Wednesday, December 26, 2007

seriously? SERIOUSLY!!

i have to admit. i wished for so long that this time wouldn't come. that my darling boy could stay little and cuddle and need me...

but this week, Stroman started pulling up on furniture (not new), letting go (new) and walking where he thinks he needs to be.


Hopefully, I'll have photos for you soon. Husband is working on the video...we can't figure out why it won't upload correctly...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the love affair between little girls and horses...

"Mommy, tell me the princess pony story again."

-say please.-


-when i was about 8 years old, Butch, you know, Papa, asked me to get my boots on to go to the red barn with him. i grabbed my boots and asked 10 million questions about why we were going to the barn. but i already knew. i was getting my own horse.

"yeah," she said with a sly smile. she's heard this story so many times that she tells people the story like it happened to her.

-so, we went down to the barn and there was a man there with three horses for me to choose from. i rode them all down a little road in the pasture away from the barn. mom, my brother brian and butch were all waiting for me after each ride and asked how i liked the horse. one horse was what we call barn-crazy. i rode her away from the barn and before i knew it she spun around and raced back to the barn. i couldn't get her to stop or turn and she threw me off. I went right through a tree trunk that was shaped like a V and didn't really have any scratches. But that made my brother very mad at the man who brought the horses. Mom and Butch ran to me and I was okay, just a little shaken.

"yeah and my brother, Brian...I mean, Uncle Brian yelled at the horse guy didn't he, Mom."

-well, he wasn't happy with him, but i don't remember Brian yelling...anyway, that day i picked out a beautiful bay mare who didn't have any white markings on her, which is pretty rare. and i named my horse

"your princess pony..."

-i named my PRINCESS PONY cotton candy and we called her CC for short. i rode her everywhere. i used her to work cattle. i rode her for fun. my friends came to spend the night and we'd all ride. she took very good care of me.

"momma, can i ride cotton candy when we go see Papa & Nana?"

-well, baby, we don't have her anymore. (how do you tell a 3 year old that CC died several years ago when she has that look of awe on her face??) but i bet we can find a horse for you to ride.

"can i ride your horse momma?"

- you mean The Waitress? baby, we can't ride her right now. She's going to have a baby and we don't want her to be stressed. but there are lots of other horses to choose from...Blue, George, Tex...maybe even Pretty Boy

in the end, she rode George. however, in my darling daughter's ever present sass, she decided to rename him Lady George because that's what a princess pony should be named.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Big Red Wins State

let's start by saying that the v. first night i met my lovely husband Drew, his friend Big Red talked me into having a shot of Sangria. I know what you are thinking...who in the WORLD shoots Sangria. Big Red. Red was Drew's roomie for years in various homes of disrepair around Alpine. Red was the best man in our wedding and Drew was in his wedding. Red married a lovely woman from Monahans & left Sul Ross to coach at Farmersville.

AND - TONIGHT, RED'S TEAM WON STATE!!! This is huge for him as a second-year coach at the high school and we are so proud of him. He's been through too much junk with this team - parents of HS students being pains - "little jimmy isn't getting enough playing time" etc. and the challenges of a new marriage.

i wish i had a pic of Red to share with you. he's a good ol' boy.


oh, and thanks for being part of why Drew and I are together.

Monday, December 10, 2007

the crib is comin' down

"but why," you ask. "he's only 10 months old?"

true & for the next couple of weeks *hopefully not much longer* he'll be napping and sleeping in the pack and play.

today, i am packing up and staging our house to sell. once sold, we will relocate across town in a home that we will be renting...which might sound like a step down, but actually it will almost double our square footage and the kids will no longer be sharing a room.

but if you ask cyd - the individual rooms are more of a punishment than a joy. who knows, i might make the 3rd bedroom my office & just happen to have a bunch of Stroman's stuff in there too.

this is transititon season for football coaches and we are simply trying to be ahead of the game if we do relocate outside of Alpine for professional reasons. if we stay (and we would like to stay) we need more room & the person we will be renting from needs to get out from under a payment. plus, plus!

but it is sad to be taking down his crib. because the next time he uses it, i'm expecting it will be in the toddler bed form.

they grow up too quickly.

