean like I had been waiting 12 years for this (I had)!!! I was maybe in there for all of 15 seconds, and I felt this pain on my ankle, like a stabbing. And I lifted my leg out of the water, and a jellyfish tentacle was wrapped around my ankle. I freaked the EFF out yall. I tried shaking it off, and was hysterical. Because not only did it hurt like hell, but it wouldn’t get off of me. Finally, it released itself and my mom dragged me out of the ocean.

Remember in the movie Inside Out, those “core memories” that stick with you forever?! This was one of them. It’s also a huge reason why to this day, I still have issues with the beach. But it’s not just that, as you’ll see. I’m a beach hater. There. I said it. And it’s okay if you’re a beach lover. We are allowed to feel differently about topics, especially ones this important 🙂 #sarcasmisfun

also, none of the beaches i’ve been to look like this ^

SO HERE IT IS
…in absolutely no particular order, here’s my list of 14 reasons why I hate the beach…

  1. SAND…whether you’re slathered in oil or sunscreen, the second the faintest wind blows, you’re now a human piece of sandpaper. Go find a piece of wood on the pier and file that shizz down with your body. At least you’ll be productive. WHYYYYYYYYYYYY must there be so much sand?! It’s in every crevice five minutes after I’ve stepped foot on it, and I mean EV-ER-Y. And it’s either too hot, too rocky, or too gross looking. Where is all of the fine, white, perfect sand I see on the Sandals commercials? (Don’t answer that…it’s in places I can’t afford).
  2. WATER…the ocean isn’t made for humans you guys. I know that shocks some of yall! Yep, I bet you’re even surprised that there are sharks in there?!!! Why are you shocked by this?! That’s WHERE THEY LIVE. Just like we have houses and roads and utility bills, they have water and seaweed and other things that only belong in the ocean.
  3. CURRENT/UNDERTOW/WAVES…some people actually see the water as a place to have fun, where you jump waves, body board and surf. I see a death trap. Where with one wrong move, you’re trapped, injured,  drowning, or gone. The current is unpredictable, and powerful. I don’t mess with that shizz. Nope. Also, I can’t see through it. And If I can’t see through it, you won’t see me in it.
  4. WIND…Yeah, it may feel good every once and while to get a gust of wind when you’re drowning in your own sweat, err I mean laying out, but it’s also why I’m trying to stand the umbrella back up for the 1,835,394,037th time. It’s the reason why I’m human sandpaper. It’s the reason why my kid, who has only been in the ocean for four minutes, is now another town away. It’s the reason why it will take 34 minutes and two adults to lay the towels down on the sand. And it’s the reason why we will get a mouthful of sand, when the people who set up next to us, shake their towels out when packing up to go home.
  5. OUTFITS…getting ready to go to the beach with kids takes LONGER than the amount of time you will ever spend AT the actual beach. Gotta put sunscreen on head to toe, get in bathing suit/trunks/rash guards, find hats/sunglasses/water shoes and any other accessory they (all of the sudden) NEED to take to the beach.
  6. ALL OF THE FUN STUFF…Don’t forget about the $178 worth of stuff you bought at WINGS, that you won’t even be able to fit back in your car on the ride home Sunday, because you were packed so tightly on the way down, you couldn’t find a kid for a few minutes when you stopped for gas/to pee. NOW, you get to blow up all of the stuff, til you’re so lightheaded, you question whether or not you can safely walk TO the beach.
  7. PACK COOLER…Because even though it’s supposed to be recreation, you’re in the middle of a sand trap, without a kitchen, and all of the humans still have to be fed. So you must pack enough food and drinks, in the event there is also an apocalypse. But here’s the kicker. It’s damn near impossible to eat said food on the beach, because of SAND and WIND (refer back to #1 and #4). So you’ll use at least three bottles of your purified filtered water to wash off everyone’s hands so they can hold the food, just for one of them to accidentally drop the PB&J in the sand. BAD WORDS.
  8. CARRY EVERYTHING…Load up that wagon with half of the house/hotel room you’re staying in. You need towels, chairs, an umbrella, the 28 pound apocalypse cooler, boogie boards, things to build sand castles with, toys, sunscreen, floaties, etc. Whatever doesn’t fit, goes on your back. Unless you have to also carry a child. Never mind. This is the perfect push you needed to get the 6 month old to start walking. Maybe he or she can also carry something?
  9. WALK…I have a hunch that my “beach lovers” probably have/get homes ON THE BEACH. But the Millers don’t have that kind of budget…we stay three-five rows away, so we have a decent walk to get to the sand and water part. With five kids in tow, that may take a good 20 minutes, especially if the 17 month old needs to walk because of #8.
