Broken In Two

i was having a day. the kind of day that makes people tilt their head to the side and without a word hand you the wine out of their grocery carts upon realizing you are in the toddler years. with this toddler, no suggestion was acceptable. the mere mention of two options to choose from elicited screams of NOOOOOOOO and arms crossed and loud stomping in the customary hello kitty rainboots that anyone with keen fashion sense would pick on a 94 degree day. we had had a day and neither of us were singing it’s praises nor each others. we needed to retreat to our respective corners and have someone squirt water into our mouths and put a towel around our shoulders before heading into the next round.

we are potty training currently, which i cannot for the life of me figure out why the government hasn’t adopted as a legitimate interrogation technique (you won’t talk huh? well here’s your two-year old to potty train knock on the glass when you’re ready to talk), and so the flailing and emotional breakdowns are blooming like spring flowers after a thorough rain. after sitting her on the potty she began to flail and then go limp followed by stiff and throw her arms at any surrounding objects and that was when the bowl broke. this bowl, made in the pottery class my mother and i took, shot across the bathroom counter and flew into the sink splitting in two. and i just grabbed my mouth and started weeping. there were really only two substantial pieces that came out of that pottery experience- my lovely bowl and a tiny little cup that i intended to be a pot for a plant but kept getting smaller and smaller as i messed it up. after serving years as a guitar pick holder it is currently holding q-tips- like 10 of them.IMG_6886

when she saw me upset she said “awwwwwww i break your bowl?” and i said yes she broke my bowl to which she replied “mommy’s sad”. now look, i have spent at the veryleast 9 years making rainbows out of compost piles. your necklace broke shazaaaam now you’ve got two fabulous bracelets! Someone was super-rude today at school and hurt your feelings? here’s your favorite dinner ever; what a fabulous turn of events! you lost your very favorite rock? let’s take out the paints and dress up these other rocks and then send them out to find your lost friend! as a mom your heart breaks when theirs does and you can’t make everything better, but you can make some stuff better and so you give it your all.

the important lesson i am trying to impart on my lovely tiny humans in this particular season is that sometimes the only thing you can do is be with people. so i told nora may yes mommy is sad because i really liked that bowl and the memories it brought up to see it in the bathroom. she said “awwwww… momma…i sorry i broke your bowl.” and i said i forgave her and knew she didn’t mean to and that it was an accident but it was sad and i would love a hug to help me feel better. she gave a good snuggle and we read some books and headed to nap.

when you major in turning frowns upside down or bringing cheer where there is sadness it becomes a bit jarring for you yourself to walk through the hard. can i cry here at my broken bowl or am i supposed to smash it to pieces in order to make a mosaic and write some fabulous poetry about the beauty that results from being broken? well, the answer to that may change based on the day, but on this particular day i needed to cry a good round of tears out of my personal inventory and know that i can still cherish the time spent with my mom in the class and that i didn’t ruin every piece attempted and let it rest.

IMG_6887today i am going to attempt to glue the bowl. things break. bowls. people. relationships. and you are left mourning the beauty that you once enjoyed but sometimes the reality is that you need to piece back together what was broken. my bowl will not look as it once did and it will not be proof that i can make something beautiful out of pottery but instead it will be a sign that all is not lost and the new bowl can still remind me that a new beauty is always waiting to be realized.

where is your bowl today? if it broke in two and you need to weep a bit and mourn the loss then grab you some tissues and settle in. give yourself room to be sad and let someone you love in, sharing that you may need a snuggle post-tear/snotfest. or, are you holding a hammer? does this memory and experience need to be totally rediscovered in a new form? then put on your safety goggles and loud music and bust that junk up. don’t try to plan what will result, just bang away knowing that season of that bowl has passed and there can be incredible beauty in it’s new form. don’t rush the process. maybe today is smashing day and you will sit with the pieces for quite some time before recreating it. grab your gloves and smash away. when you have sat with the sadness or the pieces of what once was long enough then grab some glue and piece by piece my brave soul begin to make something remarkable. it may never be what it was, but maybe we are done with what it was and need to begin to enjoy what it will be.

