Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thankless, but not always

There is a reason motherhood is called "a thankless job." It's because a mother continually does stuff for other people, who seem never to notice she's done anything at all and who certainly never think of thanking her for what she's done. But, truthfully, mother's aren't in it for the thanks or praise. Mothers are just gluttons for punishment and rather enjoy the abuse and neglect. I'm kidding. We are in it for much nobler reasons than that. But, every once in a great while, we do get a heartfelt thank-you from those the Lord has entrusted to our care, and nothing feels quite like it. Yesterday, I actually got TWO unsolicited "thank-yous," from two different kids, reviving my faith in modern-day miracles and putting me on Cloud 9 for the rest of the evening. Honestly, I would have looked high and low for books about Cleopatra for a research paper and searched the darkest recesses of the closet for clean underwear without bitterness or expectation of accolades, just because I consider those types of things part of the job description. But, I will admit to basking in those moments of praise, which made me truly glad that I had spent time on those endeavors and may have given me the will to continue on in this thankless journey.

The Lord must feel a bit like that with His children, as well. He would love on us and give us everything we need for an abundant life, without expecting anything in return, just because that's what He does. But, how it must make Him smile and love us all the more when we acknowledge those gifts that we often take for granted! Let me not have a thankless heart today, but rather let me acknowledge and praise the Giver of "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17).

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Earlier this week, Jeff commented on how big he thought Clay was getting to be. I held to my opinion that that couldn't be true because "he's still a baby." But, in my less delusional moments, I too can see that he's getting big. He has so many words now. And,  he is sometimes drinking from a big boy cup, instead of a sippy cup. And, he prefers to sit in a regular chair instead of a highchair. And, he can reach the doorknobs. And, he doesn't want to be left out of anything the big kids are doing. But, tonight, he took that bigness to a level I wasn't quite ready for by climbing out of his crib. He wasn't hurt, but he was pretty angry that he couldn't get the door open and make his escape complete.

And, just like that, our crib days are over. That crib is where all my babies have slept away their infancies and some of their toddlerhoods (or fought sleeping, as the case may be). And there are tiny bite marks along one end, where they all did some of their teething. To have the last baby put that piece of furniture behind him is admittedly hard on this mama's heart.

It's not that I don't want my kiddos to grow up. I just don't understand why it has to happen so incredibly quickly and without my full permission. There are many difficult things about motherhood, but I'm not sure if the hardest isn't these little letting-gos.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


"What are you thankful for today?" This question was posed by a Facebook friend this morning, and I quickly and confidently responded: "Opportunities to step out of my comfort zone." This was coming off a really good day at CC yesterday, where I truly felt thankful that I had stepped out of my comfort zone into the director position. But then, today, I was tired and I missed my workout and there was lots of crying and whining and several broken dishes and a sick kid and a toddler going around locking doors before pulling them closed. Even though all those things are definitely out of my comfort zone, I didn't feel all that thankful. Actually, I felt a little cranky and frustrated. But after the second broken dish, I removed myself from the family for a while in the hopes of keeping my sanity somewhat in tact. Eventually, that annoying door-locking toddler found me and wanted nothing more than to sit in my lap. And, I felt thankful for that. And then, the sick one felt better. And, I felt thankful for that. And then I realized that maybe it's the stepping out of the comfort zone that provides the thankfulness. Because, though there are always things to be thankful for, it is often harder to recognize them without experiencing the adverse conditions first. So, while locked doors and broken dishes might not make the top of the list of things I'm thankful for, I am thankful that my Little Bitty is getting big enough to reach the doorknobs. And, I'm thankful that my son is learning how to unload the dishwasher. And, I'm thankful for opportunities to step out of my comfort zone.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Miracles Do Happen

Jeff and I have been married 14 1/2 years. In that time we have owned and lived in four homes with garages. We have never once parked a car in one of those garages. Cleaning out the garage has been on our to-do list for most of our marriage, but it just always seems to get pushed to the bottom. But this weekend, it finally made it to the top. It was a whole family effort. And, if I didn't believe in miracles before, I certainly do now. We actually got it all cleaned up and organized...and, AND we parked my van and Jeff's car in there!! There is also a place reserved for Jeff's truck, but it is attached to the trash trailer, awaiting a trip to the dump this week. This may be the best day of my life! (Okay, okay, wedding day, birthdays of my children, and then today). I never think of taking a before picture, but some of you have been to my house and know what an incredible mess it was. The rest of you will simply have to trust me on that. I do have the after photo covered though, so here you go: Our very own miracle.

A place for everything...