  10. NO POTTYS…this affects all of us, adults and kids alike. But ESPECIALLY if the kid needs to poop. Last summer, it took us ALL OF 90 MINUTES to get the five kids ready, dressed, packed up, and then a 20 minute walk to the beach. So nearly TWO HOURS have passed since we started the “we’re going to the beach, kids!!!” song and dance, and we finally put our feet in the sand! The kids are so excited and running around, the stud and I set everything up in 16 minutes flat, and then one of them says to me, “Deedee, I have to poop.” Yall, I SAW RED. I probably (totally) said some unkind words about bad timing, and possibly (no doubt) dropped a cuss word or two. So that child and I walked 20 minutes BACK TO THE HOUSE, waited 10 minutes for him to poop, walked 20 minutes back to the beach, and then GUESS WHAT?!!! Not thirty minutes later, the youngest hit a wall, and needed to go back to the house for his nap. So there was another 20 minute walk back with him. FFS. How do people find this enjoyable?!!!
  11. CAN’T RELAX…if you’re in the ocean, because your kids LOVE it and beg for you to get in, you’re worried about some/all of your stuff being stolen or blown away. If you’re with your stuff, depending on the tide/how busy it is, you might struggle to see your kids. There is danger at every corner. Besides the water, there’s no boundaries. So you have a kid who likes to wander? AWESOME! Looks like you’re going to get your steps in for the day! It’s also a super fun game keeping the 15-month-old out of what looks to be the biggest bathtub of all time. And don’t get me started on kidnapping, or creepers looking at your kids. I realize not everyone thinks like this, but I DO, so sue me. Oh, and how long has it been since you REAPPLIED THE SUNSCREEN ON EVERYONE?! Hurry!
  12. BATHING SUITS…What does every woman who doesn’t feel good about her body want to do?!!! WEAR AS LITTLE AMOUNT OF TIGHT FABRIC AS POSSIBLE!!! Not. But that’s part of being at the beach. And not only do you have to wear it, but you have to play in it, and build sand castles in it, and chase a toddler in it, and serve the meals in it. One wrong move, and a boob falls out, or a butt cheek…or worse?! It’s like doing all of your daily tasks in lingerie. But without air conditioning or comfortable seating.
  13. INJURY…Inevitably, despite my best efforts to lather everyone in sunscreen, someone will get severely burnt ON DAY ONE, and thus will need to avoid the sun the rest of the trip. Which makes it SUPER HARD to go to the beach the rest of the days. Someone will also get stung by a jellyfish (we’ve already covered my attack). Someone will break an arm (happened at the OBX a couple of year ago), and you will have to avoid water the rest of the time. TOTES convenient when the fun options are 1. ocean and 2. pool.
  14. CLEAN EVERYTHING…when you get back from the beach, you have to spray off everyone and everything you brought with you, which we already established was the equivalent to a large moving van. All of the kids have to be washed off and stripped down. All of the stuff has to be sprayed off. The cooler needs to be emptied. The wagon shaken out. The kids redressed. So basically, it’s more steps than even being at home.

    And this is why it’s called a “family trip” and not a vacation

I know I sound like such a hater, but for the life of me I cannot understand why people like to do all of these things so much?! Is there something I’m missing (besides a good attitude)?! I also realize that I would feel differently if we had a house ON the beach, WITH a pool, and no young kids (or kids at all) with us. I also think there is a difference in beaches…some of them really do look blissful…I’ve just never been to those 🙂

And I do think that there’s something to be said about nostalgia. If you grew up going to the beach every year, and it holds incredible memories for you, you may love it that much more as an adult. I just don’t have those memories. And neither does the stud. He didn’t see the beach until he was NINETEEN. It’s kind of like The Goonies. I never watched it as a child, and now to try and watch it as an adult, makes me want to scoop my eyeballs out with a grapefruit spoon. (Oh, now I’ve really pissed some of yall off, huh?! A hater of the beach AND The Goonies?!) 🙂

But we go because our kids LOVE THE BEACH. And that means that we’ve never let on to them how much we despise it. So before you try to school me on how damaging it is for me to ruin it for my kids, I obviously haven’t. I play along the whole time, sucking it up as we go. We look for shells, we build the drip castles, watch Lilly jump for joy, and bury their legs to make them look like mermaids.

