with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: family

Moving house: Or why I hope to never have to leave my new house

by SweetMidlife
Our new living room, mid-box.

Our new living room, mid-box.

To review: Last summer, I (being Leslie) unexpectedly started a new chapter of my life when my lovey-dove Scott passed away unexpectedly. Obviously, that was a world-rocker, but that world refused to stop spinning so I had to start rolling with changes, mostly just continuing to live the life I already had but without my Scotty. Which sucks because it took so long for me to find a good guy in a grab bag of losers, and I only got to keep him 6 1/2 years. That was a lot of work. I’m exhausted.

Meanwhile, there was one change he and I had already planned, which was to leave our lovely South Florida rental home, where we moved in 2013, sometime in the first part of this year. The landlords were looking to sell it and we decided, as much as we loved it, not to buy it because we wanted an extra bathroom. So we’d started just doing random searches – I wanted to stay in the little town we lived in and Scott wanted to move across the canal into West Palm Beach, for school district and prettiness purposes. After he died, and my mom the queen of the universe, moved in with me and the little one I live with, she and I started tentatively looking close by, to check out prices and different areas, but weren’t set on a date…

…Until our landlords decided to sell our house, like, immediately, and at the beginning of February we found ourselves on a ticking moving clock with 30 days and a suddenly short supply of available homes anywhere we wanted to be. Of course. We looked out of our target area, even, and then made an offer on a nice house in the right neighborhood that we didn’t love, but that was better than living in a van down by the river. We had hoped to find a miracle, but were willing just not to be homeless.

“Do houses just show up at the last minute?” we asked our realtor, who shook his head about 24 hours before calling us to say that a lovely place around the corner from he and his family had a brand new “For Rent” sign on the front lawn. Miracles, anyone? The moment we walked in that afternoon, we were in love – high wooden ceilings, a Florida room that’s all windows, and an over-sized master suite for me. Although I did offer it to my mother, of course.

“doyoumaybewannatakethebigroomiwillsleepouttherenexttotheboydontyouworryaboutit” I said, hoping she would pick up on “My goodness I want that room.” She did. I am so glad she did because I super wanted that room.

And now I’m in it, surrounded by more boxes and stuff than I knew I had. The move was a monster nightmare and I am never doing it again.

But I am so happy. I feel weird about not being in this house with Scott, and I would be lying if I didn’t feel a little guilty to know that I am in a much nicer house and that my life and the Kid’s are going on without him. But he would want me to. We can’t live in a van, we couldn’t live in the old house, and we, again, would not fit in a van. It is normal to miss him and wonder what he’d have thought of the place, which is in the school district he wanted and is probably the result of some heavenly maneuvering (OK SCOTT YOU WON.) But it is also normal for happy things to make you happy, and this new place is happy. We are happy. We are not quite complete. But we are happy.

And I hope we can one day buy this house and live here forever because I hate moving and am never doing it again.

A Thing To Stop Saying To People

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne!

So, maybe you have a friend who comes up to you and tells you about something wonderful that is happening in their life. Let’s say that they just got a new job, and they are so excited about what this is going to do in their life, because it’s more money, and it is actually the job they have always wanted to have. Their dream.

And maybe you, at that moment, have also been looking for a new job, because maybe you don’t have one at all, or maybe the job that you have is killing your spirit, and you know exactly where you want to be, and where you are ain’t it. Maybe your friend with the new job knows that you are looking for a job too, or maybe they don’t, and maybe they work in a different field than you, but let’s say that they have the very kind of job that you want. And that is really annoying you. Because you want a fantastic too.  Maybe you wanted THAT job. All you know is that they are somewhere you want to be. So you say:

“Must be nice.”

Which sometimes means, “Must be great to get everything you want. Must be great to not have to work as hard as I did. Must be nice to have good stuff.”

“Because I don’t.”

Because you have made someone else’s successes about YOU.

And unless that person took the job that you were about to get buy lying to the hiring people about you by saying that all you do all day at work is play on Facebook and eat Pop-Tarts, or that your friend getting married instead of you tripped you as you were walking down the aisle in your white dress and grabbed your bouquet and said “I Do” to your love, or stole your boarding pass and ID at the airport and got on the plane to Jamaica and took the vacation that you paid for, they didn’t take anything from you. They worked what they had, and it paid off for them. Because other people get to be happy even when you aren’t. Even if it is something that your soul really needs. Would you want to announce your engagement then have other people burst into tears and run away because they got engaged before you? No, you wouldn’t. I know something of this, and I will admit this to you.

