Does a Snow Turtle Sneeze? How I am Becoming a Nicer Mama

I am doing my devotions this morning about kindness and gentleness as a parent.  I struggle with this and know I will find encouragement here.  (What I am actually doing is just reading through the past two weeks of the study I haven’t done.)  I’m not looking up references in scripture, I’m not filling in all the blanks. I am just reading and writing down any big bright thoughts that show up.
Ogden Gardens in Valparaiso Indiana
I am crying through a story Beth Moore tells in the study about the four year old boy they adopted.  His hands and feet and head were not in proportion to the rest of his body.  The doctor said it was from a lack of affection.  The guardian didn’t hold the boy as a baby or as a toddler or as a tiny child, so he would fall and get a bloody knee and just stand, hands clenched, removed from his pain.  Eventually Beth and her husband loved him and prayed over him enough that he learned to cry, to laugh....then his birth mother took him back.  She talked about the pain of letting him go and I just cried.  I am not a crier.  This hurt my heart.  

I prayed and cried for abused, abandoned, neglected children.  I ached over the times I am not so gentle and kind with my own two precious daughters.  I prayed that God would help me be kinder and less selfish with them.  I want to parent with joy and energy and love and God.

Ol Padnah blessed me immensely this morning by showing me two things just this week that happened.  Two instances where I did parent differently than my usual.  

The first time, Portia made a snowball turtle.  Due to her age and related talent levels, her turtle looked exactly like a clump of snow. I often compliment PK on her creativity and her imagination.  I was like that as a child too. 

She carried it carefully in her mitten as she rode in the stroller back to the house.  It fell out.  She freaked out.  I kept walking (tired and hungry and eager to get home) and then her tears rolled down her cheeks.  Normally I would have gently or not so gently reassured her, justified leaving it behind and kept heading home....but This week.  This Week I stopped walking and crouched down to her level.  I saw how important it was to her in her child heart, even though I didn’t understand.  And this mama walked back to pick up the snow clump baby turtle.  Maybe you see this as normal parenting.  I know that could be basic expected good parenting, but for me, it is a mama growing past herself to love her daughter with gentleness and kindness and I am grateful to see that change in me.  

The other incident was last night.  I was trying to make a delicious albeit vegan pizza for my family. We do not mess around with food, we love it.  We are serious about it.  I often cook and bake with my kids, but when I am focused on something tricky...they gotta git out of the tiny red kitchen.  There might be a lot of yelling.  So when I am handling hot pizza crust and a 500 degree oven and sautéing and blending and chopping and then Portia keeps doing laps through the VERY tiny kitchen barking like a dog that should be wearing a shock collar (I’m just sayin’) after I asked her not to several times,  I had had it.  I hollered in an ungentle fashion and put her in time out.  I was mad.  

You cannot get mad in a kitchen, it makes the food sad.  

So I went to my crying daughter.  I sat on the floor in front of her.  I reassured her that I remember being a child, tiny and then embarrassingly enough, not so tiny (14y.o.!!) playing imaginative games like she was.  I asked her what she thought if I played dog with her for five minutes after I got the pizzas in the oven, as long as she stayed out of the kitchen in the meantime.  

Imagination is a Gift!
I wish you could have seen her face.  She glowed with the face of a small person being validated.  She felt important, listened to, respected.  PLUS Mama was going to treat her like a real dog!  And I did.  I rolled a ball.  I had her do tricks.  I gave her a treat.  It was good for both of us and just those few minutes were enough for her.  

It can be hard for me to stop what I am doing for anyone,  especially for little kiddos who I can tell ’no’.  I have been working and praying and sharing this mamahood struggle and God gently showed me this morning that I am getting better.  I am being sweeter and gentler with my girls and I am Becoming a Better Mama.  And oh, is always a BECOMING.  AMEN! 

As a side note, a story from my draft pile: 
After a past "Mother of the Year" style yelling my way to ten quiet minutes to myself, my littles came to me. 

