On Turning 40

I spent the day reflecting on my forty years of life while I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more. It was a snow day for our school district so the boys were home too. They enjoyed half of the day before I made them clean their rooms.

I have been dreading this day for many months. Maybe even an entire year.

FOR.

TEE.

It even sounds OLD.

And weird.

I’m not sure why this has hit me so hard. I’m not really *that* kind of person. Age has never mattered to me before this BIG one. Plus, I don’t think I look that old, despite the appearance of that stubborn wrinkle between my eyes that refuses to go away whether I’m smiling or frowning, and the gray discoloration in my hair.

As I spent the day cleaning out and organizing most of my cabinets, I began to reflect on my forty years of life. I received a text today from a friend asking for prayer for her dear friend who is fighting pancreatic cancer. I found out on Sunday that my 40-something neighbor is in an ICU bed fighting for her life. If that isn’t enough to snap you out of your funk, I don’t know what is. I decided that instead of dreading this rite of passage – this 40th birthday – I should count my blessings and thank my lucky stars that I am alive, well, healthy and loved.

I have led a charmed life. I have seen and done things that most people only dream about. I don’t say that in a prideful way. Rather, I mean simply, that I have been blessed beyond measure throughout my life.

I grew up in a loving home. We weren’t rich, but we didn’t want for much, either. I had a beautiful lavender-gingham bedroom with a big, canopy bed. I have fond memories of sledding on inner tubes on snowy days, twirling my baton on our front walk for HOURS, and Sunday dinners gathered around our family table. My twin brothers and I were taught that honesty, respect, and hard-work are more important than material possessions, and my mom always told me you never do wrong and get by with it – words that I find myself telling my own kids today. I enjoyed playing school or office on our back porch and every Christmas was magical and memorable. I thought those were the best years of my life.

I met the man of my dreams in high school, even though it took me a couple of years to figure that out. We dated all through college and I could hardly wait to marry him. I worked my way through college and attended graduate school. If I had written a thesis I would have received a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Counseling. That is probably the biggest regret of my life. Still, at this stage in life I have no desire to go back or finish. Our college years were busy and fun, and I remember McDaddy and I would often hop in the car on the weekends and take a day road trip to Virginia or Kentucky. I thought those were the best years of my life.

After we were married I entered the workforce. I enjoyed the craziness in jail. I enjoyed my job. And I appreciated doing a job that I really enjoyed doing. During this time, McDaddy and I travelled the world – having visited ten countries – romantic places like London, Paris, Switzerland and Rome – and we’ve been to 36 states. (Just last month in fact, he took me to New York City to celebrate my 40th birthday.)

Back then, McDaddy and I were foot-loose and fancy-free. If we wanted to go on a trip, we packed up, and we went. I thought those were the best years of my life.


After trading in a career for motherhood I realized that I had it all wrong. These children – these two human beings that I helped to create – arehealthy and beautiful and wonderful. Realizing that this is the most important job I would ever do, I prayed that I would get this thing right. There are days that I lose my temper. There are days that I feel like I have lost [what's left of] my mind. There are days I feel like a complete failure and I go to bed knowing that tomorrow is a new day. I am not a model mother. But I try to give it my best every day of every year. I have so much to be thankful for.

I am not a perfect wife. I am not always the best friend. I am certainly not the best Christian. I am impatient. I have strong beliefs and opinions, and often times my mouth beats my brain off the starting line. God has been so good to me, even though I fail Him often. His grace and His mercy is something I will never understand.

And that, my friends, is something you can’t put a price on.

I am loved by so many people. I have wonderful parents, a husband who adores me, children who are healthy, and friends I could call on any hour of the day.

Who cares that I am FORTY years old? These are the best years of my life after all, and I don’t want to waste another second dreading it.

So here’s to my F-O-R-T-I-E-S.

May they truly be the best years of my life.

Urine For A Treat

In case you’ve been waiting with sweet anticipation, I thought I should let you know that I was able to deliver the big orange bottle of urine to the lab without incident.

There are just some sentences you never thought you’d write on your blog.

And here’s where I must admit that I contemplated taking a picture of the big orange bottle in my fridge to share here on the blog.

And all I could think about was, “REALLY, JULIE?” and thought better of it.

You’re welcome!

When I arrived at the lab, I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be full of people. I just knew everyone in that joint would be gawking at me and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, OH LOOK, THAT CHICK IS CARRYING A PEE JUG UP IN HERE.

