Tag Archives: Keeping Up With The Crazy

Helloooo?

Anybody out there?

Red eyed tree frog sitting on black cup

I haven't forgotten about you all, and I can only hope you haven't forgotten about me.

I've been so wrapped up in all this Crazy, it's hard to believe that it's been 2 months since I last shared with you all. And I don't mean the "crazy" kind of Crazy, I mean the "good" kind of Crazy.

In the month that the kids have been out of school, I've finished some artwork, completed some poetry, wrote a script for a play, submitted the aforementioned script to a theater company, and I am now working on a book.

But those aren't the reasons things have been the good kind of Crazy.

In the midst of all that, I have spent some amazing time with my family. The kind of time when you're almost too busy soaking it all up to remember to take pictures, much less blog about it. The kind of time when I am completely content with taking mental snapshots and allowing the memories to create their own captions on my heart.

However, one special moment I was able to capture was of me, my 8 children, my mother, my father, my brother and his wife and son all hand-in-hand around the wondrous Angel Oak tree.

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Spending time with my family was beautiful and grand...as beautiful and grand as this phenomenal tree.

But once all the family celebrations, like my brother's visit, the Daddy Daughter Dance and my wedding anniversary getaway, began to slow down, I felt anxiety come on. The fussiness of life reared its ugly head...once again. I felt rushed and pressed for time. It's already July, only one month left to get all the things checked off of my Summertime To-Do List. Panic settled in and I felt paralyzed to it.

A couple of days ago, while in the shower, I heard a knock at the bathroom door followed by a shout..."MOM!" It was Kourtney. I poked my head out of the shower and answered, "Yes?" Here's a tip: There's no sense in acting as if you don't hear them outside of the bathroom door...they'll just stay there!

"Mama, can we go outside and play with the fuzzies?" she continued. Completely confused by this bizarre question, I replied, "What fuzzies?" Very certain of herself, she answered, "You know! The fuzzies! The fuzzies falling from the sky!"

She was talking about the fluff that looks a little like dandelion that has been floating around. "Sure," I said, "once I'm out of the shower."

She left, but her innocence, along with its message, remained with me. And it was loud and clear.

When I was focused on all the things that made me feel "fuzzy" inside, I was still able to get my work done. I spent wonderful time with family and still got a great deal of writing done. Maybe not as much writing as I would have liked, but still a great deal. And I was relaxed, happy and accomplished.

But when I set my sights on the fussiness of it all, my vision got blurred and I got stuck. Stuck on the final destination of the journey, instead of enjoying each stop along the way.

In May, I was a member of the inaugural cast of the Listen To Your Mother: Charleston show (check out my performance here). But I'm a firm believer that sometimes, we just need to listen to our children...follow their lead.

When we focus too intently on the To-Do's of life, it will inevitably cause us to lose perspective. Remember to enjoy the journey.

Less Fussing...More Fuzzies!

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~How do you keep your perspective in line when the fussiness begins to take over?
Please share in the comments below!

Keep calm? Seriously?

Have you seen what I have to deal with?

KeepCalm

And "keeping it crazy" is the exact route I took when my daughter Lauryn came to me to discuss her fears regarding a recent situation at school.

Let me give you a little background history...

Lauryn is sweet, friendly and creative. She a beautiful girl who likes to dance, sing, draw, paint and write stories. She's tutus and glitter...she's never been a tough girl. She took longer to learn to ride a bike than most kids because she was afraid to fall. She's not into a lot of running...never played many sports. She's a sweet softy. Always meek and peaceable. Even shy in some respects.

Because of this, she seems to be a magnet for aggressive, bullish behavior.

I've been interceding on Lauryn's behalf since kindergarten. Every year, there has been some ill-mannered child or adult who has set their belligerent sights on my daughter (Yes, she has even been the target of hostile attacks from adults--a PE teacher even pushed her once! You should have heard what I had to say to him!).

Now, let me clue you in on a few things about me...

I'm not one of those parents who thinks her child can do no wrong. I'm probably the hardest on them. In fact, I know I'm the hardest on them. That said, I'm also fiercely protective and I will advocate for my children if they are being wronged. For that matter, I will stand up for anyone who is being abused or treated unfairly.

