Friday, July 18, 2014

MayMay's Mantra


I need to have this verse copied onto a plaque (with a few relevant changes such as:

MayMays know what life is about...
No one leaves this house with an
empty belly,
without getting a hug,
and without hearing her say
I love you.
* * * * *
I don't have high expectations of myself as a MayMay.

I'm really not all that fun.

But I do pray my little boys will at least remember a hug and a kiss and all kinds of good food at MayMay's house.

It helps to remind myself that I am the MayMay now. I'm the storybook teller. The movie-time watcher. The stroll around the park pusher. The prayer warrior. The gingerbread maker. The guardian of their soul.

I've done all the hard work. I've taught a small squad how to tie their shoes and brush their teeth. I've taught mine how  to dot their "i's" and wipe their behinds. I've filled countless sippy cups (and still do) and I find myself replenishing shelves with playdoh and bubbles once again.

And, really, that's my job. Mostly about making memories with them and insuring that they have safe childhood memories that will get them through tough-tangled, stressful days of adulthood.

MayMay and PawPaw's house should be the port in the storm. Right?

It helps keep my expectations of myself (which can prove disappointing and debilitating) realistic and in check. ;-)

I don't have to do the hard stuff anymore....God willing...even though sometimes it remains hard. (ex: late night text messages concerning pitch-high fevers and mysterious rashes) I've done that. God has blessed those boys with Mommies who do the hard-stuff now.

God-willing, they will always realize the sacred trust they've been granted with those little souls.

I'm now, while still raising a couple of my own, on another peg of the totem pole. The huge task of main-decision-maker has been removed from my shoulders.

Only parents know the HUGE task this is.

I remember when crocodile hunter Steve Irwin passed away, they were interviewing his wife and she said that when she got the phone call she remembers looking out in the backyard where the children were playing and wondering, "How am I ever going to raise them alone?"

She questioned the years of decision making ahead of her and the anxiety of being the only parent to make those life-altering decision without the support system that comes in a two-parent household.

But I'm not involved in those ultimate decisions with the grandbabies. Not that the parents don't respectfully ask me but the ultimate decision is not up to me. In truth, it's easier to make the call because the decision and its consequences aren't up to me.

And...quite honestly...I'm relieved. Someone else gets to draw the lottery ticket and, because I've never been a controlling person, I'm fine with that. I realize my ultimate role now is to support the totem pole.

Not build it. Not design it. Not cling to it. Not decide where it needs to go.

Oh, I can do a couple of touch ups here and there. I can caress it. I can suggest ideas.

But my main task now is to support it.

Sometimes that simply means being there. To answer worried text message. To have supper cooked. To listen. To sympathize. To radiate joy in the moment.

When one of my daughter-in-laws went back to work, I knew that my main task was not to control her decision or to enforce my own ideals. My main task was to support her. The weekend she works, I try my best to open that weekend in order to watch the baby and devote myself completely to a weekend of memory-making. To know that between work and baby, she has little or no time to herself. So being available if they want to sneak away for a date night is important.

When one daughter-in-law decided to stay home, I knew my main task was to support the time-consuming role of stay-at-home mom and make myself available (as much as I am able) for when she needs a day off or when she needs to run a quick errand. Like the other daughter-in-law, she has little time for herself. Their lives are both different yet both require sacrifices.

If I don't do enough it's because I'm only human and have no clue I'm not doing enough. It might also be because it isn't my job to do it all.

I am lucky they don't demand much especially as I'm still parenting my own preteen and teen...which every parent knows can be one of the most grueling time of a parent's career. But it helps the family, as a whole, to have those two extra aunties to help wrestle babysitting and those two extra daughters to help with endless carpool. Sometimes wonder if the older girls, in fact, help me more often than not in getting the older aunties to all their extracurricular agendas.

It takes a family to grow children. I hope all my children pick-up that message more than any other. It takes all of us. Not one of us.

As someone who does not care to be in control or dominate a situation, I find myself falling into the role of MayMay quite easily. I'm enjoying the division line. I'm exploring new avenues for myself. I'm freeing myself to be a good MayMay but to remember who God made me to be first. I've found it easy to let go of my clutch on my own babies and focus more on the new babies. Never to assume. Never to expect beyond expecting. Always to pray.