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Just Keep Swimming

this week we began swim lessons. neither of my bigs know how to swim or ride a bike and for some reason that makes me feel like i should have to hand in my mommy card. anyway, swimming is a safety issue so i packed the 6,752,198 items it takes to have two kids have lessons back-to-back while a toddler tries to singlehandedly take down the ymca. it started well; there was excitement as we rode straight from school to the Y, and the girls loved putting on summer wear like swimsuits, goggles, and flip flops.

then we stepped out to the pool.

“mommy, i don’t want to do this. i am scared.”

i’m not sure what i have shared here, but our sweet middle child Hazel has been really struggling with anxiety. it has been one of the most challenging years of my life and i don’t even have the energy to explain why; it is that kind of taxing. and i love her. i love her fiercely in a way that only a momma can, wanting health and beauty for her life. in that moment i see her eyes start and then her head goes down. she starts to get frantic because the only way she sees to remedy this painful feeling is flight. and so it is there that i meet her. after validating her feelings i tell her it is okay to be scared, even mommy gets scared and everybody she knows is scared of something. this was also one of the moments i tell her that even though i know she is scared and doesn’t want to do this, i want her to try and be brave.

we left the swimming pool area and watched from the snack area upstairs because the teacher and i had talked previously and agreed that she would do better if she didn’t see me. as i looked down through the glass walls she fought everything the instructor asked of her, but she did try some things. i was proud, clapping and cheering from above. nora may was shouting go hazey goooooo. hazel didn’t hear us or see us because there was glass in between, but you would have thought we were at the summer olympics with our cumulative enthusiasm.

then the teacher asked her to jump in the pool. this is one of hazel’s no-nos, as she doesn’t want her head to go under the water. the teacher held her hand and even though hazel was protesting the teacher helped her in the pool and let her head go under. (y’all i am weeping as i write this). she came up and clutched to her instructor and wailed. she didn’t want to and it was scary and she didn’t want to do it again. and the teacher told her she was proud of her for trying and she didn’t have to do it again. after witnessing this, it took every ounce of strength within me to let her finish the lesson.

when i came downstairs with my warm towel outstretched she started crying and shaking because i am her safe place and she feels okay losing it with me. this is my honor and privilege and also part of the reason i am pretty tired at the end of most days. i told her that i was watching and so proud of her because i knew the lesson was really hard for her, but i saw her being brave and trying things that were scary to her. she said it was scary and she didn’t want to do it again. i looked right at her and i said you did a really great job today and i know you didn’t want to do most of the things you tried, but you did it! and now you know more about the water and how to be safe in it and with each step like that we can become less afraid of the water and start to learn how to enjoy it.

so what i realized last night is that this is where a lot of us are right now. we are needing to learn something new and it is scary. we have put on our learning gear, stretched out and are ready for a new season, a new challenge or a new adventure. after buying an inappropriate amount of gear for something we do not even know how to do yet and trying to pump ourselves up, like hazel we step out and see the pool. we know we want to enjoy swimming but become scared of what can happen in the learning process. we may have to put our heads under water, we may have to let go of the instructor, we may have to try to do things we really, really don’t want to do. Version 2

hazel got a warm towel, an extraordinarily long hug and kisses from her mommy, and yummy pizza for dinner. you get these words. sometimes to get to the place we see so clearly in our minds we have to do things we don’t want to do now. sometimes the one who made you and sustains you asks you to walk through the hard to the other side. this is terrifying at times and there is no guarantee that the process will even seem worth it. it could even prove to be as horrible as you expected it to be, but it is a step. and taking a step means being brave.

For all of us who are frozen in our goggles, speedo, and flops may we see the water as the beginning of a new chapter of the book our life writes and not solely as the end of the chapter on safety. It is not bravery if you are not scared. When you begin to fear that the challenge is just as hard as you feared look up. We are cheering for you from the snack deck and hope your new chapter reads…

She saw the pool. She was frightened. And then she took a step toward the person she was ready to become.

