Summer Sabbatical

Ladybug and Lulu is taking a sabbatical for the summer!

Mama is going to use this time to “stock up” on some Moms Magazine articles, work through some musings for Ladybug & Lulu, write some non-Mommy essays for some lit magazines, work on a collaborative project with Footprints Dance Alliance and illustrate her children’s book, Petunia, set to come out October 2015!  Whew … it’s going to be a busy summer!

Don’t worry – there is plenty to read in the archives under MENU right here on the homepage and as always, you can find lots of interesting material over at Moms Magazine in my author profile.  I’ve had 100,000+ views at Moms Magazine this year and 12,000+ right here at L&L – for this, I can’t begin to THANK YOU enough … for liking, for sharing,  for reading!

Summer is a time to refresh, rejuvenate, and revise.   I plan to do that – and, of course, participate in  lots and lots of playtime.   Check back the end of July 2015 for a fresh look and some new material.

Until then … have a great summer!

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For those of you curious:

sab·bat·i·cal.  səˈbadək(ə)l/ noun
  1. a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year.
    *No, I’m not a college professor nor am I traveling.  But the word sabbatical sounds really cool and I like to use cool words.
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Summer Sabbatical

Footprints Dance Alliance – God Is My Co-Pilot

From the moment we found out we were having a baby, BJ and I said that we didn’t care what it was, we just wanted our kid(s) to find something that they were passionate about and do it to the best of their ability.  They don’t have to be the best player on the field or the best dancer on stage, they just have to try.  And care.  For Caroline, right now, that passion is dance.

11265600_10205665692594277_2194342845459510047_nCaroline has grown so much this past year with dance.  Not only has she proven that she might not be so bad, she LOVES to perform (practicing isn’t her strongest suit – we’re working on a better practice attitude).  She ROCKED her dance recital this year – dancing in four (4) dances! She knew all the moves (and lyrics to the songs), tapping her way through “NY, NY”, jamming out to “Party in the USA” finding her own moves in her Hip Hop routine and arabesquing to “Que Sera, Sera”.  The hardest part of the recital was getting her hair to stay back.  And in true Caroline fashion, she somehow managed to lose her hair piece and costume accessory half-way through ACT ONE.   As I was dropping her off, her little lip quivered, her little eyes welled up and she said, “Mommy, I just don’t think I can do this” to which I replied, “Of course you can.  Sing as loud as you can and dance your heart out”.  And she did.  She knew every single. step.  And she did them.  It was incredible to see her let loose on stage and just have fun.  Just be herself.  Just dance.

11063915_10205684370981225_1841227448566408017_nShe reminds me every day that having fun and living life to the fullest is what it really is all about.  I’m so lucky to be her Mama.

For the past two years, Caroline’s dance teacher, Bonnie Dixon, has asked me to write a poem at the opening for the recital.  I’ve been honored.  This year’s recital was entitled “God Is My Co-Pilot” – and to me, that had many meanings.  First, I’m not in charge.  And second, He’s got her.  As soon as she told me what the theme of the recital was, I knew what I wanted to write.  It took a while for it to all come together.  But here it is – thank you, Footprints, for another incredible year of dance!

God Is My Co-Pilot

She slips on her shoes as I fasten her bun
I kiss her cheek and tell her, “Have Fun!”

She struts to the stage with a smile wide and bright

I’m amazed at her beauty as she shines in the light

I watch as she twirls and taps from the start
Concentrating hard to remember her part

Skipping and weaving, releve and flex
She flings her arms wide in a perfect arabesque

Over her feet does she stumble

To the floor does she tumble

In my seat do I fumble

“Dear Lord” I hear her mumble

“Lift me up as I dance for You in Your glory
Lift me up as I dance in praise of Your story

Hold me up as I turn, hold me tight as I leap
Give me the guidance I need to stand tall on my feet
I pray that You’ll be the music I hear
The song of my heart, calming my fears
You’ll take control of my life and show me the way
With Your powerful love and amazing grace”

And as she scooped herself up and found her place

There was a knowing look across her sweet face
In His hands, she is safe inside
God is her co-pilot and I’m along for the ride
The Lord of the Dance has everything under control
So all is well within Mama’s soul.

She’s in position, so beautiful, so bright
I hold my breath and watch her take flight.

For more information on Footprints Dance Alliance, visit their website *here*!

Footprints Dance Alliance – God Is My Co-Pilot

To The Graduating Class of 2015

To the Graduating Class of 2015:

Eat the cupcake.

If I could offer you one piece of advice for the future, eat the cupcake would be it.  There is a universal certainty for happiness when kids of all ages are given a cupcake.  A miniature compilation of confection and creativity.  Just thinking of cupcakes – the colors, shapes, styles, flavor, grandeur that may meet your lips – makes you smile.  You’re smiling right now, aren’t you? And craving a glass of milk.  See?  Universal truth.

