A Sure Sign We’re Ready for Summer’s End

Barbie is bald. 

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Hot Garbage

It’s one of the last days of summer vacation. I can think of few things that would so eloquently capture the fleeting nature of these lazy, crazy, sticky, and sweaty few months we’ve enjoyed at the Bernard home than this:

Hot Garbage
Allow me to elaborate. 
We must contract for trash pick-up service, and guess who stuck the tiny postcard of a bill inside the back of the “to pay” folder? And guess who had no idea the bill had not been paid until it was two weeks past its deadline? And guess who realized this only after the garbage guys did not pick up her garbage on the curb, now two weeks ago? 
Yep. That would be yours truly. 
So, I called the company and they said all I need to do is send a check for the balance and the service will resume. 
But I forgot. Until Monday. Trash pick-up is Wednesday. 
Yea. They hadn’t gotten the check yet. 
Oh, and did I mention it’s been 115 degrees every day for the last week? 
When I heard the garbage truck outside on Wednesday morning, I pressed my nose against the glass, like a kid does waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. I chanted and willed with everything in my being to the garbage collectors walking up and down the sidewalk in front of my house: “Pick up my garbage. Pick up my garbage!”
Rejection set in as I watched Garbage Guy glance to my two large, smelly, stuffed cans and yell to Garbage Truck Driver Dude: “This one? Do we get this one?” He gestured at my cans.
“Yes!” I screamed, my cries muffled against the glass. 
Just then the engine revved and inched on down the street, Garbage Guy going on to dump my neighbors’ cans. 
Thus launched the 2010 Find an Alternative Garbage Disposal Solution because I knew we were now facing another week of piled-up garbage. I knew I was facing a little-more-than-upset husband: (“Didn’t you pay them?” “Yes, but the check hasn’t cleared yet, dear.”)
I Googled the Davidson county dumpsites, only to discover the nearest one was a good twenty-minute drive from my house. I found a very close Williamson county one but couldn’t figure out a way to get in since I have Davidson county plates. I quizzed my hair dresser—who generously offered her salon’s dumpster for my use. I had one friend staking out her neighbor’s can to see if we could squeeze a few bags in Thursday night. We couldn’t. It was full. 
And then, I had a brilliant idea. The apartment complex where our church rented office space is a veritable dumpster paradise. There’s one—sometimes two—on every corner. Technically, we don’t still rent there, but I’m believing there’s a grace period for after-rental garbage dumping privileges or something like that. 
Friday, as I had a sitter with the kids (yes, this was my fun “me” day outing), I carefully loaded Hot Garbage into the back of the van. I don’t have to tell you how disgusting it was. Thankfully, I only had to drive less than five minutes down the street. I made two trips and unloaded about 10 bags of hot, stinky, grody, yucky garbage into that absolutely empty dumpster. 
What a feeling of accomplishment! I had solved the problem. I had found a workable solution. I had faced the filth and the stench. I got it done. 
Nothing like a little Hot Garbage on a sweltering August day to really motivate and energize a stay-at-home mom into action.

photo: ericortner at stock.xchng


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Greetings From the Middle of Summer

This summer is proving to be one of shattered expectations. Now that I think about it, though, when does my life ever turn out as I had planned?

I can’t believe how busy I am. I am shuttling children hither and yon—and we really aren’t even THAT busy! Still, I’m in the van quite a bit: loading, unloading, packing, unpacking, and so on.

And that makes me tired.

I have created a master work of art in Susanna’s room, which I will show you as soon as I get about $100 to buy a new digital camera (our really nice one got rained on in the flood and now won’t work). Our washer of 12 (or so) years finally konked last week. The in-laws graciously offered to buy a new one. We accepted.

I continue with my study of the Enneagram. I’m pretty sure I’m a Type 3, which is the type that has the need to succeed. I’m learning quite a bit but have yet to be able to distill it all into words.

I find that: I think I have some things to say but don’t have the time or presence of mind to put it down intelligibly and sincerely (thus, this rambling post).

And who knew? I have planter pots on my porch. They’ve been planted now for one week, and they aren’t languishing! I’m kind of surprised since I fully embrace the fact that I’m not a gardener, yet I rejoice that I have 7 days of keeping these plants alive behind me. (And I’ll post some pictures when I get that camera.)

