Classy Mama

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Now is the time to look back on the year that has been and start considering the new year to come.  Questions and doubts and fears may arise.

Thoughts such as, What exact life choices have I made that have led me to manically reheat my morning coffee eighteen times before I finish a full mug? Or, When is the last time I have peed at my own pace without being disturbed or answering someone's question by yelling through the door?  Or, a favorite of mine, How exactly did I end up eating leftovers huddled over the kitchen sink so that I didn't have to wash an extra plate?

Real classy stuff.

If any of these precious notions have entered your own brain, rest assured - you're in good company.

Too many times, multiple times throughout my day in fact, I find myself questioning how in the world I ended up in the life I'm living.  It's not a regrettable thought process.  I'm not droning on and on with complaints or groaning and grumbling (well, I have my moments).  But, I'm just amazed at how vastly different my day-to-day life looks compared to what I may have thought 5 or 10 years ago.

Parenthood is different for everyone, but if I've learned one thing in the last several years, it's this:  all parenting is HARD.  It's a ridiculous amount of work that is exhausting and rewarding and we are pressured into thinking that it is always, always, always worthwhile.  I mean, it is (right?) but knowing that we're raising the world's next difference-makers doesn't make the fact that they just hit their sister or are screaming Disney song tunes at the top of their lungs any easier to bear.

PARENTING IS HARD.  It require unreasonable patience, insurmountable compassion, and unattainable energy that no one can dare prepare you for.  The other day I was thinking how no one in the universe would become a parent if they truly knew what they were getting into.  And, then I realized what a perfect scheme plan God had in designing it that way.  God knows we will fully love, fully suffer, fully engage, fully dread, fully give give give to these little people that we fully took part in helping create...and it's an incredible, tangible way for God to REACH US as humans.

So many times (as I nibble my pizza leftovers into the sink) I feel like God is shoving opportunity in my face that I am frustratingly choosing to either take part in or step back from.  Matilda bursts into tears over Daphne taking her toy and I can a) Scream at Daphne and give Matilda her toy back b) Yell at them both to be quiet c) Put someone in time-out d) Throw the toy away e) take a deep breath, look my children in their eyes and explain the concept of sharing AGAIN and talk them through the reconciliation in a calm and civil manner.

Clearly E is the best choice.  If only life were a multiple choice test that I could willingly step back from and fill in the answer to in a quiet setting (never before did I long for such tranquility as sitting and taking an exam) then my children would have the mother I hoped to give them.  You with me???

But, life is not to simple.  Life is disastrous and loud and obnoxious and I fill it with more mistakes than I'd like to admit.  Sometimes I just want to eat my cold lunch in peace and AWAY from the critters that hang on me.  That's okay.  We all need a moment (lots of moments).

There's several habits I'd love to break in the new year (less TV, more dinners at the table, less frustration, more gratitude) but, most of all I just want to expose the fact that HEY - WE ARE TRYING and most of us are raising normal, wonderful children who are acting like blithering monsters half the time.  These are the difference-makers of tomorrow, and it's okay that their mom reheats her coffee yet again because she was busy cleaning cat vomit off the Christmas tree skirt.

As you ponder your resolutions for the new year, won't you join me in extending a little extra grace to yourself?  Part of being a parent is not being perfect.  Part of being a human is needing Jesus.  I have to remind myself of this constantly, and it helps me make it moment by moment.  These times are going to slip away quickly, I don't want to waste any time faking it as a mom.  Keeping it real is keeping it classy when it comes to parenthood.

Tell Me About It

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Soooo, this is new...

In January I begin my Practicum/Internship as part of my Masters program in Marriage & Family Therapy.  This is crazy news for me, because essentially it means I will begin to take on clients as my own.  Yes - I'll be doing therapy with real live people in a real, actual office.

Different students take a different approach to their internships, and I've opted to go the route of private practice.  I'm reaching out, building my own client base, and that means asking you to refer me if the opportunity presents itself.  So, you'll notice a new link on the PARDYMAMA site that directs you to my info if you want to lend my contact info to someone you know, or let your church or work know that they can get counseling at a very affordable price.

As an Intern, I won't make a cent for the next 20 months.  So, my "fee" is insanely low since it just covers the cost for my Supervisors to allow me to practice at their location.  (We're talking like $20 - $45 on average for a session.)

I know what you're thinking "Umm, are you READY for this?  Are you even qualified?"  And I assure you that no one considers these inquiries more than yours truly.  In fact, several friends and family have already raised their eyebrows, given me the stink-eye, and awkwardly asked the very same questions.  And, I don't blame them.

Here's the deal:  Yes, I'm eager and ready and have been trained to handle certain circumstances and know where to turn when I don't.  Yes, I am also anxious about the initial people and issues and problems that I might encounter where it will be uncomfortable or beyond my scope of readiness.  No, I'm not doling out advice to people about what "I think" they should do with their lives.  No, I'm not here to change people or heal them or enforce my belief system on them.  That's NOT what therapy is.  And, for more info on why I've decided to become a therapist and what therapy actually is, please read my posts here and here about it.

I'm here to listen.  I'm here to engage.  I'm here to help.  I'm here to use the gifts like empathy, understanding, and compassion that Jesus models for us.  I'm here to team up with my clients and help them tap into resources they already have access too and motivate them in their own desires for change and healing.  This is a team effort, with an incredibly intricate support system in place to help guide me and my clients along the way.  And that I am STOKED for.

Please pray for me and my future clients as I take this brave step into a new chapter in the year ahead.  I appreciate your support more than you know, and I'm grateful for any friends, family, and strangers you refer to me.

Let the adventure begin!

...Six Months Later

Monday, December 16, 2013

We have officially lived in Nashville for half a year!  Can you believe it?

Only six months ago we drove our entourage into this new city and called it our own.  We traveled over 2,000 miles with two toddlers and all our belongings and no job and staked claim on a new life that we fully entrusted to God.  We were full of more questions than answers, with weary hearts that grieved the loss of our friends and family in California, and excited souls ready to embrace a new chapter ahead.

Having moved across the country four times now, I thought I knew what to expect.  I tell myself that it takes time to make friends, to get to know my way around, to be patient with finding a church to call home, to not hold my breath when it comes to waiting until it feels like home home and not just some place I now have to ship all my Amazon packages to.  I've always told people that I feel like it takes a good two years before a new place feels familiar or comfortable.

But, I have to tell you, this has been the easiest move of my life.  Nashville is home.

Six months is a blink to be able to say something like that.  It feels like when I was dating my husband and falling head over heels before I could look him in the eye without giggling or wanting to burst into song.  It may have been too soon to say "I love you"...or get engaged...or get married...but, when it's right it's right.  And my move to Nashville feels like a nice old sneaker that's come back into style.  It feels right, looks great, and just fits.  Ahh.

The Pardys are loving Nashville.

