Saturday, December 29, 2012

Things I've Learned This Week

So, Christmas brings new experiences, old traditions, fond memories, and ongoing lessons learned. These little nuggets are just a few of the things that this last week has taught me about my life and my family. I hope you will get a good chuckle out of my mindless rantings. . .

Disney movies lie: You can't magically poof a room clean, nor does whistling while you work make it any more fun.

I could make a pretty amazing stew using the food that the toddlers have left on the floor throughout the house....

I kinda wanna punish the 5-year-old for singing, "All I Want For Christmas is Poo", but frankly, by 5-year-old's standard, it's kinda clever.

I need to start cleaning my house. And by cleaning, I mean drinking a spiked Capri Sun and spraying everything with Febreeze.

When I say, "Don't do that", what my children hear is "Mom says its okay as long as she's not looking". There is no other explanation.

I just saw my own shadow and screamed, in case any of you were wondering how useful I would be in a zombie apocalypse.

Just once I’d like to see someone dropkick the guy grinning and waving behind the news reporter.

The only thing preventing me from smashing my alarm clock against the wall in the morning is the fact that it’s also my cellphone.

Kids toys should come with better warning labels, like, “LOUD AS HELL” and “NO OFF SWITCH” and “REQUIRES 217 BATTERIES.” That would be helpful.

On average I spend $75 a year to watch bananas turn brown.

Sometimes I believe my best parenting skill is yelling idle threats.

I invented four new karate moves while trying to get an automatic paper towel dispenser to work.

The Food Network should air a disclaimer before all its programs. “Warning: the following show features stunts performed by chefs who didn’t have to worry about washing dishes afterwards.

It's officially Merry "why-in-the-world-did-we-think-they-needed-all-this-crap" Day. 

I'm one plum pudding away from a Yuletide meltdown....

After hearing some of the names of kids these days, I'm convinced the parents were going all in for the Triple Word Score. Hello Philipyeous, so nice to meet you.

Why is it always hours after my monsters are asleep that I realize how lucky I am to be their mom?? They ask WAY too many questions, cling to me (even as I try to pee in private, to no avail) and insist that I entertain them every moment of every day, but when their sleeping.....oh, how precious! To see them breathe deep and smile in their sleep and know they are loved so much. Thank you God for giving us these moments to remind us that though we come up short daily as a parent, you "watch over them with singing". We accept them as the messy, crazy little blessings that they are.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Because You're Blogging to Avoid the Family Holiday Drama. . .

But I'm here to tell ya. . .GET BACK TO THE FAMILY!! At least that's what I'm doing this week. And given that it's Christmas Eve, and my kids are officially off for the next week, I plan on spending as much time refereeing, unwrapping, bear-hugging, wrestling, mistletoeing (is that a thing? I plan to chase them around and kiss them as many times as humanly possible. . .), caroling, cuddling, and general holiday-ing my week away. So should YOU. But, instead, you're HERE. Probably sipping eggnog or a mimosa and hiding in a corner somewhere trying to avoid holiday photo ops. While you bide time, here's a little something I prepared in advance for you! (Aren't I thoughtful?!) The following are the TEN MOST POPULAR posts from 2012. . . In case you missed any of them. . .and pace yourselves. . .You have to spend time with your family at some point this week! :)  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

The Best of Miss Banana Pants 2012


Ever had one of those days when your child decides to pick their nose in public, then offers his “finds” to the person behind you in the Wal-Mart check-out line? Or how about one of those days when your toddler asks why it’s okay for you to spank him, but it’s not okay for him to spank his friends? How about one of those days when you try to change a “questionable” diaper in the car, only to realize at the wrong moment that your toddler wasn’t finished with said “questionable business” and thus, proceeds to “finish” all over the front seat and your new Miss Me jeans? As crazy (and disgusting) as all those scenarios sound, I had them ALL 3 this morning. 





When we were new parents, we were a bit scatterbrained. This is an understatement. We brought our new baby boy home from the hospital and oohed and aaaahed over him and sat and stared at him breathing and just "being" for days. Isn't that what all parent's do? And we sat and talked about how crazy it was that we were parents. . .that God actually entrusted a tiny human to us and that so far, we'd kept him alive.







As a mom, punctuality is not generally our strong suit. It's not because we don't want it to be. It's not even because we are incapable of it. I'd like to believe it is because of a simple three-letter hindrance. . .K-I-D. 







I don't know about you, but from the moment the potty-train left the station, it has been nothing but bare butts and one-eyed snake sightings around here!







We've all felt the clutter of life at one time or another. I think that it comforts us to a certain degree. Having more "stuff" makes us feel secure, distracted, and accomplished.  I've truthfully never been very materialistic. Stuff doesn't mean very much to me.


I’m not sure how it happened, but apparently I have failed as a parent just by virtue of being American. According to the latest parenting trend, many cultures are better parents than Americans – ergo, I am a parenting failure (and yes, in case you were wondering I have been waiting months to use the word “ergo” in a blog).




Gonna be honest, I enjoy reading the vandalism in bathroom stalls. I mean when else do you have that much entertainment while peeing?












So occasionally I come across some little quiz or whatever “helping” people determine if they’re ready to become a parent. This is, of course, totally ridiculous, because there is no possible way anybody could ever be “ready” for the train wreck that is New Parenthood.
You can’t prepare for that. (Neither the joys nor the horrors.)





I recently told my friend that motherhood has forced me to dig to the deepest parts of me to find the most patience I have. I have dug, and dug and dug. And there isn’t any left. I’m all out. I have slammed into a wall recently and am wondering when the “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” statement will be flung at me like monkeys throwing poo at the zoo. 


