Stealing Faith

humor for relationships, family & life

The Myth of Doing Your Best


The Myth of Do Your Best

The Myth of Doing Your Best

Perhaps you, like me, grew up in the era where we tell people, “Just do your best, win or lose, and I’ll be proud of you!”

 

I call BS! (Actually, I don’t want to call BS because I don’t typically use the word BS because profanity and I aren’t kissing cousins. But I need to call something on that sentiment… how about Farkle? If I call Farkle will you know I’m really saying there’s no chance the above statement can be true? Besides, farkle is a really fun word!)

 

I CALL FARKLE!!

 

We don’t really agree with the statement, “Just do your best.” Maybe we would in an absolutely perfect world, but when you get way down serious about your motivations, no one really does their best, so the foundation of the concept is cracked.

 

Now you want to cry Farkle! on me, right? “Of course we do our best! I do my best all the time!” you cry.

 

FARKLE.

 

To do your best is to put everything on the table. Leave nothing in reserve. The best is the best, there is nothing more.

 

And that’s not how we live.

 

Carrying that extra 5 pounds around? Not doing your best. The unmatched socks on the sofa? Not your best. That crabby response you shot off to your child when they pestered you one time too many? Nope, that’s not your best, either. (FYI – these are all examples from my own life. So if you’re feeling called out, I’m right there with you.)

 

Your BEST would be good enough, perfect even, if you actually gave it. But you don’t, and neither do the people around you.

 

We are not a best-giving culture, despite our pretty, self-esteem lifting rhetoric. We are a culture of doing as much as is comfortable, taking a teeny step further, encountering resistance, and calling it Best to justify quitting.

 

I realize there are exceptions to this idea, but if the exception were the rule we wouldn’t be fascinated with stories about physician Ben Carson or watch the Pursuit of Happyness and cry.

 

What’s more, I’ve come to the conclusion we don’t want to do our BEST. We don’t want to exercise the muscle of conviction. Doing our true Best creates conflict and the majority of us are dying to avoid conflict.

 

Even more… our true Best breeds fearFor if we lay our true Best down on the altar of effort — if we give every single, tiny bead of our fiber to the cause, right to the scrapings and smidgens — if we do that and it’s truly not enough we are crushed. We have nothing left. We have exposed our deepest vulnerability and been found lacking.

 

That’s terrifying stuff, friends. That’s the harsh reality of living most of us can’t even begin to grasp, so we instead come up with excuses as ways to pad our fear:

 

“I didn’t really get to study for that test as long as I should have because of PollyAnna’s birthday dinner the night before. You know, she’s been such a ray of sunshine in my life I couldn’t blow her off!”

 

“I finally told my wife if she couldn’t see how hard I was working to make her happy it was her problem, not mine. She’s always so negative. Sometimes I wonder how we’ll make it to the end.”

 

“If my boss wouldn’t give me so many hats to wear — this organization is growing so quickly it’s hard to keep up! — I would be able to stay on top of my workload. But there are only so many hours in the day…”

 

“Today little Malcolm was begging me to jump on the trampoline with him but I saw the mountain of laundry — and my bladder isn’t what it used to be — so I said, “No Way!” He’ll probably forget about it by tomorrow.”

 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the excuses except that they’re excuses. They’re explanations for why we didn’t give our Best. Why we don’t want to give our Best.

 

I propose we need a change of vocabulary. We need to throw all that “Do Your Best” business out the window and claim our reality. We are capable of doing our Best in some things — but not all things.

 

What’s more important, that’s OK. That’s something you can embrace. You are not a super hero and you shouldn’t be. Intentionally prioritize your life so you can articulate what’s most important to you. Tell the people around you what really matters and let them take their judging to the Olympics, out of your life.

 

If you have created your set of standards based on your priorities (and, if you’re a Christian, God’s calling on your life), all that judging that goes on really doesn’t need to affect you; their judgement tells you more about their priorities than speaks to anything you are doing yourself.

 

Speak to yourself honestly:

 

“I can only spread myself so thin. So when it comes to losing the weight, I’ll be ok with holding on to that fluffiness around my midsection. But when it comes to educating my children – I will do my best and leave nothing undone that matters.

 

“My priorities in this season are time-consuming. So I’m going to have to put that previous heart’s desire on hold in order to really devote myself to what is in front of me right now. When circumstances change in the future, if that desire is still there, I’ll trust there will be a way to accomplish it.”