Monday, December 3, 2007


how many of you have said, "I love you, but I'm not in love with you."?
i've said it. i've heard it. i've always accepted this excuse as a reason. but last night at bible study (yes, they even allow me in!) my pastor's wife said some truth that struck me to the core. we were praying for a marriage that is in turmoil and one person had claimed to love his wife but not be in love with her. tracy said something pretty close to this: "that's not how it works. love is not a feeling. love is a commitment."

it was as if my heart was burning from the truth of that statement.

think of relationships that didn't work out in your life or lives you touch...was it love or the COMMITMENT to love that waned?

from the safety of my incredible marriage, i can tell you that my life was changed by a love that is committed to staying together, loving each other and our faults, committing ourselves to our children and letting faith and God be our guide. drew is an amazing man, but what is even more amazing to me is that i am his & he wants no other but me. he wakes up in the morning refreshed that i'm his wife, his love, his best friend and his cohort in this life. he calls me the queen. and he is my saving grace.

quite mushy, eh? that's my life. realisitic and loving.

and let me say. marriage is hard work. and if you are fortunate enough to be invited into this job, work your ass off and you will reap MAJOR rewards.

and now, photos of drew w/ stroman at the Christmas parade this weekend, and drew helping dad put out hay in sweetwater over thanksgiving, and playing with stroman...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

it is true...I HAVE ISSUES

let us begin with my current boycott. thanksgiving and Christmas are too close together. i'm boycotting. don't worry, there aren't picket signs or even any loud conversations, just the knowledge that i think these two freakin' holidays are wonderful, yet entirely too close together.
so, if given the option, i'm skipping one of them...or willing - EXTREMELY willing - to have everyone at my house in June for Thanksgiving. We'll cook turkey (fried for mere) and crank the AC on big time so that everyone can wear sweaters, etc. And oh, how the wine will flow? any takers?

today, cyd's school took part in the town's Christmas parade. i give credit for everyone i know in town saying "MERRY CHRISTMAS" vs. the damn, ol' "happy holidays" - as Kathy Griffin would say, "For Christ's Sake, it is about Baby Jesus" - regardless of your like or dislike of Ms. Griffin (my husband, he's the latter), this time of year is a celebration of the birth of Jesus...let's claim our Christian background when we can and call it what it is...PC is political crap, not political correctness.

also, we were given some tapes for cyd yesterday that go with story books - v. cool. however, finding a tape player took longer than expected. then, we got to share in the sadistic glory that is Mother Goose. Seriously, let's consider some tried and true fairy tales that most of us know -- Snow White. Instantly, you probably think of pale skin, ruby red lips and some adorable, helpful dwarfs. Let's not overlook how it was originally written. Jealous, evil witch paid off the moral-free woodcutter to take innocent Snow White to the forest, cut out her HEART (oh yeah, that's kinda morbid.) and return it on a silver platter to the witch. All because SW was prettier than the ugly witch. Weak-ass woodcutter decides SW is too pretty and instead of cutting out her heart, he abandoned her in a forest. (isn't that thoughtful, 'cause this chick has SOOO many survival skills! my girl, cyd, she knows some Bear Gryllis) Back to the music...London Bridge is falling down my fair lady, but also, someone stole something and then spent life in jail - easy to explain to our 3 year old. Oh, Susannah - don't you cry for me because I FROZE TO DEATH. Point being, we finally found a tape player and sorta wish we hadn't. Sure, you and I and all of us grew up singing these songs, but accidental exposure to life is harsh these days. You can't just leave the TV on for background noise. L&Order SVU comes on and b/4 you know it, some dead body shows up...and the questions begin.

