Get On The Floor: Change Your Perspective, Change Your Parenting

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This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on January 24, 2017. To read this post in its entirety, please follow the link to the KMB website.

My son loves photography. My mom has a fancy DSLR camera she occasionally lets him cart around his neck on a strap (supervised, of course!), and he always comes away with a bunch of blurry shots of random things around the room: the back of a chair, the corner joist of the porch railing, a lamp shade. Whenever he gets a hold of my iPhone, I usually find 50-100 rapid fire shots of whatever TV show he was watching, horribly unflattering shots of me dozing off on the couch, his dirty shoes piled up in the corner by the door. I guess it’s arguable whether he actually enjoys “photography,” per se, or just that he derives sensory pleasure from the little clicking sound the device makes whenever he snaps a photo of whatever the camera happened to be pointing at.

But I like to think there’s more. These seemingly random pictures my son regularly captures don’t just show the mere directionality of the camera he happened to be holding. Whether or not the subject matter is intentional, these pictures tell me something about my son:

His perspective.

To me, the pictures my son takes are weird, random, and poorly executed. The subject matter is uninteresting, the lighting is terrible, and the shot is out of focus. It would be easy for me to call them “bad” pictures, but is that really true? As an adult, it’s easy to look at the world around us as the grand, all-knowing beneficiaries of the wisdom that comes from age. Certainly it is our responsibility to help our children navigate life from our lens of experience, but what have we lost as we have “grown up,” both figuratively and literally?

Sometimes, to help kids understand and grow from their own experience, we need a little change of perspective.

I used to get so frustrated that my baby would cry whenever I vacuumed. He was fine if I was holding him, but set him down for a second and he would be screaming. What difference should it make if he is in my arms or in the chair? The vacuum is still the vacuum. Then one day it hit me that the vacuum is nearly a foot taller than him, and when I’m pushing it away from myself, it appears to be going toward him. It was then I realized that what makes the vacuum less scary isn’t me, it’s the perspective of being taller and pushing it away that help him feel secure. However, I didn’t figure this out until I was laying on the ground when the vacuum was nearby. Sometimes it requires actual physical repositioning in order to gain empathy for our children.

In other words, get on the floor.


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Dear Worried Mother… from the Babysitter’s Mom

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on October 19, 2016.

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Dear Worried Mother,

Tonight is the big night, huh? The first time you are leaving your little angel with a babysitter. This is a huge deal! You have spent these early months doing everything for your baby. You feed him, bathe him, soothe him, swaddle him… You are his everything! What a precious gift that is, to have this time to bond with him. As hard as this has been, you will never regret it, as I’m sure you know: the days are long, but the years are so very short.

As wonderful as this time with baby has been, it’s time, isn’t it? Time for a mental break. Time for bodily fluid-free clothing and hair styled in something other than the trusted mommy-tail. Time for uninterrupted conversation with your husband, or a carefree night out with the girls, or an afternoon of shopping all alone… Whatever the occasion, I know this break is much needed and well deserved. Even though we both know you will be thinking about your baby while you’re gone, you need to feel safe knowing you are leaving your little one in trustworthy hands. This is scary, and you need to know everything will be fine.

so get that. Really. Tonight is a big deal for me too, because your babysitter, the one with whom you have entrusted your entire world all wrapped up in a tiny body, is my entire world wrapped up in a slightly larger body. Your babysitter is my daughter.


To continue reading, please visit the Knoxville Moms Blog to view the full post. Thanks, and remember to be kind to the babysitter!

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.

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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. 😉

15 Affirmations Your Child Needs to Hear Today

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on September 22, 2016. 

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Watching my kids get off the school bus every day is a special treat for me. They bound down the steps like prisoners set free, looking back and giggling as their friends call to them from the windows. Once their big, yellow ride is out of sight, they turn and head toward home, just a few houses down. I have a clear view of their path from my front porch, and I can often discern how their day went by observing their gait. Most days they race each other to the mailbox, or skip along the curb toting a prize they received in class. Other days they leap off that bus, not a care in the world, but as they start toward the house I can see it hit them: I have to tell mom what happened today. The skip slows to a walk and then to a trudge with head hanging low as they confess the bad grade, the poor behavior, the hurtful interaction with a classmate.

With a limited realm of life experience, these simple slip-ups can truly feel like the end of the world to a child, especially if they are repeated. Of course we want our children to be their best selves, but they need to be reassured they are capable of better. I do not suggest children be coddled or go undisciplined. As parents, though, we must recognize that words matter, and if we want our children to realize their potential, we must speak that truth to them.

Here are 15 affirmations your child needs to hear from you:

1. You are a good boy/girl.

2. You belong in this family, and nothing will ever change that.

3. You have an important contribution to make in the world.


To read the full list, check out the original post on Knoxville Moms Blog and encourage a child in your life today!

