Life with Ladybug: Perspective

Love people sign.

By Shannon Magsam

I picked up the phone to call my husband. To vent.

I’d been to the dentist and I really needed to get a crown — plus I was reminded that I really need to have some dental surgery I’ve been putting off. And I remembered at the dentist that I also “really need” to get a mammogram, but our insurance has changed and that may be an out-of-pocket expense this time.

All I could see were dollar signs — disappearing fast down a big, huge drain.

It put me in a terrible mood.

When I called, my normally upbeat husband sounded sad and I asked what was wrong.

He told me that a woman we used to work with – who moved to another state several years ago – just lost her only child in a car accident.

My heart squeezed and, as a mom, I put myself right there in her shoes. As best I could, anyway, since I’ve never known that kind of pain.

I prayed for her (and will continue) and her loss immediately put my petty problems into perspective.

I often say to my parents and siblings that we need to enjoy each other’s company THOROUGHLY whenever we’re together. I told my sister recently: We can’t take this time for granted. We don’t know whether all of us will be sitting at mom and dad’s dinner table this time next year.

Our friend’s loss is a terrible reminder.

I read these sorts of posts all the time and I remember to be grateful and less annoyed about the small crap that happens in life for a few days. I’d like to hold on to this perspective for much longer. Like, until my last breath.

Life can be short.

You only get one.

Love God.

Love your people.

Love other people, too.

Praying for you, Cristal. We are so sorry.

Life with Ladybug: Lessons from a no good, very bad school year

friends shadow

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama

To all the mamas out there whose kids didn’t get into any classes with their besties this school year, I was there.

To all the mamas out there whose kid already says there’s a teacher who “hates” her this school year, I feel ya.

I was right there with you last year when my sixth-grader walked into school knowing her three closest friends would all be in the same classes together, but she wouldn’t be with them. And I was there when my girl felt like one particular teacher just didn’t like her in the least.

And you know what?

It was a hard year, one filled with apprehensions, stomach aches many school mornings and lots of late-night pep talks.

You know what else?

It was a year of growth, a year for my girl to find out she was more resilient than she realized, a time to branch out and find extra friends, and learn new coping skills – and several weeks after the school year ended – a time for statements like this:

“I still don’t think Teacher X liked me, but I think I may have learned the most from her.”

And:

“If I had been in class with my best friends, I wouldn’t have become friends with X and X and X.”

You can imagine that this mama’s throat got a little tight when she said those things.

I told her I was proud of how she’d handled the school year.

postcardBut you can bet I held my breath this summer when my daughter got a text from a friend saying that teacher postcards had started arriving in mailboxes around town.

This was it. The day she would find out if she would be in a designated “pack” with – or without – her besties for seventh grade. Ladybug jumped up and ran to the mailbox.

We did a happy dance together when she read the postcard and realized she would be in the same pack with her peeps. Then we jumped up and down.

Jump, jump, jump. Smile, smile, smile.

It’s seventh grade and I’m no fool. Seventh grade will no doubt bring its stereotypical bumps and bruises, but it’s easier to weather a storm when you’re with a friend. Or three.

I’m glad my kid learned she can be resilient. But I’m also glad that this year when she walks down the seventh grade hallways she’ll enjoy the cushion of a few wing-girls.

shan, blue dress, circleShannon Magsam is mama to Ladybug (a salty/sweet tween girl obsessed with superheroes and unicorns), wife to newspaperman/entrepreneur John, and is the co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com.

Life with Ladybug: Are you up for The Kissing Challenge?

the kissing challenge

By Shannon Magsam

A blogger over at the MOPS website issued a Be Brave 2014 Kissing Challenge yesterday, noting that some married couples who may have kissed passionately while dating – or when they first got married – have let those lip-smacking sessions go by the wayside.

I kiss my husband quite a bit, but lately we’ve been passing like ships (lips?) in the night. A peck on the way out the door, a kiss on the back of my neck when I’m at my computer, a brush of the cheek when one of us goes to bed first (I’m still having trouble adjusting my sleep schedule from summer mode to back-to-school mode). But we haven’t shared any real lip-lockers lately, to tell you the truth.

So I’m gonna do it. I’m taking the challenge. Who’s with me?

