Back to the Grind

This morning marked the first day of returning to work after being on maternity leave for 12 weeks with my second son. I think it was harder this time than last. So many things are bitter sweet as I’m seeing how quickly they both are growing and I’m pretty sure we’re stopping with just the two. I have to keep telling myself that, otherwise I’d keep having kids. (more about that in made for making babies)

I prepared myself and the family as well as I thought I could. I actually went back to work a week early. I started trying to ease all of us into it by starting back a week early with half days. I knew when I started back to work I’d have to start back to getting up early. With the birth of Rex, and being an exhausted mommy of a newborn… and a toddler, I had gotten used to staying in bed until 9am or 10am.

Before the new guy joined us, I would get up for work at 7 and make sure that Jake and Jude were up between 7:30-8 pm and getting ready to leave shortly after I left. That time also got pushed further back. Jude was lucky all summer to make it to school before 8:40. That’s dangerously close to missing breakfast. Well school breakfast that is. He also got in the habit of having a Pop-Tart here before leaving for school. Yep, full on Hobbit with 1st and 2nd breakfast every day.

So… easing back into it. We worked on it last week. I took Jude to school everyday. That way Jake wouldn’t have to load up the baby just to take Jude to school. So we got up earlier each day. We had some rough times trying to get ready, but once Jude was up and dressed, he was good to go. The going to bed routine is what’s really been tough. But we’ll continue to work on it.

My first week back at full-time was a bit crazy. It was a short week, which was nice. I went back the day after Labor Day. Wednesday was our first BIG Cafe event where entrepreneurs came to talk about their business and get feedback from other local business owners. It was a big success. Well-attended with great  feedback. Thursday we held open house for the College of Business to see our newly renovated offices and progress on the construction of the FabLab. So my first week back I was busy helping with last minute odds and ends to get the offices presentable for Open House and picking up where I left off with clients.

It was amazing. I love the rush of deadlines. I love talking to people and having adult conversations. Conversations about business and students and things I understand. I love it. As bitter sweet as it is going back to work on the pretty strong assumption that Rex will be my last baby, I still love it. I enjoyed every minute of being home with him. But I really feel like I get some of me back with going back to work.

I love my career. I have the opportunity to help put Georgia Southern on the map through entrepreneurship and innovation. I’m able to finally work with my fellow Eagles and connect them with the business community to give them hands on experience. It’s the most rewarding job ever. I love what I do. And I love the people I work with. It’s a great position to be in and I realize I’m lucky.

While I was on maternity leave, I watched all of Mad Men. It was pretty great, but man did women get treated like shit! I love the idea of being that 60’s wifey and mommy. But I would go crazy staying at home, trying to keep up the house and play perfect mom.

I love being home and being mommy and wifey. It’s very rewarding. I know that I was made to be a mommy. My pregnancies and deliveries were pretty great. I have my doubts some times, but I think we’re doing a pretty good job as parents.

But I did finally find my career. And it’s good to be back.


There comes a time in our lives where we’ve got to stop apologizing for who we are. I know people have told me it’s easier said than done for some more than for others. I guess It may be a maturity thing, or maybe even a mental thing. I get that. Some people need more help than others or may even need medical help.

Here’s the thing, I’m not apologizing anymore. We are all different. I realized awhile back that I needed to love myself first and foremost before I could ever let anyone really love me. I know that sounds cliche, corny, or whatever else. I whole-heartedly believe it though.

I felt bad about myself for a long time. I think it’s human nature for most of us. It’s maturity, growing and learning from our own mistakes that can either make us or break us. I chose to learn from mine. I had to stop blaming myself for things that were out of my control, but own up to things that I could change in myself. That last part is still a struggle.

For a long time, I had very low self worth. I apologized for being too skinny, too honest, too open, too smart, too tomboy, too country… too whatever. No more. I won’t apologize for what my body is or how it works. I won’t apologize for working hard to better myself. I won’t apologize for working hard to make money to support my family. I’m proud of who I’ve become. I still make mistakes, no one is perfect after all. But I’m done apologizing.

I cannot change the way others feel about themselves. Feel how you want to feel. I have feelings too. I just have no empathy for you. I can’t. I won’t.


Workin mom blues

Being a working mom sux sometimes. I get a little jealous thinking about moms who get to spend so much time with their little ones. Especially when they’re little. I’m a member of several local mommy Facebook groups. Most of which have special events they plan throughout the week to meet other mommies and plan play groups or other outings.

