Destin: With My Ex-Husband’s Wife

There is a general look of shock that you get from people when you tell them you are going on vacation with your ex-husband’s wife and the kids you share. Yes! That’s it! The face you just made when you read that. It’s just not “normal,” right? Baa, whatevs!

Now that I’ve reeled you in with that dramatic title, let me tell you about the dream vacation I just had with my children and their stepmother, Aly.

(I don’t journal… I blog.)

Long story short, this vacation was planned for the kids by their daddy and Aly. Due to an unforeseen job transition, he was unable to go, leaving an adult spot to fill. I’m not sure who suggested that it be me, but I am forever grateful! Plans were finalized and we counted down the days like school girls texting back and forth about bathing suits, restaurants, and photography.

We were 95% successful in keeping the destination a secret from the kids so, we set off to the great unknown on Sunday morning… only 3.5 hours later than I originally wanted to leave. I take full responsibility for that, by the way. I’m a terrible procrastinator.


Brennen and I drove the almost 900 miles in about 15 hours.



You can’t imagine the delirious excitement seeing the palm trees!

We woke up the next morning ready to go! Destin was only 35 miles away and it was almost time to check-in to our condo. Aly and I had read reviews and gathered tips and hints from our friends and we requested to be on the 7th floor or higher for “the most spectacular views.” The kids wanted the room key, of course, and as I walked towards the door, all I could hear were screams of excitement. I knew they were looking at a view I had never seen in my life. I walked through the door, dropped our things, and went straight to the sliding glass door on our patio. Before me was the most beautiful sight I had ever laid eyes on…

IMG_2924I had tears in my eyes.

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Beauty: An Inside Job

The centuries old saying “beauty is only skin deep” is merely a simple way to say that external attractiveness has no relation to goodness or essential quality.

That “goodness” and “quality” stuff… It’s important.

My mother wasn’t there to walk me through very important steps towards becoming a young woman. I taught myself how to braid and curl my hair. I taught myself how to ruin a pair of eyebrows so that they’ll never grow back (even 20 years later). I experimented with makeup without my mother and without YouTube tutorials. I started my period without my mother. I was humiliated by a boy in 7th grade because I didn’t wear a bra… because I didn’t know I needed to.

The other day, my eleven, going-on-sixteen, year old daughter hopped into my car with about 6 coats of mascara on. She wore her bright and bubbly smile and batted those sparkling green eyes at me without a care in the world. Upon meeting her, conversation or not, you’d never believe she’s only a fifth-grader. And just last year, in the fourth grade, she tried with every ounce of her soul to wear mascara to school, but just like her sister who is four years older, she was told she had to wait until fifth grade to wear “a light coat of mascara and lip gloss, but nothing else. Less is more.”

I think that’s what “good moms” do, right?

A hundred scenarios flashed through my brain, but before I could process a single one, the words “those look like hooker eyelashes” rolled off of my tongue and right into the ear of my child. And in a valiant attempt to somehow undo what I had just done, I said, “Well, maybe more like clown makeup.”

0 for 2, Mom… you’re about to strike out.

An embarrassed little girl looked straight ahead and muttered “Thanks, Mom.” 

Dang it.

Back to the hundred scenarios rumbling around my in my brain… I’ve got to say something! This is my chance to explain what I meant to say. This is what being a mom is all about!

“I said that wrong. There is a reason young ladies, and older women for that matter, don’t need to wear that much mascara. Less is more. Although you would never know it from the constant rush of contouring and eyebrow videos shoved in your face every day, makeup should look natural… and if young ladies are going to wear it, it should definitely be minimal because your face is the first thing people see when they look at you. Let them see YOU.”