When Beautiful Twin Leslie got engaged to her dear beautiful late husband, she and Scott had only been officially dating for 6 months, although they had known each other for years. And they were breathtakingly in love. My now-husband and I had been dating at that point for a year and a half, and I wanted to be married BADLY. And the person with whom I share identical DNA with got engaged and married before I did. And as deliriously happy as I was for her, I have to admit that when she called me to tell me that she was getting married and described her ring, I looked down at my empty left ring finger and thought, “But I was supposed to get married first.” And I hate that I thought that. Because her love story had nothing to do with mine. But we are selfish creatures, and of course we think about what is affecting us. But that doesn’t have to come out of your mouth after you take a minute to process it. Or continue in your spirit, even unsaid. Because that will make you bitter. Don’t be bitter, sweet friends!

Because other people get to be happy. And so do you!!! I hope that your happiness is coming. Keep working for it, or praying for it. But happy shouldn’t be a competition. There is enough to go around. Really. I am not lying to you.

So, the next time someone tells you about the wonderful thing that is happening in their life, even if it’s a thing that is kind of or maybe exactly about the thing that you want, say this:

“Wow. That IS nice.”

Because it is. And when you get your thing, hopefully they will say the same thing to you. Because you are both cool like that.

You go with your bad self, doing the thing. Good on you.

You go with your bad self, doing the thing. Good on you.

I Get To Set My Own Priorities: A Guest Post by Joy Chiles

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here. Today we have a guest post from our kinda cousin, Joy Chiles. Her parents and our parents went to college together, and our families are, well, family. In this post, Joy tells us about making decisions that work the best for you and yours, even if other people aren’t down with it. 


by Joy Chiles

I often get asked, “How do you do it?”…

I teach full-time, but I also take care of family things even when I am at work.  After the births of both of my children (we have a 2 ½ year old son and a 1 year-old daughter), my husband stayed home, and I went back to work and financially took care of my family. Yes, I was the “bread winner”, and it was not bad at all. My husband and I didn’t have to work to pay for day care! Yay for us! The challenge was on and I was game.

But people we knew looked for the challenges in our new life instead of the advantages. Who said it isn’t acceptable for a woman to work and a man stay home and take care of the children? Try explaining that to a baby boomer family member or acquaintance!  I carried the children, and while my husband works at night after I get home, I must make sure that financially my family is taken care of, plus wash clothes, cook dinner, remember doctor appointments, bath times, diaper time, toddler time, baby/mommy time and let us not forget… the sweet sound of “What do you want to eat for dinner?” Even in today’s time, people would say that my household arrangement is not only nontraditional, but odd.

As an independent thinking couple, I am not one to prove to another what works for me; especially if your mind is “fixed”.  With all those responsibilities listed, some being left out or to your imagination, one would wonder, how do you take care of all of this? You must certainly be lacking in some other areas of your life. Well, my constant resolution each day is… How can I take care of my family better than yesterday? Taking care of my family needs is not an option, nor should it be yours.  Now please do not let me forget to add that I have an awesome husband that is a great father to his family, yet at times, I still felt the pressure of making sure that everyone is okay.

Prioritizing is what I did and continue to practice today. I believe it to be my saving tip; I sucked it up and embrace it. I embraced the titles and the expectations, thoughts of failure, talking to myself (am I crazy?), everything. I embrace it all as a woman, wife and mother. Notice, I said woman first. Women can withstand the challenges and take care of business. You must think about what is important and what matters the most to you and your family. In other words, do what works best for your household, always reflect, correct the challenges and direct yourself on the path for obtaining and maintaining your healthy family.

Joy is an advocate for substance abuse education and building strong families. She enjoys teaching life skills and values family time. 

Letting the Toddler Make Crafts Even When I Have No Idea What’s Happening

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!

I like crafts. I am not very good at them all of the time but when I see cute things that I think I can maybe kind make or not mess up too badly, I can’t resist. And as you see, it has made for some results that maybe didn’t turn out like the original picture, but they turned out in a way that was endearing, functional, and sometimes since it was chocolate, it still tasted good so it didn’t matter. The joy was in the making of the thing, because it kicked my creative juices into gear and made me happy in the process because I got to express myself and stuff.

This past Christmas, my son’s preschool class had a party where I volunteered to read stories, and where other parents led games and crafts. I got to sit with some of the crafting kids while the parents telling us how to do it gave instructions, and the craft that did was SO. CUTE. They took clear glass ornaments, and they poured different colors of liquid paints in them, then they swirled them around. This is the one that my son made at school, and I wish I could tell you that I took that picture in December, but I took it 30 seconds ago when I got up and walked to the living room because our tree is still up. Yes.


So anyhow, I decided that this was going to be an amazing, amazing way to make beautiful ornaments as gifts for our friends and family! We can pour! We can swirl! I can do stuff! And this actually happened, because I bought some clear glass ornaments for my family who we see every year on New Years Day, and those turned out really beautifully, much like the one above.