Don't get me wrong.  I miss California desperately.  I miss my friends the most, of course, and there are times I weep just by texting them or seeing a Facebook update from someone.  [I'm tearing up now just thinking about it!]  In a perfect world, all my favorite people would be in ONE place, or we would own private jets, or we could all teleport!  In my ideal universe, the ocean would be 15 minutes away, there would be no traffic, and I would have a standing date with my best friends each week no matter where they lived.

But, if I can't have everything I want all in one place, I can sit still and be so grateful that I get to have it all on one globe.  To think that people fiercely love me and pray for me and my family from miles and miles away is such an incredible gift that it makes friendship over distance totally worthwhile.  (Also, not having to ever sit in LA traffic is pretty great too! Haha)

We've already learned so much since being here.  We've seen God break us, heal us, challenge us, push us, and humble our hearts in multiple ways.  I've started grad school, Josh has a new job, and the girls are thriving in their new environment and going to start preschool one day a week next year.  We are busier than ever, depending on God more than ever, and excited about our future as a couple and family.  God has already brought amazing hope in new friendships and surrounded us with encouragers that point us to Jesus.  We are grateful to have found a wonderful church and looking forward to deepening more relationships in the new year.

Six months goes by so fast.  Just a year ago I was studying for the GRE and just beginning the application process to grad school.  Our daily lives have changed dramatically, and I miss the interactions in our old community with the people we "lived life with".  But, as I hold those memories and reflect on what a treasure that time in California was for us, it makes me all the more eager to wonder what is in store for us here.

What are you most excited about in the coming year?  How has your life changed in the last 6 months? Year?

As we countdown the days to Christmas and the New Year ahead, join me in thanking God for getting us through the ups and downs of 2013.  The fact that we are all here, supporting each other and living life "together" even in this small way is a testament to His faithfulness in the days ahead.

Christmas Pardy

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wanna see how the Pardys decorate for Christmas?

Welcome to our home!  Here is a sneak peek at how we turn our little abode into a festivus for the eyes.  Behold the tacky wonder that is the Holiday Pardy Home...

Knock, Knock!

We doubled our cheer this year by having TWO trees!  One white one covered in brightly colored retro bobbles and one green tree with white lights and ornaments from our childhood and family.

Some people may think one glittery wreath is enough.
Those people would be wrong.

A new Advent Calendar to countdown the days, and a Kissing Pomander of Misteltoe!

I've collected Fontanini Nativity figurines since my childhood.  It always fills my heart with reverent nostalgia to put them out year after year.  This year I've displayed them on a old lacey tablecloth my grandmother made decades ago.

Without a fireplace, I was worried where our stockings would go.  Then, when we covered our stair bannister with retro glittery garland, it became pretty obvious.  My Rudolph stocking is original from my childhood and the others have been knit to match by the same woman.  Awesome stuff.  

No Christmas is complete without some fragilè electric sex.

Happy Holidays from the home of the very merry Pardys!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tis the season for making a list and checking it twice, right?

Well, this usually involves many unplanned shopping trips on my part as I lose track of who to shop for, what event is coming up, or see a deal that I just can't pass up.  This morning, I had to make a "quick" trip to the mall (one store stop only) and then swing by Target for a "few" things.

Hahahaha.  I throw my head back in sarcastic laughter at the thought of anything going quickly or smoothly with my two girls in tow.  We made it into the mall in one piece, my 2-year-old screaming "I wanna carry youuuu" at the top of her lungs the entire time I was checking out at the register.

By the time we were parading our violent entourage out of the mall, she had managed to wriggle one foot free of her strap in the stroller and was belting out "MAMA" with a red face brighter than Santa's hat.  It was pitiful, and I felt badly for her, but I simply couldn't manage to carry her and push the stroller at the same time.  And, we were about 100 feet from reaching the safe haven of the parking lot and some fresh, cold air that I hoped would calm her until reaching the car.

A kind woman stopped me because she thought Daphne was hurt.  "Oh, no." I said, calmly as I could.  "She just wants me to hold her, and we're headed to our car right now."  The woman looked at me as if I was a heartless Grinch, but I smiled and kept on truckin'.  "Thank you." I said as I annoying forged ahead.  Just.  Gotta.  Get.  To.  The.  Car.

Whew.  Made it.  Should we even attempt Target?  I did the multitasking in my head of thinking through all possible scenarios of when or how I could get to Target at a better time or later date or without my children.  But, then, Matilda (4) chimed in to say how much she wanted  to go to Target.

Ummm.  Fine.  Let's go.

Carts are not handy devices for carrying products I'm shopping for at Target.  Shopping carts are jungle gyms for my children when I'm shopping at Target.  Up, down, in, out, around, through, and puuuuushhhhh!  It's a disaster.

We were in the card aisle (which, apparently we need a bazillion options for - I have no time for this, people!  Cards should just say a simple phrase and be done with it.  Voila!  Keep it simple!  I don't need 800 choices to say Happy Birthday to my 10 year old niece, thank you very much) when I am perusing the options, only to turn around and see Daphne out of the cart.  Lickety split, that girl is up and out, no problemo.

She is occupying herself with a singing-monkey card when I go back to reading whatever selection I have in my hand.  Then I hear "Ma'am!  Your daughter?"  I look up and see no problem whatsoever.  I look to the woman who looks like she just saw a leprechaun and she gasps "Uh, your daughter was about to climb OUT of the cart!"

"Oh, thank you."  I say calmly, knowing that my sure-footed Matilda was never actually in danger.  The woman continued to stand back and watch us like we were animals at the zoo.  I tried to assure her that she was fine and then I helped Matilda down out of the cart, but I'm certain that woman left thinking I was a completely irresponsible mother.  Or not.  Whatever.  I have no time to wonder because I have to find a birthday card and keep my children from pulling down the display of gift cards at the end of the aisle.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the kindness of strangers.  There have absolutely been times when a person's intervention was genuinely helpful and I'm grateful for it.  But, there are some days I just want to yell "I KNOW!  OKAY? I'M JUST TRYING TO KEEP US ALL ALIVE!"

Each kid is different.  Each mom is different.  And, I like to try and do my best to give all of us moms out there the benefit of the doubt that WE KNOW OUR KIDS BEST.  Period.  I don't need a critical eye.  I need a helping hand.

So, next time you are that mom with the screaming kids - just keep going.  Take a deep breath (when you can) and know you are NOT alone.  And if you are the kind stranger concerned for the well-being of a child, their mother, and her sanity - please, for heaven's sake, just say these five simple words:  "How can I help you?" and leave your expectations in your own cart of worries.

Happy Holidays, moms.  Ho-ho-hold on tight.  We'll make it.

Snow Day!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This morning started off just as any morning.  Our girls woke up yelling for mommy and I begrudgingly stumbled out of bed while it was still dark out.  After tending to their needs and getting them "ready enough" for the early hour, I heard our alarm go off and my husband get up.  A few minutes later I hear the most glorious sound of my husband shouting "Snoooow Daaaay!"

