Happy Last Day Eve!

December 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Three-out of four kid Christmas parties down, and it’s last-day eve.  Did you hear me?!  Last. Day. Eve. The night before the last day of school.

All of you pre-school & elementary moms out there know what that means.  It’s basically the alarm bell for half-done Pinterest projects intended to delight or inflict the whole of our kids’ education sphere.  Gifts for teacher?  Principals?  Coaches?  Librarians?  Classmates?  How far you take it depends on the bevy of your free-time vs. the budget you have.  How organized your are vs. how creative you are (if you’re both, please don’t tell me).  How talented you are in the kitchen vs. your svelt-like ability to own the dollar-aisle and douse it’s contents in amazing celophane, ribbon and twine. 

As I sit here, munching on the candy cane popcorn scored out of my three-year-old’s bag (Thank’s Bennett’s mom!), and waiting for my Keurig to churn out a Dunkin Donuts peppermint mocha, a thought occurs to me.  We’ve all seen the posts about overachieving elves, and cautionary edicts about supermommery. And like most things in life, I take a bit of valid opinions, add salt if needed and spit out the gristly bones.  

I’ll be the first one to admit to you that I flunk the supermom test.  And that the elf is cleverly hidden by my husband 20-out of it’s 25-day shelf life. Sure, I’m guilty of showing off my highlight reel of kids and good times from time to time via social media to smokescreen the fact that I wear yoga pants and a cap to pre-school pickup, but don’t actually work out more than twice a month.  It’s true. If I sat down to think about it, most of the moms I passed in the parking lot today with arms full of gifts were up with me at 1:30 am, praying to the baby Jesus we celebrate that they didn’t forget anyone. 

Today, my three-year-old’s Christmas party was thrown by a genuine heroine. I know this, because after five minutes of threatening my two-year-old that I was going to lock him in our mini-van if he didn’t stop hiding behind the seat where he knows I can’t reach him (more on that some other time), I ran into her, holding three shopper totes, a giant roll of wrapping paper, a folding project board, 25 drink boxes and a baby bucket WITH A BABY IN IT!!!! She was dressed in all white and camel, with perfect blonde hair, and the most amazing red leather platform shoes I’ve ever seen. I could barely relieve her of the Yoohoos with the toddler, bag and camera on my hip. Ladies and gentlemen, that woman threw a hell-of-a-three-year-old party!

There have been times In my life that I would have peeped around today’s amazingly perfect Christmas party looking for measuring sticks by which to judge myself. Or worse, judge the room and a thinly veiled effort to prop myself up. I mean, we are talking about a preschool that had a bona-fide movie star in the pickup line yesterday, so there is sometimes a level of handbag gazing. But you know what? For every individually wrapped bag of goodies, I felt genuine admiration. And for every mom who showed up without (inclding me), I felt just as much admiration. And for every mom or dad that couldn’t be there? Admiration. Because I know what it took me to get my three kids out of the house this morning, and my guess is, everyone’s plate is just as full as mine.

You know what I did see everywhere today?  Love.  Simple.  Genuine.  Plain.  Even when iced in amazing. Delivered by some folks doing what they can to help their children know – even if they don’t quite get it yet – that, for us, this is a very special time of year.  It looks different for everyone at different times, and at different seasons and stages in our lives.  And so long as everything we do comes from a place of generosity and not competition, a place of good will and good raising, examples of servanthood mixed with the fabulosity of who we are as individuals – then bring it on!!!

So dear ladies of the internet and beyond, drop the pitchforks, give yourself a hug and then hug the mom nearest you.  If you’re a supermom and have yet to crash – rock on!  If you’re a total deadbeat and didn’t know the holidays are even here, here’s a hug too, mom A has got your kid covered.  And if you’re like me on an ever-vascilating roller coaster ride in-between, own it.  Because no one can replace you.  And that’s the truth.

Warm holiday hugs,Adrienne


PS – Yep, I’m blogging. Again. Deal with it.

Yeah, I'm King Triton's youngest. What of it?

Yeah, I’m King Triton’s youngest. What of it?

photo credit: Pawpaw.

