November 18, 2015

Sir Jude the Ungrateful

"I was so embarrassed," my mom informed me, after she and Jude returned home from the birthday party Jude had just attended.It was the first party Jude had been invited to since they started their new school. "He refused to thank the parents because he only got nine tickets and didn't have enough to get a prize." Not only did he sulk out of the party, but he got in the car and went on to complain about what a horrible and pitiful life he led.

Lesson 195: 9 paper tickets causing your child's life to spiral out of control = white trash

Did I mention what this party entailed? At the party, Jude got to go bowling, ride bumper cars, play laser tag,he  received 20 tokens to play in the arcade, and got a gift bag with large boxes of movie theater candy and a movie ticket! And he was pitching a fit about arcade tickets? Seriously Jude? Seriously?

Lesson 196: The time of your life ruined, because you can't get a kazoo and two Tootsie Rolls = white trash

My mom wasn't the only one who was embarrassed. I haven't had a chance to meet these parents. Jude's behavior was their first impression, not only of him, but of our family as a whole. Not to mention, Jude gave his friend a pathetic card with five bucks inside! Yes, we are a bunch of ungrateful cheapskates.

After a lot of thought, I had a one-on-one conversation with my son. First, I told him how disappointed I was with his behavior. I explained how his actions probably made his friend's parents believe he was not a very nice person. Then, I informed him that due to his ungratefulness he would not be able to attend any more birthday parties until I felt he had a more grateful spirit.

As I spoke to him, I  thought about all the times I had done the same thing. God has been so gracious to me, showering me with blessings upon blessings. Yet, there are still times when I focus on the the paper tickets in my hand that don't add up to what I want. Focusing on the small ways my life isn't how I want it deprives me of thanks. Deprives me of true joy. And just like I took birthday parties away from Jude, God has the power to take back the blessings he's allowed me to have.

Jude lowered his head and covered his eyes with a paper towel, so I wouldn't see his tears. (He never cries.) "Jude, God calls us to be joyful in all circumstances. I know you were upset about not being able to get a prize, but did you still have fun?" Jude nodded his head. "Then, you should have had joy in your heart. That way you could have walked up to the mom and dad with a smile on your face and thanked them. They planned that whole party so they could bring you and the other kids happiness and see smiles on your faces. How sad they must have felt when they saw your scowl."

Jude lowered the paper towel, "I'm sorry."

I stuck my fingers in his hair and tousled it out of his eyes. "It's alright. Just keep God's joy in your heart. It will help you be thankful even when you're bummed out about things that don't go your way."

Jude nodded his head. I'm sure I won't have to worry about ungratefulness from him for a while.

After he left, I thought about joy. Joy is so important. If you have true joy, even during hardship, it breeds a thankful heart. It brings happiness. It enables forgiveness. Joy produces love and compassion. It keeps us from being judgmental, and helps self-control.

So, if today you're staring at a pitiful amount of tickets in your hand, I say you put them in your pocket, look around at what you do have, and choose joy!

July 4, 2015

Talent Show


There are a few things I firmly believe in, and family is one of them. I'm sure you've guessed as much by the size of my own. I come by it honestly. My extended family is also quite large and we are a very close knit bunch. 

Earlier this week, my mother's side of the family met for a couple days to celebrate my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. This was strictly my grandparents, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Fifty-one of us attended, but several others couldn't make it, and we all stayed in the same building!

Lesson 194: Family so big, you can rent a whole lodge and fill it = white trash

Not only is my family big, but they are all very talented. They excel in sports, theater, dance, and I swear half of them can just pick up an instrument and play it like they've been playing it for years, and while they're playing that instrument some of my other relatives will wander over and start singing in six piece harmony.

I'm not included in that pile of talent.

To remind me of my lack of talent, my family decided to treat Ma and Granddad to a talent show.

My sister and I chatted about it before we left.

"Haley and I are going to do a dance," Ronnie told me. 

I sighed, "My only talent is giving birth. I doubt that would be appropriate."

Ronnie snorted, "Maybe you should do some stand-up."

"Meh." Childbirth sounded better.

After we got to the anniversary reunion, my Aunt Carol bustled around getting people to sign up for the talent show. Almost all my kids signed up. I was relieved.They could perform in my place. Even though it never manifested itself in me, I must carry the talent gene and passed it down, because my kids are talented. The older ones play instruments, Jude can tell hilarious jokes and stories, and Jovie is so dramatic 100% of the time that she could probably have a stage career now.