Woohoo!  No work for daddy meant less work for mommy, so I was instantly grateful.  I also felt that giddiness I had felt as a child, as I nostalgically recalled the joy of having snow days as a child.

I can still remember the anxiety of listening to the radio in the early morning, yearning for my school's name to be called. I remember feeling the joy and relief when school would be spontaneously cancelled - like finding extra money in a jean's pocket, or getting a Christmas gift early - it was so wonderfully unexpected!

We all went downstairs and our girls instantly plastered their faces to the window pane, gazing out at the lawn.  Sure, it had only snowed about half an inch, but to these two California girls it might as well have been the North Pole.

"SNOOOOW!!!!" Matilda shrieked with joy.

I went out to collect a bowlful for them to touch and taste.  It was hard to believe school had been cancelled at the sight of such little dust, but when I touched it I realized it was pure ice.  Yikes!

As the sun is coming out, melting away the wintry splendor, I'm so grateful for the gift of an extra free day to spend with my family.  When I was a kid, snow days meant fun and excitement and a chance to PLAY!  I'm so glad that all these years later my girls will get the chance to experience them and that I can relive the joy in a whole new way.

Happy snow day - stay safe out there!


Monday, December 9, 2013

I did it!  I survived finals week!  [cue "Eye of the Tiger" here]

I have officially completed my first semester of grad school, and I can hardly believe it.  I'm 1/6th a Master!  Ha.  And I'm genuinely looking forward to my brain shriveling back to its normal size over the next three weeks.  Siiiiiigh.

Last week was RIDICULOUS.  It was one of those weeks where I was literally expecting to turn on the news and hear that there were asteroids headed towards Earth because that was just about the only thing left to go wrong in my little world.

While juggling the usually bowling balls of raising two kids (ages 4 and 2), working seasonal nights at the mall, and completing my Finals (one massive project, two papers, another semi-massive project, a video assignment, and a weekly online discussion board assignment), I barely had time to sleep, let alone cook or clean or make sure I had applied deodorant that day.

I expected a few things to go wrong during the week.  I mean, even on a good week I will forget to put the milk back in the fridge or let my daughter wear pajama pants all day or totally not remember that I left the clothes in the dryer (a week ago).  But, this was no typical week.

saddest thumbs-up ever
First, the weather was NUTS.  It had just been 75 degrees a week ago and so we went to the zoo for the day.  The next day, it dropped 30 degrees and the clouds shielded us from any sunlight.  I had spent hours (here and there) getting our 2013 Christmas card together over the last few weeks, and JUST finished writing out the last address.  Eager to get them out before they got destroyed or lost inside my home, I set them out by the mailbox as usual (under our overhang which is reasonably protective) and took my girls to Target to run an errand.

At Target, I nearly lost Daphne TWICE.  She would wriggle out of her cart-straps, and BOLT.  The girl was like Seabiscuit, rounding corners and shrieking down aisles at the top of her lungs.  By the time we left, it had started pouring cats and dogs, and we raced out to the car without an umbrella.  We were soaked!  I was exhausted by the time I got home, and my heart SANK when I came home to this:

wet and wrinkly Christmas cards

It had POURED in the timeframe we were gone, and my Christmas cards were drenched.  I had to spend the next hour hand-blow-drying each one so that it was salvageable.  Thank goodness, they were.  Whew.

Then, Saturday was the real kicker.  I finally had a calm morning with no where to go.  My husband was hanging out with my brother, so it was just me and the girls, curled up to watch "Curious George Christmas".  My youngest was extra snuggly, so I thought "Ah, she is calm - perfect time to trim her nails."  Simple enough, right?

I'll cut to the chase (no pun intended).  New clippers and flailing baby hands don't mix.  I knew when she screamed it was not just a knick.  Half-a-roll of paper towels later, I could still not get her thumb to stop bleeding, so I announced to my four-year-old "This is an EMERGENCY!  Go get dressed!  We have to take her to the doctor!"

Matilda has never impressed me more.  She jumped up and ran upstairs, explaining to our cat the whole time how "This is an emergency.  Don't worry!  Daphne will be okay, but I need pants!  I have to go so she can see the doctor, okay?"  Quick as a flash, she was downstairs and helping me get out the door.  I was still in yoga pants and slippers, but who cares?!  I wrapped Daphne's hand in paper towels and secured an glove over the top of it.  By the time we got to the ER, the blood had soaked through the glove.  It was just about the worst feeling of my life.

The nurses were quick and very helpful.  The bleeding stopped not long after we arrived and the wound revealed itself to only be superficial - no stitches or glue necessary.  Hallelujah!  It was bad enough I maimed my own child, I couldn't bear the thought of her getting minor surgery because of it.  Good heavens.

They cleaned and dressed the wound, making it as baby-proof as possible so she couldn't pull it off.  Matilda danced and sang and entertained us all so that we could have a happy distraction while we waited.  God bless her sweet and spunky spirit.  I'm so grateful for her care and encouragement, and it was a wonderful reminder that her craziness can be used for good and not only for being a naughty, frustrating, four-year-old.

Last night, I peacefully wrote the last paragraph of my last final of my first semester of grad school.  And that was that.  I survived the week.  Rain, shine, blood, sweat, and tears.  Maybe this last week was really just a beautiful, messy, symbolic representation of what the entire Fall has been.

It was quite the grand finale.

Finals Week: Hiatus

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Stack of books, Jesus mug of coffee, fried brain cells, lack of sleep.  It can only mean one thing....FINALS WEEK!

PARDYMAMA is on hiatus until next week.  Pray for my sanity and my survival.  You know there'll be some epic tales to come from all this...

See you next week. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Winner, Winner, Turkey Dinner

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thank you to everyone who participated in PARDYMAMA'S Thanks & Giving Give Away!  We have a winner!

Jeff's name was drawn at random (by my 4-year-old) from the jar of names early this morning!  As a Thank You for his support of the blog, Jeff won a $5 Starbucks Card!  And, to inspire him in Giving to others this holiday season, he also won a $20 gift card to JUSTGIVE.ORG!

Check it out, at Just Give you can give a gift card that let's the recipient choose a charity of their choice!  There are nearly limitless options and causes to pick from, so the person can give wherever they feel led.  Just Give is PERFECT for gift giving to "the person who has everything" or for that tricky individual that you just aren't sure what to get.

As Thanksgiving draws near (are you thawing that turkey yet?) let's do our best to encourage one another to look outside ourselves, to give just a little bit more than usual, to step beyond our comfort zone and ask God for the opportunity to bless another.

Thanks again to ALL my readers - I am so incredibly humbled and grateful whenever I hear that something God used my fingers to write has touched you in some way.  As I have told many, "I just pray and type, and God does the rest..." and that is the honest-to-goodness truth.  This little blog has grown to more than I ever could imagine, and God isn't through with it yet!  I am so glad to share time with you and "visit" across this webpage.  Thank you so much for the time you spend here - you inspire me to keep writing and seeking Jesus for the wisdom in the words that pop up on this site.