I don’t get to join most of these or meet many new mommies because, well, work. I am a working mommy. I have a regular 8-5 J-O-B. Actually, when I started my current j-o-b, I felt like for the first time since graduating with my MBA that I was finally on the right career path. I’m actually connecting my favorite university, faculty and students, fellow Eagles with businesses help promote economic development. It’s very fulfilling to say the very least. Sometimes it’s not just 8-5, but I don’t mind so much because I am making a difference.

That being said, sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on doing more with my family. I was lucky  when I first took the new job, I worked part-time. I was able to work 20 hours (give or take) a week at school, then come home and work for my husband’s business, Stouthouse, and spend more time with Jude when he was 16 – 28 months. It was wonderful. But not without its financial drawbacks.

Now I’m full-time, super busy, and super pregnant. My days consist of working, picking up the boy, coming home and cooking, trying to pick up the house a little, sharing splish-splash/bedtime routine duties with Jake, doing what needs to be done for Stouthouse, and trying to be a good wife. I have more respect for my mom and other working moms on a daily basis. It’s a tough gig.

Sometimes I wish I was a stay at home mom.

Patience: a game worth winning

Sometimes toddlers will try us. They see just how far they can push us. They think that they can out wait us. Tonigh, I won the battle in more ways than one.
Jude pushes our buttons at bedtime. Tonight I told him if he was good and we got a quick bath, hat he could lay down a watch football with me. Once we got out of the tub, he threw an all out fit for Jake trying to get his pjs on. So… No football.
We read a couple of books as per usual. Then when I turned out the light and started singing he stated making fart noises with his ear on my chest. I told him to stop, asked if he heard me, made sure he heard me, told him to stop and tried just holding him snug to get him to stop. He was hurting my arm and then dropped Fabs Monkey (on purpose) so I put him to bed.
I worked really hard on keeping my composure and covered him up and told him goodnight as I tucked him in. He demanded his baby fox which he left in our bed so I got him. Then he started throwing Fabs.
Foot down. “Fabs is coming to bed with me.” Insert toddler tantrum. “I want him. Give me! I want….” On and on. I told him he could have him back when he asked politely. Jake tried to step in and get my back, but I told him it was my fight and pretty much ignored the toddler demands as I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed.
Stuck to my guns and guess what?! Totally paid off. He finally asked nicely. I gave him Fabs. By then baby fox was on the floor so I picked him up. He said, “baby fox sleep with you and you hold him.”
I was almost brought to tears when we exchanged our goodnights, I love yous and sweet dreams. He gave me big hugs and kisses. Sometimes patience pays off in the biggest ways! Tonight I am the biggest winner. Those hugs kisses and sweet words wipe the terrible toddler slate of the weekend completely clean.

Wonder Puddin

I bought a card for my mom for Mother’s Day with a Wonder Woman magnet in it. Jude helped me pick it out. When I asked him who was in the magnet he said, “Puddin!”
He doesn’t know just how right he was. They do kind of favor. Now more than ever before, and more every day I see my mom as Wonder Woman.

wonder-womanPuddin circa '80

You can totally see the resemblance right?

Heres what:

Puddin is not only the best mama, she’s the best grandmama/Puddin. She is crazy in love with Jude and he with her as well. They play, hard. She gets on the floor with him. She takes him outside and helps him ride or swing or play golf. She somehow manages to keep up with him. I know I can trust her to take the best care of him. She spoils him crazy, but still makes him mind.

Puddin comes when you need her. She has been burning up the interstate since my sis announced that she was preggers with quads. She spent the last few week’s of Sherri’s pregnancy burnin up I-16. That’s 2 hours one way. She helped prepare the nursery, took care of dogs, tidied up and generally was just there for emotional support or whatever was needed.

Since the quads arrived, she visited and sat everyone at the hospital for the first month. She helped take care of things at the house while Sherri and Paul were away.   She spent the first couple of weeks since they made it home, helping the new parents around the house as they developed a routine. She’s loved every minute of getting to cuddle with her new grands.

Luckily, we live between her home and the quads so she still finds time to stop by and visit with us. She was super helpful as we prepared for Jude, and she still is as we prepare for #2, Rex.

She’s super cool too. I was thinking the other day about when she would come into town and go out with me to play trivia at KBobs! We had the best team name that night. She likes trying new beers with me or new drinks in general. She’s so cool, she talked me into doing the X-treme Skyflyers at Carowinds and Six Flags. That woman is fearless. But most of all cool. I hope my kids come to realize how cool I am one day too. We’re a long ways away from that though. First to go thru the I’m your parent, not your friend stages of life with them. Coolness is realized much later on. I think that’s just a sign of a great parent.

Puddin is also a super wife. She and Daddy have been enjoying retirement together. They go fishing, golfing, gardening, shopping at Wal-Mart… It’s so much fun to see how in love they are after all these years.