The stud gets them up early one morning, and they watch the sun rise together, daddy and daughter time at its finest. It’s also some of my favorite pictures he’s ever taken of them…

I live for the seashells my nephews gather for me, saying “Deedee, I got shells just for you.”

Look at their elated faces when we got them the “unlimited rides” wristband for the fair! Only cost us $175 for our family of seven 😉

So I do see the joy in MANY of the moments.

I would just rather see those moments of joy WITHOUT sand in my crotch.

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So am I “irresponsible,” or a “hero?”

“ARE THEY ALL YOURSSSSSSSSS?!”

If you’ve missed it, I published THIS post recently about why we had guardianship of our nephews this summer, and then followed it up with THIS post (about a comment I heard often)! It’s a funny thing going from two kids to five kids, but not as much for me, as it was for random strangers I guess?! Because they were the ones who had the most comments, some incredibly rude! Before I get in to all of that, here was the age breakdown of the kids when they got here:

  • Gavin was 15 months
  • Ethan was 3 years old
  • Aiden was 6 years old
  • Lilly was 7 years old
  • Bella was 9 years old

Now, I will say this. We have extremely easy daughters. If we didn’t, this probably would’ve been an absolute shit show to be honest. But luckily, our minis LOVE babies, babysitting, and a captive audience, which these boys certainly provided. I was coming off of closing my bakery, and a cake business that I had for almost ten years! So I gotta say, the idea of five little ones, under nine, for the summer, in our tiny condo, STILL didn’t scare me!!! Because the last ten years had been TRUE INSANITY. I figured, if I could put up with thousands of customers (and their personalities and sometimes outrageous demands, while having nonstop deadlines) I could handle a few extra kids. I was just looking forward to getting to see my minis during the day, without the stress of a job, for the first summer EVER!

My minis turning around my sign for the last time!

My goal was to get out of the condo every single morning, weather permitting, that we could! I’m a big fan of doing a fun activity/outing in the morning, coming back for lunch, nap/quiet time, a before-dinner walk, dinner, bath, bed. And repeat. Every single day. If it was raining, or brutally hot, we would entertain ourselves with a dress up runway show, LEGOS, crafts, cooking, etc.at home!

But for the most part, I’d venture out with all five kiddos every morning, and the LOOKS I WOULD GET, YALL! Sometimes, they were sympathetic looks, like, ‘awe, look at that poor woman and all of those kids! She must be sooooooo stressed.’ Sometimes they were looks of disgust, like, ‘UGH. Can’t you just stop having kids?! Our planet doesn’t need more humans stealing all of the oxygen.’ Sometimes, they’d even go as far as to make comments, loudly, “Great! A daycare just walked in!”

And I know you’re thinking, ‘No, they would NOT say things like that!!!’ YES PEOPLE WOULD. YES PEOPLE DID. YES PEOPLE DO EVERY DAMN DAY. Just ask any parent who has, say, more than three kids.

Once, when Joshua was with me, a random guy felt the need to walk up to us, and said to him, “Man. Just tell her “no!” every once and a while!” referring to our sex life, while gesturing at me #awesome. These strangers, of course, didn’t know our story. They didn’t know that we were the guardians of three of these kids, and only two were “ours.” They didn’t know that the boys have two military parents who have six oversees tours between them. They didn’t know that the same people who protect their right to comment on our large family, entrusted us with these precious boys.

We LOVED the Discovery Place!

UNTIL, they would see how well-behaved these five kiddos were. Because let me tell you this, all five KNEW how to behave in public. They all knew what was expected OF, and FROM, them. If there was any acting up, we would leave. I’m not one to subject strangers to bad behavior, and I’m not one to reward kiddos by staying somewhere if they don’t deserve to. So when we would walk in, and I’d automatically hear people say stuff, or see them recoil in disgust, I’d want to scream, “AT LEAST GIVE US A DAMN CHANCE BEFORE YOU JUDGE US!!!”