 

My final thought on the Myth of Doing Your Best? If we can figure out a way to live authentically, with purpose, with nothing held back, I’m pretty sure we’ll discover that vulnerability we are scared to expose will be replaced by something breathtaking to behold. By something stunning, uncommonly beautiful because it’s rarely seen and infinitely cherished.

 

It’s your Best.

 

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

“Me Likee” Link Up – It’s Inspiring


Stories that Inspire

Stories that Inspire

I’m a sucker for the stories that make me think, make me want to be a better human, or encourage me to never give up. I’ve come across a few that inspire me lately — here are the links:

 

1. Couple Loses 538 Pounds. We watch the Biggest Loser and are always so inspired by the tremendously hard work people complete in order to live a healthier life. This article is similar — and the couple is ridiculously attractive!

 

2. You’re a Stay-at-Home Mom — What do you DO all day?! I haven’t had many people give me a hard time for being a stay-at-home mom, but occasionally I get knuckle heads who can’t understand why we have laundry on the sofa or grapes smashed on the floor when I’m at home all day doing nothing. (Ha!) I loved this husband’s defense of his wife’s career choice… and it inspired me to work harder at being the mom I know I can be.

 

3. 25 Things Every Woman Needs to Know. There are some nice tidbits in this article that rank right up there with making sure a woman always has access to a power drill. And a plunger.

 

4. When Life Feels Like It’s Stuck on Repeat. I’m a big fan of Lisa-Jo Baker. Her writing encourages me often. This post gave me the extra needed boost I needed (in addition to a cup of coffee).

 

5. There are no “cool moms.” Another from Lisa Jo Baker that reminded me I’m pre-approve (and so are you!) and that’s… well… that’s just awesome.

 

6. Seeing A Woman. I’m realizing more and more that pornography and sexuality is a crazy serious issue. I adored this wisdom from a father to a son on how to really see a woman.

 

7. Less is More. Have you ever wished your marriage possessed just a little more attention? This post helped me think through the ways I can study my husband in order to know him more.

 

8. Marriage Advice from a Divorced Man. They say regret can be a powerful motivator; this heartfelt blog post from a divorced man looking back at 16 years of marriage almost made me cry in its beautiful simplicity.

 

9. A Week of Food Around the World. A photographer set out to showcase cultural differences by taking pictures of families with a weeks worth of groceries in different countries. It’s hilarious… and sobering all at the same time.

 

10. The Prize for Motherhood ISN’T Great Kids. It’s funny how much better my life is when I take the spotlight off of my own issues and realize I have a sphere of influence I can control and a whole lot more in this life I can only observe. Reading this post helped me realize my reactions to events are 90% of the fight.

 

What are some of the stories/articles/blog posts you’ve read that inspired you?

 

 

How To Get Married In Six Months Or Less


Daniel.Lee / compfight.com

StealingFaith has grown so much over the last year many of you have probably never read some of the earlier posts. And tonight I had to giggle when thinking back to the early days of our move…

 

So, for your reading pleasure, please enjoy the story of how getting married in six months or less became part of our family culture. May your smile be sweet and your dating relationships short.

 

How To Get Married In Six Months Or Less

 

Today is my parent’s 43rd wedding anniversary.

 

Lizard and I will have our 7th wedding anniversary in a month.

 

After an exhausting search of Wikipedia and Google I’ve learned if I add our respective years of marriage together that means this little snippet holds the wisdom of 50 years of wedded bliss and that, mon amie, makes this post golden, I tell you, golden.

 

Much to my dismay I also discovered that on our own, Lizard and I are traditionally only worth wool and copper this anniversary (my folks are in the Ruby region).

 

Back to the story.

 

Both my parents and yours truly met and married our spouses within six months.  (To make things even a little more mind blowing, Lizard’s parents and grandparents as well as my sister and brother-in-law met and married within six months as well.  We all know how to move quickly when we find the one who makes our hearts go pitter-pat.)

 

In honor of my parents and because I just feel like it, I’ve created a list of the five things you shouldn’t do on a first date unless you want to get married in six months.

 

(It’s a list as inexplicable as voodoo and as charming as the Easter Bunny.)