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Dear T. Swiz

taylor swift,

there are so many things that i want to say to you, but mostly i want you to know that my oldest thinks that you hung the moon and the stars. nary a day goes by without coming upon sheets of paper where molly corin (aka mc) has written out the words of the song she is obsessed with for that day and strewn them about so that we all might have a high fashion, cat loving, killer songmaking cloud of you to fall upon.

mc has trained her 2 year-old sister to sing your lyrics and shout “t swiz!” anytime i ask what the request for the radio is. she has made sure that your cd is in the player down by their 10-inch stage their father built them in the basement so that she can perfect her show. anytime your lovely face is found in any publication it’s cut out and hung up in her room.

her birthday party in april will be a taylor swift party and so if you have any ideas feel free to send ’em on down to north cackalacky. we had the fortunate opportunity to see you in concert in greensboro in the fall and when you were getting the crowd pumped for the guest you had brought with you my sweet 8 year-old daughter gasped and said, “oh mommy do you think she brought her cats so we could meet them?!”

i say all that to say this: my girl is phenomenal. she is smart and beautiful and full of life. she is funny and has killer dance moves and a heart of gold. she likes to dabble in fashion design and since she was 3 i have let her dress and express herself in the way she feels most comfortable. last week she came in with a spare piece of leftover fabric that she had wrapped around her torso and said, “mom! look at this cool shirt i just made!”. here’s where you came in. i said that it looked cool but didn’t cover much of her body and so maybe she could pretend she was a movie star and rock that top with a robe on too. she liked that idea and we were able to progress through the evening with grace.

IMG_1607fast forward two days to when you rock the red carpet at the grammys. you wore an outift remarkably similar to her outfit with her homemade top and bright pink leggings. my friend texted immediately and did the side by side comparison shot and my little girl’s day was made!

i know you didn’t know that my little girl likes to wrap pieces of unused fabric around her torso nor the color combo that she would go with for that particular day, but what followed was one of the greatest sentences ever uttered… “mom, i like to think that i inspired her with my outfit!” so well done you! you have inspired so many in the way that you create music, treat fans, and remain a class act. thank you for feeling so accessible to my little girl that she thinks she inspired you right back.

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Guest Blog post by Molly Corin Stevens

Hello! My name is Molly Corin. I am an 8 year old, and I am going to turn 9 soon- in april, actually. I am delighted to be a guest blogger!!!!!! This is what I would like to say about what 8 year-olds need from their moms… Family_Stevens20150104


I think snuggles are the best!!!!! #1 rule of life-get at least 3 snuggles a day. We depend on our moms to do lots of things, but mostly love us. It helps us if we know that you are here for us. No matter what. It helps us build confidence. And we know if anything happens, you will be there.

What we love

I play the violin, and I think music is one of the best things ever! I love music!!!!! Other kids might not like music as much as I do, but they do have that little place inside their heart, and everyone loves something so much, something that is so cool it seems that we were put on earth to do that thing. You guys can help us make that dream come true.


Since we are 8 years old now,it seems old-even to the parents. We want to make more choices, and we want you to trust us. When you say no to something we really want to do, we feel like you will not let us do anything. This is not true though, but we want you to trust us. Kids- one way you can help your parents trust you more is by not telling lies.

Have fun!!!!!!!

We want to know you well. One way that you can spend more time with your child is by planing a weekly date to do something fun, like going out for hot cocoa. That time you will really get to know your child. Try to have a weekly date, or every other week. My mommy and me do mommy daughter dates.

Thank you for reading my blog post!!!!!

Molly Corin Stevens

*photo credit: Amaris Hames

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I’ve Discovered My Calling

i have climbed every mountain. i have followed every stream. i have followed every rainbow till i found my dream. well, that may be embellishing a bit. what i have really done is i went to the ymca this week and wait for it… no, i did not discover the secret to fitness, weight loss or how to fine tune this gift of an instrument God has given us, but i did take a shower which in this season is arguably the same.

it wasn’t the warm shower without little people running in to tell me who has had a longer turn with the beloved piece of scrap fabric that has become the doll pet’s blankie to sleep with in the doll pet bed we have constructed out of leftover cardboard boxes, or because the shower was warm and i didn’t care how long it took. it wasn’t even because the heavens opened and the sun shone and i remembered for the first time to bring my face cleanser. it was because after my shower i turned the corner and saw my reflection.