Knowing I have two daughter-in-loves I communicate well with helps in many, many ways. If they don't like what I say or do, at least they are very respectful and courteous in the way they dismiss the crazy lady who raised five kids of her own. And they never throw in my face the faults of the two that they freely chose. ;-)

Respect and courtesy go a long way.

Perhaps I learned this best a long time ago from a mother-in-law who, even when I criticized her, she never criticized me. She simply kept showing up and giving and doing and telling the children what a good Mommy I was.

I weep now at the mere thought. I wasn't that good of a good Mommy. I wasn't that good of a daughter-in-love.

She is the one who overlooked my flaws and kept doing what grandmothers do best. Opening the door. Giving hugs. Cooking and feeding.

She offered advice (sometimes annoyingly so) but I learned a lot on how to be the MayMay I am striving to be simply from the quiet presence between her chair and the stove. Surprisingly all my children (except for the youngest who was too young to remember) have said that her death was one of the most life-altering events of their young lives. It rocked their very soul.

I don't want my death to affect my grandchildren to that degree, but I do want to be remembered the way they remember her. Fondly. Lovingly. Always there. A hug. A kiss. And all those dishes she fixed for them that used to drive me slap nuts that she was defiantly spoiling them despite all my protests.

Like me...she wasn't all that much fun. But, gosh, they loved her for who she was anyway.

I doubt I'll ever rock their world. PawPaw does that best.

I'm not the best MayMay in the world. I'm not the best mother-in-law. I know my weaknesses and my faults. It's in knowing them that I'm able to forgive myself and pray that others will forgive me (and accept me) when I don't meet their expectations.

But, while I may not rock my grandchildren's world, I pray I rock their soul. Afterall, their soul is the most precious part of their being. And that is what MayMay's are the guardians of.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Knew This Day Would Come

Even on days when six other people walking around the house, I knew this would happen one day.

My first hint was the pet morkie poo walking swiftly between rooms holding a bag of graham cracker crumbs in her mouth.

{reorganizing MayMay's bookshelves}
I had been telling myself I needed to childproof the walk-in pantry. I knew this.

But when is an 18 month seldom out of one's sight? Right?
How does a toddler escape one's vision?

Especially when there are SIX other humans walking around in the house with good to middling eyesight. Right?

When I was raising my babies and they were in secret corners pulling their shenanigans, we didn't have Instagram or Facebook. No social media, for that matter. No blogs either.

Today there are all of these...and more.

And I have grandsons...going on #3.
They aren't bad. At all. One's not even here. Yet.
They're just little, which means they're very young. And very free-spirited. And very curious.

And have I mentioned they're all boys?

So that's my excuse for picture sharing instead of sitting in said-pantry simply crying and pulling my hair I might have done in my past life.

I'm a much different person than I was 27 years ago.

I'm a MayMay now. ;-)

The only thing I dread these days are my sons looking down at me and saying:
"Mother, did we not teach you anything? Anything at all?"

* * * * *
 Have I mentioned lately how nice and peaceful the view from my patio is???? ;-)










Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Calm Your Nerves"

This is a favorite saying of my soon-to-be daughter-in-law when the baby is fussy or fretting. I found it humorous at first, then I quickly began using it with my younger girls, a teen and preteen who can easily become fussy over a variety of things.

"Calm Your Nerves."

Surprisingly, and I'm sure it's the humor projected from saying it, I find that it helps calm my nerves. In reality, the mother must calm her own nerves before we can expect to calm the child's nerves. Often we're tense over bills to be paid, supper to be cooked, errands to run, deadlines to meet, expectations to follow. Those darn expectations! Our children sense the twinge of our nerves and hear the echo in the tone of our voice.

It doesn't do the children any good if I am wound-up tight alongside of them. Taunt wires become frayed and pop. I remember those times. Though inevitable in every household, I don't want them in mine. It helps to be reminded to loosen those wires. Masterly inactivity always serves our children well. It allows them an "easy, happy relationship" with their parent.

That's an important commodity.

It helped me today to get reacquainted with an old mentor of mine through this article.

