First of all, let me make a disclaimer. I am high maintenance – I know this. But in the scheme of things, when it comes to holidays and whatnot – I am not. I’m serious.

I really just wanted a happy day.

Well let me tell you about this weekend. It was trash. Complete and utter trash. It was so trash – that when people asked me how my Mother’s Day was at work? I said, “Tough weekend.” I can’t even lie and do the polite and southern, “I’m fine.” It was anything but fine.

It started out crappy Friday around noon. Homeschooling is wrecking my life. Constant phone calls of he said/she said. My 17 year old and 10 year old live in a state of who can tattle on the other soonest. And it is met with a barrage of phone calls. Anyway, the 10 year old calls – and I am already annoyed at the 14th call of the day. It’s noon – btw.

“Mommy!” he said. “Yes, Jacoby,” I muttered in my most fear inducing, angry, but I am at work and am unable to scream like I would like to do.

“BELLA BROKE HER TOE!”

“Sure she did. Let me talk to her.” He proceeds to put her on the phone. She is calmer than I anticipated, and said told me she thought she did. I told her to tape it together, because she probably just stubbed it – but just in case. And they don’t do anything for broken toes, anyway. We talked about Covid-19 and how we don’t want to go to the doctor during this junk, anyway. I tell her to ice it, take motrin, and call me if it gets worse.

I get home. Her foot looks like the Star Trek hand signal. You know, the “Live Long and Prosper” thing. Girl. That thing was displaced. She doesn’t want to go to the ER, so we make an appointment for urgent care the next day at 8:30 am.

It’s broken. And had to be set. She is in a walking boot. Can we say mom fail? Ugh. I should have taken her the day before. And it kept going downhill from there.

Now, let me give some credit. Bella created the sweetest sign. Got me balloons and some gift cards and candles. She’s so sweet! And my oldest, he got me a gift also, though I don’t know what it is yet – because it got delayed in shipping. It wasn’t the stuff that made it bad. It was mother’s day disappointment.

I psyched myself up with the expectation that because all I wanted from the kids was a clean house, and some time to chill out – that would be what I would get. And everyone would chip in to make it happen, because it’s only one day, right?

Wrong.

No one wanted to do anything. But argue. And cry. And tattle. And cry. And argue. Repeat. OH! Did I say argue? Throw in yelling. Then crying. I actually woke up to screaming. It was great.

You want to know what happened? Hidden expectations. And as hard as I tried to stuff them down in the trenches of my soul – the were spewing everywhere. By Sunday afternoon, they had splattered all over the floor, and suddenly I was in a sad state of self-pity. I felt so self righteousness that everyone should appreciate that I am not greedy, and do the small thing I asked. But – I’m a mommy. It doesn’t work that way. Just because Hallmark called in a holiday, doesn’t mean that kids are going to stop being kids, or that I get permission to not be a parent.

So now what do I do? On my 21st mother’s day – I am setting and adjusting my expectations. Or any other holiday for that matter. I really did want to be spoiled on Mother’s Day. I wanted me-time. I wanted food that I didn’t cook. I wanted peace and quiet. And yes, I did want presents. And I am grateful for them.

On a more heart-felt note: This past year I spent time with a mom who lost her child. I, myself, have struggled fighting lupus and other medical stuff. There are moms out there who are battling for their lives – or even their children’s lives.

Hello freaking perspective: This makes me slow WAY down and realize that when it all comes down to brass tacks – all I really want to do is love and hug and kiss and squeeze those babies that made me a mom. I want to spend time with the people who help me raise them, and love them like their own.

So , maybe I need to keep that healthy perspective in the front of my mind. This way, I will be able to see the true importance, and kiss them all to pieces, and be satisfied with that. No gift, no clean house, no quietness- can make up the fact that these people are my tribe. My posse. My really small gang. And we always gotta work together everyday. Family doesn’t get a vacation because a holiday – nor does parenting. And I am so grateful for these three wild kids running around on this planet. And I wouldn’t trade one second with them for anything.

So, I am not going give you a cute photo of all of us on Mother’s day. Because it didn’t happen. But hey, I got to see Bella’s bones. So that was cool. LOL!

Love Fully. Live Fully. Shine on.

Sat Nam.

