Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day: The Last Day

Math has never been my strong suit, hence by my calculations this post would be Day 37. Hmmmm 40 Days of Lent...close enough. I suppose Lent for the Rest of Us was a perfect name for this series.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I came up with this idea, but it felt good to be doing something (untraditional) for Lent. Amen.

My 6 favorite lessons from the past 6 weeks: 

Never Give Up
Always Be Hopeful and Generous
Step Out of The Bubble 

Another day, another story,

Friday, April 22, 2011

Five minute friday: The Hard Love

Writing for just five minutes on The Hard Love:

It always happens before I can stop it.  In the split second I could prevent my tongue moving, I blurt out hurtful, screechy words.  Just letters if you write them down, but spoken, they bruise and maim.  And I am guilty of bruising and maiming the ones I'm commissioned to love the most.  I bark and they cringe: sweet babies I've birthed through scars of my own.  
My pride says to let it go; they'll never remember; everyone does it.  But my Hard Love is just this: admitting to those babies-turned-big-boys-and-man-children I was wrong.  
Showing my imperfect, broken human-ness and asking their forgiveness is the hardest part of love for me...

 I'd like an amen {or two},


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 36: Page 12

I was casually flipping through the Spring 2011 issue of Edible Memphis magazine when the beautiful picture on Page 12 drew me into a wonderful story about a table. And loss. And celebration. 

If there was a link to the essay available, I'd include it in its entirety. The gist: a beloved family member died and the author, Amy Lawrence, wanted to bring everyone together for Thanksgiving just a few weeks after the accident. 

I know exactly what she means when she writes, "After all the grieving we had endured I knew we had to do something. Something big. Something meaningful and positive. Something to right all the sorrow."

She goes on later, "We were going to rewrite our family's story according to what we all wanted it to be, not the sense of tragedy that in ungenerous moments we figured others expected us to cling to and live out. Maybe if we reconfigured everything, it could blast through some of the pain?"

Anyone who has experienced loss understands, "We try to take advantage of every opportunity to celebrate. We show up more. We always knew what was most important, but we know a whole lot more about that now. I understand, without a doubt, that every meal I share with the people I love is blessed."

Thank you, Amy Lawrence. I couldn't agree with you more.

Another day, another story,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 35: UNCLE!

Good Enough is the New Perfect Part 2: What kind of mothers are we?

We have both been reading Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood. Read more about the book and authors, Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple here.

The book got us both thinking about where we fall on the Never Enough/Good Enough spectrum. So we interviewed ourselves.

1) Which kind of mother are you? 
Lib: I started out as a Never Enough mom, without a doubt! From the over-detailed 3 page birth-plan, to the perfectly decorated nursery to the closet full of match-y smocked bubble baby outfits, I was a hard-core perfectionist. Not too interested in the journey of motherhood, unless I was at the helm with MY LIST!!

Em: I'm pretty sure I've always been in the Good Enough mom camp. My friends have always commented that I am "so laid-back". Compared to their ironing of baby pajamas and warming their babies bottles and diaper wipes, I WAS nuts for feeding my babies ice-cold breast milk bottles straight from the fridge and wiping butts with no-name brand, unorganic room temp wipes. I have tried from that very first of four sons to enjoy more and worry less.

2) Have you always been this type or has your perspective changed through the years/ through the addition of more children?
Lib: My shifting into a Good Enough began with boy #2 and having to let some stuff like perfectly organized closets go. By boy number three, I was in survival mode. Yes, they all looked decent at church on Sunday, but no more perfectly matched smocked outfits.  My thick-skinned perfectionistic heart started to embrace my Good Enough side once baby boy number 4 arrived.  It S-L-O-W-L-Y dawned on me that what my boys needed wasn't matching pj's, incredible healthy meals and a long list of do's and don'ts.  They needed me. 

Em: Again, I think I have probably become MORE of a Good Enough mom as the children added up to 4. When real life happens (medical issues, heartbreak, loss), it becomes even more clear what is really important. Record-breaking office (or volunteer) hours and award-winning scrapbooks don't make the list. I want to be content, not perfect.

3) What practice, habit, tool keeps the balance for you?
Lib: Two things keep me balanced in pursuit of Good Enough: 
1) Morning alone time. I cannot express how giving up 10-15 minutes sleep can transform an entire day. 
2) Remembering and remaining aware my family needs more than just all their physical needs to be met. They need to see me having fun and enjoying life!

Em: Having a life outside of the kids. I have a great group of friends and we make time to get together. My husband and I spend time together alone whenever we can. We are blessed to have family close by who consider spending time with the boys as just that, and not babysitting. Also, finding the humor in it all. With 4 sons, there is plenty of good material. 

