When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Maddie girl

That's what I call her...My Maddie Girl.  She is my baby girl, and she just blew out three candles on her pink and purple pony cake.  Three.  This ain't my first rodeo.  I know how it works.  I know that the days are long and the years are short.  I know that cooing and gurgling gives way to little broken sentences all too quickly.  I know that with each birthday my children celebrate I am always left shaking my head, misty-eyed, wondering where the time has gone. 

Still, it takes me by surprise.  Takes my breath away.  I was thinking about it the other day.  That Beatles song "She's Leaving Home" popped into my head and I was reduced to a sniveling mess. 

She's Leaving Home by the Beatles (in case you've never heard it)

So often when I watch Maddie play or dance or sing, I find myself staring into space, unintentionally pressing the mental fast forward button...Suddenly I am waving goodbye as she steps on the school bus, trying not to chew my nails when she takes the car for a spin by herself, videoing her graduation, helping pack the car for college, fixing her veil on her wedding day....  Okay, okay, I know.  She's three.  I sound psychotic.  But if you only realized how quickly the last three years sped by, it's not much of a stretch to imagine the next 30 zooming past at lightening speed.

I'll have 18 short years to really be with Maddie - to love her, teach her, guide her and watch her grow.  Well, 15 now.  I think one of the scariest things about parenthood is that nagging fear that you will somehow miss the mark.  You won't get it right.  You will not adequately instill important values and virtues and therefore will somehow damage your child.  In the hopes of sparing them discomfort or pain, you will push your own "perfect" agenda [see cookie-cutter life I have planned for Maddie above] and push him or her away.

A dear friend of mine often says his [adult] son grew into a wonderful man in spite of his parenting.  I love that line.  I know that in many ways, I need to just step back and let Maddie grow into Maddie. 

So, I will take a deep breath and try to live in the moment with her.  We'll take one day at a time.  I will enjoy her twirling and whirling and singing and best of all, her kisses.  I will try to stand back and get out of her way (which is probably the safest move anyway since she has all the grace of SNL's Mary Katherine Gallagher).   

Picture of SNL's Mary Katherine Gallagher
Picture of Maddie at her first dance class.  Notice the teacher's arm position versus Maddie's...

I can also take great comfort in the fact that I am not the architect of Maddie's life (thank goodness!).  That's already been taken care of by the greatest Planner of them all. 

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

I will love her and do my best to guide her and revel in the fact that I am the lucky one who gets to be called my Maddie Girl's momma.  I'm the lucky one who gets to watch her grow...and I look forward to doing just that.  Happy birthday, sweetheart.

Maddie singing her favorite song


Bad words

Everyone was finally loaded in the van.  Cooler with lunches for everyone (including Daddy who would meet us later), check.  Manual breast pump with bottle (in case I had to feed Jack on the go), check.  Sunscreen (in case it's sunny), jackets (in case it's not), cell phone, camera, and partridge in a pear tree, check.

It was 9:30.  Everyone had gotten dressed, gone potty, and Maddie even let me brush her hair (miracle of miracles).  We'd make it to the doctor on time for Jack's two month check-up, feed him, and even if they were running behind (because they always are) we'd still arrive at the pumpkin farm on time for Parker's preschool field trip.  Whew!  I allowed myself to exhale.

My zen moment was interrupted by a tiny voice from the backseat:  "Mommy, you said [insert bad word]."

My eyes shot open wide.  "What?!"

Parker: Mommy, you said [bad word].

Me: [genuinely confused] When!?

Parker:  As we were leaving the house.  You said it.  You said [bad wo-]

Me: Okay!  Okay.  I really don't remember saying that, but if you say so, I probably did.  Mommy is so sorry.  I should never say words like that.  I was very rushed, but that doesn't make it okay--

Maddie: (chiming in)  Noooo.  We don't say [bad word].

Me: [getting flustered] Okay!  Okay guys.  You're right.  We don't say that.  I'm very sorry.

Visions of Parker relaying the story to his innocent preschool playmates while they jumped from bales of hay as judgmental teachers and parents looked on filled my brain.  Time for damage control.

Me: Parker, I know Mommy shouldn't have said that bad word, and I'm very, very sorry I said it [understatement].  I need you not to repeat it anymore, okay?  Don't tell your friends--

Parker: But...

