Snow Day

By 5:00 am we knew what lay in store for us-a SNOW DAY!!

When I was a kid these were the two best words in the English language. It meant alternating playing outside til your extremities were frozen with warming up by drinking hot chocolate filled to the top with teeny marshmallows. We would read books, maybe play a little Atari, and pray for more snow days. You might even dare your little brother to lick a metal object outside. (Photo cred A Christmas Story)

Now, as a mama who works from home and has been trapped, uh, enjoying her four children over the Christmas Break, is it wrong that I’m no longer as enamored with the Snow Day?

I’m just being real here, friends. Surely I’m not alone. I know for the rest of the day I’ll be seeing posts about the Pinterest Moms who are making origami dinnerware and weaving their own clothes with their kids, using their time wisely during this snow day but that’s just not me. We will be barely maintaining our grip on sanity and reality as we make our way through the Snow Day.(photo cred someecards)

Oh Snow Day, why today? The day I needed to go into my real office and handle two separate fires? The day after only one day in school so there goes the routine. The day I don’t even have teeny tiny marshmallows for cocoa and haven’t been on Pinterest in far too long.

I hear the sounds of children stirring, my only plan at this point is to let them all drink coffee and milk in their jammies and watch some cartoons til I get a better plan….(photo cred funnyminions.com)

Happy Snow Day friends, pray for me!­čĺŚ

┬ęMeredith Shafer 2017. If you want to connect with me, catch me at FacebookTwitterInstagram or http://www.meredithshafer.com.

Schooooool’s Out. For. Summer!

Today is it. 

This is all she wrote, the last day, and by 3:40 this afternoon we’ll have another school year in the books. My kids are delirious and frankly, some of us were done with school weeks ago. Mostly me, but whatever.

(How picture taking really goes at our house. Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)
I’m vowing that this summer is going to be spectacular in its ordinariness. I’m not signing my kids up for origami or making your own goat cheese or finding the artist within. They won’t be learning to build robots or going to space camp.

Nah. We decided long ago that our kids were going to have to figure out their own fun, use their imaginations, go outside and stay there for awhile. There won’t be a lot of technology. The kids will continue to do their chores that help our household run and teach responsibility at the same time. Even the two year old has jobs here. He unloads the clean silverware from the dishwasher (after someone has removed the scary, injury-inducing knives, of course). 

Sometimes he is a go-getter and unloads silverware even before we’ve had a chance to run the dishwasher. I often find our silverware bunched in a pile in the drawer because he can’t see what he’s doing but that’s ok. He’s learning how to be part of our community.

We really only have two rules around here: work hard and be kind. Everything falls under those two rules and it keeps things simple in a fairly complicated house. With the Bigs going to their dad’s house every other week for summer visitation and the Littles just trying to figure out how to wear pants, sometimes it’s crazy up in here. Throw in at least three therapies or doctor’s appointments per week, various work obligations, my new baby speaking and writing career that I’m trying to get off the ground and it can get to be just too much.

So.

Work hard.

Be kind.

Simple rules that everyone can figure out.  What we will be doing this summer? Showing Jesus’ love to everyone we meet, spending copious amounts of time outdoors, running amok in the neighborhood, learning to ride bikes and be potty trained, figuring out how to build forts from blankets and eating sno cones and swimming til our fingers are wrinkly raisins. We’ll be going to church and serving our neighbors and redoing furniture. We will probably hang out with family a lot, take little road trips, make memories that involve juicy moments savored and retold, the memories enhanced and cemented with every telling.

(photo cred zsazsabellagio.blogspot.com)

We will be the Pinterest-fail family this summer. We will relax from the frenetic pace of the school year; unplug, rejoice, enjoy. We are going to have a summer fit for the early 1980s and I can’t wait-

(Photo cred smosh.com)

Blessings, friends!­čĺŚÔŁĄ´ŞĆ­čĺŚ

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

The Pause

I’m finding that, besides my prayers for my children, The Pause is one of the best tools in my parenting arsenal. That moment before I speak is critical–will praise or criticism escape my lips? Will it undermine everything I’ve done that day? Will I speak scolding words or good ideas of how we can all do better?

When life is chaotic (aka, every minute of the day) The Pause makes all the difference for me.   

(If you can’t tell Baby Houdini is swinging from the handle in the car while we wait at the bus stop­čś«.) It’s so much better when I don’t I go off half-cocked before I’ve had a chance to accurately assess the situation. Often I tend to make up this parenting thing as I go. This can make me fun and spontaneous, like when we ruin our dinner with ice cream and skip cleaning to run away to the park. This can also be tricky in the crazy of four kids, each clamoring for the thing they need right this minute.  This is an accurate representation of how our picture-taking usually goes. Easter 2016 pic–pretty much the best we could do that day. 

