Peace on Earth (and in Your Home) – Navigating the Tension through the Holidays

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on November 23, 2016.

design-2

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

There is nothing that brings my heart more joy than being with family. My husband and I are extremely blessed to have four wonderful children together, and the majority of our immediate family live locally or just a short drive away. While we get to enjoy family time fairly regularly, I always look forward to Thanksgiving, when we travel to visit my extended family. The holidays are that special time for many people to meet up with loved ones they rarely see and reminisce, bond, and make memories together.

Then 2016.

Guys, let’s be real. This year has been tough on everyone. The last few years have brought to light many social and political issues facing our nation, and all that building tension climaxed this year with possibly the most divisive election cycle in American history. While some people like to keep their circles small and unified in beliefs, I count myself lucky to belong to a large, diverse family holding many different opinions and convictions. The one thing that unites us — and probably how you can tell we’re related — is our passion and stubbornness when it comes to what we believe. 

While I’m pretty sure my family’s Thanksgiving celebration will not include any punches being thrown (fingers crossed, y’all!), you might not have the same confidence for your own holiday gathering. If you are one of the many people worried about facing family with whom you disagree politically this holiday season, remember these pointers to make sure your get-togethers go smoothly, and maybe one day you can even look back on this year and laugh. Or you can just survive until January; I mean whatever you gotta do, bruh.

  1. Go with a plan. And the plan is, let’s just not.

To continue reading, view the full post on the Knoxville Moms Blog. Happy holidays, and remember that family is worth not fighting for. ūüėČ

To Thine Own #Selfie Be True

To Thine Own Selfie Be True.png

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on April 13, 2016. To view this post in its entirety, please click the link at the bottom of the page.

When I was growing up, there were two things my mom could not live without: her planner and her camera.¬†Ironically, she was very often losing them both.¬†A few of our contributors are known for their love of planners (it is one of Lauren’s¬†New Year must-haves!), but that is one of mom’s obsessions that did not rub off on me. The photoholic tendencies, however, are another story.

My mother has¬†thousands¬†of pictures. Most of them are in albums because back in the day you had to actually print pictures to look at them, so I can think of an event or trip or vague time in my life, go pull out that year’s album (or set of albums –¬†thousands, I’m telling you!), and bask in all the 80’s glory of perms, shoulder pads, and pastel everything. I can walk through all of my awkward phases of the 90s (what’s that? You only had one awkward phase? Boy did you ever miss out! *eye roll*), then point to my brothers’ awkward phases to make me feel better. There are pictures of every family member, all our friends and teammates, and every teacher we ever had. But one person is noticeably absent from almost all these seemingly endless albums…

My mom.

Of course she was there, but she was always on the other side of the camera. She cherishes all the memories captured in those photos, especially since they are all taken from her perspective! But as I get older – and watch my parents get older – I wish I had more pictures of my mom to reminisce on my childhood from my own figurative lens, which was very often directed toward my mama.

This brings me to now, my own life as a mom. The truth is, much of my children’s day consists of looking at me. Whether I am playing a game with them, serving them food, disciplining them, or snuggling on the couch, there I am, right in their midst. I memorialize these occasions for myself by snapping pictures, but these will one day be their memories as well, so shouldn’t their perspective also be recorded?

Enter selfies.


To continue reading the full post, please click here to visit the KMB site. Don’t be camera shy; to thine own #selfie be true!

Grace in the Grocery Line: What It’s Like to be a WIC Mom

Grace in the Grocery Line

Hey, you know that “pride” thing that we all have to preserve our ego? It’s where we avoid talking about our flaws or shortcomings because those things don’t make us feel good about ourselves. Well, today I’m dropping my pride on the Knoxville Moms Blog. Why? I want you to hear my story, and hopefully that will encourage someone to think of me and be kind next time they find themselves in this situation. This is just an excerpt, so click the link at the bottom to read the rest!


We have all been there.

Whether you do your grocery shopping on your lunch break, on a mad dash between work and dinner time, or while trying to wrangle all your cranky/bored/energetic/overtired/whatever kids on the cart so you can make it home in time for naps, there seems to be a universal understanding among moms that grocery shopping can be stressful. And the one thing that can take even the most successful shopping trip and make it feel like a disaster is when you get stuck in the slowest.checkout.lane.ever.

When you’re stuck in that dreaded lane, trying to distract yourself from the growing frustration of how long this is taking, glancing over racks of tabloids and chewing gum at all the other lines moving faster than yours, you start to stare down that person at the front:¬†what on earth could be taking so long?!¬†you think. You start counting items… you glare at the cashier… then you realize the hold up:¬†this mom is paying with WIC. UGH.