   "We are catching a cold".  They are holding hands, they are healthy.  They are cute.  

I ask,  "How did you catch a cold?  Where did you catch it?"

The Big One says,  "From a sea turtle."  

"Oh." Say I.  "Was it sneezing?  What did it sound like?"
Libby and Portia Funning it Up!

She thinks.


And that, my darlings, is how a turtle sneezing sounds.

May God bless you with patience and gentleness and His GOODNESS in your parenting moments.  Choose to enjoy the snow turtles and pat the pretend dogs on the head.  Take a deep breath and know it is always a becoming.  

What are your parenting struggles?  Any tips for the rest of us?  I bet we can all relate and help each other!

A Tooth and a Prayer? (How Ol Padnah used a Small Child to Teach Me a Lesson)

I overslept and woke up fifteen minutes before my dentist appointment last week.  A friend later asked “Why on earth would you schedule a 7:00am appointment?”  

Why. On. Earth. Indeed. 
Maybelline Outlast LipStain: Will It?

I had to have a crown in. AGAIN.  If your dentist ever suggests an ugly dorky mouth guard at night because  you grind your teeth....DO IT.  My vanity has resulted in FOUR crown replacements which cost about $800 each, two visits each and three hours in a dentist chair. Now if someone had to look in my mouth like buying a horse I would never be bought.  Just get fitted for a teeny tiny bite plate and be done with it.  TRUST ME.
I like flattering pictures of myself online

ON a finer note:  My favorite Maybelline Lip Stain lasted decently through the procedure.  I did before and after pictures!

Reapplied and MAUVELOUS again.
Not Really.

So it hurt.  I was behind from the beginning of my day.  I get home to swoop in, pick up the girls from my Dad and take Portia to preschool and then Libby has her first ever library class right after that.  I arrive home.  Sore, irritable.  And Porta was wearing a  sporty oversized outfit that is fine for lounging around the house, not fine for preschool.  I try to let her dress herself if we aren’t going anywhere special...she does a great job.  BUT.

As I announced we needed to change her outfit, my Dad gently countered with “We did the best with what was in the drawers...”


Apparently somebody didn’t do laundry. At all.

(Does this happen to you guys?  Once in a great while all the laundry is done, folded and put away at the same time. Then you kind of take some time off?)

I pulled something decent out of the Not Really Dirty clothes and took her to school.  
On the way there something happened and I said a bad word.  Portia said,”Mama You shouldn’t say that word!”  I said she was right, asked her to forgive me and then she prayed for me.  She prayed out loud asking God to forgive me and help me do better today! 


First I am so full of joy my daughters have caught the lesson of praying for everything. Second, I am humbled and embarrassed my four year old daughter needed to pray for my foul mouth.  God is awesome.  God is effective.  As I fought back tears of love for the small girl in the backseat, I thanked her.  I told her how my heart was so full of love and joy when she prayed.  She then said,”Mama next time you speak to some ladies you tell em I prayered for you!”  

Yes darling Girl.  I will tell the ladies you ‘prayered for me’.  I will tell them.  Yes.

After Libby’s library deal we went straight over to the children’s store downtown Valparaiso called Piper’s.  I cruised the clearance racks and found two DARLING outfits half price and three times what I normally spend on a target outfit.  I bought them.  After we picked up Portia from school and had lunch, I did all the laundry in the house, folded it at put it away.  I sorted  and labeled the drawers “PLAY” and “NICE” and folded the clothes into easy to grab outfits.  

But now...well, laundry needs to get done again.  

Will you ‘prayer' for me, Ladies? 

Shorter Blog Posts May Make You Thinner!

Does this post make my butt look big?

Sometimes I prefer the short and sweet blogs.  I realize my posts are LOOOONG.  I love to put words together;  thoughts and laments and moments.  I like to write out what I am embarrassed or ashamed of to give you permission to be honest with yourself--about yourself too.  I want to explain, to illustrate, to be known and understood.  