"What are my kids doing?" I asked Aunt Carol.

"Most of them are playing the piano." 

"Huh? None of my kids know how to play the piano." So much for talent redemption!

"That's alright. If they want to play the piano to praise God, then you should let them." Aunt Carol smiled and walked away.

Uh, I thought this was a talent show for Ma and Granddad. Whatever. 

The time finally came for the show. Ma and Granddad had a table set up where the two of them sat together to enjoy the talent they brought into the world. 

First up, my cousin Lonnie's kids. These little ones wore cowboy hats and sang a beautiful song together. Even her one son, who is like four years old! How did she accomplish that?

After they finished, Aunt Carol got up and introduced my first performing child. "Next up, Jet, who will be performing some table slapping."

Table slapping?

Yep. It was exactly what you are thinking. So glad we have spent so much money on guitar lessons these past few years.

Jagger followed with his "balancing act". That turned out to be Jagger smacking a ping-pong ball around the room while he chased it and screamed.

Rex was next. He played the piano. While he played (or pounded keys), Fox joined him and they made it a duet. A very loud duet. Yes, it was almost as good as Kieran's and Aunt Audra's duet of Heart and Soul that followed. OK, not even close!

Stone played, and looked like a crazy pianist, as he threw his head back and cackled through the whole thing.

My last child to perform was Jovie. She had been sitting by me during the show. When she was called, she turned to me and stated in usual Jovie fashion, "Mom, grab a tissue, because you're about to cry."

Oh, Jovie. She played a random tune and posed for photos while she did so. When she was done, she sat back down and whispered to me, "I did awesome. Did you cry?" If anyone is in need of self-esteem, let me know. Jovie has enough for about 67 other people. Just saying.

After my cousin Matt finished the show, I glanced over to see big, beautiful smiles on my grandparents' faces. They loved it. All of it.

That's when I realized the truth. Ma and Granddad didn't care what anyone performed. They were just pleased that they were loved enough to be honored with their descendants' time and effort. Combining that with what Aunt Carol said, made everything so clear. We can offer up anything to praise God. I may not be talented like the rest of my family, but I can still have something to offer. 

I can offer up my time. I can clean my house with a happy spirit. I can serve my family with a glad heart. I can love, even when it's hard. I can do anything, and if I'm doing it to be pleasing to God, I will put a proud smile on his face, just like the smiles on Ma's and Granddad's faces.

I really wish I would have done something for the talent show. It was silly to have felt so inadequate, especially with my own family. They love me no matter what, just like I love them. Next time I'll be ready, and maybe I'll help my kids with their choices. Or, get them some piano lessons, for crying out loud! Of course, after the show, I did have a few family members come up and tell me how hilarious my children were. I guess I was responsible for some stand-up after all.

Happy Anniversary Ma and Granddad! We've all been so blessed to have you in our lives! 

April 28, 2015

Drinks Are On Me!

Little kids love to help, and my twins' servant spirit is stronger than most. They love to clean toys, sweep, put dishes in the sink, and pretty much whatever else you ask them to do. In fact, there are many times I don't even have to ask.

Today was one of those days. After lunch, they took their dishes to the sink and dropped them off. Adam and I were still eating, so, I figured they'd wander off somewhere to play. A few minutes later Fox returned with a small plastic cup full of water. The cup looked suspiciously just like the cup of Cocoa Puffs Stone had earlier.

"Mom, I got you a drink."

Not wanting to crush his spirit, I took the cup. "Awe. Thank you! You are such a nice boy. Thank you for thinking of me." As I put the cup beside my plate, I could tell the water was hot. Mmmmmm. There were also various things floating in it. Double-mmmmm!

Fox hung on my leg. Waiting.

I'm a total germ-a-phobe. I wanted to smack the cup across the room to get it far, far away from me. Then, by some saving grace, Fox grabbed the cup and said, "No, I got this for Dad."


Adam chuckled, "Wow, thanks buddy."

"You going to drink it?" Fox asked.

Adam looked into the cup. "Buddy, there's things floating in it." Adam quickly jumped up with his empty plate and ran away.


Fox climbed up in Adam's chair and peered inside the cup. "Oh, that's wood. Hold on, I'll get it."