But those weren’t the first ones. Because I made an earlier batch that we gave out to my aunts and uncles and my son’s Godmommies on or right after Christmas, and those didn’t turn out exactly the way that I planned. First of all, I could not find clear glass ornaments, only frosted white ones. I realized that the swirling paint was not gonna show up under those, so I went to my best friend Google, and I looked for beautiful ornaments that you could do on painted glass. I found some really cute examples, and I settled on ones where your child dips his fingers in paint, and puts said finger on the ornament, and when it dries, I would paint in eyes and an orange nose and voila, fingerprint snowmen!! How wonderful would that be? And the boy was all excited that I was actually letting him touch paint with his hands, and he happily did two snowmen’s prints on one ornament. I painted one in, and it looked adorable. I would have said adorbs, but I am not something enough to use that term. I did the second one, or maybe he helped me, but the eyes on that one sort of made the snowman look like he wanted to eat people. “Whatever”, I thought, “It’s cute enough.” But then the boy asked if he could paint on it, and I said yes, and oh no it was the black paint he used and he did some dabbing, and it looked like the nice snowman and the evil snowman were headed into a tornado. Wait, what was happening to my craftsterpiece? Well, for the next one, he decided that he wanted to do red fingerprints. This fit well with the ornaments I had seen on Printerest that looked like Santa! I could do that! But then he decided to just keep going, and I thought that we would maybe just have a sweet fingerprint polka dots. But out came the black paint, and it looked like the polka dots were being attacked by a shadow.

Also taken 2 minutes ago because I have not put the tree away in that amount of time since the last picture.

Also taken 2 minutes ago because I have not put the tree away in that amount of time since the last picture.

And as my dreams of being able to give out flawless toddler-made gifts were drifting away like the storm plaguing throe snowmen, I remembered. IT WAS THE TODDLER WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MAKING THIS. So if he wanted to go crazy with paint in hues I didn’t imagine, then so be it, because this was about him. And everyone was gonna love it. This is why we then went on a crazy ornament-making streak, where he made about 10 ornaments that he decorated by either freely going wild with the paintbrush, or but squirting paint on a plate and just swirling (see, we got to swirl!) the ornaments in the colors. And they were messy. And they were beautiful, and he gave each one of them names, including “Eye”, “Present Ornament”, and “I Don’t Know”, and I typed up a notice declaring them part of his 2015 exclusive ornament collection, and gave them out, and everyone loved them. Because we could tell the people that love him that he loved making them, just like he enjoyed making the second set that was closer to what I had planned. And people loved those, too. Because I took my hands off of it as much as I could, and I let him go.

This morning, we were watching this show on Amazon Prime called ‘Creative Galaxy”, where this cute little alien boy solves his problems with art, and on this episode, they were making pop-up books. Alex was watching intently, and I said, “Hey, do you wanna do that?”, and he said yes, and I found construction paper in what used to be my office and is now where things go to be dealt with later, and I got markers, scissors and glue from the junk drawer in the kitchen, and we sat down to create! And I looked up a How-To online, and I sat down and scripted a story that my son very carefully dictated to me, about he, my husband and myself going on a ride on a spaceship. and yes I have terrible handwriting. Here was the outline.

Good plot.

Good plot.

And as I was ready to ask him to draw a table to be the pop-up for the first page, I saw him furiously drawing something that wasn’t a table. I asked him what it was, and he said that it was a bad guy who wanted to steal something. Because just like that the plot had changed, and now the story was about a bad guy who wanted to steal a rocket. And that sounds like an awesome story. Because it’s the story he wants to tell. Here is the first page.

Background drawing and writing done by mommy, as dictated by the boy, who also drew the pop-up picture. Which is the best thing here.

Background drawing and writing done by Mommy, as dictated by the boy, who also drew the pop-up picture. Which is the best thing here.

And there is another pop-up page done, plus some other pages with a bunch of other drawings and cuts in them that might not even be for pop-up pictures, and also strips of light-green painters tape. And I have no idea why.

And I don’t need to. Because he is having fun, and being himself, and I could not Pinterest anything better than that.

Resting In the Knowledge That Rest Is A Thing That You Need

by SweetMidlife

This is Lynne, by the way. And I am going to use some words that might gross some of you out. So proceed if you want.

So, about 2 weeks ago, I had an hysterectomy to relieve bladder and uterine prolapse, which means that those things were, umm, hanging where they should not have been. And it was very uncomfortable, and had been for a very, very long time, and I decided that to improve my quality of life,. This was a good thing to do. I will probably write a post later about all of the emotional things that come along with this surgery, because I think that this is important, but I am early on in that part of the journey, so as I walk that path, I will tell you more, okay?