...And everything in its place

Complete with vehicles

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I have always heard about expectant moms who get a "nesting" urge before they have the baby. I was not one of those moms. It's possible that this was the case because my life seemed to be somewhat tumultuous when I was pregnant with most of my babies. We moved two weeks after Ruth was born, so the months prior to her birth were more about upheaval than settling. When I was pregnant with Max, we knew that a move to Brazil was imminent. And, when Clay was camping out inside me, we were months away from completing the building of our home, and we were living in my in-law's home. So, yeah, "nesting" was not really my thing. But, ironically, the knowledge that I'm probably not going to have any more babies has kicked the nesting instinct into high gear. I just want to clean this place from top to bottom, and I want to declutter as much as possible. I cleaned and sanitized every surface of my bathroom this week, steam mopped all the downstairs floors, walked the boys through a thorough cleaning of their bathroom, scrubbed the microwaves, assisted Jeff with a deep-cleaning of the stove burners, and made a very serious attempt at getting the garage ready to actually house our vehicles. We filled the back of my van AND the back end of Jeff's truck with stuff to donate today, and tomorrow we will load a trailer with a heaping pile of garbage to haul off. And, boy, does it feel good. I just wish the clean could last. But, alas, real {messy} people live here, so it's just not possible. I will give myself an "E" for effort, though.

(I secretly wanted the children to sleep in a little longer this morning, so I could enjoy the clean look and feel--not to mention smell--of everything).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Help a brother out

Max was on the verge of finishing a reading poster today, and when Weston finished his own school work, he volunteered to be Max's reading helper. It made my mom/teacher heart proud! My favorite part is right at the beginning, when Weston says, "Say this part first. That is how I was taught to read."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Filling in all the empty spaces

Seems like the title of a Valentine's Day post, doesn't it? Well, it is, only in the sense that this day is typically called by that name. Personally, Jeff and I don't believe in Valentine's Day. We love each other every day, and we don't need a special day to let each other know that. In fact, I got flowers last week, and the week before, for absolutely no reason. We don't appreciate the societal pressure that comes with this and many other overblown holidays and, in fact, find it a little insulting. We are outside the societal norms in so many ways...But, I digress.

I'm actually writing about the fact that Weston had to have four cavities filled this morning. Poor baby! For some unknown reason, he seems to be especially prone to these kinds of problems, even though he brushes regularly. Jeff took him in this morning and said he was really tough and brave and impressed all the staff. He only reported being "wobbly" when it was all done. He came home and went straight to bed, where he is still sleeping off the effects of the medications and stress of the morning.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jr. High

Well, after much deliberation, Jeff and I decided to enroll our soon-to-be-11-year-old in the CC program normally reserved for 12-year-olds, for the next school year. Which means, she will officially be in Jr. High. We are super-proud of Ruth, because the largest part of the decision was made based on her academic abilities, after talking amongst ourselves, with her current tutor and with the director/tutor for the Challenge program she will be going into. It just seems like the right place for her. But, y'all. I'm having a hard time with the concept that my baby is going to be in Jr. High! I won't lie, there have been tears. It's not even really that I'm sad, exactly. But, just tell me, if you can, where did that time go?!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Inspired by the weather

Rainbow in my Heart
by Mandi Watts

Today I chased a rainbow,
For I knew it could be seen.
Though clouds and rain filled up the sky,
The sun still shed its beam.

There had to be a rainbow
Lurking under all the drear,
So I scanned the whole horizon,
Looking far and near.

The sun gave a smile, the clouds did wink,
The raindrops made to part.
And to my surprise I found that rainbow
Unleashed inside my heart.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

All about the food

We decided to celebrate my half-birthday (which is actually tomorrow) with brunch in Austin this morning, because I wanted to try the South Congress Cafe. Before we left, Max had two bowls of cereal for "a breakfast snack," and Weston lamented that "the bummer about brunch is that you only get to have two meals during the day, instead of three." But, it was my choice, so we went ahead with the brunch plan. We arrived around 10:20, only to find that there was an hour wait. We wandered around SoCo for a short while, but then the cold and hunger got the best of us, so we popped into Enoteca Vespaio for coffee and pastries (a sort of "breakfast snack," if you will). Just as our waitress delivered everything to our table, and only about 30 minutes after checking in at the South Congress Cafe, Jeff got a text telling us that our table was ready at SCC. We were in a quandary. But, we decided to just embrace the experience. We finished off our "breakfast snack" and then immediately made our way to the brunch spot, which had held our table for us. We got to try some unique and delicious fare, like green chili pancakes and crab enchiladas. And though we thought we might pop when the meal was done, it was well worth the trip and the wait. Our next stop was Sam's. They say you should never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, which we certainly didn't, but I would have hated to seen how much we would have bought if we had. And, the kids acted like they hadn't eaten in days, when it came time to try all the samples. What can I say?! We are Watts, and we're all about the food!