But I am too wordy.  

I started reading a blog called "Dropping the Baggage“ that is super short and sweet.  Cathie is a friend of my pal Lori and I have never met her. She is trying to loose a little weight (Ain’t we ALL, Sugar?  Ain’t we ALL!) but she posts almost every day and always something thoughtful, short and sweet.  I’d like to model my posts after hers...a little shorter, but not sweeter!  I like to keep the awkward authenticity out there in front.  

The whole point of my blog to to encourage myself and my readers to KNOW what they love, who they love, how they love and make it HAPPEN.  If you love God, live that love out loud.  Let people NOTICE it.  If you are a fashion girl?  SHARE the journey, live your love out loud.  If you are cooking, share the pictures, the mishaps and grand successes.....out loud for others to grow from.  (And get hungry over and maybe even stalk your kitchen. ) 

So many of us live scared, hiding our true thoughts and ideas and marvelousness because of what others might think of us.  Please let that go.  Let that fear of the unknown go.  In just being yourself you give other people that same just be themselves.  What a Gift.  

Try to lighten your own load today and you may just lift someone else up too.

I am pretty sure my butt is smaller.   Good stuff.

The Girls Are Fine and Other Boobie Stories (Get Your Mammogram, Ma’am!)

I am camped out on the couch next to a sick little girl.  Sitting here beside her, waiting to be needed, is oddly restful.  However that is.  Our house is beautifully clean and tidy and I am ready to just lie low today with my two little ones. 

It has been a week, that is certain.  

I had a mammogram Monday and then they called wanting a second look.  The last time that happened, five years ago, I ended up with  a core biopsy and then a lumpectomy which turned out to be benign.  The WAITING was what killed me.  The WAITING for answers.  The worry about what the answer could be.  It seemed every appointment was a few days before a weekend, and every answer was due on Monday.  Or Wednesday.  Oh, the waiting was worse than everything else.  

That might be the last time I got even a little drunk.  We were post surgery or pending surgery.  I was hurting a bit and we had kind of had it all without being through it all.  There was previously ignored hard alcohol in the house and John and I didn’t have kiddos to tend.  We had some drinks in front of the TV and eased our stress with laughter and inebriation. 

I wore a new lipstick in for the surgery. I remember that.  And then I was so relieved to learn it wasn’t cancer.  

But then this week.  When they asked me back for more views.  OH.  MY.  That fear...well, that anxiety.  The knowledge that life as I know it could change with a word.  I had avoided another mammogram for years but I knew it was time.  And the process was maddening;  I explained to my OBYGYN who wrote the mammogram order that I  had had a core biopsy and then a lumpectomy.  That I have since nursed two babies and never been back for the boobie squeeze again.  That I have, if you must know, dense tissue etc and probably need more than a baseline screening.  

So they requested a baseline screening.  Or maybe they did request a diagnotic but then the scheduling center countered that I surely only needed a screening since it had been five years.  I fell to the system of professionals and ended up with a regular screening mammogram.  My Beloved Mother-in-Law Monte came to watch the girls, make dinner, keep the house joyful.  After my appointment they called the next day and requested a diagnostic and thus a second visit.  Which means I needed to get more childcare coverage.  More worry.  More phone calls to friends and family requesting help or prayer or patience.  Awesome, huh?  It is hard to be your own advocate...the system is quite a system, yes?  

My husband stayed home to take Portia to school with her birthday cupcakes.  To take Libby to Toddlertime at the library.  I went to the big hospital this time.  I got squished and squashed and I got the results immediately: I was clear.  

My boobies were GORGEOUS.   I thanked God and left the hospital with a lighter step.  I drove straight to Kohl’s for some power shopping AKA Retail Therapy.  What do you buy to say, "WHOO HOO!  My Boobs are gorgeous!”  How do you shop in a way to explain,   "My breasts might hang lower these days but they are clean!” or  "Thank you Lord, for my health I never appreciate enough!"  Well, if you are me, you buy Huge Ridiculously Happy Owl Pillow.   And a white oversized fur pillow for our bed, a sparkly green bird scarf and maybe (finally) marabou slippers to replace the stinky beat up pink ones your husband actually complains about. (Love you Kohl’s!)