Sometimes I forget The Pause and words come out sharper than I intend or my frustrations with another situation, a different kid or even just a rough PTSD day spill out. No one is a winner when that happens.  A decade plus into this parenting gig and I’m just now figuring out how valuable The Pause is, so I speak life into my children. So I encourage and grow these little humans into big humans that love Jesus, each other and try their best to leave this world better off than they found it. 

I don’t care what my kids end up doing for a living. I think it goes without saying that I prefer them to do a job that’s legal and doesn’t involve poles or dancing or something that requires a death wish. Other than that, I just want them to be productive citizens who know how to be kind and work hard. I want them to learn from my mistakes in parenting. 

I hope they will learn earlier in parenting than I did that taking a deep breath before answering the one million questions allotted per child per day is helpful. That counting to three before disciplining a child is imperative. That stopping to figure out what really went on before the he said/she said will help accurately diagnose both the problem and the solution. 

I am no expert at The Pause. I am still learning how to embrace it and use it in each situation with each kid. But I am a mama who doesn’t give up. My children are going to do great things in their lives and it is up to me to nourish those seeds of greatness with my prayers. And before I speak into them all the good and blessing and love and instruction that I am supposed to, I will give them–and myself–the benefit of The Pause. 

I’m happy to say I’m a work in progress-  (photo cred Good Morning Quote)

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hey! 

Laundry Truths

  
I got this from my friend over at Life, Kids and a Glass of Red–this is truth! (And you should go check out her blog, it’s hilarious!)

If you’re stuck doing laundry today like me, I’m sorry! Let’s chuck it all and do something irresponsible, like write on our blogs­čśé

Have a blessed Tuesday, y’all!

(Photo credit NickMom) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

National Adoption Awareness Month

It’s November! That means there are some birthdays at my house, it’s time to be Thankful with Thanksgiving right around the corner, and it’s National Adoption a Awareness Month!

I loooooooove talking about adoption. I have two adopted kiddos and two biological kids and I can honestly say I forget about adoption a lot–these kids were just meant to be mine. I love them all so much and even though I pull my hair out at times, having a houseful of kids is still one of the best things I’ve ever done.

My oldest, who is now twelve (let the eye rolling begin), is from South Korea. This was an international adoption heavy on paperwork, time, finances, scrutiny, and scariness–I was in law school when I found out it wasn’t going to take the two to three years we thought. So I became a first time mom halfway through school and instead of life getting harder it just got better.

Oh, it was still crazy. But becoming a mom before I became a lawyer really helped keep my priorities straight. The little things didn’t matter as much anymore and I just didn’t have time to stress about everything. 

 My almost eight year old (how can this be?!) was adopted domestically. He is African-American, a flirt, and a ball of energy. All the time. This adoption was also special because for the first time I met one of my children’s birth moms. His birth mom actually placed him in my arms for the first time, and as her teary-eyed Mama and Grandma watched (let’s be real, we were all teary-eyed) we all bonded over this gorgeous baby. 

 Adoption is important. It is necessary. You may not think it’s for you and that’s ok. The world is reaching a near crisis level with orphans and even if fostering/adopting isn’t your calling, maybe you could donate time or money or supplies or support to those working in this area across the world. Maybe you could pray for all the babies and kids who still need someone to tell them they are loved and important and special. And for the birth moms who are making difficult choices out of a great love for their children.

This is an everyone issue. 

Every child deserves no less than a safe place, a warm bed, and a grownup who cares about them. Throughout the month of November I would just ask that you consider what you can do to help these children and their futures. 

You won’t regret it.

(Photo credit Adoption Love) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Confidence

There is a four year old red head in my house who is a princess and a mermaid, a ninja and a spy. She runs like her Mama (which is to say awkwardly and slow, but don’t tell her. I want to be there when she catches a glimpse of herself for the first time.), fights like her brothers, is serious like her daddy and has a confidence that I’m so proud of.

She thinks she’s right 100% of the time. It’s awesome and a little scary all at once. This little girl already thinks that she can rule the world. Not one day, but right now if she chooses.

I’m so pleased about this. 