so it turns out that the day before was one of the 5 days of the year that i took time to put on makeup. the only problem with this is that no one should be expected to remember that and to pack eye make up remover. i believe we should all be making the mmmm sounds that people who are too shy to “amen!” in church make to show their intense approval of that last comment, because let’s remember that i had already gotten a gold star for the face cleanser.

so i turned the corner and saw the huge black circles under my eyes and panicked. first i calmly went to the area where you wash your hands and i grabbed a complimentary q tip and wet it ever so gracefully and then gently went to and fro to remove the black eyes i had upon completion of my celebratory bathing. when that didn’t work, and seeing how intense the damage was, i acknowledged that desperate times called for desperate measures and i looked around me to ensure i was alone, then squirted some of the mouthwash into a cup and hoped that the bacteria that causes bad breath were remarkably similar to the things that remove mascara. now we are vigorously scrubbing and there is no progress. now a normal person would simply push their fraggle-like hair that is in desperate need of a haircut and put it as far over the eyes as possible and exit the premesis. however, i do not believe i need to bring forth any additional support for the thesis that i am not in fact normal. so i went ahead and got some hand soap and braced myself and gave it the old college try. nope apparently the mascara i had bought was bullet proof and would not go down without a fight.

and it was in this glorious moment as i stood wrapped comfortably in my square foot towel with my two black eyes which were now underlaid with puffy redness from the efforts to appear more together than i am that i realized my calling.

i would be an absolutely astounding “before” model.

Me at my prime: high school beach week;)

Me at my prime: high school beach week;)

you know those pictures where you show the sad, lame, totally strugglin’ lady on the left and then the lady who’s life is forever changed because of your product on the right?! i feel like i would be an absolute dream to have in this position. on any given day, i wear powder with spf and a few swipes of blush if i remember.

do not wish for me that i would get a make up tutorial or even that i would find a skin care routine that would benefit everyone. i’m gonna take this fraggle rock, junior-high “just-learning-how-to-use-make-up” show on the road and earn my dolla dolla billz y’all. if we are close you better reserve some room in my squad because this here “before” is going places and you may just wanna be seen with her on all the social medias soon, but probably on the right side ya know the “after” shot.

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Put Down The Pinterest

okay, so we are up and we see some of that glorious white snow on the streets and we hear the pitter patter of the… rain? ice? sleet? covering that teeny tiny layer of snow making it certain that today will be filled with wet socks and dripping gloves and tiny snowmen and gumball shaped snowballs and hot cocoa and hopefully a fun movie with popcorn!IMG_1832

i implore you to try and return to caveman days in your expectations of what today will become. it will be awesome, mostly if you do not try to make every part of it awesome. drop the glitter glue everybody! snuggle under covers and make a breakfast that you wouldn’t usually be able to do or better yet tell them this is their inauguration into making breakfast in bed for you!
i am sitting next to my two oldest who are reading a book out loud next to me as i jot down this charge to fellow parents across the land. return to the flinstones times people. make a fort. build a car out of a cardboard box that they can propel with their feet. let’s band together in making today enjoyable and memorable mostly because we didn’t lose our junk trying to make it perfect:)
here are some ideas for today…
  • snow/ sled/ ice play (this is a given)
  • make a fort out of all available blankets/ cushions
  • (we have found that our fort game went up a notch when we took the long handles from all area brooms and shoved them into the couch cushions to add some height to our structures- our broom handles screwed out)
  • decorate for valentines by cutting out hearts and snowflakes and taping/hanging them for all to ohhh and ahhhhh over.
  • make something yummy- have them bake something with you, they feel so big and you get something yummy for a treat for later! (aprons add bonus points)
  • compose an original song or have your kids make up a play and design tickets and costumes and tell you what time the show is.
  • (bonus points if you dress up for the show as if in fact going to the theatre)
  • read a book out loud all together!
  • (little house, betsy tacy, the penderwicks, the one and only ivan, etc)
  • set up a vet for all area stuffed animals and lovies.
  • (gather doctors kits, a few band aids and washcloths as some will need dry baths)
add your ideas in the comments people let’s get this party started!!!
we got this! (safety in numbers:))
if you check pinterest for anything other then to grab a few minutes to look at adulty things that guy from the nineties tv show “in living color” is going to pop out and bop you on the head with that sock. i paid him to do so just for today:)
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First Job