For years, I have been trying to coach Lauryn on being tougher, stronger, more confident.....Being brave...Believing in herself!

After school on Tuesday, Lauryn told me that seating changes had been made, resulting in her being placed at a table with 3 boys, one of whom is allegedly racist. So I began asking questions.

Racist? How do you know? What does he say? Has anyone informed the teacher? What has he said to you? What about the other little boys? What are they doing to you? 

She couldn't answer any of those questions with any facts. She has heard the little boy make unkind remarks about other races; however, he has never said anything to or about her. And as far as the other little boys, well, she just didn't want to sit at a table with all boys.

So I got a little NOT calm.

And I began saying things like, Why are you getting all worked up to the point of tears over something that has not happened? Why are you allowing someone's unkind remarks towards a separate group of people intimidate you? Why are you the one feeling uncomfortable? If this boy has a thing against minorities, then sit right at that table a let him be the one who feels uncomfortable! I need you to be strong! I need you to be confident! No, don't do it for me, do it for yourself! Believe in yourself! You are a beautiful, intelligent, wonderful girl! Find strength in that! Walk into yourself, Lauryn! I need to know that you are going to be able to take care of yourself in this world! I don't care how nervous you are on the inside, you be strong on the outside! You have to practice being confident! You have to pretend you believe in yourself until you really do!

And, I kind of went on and on and on...And yes, I was talking in this excited, flared up, overly passionate tone.

I couldn't help it...I just couldn't remain calm. I just wanted to shake some sense into her. No, not sense...Courage! BELIEF!

I mean, doesn't she understand that she is MY daughter and that she better not EVER let anyone cause her to feel inferior or minimized? Doesn't she know how fabulous she is? Doesn't she see it? Doesn't she know?

I tucked her bed...told her how much I loved her...and explained that I wasn't yelling at her, I was just a little hyped up only because my love for her makes me CrAzY.

I asked my husband later if I had gotten too worked up. Surprisingly, he said no. He's usually the one telling me how nutty I get over things. But still, I felt I handled it incorrectly. Lauryn isn't me. She's not even the me I was when I was almost 12. At age 11 and 12, I had already gone through things in life that toughened me. I had already learned to be a fighter.

So, I decided on a tender approach.

And this is what I did...

I got her this inspirational journal with a matching pen.
I got her this inspirational journal with a matching pen.
I wrote her a sweet note, from the heart.
I wrote her a sweet note, from the heart.
I wrapped it in ribbon and placed it on her pillow.
I wrapped it in ribbon and placed it on her pillow.

I often wonder why I--the Inspiration Specialist, the one who leaps at every opportunity to encourage a woman or young girl, the one who always seems to know exactly what to say and how to say it--why do I always seem to fall a little short when it comes to inspiring her?

She loved the journal...she loved my words...and she loves the idea of writing from the heart until she believes in the strength that lies within.

And of course, sometimes I sing her this song...minus the Lena Horne facial expressions! Haha!

How do you remain calm when it comes to allowing your kids the space to practice and apply these teachings on their own? Share in the comments below! Others will benefit...I know I'm not the only crazy one!

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With life in a big family, it seems we're always balancing the budget, comparatively shopping, weighing the costs.

How much is that gallon of orange juice? How much was that? We can get it cheaper at Walmart. If you buy a dozen, it's less than if you buy two of the 6-packs. How much gas did you put in your tank? How much time does it take? How much longer will you be? How much money is left in the account?

We're constantly trying to get more for less...always trying to squeeze in extra...always on this never-ending quest to save time and money. Heck, even I cashed in on the "BOGO" special with two of my pregnancies. Twins...twice! Talk about a time saver!

But are we really weighing ALL of the costs? Is life really cheaper when we squeeze all we can out of it without putting anything extra into it? Does life really come in bulk?

Recently, our world has turned into a real-life depiction of Cheaper By The DozenYou remember that movie. You know, the 2003 remake starring Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff and Tom Welling?

A little eye candy for the mamas! All right, that's enough!
A little eye candy for the mamas! All right, that's enough!

Ahem! Hello? Um...Hellooo??? I lost you at Tom Welling, didn't I? Dang, girl! FOCUS!

