The Mom Conundrum

It is one of the great mysteries of motherhood: How can we LOVE being with our children and LOVE being away from them?? I absolutely adore spending time with my kids! For crying out loud, I even homeschool! There are weeks that I am literally with them 24/7…most weeks. I LOVE teaching them! I LOVE taking them to the park! I LOVE doing family activities!! I really LOVE family togetherness!! However, the other day when we left to pick up our new van…I was giddy! I was excited to get the van, of course, but I was giddy to be alone with my husband!!

We drove 2 hours by ourselves. I read my husband a hilarious article on Facebook and we both laughed. We listened to the music we wanted to, we stopped and looked at campers that we have no intention of buying, we ate lunch together, and we talked about dreams we have for the future. It was wonderful!!!

A few years ago, we went on a weekend away. I think it may be the only weekend away since kids, now that I think about it. I was so excited! We had a great time!! Dinner on our own! Going places that kids can’t go! Staying in a hotel without having to put kids in bed. It was WONDERFUL!!! Yet when it was time to go home, I was pretty sure that I could run faster than my husband could drive! I was ready to be home and I missed my kids so much!!!

Why is this? How can we love being with them and love being away from them at the same time?!?! I honestly think the answer is, as mothers, we have two halves: motherhood and the woman we were before motherhood. The person we were before kids, enjoys revisiting those care free days where the only concern we had was our own wants and plans. The person we are after kids lives for their needs and they become the center of our world…our heart walking on the outside of our bodies. Sometimes I think I lose that girl, the one I was before kids. But when I have time away from them, I find I don’t want to stay there for long, because I miss them too much.

It is strange how two seemingly contradictory feelings can live in one person. And yet, they do! Talk to any mom. Most of us feel this way!

It is a grand thing to be a mom!

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.

-Jessica Lange

My Dream Car

For the past several years I have been researching cars that hold more than 7 people. Some women dream of BMWs, convertibles, and Jettas. I dream of shuttle buses! I can remember the moment that I saw my dream car; we were at a gas station in town and this large vehicle drives up.

All I could think was, “I could put 9 car seats in that car!”…..I was IN LOVE!!!

They opened the large, sliding side door and revealed several rows of 3 captains chairs. Curiosity got the best of me and I approached the owner to find out about this dream on wheels. The man said that it was a Mercedes Sprinter 3500. It carried 15, all of the seats had headrests, and it was 6 feet across….I was IN LOVE!!! At the time, all of our kids were in car seats and all I could think was, “I could put 9 car seats in that car!!” I began researching as soon as I got home. They don’t make the sprinter anymore, but I found the Ford Transit. I knew that someday I would own one!!

We have 5 boys. My three oldest boys are all very tall for their age and they will only get taller. My two five year olds are in 5 point harnesses still. Our minivan is TIGHT! There is NO wiggle room! The three oldest are on top of each other in the back and the two littles are both strapped into the captains chairs. Needless to say the fighting, whining, and complaining is horrible. They’ve done ok with the arrangement, but we knew that we were going to have to upgrade. After January, I started contacting dealers to have them look for a Ford Transit in our price range. There weren’t too many that seemed to try, so we took the search to the internet. We finally found a Ford Transit that we can afford and that had everything that we want. We will have to drive to Tennessee to get it, but we found it!!

Two weeks ago, we placed our 2008 Grand Caravan with 220,000 miles on it for sale. It sold Tuesday! We are headed to get our (read MY) 2016 Ford Transit on Saturday! I cannot tell you how excited I am!!! We will finally be able to take the kids’ friends with us to do activities! There will be be 5 extra seats!!! I am so excited!!! I know many people think that we are crazy! Of course, they thought we were crazy when we had four boys, AND when we took in another 5 year old, AND when we want to drive a bus…..maybe we are crazy!!! It’s a crazy that God’s called us to and He has provided the means to get my dream car! I never thought that I would see the day that we would actually buy it, but it is just days away!!

Picture of the car we are picking up on Saturday.

Now, not only will we have plenty of room for our kids, but we now have the car space just in case God wants to expand our family again. I know….we’re CRAZY!!

Sensational Sunday –esalon hair color

Most women eventually get to the point where they start to color their hair unless they want to have the natural grey look. I have been coloring my hair for several years. It is such a costly habit!!! Usually anywhere from $80 to $130 for me. Being a family of 7 on one income, in kills me to spend that much on my hair! I also don’t feel like I can do it as often as needed because it costs so much. About a year ago, I saw an advertisement for esalon, but hadn’t actually tried it. Last week, I finally did and I am thrilled with the results!!!