This statement was said to me. No kidding. And it was followed up with, “she wears the diamond studs – I wear the hooops). Now, what this young lady was trying to convey to me, was the reason that she was about to beat down another young lady. She was showing their differences to me. Bad example, but nonetheless, an effort was made. Anyway – I squashed the brawl from happening – no nails were broken, no earrings taken out. All was right in the world.

I have coffin nails now. I love them. The are pretty, soft pink, and I feel put together when my nails are done. I had stopped for a while, a long while, because it was expensive. But, I got a gift card for my birthday, and I am covered for a few months from that. After that, I have worked it into my budget by cutting out a few other things, because I like the way I feel put together.

I say that, to say this.

Get Ready. It’s gonna be a shocker.

I HATE TO GET MY NAILS DONE. I HATE IT. I ABHOR IT. IT’S THE WORST THING EVER.

I hate – SO MUCH – sitting across from someone who I don’t know, and casually hold hands. Let’s just talk about casually holding hands. I hold hands with a small number of people. My man, my kids, my parents, and yeah – that’s it. And let me explain it more.

I will hold my man’s hand, like in the car, being cute – for a few minutes. Or, I will let him hold my hand or guide me at the waist if we are in traffic and we are pedestrians. That’s it. My kids – I will hold their hands to get them through a crowd – traffic – and my little guy, a parking lot. But you wanna know what doesn’t happen? I don’t hold random people’s hands. I don’t.

Now, in this discussion that I have had numerous times, people have said – “A massage is weirder!” No, no it isn’t. One – we aren’t 15 inches from each other’ face – eyes open. Two, they are massaging your back, legs, whatever – I can’t get those parts myself. Not when you are getting your nails done.YOU ARE HOLDING A NAIL TECH’S HAND! AND HAVING A CONVERSATION! OR ATTEMPTING IT! OR NOT! WHAT IS THE PROTOCOL? WHAT IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE SAYING? IT STRESSES ME OUT!

Pedicures? Less terrible. But I don’t love it. I can read a magazine. Until they bring out the scrapey thing. I HATE THAT! Also, if I say don’t use it, don’t use it. I don’t care if you think I need it. I don’t like it. Please don’t use it.

So you might say, “Kristie, why are you torturing yourself?” Well, vanity, I would guess. I like it when I look at my hands and the don’t look like withered hands of a much older woman. Broken Nails from digging inside cars with stains of different paints and enamels. When I look down and my fingers look pretty – I feel better. It’s vanity. Vanity for me. And I like the result. Just hate the process. Almost exactly like the gym.

Now, just to prove it isn’t normal to hold hands with adults that isn’t your tribe throughout your day, I’ve attached some pics. Enjoy – and yes. We all cracked up over this.

Sitting back and thinking about it, I probably should have put this as the first part – buy hey. Here we are. You really want to know how I do it all? The big, huge, deep and dark secret?

I don’t. I don’t do it all.

It might seem like a lot to you, but if it seems like a lot-I am betting that it is our “all” is different. Maybe you are carting kids and their friends to ball practices, recitals, and maybe working four jobs. Who Knows!?! But, I bet – our all is different.

Let’s start with an important aspect to me. I have some health issues – and sometimes, my energy is in the toilet. Complete and utter exhaustion. I feel mentally foggy, physically lethargic, and all in all – just want to nap. Now, those times are much farther spaced now, because I have learned to take control, and not over do it. I know my capabilities, and if my energy is on the lower end of the spectrum- I don’t drain it any further by overexerting myself. I have to take care of ME so I am capable of taking care of those I love. And sometimes that requires me to say, “I’m sorry baby, but I can’t go out to dinner tonight. I know I said that I would, but I am really exhausted and I want to stay healthy for you!” Does it suck? Sure. It is also a hard lesson learned, because I wanted to ‘follow through’ on a promise when I wasn’t able, I end up stuck in bed all weekend long. Luckily – I haven’t had one of those in months!

Guys. Believe it or not. This is a filter! I don’t really have kitten ears and a gold glitter nose.

A key aspect to doing this with grace? Let all of the guilt go. You have to take care of you – to be the best for those you love. Let me tell you something, write this down Tattoo it on your forearm. Write it on your mirror. Memorize it. WHEN GUILT LEADS, YOU TRY TO PLEASE EVERYONE. THE IRONY? YOU PLEASE NO ONE, ESPECIALLY YOURSELF.