None of the advice that I have to offer will provide you with more #truth than the pure joy and satisfaction you will feel once you eat the cupcake.  But I will try to dispense a few words here:

Be present in this moment.  I know that is hard.  The world teaches you to look toward the future.  Not to stay put.  But the future is unknown.  And in all honesty, very few of us find ourselves staring into a future that we carved out and planned for ourselves.  The beauty of the future is that you really just don’t know.  My entire life can be summed up in the following sentence:  It didn’t go as planned and that is okay.

Enjoy the journey.  Who you meet, where you go, how you get there – that is what will truly define who you are.  And the journey is what you will really remember.

Dance.  And Sing.  And Laugh.

Life is too short to be a negative person.  And jaded negativity is only cool in your twenties.  And even then, it gets old quick.  It makes you hard to love.  Even harder to like.  Take your time and be jaded and then get over yourself.  The sooner you do, the more clear life will become.

Be reckless with your heart only once.  It’s important to allow your heart to truly be broken so that you are forced to put back together.  This requires that you really & truly know yourself.  And requires that you rely on yourself.  Only you can completely know you.  And you can’t spend your life looking for someone else to make you happy.  You have to be able to do that.  Be careful about giving your heart away too quickly and too often. You do not want to be so broken that the pieces barely fit back together or are so delicate that they may break at a mere bump.  Use life’s disappointments to toughen yourself up.

Fail.

There is power in failure.  And in attempt.  It reminds you that you are human.

Be a good person.  You know if you are a good person.  If you’re not, be one.  Good people do things that don’t require notice, recognition or accolades.  They pick up trash someone else left behind or open a door for someone with their hands full. They know the difference between right and wrong and they listen to the little voice inside of them consistently, even when it’s not so convenient or easy.

Good people smile.

Smiling is awesome exercise.  And the prettiest people are happy people.

Don’t worry so much on societal definitions.  Too often we get caught up in how the media and world define power, beauty, or success.  All of these terms are relative.  And subjective.  Make your own definitions and live by your own rules.  Once you learn to accept who you are for what you are, you will find a level of happiness that defies definitions.

Travel.

Explore everything about the world you live in and the world around you.  Know about other people, cultures and places.  Don’t be narrow minded.  Read.  Everything.  And think.  Don’t be afraid to have an opinion & express it.  But make sure that you    listen more than you talk.

Vote.

Voting is the single most important right and responsibility afforded to us.  Don’t abdicate this responsibility to make decisions for your life or speak for you to anyone else.

William Shakespeare once said:  The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.

Don’t be afraid to give away your awesome.

The journey before you is long.  And there will be times when you will stumble.  There will be times when you will be fogged out.  There will be times of complete clarity as you see the sun peak between the trees and there will be breathless moments that remind you of your humanity.  Embrace them all.  These are the stories your soul will tell.

Never doubt::  You are kind.  You are smart.  You are important.

Congratulations, Class of 2015.

The world is yours.  So eat the cupcake.

 

To The Graduating Class of 2015

I Thought I Knew You

I always thought I had you, you know, figured out.  But the past six years, I’ve realized so much not just about myself but about you, Mom.    There is much I did not know.  Understand.  Comprehend.  I’ve always been thankful and appreciative and I think understanding for all that you’ve given, provided, been to me and Leigh.  But becoming a Mom has opened my eyes to everything I didn’t see.  Couldn’t see.  Would ever have imagined.

I thought I knew you.  Most of you.  But the reality is, I never could until I had them.

Because it wasn’t until I had them that I realize you –

Never slept.  Even after I finally started sleeping as a toddler, you never slept.  Because worry is the greatest stimulant and there is much to worry about when it comes to your kids.  In the beginning it’s just feedings.  Once those get worked out, it’s guilt.  From there you move to worry.  And I think as they grow, worry and guilt intermingle.  Coexist.  And you aren’t able to quite shake them so that you can slumber peacefully.

Never went shopping for yourself.  I think you may have gotten a new outfit now and then.  But you never spoiled yourself.  Rarely treated yourself.  Because it was more important for us to feel pretty than it was for you.  Or for our activities dues to be paid before your got a new car.  Or for day care, doctors bills, medicine, camp tuition,  everything else to be taken care of before your needs or desires.  You worked to provide for us not for you.  I’m pretty sure there were times when you set aside money for something you wanted but had to spend it on us.  And every time, you did it.  Without question.

Got up early for a reason.  4:30 am may have been obscene.  But it was sacred.  It was quiet.  It was the only time in the day that you had to yourself.