Moms, take pride in your job to inform, teach, and enlighten these girls before we send them out into the world. Be thankful you were trusted to guide them! Don’t let this opportunity pass you by! Yes, they can and will learn the hard way, but so much can be said with so little… less is more. We, as parents, have to teach them that their beauty does not come from the clothes they wear or how perfect their hair looks. It doesn’t come from caked on makeup either. Beauty comes from within – it’s a heart thing, an inside job. If they know their value at home first, they won’t be looking to fill their cups outside of your walls. Tell them they’re beautiful… but not only when they walk out the door after two full hours of hair/makeup… tell them when they are fresh-faced, rockin’ a messy bun. Better yet, show them. Be the example you want for your daughters!

They are watching, even though they’d never admit it.


A Missed Opportunity

I missed an opportunity last night… and it has bothered me for exactly 13 hours and 31 minutes……. and counting.

As a parent, is it not our job to build up and encourage our children? How many times are we faced with the agonizing task of actually telling them the truth or padding it to protect them? I have been a mother for just over 15 years now, and it has become more apparent in recent years that as my babies grow older, this “task” of brutal honesty vs. loving parent rears its ugly head more and more often. Yes, I know the politically correct responses are to “tell them the truth!” “don’t coddle them!” and I’m “doing more damage than good!”

There’s an old cliché saying that falls right in line here – easier said than done.

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Don’t Puke on Santa!

As I drove home from work today, exhausted from elfing way past my bedtime for too many nights, I was thinking about how awesome it was going to be to get home and relax. But, as I often do, I suddenly thought, “what can I do to make this night more busy than it has to be? Oh, I know! It’s a great night to go see Santa and get the kids’ picture with him!”

So, after rounding all four of them up, we were off! The line is 500 miles long, but hey I would walk 500 miles (see what I did there) for my kids to have their picture with Santa so, we waited… and waited.

Finally, about an hour later, we’re fifth or so in line.

Suddenly, I hear what sounds like liquid spilling onto cement and turn to see that Jaxx has vomited, Linda Blair style, ALL OVER Avery, and himself, and the floor, and Santa’s fake snow. Standing frozen, Avery’s eyes are about as big as apples, as she is completely soaked in puke. We clean them both up with wipees and a receiving blanket that I had stashed in the bottom of the diaper bag just for disasters like this. Lucky for me, Avery’s scarf caught the majority… not so lucky for her so, off that went.

Third in line.

Jaxx is pale and I’m on my hands and knees cleaning the floor. Avery is beside herself because she reaks of puke.

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Exciting Eleven Months

Baby to toddler, right before our very eyes!


Exciting doesn’t even cover it…


November was so jam-packed full of milestones, that I don’t even know how to list them in order of greatness! I’d have to say walking takes the cake this month, but before that, you stood!

Standing was very exciting and you are a superstar at it!


It is so neat to look down and see my little person standing at my feet, reaching my knees! Look how tall you are already! Falling right in line with the Carter side of things!

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The Red Lamp

If I told you that my dad was watching over my brand new infant son, his namesake, the first couple weeks of his life outside of the womb… would you believe me?

Sometimes you just feel something in your soul.

I have only talked about this with a couple of people and have wanted to blog about it many times, but I always talk myself out of it. My lack of confidence in being able to put into words what actually happened is heavy. Many will try to find logical explanations for what happened.

But, sometimes you just feel something in your soul.

My dad died very suddenly and unexpectedly in August of 2014, while I was 5 months pregnant. Naturally, it rocked me to the very core of my being. I have experienced many deaths in my family and even friends, but losing a parent is indescribable. I don’t think there is an age that makes it necessarily better or worse, but I do think that in your adulthood, it sure feels stronger than it might in your youth, simply because you have become “friends” with your parents. You have grown out of the resentment and grown into respecting them. A very real part of your soul dies when you lose a parent. There really are no words… IT JUST SUCKS.

Jaxx Henry was born in December of 2014. A beautiful, bouncing, and very healthy baby boy, blessed with his Pappy’s name, yet he would never get to experience those giant hands holding him. He would never hear that deep voice say “Hey boy.” He will never know his grandfather.

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Hey there, Mr. Cool Kid!


Remember last month, when you were desperately in need of a “big boy” car seat? Well, you finally got one… it just took some getting used to.