But I didn’t. I just let the well-behaved kids speak for themselves, and before I knew it, those same people, who rolled their eyes and stared, would eventually come over to me, “Are they all YOURS?!!!” I’d explain the story to them, and suddenly, wouldn’t you know it…I was a SAINT?! “Oh my gosh. You’re watching all of the boys because their parents are in the military? You are a SUCH a good person. WOW! You are such a blessing to them!” And my favorite, “family is EV-ER-Y-THING!!!!”

Um, is it though home girl?! Because when you thought my FAMILY consisted of five kids birthed by me, you thought I was irresponsible, greedy, didn’t know how birth control worked, in over my head, etc. But now…NOW…you think I’m a hero for taking them all in. And subsequently, taking them all out (of the house)! 🙂 You judged us before you knew anything about us. Which begs the question I asked myself over and over…

WHY DOES IT MATTER TO YOU HOW MANY KIDS A PERSON HAS?!

Seriously, why? As long as they aren’t affecting you in some way, why does the idea of a big family seem to bother people? And please, let me make sure to reiterate, I understand the curiosity! I also understand that some people were trying to be funny in some of their comments. I also ‘get’ that anything beyond the societal “norm” of 2.4 kids, will evoke questions and stares, but I will never understand the rude comments, and the bad behavior assumption.

In the not so distant past, having five children wasn’t considered to be SO MANY EFFING KIDS! But that doesn’t even really matter to me. What matters is that people respect what other people choose to do with their lives when it comes to having a specific number of kids. I’ll tell you this, I loved having five kids! My hands were full, but so was my heart. I was covered in hugs and kisses, and it was fun to have the boys! Sure, there was pee EVERYWHERE! But that was a small price to pay to have so many little ones to laugh at my jokes 😉

Just because the thought of five kids would overwhelm YOU, doesn’t mean that it sounds awful to someone else. That’s called projection folks, and you gotta stop that shizz.

My favorite story took place at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Azteca. I walked in with all five kids, and we were sat at a table. Joshua was coming from work, so I was there were without him for a few minutes. I sat all of the kids, making sure they all had chips, salsa, their waters, etc. and they were all perfectly quiet and happy.

A group of eight people, maybe in ages ranging from 55-70, came towards where we were seated, and I met their faces. I could tell in their comments and mannerisms that they assumed the five kids would ruin their adult-filled evening, and heard them even ask the hostess if they could be seated somewhere else, but it was the only available eight-top and they begrudgingly took their seats. Joshua showed up shortly after, and I filled him in on the rolled eyes, the looks in our direction followed by heavy sighs, and told him that they were none-to-pleased to be seated next to us. As usual, the kids were PERFECTION the entire way through dinner, and were adorable with the mariachi band, the waitress, and anyone else who talked to them.

When our meal was over, I was busy wiping the kids’ faces and hands, and Joshua got up to pull the car around. The table of eight stopped him, and I heard a woman say, “I just wanted to say what a fabulous job you two are doing with those kiddos.” Joshua told her that we had our hands full, but that we loved it. The rest of her table made some kind comments and some of the kids followed Joshua out. Then she leaned over towards me, and said, “I will be honest, I didn’t want to sit here at first because I thought it was going to be disruptive. But I was shocked at just how great they all were.” I told her the story of why we had five kids, and she REALLY couldn’t stop with the compliments then.

I told her that I could sense when people were bothered by us, and kindly mentioned that I’d appreciate the benefit of the doubt every once and while, but that I certainly understood why people were curious. When I was ready to take the last few kids to the car, her entire table clapped for me, and made sure to say “good job” to the kids. I got choked up and thanked them for the gestures.

Different Mexican restaurant. Same stares 😉

And as much as I desperately wanted to get the benefit of the doubt, I wanted the KIDS to get the benefit of the doubt from people more so than anything. I’m a huge believer that if you expect kids to be bad, you’ll look for every instance for them to be bad. Maybe try expecting the best from them, and they just might rise to the occasion?! This is why I don’t love the terms “terrible two,” “threenager,” “frightening fours,” etc. It’s almost a predetermined ‘this is when my kid (or other kids) is going to start sucking.’ Well folks, I’m here to tell you, THEY DON’T HAVE TO. But that’s a whole ‘nother post!

