Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012 with Dotty...

This past Christmas was a great one for me and Dotty! We got to spend a lot of time together doing things that are really important to me.

December 23rd we went for a carriage ride through the lights with Presley, Keri, Memaw, Raymond and Linda McCoy, and Ty and Kelly (Knottingham) Smith. I LOVE Christmas lights and that night was very special (except Jake was sick but it was still great). Dotty loves lights too and she is a huge Kelly Knottingham fan! She LOVES her some Kelly!!! Kelly is the one that takes the girls pictures for the Pecan Shed and she has caught some of the best shots of Dotty. (As many of you know my child does not smile for pictures very well. She either looks like she is in pain or her underbite shows up. She gets that photogenic quality from Tony...and he knows it!) Kelly lets Dotty just be herself and she is there to capture Dotty at her best. Plus Kelly has a strong love for animals...something she and Dotty share!

Christmas Eve Dotty and I did presents with the "Montz" side. Papa, Memaw, Keri, and Presley all came over to my house to open gifts with us (Jake was still a bit sickly). The girls didn't fuss or fight (a Christmas miracle) and even showed enough restraint to make it until after lunch to tear through presents. They even took turns opening gifts this that is a gift in and of itself! I got to actually SEE what Dotty got this year instead of ducking and dodging bows and bags when the paper started flying! Later that day since Tony was still working I got to take Dotty with me to Christmas Eve church service. Nothing made me happier than holding my (almost 50 pound) baby girl and listening to her belt out the chorus...

"O come let us adore Him" the top of her lungs! That girl can rock a Christmas carol! Dotty even went down front to sit with the other kids while the preacher talked to them. Dotty has never even been to the church I went to that night before (I have not been many times) but she has no fear! I love that about her!

Then Christmas Eve night I got to sleep next to her and watch her see what Santa had brought her the next morning. (I am so thankful that Tony, Brittany, and I know how important these times are and we are willing to share them with each other. We may not always be able to have "Christmas Eve Sleepovers" Brittany of us will someday need a bigger house...but for now it is all about seeing Dotty's face on Christmas morning...and trust was a happy face.)

After Santa gifts...Dotty went with me and Tiffany (Biggs) Seel to deliver fudge and pecans to the firemen that work on Christmas Day. This is my 4th year to do this and to have Dotty along with me was a joy (although she got restless at the end). I want Dotty to see that Christmas is not about what you is always about giving. Firemen are so special to me (I know so many of them and several work for me at the Shed) and so I try to give to them when I can. Plus when Dotty was scared of firemen on a school trip to a fire station I had several firemen friends offer to show her around the station many times so she wouldn't be afraid. They gave of their I like to give of my fudge! :)

Then later on Christmas Day it snowed!!! In Dotty's five short years she has seen TWO white Christmas Days. That is pretty cool. I love snow and getting to be with Dotty on Christmas morning while the snow falls is so wonderful to me.

After Dotty went with Tony I was able to go home and rest...which I so needed. Retail season is hard on me during the holidays but I try never to appear too tired to Dotty. So an extra day or two of rest did my body and my spirits good!

Tony and Brittany also got engaged on Christmas Day! Dotty and I love Brittany so much and I could not have chosen a better person to be my little girl's step-mom. Brittany loves Dotty with all her heart and as Dotty's mom that is all I could ever ask for! I know Dotty is going to make one cute flower girl when she walks down that aisle with her little sister Dylann! So happy for that side of Dotty's family!!!

So Christmas 2012 was one for the record books! My gift was a happy, healthy, and truly loved little girl...who believes in Santa, sneaky elves, angel kisses, and most of all Jesus Christ...the real reason for the season!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Remember Today is a Good Day...

This past Friday was a hard one. With all the violence in the elementary school in Connecticut, I had such a hard time wrapping my mind around the situation. How could someone do something so terrible…to anyone…but especially to children?

Friday was a day when Brittany was supposed to get Dotty from school and I was not going to have Dotty back with me until Sunday afternoon. Thankfully Brittany is an amazing person and mom and she understood when I called to tell her I just needed to see Dotty…if only for a few minutes. Today of all days…I needed to hug and hold my precious child.

So I went to Dotty’s school to get her from class. I let the tears fall all the way there. I thought of all the parents and especially all the mothers who would not get to pick their kids up from school again. It was a thought my heart could not bear. I sobbed…for those that had lost so much. I prayed for their families and for God to hold them in His arms and give them all the comfort He could so they could make it through the next day, hour, minute…moment. I can’t imagine how I would even begin to go on after a tragedy like that.

Before I walked into Dotty’s room I composed myself…wiped my tears…and put on a smile. Dotty would never understand what happened and I didn’t want her to see it written all over my face. (I have always tried to shield Dotty from the bad things in life…whether they were things going wrong in the world as we know it…or in “our little world” as we know it. I have always tried to be strong for her and never let her see me shaken. Now whether or not that mentality is right or wrong I don’t know but it is a rule I have followed. I try to be her rock…steady and strong…always.)

As I grabbed up Dotty for a “hello hug” I just didn’t let go. I carried her all the way to the car (even though she is getting quite heavy at this point). I held her in my arms for some time once I sat her in the car. And the amazing thing was…she let me hold her. She sat so still and quiet and just let me hold her (which as most of you know 5 year olds are busy…they like to move and they like to talk…especially Dotty…she LOVES to talk!). But this time we both just sat in the car holding on to each other in silence.

Then Dotty whispered to me “I could hug you forever.”

Well my rock status waivered. I shed a tear and bit hard on my lip. Then whispered, “I love you more than you will ever know.”

At that point Dotty pulled away and turned back into her typical 5 year old girl self. She rattled on about her pajama day at school…what everyone was wearing…how good the movie was…how much she liked the hot chocolate and popcorn. Then she ended by saying “Today was a good day Momma.”

I sat so still thinking…not for some. Today was the worst day ever for some.

But for my kid…today was a good day. And for me…any day on this earth that I get to know that my kid is happy, healthy, and safe is a good day.

No matter what.

No matter what happens at work. No matter what my checking account says. No matter what the scales say. No matter how I feel physically. No matter what.

