“There are three good reasons to be a teacher – June, July, and August.”

Please join me in welcoming back, LadyBug, our resident color expert, southern corn bread connoisseur (we still haven’t figured out who actually won the Selena vs LadyBug corn bread throwdown) and author of “Karma Sutra for your mother” article.

Today, Ladybug is sharing her family’s transition from those lazy hazy days of summer—-also known as a teacher’s mental respite—-to getting her children off to school—also known as parents gone wild at shoe stores, stationary stores and grocery stores (wine and Godiva chocolate stocks go up around this time of the year as well).

Ladybug is also sharing a delicious sounding, quick and easy Chicken Pot Pie (recipe below).


Back to School by Ladybug

So… my kids just went back to school a few weeks ago.  Well, one of them went back to school, and the other one started kindergarten.  Wait… how do you say that in Canadian?  Ahh… that’s right… Kindergarten.

Anyway, my older babybug just started the 4th grade so this whole school thing is old hat to him.  He’s got it all figured out.

And by “all figured out”, I mean that he rolls out of bed every morning around 5:30am (a good hour and a half before he really has to be awake), plays Legos or Wii or reads for 90 minutes, eats breakfast, washes up (no need to comb his hair because it’s super short), puts on any shirt/shorts combo, grabs his lunch and backpack, and finally (because we don’t put on our shoes until we’re walking out the door—- ewww…. Germs!) puts on his one school appropriate pair of sneakers (this isn’t a word I actually use in real life, but I know this is an international audience).

Tada!  Ready for school.

My girl babybug is a whole other story.

Most mornings I have to wake the sleeping princess.  This causes a mad rush to get her fed, ready, and out the door.

Why don’t I wake her earlier you ask?

Oh, there’s a very good reason for that.  She’s a vicious beast.  She’s the cutest vicious beast you’ll ever meet, but a beast nevertheless.  You may remember that we call her the honey badger (or HB for short), and this is a frighteningly appropriate nickname.

Anyway, I gird my loins, pray for the angels’ protection, and wake her up.  She’s angry, she’s non-communicative, and worst of all… she’s not hungry.  She’s also a bean pole.  The mommy in me desperately needs her to eat breakfast because she will have four hours until lunch.

This is when negotiations begin.

I offer her a choice of breakfast options:  A, B, or C. She always, without fail, chooses option Q (which we never have – whatever it happens to be).  During the negotiation stage, I’m still dressing, combing, washing, brushing, etc.  Finally, she picks a breakfast and then the battle to get her to actually eat it begins.

I’ve begun to define success as getting at least one-third of the breakfast into her.  By the time they are off to school, I need a stiff drink and/or a nap. 

Despite the morning battles, I’m so anxious for them to be home by the time school is out.  I miss them desperately and can’t wait to hear what their day has been like.  This is yet another time when the differences in my children are very visible.

This is our conversation as soon as they hop off the bus (yes, I’m the mom who meets the bus and has ice water for my babies—don’t judge):

Me:  Hey, babies!  How was school?

Boy Babybug:  Good

Girl Babybug:  It was great!  I’m falling in love with Cord.  Riley and I were swinging at recess, and I told her that I’m falling in love with Cord.  So… she went over to Cord to tell him, and I went with her.  She told him, and he said, “It’s okay.”

Me:  So Cord’s your boyfriend now?

Girl Babybug:  Uh… NO!  I’m just falling in love with him.  Like just starting to fall in love with him.  He’s not my boyfriend.

Me:  Ooops… sorry.  So, Bubby, anything cool happen at school for you today?

Boy Babybug:  No.  It was school.

Me:  Did you play with your friends at recess?

Boy Babybug:  Yes.

Me:  Do you have homework?

Boy Babybug:  Yes. 

Me:  What subject?

Boy Babybug:  Math

Girl Babybug:  We did math today, and Henry had to sit in the safe spot.  I ended the day on green so I got a stamp.  Lexie is allergic to peanuts.  She sits at the peanut-free table.  Ellie ended the day on orange.  She didn’t get a stamp.  Her mom is going to be so mad.  We only get one recess on Wednesdays because it’s late start.  I ate all of my lunch except my grapes and my sandwich and my crackers.  There’s a bathroom in our room.  We have to be quiet in the hall.  One, two, three eyes on me.  One, two eyes on you.  Mrs. James played the keyboard, and we sang a song.  I don’t like rest time.  I have to lay my head down, and I don’t like it. 