Bottom line, I’m no hero. John and Joy are the heroes of this story. We simply filled a role that was needed (and that we signed up for many years ago BTW), and I craved people’s support more than ever. Not their misplaced judgments. So think about that before you decide to know the story of the large family you see walk in somewhere. Perhaps they’ve adopted children from a bad home situation? Maybe there’s been a death in their family/friends circle, and they took in the children left behind? Or guess what?! Some people LOVE the idea of a big family, and can choose to have as many as they want!!! My dad is one of nine, and my mom is one of seven. It’s not weird to everyone, I promise! If you’re wondering how to react to a family with lots of kids…show love, grace, and kindness (like you should to everyone else BTW).

Oh, and could ya hold the door for the woman with the double stroller, a diaper bag, purse, and a bajillion kids?! Kthanks.

 

I saw Beauty and the Beast, and was SHOCKED!

I was sitting in the movie theater with my daughters, Isabella (10) and Lillian (8), and was anxiously awaiting this “exclusive gay” scene that the director of the movie, Bill Condon, said was coming. Then the movie was over, the credits ran, and I was confused. I hadn’t gone to the bathroom. I didn’t leave to get more popcorn, or refill our drink. I didn’t even so much as nod off for two seconds. So HOW DID I MISS THE MONUMENTAL GAY SCENE that led Franklin Graham to call for a boycott/ban of the movie?!!!

The answer:

Because there isn’t one.

Spoiler alert folks! The “scene” they’re talking about happens in the last few minutes of the movie, where two guys dance together. BUT WAIT MIRANDA. They must’ve been grinding, right? Not even close. They must’ve been making out while dancing?! Wrong again! They must’ve been groping each other?! Nope. Their hands were above the equator.

The two guys were dancing with ladies at the ball, and you know when you switch partners mid-dance (let’s think of square dancing), and you end up with the other person’s partner? Well, that’s what happened here, but it ended up being two guys as partners. NO WAY! But listen closely yall. While they were dancing, they actually LOCKED…

wait for it…

EYES.

Yep. They locked eyes. And it lasted 1.9 seconds (seriously, I timed it). The entire GAY SCENE lasted less time than it takes me to sneeze. I really hope you’re not offended by my retelling of this CRAZY scene. One that people are SO MAD ABOUT that they can’t even support Disney anymore. The one that they are claiming to be a “slippery slope,” that opens the door to a PLETHORA of gay characters. One that they refuse to take their children to because they don’t want to have to explain what GAY means. {shudder}

So imagine my shock when we got to the credits, and I STILL hadn’t seen anything I needed to explain to my kids?!!!! I felt bamboozled! I questioned if they sent us the version they’re showing in Malaysia, where they had to cut the GAY SCENE out?!!! Excuse me AMC…did yall get the wrong copy?! I clearly missed a MAJOR part of the movie.

Please tell me you are picking up on my sarcasm?

Let’s just say, I’ve seen more affection, than that scene had, watching two guys celebrate a touchdown of their favorite team. I’ve seen more sexual tension in a high five/bro hug. I’ve seen more action in a trust fall.

Bottom line…maybe you’re the type to not welcome a gay character in a Disney movie, but Beauty and the Beast is NOT the mountain you should be willing to die on to get your point across. And here’s something to consider…maybe don’t blindly boycott a film based on what someone else says? Dig for information. Make sure you have the actual facts. I suggest seeing it first BEFORE you decide what it does or doesn’t have in it. Weird, I know. 😉

In fact, if ANY group could be pissed/shocked/underwhelmed, I’d think it would be the LGBTQ community? I’m curious to hear their thoughts, more than anyone else’s.

Anyways, the movie was great! I had never seen the original (I know I know), so it was all a whole new world (wrong movie? 🙂 ) for me!!! The songs were wonderful, the characters were perfect, the special effects were stunning…I simply LOVED it!

And by the numbers, it doesn’t look like the boycott is affecting Disney’s pockets at all!

Stop saying “finally got your boy, huh?!”

On International Women’s Day, I’ve got something to say about my little women!

(Well, truthfully, I started typing this Jan. 22nd, but since today seems appropriate to post it, here ya go!)

By now, yall know that our family temporarily grew this summer with my three nephews coming to live with us! If you missed it, read about it here!