I can get bogged down in a million little things that might make me think a day is “not a good day” but no matter what…if Dotty is good…then the day is good.
I have got to remember ALWAYS to not take life…especially the life I share with Dotty…for granted. Not even for a moment. This life is too short as is even if we live to be 100 but it is especially too short if tragedy cuts it short. We are not promised tomorrow and I need to make sure every day is a day I treasure.

I am borrowing this next line from “Hands Free Momma” which is a blog I follow…she wrote…
“While I cannot control what happens once they leave my side, I can control what happens in those sacred minutes before we say good-bye.”

Then she made a point to always stop and hug and kiss her kids before they leave no matter what! No matter if they are late…if it is raining and they are getting soaked…no matter what. She even made a sign with her kindergartener that says “XOXO – Before You Go!” which is now on their back door to remind them to always take the time.

I plan to make one of those signs too. It is always good to remember to tell your kids…and to tell everyone…how much you love them. Because we don’t know when it will be the last time we see them.

I know Friday was a horrible day. I am not trying to say otherwise. It makes me cry just typing this up right now. I can’t imagine such a loss.

But I am always reminded when I hear of any senseless loss of life that I don’t know why things like this happen. But I do know that I need to cherish Dotty more every day. Because every day I have with her is a good day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dotty's Gang

A great man passed away on Thursday, November 22nd. He was great in a lot of ways…one of them being that he was Dotty’s great-grandfather. J.B. Nichols…known lovingly as “Gang” to his family…passed away at the age of 88. He lived a good life and had been remarkably healthy until the last few months.

Gang was a man of few words. He was the kind of person that would simply sit and listen. But mind you he WAS listening…to every word. And when he needed to say something he would say it. But he was a great listener. I spent several afternoons on the front porch with Granny and Gang. Granny likes to talk (as do I) but Gang was always pretty quiet. He would make a comment every now and then but he listened mostly. Gang was a great example of how you can say very little yet still say so much. Because Gang wasn’t much of a talker when he did talk people would listen.

I tend to talk a lot. I have a habit of trying to fill quiet voids with words. But when I was with Gang I never felt a need to talk just to fill up the silence. Sitting next to him without talking was never awkward or unsettling. In fact, it was quite calming and peaceful. Gang put me at ease. I found myself breathing easier around him. The weight of having to “talk” was lifted. I could just “be” and that was enough.

I have many great moments of watching Granny and Gang at Byers ball games. Neither yelled too much (or really at all by the time I knew them) but both watched with great interest and even greater joy. I was able to take Granny and Gang to a few out of town games and I listened to them talk about the games from many years ago…when Howard and Jay Ann played…Lisa, Julie, Tony, Jarrod…all of them. Both Granny and Gang loved sports and they particularly loved Byers basketball.

Occasionally, if I was home alone for lunch, I would take Granny and Gang to eat at either the CafĂ© or the Gin. One day in early February 2007 we were down at the Gin eating lunch and Gang out of the blue looked right at me and said “You need to have a little girl.” Now at this point Tony and I knew I was pregnant but we hadn’t told anyone and we of course did not know if it was a boy or a girl (in fact we never found out the sex of the baby until Dotty was born…that killed Tony but it was my choice). Well needless to say I froze in panic thinking “he can read it all over my face”. Then I laughed nervously and said “maybe someday”. Well that someday came on September 8, 2007 when Dotty Marie Nichols was born. Gang was right…I needed to have a little girl.

I remember a few days after I got home from the hospital and I saw a shadow moving outside of my house. I walked to the window to see who was lurking around and it was Gang…he was watering my flowers. I picked up Dotty and walked out on to the porch. I thanked Gang for watering for me and he just said “they looked thirsty”. I asked if he wanted to hold Dotty and he said “no…I will just look at her”. And he did…for a long time…with a smile on his face.

Many afternoons after Dotty was born I felt like the walls to the house in Byers were closing in on me. It was on those afternoons that I would take Dotty over to visit Granny and Gang. When Dotty was little I would bundle her up for the short walk through our back yard, behind the Methodist church, and across the street to Granny and Gang’s house…it was probably barely over 100 yards from my backdoor their front door. As Dotty got older she would wobble and weave her way on chubby, shaky toddler legs. Then when she got older she had her mini pink 4-wheeler she would get on and burn rubber all the way there (well as much rubber as she could burn using the juice from the battery pack that was all the horsepower the mini 4-wheeler could generate).

We might have stayed an hour…we might have stayed only about 10 minutes…but each visit was well worth it to me! Gang didn’t want to hold Dotty much but he would watch her closely when she was a baby. As she got bigger and could “play” more, Gang would drag out every toy in the house he thought Dotty might want. (I just knew the moment that we left Gang, Granny, or both would trip over some toy I missed when I tried to put them all back up.) Dotty LOVED those afternoons and so did I…and so did Granny and Gang! I don’t think I would have made it through the first two years of Dotty’s life without going to see Granny and Gang on regular occasions.

Of course the memory that makes me crack up the most is the one involving a stack of books I gave to Gang. Gang LOVED to read! And he read A LOT! I was always giving him books to read but I never could keep him stocked up. Sometimes Gang would read and entire book in one afternoon!!! Well, one day I had been helping my mom clean out stuff at her house. She was going through a lot of her old books and told me to take them to Gang. I didn’t really look at what they were because Gang would read ANYTHING! I just dropped the books off at his house and told him to enjoy.

A few days later we were visiting and Gang told me he was done with the books and I could give them to someone else. On top of the stack I noticed the book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”. I smiled slightly and picked up the book. Then I said, “I have never read this book.” Gang paused for a moment, looked at me and said “Don’t.” I laughed until my sides hurt!!!

I have so many truly great and wonderful memories about Gang. He loved his vegetable garden. He would talk to me about pecans. We spent 4th of July over at their house. We had many yard sales in their front yard. Of course I know the Nichols family has many, MANY more stories and memories than I have but I treasure the ones that I got to be a part of.

Gang was a great man. I am thankful for my time with him as well as for the fact that Dotty was old enough that she will remember him.