I am blessed to have such great parents as role models and so happy to have Wonder Pudding in my life.


Pregnant in Camo

Whew! I am so glad the holidays are over!! I could go off on a tangent here about all the things that suck about that time between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, but I’ll stick to the story at hand.

I had a very interesting weekend. It ended on a very high note. I am 2 for 2 this deer season. (This is where I jinx myself) Some folks think hunting can be so much more expensive than just going to the grocery store. I say, no way Jose! Not when you rarely have to buy bullets because you live by the snipers creed: One shot, One kill.

I shot a nice little 8 point the first day of the season. I hadn’t been on the stand long before I saw them moving. I let a 6 point walk and a couple of does. Then the sunshine lit up horns off to my right. A nice little 8 point stepped out under an oak tree and started feeding towards the food plot. Daddy hadn’t even made it to sit on his stand yet when I shot.

I waited about 30 minutes. That’s all I could stand before I had to get down to make sure I didn’t  miss. It didn’t take long to find him. He didn’t go far at all!! Yay!

I let Daddy sit for awhile longer. I walked on out to my truck and took off some of the layers of camo. I drove the truck up to Papa Hallman’s house and borrowed some rope and the Mule (the motorized kind) and went back to drag him on out. Once he was up to the road I took the mule back and drove the truck back around and waited on Daddy to help me load him so we could clean him and get him in the cooler.

The whole time we were on this first hunt I had a little secret that no one else knew. I had just discovered earlier that week that were expecting baby #2.

So the whole time we were cleaning and then taking off the the carcass Daddy was giving me shit about being a wuss. “It’s not like I had heart surgery or anything.” Yes, he had bypass surgery only 2 years ago. Perfect guilt trip and I did feel awful and wanted to help as much as possible, but I was exhausted already. I thought about saying, “Oh yeah, well I’m growing a heart, like right now.” I kinda wish I had. I wonder what that response would’ve been. But it was really early on and we hadn’t even heard a heartbeat yet.

Fast forward thru the rest of the pretty uneventful season to the last weekend. I started hunting hard again. The last Sunday of the season was my last chance. Before hitting the stand, I went to help Jake film the 2015 Frills prom show! I just couldn’t miss Scott’s prom dress preview. I love seeing all the new styles and imagining myself all dressed up. This year I found myself thinking about what dresses would be OK for our boys prom dates to be wearing.

I helped with the first show and after daydreaming about being Cinderella, I put on my camo pants, coveralls, jacket and boots and headed to the woods. I had already decided on the stand. The cut through food plot. We had the camera set up there and it was a pretty hot spot at night.

I started hearing them to my left as the sun set. I kept looking all the way down the plot and letting my eyes slowly wander back down to just in front of me. It was getting dark. I looked up, and there they were. A doe and a yearling walked out. Then another yearling. They were walking away from me. Time was fleeting. I had to take a shot, but they weren’t turning broadside. I finally just took my shot. Dropped her!

I sent Daddy a message. I had to walk by the doe to get to the truck. She wasn’t moving so I headed to the truck for the ritual unlayering. Thank goodness Ron was headed to the garden to turn water off. He hadn’t heard me shoot but he agreed to help me after I reassured him that me and Beamo should be fine if he would help us throw the old gal up in the back of the truck.

I’ll never forget driving back there and loading her up. What a bonding moment with my pa-in-law. I did like I always do when Daddy and I load deer. I grabbed her back legs, he grabbed her front and I drug her a couple of feet back to line her up with the tailgate. “Whoa, she’s slippery,” said Ron. “OK, you ready?” We heaved her up and threw her onto the tailgate. I was able to get her back in pretty good. I didn’t think to tell Ron to account for her head so when he chunked her, her head kinda didn’t make it all the way up. I halfway caught her head with my leg and gave a push. Ron- “Wow. You’re stronger than me I guess.” Me- “Nah. Just thrown one more deer than you have.” Ron- “Yeah, I guess that’s the first time I’ve ever helped to load a deer.”

He’ll never know how much I really appreciated that help and that conversation. It made me giggle. He doesn’t mind me hunting at his house and encourages me to get as many as we want even though he’s never really hunted.

Hunting just isn’t a way of life for some like it always has been for us. It’s not just a sport. Having more mouths to feed this year, I realize now more than ever the importance of getting what we need to fill the freezer. One or two more would’ve been nice. Maybe we wouldn’t have to buy any cow if I had gotten another, but there’s always next year.

And turkey season is right around the corner. Gobble, gobble goobers. Me and Beamo are coming for you!

