The Contents of My Purse Turn Me into MacGyver

purse

Sometimes, when I notice the random collection of junk I carry around with me in my purse at all times, I realize that I could turn into the next MacGyver. As I dig through my purse to find my keys, I am given ample opportunity to see all that this bag is housing. After all, my keys will immediately dive to the bottom of my purse forcing me to overturn every last receipt in order to find them even if they are in there for two seconds.

My current MacGyver materials include:

  • Wallet (obviously) yet no money (also, obviously)
  • 17 cards, none of them credit cards but I am one punch away from a free treat at Sweet Frog. Score!
  • Repeat insurance cards. Every time I turn around our health insurance company is sending us new cards. I forget to purge the old ones, so I end up carrying around three different copies because I don’t remember which is the newest version of the card.
  • 3 Dunkin Donuts receipts. Mama runs on Dunkin.
  • $0.56 – all pennies
  • 2 linty mints
  • A diaper and one pair of toddler underwear. If I can avoid carrying a second bag, I’m going to do so.
  • Old school mp3 player with actual headphones, ear buds do not agree with my ears
  • 4 pens, various colors
  • 2 church bulletins
  • Hand lotion
  • 3 pairs of mismatched earrings
  • Checkbook that still has our old address on the checks
  • Bible, the actual book, not the phone app
  • Bible study book
  • Tissues, cannot tell if they have been used or not
  • Case for glasses
  • Another case for discreetly storing tampons and pads, also known as the first thing the kids pull out when rooting through my purse
  • 5 Band-Aids and 2 sample packs of ointment for cuts
  • Chapstick
  • A bottle opener. I did not know that I owned a bottle opener, let alone that I carried one around with me each day.
  • Texas Roadhouse gift card. Yessss!!!! Completely forgot about this, but my purse does not hold the free time and/or babysitter that would allow me to use this.
  • Lightning McQueen matchbox car. Taken from church unbeknownst to me by my son. I forget that it is in there each week until approximately ten minutes after we have pulled out of the church parking lot.
  • Erin Condren Life Planner. Helps with life organization, but clearly not purse organization.

Despite purging my purse every few weeks, this junk just creeps in there. It feels like I am carrying a ton of bricks, and frankly, I would not have been surprised if I would have found a brick in there. Like MacGyver, I don’t know how I am going to use these materials until I assess what is needed in the moment.

Kid cuts his knee at the playground? I can clean and bandage him.

Stumble upon a wishing fountain? I have 56 pennies for that.

Hankering for beer and steak? Apparently I can both pop the bottle and pay for the steak.  I’m not going to do that, but according to my purse the option exists.

Need some encouragement?  Let’s have an impromtu Bible study while treating ourselves to that free dish at Sweet Frog.

One thing is clear – whatever the need may be – I’m prepared.  The only thing I am missing is my sweet MacGyver mullet.

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My Kids are Always Dirty

My kids are always dirty. I don’t take the term ‘always’ lightly, yet I feel confident in saying that they are always dirty.

They will cdirtome to visit me at work and my husband will swear that they were clean when they left the house, yet somehow on the ride to see me they have full-grown dirt beards. They are like dirt magicians. They could attract dirt even in one of those scientific ‘clean rooms.’

I will try to make them presentable when we go out in public, but they are sure to have uncooperative bed head. In the winter it might not be bed head so much as hat hair. Regardless, it is sticking up everywhere. The kids also like to rock the one pant leg up, one pant leg down look. If we are not covered in dirt, we are sure to look disheveled.

They are also stain magnets. New clothes don’t stay new for very long on these guys. I try to save or donate the clothes that I can once they have outgrown them, but usually they are so well-worn that it’s not even helping anyone to donate them. Grass stains, dirt stains, and food stains are constantly being pre-treated in our laundry room.