 

Here goes:

 

1. Catapult dish candies across the living room. When my dad arrived to pick my mom up for their blind date she asked him to wait while she finished getting ready.  In the short moments available to him while he waited the candy dish on the living room table called his name.  He reached for some and in a tragic fumble launched the candy dish across the room where it hit the wall and scattered M&M’s throughout the realm.  My mom arrived in the living room to find my dad on his hands and knees with fistfuls of colorful chocolate.  Great first impression.

 

2.  Respond to a question about where you went to college with a detailed account of each person you remember with fondness. On our first date that wasn’t a date (we didn’t actually date until we were engaged.  Long story for another time.) I innocently asked Lizard about his college experience.  He responded with extensive details about the lives of each of his friends.  I didn’t have to do anything but say, “Uh-huh.  Really?” for one and a half hours.

 

3.  Violate the bubble of personal space of your date. After my dad returned the candy dish to the table he and my mom drove to dinner in a Volkswagon Bug.  Just a few weeks before my dad had totalled another bug in a rollover accident.  He walked away unharmed because he was wearing his seatbelt.  My mom didn’t buckle her seat belt when she got in the car (it was 1968, strapping yourself to moving metal as a safety mechanism wasn’t a wide-spread philosophy!) and my dad unthinkingly decided to buckle her in.  With no explanation whatsoever my mom’s date lunged across the car at her and began pawing at her rumpus area.  She found it rather disconcerting while my dad viewed his actions as protective.  This is why Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.

 

4.  Launch into a man-hating feminist diatribe. Lizard and I watched the movie Mona Lisa Smile on our first date that was not a date.  During the hour and a half drive home I railed against the sexist mentality of higher education and the men who refused to allow women to excel using their God-given talents both inside – and outside – of the home.  Lizard was mostly silent. I was full of outrage.  For one and a half hours.  It was awkward.

 

5. Tell your date you’re sure they’d have more fun without you and you want to go home. My mom doesn’t drink alcohol.  When she and my dad met the man who set them up on the blind date they discovered him liquored up in the bar because he’d gotten in a fight with his wife and arrived early.  He suggested they all get a drink before dinner.  And during dinner.  And after dinner.  And then that they go to a new dance club that was all the rage.  My mom looked at my dad and said, “It’s obvious you want a girl who drinks and parties and I’m not the kind of girl.  So please take me home now and you can go out and find a date who suits your interests for the rest of your evening.”  He took her home.  And proposed four weeks later.

 

(Funny story, my dad recently confessed to my sister that he thinks my mom was on her best behavior during their courtship.  Just imagine their wedded bliss.)

 

There are my five recommendations for actions to take if you’re trying to get married within six months.  Do you have any stories of dates gone horribly awry that lead to lasting love?

 

This post was originally published February 20, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

50 Little Nudges Out of the Big Rut


andybahn / stock.xchng

If you’re like me, on occasion things around the homestead get a little hairy and one day you are sipping a cup of the strongest coffee your machine can make and you realize you haven’t really looked your spouse in the eye for a few days.

 

It’s not a pretty realization. It makes me sad.

 

I think I’m not the only one who has this problem.

 

So I started brainstorming simple ways you can communicate love to your MOST significant other… if you incorporate just a few of these into your life, it can only help the hubba-hubba factor increase!

 