So it is Friday and I sit next to a little girl who doesn’t feel well and admire my Ridiculously Happy Owl Pillow.  I hold her hand, adjust her hurl bowl, and smile. 

Tiny Red Kitchen: Anti Chicken Nugget Mom Admits She Was Wrong

Yep, I thought about a billion folks would want to read this one.  I don’t.  I do not want to read it or write it either....but if I shall preach, may as well preach at myself too, yes?  Being a perfect mother  and Queen Bee of Dinnertime, this post will be a surprise for many of you...especially if you know me and my "Food Matters”, whole foods, organic, whole wheat, anti Chicken Nugget  position.  

I was wrong.
Pk eating Bacon wrapped scallops 

So let’s start with the chicken nuggets.  One of my mom-to-be mantras was “We aren’t going to be a chicken nugget household!” Four years later, this is still true.  I might have bought them for our house exactly once, and then a handful of times from the Golden Arches.  (Not that they are actually even chicken. Learn more here.) I am raising two children on the food my husband and I already eat.  I reduce the spices for curry etc, we stir in plain yogurt to cool things off, and no one is forced to eat their meals. I do not make kid food and the chicken nugget-corndog-pizza trifecta of childhood ain’t happening on my watch.  

As a result, my four year old had her first corn dog  a few months ago, has had maybe four hotdogs her whole life...and most of the pizza we eat is homemade, vegetarian and  on a whole wheat crust.  The problem with raising foodie kids, is they are actually higher maintenance....they want to decide menus, they want side dishes, they want dips and sauces etc.   It is more work, but I am proud of their varied palate.  Until a strange thing happened.  I stole their cheese. 
Libby with hot tea

I love cheese popcorn. LOVE it.  I am picky about it and really want the kind from a popcorn shop like Garrett’s in Chicago where they use the wet cheese sauce instead of the powdered junk. Since this is hard to find in Valparaiso,  I searched online and found homemade recipes using the cheese powder packet from a cheapo box of mac and cheese!  So I stole the cheese packets out of the kid’s boxes, added melted butter, went to town.  Did not share. Which leaves naked noodles.  
Hubby making Perogies, Cabbage and Porkchops

My friend Susan feeds her family “Butter Noodles” which is just what you think it is plus parmesan cheese.   No garlic, basil, pesto, kalamata olives....just butter and parm.  So I made that for the girlie pies one lunch time. They LOVED IT. They ate an entire box of noodles.  ALL OF IT.  Usually even made as box mac and cheese there are leftovers for another lunch.  I guess I was wrong thinking my foodie babes were some kind of culinary advancement in child rearing.  At the end of the day, like every other kid, them girls want butter noodles.  Hold the snobbery.
Libs eating God Knows What

And so I was wrong;  kid food is kid food for a reason.  UGH.  Like most of my hard learned life lessons, do not expect this one to change my choices...I’m still a foodie through and through....but ‘butter noodles’ will be on the regular menu.

"Heart Shaped Cheetos Day" NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles Valentine’s Day Ideas

NOTE: You can hear this on NPR via MP3 HERE.

Dunuh.  Dunuh.  Dunuh…OH NO!  Here comes that glittery Happy Heart Shaped Chocolate Flowers Jewelry Cheetos holiday we won’t mention.  Directly.   You love it.  You hate it.  You ignore it.  You pretend to hate it but really love it.  I love it.  Ever since I was seven years old and my Dad bought me my very own bag of Cheetos, I have loved this holiday.  My friend just confessed her husband pretends this day doesn’t exist.  I think I will pretend he doesn’t exist!  What a spoilsport!  And whaddya mean Cheetos aren’t romantic?  Anyone with florescent orange crusted fingers and a good book to read knows what I am talking about!

