Good Friends and A Guest Post!

This weekend I got to spend time with a good friend that lives a few hours away. She and her family used to live here, but they moved last fall. Her husband had business in Nashville this weekend, so they stayed with us and we got to laugh and talk, catching up on all that's been going on the past six months! It was fun to have "girl time". We did a lot of shopping. I had forgotten how much fun it can be to take the whole day and travel from store to store with no agenda. We started out doing the rounds of thrift stores and ended up at everyone's favorite...TJ Maxx/HomeGoods. There's something for everyone there!

Still smiling after shopping all day!

More than any activity, I think we were both looking forward to the conversation. We like to talk about our kids, our husbands, our faith, our homes, and every other little aspect of our lives. No topic is too small or big. If it's on our minds, we need to share it.

Good friends are such a treasure! To be able to be yourself with someone is a gift. A few weeks ago, I wrote about being real with other women, about letting your guard down and sharing your heart. My friend, Aly, at One Day Lighter, is running that post as a guest post on her blog today. Here is a little excerpt...

I don't know about you, but I can get bogged down with trying to be someone I'm not. Trying to feel things that I don't. Trying to complete things I only started out of guilt. I can get caught up in my own little world and not feel like making time for people outside my family. Or I tell myself that as soon as x, y, and z are finished, then I'll make the time...

If you'd like to read more about a great experience I had connecting with a group of women, click here!

Living with the Fashion Police

Caution: This post contains some exaggerations. You may or may not experience this in your own home...YET!

When your kids are little, you can wear anything and they'll give you a compliment. In fact, sometimes you can look ridiculous, wearing your oldest, grossest outfit, and they'll say something sweet about it.

And then they grow. And they get opinions. And they notice that people outside the house tend to dress a little nicer than mommy and the compliments become more rare. Now you only hear a compliment if you're truly dressed up. In my case, it's usually accompanied by a look of shock, like, Oh I forgot mom could look like a real person!

So, I know just exactly how my husband felt this past Sunday. I mean, don't we all go into our closets at times and struggle to find something to wear? There are plenty of clothes, but will they pass the test? If you have teenagers, then you know what test I'm talking about. If you don't, then someday you will. This little post will help you to be more prepared for your future!

Here's the test: Will you get a thumbs up or an eye roll from the teenage fashion police? No notice at all means you're probably safe to go out in public. And receiving an unsolicited compliment from a teen is considered a fashion coup. I've been to known to bask in the afterglow of such a rare occurrence for days!

Anyway, back to my husband's dilemma. Steve doesn't like to get rid of anything. He tends to hold onto clothing until I go through and say things like, you have ten pairs of tan shorts, can we get them down to three? So there are some clothes he should have parted ways with long ago. But, he also hates to can imagine his pain. In the interest of spreading the love around, he decided to choose some pants and a dress shirt that had seen better days.

First he asked our oldest if his outfit looked okay. She told him it went out of style ten years ago. Not being one to take an obvious hint, he then he asked our second oldest. This child doesn't like to deliver bad news, so he told his dad to ask me. Another child flat out told him it was ugly and another one laughed. I'm telling you, you have to have a strong sense of self to run the fashion gauntlet in our house. Getting down the hallway and through the kitchen can be your death. Needless to say, that outfit and some of its cousins are sitting in the Goodwill bag this morning!

This needs to be the litmus test for all men's clothing in our house: If our sixteen year old son hasn't asked to borrow it, Steve probably needs to rethink owning it! That boy can sniff out a new shirt a mile away and be wearing it the next day. Even it is mixed in with clothes from ten years ago!

Of course, it's easy to make fun of Dad, but believe me I've experienced the thumbs down many times. Trust me it's not for the faint of heart. Being told my outfit is "a khaki mess" springs to mind! It seriously makes you question how you managed to get dressed before these fashionistas arrived. I have been known to wear something all day and then change before the kids arrive home from school just to avoid the looks!

Lucky for us, we have three more kids coming up through the ranks. They might still be giving us a pass now, but they'll pull no punches later. I have a feeling many more pieces of clothing will be making their way into the Goodwill bag!

What's it like in your house? Are you still able to dress without judgement from your offspring? Do you turn to your kids for fashion advice, too?

Virtual Blog Tour

Hi everyone, we're going to do something new and different at Normal Everyday Life today. I want to invite you to come along on a blog tour with me. What's that, you say? Let me explain...

The idea of a blog tour is to meet some new friends and see what goes on behind the scenes at several different blogs! The same four questions are answered by many bloggers and then linked together to form a fun path to travel.

Question 1. What am I working on?

I wish I had some profound, impressive answer to this question. To be honest, I'm working on developing topics for future posts, experimenting with how to create and improve my images, and learning how to run a blog. There are just so many interesting ideas out there and they all lead me to want to do one more thing!

Question 2. How does my work differ from others of it's genre?