1. Hug for 30 seconds or longer. Relax into it.

2. Make eye contact.

3. Finish a conversation from start to finish, despite distractions.

4. Fix their coffee for them.

5. Make sure you’ve got your schedule on the master calendar.

6. Switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer.

7. Load/unload the dishwasher.

8. Plan a spontaneous trip.

9. Leave a love note in their lunch box.

10. Make a list of the reasons why you married them, then share it with them.

11. Give a back rub.

12. Let them go to the bathroom first when you’re both racing for it.

13. Ask them on a date.

14. Post a status update complimenting them, make sure you tag them in it.

15. Clarify for true understanding when tensions escalate.

16. Discover something new together.

17. Laugh. Tell a joke. Be silly.

18. Say, “I love you. Forever.”

19. Compliment them in front of your children.

20. Remind yourself of how you felt when you were dating.

21. Dust/clean their side of the bedroom.

22. Ask them what’s on their mind. Listen to the response.

23. Make their needs and wants your  priority.

24. Give them a gift.

25. Allow them time with friends without guilt.

26. Be nice to their family members.

27. Pray for them.

28. Say you’re proud of what they do.

29. Make an inside joke.

30. Go on a date.

31. Take care of yourself.

32. Acknowledge their “A” for efforts.

33. Give them grace. Repeatedly.

34. Tell them their dreams aren’t foolish.

35. Be someone pleasing to spend time around.

36. Flirt with them.

37. Snatch quick kisses at the stoplight/drive through.

38. Hold hands.

39. Let them speak without interruption.

40. Don’t jump to conclusions.

41. Assume good will and that you’re on the same team.

42. Don’t say anything when you want to be critical.

43. Talk up their best qualities to your friends and family.

44. Clean up your messes.

45. Follow through on your promises.

46. Get in a tickle fight.

47. Indulge in something mutually enjoyable.

48. Respect them as you would your friend.

49. Don’t criticize yourself.

50. Play footsie under the table.

This post was originally published June 13, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Playing the Field


LKay / stock.xchng

LKay / stock.xchng

Do you ever wish your marriage was easier? Friendlier? Different?

 

Everyone who has been married for more than about 10 minutes has a moment or two when the twinkle in their eye turns into a hard glint and they wonder exactly what universe their spouse inhabits and how it ever connected with their own long enough to say, “I do”!

 

Last week, after several weeks of lack of communication in our household due to sickness, parenting, and busyness, I was having one of those moments. You know the ones… when your temper is short, the chip on your shoulder is large, and you find yourself wanting to snatch yourself bald in frustration!

 

Oh, those are the moments ripe for shoving your foot in your mouth.

 

Fortunately for me, this time, wisdom intervened and the perspective I gained from them helped me re-establish communication with my husband in a kind, authentic, and thoughtful way. Can I share it with you?

 

First, two blogs posted the same quote from Elizabeth Elliot on the same day, so I found two emails stating the same thing when I turned on the computer:

“A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.”

 (As quoted in Feminine Appeal, Mahoney, p 41)

Well. Doesn’t that stink to read from two sources right when you’re hitting your stride in a hissy fit?!

 

I was so disgruntled about the truth in this statement that later that day I complained to a girlfriend. She whapped me over the head with another simple, profound illustration:

“If you were a coach, say of a soccer team, you’d be intentional about every player you put on the field, right?” my wise friend said. I agreed with her premise.

“If you want a really competitive team you make sure you have the right person on the field for the right position. And once you’ve gotten that dynamic team put together, you guard it very carefully.” She waited for my nod before going on.

“If you were that coach, after really investing in each of those players and teaching them their positions – would you pull the goalie out and ask them to be a striker?” she asked me. “Of course not! Because they are the goalie and they’re excellent at being a goalie… and there is another player who is excellent in the forward position.”

“You’d never expect your keeper to score for you because that’s not their gifting; you’d also never put your forward in the box and expect them to accomplish a shut out.” By this time I knew where she was going but somehow managed to keep my mouth shut and not interrupt her.

“Your spouse has been designed to play a position on the “Life Team” that is perfect for them… but they aren’t created to play every single position on the field and it’s not fair to ask them to do that,” she said. “Instead, why not celebrate them for the role they do fill with excellence and back off the criticism when they aren’t perfect in every way?”

 

Makes sense to me! Isn’t it awesome when your friends are incredibly smart?! Hope this perspective helps you as much as it did me this week!

 

Here’s to giving your spouse grace… and a prompt to celebrate them for what they do best this week!

 

 

 

Gold Rush


Gold Rush / Discovery Channel

Gold Rush / Discovery Channel

We’re spending an exciting Friday night on the sofa catching up on TiVo. Gold Rush, Discovery Channel’s reality television show about Alaska gold miners, is up first in our line up.

 

I kept hearing snorts of disgust from the other inhabitant of the lounging device in our living room so I finally asked, “OK, give me five reason why Gold Rush is bugging you so much.”

 

Here is the response.

 

5 Reasons Why My Husband Thinks Gold Rush is Stupid

 

1. Todd.

 

2. Todd.

 

3. Todd.

 

4. Todd.

 

5. Todd.

 

And there you have it, folks. I know it may be hard to get a sense of Lizard’s feelings on this, but what he’s really trying to say us that he doubts Todd’s leadership.

