Ultimate Mother of All Bonding Experiences

By Stacy Thompson

So I’m sitting in a hotel room near Lake Bled, Slovenia (more on that later), getting ready to begin another awesome hike with Mom.  Whenever I start one of these, I always spend a little time reminiscing about past hikes and some of the incredible experiences we’ve had—one stands out, and fortunately I have the video journal to give you some of the high points of the journey.

As with many of the crazy, challenging things I’ve attempted in life, the Ultimate Hike was Mom’s idea.  It is a solid enough premise—raise money to help fund children’s cancer research—with an unbelievable physical challenge—27.3 miles on the Foothills Trail in one day.  Yes, 27.3 miles. In. One. Day.  Though I thought my mother had truly lost her mind, I once again reminded her of my words to live by “I will never say no” to any experience she offers up.

So we began months of hiking with our Midlands SC team at Harbison State Park—our hikes became longer and longer as the day of the CureSearch Ultimate Hike drew near.  The night before the Hike we were in bed by 7 a.m. for our 2 a.m. wake-up call (to be safe, I called in a wake-up call, set the alarm in the room as well as alarms on my phone,  Mom’s phone and my iPad—sounded like a maniacal clock factory explosion the next morning).  We were on the trail by 4:45 a.m.–hiking in the dark for the first leg and then continuing on through until around 7 p.m. that evening—and here, for your amusement, are three excerpts from our video journal:

Part I

Part II

Part III

In all, an exhausting but exhilarating day—and one we plan to repeat in the future for sure!

Tough Love

By: Crissie Kirby

tough love
“Ms. Kirby”, the voice said, “guess what?” I cringed a little when I heard the voice; it was one of the directors of the SC National Guard Youth Camp. My fear was that, after only a day, Pierce had gotten injured. The words she uttered were honestly more difficult for me to hear.

“Pierce is homesick and wants to come home”

UGH. That was honestly the LAST news I expected to get from camp. I suppose I went into the whole sleepaway camp idea a bit naïve. My children spend a week to ten days away from home with their grandparents. We are a family that does sleepovers for crying out loud. BUT, this mom totally failed to take into account that Pierce had never been away somewhere with people he did not know. And when he went to camp, he, literally, knew no one. No other campers. No counselors. No one.

I was at a loss. Pierce is my independent, never-meet-a -stranger kid. Even as a two or three year old, he would stand on the balcony in Hilton Head and talk to every random person that walked towards the pool. But, oh the tears that I knew were falling and the despair I could audibly hear in his little voice rocked me to my core. However, my core told me that going to pick him up, to rescue him, was not the lesson we sent him to camp to learn. I told him that I wanted him to stay at least one more night. The director and I spoke again and we agreed that maybe it was a combination of just adjusting and being tired and that staying was to his benefit. We made the decision to talk on Tuesday. On Facebook, I posted a passionate plea for prayers of peace and comfort . . . for both Pierce and me!

Tuesday rolled around and I thought we were in the clear. I posted a grateful message of thanks. At about 7:45 p.m. my phone rang. My heart sank as I heard my son’s tears before I heard his voice. He begged and pleaded with me to come pick him up. He declared that he could NOT stay one more night. I tried being nice. I tried being stern. Finally I spoke with his head counselor who relayed that Pierce had had a good day, until he got mail from home. I got my ex-husband on the phone because frankly, I was cracking. The weight of the tears and the despair was weakening my soul. Still, I didn’t feel “right” about picking him up early from camp. Together, the adults made some tough decisions that night. We decided that unless Pierce was injured, there were to be no more phone calls home. That ability was totally taken off of the table. We also made the seemingly cruel decision to withhold ALL of his mail for the remainder of the week. He would get his mail on Saturday after graduation when we were there to pick him up. I asked his counselor only one small favor . . . could he just text me and let me know that Pierce was ok at night. He was immediately receptive and followed through with this and Pierce was none the wiser.

tough loveSaturday morning rolled around and the two hour ride to Summerton and Camp Bob Cooper felt like it might as well have been ten hours long. We arrived and gathered Pierce’s belongings. We waited on the graduation ceremony to begin. My son beamed when he saw us. My heart swelled to see that other than having a little tan, he looked no worse for the wear. The campers marched in and performed their group cadences. As the sun rose higher and the temperature crept up, the ceremony began to draw to a close; there was only the awarding of the two camp awards left. The first was the MVPeavy award (camper of the year). As the description was read off, Pierce’s dad and I looked at each other and whispered that it sounded like it was Pierce they were talking about. What? It was Pierce. Tears fell from my eyes as my ten year old’s name was called out as having been chosen as the MVP of the entire camp. My child, who had called home twice, adamant that he could not spend one more night there, had just been called out for displaying notable assistance to other campers during activities and for having a positive and helpful attitude. Suffice to say, I was, and am, proud beyond words of my son.