i’m not sure that i’ve shared this with you yet, but i am a wave trainer. now hear me out; i am not going to ask you to sign up for my wave training seminar or ask you to invest in this new opportunity. i am just saying i have spent hours of my life on the beach encouraging wave excellence and it has paid off.

i am the youngest of five children and each summer we went to east hampton to spend a week or more visiting both sets of grandparents and loving every minute of the beach. as the rest of my family was mature enough to appreciate reading, napping, and pleasant conversation this left me with a fair amount of time creating my own fun. you could find me at the edge of the water with the wind in my hair talking to the waves. i would encourage the mess out of the impressive ones and really try to build up the ones that just lost their oomph at the crucial time. each time i gave constructive feedback and the “go get ‘em tiger” pep talk, letting them know i was with them and for them. the results were downright inspirational. i’m fairly certain there will be a call for interviews as soon as they schedule my 30 for 30 filming.

Christin beach 2i was a kid on the beach talking to waves. using my hands and arms to show the waves what i wanted to see from them next, i gave examples of the arc i was looking for and the right breaking point to capitalize on both force and power to achieve the maximum wow factor. they improved, i was encouraged, my family got a break, and everyone went home happy. from an outsider’s perspective i was probably a kid with some issues talking to myself while using odd hand and arm movements, but to the one willing to step outside of the concrete i was putting on one of the most dazzling shows available.

there is much of adult life that looks like standing at the water’s edge and talking to yourself. if we are honest, there are hand motions and pep talks given to inanimate objects fairly regularly (come on blender don’t fail me now, you can break after today’s smoothie!). the key to the beauty being sustained is hidden in the motivation for the action. as a kid i was there to make the waves shine in splendor and beauty. as an adult i am here to make those i love grow in love and maturity and beauty. if i was training the waves for a rousing “hear hear” from my family, i would have been severely disappointed, for their reaction upon learning that i had been wave training was not one of encouragement and pride. i was there for the waves, for the experience, for the learning and for the joy of seeing the majestic beauty of waves showing off for the beach.

as an adult, what’s my motivation? the to-do list before me is absurd. potty train my third child and do songs and dances upon her success, doling out chocolate chips as if i was a rapper with dolla dolla bills making it rain. gently walking with our middle child, who is struggling with anxiety, to enable her to be a person who does not lose her junk when the seam on her socks is just wrong! wrong! wrong! and showing her the people around her love her and are for her so she might find peace and hope amidst the scary. taking that same child in my arms and giving her the courage to pursue that which she may not succeed in because of the adventure and the possible joy that will come from the try. getting my oldest to delight in finding out who she is and what she has to uniquely offer to the world so she will not get trapped in the people-pleasing prison and forget who she hoped to become.

from an outsider’s perspective what i am doing at any given moment looks absolutely absurd. i am dancing and singing, jumping and clapping upon hearing pee pee or poo poo sounds. i am explaining how one pair of socks affect the whole family and i am saying stuff like, “maybe the princess doesn’t marry that prince and live happily ever after, maybe she pours herself into making her own business and wins an award for the charity work she does with her earnings.” but, like in wave training, i am not in it for the rousing “hear hear”. i am in it to see the beauty of the progress. it is stunning when you step back and feel the wind and watch really watch all that needs to come together for growth to happen and how breathtaking it is when that growth is on display.

is it okay to work to enjoy the process instead of working for a desired outcome? truth be told, i had little effect on the waves as they come and go as they please. i also may have much less control in bringing the desired outcomes to fruition in my loved ones lives than i believe. the gift, the joy, and the privilege may be wrapped in getting to be a part of their moments and their growing more than in my contribution to the outcome.

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