Here's to Thanks AND Giving...let's keep it going!

Polar Express

Friday, November 22, 2013

Toddlers are extraordinary beings.  They are the only humans who can appropriately lose control of their emotions without shocking those around them.  I mean, we expect two-year-olds to throw tantrums and be a little crazy (okay, a lot crazy).

Toddlers are going through so much change in their little lives/bodies/worlds, that it's within their natural development to experience polarizing emotions within a single moment.  There's nothing rational, balance, comfortable, or reasonable about it.  And, as a parent, it can be a roller coaster to go from this... this...

...all within a very short time frame.

You can see why God made them cute, right?  You can understand how maddening it is to be the one who helps contain the emotions that so rapidly cycle up and down throughout the day!?

Today, I'm so grateful God made kids unreasonably adorable to match their irrational development.  I'm so glad that there are the "He's got the whole world in His Hands" moments of the day to help us moms get through the "WHY did daddy have to go to work?!" tantrums.  I'm so glad that I am here to witness the good and the bad, to help channel the emotions into a healthy place of understanding, and to get to be the one that hugs through the unknowns when I've no other impulse or notion as to what to do.

I'm so glad toddlers are ridiculously out of their minds.  Their polarizing expressway to crazyville helps keep me on track to remembering how out of control we are as humans without a solid God to look to for guidance and direction.

Thank you, God, for one more day of survival with toddlers.  Moms - take a deep breath - hug your babes and know you are not alone.  The crazy train has many, many passengers, but the trip is short.  Let's do our best to savor the view along the way.

What are you thankful for?? LAST CHANCE to COMMENT and enter the GIVE AWAY!!!!

TBT: Contagious

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I wrote this post about a year ago, and I can't believe how LITTLE my baby Daphne was!?  I sure needed this reminder today, to pause and appreciate this season of life that is going to pass by in a flash.  I hope it provides you some focus and encouragement as well.  

Tis the season...for germs.  Time to stuff the stockings with Purrell and trim the tree with Kleenex, right?  Oh man, it seems like just about everywhere I turn someone is coughing or sniffling.  I'm feeling MUCH better (thank you, Lord!) than a few days ago, but awoke Wednesday morning to a sick husband and a sick baby!  (Somehow my three-year-old, Matilda, is so far getting through this week unscathed.  My best guess is that her super-human energy allows her to dodge most germs simply out of sheer speed!)

If anything trumps not feeling's watching those you love not feel well.  Luckily, a couple long naps, vitamins, and decongestants seemed to ward off any real health villains for my husband; but, unfortunately the baby has not been so triumphant.  Is there anything worse than a sick baby?

What's worse (in my book, anyway) is that she didn't catch a cold...she caught a tummy flu bug.  UGH!  Wah-waaaah.  The poor sweetie bear.  Again, the only thing worse than cleaning up disgusting germs is having to watch your pitiful little 16-month-old stare at you blurry-eyed with her sad gaze of "Why mommy?" going unanswered.  Gosh, it just breaks my heart!

Having two kids and one of them be sick is a whole other ball game.  Instead of the usual Get off your sister, you're killing her! you have to referee them with a new initiative:  Don't touch your sister, you'll get sick!  You have to quarantine them both the best you can and about halfway through the day - by the time the sick one has sneezed on the other one, they've accidentally swapped sippy cups, and you catch them cuddling and just can't bear to break up the love-fest...well, you just cross your fingers and pray the plague doesn't go any further.  What's a mom to do?

Taking care of a sick baby is such a weird, odd, terrible little gift that I think God gives us moms.  I mean, it's awful, for sure.  If I could bubble-wrap my kids and shampoo them in Purrell, I'm sure I would, don't get me wrong.  It only takes one heinous Yankee-candle-of-all-diapers to convince you that baby-flu-bug is certainly the doing of the Devil himself.  Ugh.

But, since we do live in a fallen world where illness exists, why not take this moment to try and recognize God among the yuckiness?  Anything's possible here.  So, honestly, I feel the presence of Jesus when I am stopped COLD in my footsteps to throw everything else out the window in that moment and care for my baby.  Dishes stink.  Clothes rumple.  Floors crumb-up.  Whatever.

Daphne has not been able to nap in her crib the last two days.  Not a wink.  I'll rock or nurse her completely to sleep, multiple times, but as soon as I lay her down she springs up screaming and won't stop.  The only way she has been able to sleep during the day has been cuddled up ON me.  The first time was heartwrenchingly wonderful.  Endearing.  The kinds of moments you dream about as a mother.

The next few times...well, it progressively got awkward and a bit burdensome.  With an energetic 3-year old vying for attention, it just wasn't exactly the ideal situation.  Not only that, but when you have a 22 lb. anchor on your chest you can't exactly get anything done during the day.  This is when it occurred to me:  Shut up, Emily.  Sit still.  Look at your baby.  

Whoa, okay.  Right.  Put the iPhone down and focus on the present.  WHY is this so hard to do?  (Granted, I was glad I had the phone there just to capture the moment!)  I want to remember that feeling.  I wish I was the kind of person who never needed to be forced to STOP and smell the roses (or the baby), but I am.  I'm just so grateful that I could soak that up, as best I could (even if there was a dancing Matilda in the background at times) and allow that baby to smother her germy self into my body for that moment.

How many times does this happen in our lives?  How much longer will she turn to me for that amount of comfort?

It's such a challenge to hold still these days.  It's increasingly difficult to be thankful for tiny things like fragile babies with vomit-covered jammies and greasy hair and diaper rash.  It's frustrating to have our daily schedules overturned and interrupted and entirely disregarded.'s so insanely worth it.

We always talk about how this baby/toddler stage of life goes by in a blink.  But, you know, if we can just slow down once in a while (even if that's only when the germs of life slow them down) then we get to capture a silent, beautiful moment where nothing else in the world matters but this sacred, sweet gift of our very own baby needing us for who we are - mom.  It may go by in a blink...but, we're in the midst of it right now...the part where your eyes are closed and you can still hear your heart beating outside your body.  Inhale, exhale.  Everything can wait.

I hope I remember this moment.  Maybe it's even contagious.

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All parents have much to be thankful for.  As a mother, I thank God each and every day for my sweet girls who I survived another day with.  I'm grateful for their health, their feisty nature, their imaginative spirits, and their enthusiasm for all things sugarcoated.  I love them more than anything, and more often than not I stare at their beautiful faces in awe that I get to be their mother.

But, many days (many, many, many) I am thankful for other things.  Maybe you can relate...