At the funeral, Dotty had me take her by the casket and she looked long and hard at Gang. She didn’t cry but she looked at him with a somber face. Later that night I noticed two new freckles on Dotty. I have always told her freckles were “angel kisses”. When I pointed out the new little brown dots my sweet baby girl just paused for a moment and said, “It must have been Gang kissing me good-bye. He loved me a lot.”

Fighting back tears I simply said, “Yes he did.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 Years Ago Today...

Five years ago today I was pregnant...WAY pregnant! I was about to POP pregnant. Five years ago today I had no idea if I was having a boy or a girl...I just knew that whatever it was...I was ready for it to be OUT. OF. ME!

I think I made Tony take to me to the hospital at least 2 times druing my pregnancy...and two times I got sent home. I know I went in on September 6th...I was having contractions but unfortunately those contractions were not doing anything other than causing me pain! They sent me home...again...that makes three!

September 7th is my niece Presley's birthday and I was bound and determined NOT to have my baby on that day...I didn't want the cousins to have to share a birthday (in hindsight...that might have been the easier route to go).

I sat at home all day on the 7th...the U.S. Open tennis tournament was on. I had a notebook beside me keeping track of my random contractions. Mom had come over to sit with me while Tony was at school. She stared at me all day long. A part of me wanted to just yell at her to go away (hormones talking)...a part of me wanted to cry and ask her to make it ALL go away (hormones talking again). So instead I sat in silence for most of the day.

I was nervous. I knew I was getting close and I was scared about labor and delivery. I was scared about epidural needles. I was scared I was not going to be able to endure labor...even with the drugs I was already planning on asking for the minute they admitted me.

I was scared about becoming a baby's mom. Actually, I was flat out terrified.

That night I endured pain...lots of pain. Pain that made me want to break several 2x4s in half. Pain that made me want to kick Adam's and Eve's hindquarters for eating those stupid apples!

In the early morning hours I woke up Tony and said "Let's go." Of course, he had heard that before. But this time I was not leaving the hospital without a baby or a portable morphine of the two!

Well thank the Lord above...they did let me stay this time. At 5:55pm on September 8, 2007 I found out I was a mom to a little 6 pound 9 ounce girl...we named her Dotty. With one look at her she stole my heart forever. She let out a loud cry and I let out a sigh of relief...her lungs seemed fine (in the coming months and years those lungs have proven to be more than fine...they are exceptional).

To this day I am amazed they let me take her home. I mean they didn't run a background check...make me answer a true/false test...or even ask me if I knew how to work the diaper disposer thing I had registered for and gotten a month before at my shower! They just checked the carseat...we signed some papers...they checked her wristband...and off we went. I mean you have to do more to get a Sam's card!!! They just let anyone have a baby and then take that baby home! CRAZY!!!

I will be honest and say the first two years were tough...the third year came with lots of new challenges...the fourth year things were starting to seem right...and this last year has been the best of all.

Dotty is the joy of my life! She is the reason I do everything I do. She makes me want to be a better Mom...a better person. She is my everything.

Dotty has brought me so much joy that I could never express it all. Oh there have been times I have had to get on to her...I have had to put her in time out...I have had to take away a toy...I have had to spank her tushie. But there have been way more laughs than tears...way more smiles than frowns...way more kisses than "I mean it" stares.

Dotty is about to be five in a few short days. For the last five years I have found I could love more than I ever dreamed possible...I discovered my parents were right when they said, "this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you" right before I got a spanking when I was little (I didn't realize how smart my parents were until I became a parent)...I found out amazing things come in small packages...I learned to love stick people drawings, sticky fingers, and sticks found on the ground that were turned into magic wands...I found my best friend has blue eyes, loves chicken nuggets, and calls me Momma...I found out that the last person I think about before I go to sleep and the first person I think about when I wake up is the person I met on September 8, 2007 at 5:55pm.

Dotty Marie Nichols changed my world when she came in it...and for that I will always be grateful to God.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Be Careful What You Say...You Might Hear it Again

Let me start this post by saying I know I am not the world's best mom. I know some days I am better than others. And I know that each day, each moment is a chance for me to do better!

Now let me give you some background information. Dotty used to be a very poor sleeper. Any of you that know me or my child well will know that she did not sleep through the night until she was 3 years old and even for many, many months after that she still woke up several times a night (like 3+). Needless to say I was VERY sleep deprived!

When Dotty goes to sleep at night I lay down with her, read books, sing a song, then pat her until she (or I) fall asleep. Back in the day when sleep was a scarce commodity I tended to be a very tired momma with a very short fuse by 9pm. I was exhausted and needed those few precious hours of sleep I got off and on through the night. Many times I would get on to Dotty if she wiggled too much or played with her toys in bed or just simply would not go to sleep.

Last night the words I said to Dotty (and sadly the tone I would say them in) came back to haunt me.

By the way...Dotty has gotten much better at sleeping through the is pure heaven let me tell you!!!)

Last night we snuggled in to do our routine. I got out of the bed for a minute then when I was climbing back in to start the "patting process" Dotty said something to me that made me laugh at first then made me sad very quickly after that.

Dotty said, "Momma get still! If you keep wiggling around while I am trying to go to sleep I am going to sleep in your room!"

(That used to be my threat for Dotty...that if she did not get still I was going to sleep in my room and she would have to fall asleep all by herself.)

I started to laugh at how she was mimicking me...then reality set it. Dotty went on to say, "I mean it Momma...I will go to your room and sleep and you will be in here all alone and you will cry yourself to sleep."

My heart broke. Now I know I never said those words to her ever...but that is what she must have thought about my threat...that I would leave her and she would be all alone and she would cry.

Wow! Talk about a reality check.

My laughter was now long forgotten...I realized that Dotty had pegged me exactly. The nights when I would say that to her in such a harsh tone were some pretty tough nights but they didn't justify my behavior.

I slowly pulled Dotty to me and in the dark I doubt she could see the tears run down my face. I said to her, "Dotty...I am so sorry I spoke to you that way in the past when I was very tired and very grouchy. You did not deserve to be spoken to that way. I love you. I love much! Can you forgive me?"