also, have any of you looked up and thought "holy shit, i'm a horrible friend." probably not. either because you never think the words holy shit or you are great as friends and never lapse. never get self-absorbed. this week, i realized my friend failures recently. 1) my friend ash asked me to read something and i didn't when i should have. now, i've read, re-read and absorbed her feelings a/b her mom's cancer and i'm ashamed i didn't respond to ash the day she told me she had written it. i love ash, and i love her mother and i know they will defeat the cancer, but i want to be a better friend. 2) my friend meredith and her husband vic joined our church. drew and i are preparing to join, but the deal is, I KNEW MERE & VIC WERE JOINING AND i haven't even discussed it with them. i'm so proud of them & thrilled they have found a spiritual home. it's a comfortable place in life when you know where you can praise your God. Way to go Mere & Mr. Bic. sorry i'm a loser and haven't mentioned it.

also, does anyone watch Fox News? well, this week, my name (maiden & misspelled) popped up on the news - from Bethany, OK, a woman named Lauren Barnes *i was Laren Barns* was missing. Five months pregnant, it turned out that her boyfriend was arrested for killing her. OKAY people, if you don't want to play daddy, fine. WALK AWAY but don't hurt a momma and her baby. This junk is too familiar to our society. Women, especially pregnant women should be respected. And does this fool realize that his girlfriend didn't get pregnant because she kissed while wearing a bikini -- THEY were both involved. but it wasn't me...different LB. rest in peace.

there are so many other issues i have. but until i take my medicine(s) it isn't fair to go into all of it.

also boycotting people who fail to show up for photo shoots. bastards.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mike Flynt = Father Drama

Recently, there's been a bit of a to-do around our little University due to a man named Mike Flynt. He's 59 and played here at Sul Ross 37 years ago. Long story short, he's playing his last bit of eligibility out this season.

LOADS of publicity for Sul Ross and I've been able to take quite a few photos of the team with this unusual member...but for me, the story is just starting.

My mother and biological father attended college here in Alpine decades ago. This was during the time they married. Thirty-seven years ago, Mike played on the Sul Ross football team with my biological father, Rick. I've met a few people who played with Rick and it's been a struggle not to share my entire, sordid, traumatic life history with them.

The first time mom and I drove around Alpine together a few months ago, she pointed out the house where Rick first beat her. Talk about a conversation stopper.

Mom is 5'1' and 98 pounds. I don't think any man has a right to abuse any woman, but I think it takes a real beast to beat a small, defenseless woman. If someone hit me, I could probably fight back. Mom is tiny. He usually pounded his fists into her because...well, shit...lots of reasons. He is an alcoholic, he thought mom was cheating if she went to the grocery store, he monitored every penny she spent at the store - I have recipes from mom that have breakdowns of the prices of each item involved - i.e. 39 cents - celery, 1.15 - block cheese, etc. This was a controlling man and a woman who didn't want to have a divorce.

They divorced when I was one. He brought her divorce papers to my 1st birthday. He had already moved on...

Rick left Mom for her best friend. Turns out he was the one who was cheating. He had a daughter with woman #2 - he also hit her square in the face one day and knocked out all her front teeth. Classy. Just can't understand why I wouldn't want to have a relationship with him, eh? He's now on wife #3.

I had known since high school that Rick beat Mom during their 9-year-marriage. It was something Mom shared openly with classes as a teacher because it helped students understand that abuse isn't always something that happens to "someone else." it can happen to anyone - including a beautiful, educated young woman from Andrews, Texas.

I was a student in those classes - mom taught me 3 classes for 4 years and was my drama, speech and debate coach. We had very few secrets from the class & I didn't mind. It's part of my story, too. It only hurts when I think of what Mom had to endure.

For years, I was a kid who went to visit Rick and my step-mother, Debbie, during the summer and for Christmas. Rick tried. But most of the time, he sent me with my step-mother and we didn't have much in common. When I was 22, I refused to go on any more fake visits to a man who wasn't functioning as my father but wanted the accolades of being a great father. There were tons of broken promises from him as I was growing up.

I was fortunate enough to have a man who picked up the slack and fixed the broken heart Rick left behind. That man is Butch - the man we named our son, Stroman, for...the man who is my father-figure. I have his morals, his humor and I even get told that I have Butch's eyes.