However, my pride is not rooted so much in him having received the award as it is in his overcoming a challenge that seemed insurmountable. What would have happened had I caved on the first night, or even the second, and gone and picked him up? I would have sent him a solid message that I would rescue him at any point in time when life gets just a little tough. Make no mistake, tough love is HARD; I cried that week; I barely slept that week; my concentration was at an all time low that week. Every day it seems that we hear, see, or read some article about the increasing role of helicopter parents in today’s children. We see parents who constantly rescue their children from any level of difficulty or disappointment in life, whether it be in school, on the playground, or even in college of all places!! Was Pierce disappointed in my not coming to pick him up? I’m sure that he was. Was being away from home with no familiar face difficult for Pierce? Again, I’m sure that it was. But, when my son looks at me on a regular basis and tells me “thank you for sending me to camp” and how excited he seems to be about attending camp next year, it makes the tears, worry, sleeplessness, and, most importantly, the tough love completely worth it. Are there some situations from which we, as parents, need to rescue our children? Certainly. But there comes a point in time when we, as parents, must learn what is really helping them out of harm’s way and what is just interfering with a part of growing up and requires just a smidge of “tough love”.

Walk on the Wild Side

By: Lara Winburn

Lately I have been thinking a lot about being rebellious – marching to the beat of a different drum, defying the powers that be. Maybe it is because I started watching the series Sons of Anarchy or maybe it is because I got my hair cut…you know, really pushing the limits. But here is the thing that I keep coming back to: I may sound old and I may be dating myself, but I am not sure how we will rebel in the years to come.

I love tattoos. I have almost gotten one on many occasions, and I am not saying that I never will get one. But I gotta tell you, getting a tattoo today does not really seem to be walking on the wild side. Years ago, my grandfather remarked on the fact that tattoos were only seen on military men. Well, just do a little people watching nowadays and you will see a tattoo on the CEO, the stay-at-home mom, the hipster, and the preacher’s daughter. Again, I love tattoos but I do not think a rebel that makes. Also, I really let loose in high school and had more than one piercing …in my ears. There was a time in college when I really wanted an eyebrow stud, but seriously now you can piece your nose like a bull and no one takes a second glance at you in the freezer section at Publix. You can even pierce the unmentionables, although I am not sure if that makes you a rebel or just crazy.

large_minivanThe older you get the harder it is to rebel. Pain, legal fees and just good adult sense can stop you in your tracks. My wild and crazy night now might mean I stay up until midnight without turning into a pumpkin or go ahead and splurge on that bag of chips at the grocery store – watch out! My biggest push back on the institution of mommyhood right now is NO mini-van. (Please do not tell me how great they are and how much easier they made your life – I am too busy rebelling to hear such rational thought.)

So what will a small act for rebellion be in the future? Who knows? The mom in me hopes it is ankle-length skirts and being super nice. When I was a kid I pinned a button on everything I wore that said “Why be normal?” I loved the button and the sentiment and still do. I love how unique we all are cruising around with our tattoos, piercings, and buttons on our book bags (even if a lot of you are cruising in mini-vans.) I hope embracing everyone’s drumbeat is always all the rage.

Mother’s Day Lessons

Here at The Every Woman Blog, we wanted to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who have made us who we are today. To celebrate our mothers and thank peoniesthem for all they have done for us, the Every Woman Bloggers shared the most valuable lessons they learned from their moms.

Elizabeth: I think the most important lesson I learned from my mom is the power of positive thinking. She’s always said we should focus on what we want, not on what we don’t want. It’s more than mere optimism; it’s knowing, BELIEVING that we will get the positive result we want.

Katie: I learned a lot from my mom over the years but what stands out most are the following lessons:

  • Do what makes you happy. Only you know what that is.
  • Family will always be there for you, no matter what.
  • Anything is possible as long as you believe it’s possible.
  • And the most important lesson of all, every day is a walk in faith and everything happens for a reason.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today and wouldn’t have made it through my cancer battle without my mom. She, along with Mike’s mom, kept me focused, believing that better days were ahead even when I was losing hope. Love you mom!

Brady: Not only is it okay to be different, it is GOOD to be different.