With a yawn she said..."I forgive you Momma. We have to learn to be nicer to each other." I agreed with her and kissed her sweet face. Then I patted her to sleep...which only took a matter of minutes.

I stayed awake a long time after that...thinking what a terrible mother I was. Then I remembered...I am human...I make mistakes...I did ask Dotty for forgiveness and now I had to forgive myself. I prayed to God to forgive me for treating Dotty so gruffly in the past. I prayed for patience...and I prayed for the opportunity to be patient.

I am not saying I won't ever lose my temper in the future...but I do hope that it will take much more than a wiggly little girl to cause me to lose my patience. I also don't plan to let Dotty get away with everything in the future but I will learn to talk calmly and rationally more often than loudly and in an angry tone. No parent is perfect. I know that.

I was raised by imperfect parents...who loved me more than life itself. I don't blame them for any "failures" they might have had as parents. All I remember (mostly) is the adoring love they gave me every day.

That's what I hope Dotty will remember from these early years and from now on. I also hope I remember the love that Dotty and I share. And I hope I learn from the lessons God puts in front of me. Sometimes when God speaks He whispers...and sometimes He sounds a lot like my four year old little girl.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A morning with Dotty...

This morning Dotty and I were playing with "window markers" (thanks to Memaw). We were sitting by the front door coloring on the glass door as the sunshine came through. I was telling Dotty the story of how Tony and I came up with her name (she likes that story). Dotty is named after Tony's grandmother Dorothy Nichols and my grandmother Wanda Marie Montz...hence Dotty Marie Nichols. Dotty stopped and said, "Your Grandma never got to see me did she Momma?" I said, "No...she didn't." (My Grandma passed away in 1995.) Then Dotty said, "I bet she would have liked me." I said, "She would have LOVED you." Then Dotty said, "But she knows me. She knows I am your little girl." Well the tears started to pool in the corners of my eyes. Then Dotty put her little hand under my chin and lifted my face to the sunlight. She said, "Look up into the sky...tell your Grandma you love her." It was so hard to say the words because I was so choked up with tears...but as tears streamed down my face I said, "I love you Grandma." Then Dotty smiled and said, "I bet she is smiling and so happy in Heaven." I have no doubt that Grandma is. I know my Grandma would have LOVED to have seen Dotty...Grandma loved little girls...mainly because her life was filled with so many boys...girls were a rare thing for her. She had all boys and all grandsons except for me. Grandma loved to dress me in frilly dresses and she loved to curl my hair up in sponge rollers and she loved to watch me twirl around when I was all dolled up and ready to go. Every time I see Dotty twirl around in a dress I feel a tug on my heart. Sometimes I think God uses the innocence of children to remind us of His love. This morning was such a sweet and touching moment between me and I will treasure forever.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mother's Night at SLP 2012

Thursday night was "Mother's Night" at Dotty's school. Again I was a little sad that it would be her last Mom's Night at SLP but I was determined to enjoy every minute of it. The whole night went well. We had our pictures made. We painted. We had "music class". We made wind chimes. I am telling you...Mrs. Grace and Mrs. Connie packed the night full of things to do! Then the night ended with us going into the "snack room" for some cookies that the kids had made themselves. Our tables were set with drawings the kids had made for each mom. Dotty had drawn me and her and lots of flowers...because she knows how much I love flowers!! The children were also asked some questions in which the answers were written on the picture as well. Here are some of the questions and Dotty's answers to them. **Where does your mom work? Pecan Shed (although Dotty spelled it Shop) **What does your mom like to drink? Dr. Pepper (which is sort of true) **What is her favorite color? Yellow (yes...I like yellow and since Belle is my favorite princess Dotty has dubbed yellow as my favorite color) **What does your mom eat? Whip Cream and Carrots (I do not like carrots and I don't know the last time I had whip cream on anything) **If your mom was an animal which one would she be? Elephant (I am hoping that is because Dotty loves elephants) **What would you like to give your mom? A yellow zebra (most kids said...hugs and kisses...Dotty explained to me it would be harder to find a yellow zebra so that means I would like it more) **How does your mom show you she loves you? She washes my sheets so they are very clean (other kids wrote things like...she dances with me...she tells me she loves me...apparently I show love with Wisk and a washing machine) The last question was the best...and always is... **How old is your mom? Now let me say that when Dotty was 2 she said I was 2...last year she said I was 4...this year she said... 52.... Yep! I went from 4 to 52 in 12 months time! Everyone at the table laughed (mainly because all their kids had kept them under 20). I asked Dotty...How old do you think Daddy is? She said...52 I asked...How old do you think Memaw, Papa, Nana, and Papa are? She said...200 I asked...How old do you think Brittany is? She said...14 I stopped asking her any more questions! LOL!!! The good news is AARP should be sending me stuff in the mail any day now! All jokes aside...I had a fabulous time with Dotty! My baby has grown up so fast. We started SLP in February of 2010 when Dotty was just 2 years old. Back then she was still in diapers, she cried when I left, and at our first "Mother's Night" she wanted me to hold her the entire time. Now at 4 years old she is potty trained (thank goodness), barely tells me good bye when I drop her off at school, and at this last Mother's Night she was so busy socializing with her friends I was left to watch in amazement how much my little girl has grown and changed in just a short time. My oh my...2 1/2 years flew by! I am so proud of Dotty. She has grown into a great little girl. I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Lessons from the Big Top