So, Mike asked me about my parents the other day and I had to admit that I hadn't spoken to Rick in about 10 years. And Mike doesn't know about Rick's physical abuse issues, his infidelity, his separation from us kids (my brother stopped speaking to Rick about 4 years ago). Meanwhile, Rick doesn't know that a) I'm married to Drew, b) we have 2 children, who are his biological grandchildren, c) we live in alpine...and tons of other things. but there was always a way he could find me. He didn't. I'm not upset about that, but I'm curious how a person could knowingly have a child out in the world and not wonder how they are...

So now, the former players on Mike's team are trying to all get back together. And Mike has been in contact with Rick by email. This weekend is the last game of the season. Home game. Rick could be in the stands. I don't even know that I would recognize him...or that he would know what his own daughter looks like.

that's it. just wanted to share. next post...i promise some humor.

thanks for keeping us in your thoughts on Saturday.

top photo is Mike Flynt playing for Sul Ross in 2007. Bottom photos are Butch Stroman holding Stroman Drewry Bridges...first is the first few days after Stroman was born. Last photo is from May 2007 of Stroman and Mr. Stroman...two v. important men in my life.

we're bbbbaaaaaaaccccccckkkkkk!

and if we happen to be cooler than ever - there's a definite reason. last week, Stroman and I were hit by a nasty sinus infection. things were snotted from my nasal passages that made my football coach husband cringe...and he doesn't even mind the rank locker room smell that lurks in the Lobos field house.

now that all that junk is out of my system, i feel like a new woman. and this new woman must get back on that schedule i was mentioning in my last post. it's not that hard to stick to - one thing a day. and totally rewarded by the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. of course, i'm almost convinced that Drew is slipping me some straterra with my a.m. coffee to help keep me on task.

should note that i worked in "Maintenance Monday" where I can do a little bit of everything - so that helps my ADHD and Type A personality work together. it's nice when the voices aren't bitching at each other.

so, with my scheduled weeks and the intro of DVR to our household, my life is easy, breezy beautiful.

tomorrow. photos. of my new, short hair. which might be interesting for some of you who don't have a smidge of a hint what i look like.

tonight. a new photo of Stroman. Eight months & loving it. Take a look at the monkey toes on this one.

and, if anyone can help me make my playlist work on my blog, comment up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Crazy Madness put to a test!

I have so much to share we might have to break out the flowcharts or bulleted lists or something to keep on task.

and that's been a problem lately - staying on track.

my husband has enforced a strict new policy to keep me on task. one goal per day. i love it and it sucks. mainly because i have a hard time sticking something long enough to actually complet

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


watching the season premier of House - i realize that most of you don't have the pleasure of dealing with me on a daily basis.

however, my approach to life is eerily similar to the way House treats his students, patients...well, everyone he comes in contact with. people lie. the weird stuff is interesting. i could see the long-term advantages of using vicadin on an hourly basis. and finding the unusual way to get things last week when we were out of coffee filters and i substituted a paper towel. strange look from husband yet tasty early a.m. coffee. doc, i'm ready to take on a case.

i left town friday & spent the weekend with my parents. dropped off the kids and ventured to brownwood, texas, this past saturday to cheer on the Sul Ross Lobos.

They beat Howard Payne 34-31 in double overtime. good game. quite dramatic. several photogs from big name news corps - like espn & sports illustrated -- all to get photos of the 59-year-old player. i'm not including my photos of Mike Flynt. i'm framing them and selling them on ebay. just kidding. here are a few photos from my exploits...

also, must share that my friend Ashley called this week. Ash comes from a big family near Dallas, but currently lives in Lubbock. she has been my boss, friend and roomie throughout the years. and her mother is constantly warning Ash and her equally pale sisters to stay out of the sun. the key quote "We freckle."

i told you that so that i could tell you this: Ashley's daughter Merrillee had been reported as the owner of three teeth. being a week older than Stroman i was intrigued. because Merrillee got these teeth at 4 months and Stroman only has one, sorta tooth at 7 months. but Ash discovered as time passed that one tooth had been confused as two...because of a large "v" that was making one look like two teeth.