The dirt just doesn’t stay on them, either. I have finger prints all over my walls and my windows. If you find a light switch in my house, odds are that the paint around it is covered in crud from their tiny hands. I have given them baths only to drain the water and find the biggest ring of dirt circling the entire tub. Our remote control buttons sometimes stick because they have gotten who-knows-what all over it.  Several times a week, I must ask the question, “Is that chocolate, poop, or mud?”

Dirt travels from them and covers me, as well. After their visits to see me at work, it is not uncommon for me to go to a meeting, look down, and realize that they rubbed chocolate on my sweater (my co-workers always give them candy) or gave me a muddy boot print on my leg when I picked them up for a hug. When I’m at home, I’m pre-treating my clothes too because I am joining in on the activities that make them so dirty. Like the time that my oldest son found a huge mud puddle by our old house and ran into it before I could do anything about it. I had to wade into it to get him out but we played for a while first. When my husband came home he found a pile of muddy clothes out on our deck.muddy

Our bathrooms are always in need of a good scouring, not because I don’t clean them, just because the regular dirt mixes with bodily fluids in this room. When asked why there was pee everywhere, I was told by my son that sometimes he likes to stand there with his eyes closed and “see what happens.” I’ll show you what happens – you’re going to start cleaning the bathroom yourself!

Recently, I thought that there was just run-of-the-mill dirt on the rug in the boys’ bathroom. I waited a few days to wash it with the bathroom towels until I came to find out what it really was. My son informed me that he had run out of toilet paper while going to the bathroom, so he just wiped himself with the bathroom rug. Instead of just walking over random dirt, we had all been stepping on a skid mark for a couple of days. What I can’t figure out is why he didn’t just ask for more toilet paper? I mean, he is never home alone so someone could have helped him out. So gross.

I used to try to fight all of it, but I feel like I am getting better at accepting the fact that where kids abound, dirt abounds. I do my best to keep things clean and dress them nicely, but I can’t keep them from playing and having fun. So stain up your clothes and fingerprint my walls – that’s the stuff memories are made of.

Every Woman Needs Her Tribe

Sometimes I collapse on the couch at the end of a long day and I just can’t shake it – this feeling of loneliness that creeps in and stays with me. How is it possible that I am lonely? I am never alone. I spend my days surrounded by kids or coworkers. It is the great paradox of motherhood – I long for ‘me time’, yet I long for connection just as much, if not more.

Every woman needs her tribe.   Those few people who know you and love you in spite of yourself, who pick you up when you fall down and are the first to pat you on the back when you succeed – I need them.  My tribe is my place of belonging.  It’s just that I have been distant from my tribe for a long time – years even – and it’s starting to wear on me.

I have always been one of the guys. I enjoy playing and watching sports, and have never been into girly things. Looking back, I can see how this prepared me to raise boys. But, I need my girlfriends more than ever now. No one is better able to relate to me and where I am in life than the women I call my close friends.

If I have these friends, why am I so lonely? Time, responsibilities, family, career…they all pull us in differently directions and leave little to nothing for any semblance of a social life.

Growing up, you go to school with your friends. In college, you live with your friends. Before marriage, you work, but you have a cash flow (albeit small) that enables you to enjoy time with your friends. After marriage, there is less time, but there is still time. Once the kids come, you blink and realize that six months of your life has passed and you can’t remember if you have spoken to any of your friends in that time-frame.

Some of my friends began having kids a little bit before I did. I didn’t get it. Why can’t we just go out for coffee? Can’t you just keep the baby in the infant carrier? How hard can it be? Then I had a kid and realized that just meeting for a cup of coffee turns into a 57-step process that requires three weeks of advanced planning to pull off. And even then you aren’t guaranteed to be able to keep this simple social engagement. If you are like me, then you found yourself just staying isolated in your own little world because it becomes easier than the extreme effort it takes to leave the house. It’s not that I didn’t want to see or spend time with my friends – I desperately did – it’s just that demand, after demand seemed to pile up on my plate and my relationships were the first things to go.