Me:  I think I need rest time. . . .


Back to school means big schedule changes for us.  There’s always so much going on in the afternoon and evening so I like quick, healthy dinners.  This is one of our new favorites:

Chicken Pot Pie


1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces (or 6 chicken thighs)

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

3 tbsp flour

2 cups milk

2 cups chicken broth

1 large potato, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper


1- 1/2 c flour

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 c cold butter, cubed

1 c buttermilk


Heat olive oil and butter in dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken pieces on all sides; transfer to plate.

Add onion, carrot, celery to dutch oven and saute until softened.  Stir in flour, cook two minutes.  Gradually add milk and chicken broth, stirring constantly.  Return chicken to pot; add potato, thyme, and bay leaf.  Cover and cook until potato is cooked through and stew thickens (about 20 minutes).  Season well with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400F.  To make biscuit topping, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Using a pastry blender, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Add buttermilk and stir just until combined.

Using two spoons, drop biscuit dough on top of stew.  Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

“Always wash your face before bed.”

Please join me in welcoming back LadyBug as she joins me in sharing her thoughts on motherhood.

Mother’s Day by LadyBug

A few weeks ago, Selena asked if I would write something about Mother’s Day. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I would write.  Okay—that’s probably not entirely true.  I woke up at 2:00 a.m. one morning (I have not uncommon bouts of insomnia), and my mind was racing. Close to the top of the queue was this post on Mother’s Day.  I started thinking about my mom and then, later, being a mom.

My mom is a beautiful, kind woman.  She taught me many wonderful things, but three of them stand out:

Show people you love them.

Telling them is lovely and fantastic, but show them.


Telling them is lovely and fantastic, but show them. Show them with food especially.

When you take time to make something special for a loved one, you are giving that person your time, your energy, your thoughts, and, most importantly, your love.

My mom knows that I don’t like pickles in my potato salad so she always makes two kinds – one for me (and now my babybug) and one for everyone else. That’s love. My mom also knows that muscadines (a wild, southern grape) are my favorite treat of all time. They are ripe for a very short period of time in late summer, and their harvest just happens to coincide with my birthday. Every year, my mom and dad drive over an hour to an orchard and pick gallons of muscadines and ship them to me for my birthday.   That’s love.  My mom doesn’t understand it, but she knows that I love Moon Pies (also found primarily in the south but definitely not in nature).  Just a few days ago, a huge box arrived in the mail.  It contained dozens of Moon Pies.  That’s love.

We are here to serve others.

Whatever your beliefs are about a higher authority or the purpose of life, most people would agree that helping others is our calling as human beings. We have been granted a life that shouldn’t be wasted. My mom taught me from the beginning to give and to serve. If someone needs food or clothes or anything else, make that happen. Maybe you can fill that need or maybe you need to find someone who can help. There is a joy in giving and helping that can’t be matched. Honor the person who gave you life or built one for you by serving others to make theirs better.

Always wash your face before bed.

Let’s be honest–I’m not going into my later years without putting up a fight. I’m all for aging gracefully, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to do everything in my power to look great doing it. My mom has the most beautiful, flawless skin. She’s 67, but her skin is that of a woman in her 40’s. Genetics has a huge hand in that, but that woman takes care of what she’s been given. So…. Wash your face (and wear sunscreen).

It’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s okay to want to look great. Just make sure you look great while showing people you love them and serving others.

motherdayNow onto my most favorite topic in the universe—my kids, the Babybugs.

I had a very difficult time getting pregnant with each of my babies. They are truly my most wonderful blessings.  I always wanted to be a mom. After years of trying, we finally got pregnant with Boy Babybug in late 2002, about a month after my father-in-law died. I was ecstatic, and Manbug was terrified. Very early on, we learned that there were some problems with the pregnancy. We had been pregnant with twins but lost one of them. We were then told that our remaining baby would be born with severe problems. This was a very, very dark time for us. We saw specialists, had every test known to man, and were faced with some really difficult decisions.