The Top 20 Things All Parents are Truly Thankful For:

1.  Baby Wipes (the good kind, thick and the size of beach towels)  
2.  Remote controls on anything 
3.  Volume adjustment on electronic toys (why don't kids come with this, God?) 
4.  Juice boxes (one less sippy cup I have to wash) 
5.  Slippers (as I crunch across the Cheerio-laden floor) 
6.  Cheerios (acceptable at any temperature and in replacement of any "real meal") 
7.  Vacuums (sanitizer and sanity saver) 
8.  Netflix (without whom I could not parent my children) 
9.  Disposable diapers (more power to those of whom choose otherwise) 
10. Car seats (not only do they protect children, they render them immobile!) 
11.  Pixar (Thank you for respecting my brain while keeping my kid entertained) 
12.  Velcro (buttons, snaps, and zippers are just time wasters) 
13.  Target (They've turned the chore of shopping into feeling like an actual escape) 
14.  Coffee 
15.  iPhones (should come out with a kid version called the iPacifier) 
16.  Storybooks with BIG FONT (because bedtime is hard enough) 
17.  Benadryl (cause zombies) 
18.  The "Silent Game"  
19.  BABYSITTERS!  (keep'em alive and we'll pay you in Dino-chicken nuggets) 
20.  Other honest moms and dads who don't act like they live according to Pinterest!

Now...what are you thankful for???  Remember - leave a COMMENT saying what you are grateful for on any blog post here all this week and you could win the THANKS & GIVING GIVE AWAY!

Please Pass the Peace

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

As a freelance writer beyond my own blog, I submit about ten times more content than ever gets seen by an audience.  Material gets used, recycled, or rejected on a regular basis, and that's all part of the joy and creative frustration I have as a writer.   Here is a piece I wrote for a magazine that didn't fit their need (that's nice-talk for "rejected") but I'm sharing with you here! 

How can we handle stressful relationships with family around the holidays?  What can we teach our children about it?
I hope you enjoy my article below - no subscription necessary.  ;)

Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings, be with your family, and perfect your carving skills on a giant bird straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  But, let’s face it, not every holiday get-together is quite as picturesque as we may dream it to be.  Often, as we set the table and sit next to those “near and dear” to us, we fill ourselves with more anxiety and stress than stuffing and gravy.  No family is perfect, and that can be magnified this time of year, especially when there are certain individuals in your family that you’d rather not be so hospitable to.

Each family is unique.  Some family members struggle with past grievances, some hold grudges or resentment, and others are in the middle of seeking second chances that are harder to come by than a second helping of mashed potatoes (those are always the first to go at our home!) 

While tensions might rise high among adults, this stress doesn’t have to trickle down onto your children.  In fact, it’s a great opportunity to be an example to them and even teach a lesson or two.  Offering your home as a haven during the holidays is a huge way to indicate to your children that anyone is welcome (barring safety concerns).

The best lesson a child can witness in extending grace and second chances to another family member is this:  Compassion is always the right response.  When you try to understand another person, you start with compassion.  It’s the only response you will never regret, and its power can be contagious.

So, what is compassion?  What does it look like?  

In short, it looks like Jesus!  Sympathizing with others through their suffering, offering to help when and where you can, considering their feelings before speaking or taking action, and extending mercy and kindness beyond expectation.  Sometimes this is as simple as serving a slice of pie and asking how someone is.  Other times it involves awkward hugs and tear-filled piles of Kleenexes.  That’s okay.  There’s no wrong way to offer genuine compassion.  Seek the Holy Spirit in prayer to help show you simple ways to do this in your own family situation.

There is, however, a big difference between compassion and compromise, and that can be hard to remember in the middle of an emotional gathering.  By showing compassion towards someone who has hurt you in the past, it’s valuable to know that it doesn’t mean you are compromising your beliefs or agreeing with their actions.  It’s important to clarify this to your children as well, making sure they understand the difference. 

Just as Jesus grieves our sinful behavior, His pain doesn’t diminish His willingness to forgive us.  He paid the price on the cross, and He’s already rejoicing in our redemption. In the same way, by allowing family members into your home, and by offering them love, forgiveness, and even delicious food, you are showing your children through your actions that you are making an effort to build bridges and restore peace.  Not only will this inspire them to do the same, but it also assures them that you are willing to extend them the same redeeming grace no matter the path their future may take. 

When we show our children the power of forgiveness and the unconditional strength that compassion restores in relationships, it encourages them to love as Jesus loves us.  With that kind of reinforcement of faith in action, I can’t imagine anything better to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. 

What are you thankful for???  Be sure and COMMENT below for your chance to win in this year's Thanks & Giving GIVE AWAY!

Thanks & Giving GIVE AWAY

Monday, November 18, 2013

With Thanksgiving next week (how is that possible?) I wanted to come up with a fun way to say THANKS to my readers!  So, all this week you have a chance to enter PARDYMAMA'S Thanks & Giving Give Away!

It's easy-peasy - all you have to do is leave a COMMENT saying something you are thankful for!  That's it!  We want to show people everywhere that everyone has a reason to be grateful on Thanksgiving Day, and I hope the comments that are left inspire you to keep a heart full of gratitude as the busy week ahead might get a little hectic.

Leave a comment saying what you are grateful for, and I'll enter you in the drawing to win:

 A $5 Starbucks Card & a $20 gift card to Just Give 

Just Give is an organization that allows YOU to pick a charity of your choice and make a donation!

I want to say THANKS by letting you enjoy a peppermint mocha latte on me, and give you the gift of GIVING to others, however you choose!

Spread the word!  Share the love!  And know that I am so grateful for your stopping by PARDYMAMA week after week to keep the inspiration flowing.

Now...What are you thankful for???  Let's hear it!

Kids for Sale

Friday, November 15, 2013

It's been a trying week.  Work, school, and life in general are swirling about me in non-stop motion.  I told my husband late one night that I felt like I was sucking water from a fire hose underneath an avalanche.  My girls have also been annoyingly "sort of sick" throughout the week.  You know the kind - just sick enough to keep them out of play dates and church nursery, to keep them whining throughout the day and night, to keep them crabby and demanding...but not sick enough to get snuggles or have them slow down at all.  How is it that kids can run a slight fever and run around the house like maniacs all at the same time?

classic hug-turned-strangle situation
Don't get me wrong, of course I don't want my kids to be so sick that they can't play.  I'm glad that their sniffles don't slow them down and that they are generally healthy as caged zoo monkeys.  But, it is exhausting to be with them and trapped in the house day after day trying to not let "The Little Mermaid" songs drive you batty.

As I was folding a volcanic mountain of laundry last night, I realized that God probably infiltrated stay-at-home-motherhood with mundane tasks like that (or doing dishes, or picking up toys, or wiping noses) so that we could feel again and again I'm so good at this to make up for the rest of the day filled with the frustrating doubts and infuriating challenges of thinking I can't handle these kids! What am I doing?!

I might not enjoy folding laundry or doing dishes or generally cleaning up after my little tornadoes, but it does fill me with a sense of pride that I can actually accomplish something ridiculously well in the midst of such loud, incessant, irrational pandemonium.  When I can stack a pile of clothes perfectly straight (which, inevitably get knocked over within seconds of completion), I can take one second of pride in the fact that I'm overqualified for the chores that this job requires.