To My Fourth Child…

To My Fourth Child

Photo used with permission by Stephanie Lancaster of Adara Photography.

Hi Baby,

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we welcomed you into our family. It’s been a wild ride already, hasn’t it? People always say you’re the happiest baby in the world, and I know it’s because you’re so loved by so many people. You would never know it, but things are a lot different for you than your big sister and brothers.

When your sister was born, things were much…quieter. She had a room all to herself, full of brand new pink baby things that belonged only to her. In the mornings she would wake up early, and Daddy and I would hear her laughing and talking to herself as she started to stir. During the day, she got love and snuggles from so many people at day care while Mommy and Daddy went to work, and we were both so anxious to give her our undivided attention when we got home! At bedtime, we would gently rock in the glider, singing sweet, quiet songs as she drifted off to sleep.

You, dear child…

Well, that story probably sounds like a fairy tale to you. Your room is shared with big sister’s furniture, clothes, and 8-year-old girl stuff. The only thing in there that belongs to you is your crib and pile of diapers in the top dresser drawer. Those are pretty much the only things that belong to you period, since everything else is a hand-me-down from someone. You are almost always awoken abruptly by a sibling who either does’t understand the word “whisper” or several who are fighting over who gets to hold you first. During the day we shuffle back and forth to the gym, Walmart, Chick-fil-A, and…well, those are pretty much the only places we go. You spend as much time in your car seat in an average week as any of your siblings did in a month. And bedtime? HA! It’s more like a circus, complete with clowns, acrobatics, and plenty of animal noises. Rather than peacefully laying you in your quiet bed to drift off as your sleep-trained older siblings did, Daddy and I take turns hurriedly bouncing you (the glider is in my room serving as a holder of clean laundry I probably will never fold) because you’re over-tired thanks to the big kids who make way too much noise for you to sleep when you want to.

When your brothers were your age, they had playmates. Our Prince Charming had big sister, just two years his senior, then he became a middle child at just about your age when Sweet Carrot came along. Those two boys have always been inseparable. Mommy started staying home when Sweet Carrot was born, and our mornings were filled with costumes and sword fights and coloring each other with markers when Mommy wasn’t looking. Now two of your siblings are in elementary school, and the other one would rather play by himself than with you most of the time. He just doesn’t seem to appreciate the way you chew on his action figures and throw them across the room, does he? You don’t seem to mind too much, though, as long as there’s a roll of toilet paper to unravel because Mommy forgot to shut the bathroom door again.

There are a lot of things you don’t have. You don’t have a keepsake box because I keep forgetting to buy one (but there is a pile on my dresser…), I already lost the lock of hair from your first trim (in my defense, you tried to eat it while I was helping sister with a project, and it got scattered), and you didn’t even have a first birthday party (you won’t remember, it’s cool). I don’t read to you unless you overhear me helping the big kids with their homework, and I don’t flinch when you eat Cheerios off the floor. (Sweet Carrot probably put them there for you.) You don’t have much 1-on-1 time with me, and sometimes I wonder if you’re getting the short end of the stick.

And then I remember your tribe.


To continue reading this post, please click here to view the full version on Knoxville Moms Blog!

The Good in the World: Small Acts of Kindness

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This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on June 16, 2016. To read the post in its entirety, please click the link below to view the main page. Thanks and enjoy!

When my mom shared with her mother that she was pregnant, my grandmother cried. These were not tears of joy for the sweet little baby to love and cuddle; nope, she was sad.

Now before you go and think my grandmother is a horrible person – she is really quite delightful – let me explain. My grandmother lived through the Great Depression in a rural Tennessee town and lost her twin sister and baby brother due to lack of medical care. She saw many of her friends and family head off to Europe and Japan during World War II only to come home changed forever. She raised a family during the Civil Rights movement in Memphis, one of the most violent places in the country (then and now). She has seen wars, natural disasters, violence, hatred, death, and all the pain and sorrow of this broken world, and she genuinely feared for the next generation.

Truthfully, my grandmother’s concern was not baseless. This world is hard. And dark. And painful. But there is hope.

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“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Small Acts of Kindness and Love

True, there is much darkness in the world, but I believe there is more light. It only takes the small light of a candle to dispel the darkness of an entire room, so by each of us shining a little, I believe we can make this world a better place. My grandmother was right about life’s troubles, but she was wrong to fear. Since I was born in 1985, we have seen immense advances in medicine, social justice, protection of vulnerable people groups, tolerance, love, and more. We do not need to fear for our children; our children give us hope.

How do we raise up a generation that will change things for the better? We teach them the value of small acts of kindness and love. Model it for them, and invite them into the process. As Arthur Ashe famously said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”


If you are enjoying this blog so far, please head over to Knoxville Moms Blog to read the full post. Keep on hoping, friends!

To Thine Own #Selfie Be True

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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!