Esalon has an easy survey that you answer and then it shows you the colors that are best for you. You can even include notes and a picture for your stylists. When you receive the color it has color and developer for your roots and color and developer for your length. It also comes with gloves, a brush, shampoo, conditioner, and two bottles. All of this for $20 ($10 your first time). I also bought clips, a bowl, a timer, and a cape. My total was a little under $30. The second and third shipments will just be for your roots, then the fourth will be roots and length again. They automatically send out your color to you as often as you request.

This is my before shot. As you can see I have dark brown hair. I have quite a bit of grey at the top and in the part which has also been difficult to color at the salon. My hair is naturally darker than this, but I had blond/caramel highlights. The color I ordered did not include highlights. They offer them and I may get them for summer, but I wanted to go back to one color.

I have to admit that I have an amazing husband who strives to bend over backward to make me happy! He offered to help me color my hair. (He basically did it for me.) For my roots we used the bottle and brush method. The color went on great and didn’t have a strong odor. For the length we did the bowl and brush method to paint the color on. The odor was a little stronger. The color was easy to do. The instructions that they sent were simple to understand and even came with a sticker to stick them to your mirror for easy access.

As you can see, we were a little messy and got it on my face and neck. I was a little concerned, but it all washed off in the shower and with the removal wipe they sent. My grey was covered even the difficult spot that stylists struggle with. I am VERY happy with the product.

Right after I washed and dried it the same day.

My hair was soft and smelled great!! I have naturally curly hair, but I dried it straight so we could see the color coverage.

The next day when ready to go to church.
One week later with my hair straightened.
Picture on the left one week after and picture on the right the day that I dyed it.

My experience with this product has been so positive!! I imagine I will continue to use it for a long time. You can go to the below link and get your first order at a 50% discount for only $10!!

https://www.esalon.com/

Or if you would like to let them know that I referred you, you can click on my personal referral link. Either way I hope that you visit them and find a less expensive way to beautifully color your hair!!!

https://www.esalon.com/invite/lcochran12

Living with a Child Like Q

My third son, let’s call him Q, is a different kind of child. We have known this since he was very young. He is super creative, he is always making up elaborate stories (sometimes called lies). He is extremely artistic and showed lots of talent at a very young age. He is hilarious and generally lives in his own world. Much of the time he plays on his own creating elaborate worlds with legos or art. He sounds like a great kid, right? And he is!! But with all that super creativity comes a slight downside: he isn’t always super present in the NOW. He also has a SLIGHT (think GREAT) tendency to get easily distracted. Now I LOVE Q with all my heart and enjoy him immensely, but he can frustrate the devil right out of me! Like make me want to lose my mind, have a high speed come apart, completely lose my sh….stuff.

This past Sunday is one particular example. We were all getting ready to leave for church. The kids are dressed. I am dressed. All I have to do is dry my hair. I pull out my hairdryer and see that my diffuser is missing. I have curly hair. I CANNOT dry it without my diffuser!! I look for it. My husband looks for it. I am now yelling at my kids trying to figure out who knows where it is. I KNOW that chances are GREAT that Q has taken it. I mean, it looks cool. It has little spikes on it and will roll….who knows what it could be in the world he lives in. Everyone is running around looking for it. Q says that he remembers seeing it….BUT….he can’t remember where…. I have now given up on going to church. I will just stay home because we are going to be super late at this point and I still have to find my diffuser and dry my hair. Frustrated beyond belief and a little hacked off, I go to take off my shoes and place them under my bed, when WHAT DO I FIND????? My diffuser! “Oh yeah…..I tossed it in your room when I was done playing with it. It’s really neat!!” Oh, Q, I am so glad that I love you! (We did make church even though we were very late.)

I do love him, but Q’s unique abilities and the way he looks at life, much of the time frustrate the rest of us “normal” people. I will never forget when Q was five and we were leaving on vacation. My husband and I had packed the car. I had given the four boys the final, “everyone use the potty and get your shoes on and get in the car instructions.” Not sure if you’ve traveled with kids, but we NEVER leave on time!! We all load in the car and start our journey!! Finally!! About a mile down the road, I turn around and notice that Q has no shoes on. “Q, where are your shoes?” “I don’t have any.” ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?! Me, trying not to flip my lid, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE ANY?” Q: “Well, I couldn’t find them and you said to get in the car.” Me: “Don’t you THINK you will NEED them in GEORGIA?!?!?!?!” No. He didn’t. He didn’t see anything wrong with heading off on a vacation 7 hours from our home with no shoes! Needless to say, we turned around, headed back to the house, and found his shoes which were no where near where they were supposed to be. Life is NEVER boring with Q!!