So, my Facebook feed full of people contemplating the end of the world. If, in fact, the end draweth neigh, I would still have some things to be thankful for.

Okay, if you are a girl who grew up in a Charismatic church hearing about the rapture and the end of the world, then this is going to be obvious. I GOT MARRIED AND HAD KIDS BEFORE THE TRUMPET SOUNDED!!!!! That’s big, y’all. If nine-year-old Adrienne’s deals with God are valid, that means technically I can pray for nothing else ever. If you’re a boy and prayed a similar prayer at nine, I hope you got a video game console and got to spend an entire weekend staying up all night, gaming and eating pizza before the Big Guy calls us home.

On that note, Sarah and Larry, y’all might wanna consider getting married RIGHT NOW. Don’t wait until sunset tonight. Heck, text your vows if you have to. You need to slide in under this door! And I’ll be thankful when you do.

Speaking of wedded bliss… I’m so grateful for all of our family that are driving in from all corners for the big day. I love celebrating this new chapter of Larry’s life together. In the event that the highways are closed and the little men in parachutes descend, our basement will accommodate.

Speaking of basements, should I decide to stock mine, I’m grateful for the warehouse shelves that currently hold the ghosts of technology’s past. I know we’re going to need some diodes and electrodes and old cell phone antennae. Once we clear the shelves to make the inevitable communication gear, we’ll have lots of room to store the pumpkin harvest growing in the woods from all of the rotten ones I tossed from the front porch. Ooooh – I’m thankful for those too! (Score 2!)

I’m grateful for satellite tv. Cable might not work. Broadcast might be shot. But nothing can get between us and the ole DTV lady in the Southern Sky. Well, except for nuclear winter. Maybe I need to rethink this one??

I’m thankful for my time with my children. If the snapshot was taken NOW, and this was all I ever got, we did well.

I’m also thankful for the realization just now that I need to remember that marker every morning in the form of a question. Don’t mock me when it shows up cleverly illustrated on Pinterest. I’m only human.

I’m thankful for the Dillard’s return policy. If the snapshot were taken now, I’d fail the keeping up the ‘ole figure test. Sequins do NOT hide muffin top. Besides, anthropologists do not need to find me fossilized in my basement, surrounded by makeshift com’ gear, holding a fermented pumpkin drink and wearing sequins. NOT a good legacy.

And finally, I’m thankful for a sense of humor. Being able to look at the most serious of things and locate the humor disarms fear. Actually, 1 John 4:18 says it’s perfect love that casts out all fear. By having found that perfect love, I can look at everything that I might ordinarily freak out over and, well, laugh. I know from where my help comes.

Keep it classy in the end y’all!

24 Flavors of Thanks

November 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

Day 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. Here goes.

I’m ludicrously thankful that my baby boy is sitting here gnawing on my finger. That’s ’cause he HAS TEETH y’all: a feat never accomplished by a Gray child before 15-months-old.

I’m thankful for the way that the morning light bounces off of leaves when the sun shines. Both for the gorgeous dancing shadows it leaves on my floor and the way that it animates the air around me.

I’m thankful for hot showers. The alternative just isn’t that appealing, y’know?

I’m thankful that I live in a family where we started the tradition of learning the alphabet with foam letters on the shower floor. We get to spend that much more time in the hot shower.

I’m thankful that Stella Gray is so stinking funny. For the life of me, I can’t remember if it’s the age or if it’s just Stella, but that little monkey keeps us in stitches.

I’m thankful for mail-order. Seriously, who has time to go shopping?

I’m grateful that the door I slammed this morning after I was interrupted three times by different family members on the same sentence was loud enough to immediately shame me.

I’m thankful that I know better than to get onto a tangent about whether or not being thankful and grateful are the same things. I’m not sure there’s any wisdom there other than to just be kind of verbose and naval-gazey.

I’m thankful for friends who are unselfish, thoughtful and just love to have a good time.

I’m thankful that we made a vow to raise our son in the Christian way until he’s old enough to make a decision for himself.