I’ve heard the older you get, the less you care what people think. I guess you need to be older than 39 for that to happen.

Much to my relief, there wasn’t one single soul in the waiting room.

Sweet hallelujah.

I sat down and waited for my name to be called. Once I made it back to registration, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was able to get in and out without being seen with the pee jug.

And now?

I wait.

I wait for some poor sap to analyze that mess.

I hate to wait.

And then I wait for my appointment next Friday when the Doctor will hopefully deliver some good news.

And then I WAIT to see if I ever get another dang kidney stone.

Have I mentioned that I absolutely HATE to wait?

I was not wired to wait.

Seriously, I suck at it.

It just dawned on me that using “suck” on the blog isn’t very ladylike.

My momma always said, “I’m trying to raise a lady, not a street urchin!” So, just to be clear, she would want me to tell you that I’ve been raised better.

And I have.

And now that I’m a mother myself, I get it.

I really get it.

There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t find myself shaking my head in disbelief. Some days, I sound exactly like my mother.

  • You know better.
  • Did you just roll your eyes at me?
  • Are you crazy?
  • If you slam that door one more time…
  • Look at me when I’m talking to you.
  • What were you thinkin’?
  • You better watch that mouth.
  • This hurts me worse than it hurts you.
  • Because I said so. (Oh sweet mercy, I hated this one!)
  • PICK UP YOUR JUNK!
  • You will understand this one day.
  • As long as you’re under my roof, you will listen to me.
  • Quit running in and out!
  • Do you hear me?
  • Someday, I hope you have a kid just like you. (HEY MOM! I GOT HIM ALRIGHT!)
  • I will not tell you again. (Except I probably will)
  • I want this room cleaned up! (One time my mom told me to do this, I crammed everything that was in my floor into my drawers and into my closet. When I returned home from a friend’s house later that day, I walked into my room to discover that she had dumped every. single. thing. from my dresser drawers in the middle of my floor. You best believe I never did that again!)

And last week, as I was cleaning Stevie and Alex’s rooms, I had to chuckle because I realized this thing had come full circle.

I am a mother. Who is like her mother. I now understand why she hounded me about cleaning my darn room.

And don’t think dumping the drawers on the floor never crossed my mind, because oh yes ma’am, it certainly did!

But instead, I cleaned and I organized.

And I will wait.

Because I know it won’t be long until their rooms are a hot mess. Again.

And I will no doubt say, “PICK UP YOUR JUNK!” followed by, “I want this room cleaned up!” And then I will ask, “Do you hear me?”

And when my little darlings attempt to ask, “WHY?”

I will respond with “Because I said so!”

It’ll happen.

Just you wait.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

My fellas and I spent the weekend camping with McDaddy’s sister, her four kids, and another family from our church.

When I picked up Alex from school on Friday, I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. He told me he was just sad because his class didn’t get to go out for recess, but I could tell he wasn’t his normal, smiling self. We had an hour at home before it was time to pick Stevie up from school. My heart sank when he said, “Mom, I’m freezing.” I got out the thermometer and my suspicions were confirmed.

101.7

Just great.

We were literally walking out the door to pick up Stevie and hit the road, and now we had to make a split-second decision about whether Alex and I would go or stay.

McDaddy and I decided that Alex and I would drive a separate car. That way, if his fever didn’t go away or he started feeling worse, he and I would make the hour drive back home. He slept the entire way to the campground, and by the time we arrived, his temperature was 102. I put him in a cool bath, and within minutes of the bath and the Tylenol kicking in, he was wound-up like an eight-day clock.

The fun was short-lived because by bedtime, he was hot again.

If you know me in real life, you know that I am a straight-up crazy person when it comes to the medical issues. Especially, medical issues involving my kids. I realize that a fever is not uncommon in young children. I also realize that I am very fortunate to have healthy kids. Still, I can barely stand the thought of my boys feeling bad. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make them all better. It is, in my opinion, the worst part of motherhood.

By Saturday evening, he told me that his throat hurt when he swallowed. His fever had been up and down all day, and it seemed to be hanging steady at 101. I made a trip to the Google to find the nearest Med-Express and away we went. I was pretty sure he had strep because his throat was red and raw, and strep is “going around” at his school.

We made our way to the clinic, and I was relieved that there were only three others in the waiting room. We were seen rather quickly, and much to my surprise, he tested negative for strep. The Doc – citing his raspy cough and raw throat – handed us a prescription for an antibiotic, and we were in and out in about an hour.