"Like it or not, we inspire our children. The question is, what do we inspire in them? If we are harried and hurried, we are certainly not at our best. Our attitudes are contagious. When we argue, complain, or speak bitter words, our children learn from that:
“A nervous, anxious, worried mother can’t have an easy, happy relationship with her child. She might be the best mother in the world in all other respects, but all her children will pick up from her when she’s like that is a touch of her nerves, which is the most contagious of bad habits. She’ll perceive her children as grouchy, rebellious, and unmanageable, but she won’t realize that it’s her own fault–not the fault of her actions, but the fault of her mood.”  ~ Charlotte Mason
Read more here: Masterly Inactivity by Jamie

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Never Trust an Alligator's Smile ...

Or an author peddling a new book... ;-)

I want to acquaint you all with my publisher while patiently waiting for my new children's book to come out.

You can read all about the beginning and growth of Pelican Publishing here:

Pelican's History

Pelican Publishing Company enjoys national recognition as a rapidly growing medium-sized company with a backlist of over 2,500 titles and 50-60 new titles produced yearly. As a general trade publisher, Pelican produces travel guides, art and architecture books, Christmas books, local and international cookbooks, motivational and inspirational works, and children’s books, as well as a growing number of social commentary, history, and fiction titles. --- cont.
* * * * *
Every generation in Louisiana knows of the cultural famous The Cajun Night Before Christmas published by Pelican in 1974. I'm pretty sure that most homes in Louisiana have had this book on their home shelves at some point and many grandparents read it to small children on cozy December nights.

To hear the story you can click here: A Cajun Night Before Christmas recording. You'll need the book to complete the Cajun experience. :-)

And then there are all the Clovis Crawfish books by Mary Alice Fontenot that I grew up with. You can't grow up Cajun without listening to at least one...or two...or three of these books.
* * * * *
And on September 30, 2014, my Cajun trickster tale Cajun 'Ti Beau and the Cocodries will debut on bookstore and library and school shelves across Louisiana right next to these regionally famous books. As we await our third grandson, I am especially eager to collect some dear little boys on my lap with these books and read the night away.
I've got some exciting ideas under my chapeau so stay close to your crawdad hole so as not to miss any future announcements regarding this little Cajun boy.
And if your school or library would like me to come and visit and dish out some excellent sauce piquante, let me know. I'll see if I can get some of the local "handsomest, grandest, swimmiest, fanciest, and spiffiest" cocodries to come with me. ;-)
But remember...never trust an alligator with a smile.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Living Shotgun-Style

My journals have always stopped dead-ended, unfinished, miserably vacant. In desperation, I've become a bit obsessed with a new way to journal. It only took one mention and one click over to that website to inspire me to gain control of planning my day and journaling about it without concern for tidiness, neatness, screwing up, starting over, eliminating, or discouragement.

It sounds like an all-forgiving way to plan and live.

Katherine mentioned Bullet Journaling and I decided...but! of course. My life has gotten so busy that I live in bullet points. Maybe it's not a good way to live...shotgun-style...but for now it's a sanity issue.

I'm living in the mist of a large extended family. All my kids live nearby. The grandkids have started to arrive---large family-style. I'm always in shotgun mode, whether I want to be or not.

We came home from Florida last night and the house was clean and clutter free and I was ready to sink back into family living.

This morning the demands started singing again and by afternoon, I'm feeling flustered again.

Most of the times I embrace it. I love large families and the lifestyle that comes with it.
Sometimes I run for the hills...or at least my office. ;-)

And so...I'm taking words and consideration from a wiser friend (this one) and (rather than stress and run for the hills) I'm doing a lot of intentional thinking about what is healing, rewarding, and sanity-securing for me in the mist of this crazy new life of mine.

I will not attempt to explain it but Bullet Journaling is what I plan to use the remainder of 2014 and see how it goes and where it leads me. I need to visually see my progress towards projects I have sitting on my shelves.

All my journaling projects tend to become written essays because I write in completion fashion. I edit as I write and I can never rewrite what gets lost. I've tried. I'm old enough to know that once something is written it is the finale' for me. Good or bad, I must move on. I cannot stay put. I never imagined that I was a bit ADD. In the second half of my life, I'm beginning to wonder.