LOOK. If my kid is playing with matches and licking dog poop off of a lead toy while sitting in the middle of a busy intersection, then sure, tell me to get off my cell phone and pay attention to my child. No, really. I may be (finally) having a little adult interaction with my best friend who lives on the other side of the world, but I want to know if my kid’s in danger. Because believe it or not, my priorities are pretty intact.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Re-Gifting: A Message of Receiving Christmas

"It's better to give than to receive."  We've all heard the phrase. It's something we are constantly aware of this time of year with Christmas and New Year's and all the blessings that are constantly swirling around us. I have a different phrase that I think makes a whole lot more sense: "You cannot give that which you've never received."

In the spirit of "re-gifting", there are so many things that we'd love to be able to GIVE to our kids. We've all thought at one time or another that we want our children to have things that we never had growing up. I'd like to suggest, on a more internal level, that's just not possible. If it's one thing that I've learned on this hard road of parenthood, it's this: I cannot offer them something that I never received. So many parents will understand exactly what I mean. Others, may be a bit confused. I will try my best to explain.

I had a rather dysfunctional childhood, to say the least. I didn't have the greatest model of what marriage was supposed to look like. I struggled in the areas of giving and receiving affection and love and still wrestle some days with exactly what it means to be "unconditionally loved". I had parents who tried their best. I am so thankful that God gave me both my parents. But there are undeniable holes in my emotional life that never completely healed.

Now that I have my own children, I have wished that I could give them everything that I did not have. Sometimes, I find that I come up very short. You see, when you lack affection for so long, you can struggle with extending it to your own children. Not because you don't want to or know that you need to. But because you cannot give what you've never received. This may always be something that you struggle with in raising your children. It's a struggle of mine.

Something else I always wanted to give to my children that I never had was a quiet, calm, mellow home atmosphere. You see, mine was the polar opposite. There was constant yelling and accusing and raising of voices. Things were frenzied and anxious and obnoxious and opinionated and aggressive. Things were also boisterous and joyful too. There was good in the LOUD at times. I just wanted something different for my kids. I wanted them to feel the security and stability and sense of safety and calm that I never got to experience. Yet even today, I find myself racing around the house, frantically screeching orders to hurry and get-moving and get everything together faster. There are constantly loud voices, argumentative tones, and sibling accusations. Part of it is the normal everyday life of living with toddlers, but the other part. . .the part when I am acting like a frenzied, crazy lady and turning my home into anything but quiet, calm, and mellow. . .that seems to be what I'm "re-gifting" in life.

It wasn't until I surrendered to who I am that I realized this "re-gifting policy". You can only give what you've been given. And you will never be able to give something to your children that you have never received. It's a scary concept, but there's a clause. Praise God for the fine print! Through parenting my little monsters, I've come to a place of healing that only God can give. Through that healing, I've received all the love and affection, encouragement and inspiration, security and stability that I was lacking for so long. My parents weren't able to offer me these gifts themselves because they never received them either. Generational curses are a real life thing, folks! But Jesus came to fix in our lives that which was broken, neglected, and devastated. Even gifts with the best intentions can get damaged in the transition. Thankfully, God is in the business of restoration!

As we collect all those gifts this holiday season, I'd invite you to look at the gifts that you are passing along yourself. Are they broken, crushed, damaged, or ruined? As hard as you try, are the gifts that you wish to give somehow missing from your life? God wishes so much to rush in to heal all the holes of neglect that you've acquired and bestow on you everything that you need in order to offer the best gifts to your children and future generations. Receive. Accept. Surrender. Let Him fix it.

The next time you "re-gift", it truly will be out of an overflow. "We Love because He first Loved US."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Entitled Mom's Plea to Santa Clause


Dear Santa,

I think I’ve been a good Mom this year. I’ve kissed foreheads Good Night, wiped away tears caused by hurt feelings, administered to a myriad of boo-boos, and wiped the booties of not only my little ones, but some friends. I’ve rallied playdates, fed the preschool class kids, and worn out entire bottles of Excedrin attending parties at Chuck E. Cheese. I’ve carpooled the boy to a seasons’ worth of sporting events and kept my toddler entertained at numerous friend's weddings. I’ve endured the smell of feet while the little ones insisted on playing at every McDonald's playplace, paid copious dues for preschool Pizza Days, and taught various grades of Sunday School. Ok, I’ve yelled WAY too much and probably fed them more junkfood than my pediatrician would like. And yes, I’ve allowed them more television than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, but I like my sanity and need a little peace and quiet. But overall, I think I deserve to be on the nice list.

Here’s what I would like for Christmas:

1. A sick day once in a while. When I’m running a 104 fever, I’d like to be able to stay in bed and have someone take care of me.
2. A complete night of sleep without someone either calling me or coming into the bed. Yes, I know when they’re in college I’ll miss them, but I’d like one night NOW.
3. A free limousine service to drive my kids wherever they need to go, on time, without having to nag kids a few hundred times to put on their shoes.
4. An automatic tushy wiper so I don’t have to.
5. A self-cleaning house.
6. Calorie-less cheesecake, beer, Doritos, onion dip, milkshakes, candy, and Italian food.
7. A free in-house masseuse.
8. Garbage that takes itself out.
9. More television shows like “Up All Night,” “Supernanny,” and “Modern Family.”
10. Peace on earth or at least peace in my house.

By the way, I know your weight is unhealthy, but I think you look great in that red suit. Hugs to the reindeer!