4) When overwhelmed/ unbalanced, what do you do to get back on track?
Lib: The only thing that works for me to get back on track is prayer. Period.

Em: Remind myself that our mothers, our grandmothers and our great-grandmothers managed to turn out some pretty decent people with a lot less backup. And drink an ice cold beer.

We think it's a great, thought provoking, look at where you are/how far you've come kind of book!

Hope you do too!

Em & Lib
linked to Kristen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 34: The Bubble

Years ago I heard a couple speak at our church. Although they were speaking about moving their family to China to work as unofficial missionaries for a year, I don't remember one thing they said about China or God. I only remember the answer the dad gave when asked if he was concerned about moving his young children (2 girls I think) to the other side of the world - their safety, their health, their social development.

"I am more concerned about them rarely straying from this 5 square mile radius in Memphis, Tennessee."

I think about that statement often as I rarely stray - physically or spiritually - from the 5 square mile radius of my suburbia. The Bubble I call it. China? Like most of us, probably not, but lately I do feel a nudge to step out past familiar boundaries.

Another day, another story,

Monday, April 18, 2011

What we're reading: Good Enough is the New Perfect

Lib and I were asked if we would like to read an advance copy of Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood. Well, since that is exactly what we've been striving for since the late 90's and 8 collective sons ago...of course we did. So far, a very interesting read for mothers of our generation. 

More about the authors, Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple, and their new book:

You talk about two types of working moms in your book: the Never Enoughs and the Good Enoughs. Who are these women?

BECKY: We’re going to generalize here for a moment, but the Never Enoughs are the women striving for perfection at work and with their kids, the women focused on always being #1. We called them the Never Enoughs because many described themselves as constantly running toward expectations but rarely reaching them — or reaching them and deciding it wasn’t enough, or reaching them and then feeling like they’d completely failed elsewhere as a result. These women struggle the most to say no, they’re the ones who beat themselves up the most for making mistakes. In our survey, the Never Enoughs were the women who described themselves as having “a strong need to be the best at everything.” They were six times more likely than the Good Enoughs to say, “I try to be a superstar at work AND at home, even if it kills me.”
The Good Enoughs, on the other hand, told us that being the “the best” wasn’t important, as long as they were “good enough and happy” at work and at home. These were the women who had hopped off that hamster wheel and created their own definitions of success. They were more satisfied with their choices, and less likely to feel they’d sacrificed too much. They were also far less likely to describe their marriages as “a disaster” or “not very good.” They were better at making time for themselves, and at finding time to spend with friends and family. The part that surprised us? The Good Enoughs had given up very little ground at work to achieve this state of contentment. 
So which ones are you? Good Enoughs or Never Enoughs?
BECKY: Depends on the day! We both have our Never Enough moments — you should have seen me the month before our manuscript was due — but we’re both more “Good Enough” than we’ve ever been. It’s an ongoing effort to embrace this philosophy. I’ve become better at knowing the difference between needing to be the best at everything — and choosing to throw my energy into something that means a lot to me. I’ve learned to accept my imperfections, which, frankly, saves me a lot of time. I don’t need to sit around second-guessing myself as much, and I don’t feel compelled to say “yes” to as many things. Of course, I still fall off the Good Enough wagon all the time. After all, I spent a lot of years trying to accrue “gold stars” — trying to be the best mother, the best at work, the best Downward Facing Dog in yoga class. It was exhausting, and it was pointless.
HOLLEE: I think I am pretty squarely in the Good Enough camp these days. The best example I can think of — which I detailed in the book — involved a kindergarten snack. This fiasco occurred three years ago, during my first foray into providing school snacks, and for some unexplainable reason (maybe a tinge of guilt about being a working mom), I felt a real need to outdo myself (and honestly, the other moms) with this contribution.
So when Gideon said he wanted me to make Oreo spiders (from a Highlights magazine) with pretzel legs for the 22 kids, I was all for it.  Until two hours later … when I was still struggling to get the pretzels firmly entrenched without breaking the cookies! As my husband was nibbling on some “spiders” that I had rejected, he wondered out loud whether anyone would appreciate (or even notice) this effort!
Flash forward to this past winter, when I realized about 8 p.m. that I hadn’t made anything to send in for Gideon’s third grade holiday party. I really didn’t feel like making a late-night run to the store — and then I spotted an (already-opened) box of Oreos in the pantry. I sent them the next day, and the kids were thrilled! Lesson learned.

