Watching the Turkeys

My brother has a family of turkeys that live in the green belt behind his home. Every morning, they are in his lawn, seeking breakfast in the grass. Normally, they are already in the lawn when I get up. This morning, I had the pleasure of watching them arrive. At first, I saw a slight movement from the side of his lawn. And then, here came this little baby turkey. (Chick? Are turkey young called chicks? I don’t know, I’ll have to ask my best friend. She has a flock of them. Wait. Is it a flock of turkeys? It’s a murder of ravens. I know that one because it’s super weird. A menagerie? Whatever. I digress.) This little bitty turkey just waddles his/her way onto the lawn – eager to investigate. That one is followed by mama, who I can only describe as regal. She is a real beauty. And then, two more little chicks (yeah, I’m sticking with it now) follow her out onto the lawn. Mama gracefully struts through the grass, looking for unsuspecting bugs, calling for her babies when she finds something, and continues to forage across the lawn and into the neighbors property.

It’s been a while since I’ve stopped to watch the turkeys. It’s like this thing you know is happening – an everyday ritual – but it just happens in the background while you continue to stress about whatever the day’s given stress is. Or, sometimes it’s not even that day’s stress. Sometimes it’s something that happened weeks or months ago and you’re still going over it in your mind. Or maybe it’s your mental to do list and you’re planning your stress in advance. Whatever it is, there’s no time for turkey watching.

Last summer, I took a job as an elementary school teacher. When I started this blog, I had just left a job teaching high school journalism after our funding ran out when our grant expired. Every job I’ve ever had (journalist, teacher, advertising executive) has some with its own degree of stress. But nothing – NOTHING – stresses me more than being a mother. It’s not the same kind of stress as fearing that you’ve somehow screwed up an account for a client, or the stress  of not having a lead story for that night’s news, or the stress of not knowing if a student is truly grasping a concept you’ve been working on all quarter. No, motherhood is full of its own special stresses. Stresses like, “Are my kids growing up to be productive members of society?” “How do I get two of the three kids to point A and the third to point B at the exact same time, despite the fact they are 15 miles away from each other?” and (recently) “Will this lice infestation ever end?!”

Stress is something mamas (at the least the human ones) are good at. And if we can’t find something to stress about with our kids, we can just wait a moment because the next stress is right around the corner. But, the turkey mama – she doesn’t worry. She doesn’t stress. She just is. The fact that I got to watch her this morning with her three chicks is not lost on me. It’s the simple things – God showing me how to take a moment and relax. To smile.

I’ve been reading the same thing a lot recently in my morning devotionals – the same message but in different verses:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

Or, especially fitting for today: “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matthew 6:26-27

So, today, I’m watching the turkeys and I’m taking note. Worry less, watch more. Don’t stress over the small things. Except the lice. But that’s a different story for another day.


Touchy Feely

So… apparently too much love is a bad thing, at least in some settings.

My three-year old got a “yellow light” in school today. (That’s a bad thing.) The teacher said it was because he was, “having a hard time keeping his hands to himself and not on his friends.” She went on to explain, he wasn’t being aggressive, he just wouldn’t keep his hands to himself. When I asked my little one why he got a “yellow light,” he said it was because he “wasn’t listening.” Not listening and keeping his hands to himself are two different things, I told him. He said he got into trouble because he was “snuggling” his friend. I asked if his friend had asked him to stop snuggling him. He said no. “Snuggling” in our house is a full body cuddle. I guess that’s looked down upon in preschool.

The more I think about this, the more questions I have.

Did he get in trouble because they were supposed to be napping and he wouldn’t stop touching his friend?

Did he get in trouble because he was snuggling another little boy?

Did he get in trouble because his friend didn’t want him touching him?

You see, the more I think about it – the more I wonder what really happened. Since when is cuddling a crime? For most “yellow light” offenses, he has some sort of consequence. But, I just can’t punish him for a simple snuggle.

How would you handle this one?


Daughters – Now Entering Tweenhood

My daughter is a couple of months shy of 11. But, if you ask her, she’s just six short years away from being able to drive a car. She has a car already picked out and everything. She has claimed my husband’s jeep.