What I wanted to tell you about right now is actually the first part of the emotional and physical thing that this surgery takes you on, and that is the fact that I am tired. So very tired. And actually, I think, that many of us can relate to this whether or not you just had a hysterectomy, or are recovering from the flu. or you have been working a bunch to support your family and you realize that you are about to pass out. You’re just freaking exhausted. And you have been told that you need to give yourself some time to rest and to heal. And that sounds amazing. Because who wouldn’t welcome the chance to, on doctor’s orders. to, in the words of my surgeon, “embrace your inner Cleopatra” and let people serve you and do things for you as you let your body heal?

Umm. me, it turns out.

It has been an amazing, amazing thing, a blessing, actually, to have family fly in or drive in to stay with me and my husband and occupy my son and take him to school because I could not. and to have my pastor’s wife organize a list so that people can supply my family with meals while I recover, and to have my friends, some who I literally haven’t seen in 20 years, fill that list up in about a day. Whoo, I am still swimming in the love that we have felt that people come running with casserole dishes and soup and car keys so that we could get what we needed.

The yummy fruit that my cousin Pat sent me.

The yummy fruit that my cousin Pat sent me.

But for some reason, it has been really hard to actually just sit, and just rest. I should be welcoming this opportunity to have “chill” as my occupation for 6 weeks, and to not feel bad about Netflix-binging, and wondering if I should be somewhere else. Because I shouldn’t be anywhere else. But there I was, about 22 hours after my surgery, asking my surgeon when she came into my room to check on me, if I was going to be able to be on the treadmill in 2 weeks. And she said “No!”, and looked at my husband and said, “She’s going to be one of those, isn’t she?” And he nodded, but wanted to say, “She sure the heck is.”

And in this day and age where we value work and moving and doing over everything, that seems like something funny, or admirable, that I am ready to go and looking forward to the next thing. And there is nothing wrong with that in theory. Goals are good, but not if you are ignoring the process, and the value of it, and part of this process is to actually rest. Rest is an action, y’all. Letting your body and soul and spirit heal is a good thing. We have such an issue, we do, in recognizing the value of the season that we are in, to the point that we spend the whole time complaining about not being in the next one, then we get to the next one, and complain about not being in the one we just left (Think of parents who can’t wait for their kids to go back to school in August, but then are bemoaning their absence in October and longing for December break.).

It’s not cute, and it’s not good. And every time I get up to show somebody where the ketchup is instead of just pointing them to the fridge where they will figure it out, I am putting extra stress on my body. And when I forget to get my beloved grabber thing to pick up things off of the floor, since I am not supposed to be bending, and I decide to try to bend as far as I can, I wind up hurting myself. And I think I do these things in some part out of guilt because I feel bad that I need help, and I doubt my worth in actually getting help. And I also actually think that I do them sometimes out of ego, because we get some sort of pride out of thinking that things can’t go on with out us, and that nobody can find ketchup as good as us. And I think it’s also, again, about the fact that we value doing more than resting, and daggone, even God rested after He made the flipping world. so surely we can, right? Whatever the reasons are, they don’t trump the fact that I need to let God heal ME and trust the process.

One of my former pastors, Pastor Mich, shared this amazing story on his Facebook page last week. He had been sick, gotten a little better, gone back full-steam to work, then relapsed again. He never gave himself time to really heal. And he said this:

“(Maybe) you want something to be back the way it used to be, or when you just want something to be over with, but God says, “not yet”. Been there?

I have a few ‘not yet’s’ in my life right now. How about you?

You can’t rush healing.
You can’t rush answered prayer.
You can’t rush maturity.”

Right? Boom. There it is right there. You can’t rush the process. And we really shouldn’t want to. Rest is a gift if you can do it. Healing is a gift. I am going to stop taking that gift back, and I am going to revel in it. I have been using this downtime to work on my new business as I sit, but I was also reminded by the nurse practitioner at my 2-week post-op appointment last week, that this is a time to quiet my mind, too. So I am going to end this post and go back to Netflix, now, but thanks for reading, and I hope that if you have some time to rest, you do it, too. It’s a thing. Do it.

Me chilling int he fluffy robe my grandmother got me and brought over the day I came home from the hospital. But she didn't stay long because she knew I needed rest. Trust your grandma.

Me chilling int he fluffy robe my grandmother got me and brought over the day I came home from the hospital. Because she values rest and being comfy while you do it. Listen to your grandma.

Would you be “Married By Mom and Dad?” Probably not. But maybe….

by SweetMidlife


This is Leslie, and as you might have read, I was married until about five months ago, and then, completely involuntarily, I was suddenly not. (He was awesome but he passed away. It’s a whole thing. Read HERE for the sad story I don’t feel like telling over right now, because we were having so much fun, weren’t we?)