Then, in the midst of a knock-down-drag-out battle over who gets to buckle Minnie Mouse in the toy stroller, it helps me take a deep breath and remember that I really have NO idea what I'm doing, but I'm still going to be okay.  This is normal.  This is motherhood.  And as quickly as the brawling began, it will all be over and we will probably all be crying into bowls of ice cream at 9 in the morning.

grumpy is as grumpy does
Early in the week, when I could have sworn it was almost bedtime and then realized we hadn't even had lunch yet (tick, tock) I had to just pray pray pray for the fruit of the Spirit to get me through.  I love these little beings more than my own life, and yet there are times I'm ready to post them in the FREE section of craigslist.  As I was literally knocked over the head with a lego block, I clenched my fists and bit my tongue.  And, in that split second all I could think was HOW in the world does God not just smite us all off the face of the planet each and every day?!?

If blatant disobedience, irrational fighting, and incessant demands are all it takes for me to lose my cool (and that's putting it lightly) then I have no capacity for understanding the grace of God and how the heck He compassionately forgives my stupidity day after day, hour by hour.  I need to tap into that mercy.  I need to channel that kind of only-through-Jesus compassion.  I need the patience that surpasses all rationale to be able to be the parent my girls need.

The reality is, I'm going to lose my mind in front of my girls sometimes.  I lose my temper so often I'm thinking of getting a GPS tracker for it.  Praise be, that I live in a place and time where I don't have to parent these hooligans all alone, and I have the greatest resource available as a mother - a Holy Spirit who puts up with my nonsense and extends me ridiculous amounts of undeserved mercy to help me get through the day, and reminds me how priceless this season truly is.

TBT: 50 Shades of Marriage

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Now that the movie for "Fifty Shades of Grey" is all abuzz, I'm re-posting this blog for ThrowBack Thursday.  I'll admit I was rather hot-headed about the issue when I originally wrote this post about 18 months ago - but, I stand by my every word below.  I don't really care whether you read the book or see the movie - I care about your thought-life, your marriage, and your focus on what nurtures your life and your marriage.  We have far better things to focus on within our REALITY than anything fantasy could ever offer.  

Original post:

Chances are good that by now you have heard about the book "50 Shades of Grey" - either on a talk show or on Facebook or even from a friend or neighbor.  I heard about it on the Today Show, and was pretty appalled to hear that this new, sleazy series has swept the globe with such popularity.  They are calling it "mommy porn"...erotica that women evidently don't have to be ashamed to keep on their nightstand for the world to see.

Well, here at pardymama, I try to walk the line of airing my opinion whilst remaining compassionate in judgment.  I'm not here to say "don't do this or that" - I'm far from being your Holy Spirit.  But, it is my blog and frankly, I get to write what I want about whatever I want, so here we go...  Personally, I will not be reading "50 Shades of Grey".  Not only does it kinda gross me out at the thought of putting descriptive words about S&M in my head, but I have no desire to seek out sexual escape that reaches beyond my marriage.  That being said, feel free to judge me about making a judgment about something I haven't and won't take part in.  Fair enough.

So, why am I even writing this post?  

Because, I'm seeing crap about this stupid book everywhere.  And, what I find most troubling is the sense I get that so many women are desperate for an outlet beyond the boundaries of their bedroom, their marriage, and their every day life.  We're not talking about your usual mental escape either...this is not to say that every form of entertainment is worthless or without merit.  I enjoy a good story, a great movie, an uplifting read just like the rest of us.  But, certainly you can see the difference between watching Dumb and Dumber on a Saturday afternoon with your husband (albeit, no merit for the intellect) and losing yourself in some pornographic trilogy about a sadist millionaire.

This is what I'm saying:  as Christians, as wives, as flags should be popping up on our radar when so many women are seeking fantasy.  This is dangerous stuff, wildfire even.  It's not that "50 Shades of Grey" is the's what it represents.  The popularity of such material just showcases the fact that "maybe something better exists out there" - a tease at our fantasy world, an escape from our life of burp rags and dish gloves, an outlet away from our husband who forgot to pick up the gallon of milk.

Fantasy for women is very emotional, and leaves us heartsick at the notion that either we aren't good enough to be worthy of a better life, or resentful at the fact that we deserve more.

Entertaining thoughts of a better life than the one God has given us stirs in our souls a belief that is nothing more than a downright lie:  "I'm missing out".  If you don't believe me, just ask can start at Genesis 1:1 and go from there and give me a call when you get to the good part.

So, I'm here to say, guard your heart.  This isn't about sex.  This isn't about a pop-culture-phenomenon-book they are talking about on Entertainment Tonight.  This isn't about "but, Emily, you don't husband is so blah blah blah".  I understand there are hurting marriages out there, and there is actual, tangible help available for you to heal and find God's BEST for you.  But, to the majority of us - be wise and aware to the warning and quick to question whatever "fantasy" that you might partake and what it may actually be rustling up in you.

Maybe, it's not so much that you need a new partner as it is you need a new perspective.  

Remember when you first started dating your husband and you just felt like he was your entire world?  As your marriage grows and your love deepens and your kids start eating into your time together, it is amazing how roles in relationships change.  Sure, there is the mundane - the fact that my spouse is the handyman and the trash man and the tech geek and even the kitty litter changer.  But, he is so much more than that.

The next time you are tempted to wish for a new life or a different spouse, I want you to remember that God has given you a man who is a perfect fit to fulfill all the roles you need him for in your life together as a married couple.  In other words, it's what I like to call:

50 Shades of Marriage

1. Helper
2. Partner
3. Teammate
4. Lover
5. Comrade
6. Companion
7. Sweetheart
8. Co-conspirator
9. Accessory
10. Collaborator
11. Paramour
12. Flame
13. Darling
14. Dear
15. Beloved
16. Admirer
17. Treasure
18. Heartthrob
19. [the] One
20. Biggest Fan
21. Encourager
22. Defender
23. Follower
24. Champion
25. Cheerleader
26. Ally
27. Spouse
28. Compadre
29. Kin
30. Associate
31. Counselor
32. Better Half
33. Ball and/or Chain
34. Helpmate
35. Peer
36. Friend
37. Playmate
38. Bedmate
39. Sidekick
40. Accomplice
41. Complement
42. Date
43. Crony
44. Chum
45. Buddy
46. Rib
47. Steady
48. Aide
49. Supporter
50. Soulmate

What more could you possibly want?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Well, enough of you kind folks have inquired as to how my class went on last Friday, I've decided to indulge you.  ;)

As part of my grad school curriculum, I was given the opportunity to teach an undergrad Marriage & Family Therapy class for one day.  My topic was "Ethical Dilemmas" and to be honest, only a few weeks ago I probably knew as much about the topic as any of you (or possibly, much, much less).  So, I did what any good American would do, and began with googling "what is ethics" and went from there!