 

Usually Lizard only talks to the t.v. when there’s a scandalous sports call, but tonight I hear muttering, snorts of disgust, and statements about idiocy. I can’t lie, it’s pretty funny.

 

Do you like Gold Rush? Does it irritate you? Why or why not?

10 Spot Ramble: Sleep


nazreth / stock.xchng

nazreth / stock.xchng

Just about the time I finished poking around the internet and got ready to write for StealingFaith last night Bubby let loose a massive cough and expelled a significant amount of vomit onto my body and the sofa.

 

It was awesome. Within another 20 minutes he’d had three more exorcist like vomiting experiences and after a hurried discussion I took him to the Emergency Room.

 

He’s going to be fine, but has a virus and was dehydrated. Between the enjoyment of a midnight hospital run and trying to push fluids on a lethargic baby I got about 6.2 minutes of sleep last night. Which means today I’m so tired I am literally not able to process words people are speaking to me. It’s an unfortunate handicap.

 

While this is not good for my inter-personal communication skills, this is the recipe for a perfect storm of random facts about the goofy stuff that happens when you’re sleepy.

 

So, brought to you by the entrée of an ER visit with a side of vomit, here’s your 10 Spot Ramble: Sleep.

 

1. Humans are the only species that can choose sleep deprivation. Staying up late is not a choice for the rest of the animal kingdom; humans are the only ones who can deliberately override the drive to sleep. Staying up to finish a movie, pulling an all nighter to finish up a project, or even setting an alarm to get up in the morning are all cognitive decisions that other beings are unable to make. I don’t know if this reinforces the human’s place at the top of the food chain or is proof we will soon descend.

 

2. If you’re in the mountains, expect to suffer. The higher the altitude, the greater the sleep disruption. Generally, sleep disturbance becomes greater at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. The disturbance is thought to be caused by diminished oxygen levels and accompanying changes in respiration, though most people adjust to new altitudes in approximately two to three weeks.

 

3. Married people sleep better. Divorced, widowed and separated people report more insomnia. This also makes me wonder if there really is something to the age-old instruction not to let the sun go down on a conflict.

 

4. Siesta! According to the results of National Sleep Foundation’s 2008 “Sleep in America” poll, a surprising 34 percent of respondents reported their employer allows them to nap during breaks and 16 percent provide a place to do so. These are the places you want to work!

 

5. Sleep is very, very sneaky. It is impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervision. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it. This explains my own ability to creep people out with my open, vacant, small pupiled eyes. I don’t know the power of a nap.

 

6. The baby is a killer. A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours of lost sleep for parents in the first year. That’s roughly one full month of lost sleep for the average person. I’ll be generous and assume a pregnancy loses half that amount of sleep. This means I’ve lost approximately six months of my life to the sneaky sleep suckers masquerading as my flesh and blood. Blood thirsty maggots! Even better, some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.

 

7. Why you dreamed you’re naked. REM dreams are characterized by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery – obsessively returning to a suspicion you left your mobile phone somewhere or you’re giving the class president campaign speech in your knickers, for example. REM sleep occurs in bursts totaling about two hours a night, usually beginning about 90 minutes after falling asleep.

 

8. Pull out the floodlight. Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock. What I really want to know is how they even came up with the knee-back hypothesis to start with!

 

9. Watch out for alcohol. After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.

 

10. Daylight Savings stinks. I’ve always been suspicious of Daylight Savings Time and now I have another irritation: The extra hour of sleep received when clocks are turned back at the end of daylight saving time has been found to coincide with a fall in the number of road accidents.

 

The kicker of all the random facts I discovered is this:

The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

I can’t even begin to imagine the cutthroat competition at the rocking chair marathon! The potential for smashed toes, inner ear turmoil, and hernia creation! Who does that???

 

On a related note, I would love to hear some Ambien stories. Several friends have shared hysterical stories from when they took Ambien – do you have one to share?

 

 

The Next Right Thing


rabbitI’ve had a pregnant rabbit living in my kitchen and we now have 8 little babies in there, too. It’s been so exciting I can’t manage to do much besides think about rabbits!

 

The mother is a first time mama, which can be a very stressful time for a rabbit. Many first time moms will make rookie mistakes that can cost the lives of the entire litter. This particular rabbit is doing amazing things, however, and I have high hopes for her maternal instinct!