ash is determined that it must be from her husband's side of the family.

i mentioned, as any friend would, that ash is white as a day lily - perhaps she is actually a vampire. perhaps "We freckle." is actually code for "We are vampires."

and now - a photo of ashley...with me...from her first baby shower a few years ago - for the kid that isn't showing obvious signs of vampire-ism-ish-ness. ashley is the pregnant chick on the left (notice the translucent skin). the other one, me.

also - i managed to get my new website up and running. it's got music and modern pics, etc. i love it. hope you will too!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

how could i have forgotten

i'm getting ready for bed and thinking about the delights of the day. mainly because the 7-month-old has learned to play "toss the toys". this is an apparently humorous (for him) and wildly entertaining game where he pulls up in his crib, finds anything that isn't nailed down & tosses it as if he's trying out for the Yankees. but, Stroman & Cydney share a room, so this activity means that she responds by yelling a play-by-play into the monitor...the last one "MOMMY - he's making noises and he threw his paci...and i can't sleep when he's making noises and he's making noises."

thanks, honey. i'll get right on it. but to get to the crib to give his paci back to him, i have to wade through the crib debris that clutters the ground. too much pressure. let him cry it out.

back to the delights of the day -- i always make an attempt to greet, chat with, etc. the other children at cyd's school. today, when i picked Cydney up from school, one of the boys yelled "BYE, LADY!" to me.

Cyd promptly turned around and corrected him: "She's not a lady. She's my mother!"

oh, child. you don't know how right you are...

Monday, September 24, 2007

i might have an addiction

to strange tv shows.

now, i don't think i need to explain the natural appeal of "Rock of Love w/ Bret Michaels" - who wouldn't want to fight for the chance to date an aging rock star who likes to wear as much eyeliner as you do? do they sell kohl liner in bulk at Sam's? and why wouldn't i want to watch some crazy cats fight it out. currently, it's down to the last two is an exotic dancer and the other is a hair dresser (quite classy and v. beautiful).

but today, i was brought to tears by my afternoon norm - Shalom in the Home on TLC. this show rocks. a rabbi comes into a home and usually ends up fixing some major problem. today, he got a man who had cheated on his wife to come back into the home and take control of his 16-year-old daughter's sex life & her disrespectful boyfriend. Kick ass Shmuley!

i love it when someone has the guts to call out a slacker. they are everywhere and too often, we are likely to look the other way.

Friday, September 7, 2007

the mysterious lamb fetus in the freezer

raised on a ranch, i've been exposed to things some women my age might not ever imagine. in honor of Sarah Beth's birth, i'm sharing the lamb fetus story - ok, maybe it's not in honor, but rather because i told new mom Emily that i would share the story as soon as baby arrived.

we raise cattle but for a few years, my father - Butch - decided to diversify by raising sheep. wild adventure. sheep are literally born looking for a place to die and some of the dumbest creatures i've ever been exposed to.

we had this unusual hired worker named Felix who was quite helpful with the lambs, but didn't speak a bit of English. also, i am near professional in my ability to procrastinate & had a science fair coming up at school. i must have been in 7th or 8th grade.

one morning Butch and Felix found a ewe that died prior to giving birth....HOLD IT - this isn't how it happened...

i talked to Dad to see if i had gotten my memories confused because somehow it didn't seem right...and in fact, my perfect memory is fallible.

i was remembering a time when Felix created a sling/swing to help a lamb with weak legs learn to walk. another interesting story for another day.

back to the science project - butch had a cow that sloughed a calf. now, don't be alarmed this is something animals do naturally when conditions aren't right for the birth to happen - could be genetic, environmental, unknown - it just happens.

well, butch brought the calf to the barn and we wrapped it up in several layers of plastic while negotiating with mom for square footage in the freezer. a few weeks later, i took my frozen calf out of the freezer and headed to the science fair with a report on the gestational age of the calf based on development of body parts, etc.

take that baking soda volcanoes and solar systems of many colors. the procrastinator wins again!

thankfully, there are no photos.

what a way to start down the road to becoming president of Kappa Kappa Gamma, eh?