Friday, February 08, 2013

The things we say

Parenting provides plenty of opportunities to say ridiculous things. Here is a short list of crazy things Jeff and I have said to our children lately:

  • "Take that banana out of your armpit."
  • "Do not put the pizza crust in your ear."
  • "You need to at least wear a shirt to dinner."
  • "Stop standing on the dishwasher door."
  • "There is spinach on your forehead."
  • "Stop eating that pencil."
  • "The hanger is not a toy."
  • "Do not attempt to juggle the dishes. Just put them away."
  • "Your shirt's on backwards."
  • "Don't put your face in the helicopter blades."
  • "When you need to go to the bathroom, please come inside."
  • "Who filled the bathtub drain with toilet paper?"
  • "Don't drink the hand sanitizer."
  • "Quit throwing your shoes in the trashcan."
  • "Do you know your socks don't match?"
  • "I don't think the cows want to play with you."
  • "Do you have a snack for your horse?"

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Do you have any idea what a mother of four young children can accomplish when the toddler takes an extra-long nap and Daddy offers to take all the big kids to their various afternoon/evening activities?! Here are some of the things that might be possible:

  • Mom might be able to send some emails for work, without a hundred interruptions.
  • Mom might be able to have an important, somewhat lengthy phone conversation or two, without a hundred interruptions.
  • Mom might be able to have a little snack, without a hundred questions about what she's doing and when she will share.
  • Mom might be able to tackle some huge problem areas in her bedroom, where neglect has taken root and the piles have rendered certain pieces of furniture almost invisible.
  • Mom might be able to repair her favorite giraffe, which has long lain in pieces, following some particularly intense roughhousing many months ago.
Conversely, soon after the toddler's nap ends, Mom might be able to have this text conversation with Dad:

M: Guess how productive I've been since nap time ended?
D: Mega
M: Actually "counter"
D: Well, that's what you get for being "re"

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

a little bit in love

 I have been looking for the "Mr. Right" of barstools since we started building our house. It has been a grueling and completely unproductive process. But, I was unwilling to settle. Back in October, I finally found the chairs of my dreams. I ordered up. The next day, I got a heartless email informing me that my order had been canceled and offering no other explanation. Devastated, I called to see if there had been some terrible misunderstanding. The overly chipper customer service rep cheerfully informed me that those stools were out of stock but they had lots of other nice stools to choose from, or I could wait several months for my chosen stools to be back in stock. I was heartbroken and only half-heartedly resumed my search for acceptable stools. It was just one disappointment after another. So, I finally gave up, thinking I might spend the rest of my days pathetically standing, rather than sitting, at our bar. But, a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that several months had passed since I first found the dream stools. I had not really believed it when the perky rep had told me the stools I was infatuated with would be back in stock, but I couldn't get them out of my head, so I decided to just check and see. They did, in fact, appear to be back in stock, but I had been burned before, so I did not get my hopes up. But, today, my friends, the barstools actually arrived at my house! And, I think I'm a little bit in love. They are even more perfect than I imagined, and I think we will be together forever.

stock photo that is so much better than the ones I took

room for everyone

dream stools

Monday, February 04, 2013

Time for more favorites

Good for what ails you!

This may be our new favorite restaurant! The food is wonderful,
but we mostly love the fun outdoor eating area, live music and  playground!
But mostly the playground.

Another fun local place we just discovered.
You gotta be going there to get there, but it's worth the trip!

I've always been an Aggie fan, but this football season was especially fun!

Versatile and comfortable enough to wear with jeans or skirts,
and I get compliments on them every time I wear them.

I've never thought of ice cream as just a substrate,
but these could possibly make me change my thinking.

I'm on my second MacBook Air, and I just love it!

A drink both Jeff and I enjoy
(And, I understand they come in a mango version,
which I cannot wait to try)

I never go here that I don't find something to bring home!

My new favorite way to teach Grammar

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Sporty Weekend

~Friday morning--My tri-weekly 5K:  The Watts Treadmill Classic

~Friday evening--Xbox Kinect sports and dancing

~Saturday morning--3 basketball games

~Saturday afternoon--more Xbox Kinect

~Sunday afternoon--birthday party at martial arts studio

~Sunday evening--Super Bowl

 promised action pic of Max (14)