Ok, so I know some of my requests are unrealistic, but thinking about them helps me join the 87 percent of happy adults waiting for Santa.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

For a Reason and For a Season


Guest posts are so much fun, especially when they come from one of your best friends! Deanna Layman is the voice behind the blog Raising Inspiration, where she speaks about uncovering life lessons from parenting and living with lupus, a disease that is rather new in her life's journey. She inspires me in real life, as we meet together every Wednesday for spiritual encouragement and bible study. She also cracks me up! Today, I've asked her to write about being on both sides of the Great Mom Debate (staying home vs. working). As another mom who's seen both sides, she currently finds herself on a "Path Unexpected". Enjoy her insight today, and I will be back in the writing saddle on Thursday with a new Christmas post for you! 
Being a working mom is rather redundant. Whether you work full time outside the home or stay home with the kiddos, they both equally come with joys, challenges, good days and bad. I know this pretty well since I have been on both sides of the fence. When I quit my job a month before my son was born, the intention was for me to be a stay at home mom. This was all I ever wanted to be. I loved every single minute of being home with him.... yes, even on those "cranky-everything-is-going-wrong" kind of days. I loved being home. I found so much joy in being there to watch him grow, learn to walk, feed himself and all the funny things he did that made me bust into laughter on a daily basis. Honestly. if I had my way, I would still be a stay-at-home-mom, but sometimes God just takes you on a road you never thought you would travel.
I don't know what the future looks like, but right now God has placed me on the unexpected path of going back to work. Like I said earlier, staying home or working full time both come with amazing joys and challenges. No one situation is perfect. Every day is different for me. Sometimes the challenges start bright and early when my son wakes up cranky and doesn't want to get ready for the day. It's days like this that make me miss those leisurely mornings we once had where we had nothing on our agenda and there was no need to rush. Other mornings everything goes smoothly and we are off to a great start.
There are days when I look at the clock and see that it is close to nap time and I miss reading him books and tucking him into bed. One thing that makes it better is the fact that his preschool is in the same building as my job, so occasionally I get to go upstairs, give him a hug and tell him how much I love him. There is nothing better than a break in the day when you can fill it with the smile of your child!  When I started working again, I  was often asked why made that decision.  The only answer I have to give is that in this moment, it's what God wanted. He is guiding me down this path and he blessed me with a great place to work. Taking my child with me everyday as well.... how much better could it be? There is definitely no denying how much my son is learning at his preschool, he has begun singing his ABC's, learning shapes and colors and so much more. I am amazed at all that he has learned.
There are so many debates between whether moms should stay home or work full time. There is no perfect scenario or answer. There were days that I had cabin fever when I stayed home, and now the biggest thing I struggle with is having energy. In April I was diagnosed with Lupus, and while some days I feel like my normal self, I have other days that I am fatigued and feel guilty for being so tired when I get home. Here is what it boils down to, I am not a bad mom for working, not even when I get tired from my disease, nor was I  a bad mom for having cabin fever when I was staying at home. We are so hard on ourselves as mothers. All that is important is that we follow the path that God puts before us and give our children our all. Working mom, stay-at-home mom; we are all the same. There will always be challenges and the grass may always look greener on the other side, but we must be confident that we are exactly where God has put us for a season and for a reason!
If you would like to check out Deanna's blog, click on over to Raising Inspiration. You can also connect with her online through Facebook and Twitter.  Don't miss Thursday for an all new post: An Entitled Mom's Plea to Santa Clause. Until then, love on those little monsters with every fiber of your being and help make this Christmas meaningful for them! May all be calm, all be bright where you are today! :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

5 Christmas Wishes


Well, HOWDY!

I have recently been tagged by the FABULOUS lady behind Mom's World to do a fun little post about Christmas wishes! I've been waiting all week to share with you what my 5 Christmas Wishes are and to tag the next five people to carry on the tradition. Here's how it works: I will share mine, if you will share yours! List out your five wishes for Christmas (tangible or intangible); (funny or serious) and let's spread a little holiday cheer! I've chosen five blogs that I just LOVE to PIECES in hopes that they will play along. Even if you're not tagged, you can play along too! Just leave a link to your blog post in the comments and I promise to read and promote it on my facebook page!  My five lucky ladies are. . . .ShinnanigansDollops of DianeThis Family SojournsCarpool Goddess, and Me and My Soldierman. Check out each one of their fantastic blogs and lets get to linking up and making new friends!

Here are Miss Banana Pants' 5 Christmas Wishes for 2012: 
Comfort. I know that everyone is not oblivious to what happened today in Newton, CT. This is the most significant school massacre in US history. I'm not being pretentious by saying that my greatest wish this Christmas is for "comfort". Comfort for the families who will be spending the holidays mourning the loss of their little boy or girl. Teachers mourning the loss of their colleagues and best friends. Children mourning the loss of their best buddies, as well as their security and sense of peace in a place that was once calm and orderly. I spent the better part of the afternoon by myself, just praying for comfort for all these above and also for myself. You see, I have a kindergartner. Today this happened in Newton, Connecticut, but it could have just as easily been Edmond, Oklahoma. Tragedy is happening all over the world right now because desperate, angry people need to be comforted by God's love. They need to know Hope. My heart aches for the victims, it aches for all of us who now feel scared and insecure, and it aches for those few people who live all around us at this very minute who think that events like today are their last resort. People should never be without hope. Without love. Without comfort. So if I could only have ONE wish, it would be that people everywhere this holiday season could know the hope that I have. That NOTHING is beyond the scope of hope and that they would experience supernatural comfort that only God can give in a time like this.  We need an awakening, friends. I wish that every last one of you would seek God and truly be comforted. This comfort comes in having a personal relationship with the Living God. He didn't cause this, nor is He surprised by it. It grieves Him as much as it grieves all of us. He desperately wishes that you could experience His love and His comfort and His healing. If any of you have questions about what a relationship with God truly means, I would LOVE to walk through this with you. Just message me at michelle@missbananapants.com.  And may God comfort you and your families during the holidays. 