Sunday Dotty and I went to the circus that was visiting Wichita Falls. Let me state here in some areas of my life I am very tight and in other areas I am not. This line can also change based on my mood, the day, the weather, what I ate for breakfast, etc. Basically I try not to spend money unnecessarily but I like to enjoy life and I want Dotty to experience a lot of things and enjoy all I can offer her. However, I cannot offer her the entire Big Top! While we had fun at the circus I felt awful for having to tell Dotty "no" to almost everything she asked for...but she asked for EVERYTHING! For starters it cost me $24 to get us both in to sit on hard metal bleacher seats. Then she wanted toys, food (we ate right before we got there), snow cones, glow sticks, her face painted, to ride the name it...she wanted it! I didn't bring much cash with me so I told her I just had enough money for her to either get a toy or ride one animal. As you can see...she chose to ride the elephant. Eight bucks and ninety seconds later the ride was over and Dotty was wanting to do more! I felt like the worst mother ever...but at the same time I was trying to explain to Dotty that her "prize" was getting to GO to the circus...and she did get to ride the elephant. Well as you can imagine...that went over about as well as a 300 pound flying trapeze artist...not so good! We left the circus and Dotty's exact words to me were "I am never taking you to the Circus again Mommy!" Wow...I felt the love there! I don't know what to do with this girl. I know it is hard to explain to kids that they can't have everything they see and trying to explain money is hard to a 4 year old who thinks that there is no difference between a one dollar bill and a one hundred dollar bill. At one point Dotty even told me "Go to that blue machine that Daddy goes gives you more money there." I didn't even attempt to explain ATMs to her. I worry that our trip to Disney World in September is not going to be much fun if I have to tell her "no" to everything. I worry about that a lot. How do you raise a child to be content with what she has...yet at the same time strive to achieve more in life? Where is the "Raising a Four Year Old for Dummies" book on this one?!?! I hope I am doing the right thing by Dotty. It isn't easy to teach those hard life lessons when your little one is tearing up. I swear the saying I heard a hundred times..."this hurts me more than it will ever hurt you" SOOOOO TRUE!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dotty Scored!

Today Dotty scored in her soccer game!!! It is not the first time she has scored a goal but it is the first time she has scored in the CORRECT goal!!!

Of course...I am not sure if this one should count either. When Dotty scored all the other girls on her team and the girls on the opposing team were either crying because they had gotten knocked down or they were crying to the coach about something else! Dotty was the only player left standing upright and without tears in her eyes. But even then I was worried she might miss...I was so proud she made it though.

Afterall...we always tell all players to "play until you hear the whistle" there are no "officials" in Dotty's league. Coaches are out on the field and double as officials. No one has a real whistle either...there is just a bunch of yelling from coaches, parents, fans, name it. It is sort of like chaos on caffiene overload at times!

So if you overlook all those factors...Dotty scored a goal. I say put it down in the books! Oh wait...we don't keep books either. In fact...we don't even keep score. Oh well...we will all know in our hearts that Dotty scored...and afterall if we are being honest then that is all that matters really!!!

Little kid soccer makes me laugh! It makes me makes me crazy at makes me shake my head in frustration...but most of all it makes me laugh!!!

Congrats to Dotty on her first "official" goal! You go girl!!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Washing Mom's Car

Yesterday Dotty helped me wash my car. It was a cheap and easy way to kill two birds with one stone. #1 it got my dirty car washed. #2 it entertained Dotty for almost an hour...almost!

As Dotty and I soaped and scrubbed and rinsed and...yes...even sprayed each other a time or two...I couldn't help but realize how fast she has grown up. It seems like just yesterday I was laying out a blanket under the shade of a tree and all she could do was sit up and watch the world go by. Then she started crawling and life got more hectic.

My friend Jeri says it best...each stage of childhood is the "best one". Whatever stage Dotty is currently in seems like the "best". Of course I miss days when I got to just sit and rock her and give her a bottle. I miss the days when gurgles and smiles were the highlights of my day. I miss the first steps (and yes...I actually did miss her very first step!) and all the excitement that came with her reaching new milestones.

I would say I don't miss the up all nights...but some nights with Dotty are still "up all night" nights.

Right now though seems like just such a great time in Dotty's life. She is big enough to do a lot of things on her own...but she is still little enough to need her Mommy (her Daddy, Brittany, Memaw, Papa, Nana, Papaw...and many, many more too).

I can't explain it...but at this point in my life if time wanted to freeze for...oh say...10 years...I wouldn't mind being 32 and Dotty staying 4 for a decade or so!

Of course ten years from now I will probably being saying the same things I am now...oh then I will be 42 and Dotty will be 14...that might not be all it is cracked up to be...on the other just might!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Klepto Kid

So Dotty has officially become a kleptomaniac. She has once again stolen a toy.

At this point I am thinking of signing her up for a 12 step program.

All kidding aside...I realize that some kids do this as a way of getting attention. It is just another form of "negative attention is still attention". However I worry.

Yesterday when we took Brittany and Dylann back home from getting the girls pictures made with bunnies Dotty took me into her room to "tell me the truth" as she put it. I was at a loss until she pulled a purple ball out from underneath her puffy pink Easter dress. She had taken the ball from the studio.

I was at a loss for words for a minute. Then Tony came over and together we tried to explain to Dotty how wrong it was to steal...even if it is just a toy. We told her she must know it was wrong because she had hidden it. And we asked her if she knew it was wrong...a bad choice...she nodded. We told her that this was the second time we had to have this talk and that we did not want to do it again. If she stole again she would be punished. Tony asked her what she thought should be her punishment if she steals again (I thought that was a great idea on his part) and she said she needed to have a toy of hers taken away.

So her "tab" (a.k.a. Leap Pad Game toy) is up on the blocks. If she does it again it will be taken away for several days.

We also told her we were glad she told us the truth...that we loved her...that everyone makes mistakes...and that she would have to take the toy back and apologize as a way of fixing her mistake. (I plan to call ahead to the studio to fill them in on the details and to ask them to be firm but kind to Dotty.)

I am not "Mother of the Year" by any means...and a I learn daily how to be a better parent but I am at a loss on this one. I can only hope that some day when she is running for public office or something that this incident will be a humorous story and will not keep her from winning any type of election.

In reality...I hope to nip this thing in the bud to keep her out of jail!!! I don't really care if she runs for any kind of office or even if she votes for that matter...but I do want her to not be banned from voting due to a criminal past!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

And Then There was Silence

I just spent four days with Dotty. Based on how Tony and I now work our schedules of being with Dotty a time span like that is rare. Neither of us want to go very long without her.

The past four days and nights were awesome! The best yet I think. Dotty didn't cry for Tony. She was too busy. We saw Memaw LOTS! We had people over to visit like Papa and Brittany and Dylann. There was school and work. There were events and such. But overall it was just great.

It even rained which we sooooo needed (and which Dotty prayed for). Of course rainy days with a 4 year old stuck in a house can be tough.