Shannon: I have learned so many valuable lessons from my mother. My amazing mother has taught me the importance of using and sharing my talents. Through incredible example, my mother has shown me how much joy one can bring to others by sharing their God-given talents. I have watched her share her musical talents and fill a room with such love, joy and passion. To truly touch and inspire others is such a gift! I can only hope that my life will include opportunities to share my own talents.

Crissie: I learned so much from my mom. Much of it, I didn’t realize I had learned until I was older, as is often the case. It’s nearly impossible to pick the most important thing she taught me. Most of what I am most grateful for are the lessons I learned from her about being a mom, none of which came in the form of “advice” from her, but came from simply watching her and remembering how she handled many different situations while I was growing up.

She gave us freedom and let us grow. She watched, safely from a distance, never really sheltering us, but being close enough to help if we fell, both figuratively and literally. She still does this today with me, although she’s a bit more sheltering of her grandchildren. I think of my mom as I watch my two little boys climb high into our magnolia tree. I hear their laughter and see their happy faces, all while I am silently praying that they don’t fall, but knowing the experience and memories will last them a lifetime.

Another important lesson I learned from my mom is to not be late for anything. Ever. Especially church. While I have tried my best to apply this and, for many years, was able to put this into practice, admittedly, I am not as early as I used to be, though I do try to still be punctual. Especially to church.

Lastly, perseverance. I’ve watched my mom struggle through a number of heath issues in her life, but never shirk her duties in regards to her family or her job. No matter what she was going through, she never gave up. While I don’t know if I’m as strong as she, I do try to persevere and, even when I’ve had trying times, and have felt like crawling under a rock, I remember that there are responsibilities that must be taken care of.

I’m so grateful to God for another Mother’s Day with my mom!

What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned from your mother? 

Flex Your Muscles

By: Lara Winburn

With the approaching Mother’s Day weekend, I know there is a lot of talk about how there is no greater love than a mother’s love. There are probably Hallmark cards and Publix commercials that could make me weep. I love all of that sappy stuff and gifts made with Mother's Dayhandprints. But I think Mother’s Day is also about some fiercely strong women.

Think about it. For me, the mom strength started early in pregnancy. I threw up every day I was pregnant – even the day my daughter was born. I could puke, brush my teeth, smack on some lip gloss and get back to work. Not to toot my own horn, but I was a bad mamma-jamma. I watch moms tote those leaden car seats, which we affectionately call “buckets” at our house, not to mention the diaper bag, pocket book, and breast pump they might have in their other hand. As our kids become toddlers, there is the physical strength of carrying a flailing 35-pounder that does not want to get in the car because the sky is blue and you chose the wrong color sippy cup. I am telling you that requires super human strength.

Then, there is the strength of restraint. When you hear a playmate say something like, “Let’s not play with so-and-so today.” And it takes everything you have not to tell said playmate that you are so-and-so’s mother and so-and-so is the most wonderful, kind precious child in all the world. There is restraint when you know that a good mother would discipline the child that has discovered a word like “shut up” and you bite your lip not too laugh because even though it is not a nice word, out of a toddler mouth in rapid fire succession, it IS funny!

Letting go also takes strength. I was recently talking to a new mom and we were discussing those first days of dropping a tiny baby off at daycare. There is strength in trusting caretakers with your most precious gift. My daughter recently wanted to sit with her friends at a play and not with me. It took strength for me to wave as she proudly sat a few rows back and beamed with independence. (Luckily, she returned to sit with me because I “had better seats.”) I can only imagine the strength it will take to let them go to kindergarten, their first sleep over, or GULP…..college.

So moms everywhere, I hope this Mother’s Day you feel special and loved, but I also hope you flex your muscles and feel strong.

Beating the Early Morning Rush

By: Leah Prescott

Now that school has started again, many of us moms are cross-eyed from all the schedules, to-do lists, activities and just keeping it all together from one day to the next. To quote a previous blog post, I often feel “stress-paralyzed” just from writing my to-do list. As I am learning to homeschool, I’m finding ways to help keep things going smoothly and save my own sanity. Whether you homeschool or not, hopefully some of these tips will be helpful to you in streamlining your morning routine!