I’m headed to a social media/blogging conference in about two weeks. I’m so excited, but it’s kind of sneaking up on me. I guess that’s better than pining for it, huh? And I’m so thrilled to report that the authors behind the fabulous devotional book, My Grandmother Is … Praying for Me, are sponsoring my trip. In return, I’ll be doing some social media work for their book and their brand.

That’s a little bit of a catch-up for now.

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And This Day Is Done

Now?

Now: I decided I didn’t like this day very much. Dinner was a Mike’s Hard Cranberry Lemonade and a slice of birthday cake.

And that’s about all I have to say about that.

Mommy Guilt: Always Right There for the Introvert

I am an introvert.

People drain me. Suck the life out of me. Make me tired and crabby. Make my head hurt and my knees buckle.

Really, just leave me alone. And I’ll be fine.

So, then, is it any wonder that I’m BARELY FUNCTIONING after a week at home with the kids? My kids have to be the most extroverted, entertainment-seeking, fight-starting, snack-begging children on the planet.

And they got me for a mom.

So, when I’ve had enough and my pulse races at the sound of “MOOOOOOOOOOOM! MOOOOOOMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEE! MOOOOOOOOOM!” for the 8 billioneth time, I retreat. I retreat both physically (leave the room) and mentally (block it out; ignore it, which only makes it louder and longer; stupid strategy, I know).

And, here they come.

Today, I had one boy saying every 10 seconds, “I want PEETZA PERFECT for dinner. Mom! I want PEEEET-ZA! If I don’t have PEETZA, it’s going to be the worst day of my life!”

The other boy was finding random sticky notes throughout the house and bringing to shred them in the paper shredder.

“Mom! Can I put this piece in? PUH-LEEZE????!!!! Mom! This piece? What about this one?”

Honestly, I just got to a place of paralysis. I was so overwhelmed with the noise and constancy that I just zoned out.

Thankfully, I managed to keep it together enough to ensure everyone’s safety and sanity AND I got dinner on the table in a timely fashion.

But reflecting on this day, I just wonder why I do that? It’s as if I can only absorb so much, and like a sponge when it’s saturated, I just can’t take anymore. I’m a big, sloppy blob of yellow and of no use for my intended purpose until I can be wrung out.

Then the guilt sets in. I think, If only we’d been making crafts, taking a nature walk, or reciting all those Bible verses we haven’t memorized, then my kids would be properly stimulated and appropriately edified and would have no opportunity for dangerous antics with office machines.

I’m not really sure what to do with all of this.

But I would like to know if you, too, are an introvert, do you struggle as I do?
Do you have the “mommy guilt,” and if so, how do you reconcile the two?

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5 Years With Twins

 November 2009: Spencer (age 4), me, Seth (age 4). Photo by Amy Jacobs Photography.

Last week, my twins turned five years old.

There was a period of time when I absolutely, positively did not think we would all survive the night, much less the next five years.

But, we made it.

Without a doubt the most fascinating thing about being the mother of twins is to look at each of them and “see” the same person but know the intricacies and preferences of each personality. I only hope and pray I adequately nurture and encourage expression of those personalities.

Nothing about parenting twins has been easy. Nothing. I would gladly and willingly throw myself in front of train to rescue my children, but good gravy, those little boogers drive me to the brink of insanity most everyday. In their super-cute and so-adorable-you-could-gobble-them-up ways, of course.

They are funny and smart and love their mother fiercely. They are addicted to chocolate and ketchup (not together, but I know they’d try it if I suggested it).

Most of my memories of the first two years of their lives revolve around Prevacid and acid reflux and carrying a baby in each arm and crying.

Lots and lots of crying. Them and me.

Mostly me. 

 Easter 2006: Seth (left) and Spencer (right), age one.

I don’t remember first steps or first words. I sort of remember first teeth. I vividly remember first days at Mother’s Day Out. (Thank you, Lord, for Mother’s Day Out.)

The highlight of their first year for me (as was with Susanna) was their baptism. The most special act of God’s marking them as members of his family was—and is to this day—incredibly precious to me. I’m so glad I remember the events of that day.