So let’s use the dinner situation above as an example, shall we? Let’s say I go. I feel like utter crap, but I go. I’m slow. I am sitting, watching the clock, wanting to leave. I try to engage in conversation – but remember, there’s mental fog. It’s a struggle for me, which becomes a struggle for my company. No one is having a good time.

On the flip side, what if I say, “I don’t feel like it – but can you come over and sit in bed with me and we can order take out?” I say that, because that has literally happened. A few times. LOL! Please understand, there is a difference between being a flake, and taking care of yourself, too! If you are a person with commitment remorse, buck up once you commit. Because honestly, you probably need to get out for your mental health!

Give yourself grace. My friends will laugh when they read this – because I say that all the freaking time. But it’s true. I still suck at it. I beat myself up way too often. And often times, If a friends told me the same thing I was beating myself up for – I would be much more loving and patient. One thing that I beat myself up over? My kids extra curricular stuff. Tariq, although he is an adult-ish, I love to go to his performances. He is my kid. Bella and Jacoby – same. I want them to look out in the audience, and see momma. To know that momma is always there and cheering them on.

Last year, I missed one of Bella’s concerts? Why you ask? Long story short – Jacoby made a poor life choice, fell out of a tree, and I was in the ER. Good reason to miss, right? Of course. It took me about two months to get over it. No joke. I felt horrible.

Two weeks ago, Tariq sung in an event downtown. I had planned on going, but I was so tired, and it was a huge convention. Tariq is telling me to stay home. He said it was so short, it would take me longer to park and walk there than what I would hear. So, I stayed home. It was the right choice. I still had guilt. I had to talk myself through it.

To sum it up. There are some things you have to do. Laundry. Groceries. Work. There are other things that you have to do also – like kids activities, dating, vacations, relaxation, etc. Some days – you might need to let the laundry go, and go out on that date. Do the laundry tomorrow. It’s fine. Don’t feel guilty about it. I mean honestly, the crap is gonna get dirty again anyway.

So, I guess I just changed my mind again. I do – do it all. I just do it all on different days, different phases, and to my ability. I wrap myself in grace, I make sure that my energy and activities match, I know what I have to do, what I want to do, and then I try to arrange it.

Listen, we are never going to live in a “there is time for everything utopia”, it’s not gonna happen. Nor, or we going to be able to add more hours to our day. So, let’s make every hour the best we can for that moment, and go to bed, happy and content, and not running through all we didn’t do.

Love Fully. Live Fully. Shine on.

Sat Nam.

Here is one that I think I have a huge LOVE/HATE relationship with. And that is food. And by food, I mean, everything with it. So, if you are a single parent – single person – or even just bear the brunt of figuring out food in your home, you might like this.

Now, my plan is regimented. And there are a few reasons why. I am on a different diet than my kids, for medical reasons. No gluten, no soy, no dairy, no refined sugar, etc. I eat air. And salmon.

I eat air and salmon.

I’m kidding, but I’m not. So what this means, is that there are two separate grocery lists. One for the kids, and one for me. Now, just so you know who I am feeding in this house – It’s Tariq – 20 year old male. Bella – 16 year old female. Jacoby – 9 year old male. And they can all eat. We don’t eat out – rarely if ever. It’s always at home. They eat out with their friends, or maybe order a pizza now and then, but with my dietary restrictions- it scares me to eat out. And frankly, it is super expensive.

So, I had to figure something out. I needed to be able to cook dinner. Guarantee that I would have what I needed to cook it, and not have to think about it. So I brainstormed. And I got myself a google calendar and an awesome plan. I am going to break this down for you the best way I can, but if you have any questions, by all means – ask.

I get paid bi-weekly. So I plan bi-weekly. That works with my budget and makes it easier for me. And two weeks don’t seem overwhelming. If it does to you, try one week. And here is what I did. I created a meal plan on the google calendar, and shared it with the oldest two kids. This meal calendar shows breakfast, lunch, two snacks, dinner and dessert. Everyday. For everyone in the house. And we don’t deviate. (That’s somewhat of a lie – the older kids can deviate their snacks and breakfasts – the little guys is stuck. But he hasn’t complained – and the older two haven’t either.)