What do you hope moms will take away from this book?
HOLLEE: We hope Good Enough is the New Perfect will be the manual that we didn’t have. Through the inspiring stories of the moms we interviewed and the experts who shared their experience, we hope our readers will learn that they don’t need to be perfect in every aspect of their lives. A lot of very successful women have achieved what they have by honing in on their main priorities and saying “enough” to the rest. Sometimes good enough is good enough. And it can be a lot happier way to go.
BECKY: And we hope it will expand the discussion about balance. Women need to feel OK opening up about these issues. 

Good Enough Is the New Perfect is available at bookstores nationwide and at Amazon.

About the authors:
Becky and Hollee are the work/life balance columnists for the ABA Journal, the nation’s premiere lawyer magazine. Both graduates of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, they first worked together in the early 1990s, when Becky was Hollee’s first editor at The Daily Northwestern. Like so many of the working mothers they interviewed, they forged non-linear career paths, taking detours in their quests to balance work and family. They blog about work/life and parenting issues at

Out of the Mouths of 5 Year Olds

Sometimes when you pay attention, you learn something. Even when your teacher is a deliberate five year old and he delivers a one line lecture.

The subject matter may only seem to be daily egg gathering. But with a zinger like this he traps your wandering to-do list mind and you're quickly reeled back to the present with exhilarating speed.

His sermon?  Just one little sentence as he gleefully gathered eggs from our new hens: "I was born for this, Mom!" 
How many moments have I wasted not living from a heart that overflows with this kind gratitude for the present?  How many breakfasts have only been a litany of to-do's and must-get-dones? How many baths have I petulantly rushed them through because we still had to read and pray and frog-butterfly-fish kiss goodnight? 

What about you...have you missed some born for moments of gratitude?

linked to Ann

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 33: Home Stretch

It's Day 33 of this made up exercise I named Lent for the Rest of Us. It started here. I look at things differently and feel like I am actually doing something for Lent.

I missed a few days, struggled some days for anything to post and wondered many times, "What the Hell am I going to write about next?" 

These are a few of my favorite posts from Lent for the Rest of Us:

In the home stretch...Day 40 will be here before I know it...What the Hell am I going to write about next?

Another day, another story,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 32: The Importance of Hope

From one of the best books I've ever read, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now by Gordon Livingston, M.D. :

"It is a primary task of parents throughout their lives to convey to the young a sense of optimism. Whatever other obligations we have to our children, a conviction that we can achieve happiness amid the losses and uncertainties that life contains is the greatest gift that can pass from one generation to the next. Like all the values we wish to teach our children - honesty, commitment, empathy, respect, hard work - the supreme importance of hope is taught by example."

Another day, another story, 

I'll Take Awkward School Photos for $1,000

1) Is that a styrofoam cooler in the The Kindergartener's photo?

2) Mom lost memo about date. Note "fancy" shirt.

3) "Smile!!!" Photographer's threat of repeating Kindergarten backfires.

4) Add your caption in comments.

Another day, another story,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Johnny Cash of baseball

Also known as the Player in Black.
He hums or sings, 'I keep a close watch on this heart of mine' regularly.
He's happier than that shoe shine boy when he's in baseball
mode. Some might even call his style Tennessee Stud-ish.

Watching him grown up, and getting to be his mamma is sublime.
I wonder if Mrs. Cash felt the same...


Lent for the Rest of Us Day 31: I made a room (closet) of my own

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 30: Funny. Just funny.

With 4 boys, there is rarely a shortage of potty humor around here.  Day 30 deserves a laugh, don't you think?

"Mom!!!!!  Hey MOMMMMMM!!!!!" yelled The Kindergartener from upstairs.

"Yes, may I help you son? (or something nothing like that at all)," I replied.

"Come wipe my buttttttttttttt, please."

So up the stairs I went. At least he said "please".

"Actually, I'd like to try to wipe my own butt. But you'll have to check to see if I did it good."

Oh the joy of motherhood.

"And we get to go to Chuck E. Cheese if I do it. Right?"

So I wiped his butt.

The End.

Another day, another story,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 29: Like a Kid

I came across this in a magazine. And I liked it.


Another day, another story,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Planting time

There's more to plant this spring than peas, cabbage and spinach.   
Gratitude. Adventure. Awe. Excitement.  
Those seeds provided a welcome break from the daily sowing of manners, respect and loving your brother as yourself. 

Under this electric sky we ventured into the woods for a Sunday afternoon planting session.

 Loaded up on 4 wheelers and a mule (not the 4 legged kind) we trekked through overgrown woods, rocky, fossil-filled creeks and {almost}sky high hill tops.  

Gratitude seeds planted acknowledging we are blessed with the equipment needed for a trip into the deep woods.

