Monday, December 31, 2012

Ringing in the New Year...Greek Style

Every new year our family continues a tradition I grew up with.  We choose a country and spend new years eve enjoying all that country has to offer.  Through the years we have covered: Mexico, Italy, India, Africa, Poland, Ireland, China, Japan, Australia and Brazil.  This year we chose Greece. Growing up my parents would get records..yes records...from the library of the country. We would read books about the country. My parents worked together making, from scratch, traditional dinners. This was such a monumentous occasion, no one would ever miss it. I passed up many the hot dates for this tradition. Not because I had to but because the times we shared experiencing a different culture was truly a deep bonding. It gave all of us a great respect for other cultures. An insatiable hunger to find out about how other people live. An admiration for other countries and a renewal of our own pride in our heritage. Tonight I continued this tradition,as I have done for the last 26 years. I of course have to add my own flair for the dramatics. We have included games, arts and crafts into our celebrations. Just like my memories, I watch my children light up with these new experiences. I watch them proudly as they laugh and cement these important sibling relationships. As we get ready to ring in the new year, I am so thankful to have grown up in a family that focused on creating life changing memories and traditions. These have given me strong roots to help my own family grow in much the same way. I am so incredibly happy that I found a wonderful husband and father who has jumped on this crazy multicultural band wagon with mucho enthusiasm ( one would only have to witness him in a handmade toga and a Thor hat to know his level of commitment. He is truly my best friend riding right beside me along this crazy journey...I would want it no other way. Enjoy the pictures of each of our events. I hope your New Years was as memorable as ours! I posted pics of our toga fashion show, Greek sculptures, Greek alphabet hunt, Greek Olympic trophy ceremony and strongman competition. We had gyros, Greek salad, hummus and couscous for dinner. We now are snuggles up in family bed watching twilight zone.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let the games begin...

New years is tomorrow and I am officially beginning my resolution.  This year I am going to lose some major weight.

I know what you're've said it before.  Everyone tried and fails.  You don't have it in you.  Wrong.  I am going to do it.  I will forewarn you, it is gonna suck.  I will no longer enjoy food.  I will workout daily and sweat alot....gross.  I will curse often.  I will be grumpy and cranky.  I will whine and demand that everyone listen and feel sorry for me.    You have been warned. 

This time it is different for my motivation is like none other.   Drumroll....I am going to get $350 and take my family to Great Wolf Lodge!   More importantly, I am going to avenge my husband for his wrongful defeat to none other than the Wilkerson clan.  When this opportunity presented itself to my fat behind, at first I was intrigued, then I began imagining Great Wolf Lodge and, as my sister Mary says, my banging body.   But what really cemented the deal was my brother in laws win over the great and powerful fantasy football team of Shawn,and Matt.

For too long Aaron has gone unchecked.  Walking around with a puffed up chest and clearing space for his poorly won trophy.  No more!  For too long he and his wife have been pushing their way into my parents hearts for most loved children.  I say enough!  They even had the audacity to bear 2 sons, so divine in looks and nature, my own parents have named them "Precious" and "Darling".  To that, I say shame on you! 

I am also throwing the gauntlet down on his parents and brother.  The very people who raised such a magnificent opponent.  Mr. Wilkerson, who I am sure taught his son everything he needed to know to steal the league from my husband.  His brother, who surely taught him how to make such adorable children (oh yes, I remember his own children clearly as their beauty is well known and showcases around Aarons home).  Don't forget sweet Pat.  Her wily ways of convincing her son and daughter in law to do this challenge is no match for me.

Excuse my French, but I gonna kick all your sweet asses and avenge my husband and take back the coveted spot of favorite child.  I will even sabotage my nephews by posting numerous pictures of my own offspring.  And, as the pounds come off I will laugh evily and prepare my victory dance.  It is on like donkey Kong.