recently, i was hired to take photos of a wedding here in alpine. kyle & keith. thought i'd share a few of my favorite photos from them...kyle & keith are examples of true love.

they didn't want any formal shots but rather something to capture the event without being stuffy. i am pleased with the results.

this weekend, i'm headed to another wedding at cibilo. i'm not the head photog, but serving in another capacity. the place looks incredible from the site.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

if you are busy, i advise not answering

news alert - if i don't answer the phone, i'm busy.

therefore, immediately calling back over and over and over, won't make me less busy. it will just force my head to spin right off of my body and slam into a wall. do we really want the kiddos to have to witness that?

want a visual - baby screaming & stiff-backed because apparently today's poop contains poison ivy derivatives and it begins to eat his flesh as soon as it hits his diaper. i prioritize that over washing the spaghetti off of the older one. suddenly, i'm at the changing table - mom mode all out and ignoring the pull on my white pants. when i remember the vile sauce o' spaghetti that she had tried to bathe in. well, shit.

right about then, the phone rings. and rings and rings. you know who you are. you do this crap to me every day.

and if things aren't hectic, HEAVEN FREAKIN' FORBID, everyone is sleeping and the house is quiet & i've opted for a nap of 25 minutes tops - but no, you evil genius - somehow you know! you call to wake me to tell me the sky is blue where you are too! thanks for the update. please enjoy the view as my brain oozes out my ear from my resentment/boredom.

thanks for letting me vent.

on a lighter, happier note, new photos of the children and a steaming shot of my husband. photos that relate zero% to the post. but they do give the post a happier feel. in fact, you might not have noticed that i have some hang ups about phones.

Monday, September 3, 2007

defending my honor

okay, so maybe i've had more jobs than the average person, but i'd like to say that being a fragrance model was one of the more lucrative adventures i've taken on...during college i could work for companies and make a minimum of $15/hour. sure, some people hate those of us who have the audacity to ask you to try a new fragrance and then SPRAY the product on a strip of paper, with hopes that you'll come back and buy out the stock.

i did go home smelling like i'd spent the afternoon at a strip club - but at least it smelled like an expensive strip club.

Friday, August 31, 2007

where to start...or stop

what i can't seem to grasp...(totally in the blogger world, if we expanded this into regular life, dear God, i'd be typing forever. there is so much i don't understand about the world, i.e. brittney spears, the success of the 700 club and why i think hulk hogan is a good dad. ) so, back to the point - i have had lots of things happen in my life...some exhilarating, some tragic and most of them touched with a bit of humor - but how to i open up to what could be complete strangers? then my husband reminded me that i do just that every time i go to the grocery store and say something offhand to a fellow shopper.

so, here we go. my name is laren bridges. i live in alpine, texas, with my husband drew, our daughter, cydney and our son, stroman. george, mutt of the year, lives in the back yard and is now so old and lazy that he won't even chase the birds away from his food bowl. lazy bastard. he's been a good dog.

drew and i have been married a bit more than a year. love, love, love. finally found someone tough enough to stop my strong will when he needs to and yet willing to talk to me, let me be me (she who speaks without a filter) and be my best friend every day.

i have some interesting tales - but most (if not all) are the antithesis of politically correct. where should i start...the day i had to shoot my dog because it was eating my pigs? or perhaps the time pigs attacked my house in canyon, texas. i've been thrown off horses, kicked by calves, president of a stellar sorority at Texas Tech University and had meetings with George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas - the second time, he called me by name.

or, do i just tell you this and see if you come back for more: what would you people want to know about me? i'm married to the love of my life, drew. we met in alpine while i was on a work trip taking photos for the ranch cutting horse association. i was out at the reata the night before my photography job and a group of guys started up some conversation...long story short, i decided that drew was quite obviously the cute one and well, at this point, who knows who fell first, but point is - we are married. we have two children. cydney is 3 years (from my previous marriage.) stroman was born feb. 12, 2007.