I’m also thankful for a Mimi that is obsessed with sewing fine clothes for her grandchildren. Jon Powell’s baby gown was exquisite.

I’m thankful that even though I know they are about, and the body count by yardmen continues to grow, I have yet to actually SEE a live snake at our home. God knows what I can handle.

I am thankful that our central vacuum cleaner in my garage and has direct hose access so that weekly (sometimes daily) I can efficiently deal with the explosion that takes place.

I am so grateful that our daughter goes to the kind of school that allows it AND that I have the availability to go and be a part of her classroom once a week. Being connected in that way to her education does my heart good.

I am thankful that age reveals the wisdom to know that I can’t “do it all”. It’s not that I still don’t lament it, it’s that I know to pull up before I live there and try to make the absolute best of what I can do.

I’m so thankful for the kind of life that my husband and I have pieced together. Yes, there have been edge of the cliff moments. Yes there have been moments where we’ve fallen and fallen hard. But we’ve fallen together… landed on our bony rears, gotten up and chose a different approach to the mountain. We’ll never have to say that we spent life at the base camp watching everyone else live.

I’m thankful that sitting here, even just now, thinking about all of the fallen moments, there are still infinite lessons to glean and apply.

I’m grateful that God has allowed us the grace that the journey’s still on.

I’m thankful that at any time I can stop being so deep and meaningful without fear of confusion because this is MY blog.

I’m thankful that I can make risotto without following a recipe. Butter, onion, garlic, arborio rice, white wine, shitake broth, chicken broth, shitake slices, parm, sage, salt, boom.

I’m thankful for social media. I love keeping up with people that I would inadvertently lose track of.

I’m thankful that this old dog can still learn. Few things excite me more than tackling a new project or a new method of doing things.

I’m grateful that there are infinite word combinations and ways of saying things. It makes communicating worthwhile and fascinating.

I’m grateful for Warby Parker because I’m about to get my ordering on for new glasses.

And finally, grateful that we live surrounded by trees, because after 24 thankfuls, I’m STILL enjoying their dance in the wind.

It occurred to me today that I swim so furiously, that I don’t always recognize just how much my husband does to steer the currents in my favor. I have a man who fearlessly took his five-year-old and two-year-old DAUGHTERS camping. One still in a diaper. If that doesn’t speak volumes. I’m so grateful to have a partner who is relentlessly engaged in our childrens’ lives.

Software. People, if you don’t appreciate the time we live in, spend a day with pen and paper and a landline.

A great place to lay my head. Fabulously soft broken-in sheets. Clean even. The most comfortable mattress ever. One large enough to collect five people by 6am. Pillows a plenty. A ceiling fan. The perfect place to shut my eyes after an honest day’s effort.


1, 2, skip a few…

November 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

Who’s gonna admit that they’re so self-centered that they ran out of things to be thankful for after the first day? Me!

Just kidding. I’m still here, still thankful, I’ve just been so thankful that I’ve lived life non-stopped from stumble out to fall in. Friday night I went to my future sister-in-law’s bachelorette gathering. Saturday and today I attended to some long-overdue business while my husband relieved me took my two oldest camping. Closets, attics, craftroom, organization station… I opened my computer ONCE in the last 72. So here, with NINE nuggets of thanks!!!

1. I am grateful for my soon-to-be sister-in-law. ‘Cause I couldn’t have mail-ordered a better companion for my brother. As a bonus, I like hanging out with her and because she’ll soon be family, it’s the same feeling as finding out you get to hang out with someone late on a school night.

2. I am grateful that I have a mini-van. Door buttons and car-height entry are awesome for a five-foot-tall woman with three kids. (Does my gratitude get revoked if I came up with this one after trading cars for the weekend and climbing in and out of my husband’s SUV? I need a rope and a pick-axe.)

3. Drive-thru. Come on, it rocks!

4. Things that are intended to be eaten with chopsticks. Mmmmmmmmm.

5. So grateful for people that are kind to women with babies. It’s just a nice feeling after the blood-pressure spike of the car entry-exit process, bag-grab, buggy legbend and snap to have people continually remind you, in between your 11-month-old trying to hurl himself at every item in the store, how precious this time really is.