In case you’re not familiar, WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children. This government program provides nutritional assistance to low-income pregnant or nursing moms and children under age 5 by providing certain items for free, such as milk, bread, cheese, eggs, cereal, and beans. If you have ever been a grocery cashier, used WIC, or been stuck behind someone using WIC, you know it is ridiculously time consuming to check out. And regardless of who you are in the situation, it is ridiculously frustrating for everyone.

I have been that person behind a WIC customer, annoyed and tapping my feet, huffing and glaring, wishing “those people” would just get it together or let me and my 6 items go ahead of them or use a designated lane so us¬†paying customers could move through at a reasonable pace. Believe me, I know the frustration.

Then I became a WIC mom.

The circumstances don’t really matter, and no one should ever have to justify themselves in a public forum like the internet, but here I am, a pregnant, stay-at-home mom to 3 kids who depends on WIC every month. It is what it is; it is not a situation I really celebrate, but I am very thankful to live in a country where this is an option for my family. It doesn’t come anywhere close to covering all of our groceries (nor is it supposed to), but it is a big help with a family and income the size of ours.

I am telling you this, anticipating plenty of hate in the comments (tip for bloggers: never read the comments), because I have one simple request for anyone who will listen: please be kind.

Click this link to the Knoxville Moms Blog to read the rest of this post!

Why I Quit Wearing Make-Up (and you can too)

Selfie with my youngest at Dollywood. What's the point of make-up at Dollywood??

Selfie with my youngest at Dollywood. What’s the point of make-up at Dollywood??

Today I’m posting at Knoxville Moms Blog about why quitting my daily make-up routine was part of my journey to self-love. Click the link below to read the full post!

Okay, before anyone who actually knows me calls me a liar, let me confess that I do, in fact, wear make-up sometimes. I get gussied up to go out with my husband; I try to look nicer-than-usual for church on Sundays; I prepare myself for picture-taking events like birthday parties and holidays. However, most days my face is free and clear of cosmetic enhancement, and while you might think I look tired if you run into me at Walmart, the truth is I probably am tired, and I honestly don’t care.¬†It’s Walmart, after all. If I wanted to impress you I would go to Target. Just kidding. Kinda.

Now, you should know that I am a stay-at-home mom and do not need to look put together or professional or even showered most days, so rocking my “I woke up like this face” all day every day is no biggie for me. I also do not generally enjoy make-up like the creative-type enthusiasts do, so if personal cosmetology is your artistic self-expression, more power to you!

I’m here to share with you 4 reasons why I gave up regularly wearing make-up, and if you’re ready to ditch the habit, you can do it too…

Check out the rest of the post at Knoxville Moms Blog! (It gets good, I promise. :D)

30 Reasons to Love Being 30

So, this week was my 30th birthday, and while many people dread this birthday tell-tale sign of uncoolness and aging, I’m really embracing this milestone. Being “in my 20’s” has never meant to me what it does to many others in our weirdo culture – prolonged adolescence, drinking, partying, hook-ups, relationships, exploration, etc. etc. – so I’m kind of happy to be joining the “grown-ups” in their 30’s who more or less have their junk together.

Last night my husband and I celebrated this blessed day with our annual steaks at a fancy restaurant (and subsequent crying over the tab). Today I will celebrate BuzzFeed style with the much-heralded 2010’s tradition of creating a list. You will notice that most of these correspond to accepting adulthood no matter what age is on the calendar, but turning 30 makes it pretty hard to deny adult-status, so I’ll include it here anyway. So here you go:

30

1. You have mostly figured out what you want in life – whether it’s what you want in a mate or how you like to spend your Friday night – and you’re not embarrassed to admit it.

2. 30-somethings consider wanting to be with the dorky guy or gal who makes you laugh or spending your Friday nights eating Dorito’s and watching Netflix as completely valid life choices.¬†Because seriously, it’s your life.

3. You can wear comfortable shoes all the time and blame it on your corns.

4. You can wear adorable shoes that hurt your feet and claim you’re still too young for corns.¬†Even though, let’s face it, you’re not.

5. You are old enough to know what your body needs and young enough to do something about it. Pregnancy aside, I am healthier and even better looking at 30 than I ever was at 20.

6. Buuuuut if you want to eat a Cinnabon for dinner because¬†it was just one of those days, nobody can stop you. You’re a grown up, darn it!

