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Duplo Blocks & Leather Jackets

I’ve never considered myself to be an overly soft, ooey-gooey momma type. Taking a second to note: there’s NOTHING wrong with that kind of mothering if you’ve still set boundaries, etc. It’s just simply not my personal mothering style. Carry on!

I’ve always classified myself as a Momma Bear. Raising boys, I guess that comes with the package. I love my brood, but I keep tough love on tap around here. Funnily enough, I didn’t think I’d be Betty Badass as a mom growing up. My own mom is basically southern sweet tea without the lemon twist, personified. She has basically been in training all her life for grandmother-hood… and she’s got that role in check, y’all. My boys know they’re going to get a hug and a quarter from her the minute they sense her presence. It’s a trip, to be sure.

But I digress. In spite of my momma bear ways, I’ve still got a soft spot hidden amongst all the fluff, delirium, and innate survival skills. That soft spot doesn’t often rear its head, but LAWDY MERCY when it does. Kleenex, please and thank you.

Back in, oh… I dunno, September? We moved Gabe out of his “little kid” room he shared with his brother and into his own room. The move, itself, was a feat of comedic horror. It involved moving Mason (the youngest) out of that room, which involved moving clothes, toys, furniture… disassembling furniture… nearly taking out a window and my kneecap… you know. The usual. And then came the big dogs. I ordered a metal loft bed to help with space management. The room he’s in now isn’t very big, but he also wanted a desk so he could draw and do his homework away from the noise of the house. The loft bed has a built in desk, so I really thought I was on a roll with that purchase. I’ll take, “Things I’ve Never Been More Wrong About in My Life Before” for $1,000, Alex!

I’m not even going to talk about that life experience as I’m still having nightmares (insert eyeroll here), but rest assured, it was an EXPUREEUNCE. Needless to say, I got it up not long after I swore to burn the whole room to the ground, but I don’t suggest putting a metal loft bed together single-handedly unless you’re roughly the size of Hulk.

I also put together a couple of bookshelves and rearranged the entire room — all in one school day. Yeah, yeah… I’m a total badass.

“Why is this relevant to the story?”, you might ask. Patience, young Jedi.

During the entire disaster that basically proved Joanna Gaines I am NOT, I was a swearing, sweaty, nearly broken mess. I could not wait to be out of that room and to get my hands on a Twisted Tea. It wasn’t until I finished replacing Gabe’s things with Mason’s that reality started to sink in. Reality shook my by the shoulders, though, when I put Gabe’s old sock monkey on his desk. The monkey he’s had since he was about a year old.

From out of nowhere I saw that room in a totally different light. I went from angsty and irritated to somber and emotional in just moments. The difference in the two rooms shook me to my core. My oldest spent the last night in his room just half a day before. It took a room change and stopping long enough to see how his tastes and interests have changed. He was no longer the little boy who needed stuffed animals and a song to go to sleep. He didn’t have a need for train tables or coloring books. Nightlights had long since proved unnecessary. Yet, until those things were removed from his space, they still seemed relevant. Once upon a time, they were relevant. Once upon a time, he needed those things.

Now, going in to my youngest boys’ room, I see very clearly the difference in little boy and young man. And, I’m not at all embarrassed to admit, it scares me a bit. “They grow up so fast,” is a cliche most parents (myself included) don’t often have the patience to hear.

“Why can’t they grow up faster?!”, is something that I have, on occasion, been guilty of thinking when I’m feeling overwhelmed or flustered. But, oh my goodness, the years do soar on by without a moment’s hesitation. And, before you know it, you’re replacing Tonka trucks and Duplo blocks with cologne and leather jackets.

Tonight I’ll sing my song to my littlest boys. I’ll sing because they still need it — and so do I. And maybe I’ll sing just loud enough for my “too old for songs” boy to hear, too. Because maybe he still needs it — because so do I.