The last three years’ memories are muddy, also. But potty training success in one week (by God’s grace) tops the list. (Thank you, Lord, for quick potty training success.)

Sometimes I will grab their little “lovies”—smooched and rubbed stuffed animals—and just cuddle them. The lovies in those really hard early days were great sources of comfort for them. For me, the lovies still serve that role: a constant, abiding, and unchanging presence, even though the boys are more and more frequently becoming less attached to their lovies.

I am simultaneously heartbroken and ecstatic about that.

Next year they go to kindergarten. While it’s a bittersweet milestone, I’m not terribly sad (at least not yet). I’ve always said I’m not really a “baby mom.” I’m excited to see my little babies grow into rugged boys and responsible young men. Call me crazy, but I think I’m looking forward to the next few years.

Happy birthday, boys. So glad we’ve made it.

November 2009: Susanna (age 6), Seth (age 4) and Spencer (age 4). Photo by Amy Jacobs Photography.

Check Out the Savvy Source

If you’ve visited here with much regularity, you’ve probably noticed that flashy sidebar thingey to the right over there that advertises The Savvy Source. If you’d like to go visit there now, go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back.

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Oh, hi. You’re back.

So, anyway, I just wanted to say that I’m going to be relying on this website A LOT this summer. I’m starting to get that kind of quesy feeling in my stomach that is the beginning of a panic attack when I think of my long summer days ahead with THE KIDS.

Many of my friends have their kids enrolled in 9 million camps, have three vacations planned, and send the kids to each set of grandparents for two weeks at a time.

Not the Bernards. We have $0, so the most we can do in the summer is a couple of days of preschool for the boys and swim lessons.

The rest of the time is directed by yours truly.

It’s funny to me how God turns inside out has all the assumptions I had about myself and motherhood. Turns out I’m not nearly as crafty as I thought and don’t really enjoy spending hours in the boiling sun playing Duck, Duck, Goose.

Who knew, right?

So, thank goodness for The Savvy Source. And guess what? The Nashville Savvy City Guide is Nashville-specific and written by my friend Rebecca! I’m so excited for her new job at The Savvy Source. I know Rebecca will be my go-to girl this summer to find new adventures for the kids and creative ways to spend our time.

If you’re wondering about what’s going on in Nashville or you have other parenting needs, look no further than The Savvy Source and The Nashville Savvy City Guide.

photo: Morgue File

I Guess I’m On a Break

So, it’s been another week without a blog post.

They are there. In my head. But not here.

I’m busy with birthdays and Easter and family dinners. I cleaned my house ALL DAY on Friday. It had been since Thanksgiving a few weeks that I had really cleaned. And my bathroom floor was actually clean for about 4 hours before one boy “missed” and peed on the floor.

That was a really satisfying, exciting four hours in my day. 

Once upon a time, I remember a friend saying that when her child turned five, a “breath of fresh air” blew through the house.

Yep. Waiting on that breeze to come on through. 

I really think parenting is getting harder. The boys have two modes: fighting or needing attention. No such thing as playing happily together or playing quietly independently. And I hear one million times a day, “MOM!!! Help me wipe my bottom. I want juice. I’m hungry.”

Plus, as they get older, they get bigger. There’s just more surface area. There’s more food to make and more dirty dishes to clean. There’s bigger clothes to wash, dry, and fold.

I guess I’m trying to say that even though I’ve cut out much of my “extra” stuff, I’m still busy. I suppose I couldn’t have picked a better time to cut back, with my bigger, demanding almost 5 year-olds.

I’m tired.

So, I guess I’m on a break. Not sure when you’ll hear from me again.

Maybe when that refreshing gust blows through my house.

A Same—Yet Different—Kind of Day

I had an appointment with Dunkin’ Donuts at 9. I was determined to make it on time, showered and with makeup applied.

Today is Susanna’s birthday. She requested doughnuts for her class treat during morning snack time. Morning snack time began at 9:30.

I am not a morning person—never have been, doubt I ever will be. So, it may not surprise you to learn that most mornings, I’m rolling out of bed a little late just in time to get breakfast made, children ready, and lunches packed.