An Uninterrupted Potty Break. Now I know what you're thinking. MBP, you're expectations are too high. You may be right. I've not successfully had an uninterrupted potty break since 2007. But wouldn't it be nice to escape into the bathroom to do my motherly business and experience heavenly peace and quiet?! Is it too much to ask to do my duty (doody. . .see what I did there?!) without another set of arms and legs in the way? Just once, I would like to close the door and not have persistent knocking and questions coming from the other side. . ."Mommy, what are you doing in there? Can I come in? Is there poop? I need to go potty TOO! Let me in, Mommy! I want to flush for you. . ." It's deafening. So yes, it seems like not much, but I would love to be able to pee in peace for the holidays. What a gift of privacy that would be!!

A Bikini Body. That's right. I know it's superficial and it's what's on the inside that matters most and I agree with every bit of that. My insides are just fine, thanks. But I would like my abs back, please. I would love to be able to throw on a bathing suit and run through the sprinklers in the yard with my kiddos without the neighbors gawking in horror at the jiggle-ation. Yes, jiggle-ation is a "thing". I've not entirely let myself go and I don't have a horrible body image. I just miss the me that got lost underneath all the stretch marks and extra skin and would really love to be proud, once again when I looked in the mirror. What wife wouldn't like to be "the trophy wife" for their husband?! It may seem petty, but it would save me a lot of headache (and back ache and hip ache) if I could have my thin, bikini body back without all the foot work involved. Going to the gym and running and eating properly. . .ain't nobody got time for that! Let this be one of my five wishes, Lord. And don't give me grief about it. . .

Unity. On a more serious note, I crave unity among my friends and family. So many times we find that we don't see eye to eye of the meaningless subjects. I'm not trying to say that certain issues aren't important, but I feel in general that there is a greater need for unity in our church, in our families, in our circles of influence. We need to remember that we were all made in the same image and no one person is more important than the other. Nor are so many of the little things cause for dissension. "Divided we fall". . .it's something we should be more mindful of. There are certain truths that we need to live by and let the little things go, the things that cause arguments and hatred and anger to rise up in us because our friends don't always feel the same convictions. We are a people of diversity, but we are supposed to be unified in love. Love for God and love for others. There's no need to judge. It's never been our job. There's also never a need to publicly criticize a brother or sister's way in order that people will see that you and I are doing it "the right way". So, my fourth wish would be for unity and grace and that we would all remember that the little things aren't the main things. We are all family. 

New Life-Changing Experiences. Isn't it amazing when you experience something for the first time and it literally changes the course of your life?! I've had numerous moments like this throughout my 31 years (yes, I said it. I'm no spring chicken!) that have been monumental and goosebump-worthy and I crave more of them. My last wish is that there would be some more of those "A-Ha!-Moments" in the near future. I want to be challenged and stretched and I want to get to the end of this life with no more talent and no more energy left because I literally used everything God gave me. I want more of those moments of glory where everything suddenly makes sense and you see things from a whole new perspective. Whether it's accomplishing goals, seeing new places, doing something that I never thought possible, experience a miracle, or just come to the next major crossroads, I just wish for more earth-shattering moments to add to my history. Those are the moments that I live for. 

And there you have it! Those are my five Christmas wishes! Now it's YOUR turn! Remember to post a link to your "5 Christmas Wishes" blog post in the comments below so others can check it out. I can't wait to see what you all come up with!! Let's spread the holiday cheer! 

Have a FantABULOUS weekend, amigas! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Undercover Writer


Did you know that there are more bloggers out there than you think who hide their identity?! I've always wondered the cause behind to anonymity. I've always been "Miss Banana Pants" and/or Michelle Clark. The first is easier to remember and sounds silly and sums up my personality a bit better so it stuck. But I'm finding in my network of blogger friends that many have chosen to remain anonymous; to hide behind a cloak of mystery and it's always intrigued me. When I met my new friend, "The Mommy Ref", I got a better glimpse into what it means to be an undercover writer. Why do they do it?! Why not let everyone in? Apparently, exposing someone's soul on paper takes a lot of confidence and vulnerability and those sorts of things don't come as easy to some as it does to others. There is so much "bullying" in the world. We think our children have it bad, but I've seen just as much of it in the land of motherhood. There's a lot of it happening online everyday. I've asked "The Mommy Ref" to answer some questions and help us all understand what "coming out" as an undercover writer means to her and why she's worn a mask of mystery until now. I hope you give her some love and encourage her the same way that she's encouraged me! Without further adieu. . . .