We are now 56 hours into the fever, and 24 hours into the antibiotic. I am hoping we’re on the downhill side of this thing. I don’t like it when my babies are sick.

And speaking of babies, look what I found in my picture files.

I love this sweet child so much!

I hoping he feels better tomorrow.

And pleading with time to slow down.

A Letter To My Firstborn

As he walked past me, I grabbed on to his gray Nike t-shirt and pulled him onto my lap. He is too big for me to cuddle, but I cuddle him anyway. His lanky legs hang almost to the floor. I lean down and kiss him on the forehead, noticing his ridiculously long eyelashes. He is my firstborn. My baby boy. And McDaddy’s namesake.

Dear Stevie,

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that these past ten years have been the best years of my life. Back when I was 25, I thought I was in the prime of my life. I know now that I was so wrong about that. This motherhood thing? It is the most challenging job I will ever love. And you, my sweet boy, are the reason that Daddy and I became members of the Parents Club. We failed you in so many ways in those early years. We didn’t make you “cry it out” at night until well after you were able to speak and yell VERY PLAINLY “Daddy, buddy, daddy, buddy” and the two of us sat on the bed in utter disbelief wondering which one would beat the other to your crib side. You didn’t come with an instruction manual, so we’ve had to pick this thing up as we go. When we carried you in the house for the first time, your dad sat the bulky car seat (with you in it) down and we looked at each other and said, “Well, now what?”

We knew nothing about raising a child. Thank you for being patient with us.

The years have flown by.

And I am dreading the next ones.

These next few years will be tough for me. (Not for daddy, because he handles stress and change like a normal, sane person.) I, on the other hand, will be a basket case. I can hardly think about dropping you off for your first day of middle school without crying. It literally seems like just yesterday I was in an uproar about taking you to Kindergarten for your first day of school. Once you enter that war-zone Middle school, I know the unchartered waters could, and probably will get rough. Soon, you will start to notice girls and undoubtedly one will break your heart. And then, so help me, I will want to pull every hair from her head for hurting my baby. There will be things that happen at school that you will forget to tell me. Or refuse to tell me. I just hope you know that you can come to me and daddy with anything. I am slowly learning that I cannot blow my ever lovin’ top each and every time you are wronged. But it’s not because I don’t want to. I am your protector. And your biggest fan. And I would lay down my life for you without hesitation.

Oh sweet boy, you are so intelligent, I often wonder if you are really mine. When we joke about home-schooling you, I have to laugh because you have knowledge about things I have never even heard of. And Lord knows the only thing I could teach you about math is how to calculate 50% off of a sale item because I am a whiz at that. I am thankful that you took more than your good looks from your dad.

You are a statistical monster and you don’t forget one single thing. EVER. At four years old, you could recite the whole “If you have diabetes, and you’re on medicare, you may qualify for a free meter from Liberty Mutual” commercial. Several people suggested that we record you doing that, and sadly, I never did because it didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. Man, I could kick myself for not doing that. While I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, you could probably tell me what you had for lunch seven months ago. And we learned a long time ago not to discuss anything important in front of you because no matter what you are doing, you are also LISTENING (you did take something from me, after all!)

You are kind-hearted and you love to laugh. You are a good friend and a child of the King. One of my proudest moments as your momma was the night you told me you wanted to ask Jesus into your heart. Because Daddy was deployed, I wanted to wait until he called so that we could discuss it together. You prayed right over Skype and your dad and I are so thankful that you made the decision to follow Jesus. As you enter this new phase of life, keep Jesus close to your heart. Love like Jesus. Consult Him when you are unsure about things. He loves you even more than Daddy and I do, and you will never go wrong keeping your sights set on Him.

You love the game of baseball and your heart for the game is unmatched. One of my favorite things to do is watch you play ball. I love that you are such a kind-hearted teammate. And I also love that you don’t mind me being your “team mom.” It is certainly one of the things I love the most about this season of life.

You are protective over Alex and you love to teach him things. He looks up to you, and I hope you keep that in mind when making decisions. The two of you love to play together and it makes my heart smile when the stars align and you jokers are getting along and laughing together. You take your role as big brother very seriously and I am happy about that. I have a confession: I often stand at your bedroom door and listen in on the conversation between the two of you. You talk about all manner of boy stuff. Farts. Lego’s. Cars. Friends. Dreams. Mini Figures. Baseball. Superheroes. And school. I hope the two of you remain close even when you are grown.