In my world, there’s no such thing as looking beautiful in the car-rider line and at preschool drop-off.

But, today, dear friends; today was different.

I’d like to think it was partially due to my new stream-lined schedule with minimal distractions. I don’t want to start taking all the credit for something only God can do (change me), but I have to say it is rewarding to see the fruit of new actions and good decisions.

So, believe it or not, I was showered and made-up and got to Dunkin’ Donuts by 9:15ish and my daughter’s school by 9:30, in time for snack time. (OK—so my hair was gross and pulled back because I was headed for a much-needed, overdue hair appointment, but I made it!)

I did it, people.

It really felt great to be on time and properly dressed and looking presentable. At one point, I actually shouted out in the van, “I’m doing it! I’ve got it together!” (Seriously, this was a big deal.)

And then I found it totally odd and a little bit sad that I considered basic grooming AND keeping appointments mutually exclusive.

And then I found it totally odd and a little bit sad that excitement I had previously saved for job promotions, scholastic achievements,  and the like now characterizes those rare occasions that I can string together bathing, teeth brushing, and mascara application within a half-hour time frame.

Gah! What’s wrong with me? And who am I? I wondered as I scarfed down all five one of the leftover doughnuts.

After school, I was picking up the table where the boys had strewn the contents of their Easter eggs from the preschool Easter egg hunt. I picked up the wrapper of the Oh-So-Cute-You-Could-Die Easter GIFT from one of the kids to one of my sons. I instantly knew who had given the adorable cellophane wrapped baggie full of treats and perfectly matted Easter grass (Go ahead and add insult to injury with the tuft of Easter grass, why don’t you? As if the mound of jelly beans were not enough … ).

I knew because this same kid’s mom had given the Oh-So-Cute-You-Could-Die Halloween buckets and Christmas stockings and Valentine hearts. And as I read the kid’s name in the “from” section on the tag, my heart sank a bit as I envisioned The Kid’s Mom packing the Oh-So-Cute-You-Could-Die Easter bags for every kid in the class.

In full makeup. With painted nails. Smelling sweetly from having freshly showered.

And once again, I felt totally odd and a little bit sad that jelly beans, Easter grass, and nail polish were making me crazy.

Image: Morgue File

Ten Things I Never Thought I’d Do (or Say) as a Mother

Motherhood has been and continues to be the most exhausting, challenging, stimulating, surprising, and soul-searching endeavor upon which I’ve ever embarked. No book, class, seminar, or magazine article could have prepared me for the astonishing changes motherhood brought to my life.

As I was getting dressed this morning, I thought, Who am I? Hmmm. Where is that girl I knew ten years ago? 

She’s morphed into this mom who is surprised to discover she’s always doing or saying something she never dreamed of.

Ten Things I Never Thought I’d Do (or Say) as a Mother
  1. I never thought I’d be anything but a perfect, pearl-clad mom, looking crisp in penny loafers and a button-down Oxford blouse.
  2. I never thought I’d say such things as, “You can’t go potty with a pancake in your hand” and “No. You can’t take your guns to church.”
  3. I never thought I’d give the pits a sniff, declare, “good enough!”, slather on the second third coat of deodorant, get dressed, and go out in public.
  4. I never thought I’d not leave the house for 13 consecutive days. And by “leave the house,” I mean, Not. Leave. The. House. Not to the porch, to the mailbox, to the garbage can. 13. Days. Inside. My. House. With acid refluxy twins. 
  5. I never thought I’d have guests in my home when I hadn’t mopped the floors or dusted the furniture in a few months days.
  6. I never thought I’d look forward to “introspective alone time” at the grocery store.
  7. I never thought I’d be 40 pounds overweight–at five years post-partum.
  8. I never thought I could have breastfed twins for nine months.
  9. I never thought my idea of a fun evening would involve Seinfeld reruns, a bowl of popcorn, and a 10 p.m. bedtime. 
  10. I never thought I’d be anything but a perfect, pearl-clad mom, looking crisp in penny loafers and a button-down Oxford blouse.

How has motherhood surprised you? 

I’m linking this post today at Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday. Visit there to read more top ten lists!

photo: esrasu