Cried when we went to bed.  Questioning if you were doing right by us.  Wondering if this is it.  Feeling guilty because sometimes, you just wanted more.  But you didn’t know what else you might want more of.  And then you’d come check on us and watch us sleep and realize this is all I need.  And then you’d cry some more.  For wondering if there was more.

Packed each lunch with love.  Every day.  For 18 years.  Not out of duty.  Out of love. Because that is what Moms do. Note included.

Made our dreams your dreams.  Somehow, what you wanted from life became what we wanted from life.  You made your life’s mission to help us fulfill our life’s work.  You pushed and challenged and reminded and cheered.  Because we were your dream now.  We still are.

Hurt, too.  Maybe more.  Broken heart.  Broken bone.  Broken dream.  You felt it like we did.  Every moment.  Every tear.  Every pain.  And you felt the good times – the roles and recitals and making the team and making the grade and graduations.  You hurt and you celebrated as if it were you.  Because, in part, it was you, too.

Before I had them, I didn’t know that you –

Really started living the day we were born.  You loved us with every ounce of everything and I didn’t understand that love.  I didn’t truly get that it was not a stifling hold but a strong embrace that could never be let go.  You can’t let go.

Because we are a part of you.  We are your heart walking around outside your body.  And there was never any way for me to completely understand that until the day I started living – the day that my first baby was born and my new identity was complete.

I thought I knew you – but I didn’t.  Not completely.  I couldn’t possibly know everything that you were for us until I became – and gave – everything for them.

I thought I knew you … and then I became Mom.

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I Thought I Knew You

Happy Birthday, Lulu!

My dearest Lulu:

Two years have come and past at the most extraordinary speed – fast and slow consecutively.  And you, little person,  have wrecked our worlds in the most amazing way – bursting onto the scene with an amazing passion similar, but much different than your sister.

You announce, loudly,  to the world I am here with your “Ta-Da” and “I Wu-Wu Monster!”.

And you are here, our little baby Lulu.

I never imagined I could love someone so much.  It’s a different kind of love than I feel for Caroline.  With Caroline, it’s all new, powerfully overwhelming, and unknown.  Every emotion tingles and buzzes from the most sensitive nerve endings.  But with you, Lulu, everything is weirdly calming.  You make me whole.  You fill a void.  You complete the biggest piece of my heart.  You radiate a happiness I didn’t know my life was missing.   You smile and giggle in the most extraordinary way.  The adorable way in which you create words and phrases – these sounds echo within my soul.  Everything is exciting.  Everything is squeal worthy.  Everything makes sense when you are around.  It is as if you were always meant to be.

I miss you most, Lulu,  when I am away.

Because you are the one that fits perfectly in my arms – your head snuggled deep into my neck.  I don’t even mind the sticky or dirt that rubs off into my clothes, on my cheeks, because breathing you in is like breathing in the salt ocean air.  Feeling you tight in my arms is feeling my heart outside my body.  There is a vulnerable sense of security in knowing you are there with me.

We may call you monster.  Because you growl.  And are loud.  And you get into everything.  You have no fear.  We may call you a hot mess.  Because you are always disheveled.  Always dirty.  Always in need of something else.  We may call you Oscar because you are often grouchy.  And Cookie because you scarf down snacks. But know these are names of endearment – for as much as I desire a clean house, an organized pantry, less laundry, I wouldn’t trade a moment of the past 2 years.  24 months. 730 days.  17532 hours.

The tantrums and teething and sleepless nights and dirty diapers and constantness.  It’s you.

All you, my beautiful disaster.

Because you complete our party of four, are our sunshine, will always be our happy thought.

Happy Birthday, Lulu.  You’re my favorite little girl.

Love, ‘My Mommy’

Happy Birthday, Lulu!

April

What a wild couple of weeks April has brought!  Testing, dance pictures, dance auditions, Spring Break, testing, essay grading, house cleaning, laundry, laundry, laundry.  Did I mention testing?  Whew!  It’s a good thing that there are only three weeks until the end of the year … I’m not sure how much more I can take!

Moms Magazine has been very good to me this month with eight (8) new articles published!  I’m hoping to keep up this pace through May and end the school year with 50 published articles … I can do it … I hope.

I’ve also had some really personal thoughts on life and my little loves linked up here.  I Had Hoped was particularly important in the wake of the world right now – I am constantly worried for the future of our country, our world but most important, my little ladies.  I am lucky enough to see the social media of some really adorable new Moms & babies and it got me thinking about when mine were merely swaddles in my arms.  I Love The Way A New Mother was my ponderings on that season that has come and gone.  Spring Break was a bit weary – I had a horrible attitude about staying home.  And then it rained.  Puddling Jumping is me beginning to understand perspective in this life – perspective that often comes to me these days by way of my girls.    We were lucky to get to spend Easter with one of our favorite ladies:  Aunt Alison! And what I realized during our time together is that she has been with me through everything.  You Need A Knew You When Friend are my thoughts, and thank yous, to those people in our lives that knew us when … and love us still.