I am not sure anything hurts quite as much as someone not wanting to be around your kid and not appreciating their uniqueness.

We LOVE Q and we have adjusted our expectations to know that he is sometimes going to be in left field. It is the artist in him. The wonderfully, talented, creative artist soul in him. However, some people do NOT appreciate this about him. I have found that with Q you either adore him or you don’t want to be around him. I am not sure anything hurts quite as much as someone not wanting to be around your kid and not appreciating their uniqueness. But it happens! And it hurts! We know that God has created Q the way he is. God doesn’t make mistakes! He, in His ultimate wisdom has created Q for a special purpose.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

I just have to remind myself that those who can’t see this are really missing out because his amazing qualities FAR outweigh his frustrating qualities.

Someday, I may write a book of all the funny things that have happened with Q. Lord knows that I have enough for more than one volume!! I am grateful that God gave Q to us!! He helps to increase my patience and makes life truly interesting!!

We are all, each and every one, unique in the Universe. And that uniqueness is what makes us valuable.

–James A. Owen

Sensational Sunday -Power Cooker

Several years ago, my mother in law bought me a Christmas gift that changed my life! She bought me the Power Cooker XL.

This is an electric pressure cooker, but it is not an Instant Pot. I have a friend who had another brand and she couldn’t put frozen food in it, which completely defeats the purpose of having one!

The particular appliance never leaves my counter top! I use it at least 4 times a week. I LOVE that I can put frozen chicken breasts in it and 25 minutes later they are completely cooked! When I make chili, I cook the frozen, ground venison, chop it up, then add the beans and tomato sauce. I have chili that tastes like it has been cooked all day in 45 minutes. Many recipes can be prepared in one pot.

As a homeschooling mom and a working mom about 9 years ago, I have always had trouble remembering to lay out frozen meat to put in the slow cooker or I would think of a slow cooker recipe at 4:00pm. Most slow cooker recipes can be easily converted to pressure cooker recipes. This has added an ease to my life that I cannot explain. This is by far my very favorite cooking appliance. It even outranks my kitchen aid mixer! If you have never used one, I highly recommend a pressure cooker!

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you love or hate. Some people think it is a giant money maker for Hallmark and florists, some LOVE everything about it, and some hate and despise it. Personally, I really like Valentine’s Day. I think much of how you feel about the big love day has to do with your expectations or the expectations that you feel are placed on you.

Today is the 20th anniversary of our second Valentine’s Day when we were dating. We hadn’t been dating very long for the first, so it was pretty low

….never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see a two drawer filing cabinet with a big, red bow on it.

key. On the second, however, we had been dating well over a year and I had high hopes. We already knew that we were going to get married, but I knew I wasn’t getting a ring yet. I can remember him pulling in to pick me up for our date! I was so excited! He said that I had to come to the car for my gift. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but I can tell you that never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see a two drawer filing cabinet with a big, red bow on it. I was stunned! And not real sure how to react….I mean, who gives office furniture for Valentine’s Day? I was polite, but he could tell I was really confused. I mean, it was a FILING CABINET!!! He began to explain that he knew that I had trouble keeping all of my college papers together and organized for my portfolio, so he thought this would help. It was actually a super thoughtful gift. A whole lot more thought went into my filing cabinet than flowers or jewelry. Not that we haven’t laughed about it for years! But if Valentine’s Day is truly for showing someone how much you think of them, my husband (then boyfriend) hit it out of the park! It was just not what I was expecting or what we are taught to expect, so I was disappointed.

I have had Valentine’s Days where I got jewelry and flowers and chocolates. That being said, my husband and I have had years where we watched a movie at home and ate pizza and showed each other the card we WOULD have bought each other, but didn’t. Many years ago, I told my husband that I didn’t want him buying me flowers for V Day. They jack the prices and the flowers die quickly. I told him to buy me flowers a day or two later when they clearance them! Plus, I prefer daisies or carnations to roses. I also told him not to get me any expensive jewelry because I don’t wear it. If I ever see something that I really want, I let him know. We also take turns planning the day. I mean, he’s my valentine too….it shouldn’t all fall to him! My point is that we laid out our expectations. Now there is no disappointment and my husband enjoys the day better because he doesn’t feel such pressure to do everything he is “supposed to”.