I ask from any friends and family out there who have heard tale of the Wilkerson brood...sabotage them!  Bring them candies, sweets and fast food!  Close down their gyms!  Wear your Team Reynolds shirts with pride!  It is a revolution I am starting and I urge you to join in!  Bring me any supportive ideas, suggestions or tricks.  I will try them all.  This is the year I will reign victorious!!!! And, more importantly, Aaron and Mary are going down!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Precious Fleeting Moments

Ok...I am a bit melancholy today.  Every year at Christmas we fly through the crazy prep and miss those simple little moments of grace.  I am sitting here with my children watching a movie and finding myself reflective on some of those moments.

I am so thankful that God have me a gift of enjoying to write.  I can look back on this year and some of the memories we made and smile.  One day we will be all alone and no matter how much sweet sugar bear, it truly can't compare to the immense, natural unconditional love, acceptance and grace I feel with my children cuddled around me.  Such short, fleeting moments that are flying by much faster than I would like.

Some people in my life worry about how much I jam into our days but, what they can't understand is that I am working tirelessly to soak up every moment.  I need to do this more joyfully and be present in the moment instead of monsterously forging ahead with a magical "Martha Stewart" plan.  I will work on that.  I will work on living each moment of the process instead of rushing madly through the prep. 

In the meantime, I am enjoying this parenting thing.  We made these incredible applesauce ornaments and my kids looked at me like their hero.  Emma participated for what may be the last time before the world of cell phones, boyfriends and la de freaking da, steals her From me for good. We visited Santa and I reflected on keegans first Christmas with us and kileys (most likely) last year to believe.  This is probably Shawns last year of being in that special photo...crying real tears.  Dylan found our elf this morning and I realized this is one of the last years of those magical Christmas miracles where magic exists and elves are real.

So, I thank you for reading my rants this year.  All of you who have shared with me your thoughts or happiness at these stories have encouraged me to keep writing. This has brought great passion to my life this year.  This has encouraged me to be a more present mother.  It has and will continue to enable me to keep a timeline of these precious moments that will keep me company as a wistful, melancholy old coot.  Keep reading and I can't wait for the adventures of 2013 to begin.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


As I sit and await the arrival of the beauty queens, I am finding myself reflecting on being a parent. Parenting is so obnoxiously difficult and neverending.  We get so caught up in that side.  But, right now as I listen to my spotify playlist (thank you hubby) titled "sweet, sweet kiddos" I am overwhelmed by how honored and thankful I am to be a parent.

This weekend I felt that more than ever before. I am thankful to have children to be there for me.  Hold my hand when I am scared.  Give me hugs when I don't ask.  Talk with me when I need lifting up.  Ask my advice when I need most to feel needed.  Write me sweet notes to keep forever.  Contagiously smile on my worst days.  Laugh with me and play silly games.  Sing songs and read books to me.  I am thankful for their sweetness, youth that will only stay for a short time.

I am honored that God has truly chosen Shawn and I to be the parents of each of our children.  Allowed my siblings to have children for us to also guide and love.  Godchildren to inspire and teach.  Honored us and trusted us to make them shine with his light and grace.  I feel honored much like an old actor receiving a lifetime achievement award.  I am not worthy of this honor and yet I stand here accepting this gift humbly.  Hoping and praying to do everything in my power not to screw it up, take it for granted or treat it with anything other than the utmost dignity.

I find myself failing at times.  I focus on the hardships and struggles that come with parenting instead of on the blessings pouring down on our anointed heads.  I lose hope and Faith.  I forget so many times in a day to trust in my own child rearing to know what needs to be done to be the best parent ever.  I find myself wishing for vacations from parenting.  To step back and take a breather, so caught up in the mundane frustrations that wiggle their way into your heart.  I allow myself to feel beaten at the end of a difficult day.  I even look forward to the day they are all grown and my house is quiet.  I relish the idea of reading a book in quiet or maybe painting in a clean house adorned with softly burning candles.  Can you even imagine?

But, as I sit here, overwhelmed by my Lil twincesses arrival, I find myself thinking of parents states away.  I have not spoken on this shooting because I am too angry, hopeless and righteous.  I stand by that. 