WARNING: Potty talk ahead

I started this post back in April of 2014. That’s how long I’ve been thinking about potty training Jude. Here’s how everything began.

I thought I’d have Jude potty trained by 2. He’s gone in the potty a couple of times here and there, but nothing consistent. I haven’t wanted to push it to the point of becoming frustrating for any or all of us.

He has done well for awhile with peeing in the potty before getting in the tub. We started that pretty early on just because, well, overtime we put him in the tub, he peed. So we started putting him on the potty first.

I’ve been speaking with his teacher about how he does at school. They don’t start potty training until the kids are in the 2 year old room. (Although he was 2 when I began this post, he didn’t go full-time or move up to the 2yo room until August.) He is telling the teacher when she starts to change him, “Jude dry.” He started telling me the same thing.

He knows, and yet he will not go potty on a regular basis. Maybe when he gets into the 2s room on a regular, we can all be more consistent.

Maybe. That got shot to hell. He moved up to the 2s and he fought the teacher just like he did with us at home. “NOOOO! I NO GO POTTY!!” Still, they tried to get him to go and sometimes he did.

Fast forward a few more months… we changed locations, (that’s a whole other post) and we focused on potty training over the holiday break. We asked Santa for Mickey Mouse big boy undies. Starting on Christmas Eve Eve, we started wearing big boy undies (except at night).

The first few days were rough. Then, around New Years Day, something clicked. I guess he finally started understanding what it feels like before he needed to go and he started to go in the potty! He also started peeing off the back porch with Pap out in the country. At least boys can have fun with potty training that way. We started rewarding him with ice cream and treats  after dinner on nights with no accidents.

I was worried about him returning to school after he started doing such a good job. Thank goodness his teacher was onboard!! She said bring him in undies and plenty of changes of clothes and we’ll deal with it. Yay!!

This is his second week back. I am the happiest mama ever picking him up in the afternoon, especially getting the “No accidents today,” report!

This is how we do in the country.

This is how we do in the country.

We’re still struggling a little with pooping in the potty. I am confident we’ll get there. I’m sure it will click soon and he’ll get it just like pee peeing. I hope sooner rather than later, cause these toddler poops in big boy undies make me gag.

Fingers crossed we’ll have this boy completely potty trained by his 3rd birthday. That ought to give us about 2.5 diaperless months before number 2 arrives. The second kid that is, not the number 2s that make me gag.


My Darling Angel Baby…

…Is full blown terrible toddler twos. I think this age is when you really get to see what split personality disorders are like.
Jude is learning so much so fast right now. He’s a little sponge and does or says something new that amazes us each day. What comes along with all of this awesome is a whole lot of bull shit though.
He’s full on BOY! He kicks and hits and scratches. He throws things when he’s mad. He doesn’t fully know how to express his feelings. He’s just 2 two years old, so I guess I can get that. But we’ve got to teach him right from wrong and in that comes lessons on hitting, kicking, whining and throwing things just because he isn’t getting his way.

This is my kid punching me in the face because he's tired and didn't want to take a picture.

This is my kid punching me in the face because he’s tired and didn’t want to take a picture.

I’ve been trying the whole time-out thing. So has Jake. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I try not to spank him when my patience is running thin. I try to make sure that I’ve tried the alternative of talking to him. Removing him from the situation, or trying to calm him down.
When all else fails though, it’s ass whoopin time. Jake hates going this route.
I think he’s just afraid he’s going to hurt him too bad when he spanks him. The point of spanking to me is to get the boy’s attention and let him know that we mean business. I mean, we don’t really want to knock him out or cause physical harm. Just get his attention.
Morning changings, actually, any and all diaper changes have become a major fight. He screams and growls and does the alligator death roll then kicks like a kangaroo. It’s a work out at 8am! So what… do we just let him walk around in a diaper so full of piss that it’s pretty much droopin and draggin on the floor? Do we leave it on him so every time he sits more pee squishes out onto the bed or couch? Surely not.
So instead we fight. We try to calmly talk him into laying quietly and letting us change it. We try bargaining, “once we put on a clean diaper, you can go watch Curious George.” We try reasoning, “if you start going in the potty we don’t have to go through diaper changes anymore.” We threaten. We try to keep our wits about us. But once everything has failed, which is the norm right now, we spank a leg.
Immediately, crocodile tears appear! The thrashing stops. Diaper time resumes and is completed without incident. WHY? WHY does it have to be so? Diaper changes aren’t something new.
It’s not just diaper changes though. It’s getting dressed. It’s making an airplane. It’s because mommy said no more bollipops before supper. It’s toddler life.
Can I just say that whining is also worse than nails on a chalkboard to me?! I hate it. I think it must be karma for sure because I find myself using my mama’s favorite line growing up, “You want something to cry about, I’ll give you something to cry about. Now dry it up.” Patience for that sort of thing must be hereditary.
One thing that’s been getting me in all of this is sometimes when I spank him, he grabs me and hugs me and says, “I sorry mommy.” Oh, it kills me. I of course hug him and tell him I’m sorry too and explain that I mean what I say and I don’t like having to spank him.
He doesn’t get it yet, but I totally understand “It hurts me more than it hurts you.” I don’t want to hurt my baby. I also don’t want a black eye from his punches either.
Tonight was one of those instances. We read 4 books. He was procrastinating for another, but I turned out the lights and said no. Before I could get to singing lullabies and rocking him to sleep he hit me in the face. I grabbed his hands and held them down and told not to hit me. So he started play fighting and grabbed at me a couple more times. He’s a strong little guy. So after a minute or two of talking calmly I laid him in his bed, told him goodnight and walked out.
He didn’t cry much, just a little whining then he fell asleep. What he doesn’t get or doesn’t know is that I love that time together, that cuddling, and singing and snuggling. I treasure it since I know it wont last forever. I didn’t want to put him down, but consequences are consequences.
I’m fighting every urge not to just go and lay down with him for snugglies. I love that little guy. There’s no denying he is my darlin angel baby especially when he’s asleep.