I remember yesterday thinking as 3 different tvs were going on with 3 different cartoon shows on them and Dotty was dancing and singing and asking me to "flip her" (our newest trick that is threatening to throw my back out) that I just wanted 5 seconds of silence. Only 5 seconds to clear my head and have a single uninterrupted thought.

And then there was silence.

It came when I walked in the door after leaving Dotty to stay the night with Tony and Brittany. It hit me in the face so hard that I physically cried from the pain.

No distraction at all could fill the silence that had crept into my soul.

It happens every time Dotty leaves. It has not gotten easier and I am sure it never will.

The silence reminds me that a piece of me is gone when Dotty is not here. She is the part that completes me.

I know a lot of parents beg for and seek out silence in the crazy would that is that of raising a child...and I am no different at times. At times I get annoyed with the same questions from Dotty. At times I lose my patience. At times I forget that the time I have with her is getting less and less each day.

And then there is silence.

With each moment of silence I crave to hear Dotty's voice...her laughter...her soft breath as she sleeps...and yes even her fit throwing would be nice too.

Lots of parents don't get the "silence" until their children go off to college or wherever they go after high school. But I get it over and over again.

Luckily with each stretch of silence I pray to God that I become a better mom and cherish Dotty all the more. I pray that I will enjoy the "noise" each day that is associated with Dotty. And I pray for strength to endure the silence.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Losing Marbles

I read an email from "All Pro Dad"...a Tony Dungy website that I just love. It was talking about all the time we sacrifice with our kids. It mainly focused on what we give up in order to make more money but it applies in all areas of our lives.

The last point the email made really hit home with me. The author said to figure out how many Saturdays you have left with your child from now until they turn 18. Then he said to buy that many marbles and place them in a glass jar. Every Saturday night throw one marble away...because you will never get it back.

That explanation really hit home to me and made me cry. As a divorced parent I get only about half those Saturdays with my kid...same for Tony too. As best I can figure it...and I am not great with math...Tony and I have roughly 680 Saturdays or so left before Dotty turns 18. When you divide that by 2 because we share weekends with her that means I only have 340 Saturdays left to spend with her. (And the truth is...when she starts driving I might not even have that many because she will rather be with her friends more than likely.)

I know I spoil my kid. I know I do. But my time with her is limited and it is precious. Every parent feels that way I know but I think divorced parents feel it even more because we don't even have the option of having our kid every day if we wanted them. That is a luxury we will never get.

I feel guilty leaving Dotty for even an hour when she is with me. I want her to know and to feel my love and I want to cherish every moment with her. I do try to share her with my family and her friends and let her grow up to be a normal kid. And I truly don't want her to be spoiled or to think she must have my constant attention because I know that is not healthy either. It is a fine line all parents walk...and a fine and wobbly line that divorced parents must walk.

Trust me...I know all parents have troubles and trials. I in no way think I have it worse than any other parent. I just have it different than those parents who are both living in the same home as their child. This is the only life I know so of course it is the one I most understand and feel the most passion for.

Like I have always said...Tony and I don't have the typical divorce. We get along well. We always try to do what is best for Dotty above all. But there are sacrifices that come along with that way of thinking. I pray to God every day that Dotty will grow up happy and healthy and will not be scarred by coming from a "broken home" so to speak. I pray that she will know how loved she is by so many people and she will never feel cheated by the life she was dealt.

However, in trying to give all I can for Dotty's happiness I must lose some of my own. I lose weekends. I lose days. I lose nights. I lose moments. I lose time. I lose memories I will never be a part of. In a way I lose marbles so to speak. But I would lose everything for her.

I don't plan on buying any marbles to do what the author said. Trust me...I know my time is precious...and it is fleeting. But I thank God every day for the time (for the marbles) I do get to spend with Dotty. For she is my greatest blessing!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Parent/Teacher Conference Spring 2012

So the other day Tony and I went to have our parent/teacher conference at Dotty's school. They have two each year. One in the fall and one in the spring.

Here are some of the "highlights" from the written report we got from Mrs. Grace...

"Sprinkling her knowledge to others throughout her morning and whenever someone is 'sprinkled' they are better for it - adult and friend."

Translation - Dotty likes to tell people how to do things. There is "her way" and the "wrong way"...classmates can choose but beware. When you get "sprinkled" again it rains down a bit heavier and with more force!

"Great manager in the best sense!"

Translation - Dotty is bossy.

"Extraordinary understanding of how the English language works in her world."

Translation - Dotty talks a lot.

All jokes aside...Mrs. Grace said Dotty was a great kid. And Dotty LOVES Mrs. Grace and Ms. Connie!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sleeping Alone???

This morning Dotty came into my bedroom saying, "I did it Momma!!!"

She had both hands up in the air wanting a "High Ten" (aka...the double high five). I am always happy to praise Dotty so I slapped my hands to hers and said, "That is awesome!!! What exactly did you do?"

Dotty was at that moment doing a sort of dance/running in place in a wobbly circle move (which made me think...this poor girl doesn't know the difference between "working out" and "working it").

When Dotty stopped her sad version of a victory dance she said, "I slept in MY BED all by MYSELF all night long!" (with emphasis on the "my bed" and "myself")

You see we are working on getting her to accomplish such a feat. She seems to think bedtime is a group activity.

Every night I lay down with Dotty until she goes to sleep (and most of the time I end up falling asleep too). When she is out (and I wake up) I go to my room. Most nights at least once and sometimes two or three times I hear a soft "Mommy???" from her room and the entire process starts all over again. Some nights I just give up and sleep with her until my alarm goes off.

So this morning Dotty was so excited she had made it "all night" alone in her bed.

I smiled and said, "Well you did pretty good. But don't you remember waking up and coming in my room and asking me to come sleep with you?"

She stopped and looked at me all confused.

I tried to explain in more detail, "I fell asleep with you and then went to my bed to sleep. Then at 1:30 you came and had me come sleep with you again."

Dotty still looked puzzled...then she said "You mean that was you?!"

Sometimes I have no idea what goes through a 4 year old's mind!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dotty's Cooking Techniques

The other night Dotty was cooking for me in her kitchen. According to her my meal had been "Samurai-ed".