You are growing up everyday, but I love that you still like to play. I am dreading the day when you no longer want to do these things. Soon, you will ask to attend sporting events without me. And school dances. And you will no longer play with that little bit of hair (the bit that rarely ever lays as it should because you won’t leave it be – it even shows in that picture above, and below!) as you read, or eat, or watch television. I dread the day that you trade a matchbox car for a real car. And you trade a Big Nate book for a chemistry book, or Lord have mercy on me, a college handbook. Oh my sweet baby boy (daddy says I must quit calling you that!) I can’t hardly imagine that time.

Stevie, I am so proud to be your mom. Teachers have always commented to us about what a great kid you are. I am so happy to hear that. There is a reason I tell you every single day when I drop you off at school to do the right thing even when no one is watching. Aside from loving Jesus and others, it is the most important thing you can do. I love you and I want you to know I will always be in your corner. You can count on me to be honest and supportive and loving. And you can also count on me to go nine kinds of crazy on any girl that doesn’t treat you right.

I am only kidding.

Sort of.

As I count down these final eight days before you start Middle School, I do so with a heavy heart and a great big dependence on Jesus. He will be with you when I can’t be. And that comforts me. I know these next eight years are going to fly by, and there will be a lot of changes. One thing that will never change, my boy, is my love for you.

Don’t ever forget that.

Love,

Mom

This Season Of Life

The bad news is – it was 319 degrees today with about 98% humidity.

The good news is, the visitor side of the baseball field we were playing at this evening was completely shaded.

I remember the first season the boys signed up to play baseball. The evening of our first practice was cold and muddy and I remember remarking to McDaddy that we shouldn’t have ever allowed the boys to sign up for baseball because holy crap! there was a lot of mud and I would never ever be able to get our shoes clean, and both boys would probably end up on nebulizer treatments after spending hours out in the cold, wet air because it happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

No, I am not exaggerating.

And yes! I am a joy to live with.

After each practice I scrubbed cleats with a toothbrush because I couldn’t stand the thought of ALL THAT MUD.

And when I found out BOTH boys would be wearing white baseball pants, I was shaking my head at the stupidity of it all.

I knew absolutely nothing about baseball except that there was an umpire and eventually we’d be singing about peanuts and cracker jacks.

We received a schedule for both boys and I almost swallowed my tongue when I realized that between the two of them they had 51 games scheduled.

IN EIGHT WEEKS.

With 51 games on our schedule, I had no idea when I’d see my next nap or even if I’d be able to catch The Bachelor. What had we gotten ourselves into?

And then it came time for our first game.

Y’all.

The first time my boy got up to bat, I screamed like a lunatic. He cracked that ball, I stood up, and before I knew what was happening, I dribbled on myself.

Not my proudest moment, for sure. But all the moms sitting around me understood my excitement. We whooped and hollered all afternoon. I was new to this whole baseball thing, and surprisingly, I thought it might be something I could eventually enjoy because there was lots of time to sit and talk!

And so began, a new season in my life.

Baseball Season.

It is precisely the reason I bought a fancy DSLR Canon Rebel.

It is the reason, my left calf is scratched and scabbed over.

And it is also the reason I am constantly behind on the laundry.

After that first season, Stevie’s coach asked if I might like to learn how to keep the baseball book. (I feel certain he asked me this because I was so loud in the stands he thought I might be quieter if I had to actually SHUT UP and PAY ATTENTION.)

I told him if he needed me, I’d give it a shot, and so I went to YouTube and taught myself the absolute basics about keeping the book. I remember being so afraid I would miss something, or screw up the batting order. I was a nervous wreck, mostly because that’s how I operate. During our first game one of the dads stood with me to help me catch and record each play. By the end of that first season, I felt pretty comfortable with keeping the book even though I was only keeping basic stats.

Stevie has been blessed to have the same three coaches throughout three (or is it six?) seasons of fall and spring ball. That means that we are a pretty tight-knit group of parents. I absolutely LOVE our baseball family. Both of our boys have been blessed with wonderful coaches who are wonderful examples on and off of the baseball field. (And for that, we are thankful!)

I’m in my third year of keeping the book, and I now e-mail stats after each game to our three coaches that includes pitch counts, batting averages, season stats, and positions played. Tonight, I sat and talked leisurely with my friend Missy as I kept the book AND the batting order rolling. I’ve come a long way since that first game.

I get a lot of flack about our book. It is neat, it is orderly, and it is often recopied if I consider it to be too messy.