I’m only 44 years old, so I imagine that at some point I’ll hopefully meet some other suitable man – Unlike before I met my husband, I’ve got standards now! – but am still feeling so married to my other guy, and so weary of the whole prospect of falling back into the rancid sinkhole that was my pre-marriage Internet dating situation, that I’ve told my friends that when the time is right they’re gonna have to shake the trees and introduce me to someone. (Someone good. Again, I’ve got standards now!) I know now what a good marriage is supposed to be, and in what ways I’d gotten in my own way when looking the last time. I trust my amazing and brutally, brutally honest village of friends to steer me in the right direction.

But the question that TLC’s “Married By Mom and Dad” asks is whether a modern woman or man would let someone else – their parents, specifically – not only steer you in the right direction, but pick the destination, park the car, carry you up the stairs, select the room and then lock you inside with a key you don’t have a copy of. Four singles – Mitch, Marivic, John and Christina – allow  their folks to narrow down a list of potential matches, meet them, winnow them down some more and then suggest they marry. The situations vary – all of them are between their mid-20s and early 30s, never married and with different expectations. Marivic is a nurse who lives at home and seems, honestly, brattier and less cool than her parents. Mitch is a super-pretty Ken doll wine rep, whose dad and stepmom have reluctantly teamed with his mom, who they all went to high school with (!) to find him a woman. John, like Marivic, is sort of a blur when compared to his outsized, outdoorsy parents, and Christina comes off kind of lame and immature, honestly.

The show reminds one instantly of “Married At First Sight,” another reality show about people leaving their romantic decisions up to someone else, except here that someone else is not the parents who raised and know you, but some complete strangers who do science math calculation situations to find you a match. And the stakes are way higher – at least with mom and dad, you get to meet the person before saying “I do” – but here you don’t meet your spouse until you’re at the altar, and then you’re in a legally binding marriage that’s not annul-able (the scientists seem practically giddy when they say that, like “What you gonna do now, girl? WHATUGONNADO?”). This of course leads to panic and drama and ridiculousness that makes great TV and horrible real life.

The producers of “Married At First Sight” maintain that they are a more scientific and therefore better version of traditional arranged marriage, but I think they’re full of this. This is like letting that EHarmony algorithm and the dude in the commercials with the glasses do your profile, have all the conversations online and then drive you to the wedding, and after you sign the release, because you’re an idiot, there’s nothing to do but settle in for the discovery and the humiliation. I actually prefer “Maried By Mom and Dad,” even though I cannot fathom a moment where I’d let, say, my mom and my Uncles Lester and Andre arrange my marriage. I can’t imagine what that person would look like, talk like, do for a living or explore in his spare time, but I know one thing – the pickers in question love me. They saw my heart break this year and would never throw me at some person they did not truly believe would be a great fit not only with me, but with my family, my culture and my life.

Understand: YOU GIRL IS NEVER GOING ON “MARRIED BY MOM AND DAD.” But I can see why one would. One who is not me.

Sing a Song of Christmas, But Don’t Tell Your Mom What Song It Is Beforehand.

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

I have spent the better part of 13 years directing children’s church choirs, and directing both adults and kids in plays, and I have rejoiced and laughed and oohed and ahhed with the parents of the kids I have worked with, as their little performers have sung and danced and Shakespeare-d their little hearts out. It is thrilling for me to see our hard work blossom into a performance, and I know it is wonderful for families to see their children up there doing the thing.

Well, I have joined the ranks of those who sit in the audience and watch their kids do stuff. And it is hilarious.

Our son is 3, and just started going to a preschool based out of a local church a few days a week in September, and so far this school year, they have done 2 holiday performances for parents. The first one was a Halloween Costume/Assembly, where each class sang a song that they had been working on with the music teacher, parents went crazy from the cute, and then the kids marched around the room so everyone could get a better look at their outfits. My son’s class sang a song about pumpkins. That I had never heard my son sing before. I mean never. And I first, I wondered if my son had been listening in class at all because he wasn’t singing at all. All of the other kids were singing, or at least it seemed that way, because it was magnified how much my kid was not singing, and just when I really wondered where Dude had been, he hit a big giant cheesy grin on the part about the pumpkins smiling. So he DID know this song! He was just choosing what he chose to sing. Ahh. This is who my kid is, at least for that moment, I thought. He’s 3. They evolve like every 30 minutes.

So, yesterday was his school’s Christmas program, and his teachers sent home a really nice notice about the show, and that they wanted the kids to wear Christmas clothes (which to us meant red sweater), and that the little folks were going to be learning some songs and working on stage presence. Hooray!! So I asked our kid, maybe a month ago, what songs they would be singing.