Anyway, in that movie, husband and wife duo, Tom Baker (Martin) and Kate Baker (Hunt), parents of 12 children, are both offered wonderful opportunities that could potentially take their careers to all-time highs. After a move to the big city, Kate and Tom forge full-steam ahead with their career goals only to discover they are on two separate paths. Drastic changes and a bulk-sized order of life prove to be too much for the family. Tom and Kate's inability to accurately weigh the costs shows what happens when we try to buy more out of life than we can afford.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering how life in my crazy household resembles that of The Baker's. Let me break it down for you:

  • We don't have 12 kids, but 8 is damn sure close enough...believe that!
  • Aastan is not a big time college football coach, but he is the Systems Architect for his company's IT team, which essentially means he plays a large role in "designing the plays" that will be carried out by his teammates.
  • I, like Kate, am a writer and the manager of this family's chaos.
  • Like The Bakers, we JUST moved.
  • Much like Tom and Kate, Aastan and I, both, have been making positive strides career-wise that unfortunately require extra time, effort and commitment on our parts.
  • Oh yeah, and our frog escaped, too! I'll tell you all about that in a minute!

With new and exciting things happening on the job front, Aastan has been away a lot. This has been challenging on the entire family. He's tired...the kids don't see him as much...I don't see or talk to him as much...we're a little grumpy...a little stressed...the whole nine!

But let's keep it real, for a moment. It's challenging on everyone, but it really presents me (the wife, the mom, the ringmaster of this circus) with a heavier load. And this heavier load comes at a time when several awesome career opportunities have presented themselves for me, as well.

I'm on the cast of Listen To Your Mother: Charleston; I'm about to submit my children's book manuscript to an agent; I just signed a contract to be a contributing writer on a major women's website; I've been asked to be a speaker at two events coming up in the fall; and I'm hammering out a few ideas designed specifically with women and young girls in mind!

But...timing is everything.

All of these wonderful things are happening for my husband and me...I am happy for him and proud of his achievements, AND I'm happy for and proud of myself, too. But of course, we have to think of our kids...they need us...BOTH of us!

I don't know that we've truly weighed the costs. Our family has been set on fast-forward recently, and it's become a wild ride. Awesome things are happening, but at what price? Our family's happiness, our family's laughter, our family's love?

Life in a family of ten is hard enough. Add in everyone's stuff and there are days when it's beyond difficult.

All of this has me wondering...Is life really cheaper by the dozen? Does a big box of happy and fulfilled life even come in bulk-sizing? And if it does, can we even afford it right now?

How do you deal with this type of balance? How do you weigh the costs of all of life's options? Please share in the comments below! These are discussions that all families--large and SMALL--can benefit from having.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot! The Great Frog Escape! Our albino African-clawed frog got out of his tank...TWICE! We had to hunt him down! His name has been legally changed to Froggie Went A Courtin'. The scene looked something like the following...pretty much!

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It's no secret. I haven't exactly been thrilled about our recent move. It's taken me a minute to adjust.

And it's hard to really give yourself time to settle into your new surroundings when there's so much work that needs to be done. A lot has been tackled, but the list of To Do's ain't quite done.

In a perfect world, Grace Farrell, per Oliver Warbucks instructions, would have come to collect me from my former home and taken me to my new one where a complete staff of singing and dancing maids, butlers, chefs and groundskeepers would have been at my beck and call. I wouldn't have had to lift a finger! It would have looked something like this:

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But in reality, there are still boxes in corners.

Boxes in corners

Artwork is propped up against walls.

Propped artwork

Piles of books and randomness sit, patiently waiting to be put in their proper places.

Books and Randomness

And with a little love and care, this chaos will eventually become my office.

Chaos to Office

There are endless loads of laundry. Dishes to wash. Meals to prepare. Groceries to buy. Bills to pay. Homework to do. The same busyness and craziness of Life that has always existed for us is still right here. Perhaps packaged a little differently, but still, exactly the same.

And so, in the unfamiliar, I have found the familiar. In the uncertainty, I have found the certain.

And in the "I'm not sure if I like it," I have found the LOVE.

Glitter Love

And after a few tears and several moments of weirdness, I can finally say...

I Guess I'm gonna like here!

How long does it take you and your family to adjust to a new rhythm? I'd love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below.