When Miss Banana Pants asked me to write a guest post, I was really nervous to answer “yes”.  I actually read her request and did not respond at first because the original response was a swift "thanks, but no thanks”.  I am a rookie with this blogging/Facebook/writing thing. I don't entirely open up yet. I still hide the "real me" behind "The Mommy Ref" facade. Being new to the writing arena, I am often asked why I choose to "hide" who I am. Is it because I had something horrible happen in life?  Am I hiding to give me an opportunity to talk trash about the people closest to me?  Is the "real" me too afraid of being judged for my parenting decisions or life views by friends and family?  All are extremely valid reasons for some, but mine is a bit more simple.  The main reason I choose to not use my real name is due to the lack of confidence I have about my own writing skills. I made a decision to create a page which did not advertise who "The Mommy Ref" really was.  The decision to be able to hide behind a new name was something I did not feel comfortable with at first.  I have never been one to be fake or to try to be someone or something I am not.  However, I quickly figured out that I don’t have to be fake, just not completely exposed. My new blog just would not have my “name” attached to it.  Perhaps this would end up being the truest version of me.  I actually liked the thought of being able to see my day to day friends and family and not wonder what they have or have not read from my recent ramblings.

Being a working Mom of three small children leads to a lot of fun topics, but I still wondered if would I be able to capture these “once in a lifetime” moments effectively?   Are my thoughts as funny as I think they are?  Will anyone be able to relate to me?  Am I the only one thinking or feeling these things?  I wanted to be challenged to grow.  Challenged to figure out who I really am without those closest to me telling me how I'm supposed to think or feel.  You  might say I am attempting to stay anonymous.

However, I don't consider myself anonymous.   Anonymity is not having any identity at all.  This is far from my mission.  I consider myself on a journey of creating an identity that reflects my character and my passion.  If done right, it will be parallel to the real me and assist me in my own personal growth.

I see this as a journey of discovery.  In just a very short amount of time I have been discovering myself little by little.  I have discovered that I am not as funny as my kids think. They are our biggest fans, after all!  I have also discovered that once I write things out and then read them later, just how much freedom my own thoughts mean to me without being tainted by other's opinions.  I haven’t written very many posts yet, but I wrote one about how I struggle most with finding time for myself. This is such a struggle for moms everywhere. It's my greatest fault in the area of self-confidence, in my life, and in my writing.  I need to lose weight.  So many of you mamas out there are all fit and fancy, but not this Mommy Ref!  I have some conditioning to do.  Since reading my own writing and what others have posted on there and emailed me privately, I have lost almost 10 pounds.  I feel better about myself than I ever have.  I don’t feel like it is too hard or the wrong time.  I own this new mission.  Although I don’t know my readers in person, I have been able to get to know some great people in a very short amount of time.  I was extremely surprised at the amount of supportive people I have already met in the blogging world that "get" me better than some that actually know me in real life.  I hope to meet many more on my journey.  More importantly, I want to be an inspiration to someone else that may be in similar shoes and needs help getting pulled out of the mud.
Being detached from your “real” life has had its pros and cons.  Many readers have already asked if I will always hide behind the whistle.   For now I will keep the whistle…I will save my picture and true identity for announcing the accomplishment of my weight loss goal. Maybe soon I will be in a place where the facade will no longer be something I wish to hide behind. For now, it's a fun place where I'm learning little by little every day just how OK it is to be the real me. 

Have any of you every felt this way? What words of encouragement can you offer my new, beautiful friend in her journey of self-discovery? Share some of your moments of anonymity. . . 

Don't forget to check out her blog at THE MOMMY REF and show her some love! You can also laugh along with her mindless rantings everyday on her FACEBOOK PAGE

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Suburban House Mess

I've been told I'm a "mess". In way more than one sense of the word. I tend to leave my business all about.

My husband will tell you that I tend to leave it ALL in his car (in which I borrow on a daily basis). I will tell you that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

I would say that I'm you're typical suburban housewife, but with a slightly altered calling. I'm not about sitting around, watching The Young and the Restless while my kids do felt crafts and dinner simmers in the crock pot. I'm busy with the business of making life FUN for my kids and getting every last bit of it down on paper to remember for future generations to come. Writing, photography, honest thoughts, and raw life experiences are my thang. So I LIVE for quirky little blog posts like the one I'm bringing to you today. It shys away from  the norm of poop-horror-stories-and-God-sized-lessons-I've-learned-through-parenting posts.This one is random, and I know you'll be thrilled. I'm following suit with my fantastic little friend ERIN from Living In Yellow and giving you "A Day in the Life of a Suburban House Mess" for her "Capture That" Link-up party.
What a fun idea! And aren't you just chomping at the bits to get to see each and every moment of my Tuesday?? Well, I've got good news and I've got bad news. You only get to see 19 moments, but I'm sure you'll agree, they're riveting. Shall we begin??
The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup. (Let's be honest, you sang that sentence.)
Apparently my youngest doesn't wake well to the paparazzi. I'm thinking that he gets enough attention when I wake him up with my good morning song of bee-bopping rap lyrics. What can I say, a little Pitbull in the morn gets ev'rybody goin'.
We've obviously adjusted well and are now helping mommy come up with some interesting facebook statuses. I think today's should be a replica of our morning convo:
"Mommy, did you smell my toot just a second ago?"  I reply no. 
 "Oh good.  Cause it smelt like baby poop and sprite, I think."  Super news.
Our first errand of the day was to Hobby Lobby (a craft store) to see about getting a replacement Elf on a Shelf. Of course, little man thought we were here to buy a new ornament for the tree, but I had other motives. The dang elf, Elvis had went MIA 4 days ago. My boys were starting to think that Santa must be holding him hostage with lots of toy orders. At least that's the story I confirmed. No such luck finding a replacement this trip. Still sweating this mission of the day. . .
Back home to start laundry. I'm so glad we got that dog crate. I wouldn't know where to put my dirty clothes without it. I'm pretty sure the dog's only been crated a handful of times because we forget that we have a place for her to go underneath the never-ending piles. 
Speaking of the deviless, this is usually what she does as I am doing laundry. Enjoys herself on MY spot on the couch. 
And since you haven't received a cameo yet from yours truly, here ya go. Disgruntled and STILL looking for Elvis. Where did that little bugger GO!
This is a glorious little place and time during my day that I affectionately refer to as "Carpool Hell". Let's face it folks, nothing good ever happens here. 
This is my little Stinker, figuring out the reflections on the glass ornaments. It's the little things in life that bring him joy. Funny faces, saying the word "poop" over and over, and peeing on a tree in the backyard. Life doesn't get any better than that. At least at our house. 
They don't get much cuter than this, friends! It's a good darn thing, cause I just got off the phone with his teacher, who tells me that although he's one of the smartest kids in his class, he also has the filter and big-mouthedness of his mama. The child never shuts up. Thus begins my pleading with God to make my child less like me and more like his introverted father. No luck so far. . .
I have to say, here in Oklahoma, we have some of the best sunsets. The only rival would be the ones we witnessed in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua last month. But God likes to put on a show every evening over our house. Just marvelous. 
Taking pictures of the dishes instead of doing the dishes seems like a lot more fun. Let's do that. 
I'm so lucky that I get to settle in every evening with these little hotties. They may be loud and messy and have bad bathroom aim, but they steal my heart. (end sappy moment.)
Finally. after an hour game of bedtime Whack-A-Mole, we have achieved success!
Yes, I have no life, folks. This is what you do when you have no cable, too much caffeine, and your husband won't turn off the XBOX Live. . .
Case in point. 
The poor dear. I made her come inside out of the cold where she was having a field day digging holes and chasing a very persistent backyard mole. She wasn't too happy about me declaring bedtime. 
It's pulling teeth to get EVERY male in my house into bed at night. I finally persuaded this dude with promises of cuddling and threats of Elf on the Shelf duties. . .
By the way, replacement FOUND and I finally remembered AFTER going to bed that he had not gotten into any mischief lately, so he'd better get busy. The kids would find him tomorrow playing Candyland with Sock Monkey. They're both big, fat, hairy cheaters, I tell ya. 