Today though, my thoughts are with those parents and on the tragedy of losing this honor and blessing.  Today
I vow to work even harder daily to be an amazing parent ever conscious in every previous moment with all of the babies in my life.  Today I vow to not look forward to the days of a clean, quiet house but to embrace the beautiful chaos that I have been chosen for.  Today I vow to be better because I know better.  I will do this because I am so proud of being a parent and because like everyone else, I am reflecting on what it would be like to lose that honor.  To lose it and never get it back.

My children are doing 26 random acts of kindness and we have asked them to work really hard to accomplish these at school.  For their teachers who raise them, love them and protect them.  Their school workers who serve them, are kind to them,and guide them.  For their principal who keeps their school safe.  We have asked that they do them for each person who lost their life that day.

I am going to do 52, no matter how long it takes.  Each one I accomplish will honor each parent who is feeling the devastating loss of earthly parenting.   I will focus on my babies.  All of them.  Feeling thankful in every moment for their amazing existence.  For their unending love.  For believing in me, supporting me and believing in me no matter what.  For giving me purpose, hope and Faith.  For making me a better person.  Please consider doing the same.  52 gifts of humble gratitude for the joy and honor of being a parent.  Today this is what I am reflecting on.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why I am Obsessed With My Birthday...

Those who know me, know that every year approximately 3 months before my birthday, I begin an obnoxious countdown.  I like to think it is cute and sweet.  To some it is an annoying nuisance.  But either way you look at it, it is still an annual birthday tradition.  And now, I am gonna break it down for you...

If you are a mother you are gonna get this.  As a mom I suffer from guiltitis.  This is a raging epidemic that is rarely talked about.  It is highly contagious, has very bad symptoms and is not cured by any current drug on the market.  It is a plague that never leaves you.  You carry it with you all the time.  The heaviness literally weighs you down.

Guiltitis affects you most when you do anything for yourself.  Go to the bathroom and lock the door....guiltitus.  Make a call to a friend just to chat before kids are in bed...guiltitis.  Watch Teen Mom instead of painting with your kids while listening to classical music...guiltitis.  Come home an hour early to fold some laundry in peace...guiltitis.  Read a book and have the last bowl of ice cream...guiltitis.  This just skims the surface.  This doesn't even touch the times you get a new shirt for yourself, drop off the kids at a sitter for an hour, work, sleep, eat, breath...every mommy moment filled with guilt.

The befriending list of nagging questions...did I hug my kids enough today?  Was I patient enough?  Did I actively participate with my kids?  Did I ask another day, kiss them, tell them 5 good things about themselves?  Today did I make each one of them feel special, loved and perfect in every way?

My birthday is one of the only days I give myself a day off from guilitis.  For one day I am the queen of everything.  I do what I want, for as long as I want.  I don't pressure myself to be the perfect mom or wife.  I give myself permission to be free of any roles whatsoever.  I let myself relax fully.  I wear pajamas and drink Starbucks.  I watch reality TV until my brain explodes from sheet stupidity.  I read trash mags to my hearts content.  For one day I give myself a get out of jail free card.  And, for the next 364 days I count down until the next guilt free day.

Let me tell you it is a glorious way to spend your birthday.  Some think it is cute and sweet.  Some find it beyond annoying.  I find it a necessary reminder that life is too short not to live it up, guilt free and celebrating another beautifully blessed year!

The Official Kick Off to Christmas...

Every year we have a very special family tradition.  Ever since I was blessed enough to find Tots Landing as my place of employment, our children have participated in the Christmas Program.

The Christmas program is literally the start to so many things.  It signifies the start of a 2 week vacation for me to focus on only being a mom...the most important vocation of all.  It showcases our little beauties and how much they have grown from the year before.  It is a time where we gather together in the spirit of Christmas to celebrate what matters most, our kids.