I think Tony's family must be a big fan of Samurai of Tokyo or something!

Perhaps Dotty has a future on the Food Network!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

To Clear Up the Confusion

Tony just text me that he was the one who told Dotty the story of the Tower of Babel. He said she asked why people spoke different languages so that is how he explained it.

So I guess it wasn't divine intervention after all. I was also beginning to think Dotty would grow up to be a missionary or something. However...knowing how much Dotty loves her Tab and TV in general she might have to be a missionary in an area with great satellite reception.

So...there you go...mystery solved! Pretty funny too!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Long Time Ago...In a Land Far Far Away...

Dotty LOVES to tell stories before she goes to bed at night. She wants me to tell her a story, she wants to tell a story, and (according to Brittany) she wants Daddy to tell her about 5 stories (he is such a sucker...most daddies to little girls are though).
Last night Dotty started her story in the way she always does...
"A long time a land far, far away..."
And then she added...
"Past China, and Egypt, and even past Las Vegas!"
I died laughing...I don't even know where Dotty hears the names to half these places. I know "Kai-Lan" is from China and occasionally the "Little Einsteins" and "Diego" have visited Egypt, but I doubt any Disney or NickJr character has been to Las Vegas...if so I missed that episode.

Then Dotty told a story that sort of made the hairs on my arms stand up. She practically told the story of the the "Tower of Babel" from the Bible. And the reason why I know this is because I have been trying to read a little bit of the Bible every day...some days I do better than others...and the night before last I read the "Tower of Babel" story in Genesis.

Dotty told her story about people building a tower up to the sky but that God (and she added his friend the "Giant") did not want people in Heaven because they would destroy God threw dust on people so they couldn't talk to each other anymore and they stopped building the tower.

I promise to you...that is what she said!!! I would not have believed it if I had not heard it with my own ears. Now I don't know what all stories Dotty has heard in her Sunday school class or what Nana has told her or what they talk about at her school...but when I was growing up we heard about Noah, Adam and Eve, the burning bush, the parting of the sea, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus...healing blind men, making the lame walk, and of course being killed, buried, and rising from the dead...but I don't remember hearing much about the Tower of least not until I got older.

When Dotty finished...I didn't say a word. She asked, "Did you like that story Mommy?"
I said "Yes honey...I sure did." I said it in almost a whisper.

Then I said a prayer...thanking God for all the wonder on this Earth...and especially for the little wonder that was falling asleep beside me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Church of Christ

Dotty LOVES going to church with Nana. Nana's Church of Christ church is small in members. Most Sundays there will be about 20 people in the pews...and they all love to see Dotty when she visits.

Yesterday Dotty and I went to church with Nana. Dotty went to Sunday School with her beloved teacher...Sandy. Then Dotty came in to have church service with everyone else.

A four year old does not have the longest attention span...especially when no electronics are allowed and you have to be VERY quiet.

During the hymns Dotty started to do her version of "interpretive dancing". Now in some denominations this might be accepted and encouraged...but at the Church of Christ things are a little bit more subdued. I tried to discourage Dotty's dance performance before she got too carried away.

Then Dotty laid down in the floor under the pews by my feet. At one point she lifted up and asked "Is that same guy still talking?" referring to the visiting preacher and his sermon.

Now I am sure I am super sensitive to Dotty's voice but I felt like everyone probably heard her. I hushed her and told her to be quiet it was almost over.

When we went to bed last night Dotty's prayer was as follows...

"Dear Lord, I am going to keep this short because we prayed a lot at church today so your ears must be tired. I know mine were."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Best Kind of Morning...

I try to not sleep with Dotty. I usually fall asleep with her at night but then I get up and go to my own bed. This is for health reasons health! Dotty is a kicker, snuggler, and talks a lot in her when I do sleep with her I end up not getting much sleep and at times have bruises the next morning.

The other day though...Dotty woke up at 4am and needed to go to the bathroom. So I laid down to get her back to sleep and I must have fallen asleep with her. I started to wake up but kept dozing off. Then I felt a little body lean over me (because I usually sleep on my side) and I got the biggest, sweetest kiss on the cheek...and an "I love you Mommy."

Now that is a great way to start my day!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Lot of Praying...

Saturday night we were in bed getting ready to pray and I asked Dotty if she wanted to say her prayer first.

Dotty said, "Are we going to church with Nana tomorrow?"
I replied, "Yes. Why?"
Dotty said, "Because they pray at Nana's church a lot so I think I will skip saying my prayer tonight."
I laughed and said, "Well I will say my prayer then."
Dotty added, "Keep it short. God is ready to go to sleep too."

Kids say the funniest things!

Weekend Update first full weekend with Dotty was just the best!

Friday night we had a 3 Generation Slumber Party...which basically means Memaw stayed the night with us. We had pizza...we watched movies...we played games...and I had a terrible migraine so it was nice to have my mom there so I could take my medicine (which makes me very sleepy).

Dotty was up at 5am on Saturday...God Bless Memaw for not waking me up! When I got up at 7am...Memaw was out the door in two seconds...which I don't blame her...she needed a nap! Having Mom stay the night was a good reminder of why I want to take Dotty on a trip later this year by myself...if Memaw goes Dotty will want nothing to do with me...and she will not mind me either!

After Memaw left, Dotty and I made waffles. Then we watched "Alice in Wonderland". We then went out to Charlie to have lunch with Dad and the guys out there. Dad then decided it was a perfect day to put up Dotty's trampoline that he had bought her for we headed back to W.F. to do that.

Dotty watered the flowers (a.k.a. weeds) and did a lot of swinging while the boys put up her trampoline. Then that girl jumped and jumped and jumped!

We then took a break and headed over to a new cupcake place for a snack. We came home and made cookies. Then we watched another movie and then went to bed. Dotty was exhausted due to her 5am wake up call and no nap...and I was just exhausted (trampolines are fun but they can were a girl out)!

Sunday morning we had breakfast with my dad, Jake, and Presley and then Dotty and I went to church with Nana. On the way out there I asked Dotty what she wanted to do after church. She said, "I want to go home with Nana. I have seen you a lot lately and I want to see Nana and Papaw."