Now I know this day can be sad or embarrassing for some of you. That is ok.  I have so been there.  I still remember one year long ago at college I was so…well not drunk, just…um pained and demonstrative…that I attempted to eat a rose in disgust with the day.  It wasn’t my greatest moment.  And there are reasons roses are not sold as a food, people.   But if you are single (and do not have a tragic story), don’t you dare feel sorry for yourself…the day we will not mention is about fun and love and I’ll bet you love somebody, so celebrate them.  Unless…they are already celebrating with their legal spouse or something.  Or have a restraining order against you.  That could be weird. 

Take cookies or candy or flowers to a nursing home or the places you usually go, like the post office, bank and restaurant.  I still remember going to St. Paul’s nursing home with my Dad and passing out red, pink and white carnations to the ladies. Priceless.  I brought my daughter Portia with us one year, wearing her in a sling and bringing even more smiles to the residents.  If it is a rough holiday for you don’t make it about YOU.  Bless someone else and your little heart can grow three sizes on Heart Shaped Chocolate Flowers Jewelry Cheetos Day.

You can take a page from Gretchen Rubins’ book “Happier at Home” and do a holiday breakfast with decorations, candles, presents and colored food.  You could pass out cookies to the neighbors.  Send flowers to your parents or siblings.  Have some pals over for dinner and a show…where they are the show!  Have them each bring a joke, a song, a poem and entertain the group after dinner.  My friend Corey met his wife by hosting a Pad Thai dinner for single friends one year.   In my friend Ila’s family the husbands set up kids with a babysitter downstairs and then served the ladies dinner upstairs.  After dinner there was a disco ball for dancing in the garage!

If you don’t have an Admirer, admire yourveryownself and buy yourself something marvelous and impractical like flowers or an indulgent  new bedding set with a thread count higher than 180. (Yes I know all about your bed in a bag, Bachelors…knock that off!)  Buy yourself some books, dessert, an aquarium.  Cheetos.  JUMBO bag.  Can you imagine?

Try something new this year.  Don’t go all cliché or worse, ignore it altogether.  Have some fun, spread some joy and a Happy Heart Shaped Chocolate Flowers Jewelry Cheetos Day to you.

Any plans for the day with your beloved or family?  Would love to hear your take on the (Valentine’s) day!

Oh Bummer...this just came out about junk food, including CHEETOS!

Remodeling your old home? Professional Home Services in Valparaiso Indiana

Have you gotten caught by a plumber in your skivvies?   Yeah.  Not  pretty for anybody when it happened over here.  One of my rules is everybody is dressed before we go downstairs...except that one day I was in my bathrobe remaking disastrous cupcakes for Libby’s birthday and and realized the sink was leaking.  Badly.  On the left is what I wished I looked like when the contractor arrived from Professional Home Services in Valparaiso, Indiana.

That bit of sloggishness on the right  is what I actually looked like.  Lovely, yes.  URK.  So Dan Schulz, my friend Susan’s hubby who happens to be a superman contractor and partner with Professional Home Services, came to rescue me and my leaking sink.  He didn’t critique my hideously dirty kitchen or my bedraggled garb.  He just got to work.
Another time we hired Dan’s company Professional Home Services ( to fix a pocket door that would jump the track and trap us in the bathroom.  We also wanted him to add a lock on the door.  Every bathroom in a home with small children should  have a working lock I tell you.  He knew budget was very important to us and worked accordingly.


We had other house jobs though.  We had been planning to install a closet organizer into our master bedroom closet someday.  The ceiling was peeling plaster, the doorway was narrow though the closet was wide...we had troubles that complicated the situation. Then my clever husband came up with the idea of busting open the wall and making double door access to our closet in addition to a closet we called 219-331-1332 to hire Dan Schulz and Tom Cherry of Professional Home Services in Valparaiso, Indiana again!