6. My precious Sydney. Today, after a 30 hours away, she came home and chose to spend the afternoon with me. I know she’s just five, but I’m so thankful every time she picks me.

7. That every day is a new chance to write it all over again. I went through stacks of things that had been piling up for years… some things in boxes that had been shoved in boxes from previous moves. The thing I took away from that is how often life changes course. Being reminded where I was “when” compared to where I am now reminds me that everything is a matter of perspective.

8. For people who challenge me. Speaking of #7, I appreciate the people in my journey put there to teach me – purposefully or otherwise.

9. Coconut oil. Cause it totally rocks as a soup base.

And you?

I’m busted.  I cannot be succinct enough with my words to not be aggravating in my social media sphere, so here lands my thanksgiving project.

If you’re not sure what I mean, stop what you’re doing and read this. bit.ly/VEM9Kz

The gist is that there are all kinds of good reasons that having a thankful heart and attitude is better than not having one.  At a time when it’s really becoming clear to me just how much my kids pick up on from me… a good attitude vs. a bad one, whether to hold my tongue or not, how I respond to every challenge… I could either bat at flies and try to tackle every eventuality, or I could start from the outside in with an attitude check.

First, I’m thankful that I stumbled upon the blog of someone I worked with so briefly that I don’t even remember the name of the project, but I’ll never forget him. I must have filed Chance Scoggins away in that bucket of my mind marked “People that I sure am glad to know exist because they put the ‘kind’ in humankind.” Dude’s a bucket of sunshine, and if you’re looking for some, it’s yours for the taking in his blog. Granted, being thankful in the month of November isn’t a new idea, but Chance’s take on it is so refreshing. www.Chancescoggins.com

Second, I’m grateful for second chances. Of any sort. From a second listen to a song, a second sip of a new kind of coffee, a second introduction to a person who perhaps you didn’t get on the first go-round, heck, a re-boot on life. Those of you who know me know that my sense of second chances comes from my faith in Christ. People suck. I’m included in that statement. It resonates in me that He is the ultimate giver of the second chance (or third, fourth… or 219th, by my count just today.)

Third, I’m grateful that life is so full of possibilities. It’s inherent in me to be overwhelmed by all of the things I cannot do. But rather how blessed am I to live in a time when we have options? When art and creativity are rewarded? When, with the click of a mouse, I can show my children the world, while dinner’s on the stove. I may not get my priorities sorted straight every day, but at least they’re all coming from a bucket of pretty incredible options.

This was an interesting pair of weeks. Two short weeks strung together – well, more like a midget week and a short week.  The midget week was brought to us courtesy of Hurricane Issac. The short week by people who work and celebrate their working by not working on a Monday.

Since having a bajillion kids (or 3) I have new perspective on all holidays. For the creative, non-focused, stay-at-home mom (read, domestiflated), non-major holidays no longer mean days off – they mean disrupted routines wrapped in limited availability of structured activity. Also known as “Quick, figure out something fun to do with the kids before you end up caught at noon with your bathrobe still on, 13 half-finished projects and kids who think napping is a tag-team sport.” days.

There’s guilt because you know you should be doing something amazing, guilt because your short week has no shortage of regular things on the to-do list, and guilt because, well, instead of revisiting point number one of this sentence, you’re instead on the internet racking your brain to find a randomly witty counterbalance to end this sentence on point 3.

And then it happened.  I put down the computer. Left my phone inside. Stripped the two babies I was home with down to their diapers and let them play in the hurricane* on the deck.  I don’t know why this never occurred to me.

Babies. Skin. Rain. Boom.

Hours of sincere lovely awesome.







I don’t know why I make it so hard in my mind.  Developmental minds crave novelty – they crave sensation – and they crave the love and security of spending sincere, joyful, stress-free time with their mother.

Every day I’m a little better.


*Note that Hurricane Issac was NOT a real hurricane to our area. I may suck at domesticity, but I don’t let the kids play real-life weathervane games.