It was a productive month, I think, for thoughts and ideas.  I’m working on some new stuff for May.  Hopefully, the end of the year grind won’t swallow me up!

Moms Magazine links:

5 Ideas To Help You Reconnect With Your Spouse
Costco Samples:  It’s What’s For Dinner
5 Reasons Why Your Teen Needs A Summer Job
6 Weeks ‘Til Summer:  Surviving the End of School Year Rush
To All The Stay At Home Moms:  I’m Sorry
To The Boy Who Wants To Date My Daughter
Are We Over Sharing Our Children Through Social Media?
My Fear:  As They Get Older, So Do I
An Open Letter from Your Teenager’s Teacher

As always, thanks for reading!

April

I Had Hoped …

Dear Little Ladies:

I’m sorry that the world we brought you into is falling down around you.  I had hoped that yours would be a world where love was louder than hate, where kindness was victorious and happiness was perpetual.  I wanted to you to grow up in a world that was colorblind.  And ignorance eradicated.  Where women could be President without ridicule from other women.  Or men.  Where the ties of partisanship were not nearly as strong as the ties of humanity.  And what is right.  Where people spent a whole lot of energy building you up instead of all of their time tearing you down.

I had hoped you would grow up in a world where people could be who they are without fear of hatred or prejudice.  That the spectacle of sensation would vanish and you would be left to rely on intellect and instinct and interest.  I had hoped you would be interesting.  I had hoped that we would bring you into a world of interesting people, ideas, events.

I didn’t realize, little ladies, that the world that you would grow up in would be a kingdom where mean girls rule and fame whores postulate and promote an untouchable image.  An untouchable face.  A world where popular culture laments their wish to “be like the cool kids”.  Where girls are shamed for their clothing, are ashamed of their bodies and dare society to define decency in an effort to parade around half naked in front of you for the cause.  Because that is what makes our foremothers proud.

I had hoped that by the time you went to school black and white would coexist.  A beautiful melding of cultures and ideas.  I had hoped that we could live in the gray.  That we could love in the gray.  That the world could accept love in any form.  Not just the antiquated standard accepted by society.  I had hoped that people would stop hiding behind their heritage and bibles and morals and guns.  That they would listen more, talk less.  That hearts would be opened, mouths shut.  That violence for the sake of violence would be rare.

I had hoped that you would be safe.

This is not the America that I love.  It is not the world I had hoped you would explore.  It seems to me that there is nothing free about stealing and burning and beating and protesting.  There is nothing brave about the deconstruction of of a country that was built on the promise of democracy and a dream.

I had hoped that the lessons we teach from our pulpits of education would resonate.  That voices would prove mightier than fists.  That justice would prevail.  I had hoped that these events would be your history, not my legacy.

But the TV blasts images of violence and hatred and ugliness that I never have understood.  I never will accept.  And I fear that all my intentions for the change I sought to be in this world, change for you, is for naught.  For you do not grow up in a world where little kids can grow up and be who and what they are.  Or who they want.  Without ridicule.  Or pain.  Or spectacle.  Or criticism.  You grow up in a world that condenses your worth into one hundred and forty characters.  And a hashtag.  Selfie is the new self worth.  And to be noticed is the same as to be followed and liked.

I had hoped that things would be different.  That being yourself would be enough. But the world is much more complicated than I imagined. And I can’t protect you from the predators of peers out there hell bent on eating you alive. Brainwashing you with thoughts and words and actions that are unkind.  Unjust.  Unpatriotic.  I can’t shelter you from the storm of self hate that awaits you behind our doors and lurks in the halls of your elementary school.  I can’t stop the ignorance that is tolerated around us.

I had hoped that our love was enough to raise you to be kind.  Would be enough to teach you to be smart.  Could show you your importance.

There is so much beauty to see in this world and I hope – and pray – that you are able to see the world for the beautiful creation that it is and not be blinded by the discoloration of those hell bent on standing in the way of the light.

I hope that you look past the present and desire to make the world better.

Because that is what our children are – right?  A desire to make the world better.  A reason to be better.  You make me want to be better, little ladies.  To want better.  To demand better.

Because you deserve better.

You are my hope.  My hope that tomorrow brings laughter instead of tears.  Love instead of hate.  Peace instead of violence.

You are my hope that the world, filled with such beauty and grace and promise, will somehow, some day, be what we all dreamed and hoped it would be.

girls 2

I Had Hoped …