Sweet sleeping boy

Sweet sleeping boy

Invasion of the little people

I recently took inventory of my Facebook friends, family and aquaintances and I know of over 20 new babies born or being born this year. The baby boomers ain’t got nothin on our generations. We’re reproducing machines!

I was elated to meet and welcome baby Brennaman (Gizmo) into the Stouthouse family in September. His birth brought the induction of new parents into the parenting club. We now have the pleasure of sharing the wonders and woes of parenting with our best pals, Stouthouse’s own Mofo and Myrtle. This definitely does please and sparkle. Oh how I love sharing hard truths about parenting with ya’ll.


Not long after meeting Gizmo, while I was on a business trip to Portlandia, I got word that our 2nd niece was born. Lily Hallman arrived almost in sync with my landing on the west coast. I’ve got something special to give her from that trip when we finally meet.


Since then I’ve posted congrats for at least 3 more new births. We’re seriously averaging a baby every week or two. It’s kinda crazy.

What’s really crazy is that my sister will be having QUADS in December!! That’s right, 4 babies at once. I cannot tell you how excited I am that I’ll be an aunt 4 times over in one day.

Before you get too worried, let me assure you that she and all 4 babies are doing great. I do worry because she is my sister, but the way I see it, there’s no sense in being all worrisome about it because there are so many other folks doing that. It’s not helpful for mommy or babies. It’s time to think positive and have as many good vibes as possible.

Plus, if anyone can do this… it’s my sister. She’s built for this. Even the doctor told her that he was most concerned with just getting her preggers in the first place. Now that she is, he has all the confidence that she will do just fine and be able to carry them until they need to take them, which is typically around 34 weeks. When I say built for this, I mean it. Picture the perfect body type for carrying multiples, good health, tall, strong bone structure, a little pear shaped since that’s where the babies will reside. That’s her.


And 34 weeks is just in time for the holidays! I hope they all make it home in time to celebrate Christmas as a family. Realistically, they may not be home in time for Santa, but it’ll be close. We’re all just praying that they keep growing and stay in there until mid December. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers. She’s terribly uncomfortable, but still looks great!

Since I first began typing this post, a couple of months back, we started working on baby #2. Come to find out, he or she will be joining us sometime in June! Now for coming up with a proper nickname.


Talkin Time

I think I remember enjoying and looking forward to daylight savings ending a whole lot more before I had a kid. None the less, we fell back an hour this weekend. This basically led to an extra hour of fighting going to bed in our household.

The recent time change and planning for an upcoming day trip to Atlanta got me to thinking about time. My boss asked if it was my ‘redneck mama’ interpretation. As such, I thought I should share it with you.

I’ve come to the realization that ass o’clock in the morning is between 2 am and 5 am. Ass o’clock can be super late or super early. That just depends on if you’re going to or coming from bed. When Jake used to play gigs in Augusta, we’d get back to Statesboro at ass o’clock in the morning. Now that daylight savings has ended, I’ll have to get up at ass o’clock to get on the dee stand before daybreak.

Got it?

Between 5 am and the sunrise is what I call the butt-crack of dawn. So I usually try to get on the deer stand at the butt-crack of dawn, just before the sun rises. The butt-crack of dawn is early, but it’s definitely not ass o’clock.

That’s just my Redneck Mama take on time.