Here’s a paragraph from the post about The Kissing Challenge:

“The Be Brave 2014 Kissing Challenge is a commitment to kiss your husband passionately every day for a month. Yes, I said a month. Pecks don’t count. I’m talking about real kisses. The kind of kiss that leaves you breathless and makes onscreen kisses pale in comparison. It doesn’t have to be a make-out marathon, but it does have to be the kind of kiss that says, “Welcome home. I’m glad to see you, and just in case you’re wondering, I can’t get enough of you.”

I started the challenge yesterday. When my husband came home from work, I pulled him into our bedroom and laid one on him. His reaction was …. very positive.

After the kiss, he happily said, “That was a nice welcome home! I’ll take that every day.”

Mission accomplished.

I didn’t tell him about the challenge, although I don’t think secrecy is required. I want organic results plus I don’t want to feel like I “have” to kiss passionately every day (I’m rebellious like that).

If you’re joining me in this kissing challenge with your own honey, let’s meet back here in a month and discuss the results. I bet we’ll all see some changes (for the better) in our relationships.

If you need some convincing, here are some links to stories about why kissing it’s good for us (click to read):

Kissing as a way to fight the common cold?

And a way to burn calories?

People who kiss more often are more satisfied with their relationships.

Kiss more to live longer.

P.S. — If you don’t want to participate in the kissing challenge, what about a bear hug challenge with your kids? Give your kids an actual, full-on hug every day for a month.

Are you and your lips in? Let me know in comments or email me at mamas{at}nwaMotherlode{dot}com. 

shan, blue dress, circleShannon Magsam is mama to Ladybug (a salty/sweet tween girl who still likes things like superheroes and unicorns, thank goodness) is wife to newspaperman/entrepreneur John and is co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com.

Life with Ladybug: How to de-clutter (written by a recovering slob)

By Shannon Magsam, co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com and mama to 1 little lady(bug) cleaning

My husband took two straight weeks off from work this summer.

We went to Florida one week and the next week we stayed closer to home and did something we grasshoppers have never done before while on vacation: we purged.

We cleaned out closets, the garage, the office, Ladybug’s bedroom.

Nobody was more surprised than we were that we’d spent vacation days doing something so boring.

But we’ve been realizing something over the years: less clutter equals less stress.

Nothing gets my husband’s goat quite like going out to the garage to find a tool, only to trip over a mountain of misplaced crap to reach that tool (which is likely covered in more junk that we haven’t used in three years).

What we did with all that stuff: We took two old microwave ovens to the Washington County Environmental Affairs office (they deal with electronics), left two old vacuum cleaners and a few other odds and ends by the curb for the city to pick up, and we took LOTS of stuff to Goodwill (including two old fax machines). We took our nice, but we-never-wear-them clothes to Plato’s closet and got a little cash. We took a huge collection of books to the Dickson Street Bookstore to sell.

As we moved through various parts of the house, de-cluttering and cleaning like fiends, we got to experience something we quite liked: we started enjoying our house more.

The more we purged, the better we liked it.

Therefore, I highly recommend you try it, too. If you’re into that, here are my Top 5 How-To De-clutter Tips, written by a recovering slob (that would be me):

1. Don’t overthink it. If you do, you’ll spend all your time trying to gather cleaning supplies and trash bags and then your energy will be sapped before you even get started. If you want to clean out your closet, just go in there and start pulling stuff out.

Start making piles: of things you want to keep, things you want to give away and things you want to throw away. If you wait until the end of the drag-things-out-and-assess-them exercise then you’ll know if you need more bins for storage or a over-the-door shoe cubby.

Or maybe you’ll get rid of most everything and you won’t need any of this. Chances are you only wear about six things in your closet over and over anyway.

2. Do it when you’re in the mood. I know, some of you are thinking it will never happen if you wait until the mood strikes. But if you start thinking about how good you’ll feel once it’s over, you WILL get in the mood. And one victory will make you want to score another one. Organized the closet? Yes! Now you know how good it will feel to get that bathroom de-cluttered!

3. Find a cleaning buddy. Having my husband work with me while he was home on vacation made it lots more fun — and productive. Maybe you and a friend can switch out helping each other purge. When it comes to almost anything (including exercise) it’s better with a friend.

4. Be brutal. If you’re in doubt, throw it out. I have been absolutely ruthless with my own crap and my daughter’s crap. I tossed stuff I’d kept for years — or I donated it if it was in good shape. It feels good knowing that some other child will get to enjoy my daughter’s puzzles, books or clothes now that she’s outgrown them.