Here is an example of a day for Jacoby:

  • Breakfast: Blueberry Muffin and a Go-gurt
  • Snack: Applesauce (to be included in lunch bag)
  • Lunch: (Salami, Ham, and Cheese sandwich with mayo and mustard. Chips, Animal Crackers, Fruit Roll Up and a Capri – Sun)
  • Snack at Home: Popcorn with chocolate chips
  • Dinner: Stuffed Chicken Breast with Rice and steamed brussel sprouts

And it’s like that everyday up until dinner. At dinnertime, It’s just one. Remember, I don’t share my calendar with them, I know what I am doing… LOL! I pack four lunches at night, and Bella or I cook dinner. And because I plan this a week before I buy it – and everyone knows what they are having – I always have the stuff I need.

If you decide to start this, I suggest cleaning the pantry and fridge. That’s what we did, and we took pics. And then arranged everything neatly. Guess what? I had like 4, 156 taco mixes. I had also went to the store that week to buy taco mix. Use what you have. I wonder how much we spend when it’s already in our houses? I bet a lot.

Also, when planning your food – check out PUBLIX Bogo’s and matchups. You want to get the most bang for your buck. So I go there. I coupon. Not psycho coupon, but smart coupon. There is a difference. If you want to know more, let me know – I can explain it.

Now that the menu is tentatively planned, start planning your grocery order. So, I have three kids, and put chips in each bag. A box of pre packaged bags of chips, 22 bags per box, were BOGO at Publix for $4.99. I had a coupon for 1.50 off two. Long story short – 44 bags of chips for $3.49. That’s 8 cents a bag. That, is cheap – and easy.

Next, I started ordering everything else. And I do it online and go pick it up. I do that for a few reasons. One, it’s easy. Two, I hate grocery shopping. Three, I work a ton – and I don’t wanna. Four – I don’t spend extra and don’t forget stuff. So, on thursdays I do my PUBLIX BOGO run, and I schedule to pick my groceries up on Saturday morning. I do it this way, incase I don’t get a publix deal that is important to a meal, I can rearrange and add.

And that is how we do it. In the google calendar, I list the ingredients needed. Cross check with the grocery list. On Saturdays we bake brownies, cookies, muffins, whatever is needed in the bakery stuff for the next week and freeze it. And we are off.

The past two weeks, I fed a family of four, one with dietary restrictions, 3 meals a day, 2 snacks, for 14 days, and you want to know how much I spent? $94.13. You want to know if I can do that every time? No. But It’s never over $150. Because we use what we got , and keep waste to a minimum.

If you want to know more about it – or have any questions, let me know!

Love Fully. Live Fully. Sat Nam.

Being a parent is tough. Hardest job I have ever done. And my day job is to make people happy who have wrecked cars. Being a momma – much harder.

I am an emotional person. I can be all over the place. Ask those who know me the best. What I consider my worst trait, is my capability to go zero to 100, in a matter of seconds. I am a perfectionist, who likes things done a certain way. I am Southern, so I was raised with manners. And being defiant, makes me wanna lose my mind. You want to know how I have handled lack of any of the above in my kids? I have yelled and grounded – normally in that order.

Now, luckily – my kids are pretty good. I have had no major issues (knock on wood). But one day, a year or so ago, a friend of mine heard my correcting my little guy. He said, “Relax. You are louder than he is, and you are telling him to stop being loud. He probably doesn’t even know what you are saying.” If we are being honest here, I was mad. One, opinion wasn’t asked for. Two, my kids are good and this is why. That being said, I couldn’t ‘unhear’ what he said.

Then it hit me. My heart got broken, long story – so we won’t get into it. But anyway, there I was, broken hearted. It was the type of broken heart, where I couldn’t even cry correctly. Snotty nose, crying hiccups, and really – wailing out loud. I was trying to will myself to shut up. I wanted to pull it together. I couldn’t. And guess what? The next time my little guy started screaming and crying, I remembered what it felt like to be out of control in sadness. And for the first time, I didn’t raise my voice in response.

One of my favorite pics of me and my little guy! He’s the “spirited one” that makes me practice what I am preaching! LOL!