I heard A LOT of comments regarding the whole situation in general. I could write a blog post a day about the things that were said to the kids and me throughout our time together. But I heard one comment more so than ever in those 9 weeks…”you finally got your boy, huh?!”

My mini-me, Gavin, and his favorite blankie!

While the six-year-old had fair skin and red hair, and the three-year-old had blond hair and hazel eyes, the 15 month old, Gavin, had brown hair and brown eyes, just like me! You can see how different they each look in this pic:

My mom and the boys!

And although I had all five of them a lot, ANY TIME it was Bella, Lilly, and Gavin, which it often was because Joshua would take the older two boys to do stuff, it never failed that AT LEAST one person (or 1723689) would say “What a beautiful family! You FINALLY got that boy, huh?!!!!” And before you say it, I hear ya, I’m sure people meant well. They’re trying to make conversation, right? They see two kids of the same gender, and then a younger kid with the opposite gender, and assume you must be thrilled/relieved/ebullient! And if Gavin was mine, of course, I’d be thrilled!!! But not because he’s a BOY; because he’s my CHILD.

Of course, these words didn’t come as a surprise to me because the minute we found out that our second (Lilly) was a girl, people already started asking if we were going to try for a third so we could “get that boy!!!” Let me repeat that. Before our second child had even been BORN, people were wondering if we would try again for a different gender?!!!! Right. Because just speaking “boy” into existence, guarantees us the next baby will have a wiener! UGH. And believe me, I also know that if we had two boys, people would ask if we were trying for a girl!

Our minis, what seems like a million years ago!

Here’s the thing, I knew I was always meant to be a mom of two. I told Joshua on our first date that I was “two and through” when it came to kids, no matter the genders. 

So I would try to be funny, or change the convo, or even be truthful/polite at first, with my response being, “Joshua and I are having two kids, so no third baby, or possible boy for us!” Which would usually prompt the person to say, “Oh really? That’s such a shame. I’m SURE your husband wants a boy! You should at least TRY to give him one.” WHAT IN THE ACTUAL WHAT?! My favorite was a random woman on a street corner uptown who saw our family of four bike riding a few months ago and said, “you need to give that man a SON! We need to raise more male leaders in this country!” Yeah because that’s totally what’s lacking in #merica. Okaaaaaay. 

YALL. STOP. LIKE, FULL STOP. If you are saying things like this to people, let me explain why it’s offensive/hurtful to some. (I say “some” because I know people are going to say it doesn’t bother them AT ALL to hear things like this. They are better people than me, clearly ;))

First, my reproductive decisions are none of your business. But since I’m an open book, that’s not even what bothers me the most about it. It’s the ASSUMPTION that people are disappointed with what genders their kids are, or that no one is happy until they get at least one of each. Joshua and I had ZERO expectations going into our pregnancies. I think (I struggle to remember anything) we were like, a boy and girl would be cool because we’d get to experience each gender, and its unique challenges and joys. I had a thought that if a boy was born first, he could be the big brother to the younger sibling. And as long as it took you to read those two sentences, is as long as we devoted time to thinking about it. But the second that ultrasound tech said, “IT’S A GIRL!” when we were finding out with our first, we were over the moon ECSTATIC to be having a daughter!

Tis true!

When we announced we were pregnant the second time, “are you hoping for a boy?!!!” was the most popular question. “Um, I truly don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl. If it’s a boy, we have a lot of stuff to buy, and I have to get comfortable with boy parts! If it’s a girl, we won’t need to buy as much, and I’m familiar with them already! It’s a win win!” Well, when the tech put the cold gel on my belly and saw another girl on the screen, we were once again elated!!! We were going to have SISTERS, and we couldn’t WAIT to see their bond. But I couldn’t figure out why if WE (the people who were actually RAISING THESE TWO GIRLS) were excited, other people had such strong, sometimes negative, opinions?!!! I mean, this isn’t China yall! We’ve progressed enough to know that girls are awesome too, right?! RIGHT?!

Proudest daddy of these two girls EVER!