You might be saying what?! I know, it makes for some hair-pulling-out, frustrating, give-myself-a-timeout parenting oftentimes, but the young lady she is becoming is going to be one that can navigate whatever world she finds herself in. As a Mama of a daughter, as a woman grateful to other women who went before me and broke glass ceilings and paved pathways, as a female who has navigated male-dominated careers and jobs and schools, I (mostly) don’t mind this strong will of hers. 

Because I know that if I can teach her to have a tender heart toward hurting people, show her that even one person can make a difference, guide her to serving others in some capacity, along with her strong will and absolute confidence, she will indeed rule the world. Not with an iron fist, but with a velvet glove.

God bless all the Mamas of strong-willed children out there. It’s a tough road to the finish line but just wait and see what kind of human being emerges-I bet you’re going to be so proud!

PS, This is the outfit I let her leave the house in yesterday, notice the skirt and the boots (that are two sizes too big) are sequined–she is my daughter! Talk about your big, bangin’ confidence!!!

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

I would love to connect with you on Instagram and Twitter, come say hi!

They’ll Be So Surprised

I fully admit it: I do mornings poorly. I’m not able to adequately function until after my second cup of coffee and that means the kids are on their way out the door by that point.

I’m trying to turn mornings around. Maybe I can’t tell them coherently how much I adore them or think they’re special in the wee hours. I’m not great at communicating til the java kicks in so my mumblings and grumblings probably don’t convince them that I think I have the four coolest kids on the planet.

So I’m leaving them notes that they’ll see when they first come downstairs for breakfast. I know fully 50% of them don’t read yet but that’s what big brothers are for.

And my hope is that they’ll tuck a spark of sunshine from Mama in their little hearts for later and it will remind them while they’re away that I love them so much. And that I think they’re the absolute best.

Top 10 Things I Forgot About Being a Kid

I’ve been pondering some big things lately. 

Mr. Wonderful had to be gone for a few days. This means I’ve been spending even more time with my kids. (How is that even possible? I work from home!) It also means Mama’s in charge of meals, a terrifying prospect. I’m in that weird zone where kid rules are starting to make more sense to me than grownup ones. A little Playground Justice might do us all some good.

Let me start this list off with a disclaimer: since I’ve been under the influence of children for so many days, though this would make sense to a seven year old, it may not make sense to you. 

Let me also say I miss Mr. Wonderful. Sigh.

Since I forgot to do a Top 10 Tuesday List (due to the aforementioned extra time with kids I’m sure), here’s one for Thursday, even though it doesn’t sound as good. Here are the Top 10 Things I Forgot About Being a Kid:

1. Dancing Can Solve Nearly Everything. Having a bad day? Throw on some tunes and dance those problems away. Doesn’t matter where you are, just bust a move.

2. Skip Everywhere. Or Jump, Flip, or Twirl. Why walk when you can do anything but? I even have a kid who occasionally must do a cartwheel out of sheer joy.

3. Clothing Is Optional. Clothing is really just an accessory, like earrings or hair bow. This means epic battles at our house as I try to convince whoever’s decided to be The Nudist that we really must wear clothes in public.

4. Anything Can Be a Toy. Doesn’t matter if it’s a piece of trash found in the neighbor’s yard or a nightlight (I’ll have to do a post solely on this terrifying moment that happened just yesterday), it will be turned into a spaceship or a pet before you can say, “Is that a diaper?”

5. Anything Can Be a Weapon. Kids don’t always get along with their brothers and sisters. Sometimes a weapon is necessary to get your point across. Especially if you’re one of the littler ones. I have a seventeen-month-old perfecting his aim with projectiles of any type: cups, binkies, motorcycles. If he wants your attention or if you took away his toy pay attention or you may get smacked in the head.

6. Lots of Noise is Preferred. And all the time if you don’t mind. Singing nonsensical syllables (over and over and OVER) or banging a toy against something your Mama dearly loves or screaming because you thought you saw a spider (lint from the dryer) and then continuing because it just felt right is how these kids roll. 

7. Ask Questions. Constantly. And be sure they are question that actual rocket scientists haven’t discovered answers to. Why does my arm do this? Does God have a beard? When will I get hair on my face like Daddy? (Hopefully never, you’re a girl.) What does heaven look like? I’ve estimated through complex parenting math formulas that I answer about 32,459 questions every day. And one of my four still doesn’t say much…

8. I am Awesome. Kids just look in the mirror and like what they see. They think they pretty much rule in the looks department. And they do. We could all learn from this kind of confidence. Which leads us back to #3 and Mama harshing their vibe when I try to enforce the “clothing in public” rule.