Is it possible for a body to be lazy while the brain is forever cutting flips?

This looks and sounds promising. If I can find the perfect journal for it, I'll be good to go. That's my biggest hurdle is finding a binder/journal I love and that loves me in return. I have til December to be sure I find the perfect paper partner.

In the meantime, to start the new school year, I ordered this planner. Since I have to have a calendar at my finger tips in clear writing (smart phone calendars are too small for my big plans, ideas, and schedule), I'm very happy with it.

I also ordered the Well Planned Blog Planner which I love. I've mentioned it before. It's more of a writing plan than a blogging plan because I am an inconsistent blogger. I love the articles, the lists, the layout, and the potential found in this blog planner.

Hedua offers bundles that are valuable blessing to the homeschooling parent and student. What I like the most about their planners are (why, yes, I made a bullet list, I did) :
  • articles
  • quotes
  • month @ a glance
  • household projects list
  • bills to pay tally
  • important date reminders
  • Bible reading in one year guide
  • pretty boarders (attractiveness is a bonus!)
  • yearly plan sheet
  • It's attractive inside and out (did I mention that already?)
I've been watching too many journaling/planning vidoes on youtube but tomorrow is July 1st.

It's time to claim my life in the middle of tending to my family.

* * * * * 

{Speaking of planners and journaling combined (which I think is a win-win for my lifestyle and homelife), I found that Arwen Faulkner has a beautiful, inspiring mission going at The Journal Project. You can link in to their FB page to get updates. Check it out. And, while doing so, I'd love to hear what planners/journals you're using and how you're using them. Any good ideas and/or videos for bullet journaling? I'm all ears.}

Friday, June 20, 2014

Home Life this Summertime

MayMay's boys will definitely know what animals give us milk and eggs.

Little man brought me this sign from the sitting room and left it on the arm of my chair. Convo and coffee milk makes a complete morning at MayMay's house.
Morning rest...
The grandsons have been here.
Scattered water bottles, bags of beans, and the door left ajar. It's a favorite place to play...and hide.
Patio got a bath.
On his Father's Day off, my husband worked on putting fencing up to keep MayMay's little boys trapped near patio. MayMay isn't as spry as she was twenty years ago. ;-)
Home. Where you learn the beauty of contentment and find breath for your dreams or where you escape to live a lifetime of weary wanderings.
Catching up. Still studying how to better serve God within my home while serving my family.
Making a root beer cake for friend who has a new baby in her home.
Two little men and Opa...
Patio Summer Living...has to be cool and fresh. Chelsea made this delicious lemon tart. Was a tad oozy. We could almost have poured it over warm gingerbread. Will have to remember that when December comes.
While the girls swim, I plan. More of a writing plan than a blogging play because I am an inconsistent blogger. {Guess you could tell. ;-)}. Still I love the articles, the lists, the layout, and the potential found in this blogging planner.
Yeah...I know...
Recital bouquet from her older sister. Still fresh. Still pretty.
Summertime! No caption needed.
Simple Summer.
At some point, all dance moms have to pick up a needle and thread. Right?
Basket personalization courtesy of Aunt Annie.
Strewing kitchen art, hoping my girls will add to the ideas. Grateful for slower summer days. Observing a homemade year. Enjoying my nesting place.
Kayleigh's beautiful mimosa tree.

Wonderful book for summer.
Stewed blackberries from the garden over chocolate cake. Extremely good.
New grandbaby...
Is a brother for Hudson!
Wedding moved up to August.
Can anyone say our "super busy!"
Lots of this going on. Pack. Check. Travel. Dance. Pack. Check. Travel. Dance.
Annie's herb garden: green onions, bee balm, sweet basil, Greek oregano, parsley, peppermint
Last of the blackberry picking. Family effort.
Blackberry sales paid for Annie's dance national fees. Grateful!
More mimosa blooms on side of road.
Scholarship! She works hard and focused and is beautiful on stage.
Kitchen Window...finally got a chalkboard.
Office Decluttering. Main goal this summer!
Vacation trip!

More Patio Living!
They always get the spelling wrong.

 Taming the sock monster.
Hope you enjoyed your visit and here's to a wonderful summer for all my readers.

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