And there you have it.... My day in photos. Aren't you glad that you'd always wondered what I did (or didn't do) all day?! I'm sure your lives are all changed for the better now that you know. I expect a post like this from YOU now. I showed you mine, now you must show me yours. That's how this works. Run on over to Living in Yellow and show Erin some mad love and link-up for some great fun and new friends! 

Happy Hump Day, Amigas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jesus vs Santa. . .We Choose Both.

Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! I love Christmas, all of it. I love the celebration of Jesus part of it and I love the buying presents part of it. Though we try not to go all crazy in the consumerism side of the season, we do buy presents for our little guys. Every year they get more than they need. And if their grandparents have anything to say about it, they get more than they want as well! More presents! (I have toddlers! And toys are fun!)

I don’t believe that Jesus and presents for my babies are mutually exclusive. There’s this new equation going around that (starts to sound like it) says, “take how much you think you love Jesus, subtract the number of Christmas presents that you buy, and that is how much you actually love Jesus, if and only if you can somehow relate the presents that you buy to the gifts of the Magi, then you can add back one love point”.

Now, I understand that people are doing what’s right for their family, just like I’m doing what’s right for my family.  And believe me when I say that I realize sometimes how the massive amount of things can sometimes cloud over the true meaning of the season.  We've even tossed the idea around of trading the materialism in for more traditional ways to celebrate in the upcoming years.  But this year, we still some-what believe in Santa.  Yet the judgements insue.  It's just this vibe that I get from time to time. I  judge myself sometimes.  Because hey, I want my kids to love Jesus and to not be materialistic little snots. (There are actually very few people who do want their children to materialistic little snots, by the way.)

So I've been thinking a lot about the consumeristic aspect of Christmas and what we believe is the true reason for the season and I’ve come to a conclusion. I will teach my children that Jesus is the best gift the world has ever been given. I will explain that He was born to die for their sins (as well as everyone in the world's).   I will teach them that we take this time to be thankful and pay special notice to the love, peace, joy, and selflessness already in the world and that they can give back to the world by loving the way Jesus does.

I will show them we can partake in all those things and still buy presents for each other. I will show them how to delight in thinking about their siblings and buying them something “perfect”. I will savor their joy at receiving good gifts that they haven’t earned that are given out of love with no restrictions.

This year we’re going to have a Christmas season that is filled with family, fun, gift giving and receiving, the Truth of the birth of Jesus, fairy tales about Santa and flying reindeer, service projects, and a mischevious little Elf named Elvis. . .

…and let’s be honest: temper tantrums, lost patience, crying, gallons of hot cocoa, anxiety about the whole season, and hey, the one morning a year that I won’t mind a ridiculously early wake up call.

So, yes, I’m shooting for the best of both worlds here, and yes, of course, “Jesus is the reason for the season”, so if it comes down to a smack-down between Jesus and Santa I know which side I’ll be cheering for, but really, I think we can avoid that. And no, I don’t want a figurine of Santa kneeling in front of the manger, but thanks for asking.

To guide me through this cosmic balancing act I’ve bought lots of children's books on the nativity as well as our beloved "Elf on a Shelf" (who's been at it all December, I might add!) . I’m going to be using them to set up some new traditions, hone some old ones, and peacefully juggle jingle bells from now to New Year’s.  So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends! Enjoy a little (spiked) eggnog and Christmas carols.  And remember to invite Jesus to your Christmas, in whatever way means the most to you.  He truly is the reason for the season!