You’ve had so many fun milestones this month!

You’re waving, and it is the sweetest little wave ever! You’ve spent this entire month at home with your daddy and his favorite thing is when he comes in to get you in the mornings, you’re standing in your crib waving at him.

You’ve also mastered the art of clapping! Yay! How fun! We had to keep it traditional and sing patty-cake at first, but now we’re just clapping for anything. Seeing you happily put those fat, little hands together warms my heart. Big smiles all around!

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Nifty Nine Months

First, I’m sorry that I didn’t do an 8 month blog. To be completely honest, I try to note little things throughout the month to build my blog, but month 8 was rather chill on the Jaxx scale of coolness, and I had no notes to reflect on! I did start it… I just never got past the opening – which went something like this:

Earsplitting Eight Months

Yes, earsplitting… because that’s exactly how it goes down when Jaxx is in his carseat. Jaxx is very vocal, and loud is not a proper adjective to describe the volume at which he demands your attention. This entire month has been a LOOK AT ME month!

See, with an opening like that, you’d think Jaxx started a rock band or something, but no… so, on to the 9 month blog we go.

Speaking of car seats, it is most definitely time for a new one!





Growing like a weed. 

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Cookie Date

Written September 6, 2013

Today, something happened that I never really thought I’d be so tickled about. My first born daughter, my teen drama queen, my mini me, Miss Beanie – went on her “first date”. She’s in 7th grade and has had the same “little boyfriend” (as I call him) for the last 3 years. They may text some and buy each other a gift for Valentine’s Day, but just this year, they’ve really begun to act like more than buddies. They flirt and giggle and find general interest in each other. It’s kind of funny how we encourage that as our children are little, but then when they hit the dreaded years, we start trying to back-track and say, “You are not dating until you’re 35 young lady, and that is FINAL!” *door slam*

Without going into too much hearsay, sometimes the kids walk to Braum’s after school, but I have decided that is not something Brennen is going to be allowed to do… yet. It’s right by the junior high, but the things I’ve heard that go on there… I’m just not interested in having my kiddo be a part of or witness to… yet. Last night, E invited Brennen to go with him after school to the bakery instead. His mother and I had already discussed it and we thought it’d be fine. They are getting older. I think allowing them a little grace to prove their responsibility is fair. So, after school today, Brennen and Ethan walked across the street from their school (not holding hands… calm down folks) and went to the little bakery for some snacks.

It is really a neat feeling to hear my daughter GUSH about her first date. Although it was only a cookie, a Coke, and some homework, it was a really huge deal to her and it is all she’s talked about. She is giddy! It’s the cutest thing! She has talked non-stop about every tiny little detail! She is just floating around here on cloud 9! It’s a bittersweet feeling to see hearts in her eyes as she says “He made me laugh so hard that Coke went up in my nose, Mom!” Will I be allowing them to go to dinner and a movie together anytime soon? Absolutely not, but today was a milestone that I hope I can remember the details to, to share with her one day. Some days I may want to knock her attitude into next week, but today I am enjoying this moment for/with her. I pray that she always stays true to her morals and that she will always want to tell me about important things in her life. Life just moves so fast that even though I try to take it all in, I know I am not perfect and will miss things… All in all, I’d say today was a time-stopping moment for me as a mom.


Written January 4, 2010:

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with you. I took TWO tests just to make sure! I was only 19 years old, and so scared of how much you would change my life.

Little did I know… you would become my life.

I will call you Beanie for the rest of your life… and just so you know, I had to fight for that one! From the second I saw your face, I started calling you Beanie and I don’t know why. No one wanted me to call you that, but I didn’t care. Before long, everyone who knew you, knew you as Beanie.

Some days, I see myself in your every move… your every word… your every little mood swing. Other days, I see the little lady you are growing into so very quickly, and it scares me to death! I recently witnessed you blush because of a boy, and then flirt with him. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I don’t want you to grow up yet…

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