I have found that the best thing we can give each other as women is grace. Grace in our friendships to know that because we haven’t heard from one another in a while does not mean that the love and caring is no longer there. Grace to realize that this too shall pass – it won’t always be this crazy.

My friends are grace-givers. I pray that I am a grace-giver. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if something happened and I needed my girlfriends to come to my side, that they would drop everything and be there. I can still depend on my tribe and that is amazing. They don’t hold it against me when we haven’t talked in a while or haven’t shared that precious cup of joe. I try to do the same thing because I finally get it now.

tribe

Just last week I was having a day. You know, one of those days. As soon as I put the kids to bed, I myself crawled under the covers and prayed that God would give me the strength to deal with everything. And I prayed that God would help me to feel connected to others again – that I could find the time and energy to be with friends.

Shortly thereafter I fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning, I saw that I had missed a text from a friend.  She said she was just thinking about me and wanted to see how things were going. The text was sent about ten minutes after I had poured my heart out in prayer. Coincidence? I think not – that’s a God-thing.  I responded honestly and said that I was overwhelmed and would appreciate her prayers and that I missed her greatly. She promised to pray for me and I believe her. I know she cares and I know those weren’t just empty words sent to my phone.

That’s the second best thing we can do for our tribe – remain honest. I didn’t have to share that I was overwhelmed, but it was the truth and hiding it wouldn’t get me anywhere.  I don’t need to feign perfection around these women, or pretend that I can do it all – no one is buying that lie.  Like I said, I know she cares and I know that she genuinely prays for me. Not only that, but these women are willing to give me tough love if I need it.  I trust them to speak the truth to me, even if it is hard to hear.  If my relationships aren’t authentic, then my loneliness will never be eased.

Honesty also provides an opportunity to give and receive encouragement. I don’t know about you, but at this stage in my life, I feel like I need an awful lot of encouragement.  I’m talking about an insane amount of encouragement.  Most of my closest friends are in the same stage as I am – young kids, figuring out how to keep our husbands first, maybe juggling a career, definitely juggling housework. It can be rough, but we need each other.

I’ve often heard it said that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Frankly, I don’t want the village to raise my child because I don’t agree with all that the village does. However, I do believe that it takes a village to encourage a woman. It doesn’t matter if our beliefs or viewpoints on parenting differ, I can still offer encouragement and a shoulder to lean on. Also, encouragement shouldn’t be limited to just mothers. Some of the people in our lives who could use the most encouragement from us might be the ones in waiting – waiting for marriage, waiting for children, waiting for careers. Those can be incredibly difficult and lonely times.

I have seen encouragement come to me from different angles. It has come from the mom with kids the same age as mine. It has come from the woman at church who has been there and done that but has been a mentor to me in many ways. It has come from a fellow working mother with a heaping pile of responsibilities on her plate. Encouragement is a miracle worker and it can be so simple. I mean, that text that I received didn’t take a lot of effort, but it was still sincere and it meant so much to me. Reaching out to my girlfriends does not need to be this elaborate thing. The connection has already been made; I just need to acknowledge that connection.

Recently, I have had friends come out of the woodwork to reach out to me.  One woman noticed that I needed a pick-me-up and sent me a care package in the mail.  Amazing!  Another dear friend had a gift certificate to a salon that she offered to share with me.  Not only did we get to pamper ourselves (rare), but we desperately needed that time together.  It was what I like to call ‘soul therapy.’  There is something so special about meeting the needs of others, especially when you don’t even realize that you ministered to them exactly when they needed it the most.

Realistically, I can’t go and hang out with my friends all the time. I can’t afford to have a weekend away and I can’t meet for play dates in the middle of the day. But, it’s not always going to be this way. My kids won’t always be as needy as they are now and someday I might be able to afford a girls weekend. And when that day comes, I know that my tribe will be there waiting with arms wide open to welcome me back and pick up right where we left off because I will do the same for them.