I think that every blog is different, even within the same genre, because each author brings different life experiences to their writing. Just like people, each blog has its own personality that makes it unique. I'm certainly not the only mom blogging about life and motherhood. But I hope that being real and sharing from my heart allows my readers to connect with me and makes them want to come back. I know I often follow blogs more because I like the author than for the information they impart.

Question 3. Why do I write/create what I do?

This one's easy! I do it because I love it! I love the process of getting an idea, exploring it, writing about it, editing it, and hitting publish. I enjoy it when other people tell me they relate to my feelings, words, or experiences. I find it amazing that I can make someone laugh, encourage them, motivate them, or comfort them...all with words I've written. It's completely addictive!

Question 4. What is your writing process?

My writing process is all over the place. In fact, I wouldn't even call it a process, more like twisted things that happen as I move from idea to actual words on the computer. First, I think, Ooh great idea! Then I think, No, there's not enough there, or It's stupid, or What would so and so think if I wrote that?  I might start a rough draft of the 10% of ideas I don't discard as soon as I think of them! Once I do decide on a workable idea, I vacillate 100 times between this is great and this is ridiculous. Finally, I might have my husband read it while I wait on the edge of my seat convinced he'll laugh at me for completely failing to create anything worth reading. And that is the tortured behind the scenes stuff that goes on at Normal Everyday Life! Why did I say I love it again??!??

Wow! I hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse into the workings of my blogging mind. Obviously, it's a bit scattered in there!

If you'd like some real encouragement and wisdom from an awesome writer, I urge you to visit my friend, Aly at One Day Lighter. She invited me to participate in this tour and posted some great answers to the four questions here.

I'd also like to introduce you to the some other fabulous friends that will be continuing our tour next Monday on their blogs.

Here is a little bit about each of them...

Chelsea from The Contented Wife-- Chelsea absolutely loves marriage and family relationships, and wants to encourage others to focus on their families and realize the importance of building their homes. Her prayer is that the readers of her blog are inspired to strengthen their families and lead a more spiritual life.

Lana from Two Teens and Their Mama-- Lana is a 40-something mom of two teenage boys, married to her high school sweetheart. She blogs about parenting teenagers, getting through midlife, and the things she loves, with a little fashion and beauty thrown in. She tries to live each day with patience and a lot of humor!

Leilani and Emily from Just A Touch Of Crazy-- Leilani and Emily are sister in laws and friends who happen to live in opposite parts of the country, but have kids all the same ages. They started their blog to share their motherhood adventures with each other, and with you. Because let's face it, the journey is better when someone has your back. Join them on the crazy ride that is motherhood!

Thanks for coming with me on the tour today!  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Time Marches On

In case you missed it, yesterday was Father's Day! And of course I didn't want to leave my husband out of the the myriad of Father's Day pictures on I posted this one.

It was taken on Father's Day seven years ago, but it's the picture I always think of when I think about this special day. Steve is covered in kids! These were the days of look at me, play with me, help me, listen to me, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. Precious, wonderful, exhausting days we wouldn't trade for anything!

Fast forward seven years...

Shall we play What's Different About This Picture?

Let's see, everyone is independent in the bathroom, can ride a bike, and knows how to swim. Yay! (Two are even lifeguards!)

Everyone is in school and can do their own homework. Just in time, too! Apparently, Dad and Mom are a lot less intelligent than they were seven years ago. We used to have all the answers and now our kids are the self-proclaimed experts on EVERYTHING. It's okay though because we've heard we gain back most of our intelligence in about another seven years!

No kid takes a nap...and some even go to bed after we do. Time alone after the kids are in bed? A distant memory...

Some kids can drive, and pick up things from the grocery store. This is AWESOME!

Sometimes sibling rivalry disappears and the kids are friends. Sometimes they even gang up and make fun of us now!

Family dinner hour is, more often than not, (dare I say it?) enjoyable. We get to chew our food and sit down the whole time!

Yes, lots of things are different, but one thing is the same. We still wouldn't trade these precious, wonderful, exhausting days for anything!

And now a special shout-out to my most faithful reader. Drum roll, please!!!!!!

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!!

Laugh About It!

If you write a blog, there's a good chance you read a lot of blogs. In fact, that's one of the reasons I started mine. When you enjoy watching other people do something, there comes a time when you want to jump in and try it too!  I like reading posts on a variety of topics, but my favorites are the ones that make me laugh at parenting. Because really, sometimes family life feels so crazy, the only thing you can do to keep from crying is to laugh!

Today I'm going to share four funny posts I've come across lately. 

1. Mother-fudging Mondays, by Allison at Complicated Gorgeousness. I enjoy her writing because she admits things we've all been thinking at one time or another. You'll be laughing at the many ways Monday mornings can go wrong!

2. If Grown Ups Had the Same Sense of Humor As Little Boys, by Leilani at Just A Touch of Crazy. This post shows how everything in life with little boys comes back to talking about poop. And it's true. Fortunately, my boys have mostly outgrown this stage, but I can still remember and laugh about it. Also, I have three nephews in the thick of this and I think Leilani might have had a hidden camera on their conversations!