**This post is part of a link-up with "Helene In-Between" and friends over at the "Tell Me About It Tuesday Party". Head on over and make some new friends and share some ramblings and rants with other gals who just want to get something off their chests. Whew, I know I feel better. ;) 
**Also, this is part of my confessions with Crafty Confessions Tuesday link-up as well! To participate with us, visit her blog and get connected!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Hot Mess in the Kitchen: Lazy Man's Caramel Apple Pie

I'll be the first to admit, when I bake or cook, the smoke detectors cheer me on with the encouragement of a high school football stadium.  I'm pretty sure, if they had the option, they would be able to call the fire department directly, instead of waiting on me to determine whether or not a kitchen billowing black smoke and charred cookies is cause for concern. I'm a hot mess in the kitchen.  That is an understatement. More often than not, I'm also a wet (from throwing water) mess, a sticky (from eating all the ingredients) mess, and also a raging, hollerin', waving-a-broom-at-the-constantly-beeping-smoke-detector mess. Let's just say that any kind of kitchen activity at my house is ranked right up there with a mad scientists exploding lab scenario. It's hazardous.

It hasn't always been this way. This is due majorly in part to the fact that I've never had to be in the kitchen. I had a mother who was the equivalent to Betty-Crocker-and-Martha-Stewart-had-a-love-child. She's a FABULOUS cook and I've always reaped the benefits. I've never had to bake the Christmas cookies or whip up a fantastic family dinner because that's what "mom" is for. It's what she lives for, and who am I to rob her of that joy?! Next to her, I've always felt extremely intimidated by all things "food". We've spent years throwing corn or green beans from a can directly into a pot and presenting that as our offering for a Thanksgiving dinner that mom prepared and could literally be photographed for a magazine spread. She's got a gift, that woman! So with that much talent in the kitchen, I've kept out of the way. I've let her work her magic year-after-year and refrained from learning the tricks of the trade. My own little family can survive on mac-n-cheese and Taco Bueno, right? Certainly.

Recently, though, I've turned over a new leaf, so to speak. I'm at least "in the game" at the moment. I've tried my hand (secretly) at some kitchen recreational activities, and I have to say, without pressure or people waiting ever-so-impatiently at my heels, I've had some interesting creations. They may not be magazine worthy, but they tasted FABULOUS, so I've decided to share one with you fine people. Because isn't that what one does around the holidays?! Disappears into the kitchen and emerges hours later with a tray full of delicious, warm, perfectly decorated cookies and treats? Well, that's not what will go down at mi casa, but I will share with you the secret to the BEST LAZY (WO)MAN'S CARAMEL APPLE PIE that you've ever tasted. Bar-none!

Here's what you will need:

An 11x11 glass baking dish
1 stick of margarine
2 cans of apple pie filling
1 plain white/vanilla cake mix
1 bottle of caramel topping
2 tbsp of sugar
1 cup of water
2 tbsp of cinnamon
An oven (do I need to add this, or unlike me, do you understand that this sort of thing can not be microwaved? I still struggle, I'm sorry. . .)

Here's what you do:
(After you have cleared the kitchen of children and unplugged the smoke detectors, of course. First things first.)

Set your oven to 400 degrees to preheat. In glass baking dish, pour both cans of apple pie filling in the bottom, add water and sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Next, add as much or as little of the caramel topping as you wish. (I personally am IN LOVE with Taco Bells caramel apple empenadas and with that in mind, I put almost a forth of the bottle in.) Mix well. Add entire white/vanilla cake mix on top. (I also mix the cake mix up in with the previous concoction. It's okay if not all of it gets dampened by the mixture.) Melt one entire stick of margarine in the microwave or on stove at pour over the cake mix. Sprinkle a bit more sugar and cinnamon on top and bake in the over for 40 minutes. Remove pie and pour another 1/4 of the bottle of caramel topping on the top of the pie. Bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Viola! It's hard to mess this up. If you do, I will personally give you a medal. That would take pure skill and I thought I was the only one who possessed that sort of talent in the kitchen! :)

Whatever kind of magical goodness you whip up in the kitchen this Christmas season, remember to thank who taught you these secrets. For me, this recipe was given to me by my mother, Miss Betty-Crocker-Martha-Stewart herself. Her mother taught her, and her mother taught her. We're looking at over 5 generations of lazy women here! But all for a desire to bless people's hearts and tummy's. May your season be filled to the brim with wonderful memories and ooey-gooey-goodness! I'm off to make pie!

**This post is part of a link-up that you DON'T wanna miss! Take a quick "click" over to my good friend LEANNE PENNY'S blog for her "Cookie Exchange Link-Up Party"! Add a recipe and a memory of your own and meet some fantastic new friends! Go now. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mommy Misdemeanors

photo credit: stockfreeimages.com
Come on. You know we've all been caught a time or two by our kids. Just when we think we're in the clear; their little backs are turned; they can't see what we're about to do, WHAM! We get totally and completely HAD by a three-year-old.  "Mommy! Why did you throw my art in the trash can?! That was 'pecial!" (Crap, Crap, CRAP!)

Let's be real, I can't keep every single coloring of a bird in a tree surrounded by stick figures. The little dude cranks out about 20 different renditions a day! Thus I find myself inevitably caught trying to trash version 16 in the garbage as I hang my head in shame and feel like a complete failure as a mommy for not treasuring each and every gift my little Picasso sends my way.