Dylan is performing in a Hawaiian Christmas.  Dylan has been practicing non stop.  He literally yells every word of his songs.  He is so proud to show off tonight.  I will be thinking back to last year when he was so excited to sing with Ms. Audrey and her guitar at the end of the program.  I will be remembering her as I watch Dylan sing.  Somewhere I know she will be watching us tonight.

Keegan will be a Lil rapper.  His class will be rapping 2 songs.  I will remember tonight last years program, when I felt so sad as I watched him on stage.  He was quiet and scared as he looked out into the crowd.  At this time I was struggling with the fact that Keegan would not be a part of our family.  I was so sad because I still felt like he needed to be.  I can't explain it...I just knew.  Tonight will be a full circle moment watching my son.  Scared or not I will be so immensely proud.

My mind will also wander to the many memories of programs past.  Holding Kiley as a little angel...a proud mama amongst angels.  Or, when she sang in her overalls and looked so adorable.  I will think of AJ and sugar sugar (Emma) dancing the hula and singing Jimmy buffet.  Forever frozen in a moment of beautiful arranged marriage.  My Shawnie boy who was the King of my nativity.  Dressed in a velvet robe, bringing gifts to the Baby Jesus will be one etched deep in my mind.

So many precious memories that I don't need pictures to remember.  They will be ever present with every Christmas carol I ever hear.  They will be stored in my heart and always brought to the surface at this magical time of year. 

I have 2 more Christmases to enjoy this special tradition and then no more.  Tonight I will be thankful for my job, my owners and my Co workers for creating this unbelievable event that officially kicks off our holiday season.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Zingers Away...

When I was little my dad was the king with making fun of the "self esteem" gurus of the early nineties.  Stuart Smalley was a staple in our house.  We would all mimic the "I am good enough, I am smart enough and doggone it people like me".

I can remember one time, he came home from a team building workshop which translated into Naptime for my dad.  He was hysterically laughing about a circle he had to stand in where his Co workers had to repeat, "zingers away" while doing spirit fingers.  This was supposed to head off the negative nancies and fill that cup halfway up.  We adopted this as a family slogan and still will repeat this to each.other. Of course, we are making fun of the crystal wearing hippies....or are we?

With the holiday shenanigans upon us I am watching in utter disbelief as people are turning on each other.  A nasty old lady cursing out a young group of kids at the mall.  A young punk flicking off a lady in a van.  Co workers jabbing each other.  Family members at each.others throats. Unhappy, mean people everywhere.

The epidemic has reached our workplaces.  People are just focusing on getting that paycheck and heading home to check their Facebook (sadly, me included).  They rush through their job forgetting the importance of their work.  They are short tempered and apathetic with each other.  The holiday happiness we should be sharing with our teammates is disappearing into weird ritualistic obligations or expectations that are depleted of any genuine joy.  They are simply tasks to check off on a long list of things to complete by Christmas.

The negativity has encroached the sacredness of our homes where kindness and love has been replaced with shortness and indifference.  Couples are so busy making others dreams come true they lose focus on their families.  They forget to build each other up.  They work too hard never slowing down to praise their mate and show gratitude.   Their kiddos have got the gimmes and are so hyped up on the commercial benefits of Christmas forgetting the most basic fundamentals of the word...Christ.

Don't get me wrong....bring it on!  I love my elf, my Christmas program, secret Santa and cookie decorating.  The fact is these are awesome if Christ is at the center.  Have that elf at the nativity set kneeling by baby Jesus, say a blessing with your kids before they perform, a Lil prayer for that grumpy Co worker who is the new owner of a pair of Christmas socks and make a batch for a lonely neighbor. 

This week as I embark on the millions of activities, responsibilities and expectations I am going to work extra hard to focus on the true reason of the season.  I am going to conciously pray and keep my thoughts and words kind, uplifting and inspiring.  I will hope people around me will too.  If not i will yell with a haughty, bellowing laugh, "zingers away you negative nancies,  I am good enough, smart enough and dog gone it people like me!!!!"  That'll show you!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Am Officially a Grown Up!