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When Life Gives You Stomach Bugs…

…pack a bucket.

2021 has started off explosively…. and not in a good way. As if 2020 hadn’t been enough to knock all of us senseless, here comes the New Year on a bender. COVID, quarantines, masks, virtual schooling, job loss — we’ve experienced constant historical events and, I think I speak for all of us when I say, it’s gotten old FAST.

Parenting in all of the nonsense has certainly been a stay-at-home adventure that I’m sure most of you can relate to. Our lives stopped (basically) on a dime back in March and humanity as we knew it was shuttled in to virtual learning, virtual working (or, like in mine and my husband’s case, lack of working altogether), virtual everything. This world-wide-web, instant-gratification generation still proved that we as a people still crave outside human interaction. In short: it’s been nothing less than a dumpster fire.

Some things that have not changed on the parenting front are tummy aches, booboos, and other such childhood ailments. That, my friends, is where this story and the things I’ve picked up on over the years begins.

My boys are attending school on campus because my husband and I work. Virtual is just not an option for us. Besides the work factor, my kids learn better in a traditional school setting. Our school is amazing and has done a stellar job at keeping things as “normal” as possible as well as keeping our kiddos safe. So far, so good (praise!). That said, kids are gross in general. Colds, flus, and stomach viruses are basically unavoidable. My kids pick up everything like a bad habit, so I knew they’d be sick soon when I heard a stomach flu was making the rounds. Man, when they get sick they go big. Both my middle and youngest woke up sick last Saturday morning with no end in sight. I registered almost 2,000 steps on my FitBit between 1AM & 8AM just cleaning rugs, couches, blankets and children. By the time I got them both settled in and I tried to do likewise (about 4AM), I was exhausted. Unfortunately, and I’m sure you mommas can understand, I startled awake in mild panic with every cough, sniffle, and sudden movement from the boys. Both boys woke up around 830, which meant I only got a solid 30 minutes of sleep. Thankfully, they bounced back relatively quickly. This momma sure could’ve used a solid eight hours — although I’d have settled for at least a few hours uninterrupted.

That said, here are a few things that I wish I’d have known going into this parenting gig:

  1. Invest in buckets. Y’all, I cannot stress this enough. If you can buy buckets by the dozen, do it. I keep one in my car and we have several in the house for times such as these. Believe me when I say you’ll much rather clean a bucket than have to scrub a carpet at 2AM. However, when accidents happen (and they will) make sure you have…
  2. Kitty litter & baking soda. Do yourself a favor and don’t skimp on the kitty litter. I mean, it doesn’t need to have gold flakes in it or anything, but you’ll want something that won’t morph into a gelatinous mess when all you’re trying to do is restore some semblance of order in the house at the buttcrack of dawn.
  3. Any beverages need to be sugar free. I almost didn’t add this one, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t consider the effect sugar can have on a sick stomach. Basically, it’s not great. Stock up on sugar free ginger ale, Gatorade, and Pedialyte. This will help hydrate the body without stimulating another bout of tummy upset. Plus, at least for my kids, it helps control the urge to take long gulps. The taste isn’t bad, but my kids sip these beverages slowly rather than sucking them down in .02 seconds.
  4. Mattress protectors. It never hurts to have a few cheap mattress covers on hand. My boys like to sleep on the couch when they’re sick (I did when I was a kid, too), and a twin size mattress cover will cover the most couch cushion sets without issue. Obviously, these are great for actual beds, as well. So… not a bad investment in general. I don’t leave them on mattresses all the time because the noise drives me nuts, but I learn to deal with it during stomach flu attacks.
  5. Emetrol & kids’ Pepto tablets will be your besties. I just found Emetrol this past go ’round so maybe I’m late to the game, but Y’ALL. I love that it didn’t make my kids sleepy but that it helped soothe their tummies enough to help make them comfortable for sleep. I don’t like giving my kids anything that might make them drowsy, but know that they’re like me enough to not handle nausea well. This is something that will be a permanent medicine cabinet fixture in the Paul home. BONUS POINTS: it’s safe for kids 2 and up.
  6. And last but not least, find Febreze Pet Odor Eliminator. “But Sarah, that’s dumb.” Nah, girl. Hear me out. This stuff doesn’t mask rough odors — it totally annihilates them. Plus, it leaves a clean scent that isn’t overwhelming, flowery, or super sweet. When I say it smells clean, I mean it. smells. CLEAN. And it completely covers that puke smell that even the most iron-gutted individual struggles with tolerating.