“We only sing it at school. Not at home.”, was what he said.

Well then.

So, I have been doing detective work over the last few weeks, trying to get any hint of what selection they were singing. He has wanted to listen to what he calls the “Gloria” song, which I realized was “Angels We Have Heard On High. “Wait”, I said. “Is that what you are singing at school?” “Yes”, he said. “It is.” I accepted that, although because I have met him before, I had a feeling that might not be the case. 3 year-olds sometimes tell you want you want to hear so they can go back to their toy excavator. Or to see you holding onto every bit of carol-info they can get.

Then Thursday, he announces that they are singing “Jingle Bells”. “But wait!”, I said. “I thought it was the Gloria song.” “But I love ‘Jingle Bells””, he said. Which is true. But he sings “Jingle Bells”, no joke, 12 months a year. Then 10 minutes later, he says that they are singing “Our God”, which is his favorite worship song, and I figured that wasn’t right, so I just stopped asking. Which is what I think he wanted. Well played, Sir.

So yesterday was the big day, and he got dressed in his red sweater, and he looked really quite deliciously cute.Now, I won’t post pictures of the actual program because I couldn’t get any without featuring other kids, and since I don’t have those parents’ permission, I won’t.

Pre-show tricycle ride.

Pre-show tricycle ride.

But here is what went down.

My husband had to get his car serviced all day yesterday, so he took off work, and he and I dropped off Nat King Childress to school, then went and got coffee while we waited for the show to start. We drove back to school, and on the way in, we ran into a friend whose son is in the same class as Alex, and we found that he was equally mum on what sing they were doing. “He won’t tell us. He said it’s a surprise and he can only sing it a school.”, she told us. Well, then. We walked to the really beautiful main chapel of the church, got a printed program and found our seat. I started reading, and saw that they had listed what songs each class was singing! At last! I looked at the top, saw his class listed, scanned, and realized that neither of the songs they were doing were songs my kid said they were singing. Well played, Sir.

“You are really wired.”, my husband told me. I hadn’t realized it until I sat down and proceeded to squirm in my seat how excited I actually WAS.

And then the doors opened, and in filed in the kids. And I realized that with all of the parents watching them process, it felt like looking for your kid as they march in for high school graduation, or when you wait for the bride to walk down the aisle at a wedding. And you know what? I am not sorry about that. There are no degrees involved, but darn it, you are never to young to know that people are excited for you. And excited we were. There was waving and picture-snapping and grinning and finally, Alex’s class came in, and there he was, holding the hands of one of his teachers. Then I wondered if there was a reason WHY she was holding his hand, and if maybe he needed, umm, an extra hand to get him to where they were going, but then noticed other kids holding teachers’ hands and decided that SOMEONE needs to hold the teacher’s hand so whatever.

Then the show started. Alex’s class was first, and they lined up in front, with him standing on the end. Then the teacher started the song. And my kid started looking at the stained-glass window. And then he started looking at the altar. And he had not started singing the actual song.

But then he did! He actually knew words!! And he did some of the arm movements too! And then they handed out bells and little drums for the next song, which was called “Angel Band”, and I was very impressed that the kids put their things that make noise down until that part of the song. Very impressed with mine because we have met before. Then the instrument part starts, and as evidenced by the bad video that you will never see that I shot, it was beyond crazy. They were just going to town on those bells and drums, and I started laughing uncontrollably, and I wanted to scream “You bettah work!”, but I decided to not do that. Then their class portion was over and they sat down and so did I and this is what happened for the rest of the show…

…The other 3s class sang some song where they each had baby dolls in blankets, who were supposed to be Jesus, and my husband said “How soon until someone drops one?”, and sure enough, some little boy dropped his doll, and people started laughing, and he liked that so he did it 2 more times. When the teacher came to take his doll away, he started twirling. Did not skip a beat. It was glorious. Then the 4s classes sang, and apparently when you are 4 you can handle words and hand movements and actually moving, because they had like choreography. One of the classes did a song that is a Hebrew blessing, and the kids did joyful, jubilant moves, and this one little girl had so much joy, she was grooving like she was a townsperson in the youngest production ever of “Fiddler On the Roof”. Full Tevye-realness. And then they did a Nativity scene, where one of the angels had to back out because she got sick before school and another little girl filled in and did wonderfully because I could not figure out who she was and only knew that there was a replacement because the director told us. Good job, Backup Angel.

The whole show was less than 30 minutes, and then we all went downstairs and ate cookies. And then we went home. And the whole thing was over.