She’s been reading these American Girl books – the ones about your changing body and stuff. You know, the 2013 version of what Judy Bloom was to us when we were tweens. In the book, there are these tear out pages with fun activities you can do with your mom – girl bonding time. We did a few yesterday. I loved it. I think she did, too. There are also tear out signs. She has found the one that says, “Do Not Disturb” and read it aloud to her younger brothers – so they will understand what this means when it is hung on her door.

Do Not Disturb – man, that’s more than a sign – that’s a theme for most young ladies from about 10 to 22. I’ve caught the eye rolling and the exasperated sighs and now, here we are with an actual sign that essentially says, “leave me the hell alone.”

I swear, it wasn’t that long ago when she was my only child. She was this beautiful baby girl and I was a terrified new mom. All of a sudden, there was this little tiny girl who, among other more crucial things, needed her hair to be done and I was freaking clueless.  I still am clueless regarding the hair. In fact, my husband showed me this really cool picture on Facebook of a braid.

Easy Looking But Crazy Hard Braid

Easy Looking But Crazy Hard Braid

So yeah… that looked easy enough. I tried to do this to my daughter this morning. The woman doing the braiding in this photo must be an octopus because there is no freaking way you can do this with two hands. I had my daughter holding a piece and my son holding another (which was not the smartest move on my part, by the way…) while I attempted this braid-mare.

Needless to say, it didn’t end well. I braided – then undid it. I tried again. On the third time (and after a lot of under my breath cursing) my daughter suggested, “Mom, why don’t we try this again later tonight when we have more time?” God love that child.

I may try this braiding nightmare again tonight, if my daughter can stand it. But, I know for sure it won’t look like the masterpiece in the picture.

Back to the book and those bonding activities – of which, I do not think braiding hair nightmares is one – it asked what advice your daughter would give her daughter one day. What did my daughter answer? “Don’t rush.” Hmm. Fitting. And this was BEFORE I started massacring her hair.

What advice would you give your daughter and what advice do you think she’ll carry on for her daughter one day?

Babies and Puppies

When I was a full-time news producer, I had a task of finding what we called a “kicker” on a daily basis. You know these stories: the feel good 30 seconds of your day that ends the newscast after you’ve heard all the horribly depressing details of the world. I often jokingly called these the “cat fashion show” kinds of stories. These are the ones where the world wouldn’t come to a crashing halt if they didn’t exist, but they make you smile nonetheless.

If we needed a kicker, you could always count on a story that contained one of two things: babies or puppies. Okay, fine, kittens count too. Heck, any small creature works well there. Oh, and if you can somehow combine babies with small animals, even better.

You can trust me on this. Don’t believe me? Go scroll your Facebook feed for a moment. I’ll wait.

Did you check? I was right, wasn’t I? Your feed had at least one baby, kid or animal picture in it, didn’t it?

So… imagine my surprise when I tried to share a video of my youngest with two of my coworkers. They actually walked away. Briskly. WITHOUT EVEN WATCHING IT! And, I’m not trying to brag, but this was one darn cute video. (My son’s rendition of the ABCs, which now contains the letter ‘J’… and a lot of it.)

These coworkers do not have kids. And while I can understand them not wanting to delve into that world… COME ON! I look at pictures of their pets and stuff!

Folks… are we asking too much of our non-parent friends to look at pictures of our kids?

Oh, what a night…

Now that I have that song stuck in your head…

My evening with my children was… interesting… to say the least. The first day back to our house after spending time over at their dad’s is always a rough transition – as I imagine it as when they go back to his house after being at our home. Last night was no different.

All three kids wanted to watch a movie. We try to limit screen time, so they asked, instead, if we could play a game. Everyone was fine with this – except my three-year old. My refusal to let him watch a movie combined with my refusal to let him have a second juice box was just too much for him to take. He laid down on the ground – kicking, screaming, banging his fists and shouting into the floorboards, “I HATE MOMMY!” Oh joy. Those are always the words a mom/dad wants to hear. Gee, thanks.

I picked his flailing little body up and carried him to his room, fists and feet a flying. I told him he was being nasty and shut the door, telling him he could come out when he could calm himself down and apologize. Fast forward through a lot more screaming and sobbing… and he tells me he’s sorry for saying he hates me. Over juice.