random info: i grew up in sweetwater, texas. attended a small (seriously, i was one of 15 graduates) six-man school near there. it was such a small school that any warm body played sports. i love to compete, so i played basketball, ran track and cross-country, tennis, golf, and during football season i was decked out in tons of sequins as a twirler.

i was raised on a working cattle ranch in west texas. love ranch life. wouldn't mind doing it again someday. lots of horror stories - prolapsed cows, how the lamb fetus ended up in mom's freezer, getting pinned between a truck and an iron gate all alone - 10 miles from home, all sorts of random stuff while helping dad - and lots of learning.

i am a published author. i write horse-training books. i've never trained a horse. i was thrown off a horse while interviewing country music star charlie robison for an article when i worked for the American Quarter Horse Association.

i am a sahm/photographer/author. i haven't written a word in about a year. just starting to take photos again. i'm willing to post some of my college poetry...mainly b/c i think some of you might find it humorous that i thought i could be the next jewel - without the guitar, but with straighter teeth.

hmmmm...i was once shot at during an attempted carjacking in dallas. but i sped away and lived to tell the tale. that was one shitty spring break.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hard Work

Recently, my husband - Drew - and I have been doing a LOT of hard labor around the house...putting in rock patios & walkways, renovating a bathroom, replacing the flooring, growing a garden and I've realized that parenting - especially as a stay-at-home mom - has many similarities with hard labor. Sometimes you are doing the same thing repeatedly and yet feel as if you are making no progress (i.e. diaper changing, potty training or shoveling dirt, trim work in a bathroom that never seems to be finished). Often, you are dirty, disheveled and yet you don't know exactly what you have accomplished...was I feeding a 5-month-old with the giggles green beans or did the Green Giant just crap on me?

There are days when I realize my husband is coming in for lunch and I race to brush my teeth & throw on some "real" clothes (and I'm not talking dolled up, I mean just a 1/2 a step up from my pajamas) - but honestly, I know that he knows I haven't been jaunting around in the clothes for more than 3 minutes, b/c the shirt shows no signs of spit-up and our daughter hasn't marked the capris with Dora stickers yet. (A few weeks ago, I came home from the grocery store [a.k.a. run into everyone you know in this town w/in 4.2 minutes] and Drew pointed out that I had a few Dora stickers placed neatly on the left buttock of my pants. Boots had drifted down to the back of my thigh. yeah me!)

About 4 months ago, I debated applying for a 9-5 job to make some extra income. God took over and the job was given to someone else, so I didn't have to weigh the options of income vs. raising my children. However, my theory is: if my kids are screwed up later in life & I was a stay-at-home mom at least I'll know who's to blame. On the flip side, I wouldn't mind adding income to the home and having the chance to continue to do photography. See, for the past few years, I've been working as a freelance photographer.

And, in all honesty, there are some weeks when I realize on Thursday I haven't driven away from the house once. Our son, Stroman, who is now almost 7 months old, had colic, and now has been diagnosed with severe acid reflux. It took me months to convince the doctor to test him. The claim was that he would have been losing weight if he had acid reflux, and this kid is anything but thin. However, there were days (which thanks to six doses of medication each day do not happen as often now) when he would cry/scream/squirm for 3-4 hours and would not, could not be calmed down. Needless to say, we haven't had much time together as a family where I didn't feel like I was shorting Cydney, our 3-year-old daughter, or ignoring Drew b/c I was constantly holding/rocking/attempting to soothe Stroman.

People wanted us to socialize, but I was too stressed out by his incessant wailing to be very involved in the conversations..and I've felt guilty for leaving him with the Grandparents or babysitters b/c they always seem to ask "what's wrong with him?" - which I hear as "what did you, you silly woman/bad mom/selfish twit, do to him to make him so miserable that he chooses to scream rather than eat or sleep or poop?"

Of course, I have been known to be a tad dramatic, but seriously, it is difficult to hear people question anything that might be remotely related to your parenting.

For all of you parents who are taking on the hard work of trying to create healthy, loving children, thank you. Keep up the good work! Ignore what other people might put in your head as the only way to do things! Do your best & your child will love you.

And don't ask what the hell is wrong with my kid!