All of us commit misdemeanors. Some of them may be more monumental in our minds than throwing away yet another dried macaroni artwork. Sometimes we lose our tempers, raise our voices, finish posting one last facebook status before we change that poopy diaper. Sometimes we look away from the baby for a moment at the precise second when he learns to roll over, and then, horrified, watch him fall from the changing table. We've all tucked a watercolored-smudged child into bed without a dunk in the tub. And we've all (like today) tried to hide another crayon drawing deep underneath the newspaper in the garbage only later to learn that it was his "best ever" and he wanted to frame it. (Meanwhile, we hear the garbage man idling half a block away, the treasure crumpled and torn somewhere below it's enormous jaws.)  We've all done things like forget to show up for a "Walk-A-Thon" at the elementary school when all the other mom's were there to walk hand-in-hand with their kindergartner. We've all misjudged a situation and punished our child for something that he didn't do.  (Or maybe that's just all the ones I've committed lately.)

Disrespecting my little Van Gogh's talent is just one of the countless sins I've committed as a mother. The one that is not so very dramatic, but fills me with the most shame , is when I fail to listen and truly be present with my little monsters. It's the crime I most frequently commit.

Our days as parents teem with everyday tasks related to our kiddos physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. We cut fingernails, pack lunches, schedule doctors appointments, give hugs, teach manners, and do laundry. With so much on our plates, we're bound to mess up. All the dirty little secrets I've shared today still stem from a loving parent. But we mess up. No one is perfect, but when our kids see us in the midst of a failure, it's also important that they see us take a breath, apologize, and accept the grace given to us from a loving God. They need to see us admit we are guilty of these "mommy misdemeanors" and start over, and over, and over again. It's one of the best lessons we can give them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let's Not Get Our Tinsel in a Tangle. . .

There's so much about the holidays that can be stressful. Families are coming in or going out of town, there are presents to buy, homes to decorate, cookies to bake, songs to sing, gifts to wrap. . .and if your life is like mine (and I know I'm not alone!) there are also all the normal, everyday stresses that are still thrown in the mix with raising kids and keeping up with "life". It's easy to get our tinsel in a tangle, if you know what I mean!

Just the other day, I woke up to silence. And everyone knows that when you have two toddler boys, silence is never EVER golden. It means there is mischief, there is conspiracy, there is disaster happening somewhere in your home. I pulled myself out of bed, and found my way into the kitchen to behold their latest catastrophe. There's nothing more lovely than waking up to a TP'd bathroom, pee all over the bathroom floor, and bright red lollipops in your toddlers mouths. Both were stripped down nude, coloring pictures on the kitchen floor with dry erase markers. ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR. We must have been out of construction paper, forgetful me. But they weren't bothered. My boys are improvisers. All of this, friends, before my coffee. . .yes. . .my tinsel WAS tangled. I rounded them up, dunked them in the tub, and set out "righting" the bathroom "wrongs" and kept my tongue from firing all the darts of fury their way. After all. . .hadn't they let me sleep in until ten a.m.?! God bless their little souls!

I've been thinking a lot about stress lately. How it really does get the better of us. And in the "hap-happiest-season-of-alllllll", shouldn't we be doing our darndest to REMOVE some of the stress from our lives, not just add more fuel to the fire?!

A friend and I are embarking on a "stress FAST" of sorts. Not that you could actually remove stress all together (if that were the case, this blog would go viral in a matter of minutes! I would bottle that shiz up and sell it on the street corner!). We've decided that the only logical way to counter all the stress in our lives is to gain new perspective on why we are stressed. Isn't that what stress really is. . .losing one's perspective on life? Forgetting that all things aren't permanent, that we shouldn't dwell on the temporal worries of each day, but re-prioritize, put God back in control instead of trying to do everything on our own, and spend more time with Him. . .THIS is what will relieve us of the stresses of life.

With that in mind, we took Jen Hatmakers lead in her book "7", and decided to set aside seven different times throughout the day to pause and reflect. In these seven moments, we would read a scripture and spend time praying about a particular aspect of life, whether it be patience, servanthood, forgiveness, purpose and work, family, intercession, joy. . .we would cover it all at some point every 24 hours. Currently, my alarm is set to go off at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m., and midnight. I'm only one day into this month of commitment and I've already witnessed a miracle (that's reserved for another post!). I've learned that I don't get too selfish if I focus back on God every three hours. What a difference it's making already! I would recommend this commitment to anyone who wants to see God literally live through them on a daily basis. I've not experienced anything like it. Why have I not ALWAYS done this?!

So that's on my agenda this month. Hold God's hand through December like I've never done before. Also. . .don't kill my children. So far, I'm set to accomplish both goals! Do you know what gets me through most of my parenting woes??? Reading about other's moments of disaster with their little monsters. It reminds me that I'm not alone and my children aren't the only ones that could be the next traveling circus act.

But seriously, I would LOVE to read more about your parenting stories of chaos and bliss! That is why, I will be co-hosting a new Friday feature segment on my sister site EpicTots called "FOR REAL?! FRIDAYS".  We would love it if you would submit some of your funniest stories about your kids!  Stories that others can relate to, laugh at, and nod in emphatic agreement at the overall hilarity that is parenthood. We want you to rant with us, tell us some of your life lessons learned, or just share some plain and simple hysterical moments in the life of your family. We want to give those stories a voice to inspire and encourage others. If you have something that you'd like to whip up, email your submissions to michelle@missbananapants.com.  I'll let you know when you're story will be featured! I can't wait see what you have to share! In the meantime, take some time to check out EpicTots and read about some of my personal moments of parenting failure. I'm sure you could all use the laugh!

Happy December Friends! And remember. . .let's not get our tinsel in a tangle! :)