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There are TEN people in this house! Two parents, one "man-child (Brandon is 20, now!)" and 7 kids under the age 13. We're on TOP of each other! So, yeah, there will be fights...I get that!

But, when the same two kids go at it all day, every day, several times a day...well, that's where I draw the line.

Kourtney, age 4, and Thomas, almost 7, are like oil and water, cats and dogs, ALUMINUM FOIL AND MICROWAVES! It just ain't happening!

When Thomas gets in from school, they go at it! All day Saturday, they go at it. All day Sunday, they're at it some more. I talk; I fuss; I lecture; I holler; I put them in time-out and I separate them. I even issue crazy, idle threats like, "Punch somebody one more time and I'm gonna punch you!"

NOTHING WORKS!

We're selling our home and need to pack up a house of 10 people in just a few short weeks. So things around here are WAY crazier than usual. Like a 9.0 on the Crazy Richter Scale! We are crawling from beneath the Crazy rubble daily! So, I don't have time for knock-down, drag-outs!

This past Saturday, after an insanely hectic week, I was praying for a "semi-calm" weekend. See, I don't ask for much. Low expectations!

But Kourtney and Thomas had something else in mind.

Cue endless fighting...

And I don't just mean arguing or bickering. I mean throwing blows, pushing, snatching, slamming doors on each other...the whole nine!

I'd had enough. But I had no idea what to do about it. Time-outs, separations and restrictions were pointless, and hollering does nothing but spoil my mood and give me frown lines on my forehead.

And then, I had a light bulb moment! I remembered all those pictures floating around Facebook of kids in their Get-Along shirts. I figured it was worth a shot.

So I did it! I marched those two into my room, grabbed a pair of scissors, snatched an old t-shirt from my drawer, cut the neck wider and put it on them!

Their reaction was shocking! Priceless and hysterical! I thought for sure they would snicker and laugh about it. Actually, it was me who was fighting back the laughter!

The Power of the Get-Along Shirt!
The Power of the Get-Along Shirt!

They begged and pleaded and promised to be nice. So after a few minutes of what they obviously viewed as sheer torture, I let them off the hook.

And get this! They spent the rest of the day playing TOGETHER and haven't had a fight since!

NO FIGHTING! YAY!

The Power of the Get-Along Shirt!

MOMS, get you one!

Check out the video below! If the viewer doesn't display, click here.

Today was the first day back in the saddle after the Christmas and New Year break.

Driving the kids into school this morning, I saw old faces in the neighborhood re-emerge. They were refreshed and recommitted. These faces were those of the walkers, runners and bike-riders I had seen on many occasions in the past, but over the course of the last few months, their presences slowly faded and, eventually, vanished. I assume they're back at it in order to honor their personal resolutions.

I don't make resolutions. In fact, I don't like them, at all. When this blog was a column in a local parenting magazine, I addressed my feelings on resolutions:

I am not a fan of resolutions. And, after becoming a mother to three daughters, I dislike them even more. In my opinion, resolutions are usually unreasonable, rigid declarations with no built-in wiggle room. They add unnecessary stress and cause women to experience feelings of self-doubt and defeat--not exactly the image you want to convey to young and impressionable daughters.

Gadson, Donloyn T. "Banish Resolutions: Share Traditions with Your Daughter." Lowcountry Parent Magazine. January 2013: 40. Print

Am I saying that personal development, change and commitment are a waste of time because you're just going to fail? Absolutely not!

I suggest that you set intentions instead. Intentions are just a list of non-threatening, purpose-driven goals that you'd like to accomplish in the year ahead. Then approach them with a light, positive attitude...in other words, lighten up! Stay focused and hold yourself accountable, but don't beat yourself up if you slip. Just pick yourself up and begin again.

For 2014, I had every intention of looking Time in the face and saying, "Hey! Can't we just get along?" I had every intention of throwing out my broken clock that was always stuck on "a half past late" and finally upgrading to one that says, "Go girl, wit cha bad self! You are SO on time!"

Notice I said, "Intention."

Yeah, you guessed it! In true crazy fashion, I hit ALL THREE of my alarms, and went back to sleep! THREE alarms, people! THREE!!! I have 2 alarms set on my phone and an alarm clock on my bedside table, and they all received a little smack from me this morning.