You see, Parker has found the bad-word tattle-tale loophole, and he loves it.  I can't tell you how many times he has come home from school with a story about so-and-so who said "fart" or "poop" or some other forbidden word.  He delights in relaying the offense, as it gives him the opportunity to use the word himself.

Me: If you need to tell someone, tell Daddy.  Just don't repeat the word I said.  Just say, 'Mommy said a bad word,' and I can tell him what it was, okay?

Parker:  [grudgingly] Okay.



Maddie's smile

You know what they say about Helen of Troy...how her face launched a thousand ships?
Well, I know I'm biased, but I believe the same could be said about my daughter.  Her smile lights up my life

And if you think her smile is amazing [if you don't, I don't want to know], you should try one of her hugs.  Soft, surprisingly strong arms around your neck, her face buried in your hair.  Maddie's hugs often end with a kiss.  She doesn't grasp the concept of a kiss on the cheek.  If you attempt that, she'll grab your face with both of her little hands, hold it steady, and plant a tiny kiss on your lips.  What could be sweeter?   

Maddie is her own person.  Opinionated, obstinate, exuberant, flamboyant...  Who knew so much drama could reside in such a little body?  Winning her favor is like winning the lottery...odds are you won't, but if you do, you are on top of the world.  I shake my head just thinking about her.  How I love that little girl!


Several days ago two inmates escaped from a correctional facility in Lexington.  They were last spotted near Louisville.  More specifically, they were very near Grammy and Pawpaw's house (a fairly remote and wooded area).  Grammy called to warn me not to stop by with the kids.

How exciting!  Parker is constantly asking me to tell him stories about bad guys, jail, escapes, arrests, etc.  I couldn't wait to tell him!  I know this probably sounds awful or bizarre to some people.  However, if you really knew Parker, you would realize this real-life story was about the best thing since sliced bread. 

I was able to spin it in such a way that he would realize we were not in any danger.  It was pure excitement.  I finished by saying the police might need some help catching these crooks.

His eyes were as wide as saucers.  A grin played on his lips.  "Oh!  Hold on!" he exclaimed.  He took off like a shot and headed for the basement playroom.  When he emerged, he was a sight!

Shin guards on his legs, a quiver holding an arrow (with no tip), a bow, two flexible wooden train track pieces dangling from his shoulders, and his favorite "flag" socks with stars and stripes [very patriotic].  After I took his picture he added a plastic headset with earphones and a microphone (so he could remain in contact with the police).

He quickly explained that he would shoot the bad guys' tires, rush in, tie up their feet with the train tracks, and call the police for backup.  Good plan.  He insisted we call Grammy and get details.  "What kind of getaway car were they driving?"  After learning it was long and black, we went outside to scope out his hiding spot.  He settled on the screened in porch and set up a plastic tub as a shield.  Then he decided he needed a more thorough command center.  Soon our back porch was littered with rocks, plastic swords, a Thomas the Train pop-up tent, a plastic Jack-o-lantern he named Lancy, and other essentials.  He sat and scanned the traffic [about 1 car every 5 minutes] for over half an hour.  Every few minutes, I would get a status report: "I saw a car, but it wasn't black, Mommy."  "I saw a black car, but it wasn't long."  "I saw a red car." 

We took a break to go to Costco to buy diapers for Jack.  Parker was pretty sure the crooks were inside the store.  He took all of his gear, just in case.  He told anyone who would listen about his important mission.  Then he decided the entire store might just be a trap set for us by the bad guys.  Convinced they were in cahoots with the employees, he eyed the workers suspiciously.  We barely escaped. 

Back at home, the scouting continued.  Parker explained he would really like a medal from the police (if he caught the bad guys).  I pondered aloud that they might already be in custody.  He looked so disappointed. 

"Oh...But Honey, they might just give you a medal anyway."

He glanced up at me, unsure.

"Yeah!  You know, most people aren't nearly as brave as you are.  Most people, if they found out some bad guys were in their neighborhood, well, they would just hide inside and lock their doors.  But not you!  Look how brave you are!  You are out here with all of your weapons and traps trying to catch them!  I bet if the police found out about how you tried to help, they would award you a medal of honor for your bravery."

Parker beamed.  "Can you call them right now and tell them?"

Um..."Well, let's give it some time to make sure they've actually caught the crooks."  I thought about how I could get out of this one.  "Honey, even if the police don't give you a medal, I will give you one.  I know you are really brave."

"Yes I am, Mommy!"

Time to head to the craft store...