Due to the nature of our 100 year old home, our floors were not...*Ahem* even.  The wiring for our gorgeous new closet light was also challenging.  We also asked them to paint the interior of the closet using whatever we had around the house....and they did.  Dan was a bit begrudging about that part because painting a closet interior green wasn’t his favorite choice...and since he takes pride in his work he would rather have used white or something lighter.  I liked the fact he cared about the inside of the closet as much as the outside!

Professional Home Services  does whole house gut jobs, kitchen and baths additions electrical  and they are Licensed, Bonded and Insured.  Dan Schulz and Tom Cherry are friendly and personable and even though they usually do bigtime demolitions and renovations, they are just as interested in my little odd jobs like a closet door or leaking sink.  I cannot wait till we have them waterproof our basement.  I will plan to wear something other than my towel turbie and a bathrobe.

Here is the closet organizer we bought & had them install.  (We could have done it ourselves, but I think there were fewer tears writing a check than there would have been if we tried doing that on our own.  With little kids handing on our legs and such.)  It is SO NICE to see all of our clothes, have more space and be able to reach everything!  When installing a closet organizer, make sure you measure your hanging clothes first. The closet system wasn’t the greatest at that and we will have to tinker with it.  That is a Rubbermaid Closet system issue though, not the contractor’s. 

The overhead closet light....oh boy that is such a nice feature....I couldn’t believe how much of a difference that made!

The job did take longer than they expected, mostly because of the hangups of an old home.  And some lady adding tasks mid job.  Yeah.  THAT was me.  They were really tidy and I appreciated that.  They even came on a Saturday to finish things up.

If you have a home improvement job you want some help with THIS is YOUR MAN!  
Dan The Man Schulz with Professional Home Services
(Tom too.  Gee Tom, I didn’t get a picture of you, you worked so fast. Dan & Tom make a great complimentary team) I even had a concern with another contractor for our new water heater and Dan talked to the for me...they really liked him and they often worked together so that was nice to hear about too.  I’m so glad to know Dan Schulz and Tom Cherry of Professional Home Services in Valparaiso, Indiana and would suggest them and their work to my friends.  THANKS Guys!

Call them at 219-331-1332 or See more of their work here.

Cupcakes and Chaos: Pajama Day!

Gorgeous Bathrobe’d Birthday Girl Susan
It started innocently enough, as most things do.  Whitney and I were running away to Chicago for the day with our chilluns.  But.  A lot can go wrong in 3 degree weather far from home with little people so we cancelled.  A rare act of parental wisdom on my part.  So instead we had pajama day!  Whitney and Baby Corinna were coming over to lounge around and we would order a decadent lunch in and sit in our pjs all day.

Or Not.

You see, I am a Curlee.  I am a “Y’all Come!” Girl.  If I am doing it, everyone is invited to get in on the fun.  So as texts and phone calls trickled in on a day that is so cold no mama wants to take no baby outside....and no mama who wants to maintain any level of sanity is going to keep no baby inside at home all became a thing.
Alisha & Susan
Susan and Julia were heading over in their bathrobes & pajama finery.  I was on the phone inviting Alisha and Tori to join us when Facebook (Hello, FB!) told me it was aforementioned dear friend Susan’s BIRTHDAY today.  Alisha hadn’t known either, but planned to pick up balloons.  

I called Whitney and asked her to buy cupcakes from Designer Desserts even though the folks there are not as delightful as their confections.  (We later chatted about that, how no one in that store seems to ENJOY being there, and how if any of us worked in a darling cupcake shoppe you betcha we would be smiling, warm, friendly and awesome.)  So I do not go there often, but it was easy and special festive today.