Fox shoved his whole fist inside the cup, displacing a good majority of the water. He pulled his hand out. "Got it!" He opened his hand and shook his head, "No, that's grass." He shook the wet grass from his hand. "Hold on, I can get it." He shoved his hand back into the cup.

Where the heck did he get this water?

He fished around and fished around, getting more and more frustrated. "I can't get it!" All of a sudden, his face lit up. "I know! I need a straw!" Fox jumped down off the chair and ran to the kitchen. He came back and threw his red straw in the cup. "Now I'll get it."

I watched as he sucked up mouth full after mouth full of water, and then he'd spit it back in the cup after being unsuccessful at sucking up the wood chunk.

Finally, he took the straw out, placed it on the table, and sighed. "Maybe I should just clean it."

I smiled, "That sounds like a very good idea." I wanted no part in putting that hot, wood, grass, fist, spit water anywhere near my mouth!

He jumped back down and ran for the kitchen. While he was gone, I tried to psyche myself up to take a little swig of water to make him happy. I knew that by cleaning, he meant rinsing it out. For me to be alright to drink it, it would have to be dumped, scrubbed, bleached, boiled, and ran through the dishwasher at least seven times.

He came back in. The cup was full and he had a big smile on his face. "This water is cold."

"Well, that's good."

He placed the cup on the table. "The cup is all wet, because I cleaned it in the bathroom."

Noooooooooo!!!! My resolve faded fast. I thought to myself, OK, one small swig of, what is most likely, toilet water. Dogs drink out of the toilet all the time and survive. No, wait! I can just keep my lips closed and make it look like I'm drinking it. That's it!

Lesson 193: Having to mentally prepare to drink water = white trash

I was finally ready to take the cup. I reached over, but right when I put my hand on the thing straight out of my nightmares, Fox snatched it out of my hand and said, "I think I need a drink."

Yes son, enjoy the fruits of your labor.

April 24, 2015

Preparing For Baby

I have a cousin who is due to have her first baby a week or so after me. I talked to my Grandma the week after my cousin's first baby shower.

"She cried, because she was so overwhelmed with all the stuff she got, she doesn't know where to put it all," my Grandma told me.

"Ha! Must be nice," I answered.

"Why? Aren't you ready for your baby to come?"

"I have a dress."

"That's it?" My Grandma sounded kind of alarmed, but it was true.

Finding her concern amusing, I told her, "Yeah, the dress is size 6-12 months, but it'll do. I also have a lot of size 5 diapers here. They might be a little big. Since we don't have a crib, we'll probably just put her to bed in a laundry basket."

My Grandma laughed, "Do you have a car-seat, or will you be bringing her home in a pillowcase?" (We're related....she gets me.)

My due date is now just a little over two weeks away. (I've had half of my kids 2 weeks early.) Am I anymore ready than I was when I talked to my Grandma a month ago? Uh, not really. We don't even have a name for her yet. (We weren't expecting a girl!)

My mother-in-law came for a visit last week and brought me 3 onesies, a couple of outfits, a bib, and some socks. She called after she left and asked if there was anything else I needed for the baby. I told her, "not really." She then started asking questions.

"Do you have a bassinet?"


"Do you have bouncy seat?"


"What about a dresser?"

"Yeah, you gave it to me, remember? The clothes you brought came in it."

She paused for a moment. "Jess, that was a cardboard box."



"Jessica! A cardboard box is NOT a dresser!"

"It does the same thing. It's holding her clothes right now."

"Oh, brother. That's not going to fly with me."

(I love my mother-in-law. lol)

Memoirs of a White Trash Mom

Lesson 192: Being absolutely OK with cardboard furniture for your newborn = white trash

That's the difference between having your first baby and your tenth. I don't care about dressers. It's not important right now. The last three kids didn't have dressers until they moved to their own room. Then, they share dresser space with whoever their new roommates are.

You know who else won't care about dressers, bouncy seats, or fancy new clothes? The baby. That is the one thing I've found time and time again. All they care about, at first, is snuggling, eating, and clean diapers. The hospital sends us home with diapers, I'll be capable of feeding her at a moments notice, and there is no shortage of arms for snuggling in this house!

Did you ever watch the movie, Babies? ( I at least have wipes. The mom from Namibia wiped her baby's butt with what looked like a corncob! A corncob people! In that culture, they have nothing. Not even clothes. Yet, that baby was able to thrive. Women have been having babies since the dawn of time. God equips us with everything we really need. The rest is just convenience.