Certainly, I was able to read ahead in my studies (since, ironically, we have yet to cover this subject in my own grad classes - yikes!) and track down some literature that helped me learn more about the subject and led me to do what every good teacher ends up doing when preparing for a class:  scavenging YouTube clips of relevant material.

The class I taught was about 20 students, mostly upperclassman, and the majority were female.  The professor met me at the beginning of class and was incredibly encouraging as I set up my prezi ("prezi" is the new hipster method of PowerPoint as I've recently come to find out) and looked out upon my, I mean students.

I figured I probably looked a million years old to them and while I may have smiled back with a trying-to-hard-to-get-them-to-like-me smile, I knew they expected me to know what I was talking about when I opened my mouth, and that was an exhilarating and daunting feeling.  Lucky for me, I was armed with a bag of KitKats and fake-it-till-you-make-it confidence that none of them seemed the wiser to.

I introduced them to ethics, what it was, what makes up an ethical dilemma, and we began watching a variety of clips I pulled to demonstrate the breadth of how and where and why ethical dilemmas present themselves among the most mundane to the most dramatic of circumstances.  Hunger Games, Breaking Bad, Grey's Anatomy, and an old smoking ad that showed a medical doctor endorsing Camel Lights helped spur our conversation about recognizing the ethics in a variety of situations.

Finally, I showed them the "ethical dilemma of all ethical dilemmas" and played the clip of Sophie's Choice that I'm sure left them all scarred for life.  To my surprise, one student actually knew the name of the film and the cinephile in me was proud that apparently someone is still teaching these kids pop culture influences within cinematic history.

After this, I broke them into groups where they came up with their own ethical dilemmas and had to distinguish the two sides (at least) to the situation and give pros and cons (or, cons and cons) for each side.  This played out well (the KitKats didn't hurt) and they seemed genuinely engaged as they shared their dramatic scenarios which ranged from heart transplant narratives to euthanizing a family pet.

With each story, I then (here's where my extemporaneous speech background comes in handy!) "upped the ante" on the spot and made the choices even harder.  For example, one group suggested the ethical dilemma of choosing between giving a heart transplant to a mother or a doctor...and after we discussed that, I said "what if it was an elderly nobel prize winner and a twenty-year-old criminal?"  It was nice to see the wheels turning in their heads.

I wrapped up the class with some talk about the Code of Ethics that therapists abide by, what that means and how we use it and/or struggle with it.  And, I gave them the basic outlines for assessing situations within therapy that might present ethical dilemmas and how those are approached in professional practice.

Overall, it was awesome.  It was refreshing to be in front of a group of students who were respectful and engaged.  I don't think I'll be applying for any teaching positions any time soon, but I'm grateful for the experience and humbled that my colleagues entrusted me with the responsibility of it.  It also makes me really, truly grateful for my college professors (past and present) and the unseen amounts of time and energy that they surely pour into their work day in and day out.  Wow.

Professor Pardy, signing off.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today, the first flurries of winter entered our sky.  They were barely visible and didn't stick, but the bitter chill in the air was enough to convince us all that autumn is coming to a close.  While I dread the onset of gray skies and coooooold, I'm sincerely looking forward to a bit of snow (white Christmas, please!)

Nashville isn't known for it's abundance of snow, but usually there will be a day or two where the town turns wintry white and looks like a frosty wonderland.  I'm looking forward to bundling up my girls and letting them experience "real winter" for the first time in their lives.

On that note, a bit of beauty fell from the sky today, and led me to this poem by Longfellow that seemed fitting to share.

Yes, you might stick your tongue out at me for being a total word nerd, but that's okay.  Today, a little snowflake might just land on that tongue.  :)


By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Out of the bosom of the Air,
      Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
      Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
            Silent, and soft, and slow
            Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
      Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
      In the white countenance confession,
            The troubled sky reveals
            The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
      Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
      Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
            Now whispered and revealed
            To wood and field.

Thank You: A Veteran's Day Post

Monday, November 11, 2013

Today is Veteran's Day, and I just got off the phone with my dad who served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in the Army.  He helped to change the world before I was ever a twinkle in his eye, and I'm forever grateful to him for his patriotism and sacrifices he made as an American willing to do the unthinkable for the next generation.

But, my dad is only one amazing example of the selfless acts that happen every day among military families around the world, fighting for our freedom and paving the way for liberties that we take for granted on a daily basis.

Veteran's Day is our chance as "regular folk" to not just stop and recognize how blessed we are to live in a free country, but for us to stop and recognize the individuals that make that possible.  In a way, it's just as vital as the Fourth of July:  it's not only acknowledging the history of what our country's been through, but the very present of how we are affected by it.

Thank you to all service men and women past and present and future...we are indebted to you, and may God be with you.

Yesterday, I got to witness an incredible act of kindness in the most unlikely of circumstances.  I've recently taken on a seasonal position at Pottery Barn Kids at a local mall.  If you've never been to PBK, it's a jolly shop full of overpriced, exquisite children's merchandise.  It's lovely, and while it attracts the most pretentious of clientele, it makes for a spectactularly-Christmassy place to work.  Merry and bright, indeed.

I had just started my shift, when a pregnant, well-to-do woman approached me and my co-worker at the cash register.  She had been shopping for a few minutes with her young child and husband, and she had a peculiar look on her face as she walked up to us.

"Do you see that family over there?" she quietly spoke and glanced behind her as my co-worker and I leaned in to hear what she was saying.  We both nodded, curious what she was about to say.  The family she pointed to was a young family as well: a very pregnant woman, her husband, their little boy, and grandmother.

The woman turned her back to the family and continued to speak quietly.  "Well," she said, "I overheard them speaking, and they are a military family.  I have a strange request, but I'd like to do a sort of random act of kindness.  Could I buy them a gift card and have you give it to them for me?  I don't know them at all and I'd like it to be anonymous.  But, hurry if you can, because I think it might change what they decide to purchase today."

My co-worker and I were stunned. Yes, of course we were happy to help.

"Great," she smiled and got out her wallet.  "Go ahead and make the gift card for five hundred dollars."

Five hundred dollars?!?!

My co-worker and I both audibly gasped.  I told her outright how inspiring I found her act, and she kind of shrugged and smiled.  She bought the card and left immediately.

I watched as my co-worker walked it over to the family and changed the course of their day (not to mention, their nursery) in a single moment.  They were shocked.  We were all shocked.  Never before had I seen such a spontaneous act of generosity in that magnitude.  I thought about the woman who bought the gift card and thought to myself, Wow, those are the kind of people you want to be wealthy! And I was instantly convicted of my tendency to judge the rich.