Some of our terrain was steep, some surprisingly narrow and cluttered with winter's debris
They dove right into the deep-enough-to-swim parts, and trekked up and down the creek bank looking for arrowheads, fossils and other artifacts.
But this.  This hidden away, spring fed waterfall.  Excitement seeds. They'd been here on their last ride and were elated to share the natural wonder with more cousins and aunts and uncles. 
Awe seeds planted here, talking about how long it took the water to carve out this natural aqueduct and all the natural treasure so easily found under our feet.

We got to plant the Adventure-loving seeds when we encountered a just long enough puddle-to buzz through on the ride home.
Sometimes even moms ride howling on the front of the 4 wheeler to show how adventure is fun, even when childhood is long past.
Grateful to pick up the daily seed-packets again today...nothing like Sunday afternoon adventure planting to alter perspecitves a bit.

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 28: My Worldview

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 25: Antidepressant

Windows down, riding slowly through the neighborhood blaring Katy Perry's "Firework" through the minivan speakers singing along with Numbers 1-4 after an impromptu Sonic run.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 23: Happy AND Sad

Number 4 is going on 4 years old. He is The Baby. The Last Baby. So when St. Joel brings these things home from preschool Doughnuts With Dad...ughhhhhh, my uterus hurts. 

It's exactly how I ended up with 4 sons to begin with.

Another day, another story,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baseball snacks: {Sugar free} Trail mix bars

I've mentioned more than once my aversion to refined sugar for breakfast; I'm broadening my scope to baseball snacks as well.  I'm not that keen on making everything we take to the ball park, but reading ingredients doesn't leave me much choice.  So many items seem to be healthy, but on second glance are loaded with sugar or some kind of corn syrup.

Thankfully I found an alternative recipe for trail mix bars here I thought would be a hit with a few *almost famous* tweaks.  After only one trial batch, the baintrain has encouraged me to keep these stocked in the fridge.  I'm positive this is one of our new pre-game staple recipes.   **note: I highly recommend researching why soaking nuts is advisable before making this or any other nut-based recipe.

::{sugar-free} Trail Mix Bars::
Makes one loaf pan = about 16 bars 
1 1/2 c Almonds
1 c Pecans
1/2 c pumpin seeds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c raisins
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 c raw honey or agave 
1/2 c almond butter
1/4 c coconut oil

In a small saucepan melt coconut oil with almond butter.  Remove from heat and add honey or agave.
Rough chop the almonds and pecans, pour them into a bowl and add raisins, coconut, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Add the coconut oil/agave/almond butter mixture and stir well.  
Press into a loaf pan and pop in the freezer for about an hour to set. 
Cut into bars,  and keep in fridge. Unless you hide them, they won't last long.

Every single person in our family made the "mmmm" sound eating these.   

Linked here there and yon: Jen, Frugal Rachel, Kristin, Laura, Alli Sara and Kelly

Book Review: "Good Enough is the New Perfect"

Lib and I were sent copies of this book to read and review. By page 13, it was clear I've pretty much been a "Good Enough" mom all along. Surprise Surprise! More info when we finish reading.

Another day, another story,

De-clutter and Give {Mercy}

There's a blogger, Kristen, who claims to be average.  In my opinion, people who start homes for pregnant African girls are brave. Courageous.  Some{one} willing to put her life and heart on the line is most definitely not average.

She posted on twitter a few weeks ago about necessary curriculum for The Mercy House.  After some discussion she told me they will use computerized curriculum, but still need basic math and grammar text and workbooks.  

My moment of illumination came as I was organizing our school room shelves.  What if I could box up the books we don't need, and bless the girls in Africa while de-cluttering?   How about you? While you're busy tackling spring cleaning: make a Mercy Stack

However you educate your children, you've probably got some kind of book stashed The Mercy House can use.  Your shelves might even be pregnant with books the girls could use. You could also check out their website and see what else they might need. 

Here's how to do it: head to the post office and grab a large Flat Rate box, fill it up and send it out.  I'm sending 2 sets of basic math books via Flat Rate Priotity mail (using the box from the post office makes it only $13.95/shipping) to:

The Mercy House
8000 Research Forest Drive
Suite 115-100
Spring, TX 77382

Mercy is a word used to describe compassion shown by one person: 
 that {one} person can be You!


Lent for the Rest of Us Day 22: The Little Things

No one is perfect (there was no Day 21 post). A fresh start this morning for Day 22 of Lent for the Rest of Us.

I woke up this stormy Monday morning to something big. Number 2 tying his shoes!!! To most everyone that is really no big deal, but to him, to us, to The Bain Train: A HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT. 


Another day, another story,

Friday, April 1, 2011


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