Then Whitney called to say Katherine was poking around for some fun today, and I enjoy her so that added to our fun times, to have her and Charlie there.  And then Tim and his daughter Peyton from across the way wandered over.  And we had ourselves a Y’all Come Party full of cupcakes and chaos.  
How to tame little beasties?  TIGGER MOVIE

There might have been a lot of popcorn spilled on the carpet during the kids’ movie.    We might have talked a bit about poop and potty training.   We talked about date nights and mayonnaise on your hair and magazines with helpful life advice and beautiful pictures.  There probably wasn’t a single complete sentence spoken by anyone amidst the children running, whining, eating, spilling asking and using the potty.  There might have been a 95 pound dog who got to clean up a lot of popcorn and was a bit pleased with himself about it.
Libby Love for Jules

Having so many adults and kids over at one time is like sitting down in the middle of a shallow river.  It surrounds you and is beautiful but moves too fast to get a close look at any one thing.  I suppose, with our stage of mamahood, avoiding close scrutiny is for the best.

Thank you my friends, thank you for your lives, time, clean up, food, laughter and patience.  I sat with you in my leopard robe in the middle of the river and I had a fine time.  And Happy Birthday Dear Susan!  You really didn’t have to vacuum.  And you missed a spot.  

Marriage Mojo: Have an Affair, Keep Secrets, Ask 'Ol Padnah

I’ve been speaking to several moms groups lately on their Mama Mojo....that sparkle and sass we women have as single chicks on the prowl.  (Do you remember?  When we are looking  for someone to marry and then under-appreciate for the rest of our lives? Or for five years, or ten years or however long our marriage makes it.)  

Definitely need some MOJO here!
It is universal that growing up and maturing, neck wrinkles and children drain our mojo.  It is hard to ‘spark' on little sleep, zilch in the privacy department (Helloooo! I often pee with someone standing against my knees for pity’s sake!)  Whether you have children of any age your focus is not on yourself and that leaves little in the way of ME TIME. How can we get some mojo when we do not have time to take a real shower?

Then there is that husband of ours.  The wonder and excitement of dating is gone.  Sometimes way too soon.  I might have laughed a bit too hard in the movie “This is 40” when he is farting in bed during a serious conversation.  Not because of my husband, either.  (Yup.  I am not such a dainty flower...SURPRISE! Right. You knew this huh?)  We both do it.  Isn’t that familiarity part of the joy of marriage?  What?  No?  Just us?  UGH.
Darling but draining?
I like ACTION.  My hubs charged last night that I set rules for myself all the time.  Dieting, lifestyle, bible study, motherhood.  He said I should consider guidelines instead.  I think he is right, but I also think it won’t matter what I call them unless they result in CHANGE.  ACTIONS.  I can read every book and blog and talk until I am sick of myself...but I have one life.  

ONE LIFE...and it could be short.  

Here is a list of things you can DO to Ignite your Mojo (Mama or otherwise) and stir up some freshness for your marriage.  Pick one, do them all, PLEASE share yours. 

Off the couch and OUTSIDE!