Truth be known, if we handled most things in our marriages, relationships, friendships that way we would be happier. It is difficult to meet expectations that we don’t know we are being held to. For example, my husband is great at washing and drying the clothes! He will diligently start a load, dry a load, and put it in a basket. I LOVE the help, but when I go downstairs there are 20 gazillion baskets to fold! I felt like I was drowning! I would get so mad! I was mad at my husband for WASHING. THE. LAUNDRY. Which makes me sound like an idiot! Finally, I just told him that I got super overwhelmed and if he was going to do it, I needed him to slow down and let me know that there were baskets to fold BEFORE he filled the basement. Problem solved. I let him know my expectation and he met it. He thought all along that he was meeting (or exceeding) my expectations by washing as much as he could.

It is difficult to meet expectations that we don’t know we are being held to.

If today you find yourself disappointed or maybe even irritated with how Valentine’s Day is going, ask yourself if your person knows what you are

expecting? Are you expecting flowers sent to your work? A fancy gift? A night out? Something very heartfelt (like a filing cabinet)? Let your person know!! They love you! They want to make you happy! Just give them direction. It doesn’t make it any less romantic, I promise!!

Love isn’t about finding a perfect person. It’s seeing an imperfect person perfectly. –Sam Keen

Sensational Sunday –Lip Tint

Remember that I am a self-proclaimed make-up reject. So when Amazon posted an article about ten make-up items that you might love on Amazon, I read it. And when it mentioned the lip tint Ink Velvet by Peripera, I thought, “Why not?” The article said that this particular lip tint didn’t dry your lips out and was very affordable. I ordered two: Wow Pink and Hip Beige Pink.

I have found that the best way to apply it, is to put it on with the wand and let it sit for about 1/2 an hour. Then I blot it and wear. It took a little bit of trial and error since the instructions are all in Korean. I have found that I only have to use lip balm about twice a day with this product. It has also amazed me how it lasts ALL day! I documented wearing it all day.

When I first applied the Wow Pink.

After breakfast and lunch and two glasses of water.

5:00 after a snack and two more glasses of water. My face is showing absolute irritation with my kids. Hahaha! Life!

After dinner, drinking from a straw, and using a napkin. I did not reapply this product.

In the morning close up. At night close up.

As you can see, the product has lasting power. It truly does not dry out your lips. I have really enjoyed it. The Hip Beige Rose is a more natural lip tint and I use it on days that I want a more natural look. I LOVE this product. I paid $8 for one and $10 for the other. You can purchase the product at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=peripera+ink+velvet&crid=23HYUKOKDALB0&sprefix=peripera%2Caps%2C179&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_5_8

This is a Vlogger Video that I watched before purchasing:

If I walk outside without lipstick, I feel naked. — Sofia Vergara

The Deconstruction of Ten Minutes

The dirty truth is that you can prepare as much as you want. You can make sure that everyone has what they need. You can make sure that everyone has something to do. You can make sure that everyone is peaceable….but the minute you step into the shower, EVERYONE will need you!!! I do not understand this phenomenon!!! I JUST DON’T!! Truly, I am only in the shower for a max of 10 minutes. HOW can the world completely implode in TEN minutes?!?!

Today, I hadn’t even stepped into the shower when there was pounding on the door. Of course, if you have ever had to decipher the screams from a child while the shower is running, you know that it is IMPOSSIBLE!! Finally, I understood that the two littles wanted to put up a tent in the family room….a TENT. I hadn’t been out of the room for two minutes!!!! They were playing nicely with the magnet tiles and now, suddenly they want to camp with a TENT in the family room. You probably don’t even have to guess that the answer was no!

Before getting in the shower, I had given both big boys their lessons and gone over the instructions. I have told them numerous (think thousands) of times that if they need help and I am unavailable they need to go on to the next problem or subject. During the first half of my shower BOTH of them knocked on the door to ask for help. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

HOW can the world completely implode in TEN minutes?!?!