Growing up I always babysat for couples that went to a Christmas party.  I always thought they were so fancy and fantastical.  The parents would leave looking amazing and so excited.  The kids always were in the cutest pajamas and always had pizza.  It was weird how different those nights felt.

When the parents got home, the mom would usually ask only a few questions and the dad would bumble around with the money.  I knew that they had such a good time they were literally exhausted from so much fun (or too much eggnog).  I would walk home through the snow and just dream of the day I would have a Christmas party to attend.

13 years into my marriage and I have still not attended the elusive Christmas party.  But, this is my year!  The year I become an adult who will get dressed up fancy and set off on a fantastical journey.  I am so excited to find out what all this is about.   Mostly though I am excited to go with my husband (who incidentally tried to invite Shawnie and, no).

My hubby works 92,000 hours per week and in the extra time he has he is the best dad ever.  Right now, I kind of fall to the back burner.  Listen, this isn't a sob story, it just has to be the reality.   I know one day it will just be him and me.  But, until then I live for these moments where, for a second, we get back to primping, dating and just us.

Life is whizzing by at crazy speeds and you can really lose how much your marriage means.  Its easy to focus on the countless ways your life needs to improve.  Or on the negatives that stalk your life.  But, tonight I am going to leave all of that behind.  Tonight I am excited to be an adult. I am excited to get picked up by my hot date and focus on some positives.  Get pretty and dressed up without kid crud.  Maybe even get a little lucky ;)  My kids will be bathed, in fancy pajamas and I will order a pizza (for old times sake).

When we come home at the end of the night the magic of a Christmas party will carry with us just like it did all those years ago.  Except this time, I will be part of the lucky couple and not just a wistful observer. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

I Think I Am A Freak....

Weird title, right?  Not when it's true.  Let me tell you, it's true.  I am not a freak like a psycho freak.  Or, a creepy freak.  Or a sicko freak.  I am just a family freak.  Let me explain...

You all know I am the mother to five beautiful children.  You also know that I have been so lucky in love with a husband who endures and adores me.  Most of you know that I have an extended family that is gigantic.  I mean really gigantic.  2 parents who are my heroes, 17 nieces and nephews, 5 siblings, 3 awesome outlaws ...this is just my immediate family.

I also have an amazing relationship with my in laws whom I love with all my heart.  I fell in love with Shawn mostly due to my obsession with his mom.  True story...  They have given me 25 more aunts,and uncles and let's just face it...too many cousins,to count.

Then I have 11 aunts and uncles who have guided me, loved me and prayed for me throughout my life.  They have given me 31 cousins that I have laughed with and loved.  

I am a freak because, truly, if I could pack them all up and set up a commune without a shadow of a doubt I would.  I would lock them all in and we would create a new country.  They might not love it but I would be in seventh heaven.  We would create our own currency (with my face on it), be completely self sustaining and would have arranged marriages (my family would marry Shawns family).  We would never have to leave and we would create our own national anthem.  It would be magically delicious.

You may think I am kidding.  Aww, isn't she cute with her little sweet musings.  Wrong, people, wrong.  I have the plans drawn up.  I have doled out the careers and the layout of the neighborhoods.  I haven't shared my plan....yet (I may do it after the sedation has worn off).  It sounds weird and slightly crazy but, if you knew my family you would get it.  You would.  You really would.

As christmas time draws near and i get to spend every waking minute with the people i love most....i cant help but wonder if this is the year it will happen.  And, this dear friends, is why I am a bonafide freak.  And, I don't care.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Humility is For Fools....

Let me say, first, I am fully humbled in the presence of the His presence only.  But, in the moment I find myself suffering from a bad case of Buckley-itis.  That is too say...I am right and everyone else is wrong.