7. Whether it’s from starting a family of your own or watching your parents age like regular humans, you really appreciate the value of life and TIME. You know well enough not to waste it.

8. People stop giving you strange looks when you admit to having multiple children.¬†Okay, I’m really just hoping on this one. Somehow I think I will always get that look when I tell people I have 4…

9. You stop caring so much about what other people think. I mean really, all the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate…

Shake it off, girl.

Shake it off, girl.

10. You can make conversation with that random person at the grocery store over the rising cost of eggs and your mutual dreams of owning chickens so you can have all the eggs you want and goshdarnit y’all wouldn’t charge so much for eggs because the world deserves delicious eggs! …and that’s totally not weird.¬†Okay, maybe a little weird, but not AS weird.

11. You know your limitations and are okay saying “no.” Well, not all of us are here yet, but we are learning or at least aware that we need to learn. It’s hard, I know.

12. You take your health seriously, and that means making choices that improve your whole life. Eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep… You could bypass these and get away with it 10 years ago, but at 30, you get your priorities straight.

13. Maybe this is just me, but I have my first wrinkles and I¬†love them. They are “crow’s feet” – or, as my mom always said in a much more positive tone, “smile lines,” – around my eyes, and I love that they show how I love to smile and laugh. Embrace that aging, folks!

14. At the same time, seeing those signs of aging reminds me of #12…. So I wear sunscreen every day, even in winter. At 30, you start recognizing the importance of those little things that make a big difference in the long run!

15. You can get¬†super hype about things that are actually a big deal. Nobody cares about your high score on that video game anymore, but DUDE I JUST GOT A NEW RIDING MOWER AND IT IS LEGIT. Now that’s something to celebrate!

16. You have learned a thing or two and can for the most part take care of yourself without calling your parents. You may even be taking care of other people on your own! Go you!

17. Just because you¬†can survive without calling your parents doesn’t mean you¬†should. Growing up means you appreciate all they did in raising you, and {hopefully} you can even talk to them like a friend. Go call your parents right now and tell them you love them!

18. Having children causes us to rediscover some of the magic of childhood. Whether you have kids to help you or not, growing up means you can accept and admit your love of goofy things without worrying about what others think. You love coloring books? Have at it! Like to play in the mud? Gardening is so en vogue. Dance party all by yourself? That’s what Spotify is for!

19. You grow out of adolescent insecurity and begin to accept yourself for the incredible human being you are. And that’s pretty awesome.

20. You have no idea what teenagers are saying anymore because their ever-changing lingo has left you in the dust. And that’s totally okay.

21. You were lazy enough before to learn the value of hard work and a little elbow grease. That means you take better care of yourself, your home, and your things, and you can truly be proud of your work.

22. You are insanely annoyed by motion gifs that keep playing on repeat after you have already seen them. (See: #19 above) It’s okay to scroll down far enough that it won’t show up on your screen anymore. It’s the only way to stop the madness!

23. You’re not {entirely} afraid of failure. Whether it’s changing jobs or changing your motor oil, you’ve done this – or something like it – before, and you can risk making a mistake for the gratification of doing it right on your own. Hey, this is a process for all of us; if you’re better off now than you were at 20, then you’re doing great.

24. You have friends (or at least people) that you’ve known for 20+ years. You can reference something that happened 20+ years ago. This freaks you out, but it’s cool, because that shows the magnitude of your 30 years of life!

25. You realize that 30 is actually a lot of things to put on a list…

26. You – for the most part – know how to get what you want. Whether that’s going back to school for that dream career, taking care of your body to get in shape, or seeing a counselor to help you through your issues, you can look at a problem and, daunting as it may be, find a solution.

27. You understand the importance of finishing what you start, even when you realize that you probably should have said 15 things instead of 30…

28. You don’t get carded for things anymore. I don’t drink or smoke or go to clubs, so I am not regularly in a situation to be carded. However, a few weeks ago a busy restaurant hostess offered me immediate seating in the bar area if I was over… Yeah right this way.

29. You have at least a couple of things that truly belong to you and you can be proud of. Whether that’s a house, car, nice set of china, or maybe some offspring, you can look at things around you and say, “Hey, at least I still have¬†this.”

30. You appreciate and value a job well done, and you accept your best effort for what it is. Even if that is a list that maybe needed a little stretching to make it all the way home, you accomplished what you set out to do, and that deserves a pat on the back.

Hey, 30 is awesome! You are awesome! Happy Friday, everyone!