This Mama’s Easter Focus

I had the cutest outfits all picked out for the boys – colorful polo shirts and printed shorts.  Then, I had backup suits ready because this is the winter that just won’t quit and I was prepared for the egg hunting to take place in below-freezing temperatures.  It was warmer than I thought it would be, but we went with the suits anyway.

They looked adorable in their pastels, vests, and ties.  I had these great visions in mind of the Kodak moments of this Easter morning and I even had a teal framed picked out for a new picture to be placed on my office desk.

Cue reality.  The boys fussed, begged to eat more candy before church, and just couldn’t stand to be near one another.  I tried sitting them on the steps – one of them pushed the other and then the pushee tried to spit on the pusher.  I tried standing them by the wall.  One refused while the other one screamed for me to hold him.  I tried bribing them with more candy.  I tried to tell them that we would take their candy away.  I just couldn’t stop focusing on getting the perfect picture to commemorate this perfect Easter morning.

As you can tell, it wasn’t that perfect.

When we did get pictures, one was crying and the other one wasn’t looking at the camera.  Pictures of them with me involved toys over the face or solemn stares at the lens.  Pictures of them with their father captured one crying for me and one hiding behind his leg.  Pictures of the whole family together show one picking his nose and another one looking nowhere near the camera.

happyeaster

Seriously, this was the best picture.

I know I will look back and laugh.  In some respects, it’s a little funny even now. But as I watch all the pictures of beautiful kids and lovely families clog up my Facebook news feed throughout the day, I’m wondering where I’m going wrong?  Look at all of those dresses and bow-ties!  Are my kids the only ones that won’t cooperate?  Are my kids the only ones who can’t sit still for longer than 0.35 seconds?  Is this a reflection of me?  Odds are, those families had 49,349 takes to get that one perfect picture.

I had the opportunity to teach Children’s Church this morning and we asked the kids about the true meaning of Easter.  Of course, my kid was one of the children who threw their hands up in response to the question.  He said that, “Easter is all about candy….and it’s the day Jesus was born!”  Face palm.  I laughed, but my frustration was growing because haven’t we discussed Christmas and Easter several hundred times!?  But, I cut him some slack because he did just turn four and to me, Easter is a little more complicated to understand than Christmas, especially for a kid who is just learning what it means when someone dies.

Anyway, one little girl raised her hand and said, “Easter is all about Jesus dying on the cross and then in three days – today – he rose from the grave and is alive!!  Easter is the day that Jesus punched death in the face and won!!!”  Without a doubt, that is the most awesome answer to that question I have ever heard.

But it brought me back to what was really important – what is always important.

Jesus died for me.

Jesus died for me.

Jesus died for me.

Jesus died for me.

Jesus saved me for eternity from the sins that I commit today.  He made it possible for the two of us to have a direct, personal relationship because he died on the cross and rose again.

It’s no secret that I tend to be an independent control freak.  I like to do things by myself and on my own terms.  If I had kids who were always compliant and never gave me any grief, I can guarantee you that my relationship with Christ would fall by the wayside because I would probably feel like I was doing okay handling things on my own.   Also, I’m not sure those kids exist.  Instead, I have found that being a mother has made me long for a close relationship with my Savior more than anything else in my life.  Christ’s actions on the cross make it possible for me to simply talk to Him all of the time.  For example, when my kids refuse to take cooperative pictures and I spend Easter morning in a state of frustration, I can just pray.  And He hears me.

Trust me, I know that getting worked up over something like nice Easter pictures is ridiculous, but that was just on my radar this weekend.  Depending on the day and time, it could be any number of trivial things that steal my focus.  My focus should be and needs to be on the cross.  It doesn’t matter if it is Easter morning or not – when I turn to the cross, everything falls into place.

 

*side note:marker one of my kids found a permanent marker on Easter evening and drew on his face.  A permanent marker on his face.  The Easter morning pictures could have been worse.