I calmly told him he can cry, I hugged him, and when he pulled it together – we talked. I asked him why he was freaking out. He said because he knew he would be grounded, because he disobeyed. And he was sad. Well, I told him he was right. He would be grounded – because he had to listen. He teared up again, and I told him he could cry if he needed , too. The best way to stop, though? Just obey the rules. He sniffled some. Then he hugged me, and we moved on. I didn’t feel like I was about to have a heart attack, and he seemed a little more understanding.

I practice it a lot more. Sometimes I have to step away before I speak, because I still can get to 100 pretty quick. That hasn’t changed. It’s just the speed that opening my mouth that has. I mean, I love them and want the best for them – so I gotta keep myself in check.

I think it’s hard to remember, that just because they are little – doesn’t mean their emotions aren’t big. You and I might know that what they are going through will pass. They don’t know that yet. And newsflash – it means nothing when we tell them it will. So whether it’s sadness, fear, disobedience, whichever. Let’s work on taking care of these little people’s emotions. Cause this word is hard sometimes – and it doesn’t care about your size.

Love fully. Live fully. Sat nam.

So, next week, my kids go back to school.

And I freaking hate it.

I know, a lot of parents get excited for back to school. They look forward to the structure, the schedule, the whole nine. Not me, though. I really hate it. I felt this way when I was a stay-at-home mom, and also as a full-time working mom.

For me, it seems as if the school years fly by. Once the it’s August, in a blink-it’s Christmas. After Christmas – end of another school year.

One of my kids has graduated. One will be a junior. And my little guy is going to be in fourth grade. Funny enough, the all get along. I am going to miss hearing them laugh. I am going to miss seeing them all pile out of my oldest’s car because they took a trip to Twistee Treat. I am gonna miss the ‘no structure’.

Granted, I do have a hippie vibe, agreed. That being said, I am also quite structured for myself. I like things tidy and orderly. It calms me. But I love the chaos and mess the summer brings. You wanna know how many times there were tears this summer? Maybe 20. Divide that by three kids – that’s a good number. You wanna know how many times there were tears during the school year? Probably 25,134. From over-tired, to not understanding homework, to mommy not understanding homework, kids being mean, my kids being mean – you name it. Tears. I love the peace that the summer brings. The laughing. I love it.

I guess, I am sad over knowing, that soon – way too soon for me – these kids are gonna go. And I am going to be in a house where the only differential between summer and winter is the thermostat. I dread those days, because I love these so much.

Are you excited for back-to-school? Why or why not? And if you got any tips for a momma to feel less sad, and try to act excited – I am up for suggestions!

Love Fully. Live Fully. Sat Nam.

Today is my son’s birthday. My oldest. My first. And today, he is no longer a teenager.

Wow. I don’t know how that happened.

It seems like just yesterday, he was playing in the floor, asking for a “Kit Kat Big Kat”. Loving on his momma. Always wanting to crawl up on my lap and watch Blues Clues. Backstory, I lived in Tucson, Arizona when he was born. And we didn’t really know anyone but a few military folks. It was just us. But it was all we needed.

Tariq and I went on a ton of adventures together when we lived in Arizona. We drove to Las Vegas, in a Toyota Echo. We went to San Diego. Although he was only two or three, there was something about him, that made me feel strong. Little did I know how much that would always be true.

We ended up moving to Northern Virginia, and lived there for about 10 years. In that time frame, he went through alot. But that kid never lost his smile. And he was always there for his momma.

When we moved to Florida, he morphed again. He got involved in the choir program. And this kid found his beautiful voice. High school was calm for us. There were no issues. You hear nightmare stories about kids in high school – I have yet to experience it. (I pray I never do.) Now, he is twenty. And I am shook.

You see, this kid wasn’t the football quarter back. He wasn’t the most popular boy in school. He didn’t make a 4.9 GPA and receive a full ride to college. He didn’t do any of that. Let me tell you what he did do.

When his stepdad died, he sat with me and held my hand. And since that day, he has helped raise his brother and sister. From helping with laundry, to fixing lunches, to checking homework (I cannot do this new-fangled math.) But now, it’s different.

Somebody Loves his brother!

Now, my little baby boy is a grown man. This twenty year old man has seen more in his twenty years that many have in a lifetime. His heart is huge. A few months back, maybe more, I was sick as a dog. Puking – whole nine. He sat in the floor with me. When I was having health issues and they were trying to figure out what was wrong, I would wake up at night and he would be laying in the floor beside me. That’s something we do as parents to our kids, I never thought about them doing to us. When I was sad, he would just hug me. Not say a word. Not pry (he knows better, LOL!) – just hug me.