Please don't think I'm saying we should all go live naked in mud huts. I'm saying more stuff doesn't make you more prepared. If you're expecting, you're physically prepared. There's no need to stress about having the latest, biggest, best, jet engine propelled baby swing. Kids like to do the unexpected, so, odds are, your new baby will hate that swing anyway.

April 20, 2015


I've been pregnant before. A lot. I've had twins, been a week overdue, and had gallbladder and sciatic problems during pregnancy, but this time, by far, is the most uncomfortable I have ever felt. There are several reasons for my discomfort.

One, I believe, is my age. Not that I'm old, but I had my first baby when I was an agile, muscular 19 year old. This time, I still hadn't lost all the baby fat from babies #2-9, and the most exercise I saw in a day was carrying laundry basket, after laundry basket, upstairs. When I complain about my discomfort to my doctor, he constantly reminds me I'm not a "spring chicken" anymore. I guess I've become more of a fall turkey, complete with stuffing.

Another reason I may be uncomfortable, is my clothing. I only have one pair of maternity pants. I'm not the kind of person to wear the same pants for a week without washing them. I just can't do it. So, the rest of the time, I cram myself into my normal pants, that are way too tight. Luckily, they are low-rise and can be fastened below my belly...tightly...pressing firmly on my cesarean scar. Unlucky for everyone else, they are low-rise and my butt, that has reached planet size proportions, does not fully fit in the back of my pants. I have an ample supply of not-embarrassing-at-all butt fat and plumbers crack spilling over the top, and sausage is made in a more attractive manner than me dressing myself in the morning. I wish my maternity shirts still fit, but alas, they don't. I started wearing Adam's shirts, because they are longer. He asked me the other day if I could hurry up and have this baby so I would stop stretching them out. (You can tell this is our 10th baby. Pregnancy holds no magic.)

The last reason, I am carrying extremely low. I feel as if this baby could fall out at any second. My normal gait is now a waddle, but I feel like I should be walking around on my tiptoes, like I just dismounted a horse and am about to poop myself. Needless to say, bending over is not my friend. Fate is a cruel mistress, seeing as children and the messes that go with them are all on the ground. Why can't kids throw more tantrums on top of counters or tables? Why must they throw themselves down on the floor? Why can't they leave toys on high ledges or desks? Why do they have to scatter toys on the carpet?

It wouldn't be so bad if this low-slung pregnancy didn't make me pee myself. Seriously. I sneezed last Tuesday and peed my pants. (Of course, it had to be my maternity pants.)

Lesson 190: Peeing your pants at age 35 = white trash 

I can't even pick up at the end of the night without multiple pee breaks. I average about 1 pee per every 3 bends/squats. Adam constantly tells me to just let the mess go. The sad part is, I have been letting a lot of things go. I even have my kids helping me with my chores. They do things for me on top of their own chores, and things still aren't getting done. I'm very frustrated, but my frustration pales in comparison to my sense of discomfort. SOMEONE SEND A MAID!

At this point, I'm praying for an extraordinary nesting period. I usually know when labor is imminent, because I get an uncontrollable urge to clean my fridge.

Lesson 191: cleaning the fridge = having a baby 

In this upcoming nesting period, I'm praying that God gives me the uncontrollable urge to clean the fridge, scrub floors, dust, wash windows, take out the trash before it's overflowing, clean bedrooms, wash bed linens, clean out closets, sort through a mountain of toys and throw away broken items, remove fingerprints and crayon off walls, mow the grass, clean the garage, and if at all possible, remove dead leaves from the gutters. I'm also hoping, that during all this activity, I will only have to take 1,789.25 pee breaks. That would be awesome!

February 26, 2015

The Importance of Checking Teacher Credentials

Jude and Jovie are currently into playing school. They love to sit the twins and Stone down and pretend to teach them various things.

Jude teaches math, and by that I mean he writes down ridiculous math problems on a piece of paper and then belittles the younger kids when they don't know the answer. (FYI...he doesn't know the answer either.)

Lesson 189: ridiculing kids who have never had a math lesson when you need a calculator to find the answer to your own problem = worst teacher ever!

Jovie teaches art and science. This past week's lessons have been about rainbows. I thought she was merely teaching them how to properly draw one, but today I found that isn't exactly true.