Fun fact: not every MAN judges his masculinity on whether or not he has a son. Not every father NEEDS a boy to carry on his name or legacy. Not every guy cares about generations of names, and having a “Junior.” My hubby was named after his father, and doesn’t even go by either the first or middle name! Not every dad is crushed if he doesn’t have a boy to “toss around the ball with,” because he can also toss them around with our minis. Please don’t pity Joshua; he doesn’t want it. And for the record, if we had a third, he’d want it to be a girl, so there 😉

But what REALLY chaps my ass about the “you finally got your boy?!!!!” comment, is when it’s in front of my two daughters, because you’ve given THEM the idea that a parent isn’t TRULY HAPPY, until they’ve birthed a son. Bella once said to me after hearing this for the umpteenth time this summer (and many times in the last eight years), “Mommy, I know you’ve said you are happy that Lilly and I were girls, so why does everyone think you and daddy wanted a boy?!” I could’ve gone in to some long explanation about how projection works, but instead, I just told her people don’t realize how things come across when they say them and how people typically mean no harm. I was mostly grateful that she heard what I had repeated to her and Lilly all those years.

“I love that I have two girls so much, and wouldn’t wish for anything else! You two girls were meant for daddy and me, and no one else!”

Because imagine if she heard all of those comments over the years and internalized them? ‘I’m just a girl.’ ‘I’m not as good as having a boy.’ ‘Are my parents disappointed in who and what I am?’ ‘Would I be better if I was a boy?’ ‘Does my dad wish I was different?’ And so on and so forth. Because isn’t that the message people are trying to insinuate? OHHHHHHH, it’s NOT?! Well, if it isn’t, then stop. Stop saying it. Because words matter. What our daughters and sons hear, matters. And yes, I realize that not every kid is going to be scarred by these words, but maybe a few will? And I KNOW no adult actually wants that, so let’s just say what we mean, and mean what we say? 

And I know it happens the other way around with boy moms. “Oh geez! All boys?! Sheesh. You must have your hands FULL! Are you hoping for a girl, so you can feel what calm and sweetness is like?” As if boys aren’t capable of that?! As if girls aren’t ever rambunctious?! LOL!!!!

If you think having a boy is the best thing since sliced bread, AWESOME! But I also think the same thing about having a girl! I think it’s honestly, you love what you’ve been blessed with, no matter what, because it’s what you know! Both genders are equally as beautiful, and life changing, and miracles, etc.! But it doesn’t mean that person you’re talking to wants one or the other. It doesn’t mean, especially if they’ve told you they’re happy, that you should convince them otherwise. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you know better for their lives, than they do. 

And please let me make myself clear. If you WANT to “keep going til you get that boy (or girl),” DO IT!!! Nothing wrong with that!!! My friend just had a baby girl after four boys, and I know she feels like her family is now complete. Three of my other friends had two boys each, and all had a daughter their third go ’round, and they feel an insane bond with their girls that can’t be described. But they felt like they were missing that piece of a dream; I simply don’t. 

Also, if you are done having kids (for whatever reason), and didn’t get the gender you deep down wanted, or maybe always thought you’d have, I understand that too. I have a very good friend who has two awesome boys. She adores them. They lack for nothing in life, in every way. But deep down, she would’ve loved to have a daughter at some point. It was a wish she had her whole life. But that’s not what happened, and it’s okay to mourn the loss of a dream. So imagine how much hurt it caused, on top of what she was already feeling, to have people say “you’re not going to try for a daughter?!!!” Or “you would make SUCH a great girl mom too!” And so on. If she could have, she would have. 

I wish we could just get to a place where everyone was happy for you, right as you are. Instead of telling you how much better it would be if it was different. I’m happy. My stud is happy. Our daughters are happy. You should be too, for us. 

My family that I adore so much!

 PS Because this post is about Gavin, and how he could be my son,
here are some fun pictures about how we’re similar in many ways! 😉

We have similar body types…need more ab workouts obvi

He worships at Bella’s feet!

He never wants to let go of Lilly’s hand

We love to chill on the couch, Cam Newton, and watching the Panthers

And walk around gyms like we own the place LOL!

That time we went from two kids to five…overnight!

That’s our Army truck in the background. #forreals

I can’t remember the exact day or even month that it was brought up to me that I’d possibly be taking guardianship of my three nephews over the summer. But I just knew in my heart that it was the answer I was looking for to close my cakery with pride…instead of because I was flat out exhausted from being a business owner (I’ll go in to that more in another post). Sure, there were other reasons, like my other half, Kelley, was pregnant and going on maternity leave soon. And that my lease was up, and I could walk away without any debt, make some money selling the assets, and call it a day! But even with all of that, I wanted to feel like I was doing something honorable, instead of something selfish.