 

I’ve been watching this mama rabbit closely since she’s been underfoot. She seems to take everything in stride and emanates a sense of calm.

 

In contrast, I have another doe about to give birth who is quite possibly psychotic. When I open the door to her cage she charges me, does twists and flips, and if I haven’t gotten out by then, will go to the back of the cage and just hop up and down. A friend calls this behavior the “bunny blender.”

 

I actually identify with both of these rabbits on some level. A year ago I was the bunny blender rabbit; easily upset, confused on all levels, and sometimes hopping mad.

 

Nowadays I think I relate to our more maternal doe; I’m more likely to let things go than I used to be. I still get upset and have my moments (occasionally several an hour!) but in general I am more pleasant.

 

What’s the key to this change? Well, a lot of things… and a lot of hard work sorting out emotions and actions, etc. But the biggest thing that has changed me?

 

Doing the next right thing.

 

It’s very simple. Whenever I start getting completely overwhelmed I stop, breath, and just do the next right thing.

 

I can figure out what the correct answer is for my life for the next five minutes or day… I often struggle when I try to come up with my five year plan! Focusing on the macro in times of stress can augment my tension. Stepping back and looking at the micro closely enough to see the next step needed – it helps me relax and laugh a little more.

 

It’s a simple strategy, but if you’re in a stressful situation give it a try.

 

What’s your next right thing?

 

 

Lucky Peas


black-eye-pea-spoonAre you superstitious?

 

I don’t believe I am, though there’s no doubt I come from superstitious folk. I don’t shudder when a black cat crosses my path, duck away from walking under ladders, and as an adult I don’t even throw salt over my shoulder when it’s spilled.

 

I tempt fate on a moment-by-moment basis. Living on the edge over here.

 

Today I tossed all of my level-headed, scientific, and rational thinking right out the window as I went on a search for black-eyed peas.

 

So many of my friends don’t realize that consumption of the humble black-eyed pea on New Year’s Day is actually the key to all success and positive opportunities in the upcoming year! You, yourself, dear reader, may process my claim and find your mind filled with doubt.

 

Stop questioning. Black-eyed peas are terribly important.

 

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a tradition from the Southern U.S. The pea is a way to entice good luck to come to your house and stay for a year – adding some greens and cornbread to the meal represents getting lucky with money and gold, respectively.

 

This is not a Jeff Foxworthy, “You Might Be a Redneck If…” tradition, a custom to mock and disbelieve. The luck of the black-eyed pea is true! I can prove it!

 

Eight years ago I helped chaperone an all-night youth lock in on New Year’s Eve. It was the first time I spent time this handsome gent I’d seen around and we spent the night laughing and telling stories while supervising teenagers who thought taping one another to the walls of the gymnasium with duct tape was the height of quality entertainment.

 

After we returned all the youth to their homes at 5 a.m. New Year’s Day, that guy asked me if I wanted to go to a movie with him that night. I accepted and invited him to my house to consume our family’s traditional New Year’s meal: black-eyed peas and corn bread.

 

He came. He consumed eight bowls of black-eyed peas because, trying to be polite and make a good impression on my parents, he ate everything in front of him and my mom, always the hostess, kept refilling his bowl so he wouldn’t go hungry.

 

May I repeat, eight bowls. That’s about 12 cups of legumes consumed in one sitting.

 

Followed by a six hour date. A first date, where gaseous eruptions would be awkward.

 

Best part of the story? He doesn’t even like black-eyed peas.

 

This might not seem like the luckiest of occurrences  but you would be under the wrong impression if you tried to blame the black-eyed pea for a romantic disaster. Those peas brought us together and five months later we married. Eight years after that my husband still teases my mother about the peas, and she still asks him if he’s gotten his good luck for the year.

 

I love my husband. I also laugh out loud every time this story crosses my mind.

 

Thus, it’s obvious: Southern traditions are simply the best. The End.

 

Do you eat black-eyed peas on New Years? What region of the U.S. do you call home?

 

 

Quick Guide to Children: Ages Birth – 6 Years


Our first 6 years looked something like this...

Our first 6 years looked something like this…

I can’t claim to be a childhood expert and there are certainly no titles and degrees from fancy institutes attached to my name, but as a mom of four kids I believe I can offer a valid assessment of the first six years of child rearing as acquired in the school of hard knocks.