Well...what could I say to that?!?!

So after church Dotty went home with Nana to surprise Papaw and I went back to my house to do chores and rest. It was a great weekend! I was so excited just to be with Dotty...without worrying about time...and how fast it was going by.

It was sad Sunday night when I was home alone because Dotty stayed the night with Tony but I chose to think about all the fun stuff we did...and all the fun stuff we will do!

It was a great weekend...and many more are still to come!

Friday, January 6, 2012

First Weekend in 2 Years!

This weekend will be the first full weekend I have had Dotty in two years!

I know you are thinking...WHAT?!?!?!?

When Tony and I separated and he moved to the metroplex I agreed to let him have Dotty every weekend. I agreed to this arrangement for several reasons.

1. I knew Dotty missed her Daddy terribly and she could not go several weeks without seeing him.
2. I knew Tony missed Dotty and he did not want to go several weeks without seeing her.
3. I have never thought the traditional "1st, 3rd, 5th" weekend arrangement that most divorced couples use in "joint custody" was fair for anyone. Kids need parents and parents need equal as possible. Before Tony left to go to the metroplex we were just working out a schedule as it worked best for everyone...we tried to have equal time...and it was working. Plus, I did not want to have to go "weeks" in the summer without seeing Dotty (which typically happens in most joint custody agreements).
4. Tony and I handled our divorce very differently than most and I saw no reason why sharing Dotty should be any different.
5. I am sort of ashamed to admit this...but at the time I never thought Tony would make time for Dotty EVERY weekend. Tony loves sports and hunting and being with friends and I just knew he would miss a weekend or two with Dotty. I am happy to say I was VERY WRONG about Tony. He made Dotty a #1 priority. He has been a great dad to Dotty...better than I ever thought he could be. I don't know if I was just too blind to see it when we were married or if divorce did that to both of us...made us better parents or what...but I have always said since the day we separated that while Tony and I were not good to each other as husband and wife...we were good as parents to Dotty. I am truly sorry that I doubted Tony...for once in my life...I am glad to be so very wrong about a person.

So for two years...Dotty has gone to see Tony every Friday and come back to me every Sunday. Then when Tony moved back this past November, we decided to go back to just a "flexible" schedule when it came to Dotty. However, I was right in the middle of the busiest time at the Pecan Shed and I needed Tony to watch Dotty on weekends so I could work.

Today I will get Dotty after work and I will have her until Sunday. I can't tell you what it means to have my little girl for an entire weekend. I always felt like I got the "not fun" times with Dotty. I got her during the week when we had to get ready for school and work and it was just the "business" time of the week...not the "fun" time. I would try to take off some when I wasn't busy to spend a day with Dotty during the week but it just wasn't always the same.

I have heard from lots of parents how "lucky" I was to have every weekend free. But I am here to tell divorced parent feels "lucky". I know that I am lucky in a way that Tony and I get along so well and we can work together to raise Dotty but we both miss out on a lot. Yes we both cherish our time with her more but we have to sacrifice time as well.

I would never have made Dotty miss time with her Daddy to spend time with me. I didn't want to be selfish in that way...but it wasn't always easy to spend weekends without her. Now that Tony is back and work is slower, I am looking forward to spending lots of weekends with my daughter...doing the things that I didn't get to do for two years.

It is easy in life...and especially in look at the negatives and to focus on why things are not fair or why they went wrong. I try not to do that...emphasis on "try". I have always tried to look at my life...especially the last two years of it and I have tried to find the good in it. Some days are easier than others but I have heard it said "you find what you look for". If you look for the will find bad. If you look for will find good.

Lots of people don't understand how Tony and I function in a dysfunctional family. Lots of people don't understand that it takes me and Tony working takes our families and our friends supporting us...and it takes us simply putting Dotty and what she needs first.

I know this weekend might be hard for Tony. And I feel for him in that way. I feel for him every time he has to bring Dotty back to me and leave. It is the hardest thing to do. I know because I have to do it too.

Tony and I have many more "weekends" ahead of us with Dotty. She will be with me...she will be with him...she will be with family and friends. The best part though is that no matter who she is with...she will know that she is loved.

And that is all that matters.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Saying Goodbye to the "Fantasy of Lights"....

Dotty LOVED the Burns "Fantasy of Lights" that is set up outside of MSU! We drove past it at least 20 times (this is no exaggeration either) and we walked through it 5 times (and she also went with her Daddy a few times).

The light show will be taken down this week so on Saturday night I took Dotty for one final stroll through the Fantasy of Lights displays. The night started off perfect...not too cold and very few people were we could look at each display as long as we wanted to without feeling like we were "holding up the line".

Then a cold front started to blow in and the wind and leaves started to really blow hard all around us. We had been there for well over 30 minutes and I was ready to leave. But Dotty wanted to pop a bubble coming out of the "Robot".

Now on night with no wind...this is a pretty easy task...but tonight the bubbles were flying past us at about 20 miles per hour or were flying up too high to reach.

Dotty was getting very frustrated and she was also very upset that the Fantasy of Lights would not be up any longer...she was having a hard time saying goodbye to the lighted lawn of MSU.

We stood in front of the Robot for well over 10 minutes trying to catch an illusive bubble...Dotty cried for a good 8 of those minutes. I finally told her that it hurt me to see her cry and that we should go...or that we could stand here...even if it took all night and she could try to pop a bubble...but I would not stand and watch her cry. (Mainly because the people that passed by us looked at me like I was the worst mother ever!)

At one point I was telling Dotty to be like "The Little That Could" and say "I think I can...I think I can" and maybe the positive attitude will help us pop a bubble.

Dotty just looked at me and said with tears still tempting to fall from her eyes, "I think God is laughing at us."

I started laughing so hard! I told her God had much bigger problems that whether or not we popped a bubble...but that God had given her the patience and the ability to pop a bubble...she just had to use both.

Glory to God...about a minute after that she popped a bubble!

Big Smiles...high fives all around...a small victory dance that involved a lot of booty shaking...and then she skipped all the way to the car.

I know Dotty will miss the Fantasy of Lights but I personally need an 11 month break!