3. The Perils of Being Third, by Suzanne at 3 Children and It. Anyone have a third child? Then you'll think this is funny. Fits my third one perfectly! Good to know I'm not a slacker. I'm just practicing typical third child parenting!

4. Why Mom Is Brain Dead, by Meredith at The Palette Muse. This post made me laugh because it's right where I am with two ten year olds and an eleven year old in the house. So. many. questions. If your head ever spins at the number of questions your kids ask in a day, you'll relate to this!

So sit back and get ready for a good laugh. Because that's much better than a good cry!

Removing Our Masks

I had an amazing experience this weekend. It's one that I fought. One that I had to make myself do.

My friend, Aly from One Day Lighter, invited five women over to her home, prepared us a light meal, and offered us one of the greatest gifts...the chance to be ourselves. 

I don't know about you, but I can get bogged down with trying to be someone I'm not. Trying to feel things that I don't. Trying to complete things I only started out of guilt.

I can get caught up in my own little world and not feel like making time for people outside my family. Or I tell myself that as soon as x, y, and z are finished, then I'll make the time.

Before I went on Saturday, I was tempted to cancel. I'd been away at my daughter's college orientation the previous two days and felt mentally drained. Then, when I got back, I fought with my husband over stupid things right up until the time I left for this gathering. My house was a wreck from being gone, I was tired, and summer home with five kids had been taking its toll.

All I really wanted was to lay on the couch in a quiet house and collapse. Just do nothing. I thought that might rejuvenate me. 

Let me tell you, talking honestly, sharing our hearts and laughing together, refreshed me more than a thousand hours of sleep could have done.

At first, it was all pretty. Pretty words, pretty sentiments. Small talk about small things. But then real people showed up. Honesty moved to the forefront and we took our masks off for a little while. Because none of us is renewed by superficial. None of us feels any better after small talk. No one is refreshed by keeping up appearances.

If you're honest when talking to others, it's like an avalanche. It gives them permission to be honest and you all end up feeling better. I was comforted to be reminded: none of us has it all together, everyone gets tired of mothering, it's okay to say no and not feel guilty about it, and everyone craves some time by themselves. Whatever your deal is, there are other people that can relate!

Connecting with people in a meaningful way isn't likely to happen in passing. Most of the places we go it would be awkward to truly share what's going on in our lives. But with friends, with other people walking the same road you are, it's great to be able to say what you really think.

I'm encouraging you today to make the time for connections.  Accept that invitation for coffee, go out to lunch with a friend, attend that party, even if it will mean rearranging your schedule or setting aside the never-ending demands of home for a little while. Be yourself, open up and share. You'll be refreshed and your presence will lift someone else up, too!

What Does He Hear?

This post has no real point other than to wonder aloud at what my kids hear when my mouth is moving. Believe me they all do this, but today I'm focusing on my 16 year old son. For those of you that have a teenage boy, you'll know what I'm talking about. I'm not sure what is going on in his mind, but he CANNOT remember to put his things away to save his life. Sometimes, I get to thinking that it must be my fault, but then I experience that blessed moment when another mom of a teen quietly admits that her son does this, too.

There are moments in parenting when you can either rant and rage, or you can laugh and blog about it! Today I'm going to show you some pictures and imagine what the thought process might have been behind these decisions.

Exhibit A: dirty t-shirt tossed on the kitchen floor

Hmmm. Mom is nagging me again to get my dirty shirt off the dining room table. What does she expect me to do with it?!? Oh, I'm so hungry. Got to get to the kitchen. What's this shirt doing in my hand? Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to put it away. Could put it in my dresser, but really what purpose do dressers serve? Plus, it's all the way upstairs and I might want to wear it later. Aaah, a corner of the kitchen floor! That's the perfect place! Why don't we just keep all our clothes in a pile by the door and we can grab them on the way out?!? Genius! Mom is going to love this idea!

Exhibit B: school papers laying on the floor

What did Mom say to do again? Oh, yeah. Clean out my backpack. (Sigh of dread). Hmmm, I took all the papers out, but now what should I do with them? She only said to take the papers out of the backpack. She never said to throw them away. I mean I'd have to walk all the way into the next room to put them in the trash, or I could just throw them here on the floor. If it was up to me, I'd totally just throw everything on the floor. I did what she asked and if she wanted the papers in the garbage can, she should have said something. I'm going with my leave it all on the floor idea!

Exhibit C: water bottle perched on top of the van

That was a great bike ride! I'm awesome! So thirsty. Water bottle. Hmmm, I think I may have heard Mom harping on putting my water bottle away when I'm done. Always nagging! Okay fine, but where? Surely she doesn't mean to bring it in the house with me and lay it in the sink. That wouldn't make any sense. Let's of the van! That's genius! Why hasn't mom thought of this? I mean if we just put all our dirty dishes on top of the car, then the rain can wash them and they'll air dry while we drive around town. I should be on Shark Tank!

Yep, I can hear Mom talking, but I have no idea what she's saying...