 

For those who are just embarking on this journey – I hope this quick guide can offer you hope when things look hopeless and discourage you when things are bright. If you have completed your own child parenting journey with a live, functioning adult child, I hope you will add your own observations in the comment section!

 

Birth through 1-year-old: A fantastic season of life! Everything your child does is new and exciting and fills you with pride. If he poops, it’s the sweetest smelling poop you’ve ever known, if she spits up, the spit up is either less than every other child or significantly more. Nothing is in halves during the first year.

 

The sleeplessness, it may get to you. You may possibly believe you are going to die. There will be dark, gloomy days when you remember sleeping in or staying up late or getting in the car and driving without wondering if your diaper supply is sufficient.

 

This is the year when previously confident people usually realize they DO NOT have their act together. They are much more insecure, confused, angry, and impatient than they originally thought. They also realize their capacity to love is significantly higher than ever imagined. And for parents… conjugal visits can be sketchy. Do not despair. Year two is just around the corner. It gets better.

 

1-year-old to 2-years-old: One day you have an infant and the next you realize the baby fat has melted off of their cheeks. You pretend you’re imagining the unpleasant scent of your body as you immerse yourself in all of the “firsts” of a little one. The pterodactyl screeches of your child fade – finally! – into recognizable words and you see personality in your child that gives you hope for a future where they discover the cure for cancer and carry out world peace.

 

You finally know how to put a pack ‘n play together in less than 25 minutes. You start sleeping through the night consistently. This newfound rest, combined with the realization you’ve spend thousands of dollars on unused clothing and toys, convince you to try for another child.  Your spouse is all for the trying to get pregnant process but terrified and sobered when the pregnancy test comes back positive. The memories of the sleepless nights come back in cold sweat nightmares.

 

2-years-old to 3-years-old: The child you’ve produced is, in turns, part angel, part demon, over the top exasperating and phenomenally charming. You sleep anytime you sit still and stop taking photos for the baby book. This makes you feel guilty.

 

The baby lengthens and you’re left with a toddler speaking a foreign language in a vehement voice, expecting you to understand and comply with their wishes at all times! You buy them a wristwatch, How to Teach Your Baby to Read, and shoes with shoelaces expecting overnight success. They don’t learn how to tell time, read, or tie their shoelaces. You mope, certain this is a parental failing on your part.

 

3-years-old to 4-years-old: You are enchanted by this little creature in your home in much the same way people stare at pictures of koala bears, not realizing they are actually vicious when not drugged on eucalyptus leaves. Your child loves you desperately and copies everything. Because we are all innately selfish, we find this to be a sincere form of flattery until…

 

… the “whyarrhea” begins. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?! This is a level of Dante’s inferno! Gray hairs sprout from your head and you have new growth upon your chest and ears. You’ve lost track of the passing of time and friends you don’t see on a weekly basis. Just about the time you are ready to quit this whole parenting shebang, you catch a glimpse of fantastic, unadulterated beauty in your child, an innocence you will do anything to protect – and you are renewed enough to answer another “why?” question.

 

4-years-old to 5-years-old: This is quite possibly the best year of parenting yet! Your kiddo is potty trained, can wipe themselves even!, they can button their clothes and carry on a conversation! They amuse you with comments about how the world works, still cuddle, and remind you of why you wanted to reproduce in the first place.

 

Four-year-olds are amazing, particularly if given tranquilizers.

 

5-years-old to 6-years-old: Your child begins to understand that life is not fair. They are NOT OK with this discovery and live in a state of outraged justice.

 

Passionate tears flow on a regular basis. You find yourself playing judge and jury 67 times per hour. At night you curl into a small ball next to your spouse and pray. This is a very important year for hand holding in a marriage, and it’s important to know that a 20-second hug engenders a feeling of intimacy in humans. Hug often.

 

6-years-old to 7-years-old: You’ve made it to the sixth birthday! This is a major accomplishment! You can now look forward to one of the years when your child will look the most awkward. Missing teeth, uneven growth spurts, a sudden aversion to cleanliness… six is the year for these pleasures, and more!

 

The weak in spirit may fear for their life, but have no fear, the sixth year is only 365 days long and you CAN make it out alive. Repeat to yourself, “The days are long, the years are short… the days are long, the years are short…”

 

What would you add to this simple guidebook?

 

 

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