These days, there’s very few places I’d rather be than the ball field. I have Baseball Mom shirts, baseball bling flip-flops, baseball jewelry, and baseball visors. I never ever dreamed in a million years I’d be a baseball mom.

Yet, here I sit tonight wearing a baseball mom t-shirt with my last name on the back of it.

When I’m watching Alex’s game, I have to keep track of the score because I can’t stand sitting in the bleachers and having no earthly idea what the score is.

Our boys don’t know it yet, but they are learning life lessons that will help them throughout life. And we are all forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

We have met some wonderful friends on the baseball field. When I look back on this journey of motherhood, I feel certain, our time spent on the baseball field will be among my fondest memories.

I Hate This Story

It is a treat having two little boys.

They are alike in some ways, but for the most part, the two of them are as different as night and day. At their well-visit a few weeks ago, their pediatrician informed me that at Stevie’s current rate of growth, he will be a 5’11” / 180 pound adult. Alex, on the other hand, at his current rate of growth will be 6’4″ and 220 pounds.

To which Stevie replied, “I better get to eatin'”.

I’ve told that story 318 times in the past two weeks and each time Stevie says, “I hate this story.”

It makes me smile because it is indicitive of the difference in these two. Alex is the little brother. He’s not supposed to be five inches taller than his BIG brother. (And yes, I do realize that often times these estimations are way off. Still, it makes me giggle.)

Some days these two push me to a ledge I want to jump off of. Other days, they crawl up on my lap and tell me how much they love me, and I know without a doubt I am the luckiest mom in the world. And lots of days I laugh hysterically because they say some of the craziest things.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve overheard from them this week.

1. STEVIE: Month, orange, silver and purple are the only English words that don’t rhyme with another English word.

ALEX: Well what about orangutan?

2. How do you think Einstein got to be so smart?

3. Don’t pee into the wind.

4. ALEX: Mom, did you know that VY Canis Majoris is one of the biggest and brightest stars there ever was.

[It is interesting to note that until that very minute, I had never even heard of VY Canis majoris.]

5. Coca-cola used to be green. Did you know that mom?

6. Mom, did you know that some sharks eat their babies?

7. If we ever get a dog we can’t feed it grapes, or it will die.

[I had to Google that one.]

8. Where does dust even come from?

[Dang, I'd love to know the answer to that.]

These boys are the light of my life. On my worst day, they can make everything seem like flowers and sunshine. I am blessed beyond measure that these two wonderful human beings call me mommy.

Holding On

As I sit on the couch, I hear a thud.

I am startled.

I hear a whimper. And then footsteps.

He stumbles through the hall holding his head. When I ask what happened, he mumbles something about hitting his head on the bed.

In flannel Diary of a Wimpy Kid pajama pants, he climbs onto the couch and slides across my body. He settles in – on my lap. His lanky arms wind around my neck and he holds on tight.

I tickle his bare back. I close my eyes. I bury my nose in his hair and inhale until my lungs fill with air. I run my finger down his cheek and try my best to count his eyelashes. I take note of several light freckles scattered on his cheeks. There is a faint mark on his nose, no doubt left by the black glasses that he couldn’t be talked out of. He is missing three teeth (must get a picture tomorrow) and needs a haircut.

I want so badly to soak up this perfect moment. I long for the image of his sweet face to be engraved forever in my brain. I want to remember the ease with which he slid into my arms and how perfectly my arms wrapped around his little body. I want to remember his smell.

There will soon come a day when he will no longer want me to hold him. Even now, he rarely sits still long enough to count his fingers, much less his eyelashes. He is fiercely independent and strives to be good at everything he does. He can match clothing better than most adults. He is the tallest kid in his class, and takes great pride in his work. He is rough and tumble and cuddly and loveable. He is a responsible allergic kid and would want you to know that he has the most Accelerated Reader points in his class. He loves to play Legos with his big brother and taught himself to ride a bike. His laugh brings joy to even the worst of days.

A whopping ten-pounds, five-ounces at birth, he was the biggest infant in the nursery. At his most recent well-child visit, his pediatrician charted his growth to be well above average. At his current rate of growth, he is slated to be a 6-foot, 4-inch man averaging 220 pounds. That seems impossible. He will always be my baby.

This child – this sweet, lovable child – is like me in so many ways. I see myself in so many of his mannerisms, and I smile. He is the child my mom hoped I would have. The one who would be just like me.