I’m sure there are other things I could point out that I’m just not thinking about, but I think you get the idea. If you take nothing away from this except, please do yourself a favor and remember to “Invest in buckets”.

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Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Evidently not, or else they wouldn’t be poking one another in the eyes and hollering like banshees every .02 seconds.

Long time, no see friends! In case you’re wondering, I’m referring to my feral heathens precious moppets. I feel like if they had an adult’s understanding of the impending doom that is Christmas, that they’d make like a play and get their act together. But that is CLEARLY wishful (if not mythical) thinking.

Don’t get me wrong — I love Christmas. This year, however, I’m having a hard time getting into the spirit, and I’m placing all of the blame on the crap-fest that has been 2019. That and the break-neck speeds at which this year zoomed past. We’re a week away from Christmas and, just short of having our tree and lights up, I’m nowhere near ready. I’m feeling somewhat like what the product of Scrooge and the Grinch would be — and it ain’t pretty, y’all.

I’m using this post, however, as a last-ditch effort to get over my damn self and embrace the beauty that is holiday magic.

It is, after all, a truly wonderful time of year if you go about it the right way. And there are so many things that I have to be thankful for. Don’t worry — I won’t go full Hallmark card on y’all. 😉

As I said earlier, this year has been hard. Actually, adulthood has been hard. But if that ain’t life then I simply don’t know what is. I’ve recently come to a very hard self-realization that I have a hard time letting things go. Not like “holding a grudge” letting things go, just “trying to sort crap out” letting things go. I like to have life figured out and, let’s face it, that will simply never happen. None of us really ever have life all panned out, no matter what our social media presence allows.

We’re all just winging it — granted, some better than others. But what I do have figured out is this:

  • The love I have for my kids and their big, generous hearts. Though little urchins they may be, they all really do have sweet hearts that are just beating to be loved and to love. Their compassion can truly be overwhelming at times and I am so, SO proud of them for having spirits of giving.
  • I have a home that can be warmed and cooled at my will (thanks to living in Louisiana, my thermostat is permanently set on “freak out”), and that it is covered from the elements.
  • We may not have tons of gifts under the tree, and the ones that are there (or will be there because: toddler) are given with a heart of love and received with hearts of thanks.
  • I have a tribe that consists of friends and family that I know have my back at the end of every. single. day.
  • My health, which has been iffy this year, is still with me. I’m more thankful for that than I ever have been in my life.
  • My ability to find humor in utter BS, while it is indeed on edge these days, is still ever-present with the help of snark and sarcasm.
  • I have a job that helps pay the bills and that has allowed me the opportunity to meet some of the nicest, most humble humans.
  • I have the sweet, sweet knowledge of what truly makes this magical time of year pure magic, and it didn’t come with ribbons or tags, or in packages, boxes or bags.

I am far from perfect, y’all. So, so far. I am horribly flawed and, yes, often times Grinch-like. I sometimes forget the Reason for the Season and allow myself to get tied up and bogged down in Christmastime commercialism. But, at the end of the day, I know the sweetest gift came down in the form of a beautiful baby whose life would be the ULTIMATE gift to a world full of hate and venom. And for that reason, and that reason alone, can I be truly grateful for all of the things that make my existence this “hot mess express” that I know as life.

I wish you all a very, very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

xoxo
Sarah