  1. Have an Affair:  with your husband. Choose to actively pay attention to him when he speaks like you did when you were dating.  It matters.  Make an effort with your appearance most days.  "A man is more interested in a woman who is interested in him, than a woman with beautiful legs.” -Marlene Dietrich.  Women want love, men want respect.  Choose to respect that man of yours or he might become someone else’s.
  2. Light Candles: Even with your family at breakfast.  It is unexpected which charges up everybody’s mojo.  Even cereal is special with a few votives. Make the effort.
  3. Surprise Him:  Take him on a surprise date to a place neither of you have gone.  John & I are going to start picking new restaurants for our date nights.  The novelty of newness creates  excitement and a bond of adventure.  Or maybe we just like food too much?
  4. Have drinks:  One of our best dates was a quiz from my hubby.  He called me from work and asked if I wanted Red or White, Fast or Slow, Hot or Cold.  I bet you are curious huh?  They were sections of our date night.  The first was type of pre dinner cocktail, the second was fast or slow food, hot or cold determined where we had dessert.  I was intrigued and thrilled.  The best was we had a drink together at a bar before we went elsewhere for dinner!  Like when I was single and carefree...we certainly do not go more than one place now, what with car seats and unpacking diaper bags and such.  IT was AWESOME.  And it was six months ago and I STILL smile over it.
  5. Do Your RESEARCH:  There are tons of sites and books with dating ideas so do some research. You only need one idea to get excited.  Like this one from Dating Divas, or This Pinterest board, or This Stronger Marriage blog.
  6. Give Up Your Expectations:  Delight yourself first so if your spouse doesn’t react all a titter your feelings aren’t hurt.  My hubs was less than tickled last night when I got in the driver’s seat.  I was taking him to a surprise restaurant.  He doesn’t like my driving and it wasn’t the best way to start our date off.  Would he act that way if we were dating?  NOPE. But I was prepared for it and took it in stride.
  7. Book a Hotel: Yes, seriously.  ESPECIALLY if you have kidlets.  Sex ain’t the same in your boring old house anywhere near those precious offspring.  Book a hotel room.  Cheap or otherwise.  Skip dinner and spend the moolah on a room.  Peanut butter sandwiches for dinner never tasted so good.  Or Papa John’s $10 pizza.  (Afterwards tho.  You know, bloating and all that.)
  8. Try a Challenge:  This caught my eye too!  "15 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband" part of 29 Ways to Great Sex series I will be reading and ACTING on.  Soon.  Probably.
  9. Now Try a REAL CHALLENGE:  Sign up for dance lessons, register to run a 5K together, Share a personal trainer.  YMCA and other gyms offer childcare, so USE IT!  We did a Couch to 5K training class together as our anniversary present to each other. We are still running.  Mostly.
  10. Stop. Look. Kiss. :  I swore I would always kiss my man when we got home from work. Then I actually got married, had the kiddos, and had to make dinner.  The “Life is a Musical” action of running to the door for a smooch when he gets home ain’t happening.  But I am trying again to stop.  To LOOK at this man who loves me.  To KISS him longer than a peck.  Of course with such fine romantic modeling before them, my little girls now also cup his face in their hands to kiss him.  Uhhh...Well?
  11. Don’t UNLOAD!:  I am so stoked to see my husband at the end of the day and tell him all about how hard my day was to be sure he knows I worked too.  I’m trying not to do this.  He can’t hear me amid the din of the littles and it only adds to his stress.  I choose to smile at him most of the time, and dinner is usually ready.  Maybe I should add a cocktail or appetizer for him?  Hmmm.
  12. Keep Secrets:  You do not need to know everything about your husband, he doesn’t need to know everything about you.  Like the stuff you might not share while dating--your bad mood, body ailments, insecurities.  I need to work on this. I feel entitled to know every detail of his daily life, his thought life.  I want transparency...but that can kill intimacy too.  John won’t notice my new neck wrinkles if I stop pointing them out.   I don’t need to point out little annoyances to or about him.  I think it is called ‘maintaining some mystery’.  They only thing I do is close the bathroom door to maintain mystery.  I might need to reach a little bigger.  
  13. Ask ol Padnah:  I am doing a Beth Moore bible study on  Controlling Yourself and it talked today about LOVE.  About the best marriage advice to pray God helps you to thrill at each other’s touch and grow more desirable daily.  What a simple and effective prayer that is.  How deeply needed after even a few years of marriage and parenting.  I also love the "Power of the Praying Wife” books by Stormie Omartien, they are NOT what you think!
  14. Pamper Yourself:  If you do not romance yourself, you can’t romance your husband.  Take care of your body. Make time for your beauty.  Learn new things for your brain.  Go new places to eat, walk, read, learn, meet new friends.  If you aren’t interested in life, you won’t be interesting either.
  15. Spend less time: Online, watching TV, looking at your phone, reading magazines.  Actors living fake lives in 30 minute increments will always be fascinating.  They are paid to be fascinating.  Engage in YOUR REAL LIFE. If you don’t like your real life...take action to change yourself, in turn your life will change.