It is late. I should send him back to bed, but I don’t want this moment to end. I hug him a little tighter, I hold him a little longer, and I take a deep breath.

And then I exhale thinking I am the luckiest mama in the world.

I love you sweet boy! You will never ever know how much you mean to me!

Private Business

Once upon a time there were two little boys.

The boys, while different as night and day, were the best of the friends.

They were also, without doubt, the most accident-prone boys on the planet.

And by some sort of crazy twist of fate, all of it has happened right under their mama’s nose.

Don’t ask me how that happens.

You might remember, I was with Alex when he took a bite of a peanut butter cookie and ended up in the ER. I was just feet away from Stevie when he wrecked his bike on a camping trip and passed the heck out in the middle of the road. I was also right there, just inches away when Stevie swallowed the penny. Likewise, I was right there when Alex fell into a cactus. McDaddy and I were both home when Alex injected himself with his EpiPen to show his friend how it works.

Sometimes I think I should go live somewhere else, just so my kids can be safe.

And just today, I heard the cry of a kid that was hurt.

Really. Hurt.

And I knew it was bad.

When I got to my boy, this is what I saw.

 Much to my surprise, the wound did not bleed much.

It was however, twice as nasty as it appears to be in this picture.

And speaking of pictures, when I snapped this picture with my phone at the Urgent Care just before it was sewn up, my sweet [six-year old] Alex said, “Mom, don’t put this on Facebook. It is my private business.”

He did not however, mention anything about the blog.

Six shots of numbing medicine and five stitches later, we were released to come home.

And with that, this mama has survived yet another medical mishap here at the McResidence.

I Spy

My boys love to play Spy Games. In fact, they call themselves The Alpha Team.

They have no idea that sometimes I spy on them.

Crouched down on the back deck, I wait and I watch. And I listen.

They laugh.

They make plans.

They talk spy stuff.

They make fart noises.

They laugh.

They talk about how to be great at math problems.

They have jumping contests.

They tell jokes.

They laugh.

They share stories from their school day.

They burp.

They compare notes on ‘drifting’.

They are best friends, these two.

I want to remember this moment forever.

The voices.

The giggles.

The love.

The fun.

I close my eyes and try hard to engrave this moment on my brain for I know there will come a day when I will miss this.

Twenty Years

In approximately five weeks, McDaddy and I are scheduled to attend our twentieth reunion.

It doesn’t seem possible that we’ve been out of school for twenty L-O-N-G years. That means that this girl is almost forty. Not that there’s anything wrong with being forty, because age is just a number.

Mostly.

I can’t help but think about how my life has changed over the past twenty years.

1992

I was a senior in high school. I had just recovered from mandibular surgery (broken jaws), and as a result I lost tons of weight because my jaws were wired shut for six weeks.

I was having trouble with Trigonometry (no big surprise there!) and I was hot on McDaddy’s trail. We had been good friends for three years and I’m gonna admit something here on the blog that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned.

I was actually after his best friend.

Crazy. For sure.

I was applying to college and wondering where the next four years would take me. McDaddy left for bootcamp shortly after graduation and so I spent that summer listening to Mariah Carey sing, “I’ll Be There” and counting the days until Boot Camp and Tech School would be over.

2002

We moved into our current house in January of 2002. In March, we found out that we were expecting our first child. I was working at the jail, and spent most of my days scheduling contact visits and parole meetings. Not one to embrace change, I often wondered what it would be like when the time came to trade in my walkie-talkie for a baby monitor. The nursery was taking shape and my blood pressure was off the hook.

At 32 weeks I was put on bed-rest and I lasted about three days before convincing myself I was going stir-freakin-crazy. Four weeks later, an eight pound baby boy was extracted from my body and in an instant I was a changed person.

2012

As I sit on my couch watching American Idol composing this blog post, I look at that picture up there and wonder how in the heck my sweet boy survived with me as a mama. I was over-protective, over-bearing and high strung.

Bless his heart.

It’s a small miracle that he can make a decision for himself.

As for that girl up there?

She is so different from the one that sits here today.

The one sitting here today is a Jail Counselor turned PTA fund-raising extraordinaire. She is loud, crazy, and opinionated. And no big surprise, she is still over-protective, over-bearing, and high-strung. Oh, and don’t forget that she loves to laugh.

She is a stay at home mom who rarely stays at home.

While she has no idea what the next twenty years will bring, she plans to live every day to its fullest.

And she considers it a privilege to be doing it alongside these three beautiful people.