Maybe we don't all have $500 to gift to a veteran today...but, chances are good that we all know someone who has sacrificed for our country, and we can take time out to thank them in our own way.  It's no coincidence that I was there to witness that yesterday.  I instantly thought I've got to blog about this! and I couldn't wait to tell you all such a wonderful story.  We can all pay it forward in some way, and not just today.  Inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places, and you never know when the opportunity might fall in your lap for you to thank a stranger.

Thank you, Veterans. Your lives are filled with random acts of kindness that inspire generations of spontaneous generosity.  I pray we can all be humbled by your courage and have a chance to pay it forward.  Happy Veteran's Day.

Smarty Pants

Friday, November 8, 2013

So, today I am stepping way out of my element.  I'm teaching an undergrad Psychology class about Ethical Dilemmas this afternoon.  Whhhaaaa?!

Yeah, I wouldn't have put this on my bucket list, but now that I'm doing it (even if it is just a one-time thing) I feel like I should place "Teach a college class" on the list just so I can cross it off!

I have never taught a class.  I think the closest I've come is helping out in a youth group or speaking to college girls as an RA (back in the day!)  But, today, I'm walking into a classroom full of students who will look at me with apathy in their eyes and think "I hope this old lady shows some YouTube clips and talks fast."

Well, hope-of-our-future, you are in luck - I will be showing many YouTube clips and I do speak rather quickly.  I'm not going to change any lives today (I mean, that's not in my powerpoint anyway) but, today's experience will change my life.

These students have no idea that this is a big moment for me, that it is adding a new feat to my resume, stepping out of my comfort zone to talk about a topic I really have barely scratched the surface on myself, and putting on my smarty pants to act like I'm the most knowledgeable person in the room.  (Ha!)

Being back in school has catapulted my desire for learning.  Turns out, I'm a major geek when it comes to topics I really enjoy learning about.  WHO KNEW!?  And, I have a new motivation for making sure I present intelligence as a foremost strength for my daughters to witness and want to imitate.

Why is it so hard for women to own their intelligence?  It can feel so daunting and uncomfortable to say things like "Mommy loves to learn! Mommy is smart!"

Like, am I setting the bar too high for them?  What if I'm really not that smart?  What if they have a hard time learning?

Worries are normal, especially when it comes to raising kids!  But, when I really start to think through those doubts, I quickly realize how insecure I can sound.  Maybe all those things have a grain of truth to them, the expectations and hopes that I have might be very ideal.  But, the alternative is not an option.

Not only do I want my girls to see me being a strong, confident, smart woman...but I want them to see that I'm challenging myself, overcoming doubts and taking risks.  I want them to see that it's a struggle, that I have worries, that I pray through so so so many of my weaknesses and therefore become stronger because of them.

Maybe this is the only class I'll ever teach.  Maybe I'll totally blow it and lecture the entire time with food in my teeth.  Maybe I'll be amazing and inspire another girl to become a therapist (hey, I can dream big!)  But, it's true what they say about the "teacher learning the most in the room"; and, today, I've learned what it means to make sure my girls know they have a smart mother.  

Smart women encourage others to be smart.  Own it!  Live it!  And, let's raise daughters who grow up to teach their daughters that learning never ends.

TBT: iParenting

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday, a post from Fall, 2012...

I am mighty proud to have my Pardy Man guest blog this week!  Josh Pardy is more than just a handsome hubby and devoted daddy...he's also a pretty kick-butt writer.  Check out his last guest-blog here, and enjoy this week's latest lesson in his life...

Sometimes a guy just needs a reminder. And though it may sound and look trite, I can’t tell you how many times that simple alert has saved me…and more importantly, my wife and kids.  Owning a GPS-ed, WiFi-ed, podcasting, text-receiving smart phone is just the best thing ever.  Sure I had to learn to limit myself when I discovered the likes of Angry Birds and Grantland, but the technology that is forevermore in my pocket functions as not just a great time-waster (though it certainly is that), but a powerful tool to help remind me of what’s truly important.

 It all started when I upgraded my phone and discovered a little thing called “proximity reminders”.  It’s actually pretty simple, you add a reminder to your phone, and rather than have it alert you at a certain time, you set the alert for when you get close to a pre-determined place.  As long as you don’t ever check the box next to the reminder, it will alert you (ad infinitum) as you approach your destination, day in, day out.  Ok, so maybe not so simple. 

In my case, I have the reminder “Be A Good Dad/Husband” set to alert me when I arrive at destination: Home.  Unless my phone is dead, it literally never fails.  As I come driving up to our apartment, the GPS senses that I am close to “Home,” and sends me a quick little ping: “Be A Good Dad/Husband.” 
“Be A Good Dad/Husband.”  Gee, certainly easier iReminded than done.  As a man, I take the responsibility of providing for my family very seriously.  I work hard, I get exhausted and elated, I can feel frustrated and sometimes just straight down-in-the-dumps.  And though I would love to say that simply seeing my girls causes all of that tension to just melt away, the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t.  

waiting for daddy
This Dad/Husband needs himself a reminder because he can carry around all of those raw emotions and totally miss the sweet simple joy that seeing his family can bring him after a long day at the office.   
And let me tell you, if I am willing to pay attention to it, this little reminder works!  Even after my most intense or draining days, somehow (God’s grace, most likely) seeing that little ping helps me reframe my mind, marshals energy from an unknown source, and readies me for whatever I may find when I open that door to the house.  

Probably the best part about it is, I set the reminder because I know it’s important.  Therefore, I am communicating my own desires to my own self in a way that won’t drive myself totally crazy.  I have only myself and my silly iPhone 4 to blame if I begin to feel nagged.

In the beginning, it was actually sort of embarrassing.  What kind of freako needs a proximity-based reminder to alert him of the fact that his kids need a hug, his wife needs a kiss, and everyone will need a healthy amount of attention before the night is over?  Well, truly, this freako needs it!  So I would make sure to dismiss the alert from my phones notification screen prior to walking in the door.  The alert would serve its purpose, and I would walk in ready to be the best Dad/Husband ever and no one would be the wiser to my little iParenting life-hack.  

But, one day I forgot to clear the screen.  I came in, threw my iPhone on the coffee table, plopped down and began to hear about my girls’ respective days when wouldn’t you know it, Emily went to hand me my phone and discovered the secret of my success. “Be A Good Dad/Husband” right there on the screen.  I mean really, how do you explain that?

“What’s this?” She asked.  “Oh, uh.  It’s just, like… a little something that I do…”  I stammered back. Then I copped to it and told the whole story.

Thankfully Emily thought it was sweet and not at all freakish.  But, I won’t lie, it was embarrassing! It was then that she affirmed to me that with or without the alert, I was doing a great job as a Dad and Husband.  We had a good laugh about it, but even still, most days I still need that reminder.    

Now I consider my proximity alert something of a merit badge that I will forevermore be pursuing.  It pings, I unashamedly take in its simple, yet profound message, I walk in the door and try to be a good a Dad/Husband.  That is one reminder box that I have never checked, and never will, because the work of a good Dad/Husband is never done. 
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