5. Win small battles first. You must have small, obtainable goals. You need to tackle one area at a time, not the whole house. That would be too overwhelming. Once you’ve conquered a few smaller projects you’ll feel more confident to stand atop the rubble of bigger projects with your big ole victory flag.

Some extra slobster notes: The older I get, the less I enjoy “things”. I used to collect little trinkets, cute figurines and mementos from trips. Not anymore. I like experiences. Now the only things I bring back from trips are memories and pictures.

Well, while were in Florida that first vacation week I did buy a whimsical refrigerator magnet.

Speaking of the refrigerator … you’re next, mister!

Not today, though. Because today’s my birthday. I may de-clutter while on vacation, but this grasshopper refuses to clean out the refrigerator on her birthday.

shan, blue dress, circleShannon Magsam is mama to Ladybug (a salty/sweet tween girl who still likes things like superheroes and unicorns, thank goodness) is wife to newspaperman/entrepreneur John and is co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com.

Life with Ladybug: Back to life. Back to reality.

shan at the beach

On our way back from Panama City Beach in Florida, we stopped by my parents’ house to spend the night – and to pick up a chicken.

No, not KFC. Against my better judgment, we were bringing home one of the chickens from my mom’s flock to join our lone chicken survivor, Tessa (we lost our other two chickens recently).

That morning, as we visited over my mother’s homemade waffles, she commented, “Well, vacation is over. Back to reality.”

I groaned at her words, but as I took another sip of my hot tea, I realized that the thought didn’t actually make me sad. I pondered over why that was and came to the conclusion that I love my work, my community, my life.

My reality doesn’t bite. So heading back wasn’t a bad thing.

Sure, there are plenty of things I’ll miss about vacation. Things like:

The food. No cooking! No clean-up! One of my favorite meals was at Great Southern Café (my daughter also gave this restaurant the Best Lemonade Award from along all the places we ate along the Panhandle). We also had fun seeing the alligators and eating crab legs at Bayou Bill’s Crab House. I’m not typically a sushi fan, but we also had a great experience at the restaurant FireFly. Our waiter was amazing and had actually lived in NWA for a time a few years back. I tried my husband’s Bubba Roll and it was gooooood. It was cooked, so I didn’t get all ooged out about raw fish. I also loved my Caesar salad with blue crab.

Great Southern Cafe salad

Great Southern Cafe salad

The sunsets. Wow, those Florida sunsets. Gorgeous.

sunset

The ocean sounds. I love the sounds of waves lapping against the shore. I even have a sound machine so I can hear the beach anytime, right here in Northwest Arkansas. Granted, it doesn’t sound exactly the same, but it still has a calming effect.

view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

Endless fun without the interruption of work. I didn’t say “Hang on! Just let me answer this one last email” even once. My daughter noticed.

The awesome pillows. Seriously, I miss my Holiday Inn Resort bed pillow. That was a first.

Riding bikes at Rosemary Beach. We had a great time riding around the little town. It’s so pretty!

That eclectic book store. We loved visiting Sun Dog books while we were visiting Seaside. It’s so adorable and we bought a few new beach reads (as if we didn’t already have a stack to mow through).

Sun Dog Books, Seaside

Sun Dog Books, Seaside

But, truthfully?

I’m glad to be back home where reality is doing laundry from the trip, jumping with both feet back into my work groove, setting up lunches with friends and enjoying Game of Thrones marathons with my husband (where I can mostly be found with my eyes shut tight, my fingers in my ears and humming so I can’t see or hear what’s on the screen).

That said, I do believe vacations – or even staycations where the whole family is out of their routine together – is a balm for the soul. It’s nice to be pampered and to experience the bonding that naturally happens when you have fun together as a family unit. And the beach is my happy place (my husband’s, too).

As I took my dishes to my mother’s sink after breakfast, I remembered that the day before we left Florida, my daughter expressed regret at having to come back home.

And I told her: “It is better to have vacationed and departed than to never have vacationed before.”

Au revoir, Panama City Beach. Hello, realistic {lovely} life.

shan, blue dress, circleShannon Magsam is mama to Ladybug (a salty/sweet tween girl who still likes things like superheroes and unicorns, thank goodness) is wife to newspaperman/entrepreneur John and is co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com.

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