And we told Alex that we were proud of him, and it didn’t really matter that I didn’t know what they were singing. They had it handled. Handled. Because maybe I didn’t need to know everything. Because Jesus was celebrated, and that is the point of the church preschool Christmas show. And even if everything didn’t go as planned, it went exactly as planned, because they are in preschool. Because preschoolers do things that are unplanned. Having a base for them to veer from is key, and they were fine. It was fun. And I am thrilled to be on this side of the audience.


Being a jerk to a ticket agent means ALWAYS having to say “You’re sorry.”

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here.

I bet that lady wished I'd have used the Web site.

I bet that lady wished I’d have used the Web site.

There are many reasons that I, Leslie, mistakenly accused Southwest Airlines, and therefore by extension the nice lady that had the bad luck to answer the phone when I called, of double charging me for the extra points I purchased when that was totally not what happened. They are, in particular order:

– I suck at math.

– It was 5 a.m.

– I suck at math even more at 5 a.m.

– I am not good at complicated transactions, and the two I obviously made were so close together I mistook them for the same one.

– I suck at math, mornings, complicated transactions and being a human being.

The most important reason NOT on this list is anything to do with the nice lady on the phone, or Southwest, or any of the nice flight attendants who make jokes on flights or give you free wine on holidays (or at least did that one time). IT WAS NOT SOUTHWEST’S FAULT. IT WAS MINE. ALL ALL MIIINE.

And so I apologized. Also, I noted that the nice lady I apologized to seemed to be surprised, not because she didn’t deserve an apology (Oh, she so did) but because maybe she doesn’t get them so much even when she does.

Here’s what happened. I bought tickets for one half of a future trip for the toddler and I last week, when I bought and paid for on one specific card. About a week later, also very early in the morning (I have to stop doing that, obviously) I bought a return ticket with points, and then realized ten minutes later that I’d bought it for the wrong date. (Youch). So when I went back in the tickets for the date I really needed cost more, so I purchased more points. There was temporarily something wonky the first time I tried, so I used a different card and it was fine.

This was over the previous holiday weekend, so all of the transactions I’d made over the last week posted at the same time. For some reason – and this is the reasoning of a sleepy mommy checking her balances at 5 a.m. after a long weekend of travel and whining (some mine, some the toddler’s) – I’d either thought that the first purchase had already posted before, or forgotten about it altogether. All I knew is that there were charges, about a dollar apart, of each of the two cards. OH NO. I had been charged twice! For the same transaction, including the one that didn’t go through the first time.

AND THAT WAS NOT GOING TO STAND. THAT AGGRESSION WOULD NOT STAND, MAN. (Yes, I’m quoting The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” What of it?)

So there I was, mad and feeling hoodwinked, and also still sleepy, on the phone with this nice lady. I admit I was snippy from the get-go, because she corrected me when I told her I was calling about a credit card charge on points travel, that usually doesn’t require it, I snapped “Listen to me. I needed to buy new points. You should listen to me.”

(I was so awful.)

She said that she was, and then I explained what I’d thought happened. She was obviously taken aback, but put me on hold, noting that it was odd that the dollar amounts didn’t match. I was too self-umbraged and full of myself to hear that. While she took a break to do some research, and perhaps to tell everyone sitting around her what a jerk she was talking to, I took the time to go back over my email confirmations of each purchase, which go to an email I son’t usually check everyday anymore. And what do you know? The first transaction, which I took to be the first attempt at buying points that I’d been told didn’t go through but actually did, was really…wait for it…the completely separate purchase of Toddler’s and my tickets completed several days earlier. The second one was the points purchase. Two different purchases. Not the same purchase.

I WAS WRONG. Which I figured out about three seconds before I heard the lady from Southwest coming back on the phone. At this point. I knew that I was mistaken, and that there was no reason to bother this poor woman anymore. Some people would have just hung up hurriedly before she said “Hello,” out of embarrassment and not wanting to face this person I’d been so douchey to.

But that wasn’t right. I can do the right thing. Apparently not as much as I should, but still. So when she came back and started to explain that the one transaction hadn’t gone through yet and, if it was a duplicate, wouldn’t post – still so nice about it! – I cleared my throat and said “Ma’am…I was wrong. I had two different transactions and they posted on the same day because of the holiday, and I had no reason to yell at you. I am so, so sorry.”

“No problem!” she said, sweet but relieved that I was no longer acting like a pre-caffeinated idiot.

I apologized some more and then hung up, and thought about all the times I thought I was right, that I came on the phone with people doing their jobs with a self-righteous and pre-conceived idea of my own rightness. How many times was I mistaken? How many times had I charged in and let someone have it when it wasn’t their fault?

Not many, I hope. But I need to stop being proud of my own Julia Sugarbaker-ing (look it up, kiddies. The olds know what I mean) and always start a conversation with some grace, no matter who’s wrong.

And to say I’m sorry when I’m not right, because I was so, so not.