Speed chores

Speed chores

1. Speed-Chore System: Our mornings were getting off to a slow and frustrating start because my definition of “clean your room” was very different from the seven year olds’ definitions. I created a series of index cards with various lists and tasks for the kiddos to complete. For example, each child has a card for their own room which includes tasks such as: “make bed, close all drawers and closet door, neaten dresser, put laundry in hamper, return toys to bins, place books on shelves”. This helps them to check over the details and be more thorough. They are faster and more motivated now that they have a list to go by. We have a card for each room of the house, as well as a general chore card for each child that they can complete each morning. Cards are laminated and kept in an index card box. (I included a motivating phrase like “Great job!”, “So much neater!” or “Thank you for being such a big help to me!” on the bottom of each card because I know my girls respond well to written praise!) We also have optional “extra chores” that can be completed after the school day and we plan to pay them for these small jobs.

Outfit organizer

2. Outfit Organizer: Of course, I found this handy organizer second-hand, but it can be purchased from Amazon. The girls and I attacked their closet this summer and purged any worn-out or too-small clothing items. We like this outfit organizer because of the large pockets which we filled with multiple outfits per day. Now, instead of searching out matching pieces, they can easily grab a whole outfit first thing in the morning. They won’t be stuck with one choice, but have several options per day. The girls are taking over putting away laundry so that they are able to pair the pieces back together before they are returned to the closet. As a mom to twins, with clothing and closet co-ownership issues always facing me, this has made a huge difference.

Frozen sandwiches

Frozen sandwiches

3. Frozen sandwiches: Some of you could share some amazing lunch ideas that would put this tip to shame, but it helps me on the busy mornings when we are rushing out the door. My kids like frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you can buy at the store; however if I make them myself I can control the ingredients (think whole wheat bread, homemade jam, nut-free butters) and save money. I have two different sandwich presses that I like for this, one from Pampered Chef and one from Amazon. The trick is to flash freeze all the sandwiches before placing them in a large zipper bag, so that you can remove them individually as needed. They stay nice and cool until lunchtime when they will be perfectly thawed. We like to use Itzy Ritzy sandwich bags to carry these along with us. There are plenty of other ideas that could work well for this including: hummus with meat, chicken salad, peanut butter & honey, and fresh fruit with cream cheese. I still make fresh lunches for my kids a lot of the time, but it is great to have a rush-morning option in my pocket (or freezer).

Frozen sandwiches

Frozen sandwiches

If you have tips to help me keep things going smoothly each day, PLEASE share them in the comments! I am the poster child for disorganized and need all the help I can get. Here’s to a fabulous, low-stress, high-learning and fuss-free school year for us all!

Mommy Must-Have: Girls’ Night

By: Leah Prescott

Movies

I am so grateful that through my life I have had so many wonderful girlfriends. Now that I am a Mom, I cannot imagine facing this monumental task without the support and advice of other women who have gone before, or who are currently “in the trenches” with me. Since I’m staying home with the kids, I feel sort of like these other Moms are my co-workers. We face the same challenges, we share strategies, and we commiserate with one another.

The “workplace” would be a lonely place without this fellowship! So through the last several years we have made it a priority not just to have playdates and parties as families, but to have girls’ nights, which we anticipate and savor. They are a life-saver! We share laughter, fears, and problem-solve together. How can I make potty training easier? How to approach modesty with our daughters? What can I do to cut down on whining between siblings? And, always; has anyone figured out a way to keep the house clean with all these little people running around? (The answer, for the record is, no.)

This week, we stepped outside the norm and went to the movie theater. I confess I have almost stopped going to the theater. I guess I am getting old, but I just don’t typically enjoy paying through the nose to watch 20 minutes of previews in a room of questionable cleanliness with tons of strangers who may or may not be respectful of other viewers. I don’t mean to sound like a prude, but why do they make movies these days so VIOLENT? Not to mention, my bathroom is not close at hand. Anyway, you get the drift.

I recently made an exception to the rule and gladly forked over my $9.50 to see “Mom’s Night Out” with some of my fellow moms. I wasn’t sure what we were about to see but I was pleasantly surprised. Hilarious, heartwarming, and poignant, this wasn’t a Christian movie, but a movie made by a Christian. Rather than awkwardly building a film around the message, this movie had a strong cast, fantastic writing, and smooth direction.  The uplifting theme was smoothly delivered without sacrificing entertainment value and I felt as if I had been personally thanked by the director at the end of the film for my service as a mom. I was smiling about this movie all week and there are a couple lines that may just become catch phrases among my crew. “Stress paralyzed” is definitely a thing.

I encourage you to make time to have girls’ night with your friends this week. Start a book club, craft night, margarita Monday, or just invite your neighbor over to share a cup of coffee. We all need the camaraderie and support. And if you have a chance to see “Mom’s Night Out,” let me know what you think!