I sat in the toy room watching Hawk play on the slide, when yelling erupted from the tv room. Stone and Rex stormed into the room. Stone, with his angry eyebrows blazing, asked, "Mom, how are rainbows made?"

"When sunlight hits raindrops it reflects the light and makes rainbows."

Stone turned to Rex and yelled, "See! I told you it was from rain!"

Rex stomped his foot, "No! Rainbows come from princess power!"

Hmmmm.....maybe I need to revise Jovie's lesson plans.

February 20, 2015

The "Crappiest" Day of My Life

We finally have a house! After almost three years of our old house being on the market, a year of nightmarish renting, and close to two months of living with my in-laws while Adam lived at the restaurant, we finally have a place to call home. Our family could not be happier.

We were so happy, I gave in to my husband's and kids' request for a dog. Why wouldn't I say yes? I'm a 35 year old pregnant lady with 9 kids and a husband who lives at work, it made perfect sense to get a 12 week old nervous puppy who needed potty trained in the middle of winter.

Dream. Come. True.

Ok, that's a lie.

In truth, Belle is a very good dog. She's wonderful with the kids. The little boys poke her, pull her tail, roll over her, and flop on top of her all the time, and she lets them. What makes me absolutely crazy is potty training.

She just doesn't seem to get it. I could take her out and she could do her business, but it seems like she has a full reserve set aside for in the house. If she sees a blanket on the ground, she runs directly over and pees on it. When Adam or Marky look at her she lets out a little sprinkle. If they pet her, the flood gates are opened and she sits in her massive puddle wagging her tail, throwing pee to either side of her. If Adam picks up a leash, pee. Someone new comes to the house, pee. I leave and come back, pee. Constant. Pee. I live on my hands and knees with a roll of paper towels and cleaner.

The pee doesn't bother me as much as the poop. I can't stand the poop! Belle doesn't poop in the house if I'm in the same room as her, but if she can get away from me for a second and goes anywhere near the toy room or the back wall in the fireplace room, she poops. It makes me crazy!

One morning, I took her out. We came in and she took off running for the toy room. I chased her in, and sure enough, she was pooping on the floor. I picked her up and ran her back outside where she pooped even more. When we came in I thought she would be good. No. A half an hour later I found her pooping in the fireplace room, right beside Adam's laptop.

Later that day, I retrieved Adam's computer. When I got it to the table I smelled something gross. I looked down to see dog feces on my shirt. Apparently, she had gotten some on Adam's laptop and I didn't see it until it was smeared all over me.

If I only had to deal with dog poo, it may not be so bad, but I have three kids that are still either potty training or in diapers. That night, I was trying to take Hawk's poopy diaper off. He wasn't having it. When the diaper came off, he contorted his body to where he was able to wipe his butt on my pants. At this point, my whole days attire had been defiled.

This would have been enough for anyone in a single day, but not me. I can never get enough!

Rex is doing pretty well potty training, but he hates when he gets a little dribble of pee on his pants, so he changes them constantly. This day he had run out of pants and resorted to a pair of shorts. I was in the kitchen when he found me.

"Mommy, I pooped on the floor."

"You pooped on the floor?"

He nodded, "come here."

He led me to the toy room, and sure enough, there was a big ball shaped turd on the rug. (Of course, it had to be on the rug and not the hard wood floor 3 centimeters away!) He had pooped and it fell out of the bottom of his shorts. Gross.

I sighed. "It's ok buddy. I'll clean it."

I walked into the kitchen and got the paper towels and cleaning spray. I came back in and looked down. The poop was gone. What in the world? Where did it go? I thought to myself. I noticed something move out of the corner of my eye. I glanced over to see the dog standing on the other side of the room with Rex's turd in her mouth. I gasped, "No!"

When our eyes met, she jumped down into her "chase me" stance. "No, no, no, no!" I know they told me not to tell the dog "no", but that was all I was able to say. She took of running through the house, thrashing her head from side to side. I chased her all through the house until she flung it from her mouth, landing on more carpet. (Did I mention there are only two carpeted rooms in our house? What are the odds?)

Lesson 188: playing fetch with a ball made of human feces = white trash

I called Adam that night and told him I had reached my limit. "This by far, has been the "crappiest" day of my life."

"I'm sorry honey, I'll plug everyone's butt when I get home."

Oh, if only!