3 Things My Son Put In Time-Out This Weekend, And 3 Things I Will Too

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here! I have a 3 year-old, and he is funny and sweet and very smart. So smart in fact, that he often uses that smartness to say and do things that he should have probably thought more about before he did them. Things like snatching things from other people, or stomping his foot in my face to punctuate him not coming when I said to. Independence is great. Obstinance is not. So sometimes, after explanations and chances do no good, he gets sent to his room for a bit for a time-out to calm himself down and get himself in check. And apparently, he has taken this message to heart this weekend by putting the following things in time-out so they can think about the egregious things that they have done, namely, to him.

1. The stuffing on his plate for touching his sweet potatoes.

Not the actual plate. That food  has been eaten.

Not the actual plate. That food has been eaten.

2. His tricycle for letting him fall off of it.


3. Me, for telling him “no” too many times. I didn’t go though.

Yeah. No, I didn't go.

Yeah..I didn’t go.

And to that end, it got to me thinking about some things that I too need to give a break to, some of them for a long time and maybe forever.


1. Guilt Over What I Ate This Week: Notice that I didn’t say I am putting the actual food in time-out. Because food is yum. You might not want to eat all of it all of the time, but I believe in moderation, and in butter, and butter in moderation. So even if I put things back into eating rotation that are less fat-laden, I won’t feel bad about the fact that I ate that stuff in the first place. Because I chose it, and I knew what I was doing, and I consciously enjoyed it and all the YES.

My aunt's delicious rolls. NomNomNomNomNom

My aunt’s delicious rolls. NomNomNomNomNom

2. My phone: I have written a lot about wanting to be more present in my life and trying to resist the allure and call of the Facebook and the Google and the HI EVERYBODY!! And the past few days, when I have been around family, I have found myself wanting to pull out my phone to check in with the internet when I am actually checking out of the wonderful place I have been put in, and that is with my lovely loved ones. This one is ongoing. But I had some wonderful book time with the little boy this morning just because and it was better than anything else that was happening at that moment.

Books are fun. They really are.

Books are fun. They really are.

3. Spending my time and brain space retelling that story about the person who did you wrong that one time: The holidays are a good time for families to sit around and catch-up and reminisce about times gone by, and sometimes those old stories feature the time that Uncle So-and-So insulted Aunt Whosie-Who by accusing her of taking their Great Aunt Pookie-Poo’s antique teacup collection when that really never happened and it turns out that they were actually accidentally given to Goodwill, and although everyone knows what happened now, Aunt WW can’t give up that wrong and the whole family sits with her and helps her in her indignation-fest and we all feel superior to Uncle S and S and YAY!! But that self-righteousness turns to yuck and you are the one who winds up feeling heavy with yuck. Even if Uncle S and S never admitted his wrong. and even if what he did sucked, let it go. Yes it happened. But stop telling the story. Even if it is just to yourself. Move on. Now, I am not talking about abuse or other things that really need to be handled and addressed. I am talking about the other stuff., and I myself have to fight the urge to be Aunt WW a lot by freeing up that brain space for stuff like happiness. Because I have been Uncle So and So. And I am sorry. Forgiveness is an awesome thing.

My sister, who knows all of my stories and who I would rather spend time with talking about good stuff.

My sister, who knows all of my stories and who I would rather spend time with talking about good stuff.

So, what are some things that you need to put in time-out, if only for a little while or maybe forever? Share below!

Things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, on the way to the cheese…er, family dinner

by SweetMidlife


So this is Thanksgiving, and what have you done? Well, if you’re me, Leslie, you’ve run/walked a half an hour, made (and eaten a lot of) a cauliflower gratin, taken out the trash, introduced a toddler to the joys of “The Wiz,” observed that Mariah Carey is still the queen of all she surveys and if you don’t agree she’ll just excommunicate you from her reality. It’s been a good day so far and it’s not nearly over. We’ve got more cooking, and dinner, and whatever’s on TV tonight that I’ll DVR and watch when I wake up after passing out in a food coma at 8.

You might know that this has not been the most awesome year around these parts. Actually, for me, it’s been pretty much the worst. But I’m still standing, yeah yeah yeah (Thanks Elton!) and I’ve gotta get this thing rocking, and am covered in gratitude for the people who have risen up to help me. Here are five random things I’m thankful for, just right now:

1) New running shoes, right out the box.

2) Overcast, windy days in November in Florida where you can run on Thanksgiving and counteract the fat to come.


3) The Macy’s parade, and the many many kids who fly in from all over the country to get their 10 seconds of recognition. Never ever be too jaded to capture how important that is.

4) Toddler hugs, because in between the hugs, toddler crazy.

5) Knowing you guys are out there.


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