My 10-year-old daughter, meanwhile, gets reprimanded for sneaking food off her plate – after being told, repeatedly, to wait. My seven-year old son then polished off the night by asking me if I was around when Noah’s Ark was built.

So.. how was your evening?

The Wrong Side of the Bed

Hmm. Where to start? Well, let me back in to this by saying we are moving. Staying in the same community, just downsizing – drastically.

My boys will be sharing a room (which they already do.) We were concerned their new bedroom wouldn’t be big enough to fit my seven-year old’s race car bed. I insisted we find a way to make it fit. My son loves that bed! (Insert that time as a mom where you’re the one who’s actually more attached something than the child you are fretting over is.)

My first grader says to me, matter of factly, “Mom, when we get a new house, I’d like a new bed. I think I’m too old for this one and I feel like bunk beds would be a good choice.” I was astounded. First of all, he was very articulate in his statement. It was well thought out and he’d obviously been considering this for a while. Secondly, bunk beds? That’s what we were going to try to appease him with if we couldn’t take the race car bed with us! And finally, he’s “too old” for his race car bed? Say what?! But, but… I guess we’ll be saying  goodbye to the old red bed.

While all this has been going down, his little brother, our youngest, wants to be just like his big brother. He has decided he no longer wants to sleep in his little bed either. (We’ve been using the convertible crib with the one side removed…) He has taken to sleeping in the race car bed or the other twin mattress. This is great and all (although, it was doubly crushing for both my baby boys to decide to grow up on me so fast!) except for the fact that my toddler has woken up on the wrong side of the bed each and every day he’s slept on a different bed.

Each morning, my three-year old has been a sheer terror. Three times this week – he has screamed. All. The. Way. To. Preschool.People, this is NOT a short drive.  He insists he’s a big boy and should be able to go to school with his big brother and sister. By the time we drop them off and reach the preschool – he’s in full-on meltdown mode. He rotates between the “stiff as a board” and “wet noodle” approaches in his car seat, making it virtually impossible to remove him from the car without looking like a wild woman. Once we reach the top step of the preschool, I’m working up my best tactic to get him to settle down.

This morning, another parent caught me showing my boy his face in the mirror and telling him, “This is a grumpy boy. Where’s my happy boy?” The dad walked past and said, “Yeah, let me know if that works – I have two you can try it on.”

Why must toddlers want what they want when they want it? I’m hoping/praying tomorrow will bring significantly less drama, especially considering it’s a weekend!

Anyone out there with some toddler-taming-tips?


Are You THAT Mom?

I witnessed some pretty harsh child-on-child violence the other day. Even more surprising was the setting: Church.

The brother and sister – each about eight or nine years old – were fighting over who knows what. That’s not really important. If you have kids, you know kids will fight over just about anything. If you don’t have kids – geez, thanks for reading my blog anyway. (Sorry about all the poop stories.)

So, here they were, in the heat of it. He’s saying something she doesn’t like. She’s saying something he doesn’t like. He says something she really doesn’t like and she winds up – cranking her arm – fully stretched – as far as it will go backward – and slaps him. HARD. In the face. God love that boy, while he didn’t quite turn the other cheek, he didn’t hit her back. In fact, he didn’t do much of anything. He stood there, clutching his now very red cheek and stared back at her in disbelief. That’s when reality struck her.

“OH! I didn’t mean to do that!” She blurted out at him.

I stood there – watching. Waiting. When no one came swooping in to act – I chose to be: THAT MOM.

My own mother is pretty notorious for scooping up and reprimanding small children in the church I grew up in. But, since I’m pretty new to the church I now attend, I decided not to go all out on this kid. I walked over to her and she gazed up in me in panic mode.

“Lets go find your mother,” I said calmly to her.

“NO! It was an accident!” she pleaded with me.

I wasn’t about to call some kid I don’t know a liar, so I replied, “I’m not sure that’s accurate.” Then, we went to find her mom. The girl took off running toward her mom – anxious to have the first word. I saw her mom’s face take the shock. I walked up and said, “I just wanted to make sure you knew what happened,” and walked away.

Tell me – what would you have done? Do you become THAT MOM and go narc a kid out? Do you yell at the kid yourself? Do you ignore it completely? How do you handle these scenarios?


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