How exactly can I help you with your math when I can’t see the problem, not because there is shampoo in my eyes, mind you, but because there is a DOOR between us!!! Finally, I can see the light at the end of the shower tunnel and I am rinsing off, when my middle child (God love him!) comes to knock on the door to tell me that one of the littles called him a butt head and that the dog wants in the bathroom with me. Seriously, all FIVE kids and the DOG interrupted my 10 minute shower!

This same phenomenon occurs when I try to go to the bathroom and when I have to go to the laundry room in the basement. Everyone can be completely calm, but the minute I get downstairs, it sounds like we have been invaded by a storming army. Why is this?? Why can children not give us just a few minutes to ourselves? I don’t have the answers, but I know that moms across the land struggle with the same issue.

Kids are needy and they seem to really like us. I guess that’s why they want to share all of our time! I suppose when they are teenagers they won’t do this anymore and then we will miss it….or so I am told. For now, I am going to continue to deal with interruptions and dream of a long, relaxing shower where no one bothers me!

The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable. –Lane Olinghouse

(or get in the shower!)

Sensational Sunday–My Favorite Kid Apps

I have several different ages of children. For this post, I am just going to talk about a few of my favorite apps for my littles. These are apps that are great for the 3-6 year old range.

Learning apps: One of the newest apps that I found recently is Khan Kids. It is made by the creators of Khan Academy and is gear towards kids 2-5. I love this app. It is great for my kindergartners and it is a free app! Here is a video:

I also love the app Kiddopia. My kids really enjoy this app. It incorporates learning with very fun activities and super cool graphics. You can download a free version that has some activities. You can get the whole app for $60 a year. It really is a great app and has activities for ages 2-7 or 8.

The final app that I am going to recommend in this post is Hoopa City. It is in the Dr. Panda series of apps. It is a very fun app geared towards children 4-7, but my older kids like it too and will play when no one is watching! This app is similar to sim city for youngsters. You get to build your own city. By combining more than one of various items and you get new and bigger items. For example, if you combine 4 windmills, you get a power plant; 4 power plants and you get a nuclear power plant. We got this app for free through Amazon, but it is now $3.99 and worth every penny!!

These are three apps that my younger kids love! I hope that you enjoy them. I love that they make learning fun and that I can give my kids some screen time without the guilt.

I LOVE watching you play!!

Recently, our two oldest boys started a bowling league. Of the two, one of them is incredibly athletic. He can do almost any sport and it comes naturally to him. The other isn’t very athletic, but he loves to play. They’ve played soccer, done running, and now they are trying bowling.

Back when we signed the boys up to play soccer, I was amazed to find that parents were incredibly invested in their kid’s performance. Some of them were even talking about scholarships. These kids are in the SECOND GRADE!!! They should be learning fundamentals and having fun!! I know that winning is fun, but it isn’t the most important aspect of sports. I have seen parents scream and berate their kid for missing a goal, not being aggressive enough, and not blocking a shot. I have seen the joy and fun leave a kid as fast as his or her shoulders can sag.

As I sat in the bowling alley, I listened to the parents sitting next to me “instruct” their daughter on how to bowl better after each frame. They told her over and over to get her head in the game. I could tell she was frustrated. I wanted to pull her aside and just say, “Hey, just have fun! No worries!” But that’s hard to say when the parents are obviously NOT concerned with fun. Some of the kids in the league have been bowling competitively for years. My kids have bowled like five times. Of course, they threw some gutter balls and they didn’t break 100. The first thing I said to them when they were finished was, “Did you have fun?” Not what was your score, how did you do, or what could you improve on. The next thing I said was: “I really enjoyed watching you bowl!”

A few years ago, I read an article written by a coach. I don’t remember the article or the author, but I do remember what struck me as so important. The author said that the first words you should say to your child when they walk off from the field, court, or lane is: I LOVE to watch you play! Those words have nothing to do with a kids performance. They could have the best or worst game, those words don’t indicate that. That phrase expresses the joy that your child brings to you by doing something that they enjoy. Time for correction, tips, and teaching can come later. These words put no additional pressure on a kid to succeed.

The world is a hard enough place and kids will be there on their own all too soon! Right now, they should be doing activities for the joy it brings. They are learning valuable lessons while having fun: cooperation, teamwork, encouragement, winning with grace, losing with grace, practice, endurance, perseverance, and many others. If activities become miserable and high pressure for kids, they won’t learn these lessons.

Let’s start a revolution! When your kids finish their activity, commit to saying, “I LOVE watching you _____________!” being the first phrase that you say to them!!

I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I LOVE to play.” –Boris Becker