So, I peeled myself out of bed, much later than I had intended. And I rushed! Like I have many times before.

But, when we left the house and started down the road, an unexpected feeling of peace came over me. Although we were leaving later than I had hoped, it felt good. The familiar feeling of being back in our routine was good. Lateness and all.

And suddenly, I was okay with having had a rocky start in my new relationship with Time.

And as I continued down the road, seeing all the neighbors committing to a new start, seeing all the remnants of Christmas decor still lingering from the year that has passed, I felt the in-between. In the midst of all my crazy, seeing things both old and new, I felt the beauty of the in-between

TheBeautyofTheInBetween

Life is really just a series of interrupted transitions...The In-Between. The place where old and new coexist.

I think that's the place where all the lessons reside. And when we take the time to notice, appreciate and really feel the presence of the in-between, it makes where we're headed (our intentions) so much clearer.

So, we were a little late today. Tomorrow, I'll do better. I'm sure of that. I know this because I've gained a new perspective.

A new perspective on Intentions, Transitions and The Beauty of The In Between.

How has 2014 reshaped your perspective? Tell me in the comments below.

I wanted to post this Wednesday, since it not only marked the first day of a new year, but also the first day of a new chapter for my family. But that would have been completely misleading, since I am on time to Nothing...Nowhere...Ever. Eight kids tend to do that to you. Plus, I'm all about keeping it real, or in this case...keeping it crazy!

I posted these two photos on Facebook as a little sampling of how we brought in the new year.

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NewYear2

 

Me & my Glitter Girls! Decked out in our tutus, cuz that's how we do!

 

 

 

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I received lots of positive feedback, but these two identical responses stood out most.

You are such a fun mom. Happy New Year! -TF

You're such a fun mom...love it! -VR

I can only hope my children feel this way.

With a family this large, a lot of yelling, fighting, fussing and hollering goes on. Even on a good day.

But I believe that in between the chaos...embedded in the mayhem...buried beneath the bedlam, there are also many moments of fun, silliness and laughter--The Good Crazy.

NewYears3

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Our night was full of Good Crazy. The television was tuned in to New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest. We had homemade french bread pizza and wings. The kids were hanging around, playing games--the usual. My husband was on call (His first day back at work after emergency dental surgery that took place the day after Christmas, and he, of all days, was on call.) We sang along to the music and ate entirely too much. The girls excitedly ran back and forth to the sliding glass door each time they heard fireworks. I straightened up my mess in the kitchen, glanced at the clock and rushed to spruce up the girls' hairdos...because being crazy doesn't mean you have to look it! It was 11:40 and I needed Aastan to set up our glowing eye masks and glasses and pass out our squawkers and blowouts; after all, the new year must be brought in properly.

And then it happened! 11:42 pm, Aastan got a call from work. And the New Year crazy began! He took the call, handled the issue and darted into the den to get our party items set up. I rushed through the last ponytail as he was throwing masks and glasses at kids left and right. In the last 60 seconds before the new year, he switched to throwing blowouts and squawkers so we could at least, "Make some noise!" At the 45 second mark, he said, "We're not gonna make it!" To which Allen-Michael, one of our twin boys, responded, "Can't you just pause it?!" Wishing secretly that we could, since that would seriously be the solution to all my problems, I said, "No, child! You can't pause time!" There's a lesson in that, I'm sure.

At the stroke of midnight, the ball dropped in Times Square, and we wildly shouted, "Happy New Year!" Some of us with masks and glasses, and some without. And the family, who is always rushing, rushed right on into the new year!

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On this night, Lauryn was sick. We found out yesterday, she actually has strep throat. Maybe a Dose of Good Crazy was just what she needed to enjoy bringing in the new year. Or maybe she was having flashbacks of the many times I've shouted, "The next person who gets sick in this house is gonna be in for it!"

I know...it sounds insane. But in my defense, a house full of sick kids will cause you to lose it! I mean, r-e-a-l-l-y lose it!

But, as far I see, I'm ahead of the game. Because you have to be a little nutty in order to keep up with all of this crazy!

 

Have a Happy New Year filled with all kinds of Good Crazy!

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