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
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