9. The Only Things to Fear Is the Dark. There’s no such thing as bad bosses or mortgages or economic crises in the lives of kids. There’s no worry about strangers or people with guns or deadlines. There’s just the dark and all that can be conjured up with a vivid imagination. And the cure for that fear is always the light. I think there’s a lesson in there for grownups too.

10. Everything is Hilarious. Laughing all the time, even while sleeping, is par for the kid course. The baby hurling projectiles? Funny. Farting? Drop to the floor hilarious. Making monkey faces? Ok, stop, they can’t breathe! There is something to smile about in every situation. Another lesson, I’m just saying.

I’m remembering a lot of things I’ve forgotten. Important things, it seems. Good thing I have these four munchkins to remind me.

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer 2015) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Versatile Blogger Award

I’m feeling awesome as I was just nominated for my first award, the Versatile Blogger Award! Many, many thanks to https://partandparcel2014.wordpress.com/ for the nomination! You should go check out her blog when you can.

So the rules are: 

1) Acknowledge the blog that nominated you

2) Tell 7 facts about yourself

3) Nominate blogs you like or follow for the award

As for the 7 facts, here we go:

-I’m directionally challenged. Throw me in the middle of any large city and I’ll show you its Bermuda Triangle of roads (aka, where I would consistently get lost) within ten minutes.

-I love cupcakes! So much that I dedicated a chapter to the luscious little treats in my book (shameless plug!).

-I met my husband Mr. Wonderful, who is built like an NFL linebacker through ballroom dancing. He is the one of us who is a certified ballroom dance instructor.

-There are four kids who call me Mama (more if they have friends over). Two are adopted, two are biological, all are ridiculously hilarious and adoringly loved.

-For fifteen years I didn’t eat meat. Then I got pregnant with our youngest whom we still call Bacon. Guess what I was craving for nine months?

-I have a music degree and a law degree but I’d rather write books.

-My marriage proposal from Mr. Wonderful contained both a rodeo clown and a jumbotron. Not many gals can say that!

As for my nominations, since I’m always late to the party, humor me if you’ve already been nominated. In fact, as these are all amazing blogs, I’m sure you’ve been nominated but just go with it!

http://myperfectbreakdown.com/

http://waitingforbabybird.com

https://notskywalker.wordpress.com

https://momoseita.wordpress.com

https://sendsunshine.wordpress.com/

https://mustardseedbudget.wordpress.com/

https://herherenow.wordpress.com/

https://freespirithaven.wordpress.com/

http://norrisaroundaustralia.com

https://thepersistentplatypus.wordpress.com

http://lifekidsandaglassofred.com

http://adoptiveblackmom.com

Go check out these wonderful blogs and read about some amazing people doing life well. Blessings!

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

To All the Mamas

Can I just tell you good job today? And thank you! I know that this gig is hands down the hardest, craziest, most rewarding and yet often, thankless job you can find. As the Mama of Littles, I know they can’t really say thank you; as the Mama of Bigs, I also know sometimes they just don’t think to.

And that is ok. It’s not up to them to build your self esteem as a parent, even though they may tear it down sometimes. So that’s why I have taken it upon myself to say thanks. I am a bona fide grownup (most days) and now that I’m a Mama, I get the need for encouragement from outside sources.

During the dark days of Littles, when you’re sleep deprived and don’t even recognize yourself in the mirror because you suddenly look like an old woman with carrots stuck in your hair it’s hard to find encouragement. Especially if others around you have opinions. About everything.

And I hear that there are also dark days for Mamas of teenagers too. I have a tween right now and all of the eye rolling and sighing is making me super excited for those years to come.

Sometimes the minute to minute, day to day stuff gets in the way of our enjoyment of these children. And then we get cranky or forget who we set out to be in the first place or feel mired in the weird nooks and crannies of our lives where we have left small pieces of ourselves. Maybe we left them accidentally, like skin sloughing off. Or maybe it was on purpose, like cracker crumbs to help us find our way back someday.

Oh, this Mama gig! The only thing I can guarantee is that it’s probably not what you expected it to be. And you’re probably not who you expected to be. And that’s ok too.

That is why I’m going to say thank you today to all the Mamas doing hard work. And I’m going to say to most of you (you know who you are): you’re doing a good job. You’re giving your best to your kids and family and spouses and work and activities and lessons and recitals and sports practices. You’re up early and staying late just to finish the job that has no end.

I’m proud of you. This is hard but you’ve got this. 

And just in case you didn’t catch that: 

YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

Now I’m going to go call my Mama.

  

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015