Laying on the floor of my cakery on closing day!

My brother, John, and his wife, Joy, are both in the Army, and knew that they were going to have to work/train/go to school in two different places…a few different states to be exact, Kansas/Virginia for Joy and New York for John. It would have been almost impossible for either of them to take their three boys and go solo, considering they didn’t have homes, day care, or schooling set up. The stud and I are their legal guardians, a role we take seriously, and when we’re needed, we want to be there! And for those who say, “I thought that the military doesn’t split families up?!” Sometimes, they do! The first time we ever had one of our nephews was when Aiden was 6 months old (Joy was in Kuwait and John was in Afghanistan). This time, Aiden was 6 years old, and had two brothers joining him, Ethan who was 3 (turned 4 while here) and Gavin, who was 15 months when we got him. Oh, and have I mentioned I’m a mom of two already, Lilly who is 7 and Bella who was 9?! That makes 5 under 9 years old, and home for the WHOLE SUMMER 😉

But just because we like to do things the hard way, our HOME is an 1100 sq ft two bedroom condo uptown! So we went from a family of four, to SUDDENLY SEVEN overnight!!! How did we do this without losing our minds?! Easy answer, LAUGH! And realize that this isn’t the hardest or worst problem we’re going to have. To keep the perspective and to embrace the crazy! For starters, we had to sell our Jeep, Daisy, because she wasn’t going to hold 7 peeps.

Stud let them pick their own outfits, clearly.

We got a Four Runner and ordered a custom third row seat to be built. Then I found a buyer for the cakery’s assets, and sold it all in one lot, so I didn’t have to move a bunch of stuff, or try to find buyers for every little thing. I borrowed a ton of gear from friends who still had stuff sitting in their garages, and purchased some random stuff that we had long gotten rid of after the baby years. Then it came to the biggest task of all…time to fit all of these kids into our tiny condo! THANK GOD FOR IKEA!!!

Not an ad, although I’d take a gift card for the shout out!

As I mentioned above, we live in a two bedroom condo. Our minis have almost always shared a room their whole lives, so we just told them they’d be sharing with “TWO MORE PEOPLE…WOOHOO” (it’s all in how you sell it, right?)!!! We bought another set of bunk beds, mattresses, sheet sets, pillows and more, and put Aiden and Ethan in with Bella and Lilly. Our girls were just excited they could both have the top bunks now!

The minis loved that they both had top bunks!

Gavin needed his own space, so what better than our master closet?! I know, I know. A baby in a closet?!!! But ya know what yall?! Closets are secluded, dark, and quiet! And Gavin turned into the most amazing sleeper in that closet, averaging 3-4 hour naps daily, and 13-14 hours at night! And we have a sizeable closet, big enough to fit all of our clothes, store our things, fit a pack n play, and we were still able to open and close the door no problem!

Highly recommend putting babies to sleep in closets.

From there, I just needed to prepare my emotions, my patience, and my mind. It’s not only hard to go from two to five kids, but mine are so self sufficient at their ages. Going back to toddlerhood was going to stretch me, and I knew it. How was I going to entertain these five kiddos all summer? How was I going to keep my cool when they were all melting down? Were people going to want to host five kids at their homes so we could still see our friends? Would I be emotionally available for all of them? I mean, here are these boys who have had a major life change. Oh yeah, and they’re BOYS! I was only used to girls. And pee getting IN the toilet 😉 Mainly, I just wanted to be ENOUGH. For them, my daughters, my husband, my family, and my friends.

I can’t even with this picture. #thecutest

I went in to the summer saying, “I just want to keep them all alive, and out of the ER. If I set the bar low, certainly it can only go up from there.” Want to know if I was successful or not?! Well, you’ll have to wait for the follow up post, loosely titled “pee goes IN the toilet!” or something like that 🙂 Let’s just say, I was shocked many MANY times over! Maybe as shocked as the faces on the people who saw me walk in to a place with five kiddos 😉

City Select (borrowed, because PRICE, whoa) stroller FTW!