I admit to the world that this humbleness that people walk righteously with, I have fallen prey too. I have in the last few months doubted my greatness. I have lost faith in my upbringing which has caused me to veer off of the chosen course for my life.  I have listened to people who say i am too straight forward or that i need to see more "gray".  On this "humble" path I have lost the unconscious Faith filled belief that He is walking with me and beside me.  I have lost courage, bravado and hope.  Most of all I have lost my sass.The very sass that enabled me to hear Gods will and keep the faith.

I believe when you are too humble you begin to question yourself. Now, don't get me wrong, there is a place for humility but only a small place.  It is important to stay humble with others but never with yourself and relationship with God.  When I look in the mirror I don't want to see a wimpy version of a pacifying, accepting, humble servant.  I want to see a confident, strong, butt kicking leader.  Lately, I haven't seen this chick.  She's been out on her hog living life.  I am calling her home today, selling the bike and booting the wimpy humble servant out.

Here is what I know to be true today and will continue to preach on loudly, confidently and sassily...

1. Be a servant to truth, goodness and kindness always.  True to what you know is right, Good to all Gods creatures and Kind in every circumstance.  You will not be rewarded, exalted or praised....on earth.  This kind of life will not be easy but it will be worth it.  Others will judge you.  Call you pious, a know it all...ignore the haters.

2. Do not wallow in your tragedies.  Celebrate them, this is the devils way of getting in.  If he is trying, you ate winning.  Dont give in ever.  WOLVERINES!  Kick him in the balls and give those tragedies to God.  Trust in Him....

3. God is always with you.  If you can't hear him, speak more loudly and confidently.  If he has disappeared, bring Him home.

4.  No matter what, trust your gut and let your heart lead you.  Do not become discouraged or lose Faith.  Decisions made this way are ALWAYS the right ones.

I had to get this off of my chest.  Job and I have been besties for too long and with a very sad adieu, I pack his bags and send his leper bootie home.  No more despair in my heart or emptiness in my soul.  I am back...all of my sassiness and naughtiness included.  If I ain't humble enough, there's the door....keep on walking.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

McClelland the Elf

Today we received a very important gift.  We received Keegans Elf on the Shelf.  This little elf was with Keegan last year and this year he comes to join our family.  I am looking forward to beginning this new family tradition!

I am lucky to have a courageous, creative and funny husband who is sure to make McClelland a very mischievous addition to our family.  I am going to look forward to logging his adventures in my blog to share with all of you.

And so it begins...

Once upon a time there was a little elf who fell in love with a little boy named Keegan.  He spent an amazing Christmas with Keegan and was very sad to see this end but, alas Santa called him home.  Off he went, knowing that next year he would see his friend again.

When he came out to play the following year some things had changed and McClelland the elf was very worried that he wouldn't see his little friend again.  So he his in the China cabinet, worried that his Christmas wouldn't be the same.  But, later that day a knock came at the door.  In ran Keegan!  He was back to play.  Keegan was not alone.  He had some new friends with him.  One was a very loud little boy full of laughs and smiles.  His name was Dylan. 

"I will like him," thought McClelland.  He looked around and spotted a beautiful, salty little girl.  He noticed right away that she was creative and had a great imagination. 

"oh, the fun well have", McClelland smiled.  He then noticed a girl helping Keegan and encouraging him.  He noticed her happy spirit and kind eyes.

"I think she will be a great helper for the little ones as we begin our Christmas tradition," McClelland sighed in happy contentment.  Finally he spotted the oldest.  He had just led the group of children in a game of follow the leader.  He led them confidently but stood back to let them shine.

"he will be the great and powerful leader that will encourage the rest of the group to not give up," McClelland thought to himself.  "This may not be such a bad year after all".

That night after the children all went home to their new house McClelland packed up his belongings and headed to the north pole to report to Santa about his new friends.  He asked Santa to allow him to go with Keegan to the new house and begin his journey with he Reynolds.  Santa gave his blessing and with a hearty ho,ho,ho McClelland heading to tobasaw CT.  He jumped into keegans stocking cuddled up to record the events for Santa.  He went to bed with a smile on his face and happiness in his heart.