I can come home, and no one is there. Why? He took his brother and sister out to dinner. I get a text, asking permission to take his little brother to the new Marvel movie. AND HE PAYS. This kid works full-time, and is putting himself through college. He is involved in an adult choir, and last year went to Ireland – this upcoming year, Austria. He is smart, hard-working, and loves his family. I might have given birth to this man, but more than once – he has given me life.

When people ask me how I stay so strong? I’ll tell ya. It’s him. He never let’s my crown slip. He treats my like a queen. I love you, Tariq.

Love Fully. Live Fully. Shine On.

Sat nam.

Well, I guess I feel like owe you an explanation for last night’s video.  It was surrender and defeat.  That’s it.  That sums it up.   Today, though – is a new day.  And who knows?  I might be crying on Facebook later.  But hopefully, I won’t. 

You wanna know what is different this morning compared to last night?  Well, I can tell you what is the same.  My kid is still trying me. Well, in his defense he is still asleep – but you get what I am saying.  My bills are still ever present.  Health issues – exact same.  The difference is my mindset, for now.  That being said – that can change, too.  But hopefully, today – I kill it. 

I got a lot of direct messages last night, and some comments that you all can see.  And my whole goal in that video was just to let one person know they aren’t alone.  Because, tbh, scrolling facebook – I felt like the biggest loser on the planet.  Especially the day after Easter.  I saw the beautiful families in beautiful matching clothes.  Having beautiful family dinners.  And don’t get my lying – I even saw my own family having a beautiful dinner in Tennessee – but I can’t afford to travel home every holiday and I live a million miles away – and I chose that.   It made me happy but also jealous.  And yes – I don’t care what anyone says – you can have both emotions.  My therapist said so.  LOL!
And then, I looked at my own page.  And guess what I saw.  A beautiful family.  Having a beautiful family brunch.  And based upon my scrolling – we looked absolutely perfect and picturesque.  On the outside, it looks like we are happy, and killing it.  And we are happy.  And we are killing it.  But, here’s the freaking truth.  We struggle.    I struggle as a mom.  I question if I am a good one.  I have guilt when I just want to sit alone.  That guilt comes from me working. But I have to work, to keep a roof over their head…  I could go on and on with that alone.
I struggle financially.  I am a one income household and I got three kids.  To anyone with kids – nuff said, right?  At times, I wonder if I will ever be financially sound.  If I will ever not have that worry of money.  Today, with the sun out and shining down – I know that this is just a moment – and it will get better. 

I struggle with myself worth.  I struggle with admitting what my dreams are.  I struggle with the fear of people making fun of me, if I tell them what my dreams are.  And for those people who say, “I don’t care what anyone thinks” – LIAR!  LOL!  We are biologically designed to care what other think.  But I want to write and speak.  I want to let people understand how valued they are.  I want to help.  I want to change the world.

I also want to be healthy.  I want to travel.  I want to be married one day – madly in love with my guy.  I want romance.  I want to make it a full day without crying.  Or worrying.  Or questioning myself. 

I say all this to just say.  I feel you.  It isn’t easy.  So here is what this woman lies about. 
My lies: I’m fine.  Everything is great.  And sometimes, that is just false.  Not always – but sometimes.  Sometimes, I just want to cry and say “Today is freaking crap – My kid is being a jerk – I feel alone and overwhelmed – I’m sick of being sick… etc.”  But I don’t say it.  But now, I am gonna start.  Because guess what ?  My tribe, my closest, my people – all said – “You can tell me anything.  I understand.  I’m here.  What do you need.”  Also they said, “I feel that way too sometimes.  It’s a season.  We will get through this.  You are doing amazing.”  It helps.  Telling people helps.  Telling you helped.  Writing this helped.  (And just so you know, I didn’t fake cry in that pic.  That’s real tears, that I sent to my friend, because they were leaving.  Those were real tears. LOL!)

It’s okay to be vulnerable and have fears.  You know what makes it even better? It’s when you are brave enough to admit it to yourself, and your loved ones.  Because then, you start to see a shift. 
So, thanks guys – for everything last night and today.  Who knows.   Maybe this is the start of something amazing.