On Mother’s Day in 2003, I was laying on the couch with Manbug watching TV. I was happy because I counted this as my first Mother’s Day, but it was still shadowed by uncertainty. At 3:40 pm that afternoon, I felt butterfly wings in my tummy. My baby was moving, and I felt it for the first time. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. About two weeks after that, we were given the incredibly welcome news that the issues Boy Babybug had in utero had resolved themselves, and there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t be born healthy. More than nine years later, we have a brilliant, loving, kind son who made me a mom.

If Boy Babybug made me a mom, then Girl Babybug honed my skills. She came along about five years ago and completed our family. After a rather dramatic entrance into the world, she set about her divinely-appointed job of making me pay for all of my past sins (and then some). We like to call her the Honey Badger because that’s the best description of her personality. She is a fierce, funny, wild mini-woman. She lights up my life and makes me pray for serenity all at the same time. She already is the woman I want to be when I grow up.

I could tell you stories for days about the wonder that is my offspring, but I’ll leave you with just one that truly illustrates the yin and yang that are Boy Babybug and Girl Babybug.

We’ve had an ongoing problem of losing the remote control to the TV in their playroom. There have been many discussions about the importance of putting it back in its proper place. A few months ago, they lost it AGAIN. I was frustrated and at the end of my rope.  The Babybugs were receiving a lecture on this topic AGAIN. My sweet, kind, sensitive Boy Babybug was immediately contrite and promised to never misplace it again.  I told them that this time they would be deciding their punishment (subject, of course, to parental oversight and approval). I asked what they thought it should be. Boy Babybug was distraught at the thought of having to suggest a punishment and wept accordingly. Girl Babybug was a totally different story. She had endured my lecture with clearly evident boredom.

When the time came for her to suggest a punishment, without missing a beat, she replied, “Well, you talking to us has been pretty bad.”


LadyBug, thank you for sharing your family with us in this heartwarming tribute to your mom (a woman who has paved the way for you and Girl Babybug on what is truly important in a woman’s life), your children and your personal journey into motherhood.

Your post made me smile, laugh out loud (because Honey Badger does that to me whenever I hear about her adventures) and tears of joy.

Like LadyBug and I’m sure all of you, this weekend as we celebrate Mother’s Day, we remember the beauty, kindness and selflessness of the women in our lives.

I totally relate to Ladybug’s mom’s advice about showing someone how much you mean to them, as I am a firm believer in actions are more powerful than words.

In the short time that my mom held my hand, her teachings have stayed with me and I’ve hung on to them, even when it was tough to smile in the face of some of life’s challenges.

Like LadyBug’s mom, my mom believed in showing how much she cared about her family through food. My mom taught me that it doesn’t matter what you cook, even if you make a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as long as you make it the best PB&J you can make and make it with love.

She also told me not to close my eyes when kissing a boy, whenever that would happen (I remember her saying that realistically she hoped it would be when I was 18 or so, as opposed to my dad hoping it would happen when I was thirty). Well, I took this piece of advice literally, as in: Don’t. Close. Your. Eyes. My first kiss (16 years old) was awkward because I heeded this advice. When I told her about it, she did what every mom would have done in this situation….stifle a laugh and then explain exactly what she meant. Don’t shut everything out, and be aware…well, I’m sure you all know what she really meant. I was sheltered and naive…that’s my excuse story.

Main thing my mom taught me was to treat others even better than I expect to be treated.

She taught me by example to be kind, sensitive, be charitable, be classy, keep a sense of humor no matter what happened in my life and to always, always, have tomato sauce in the freezer and plenty of pasta on hand in case unexpected visitors show up at dinner time.

For you Mamma

You were a wonderful mom who was always there for your family, through thick and thin, 

Tackling life’s challenges one at a time, always remaining calm displaying your beautiful spirit and grin.

Even through the hard times, you ensured our home was always packed with laughter, warmth and plenty to eat,

Always lending a helping hand to friends, neighbors and arranging family road trips and gatherings which were such a special treat.

You were able to sleep standing up when we were ill, fueled by patience, tenacity and lots of black coffee,

You kissed and cured anything, a broken leg, the flu, the sniffles and a scraped knee.

You multi-tasked all day, cooking, cleaning, teaching and still had time to wipe away our tears,

Always maintaining a sense of humor over spilled grape juice, active children and still able to alleviate our fears.

You always put your own needs aside, while you went about fixing your family’s broken parts,

You subtly comforted, advised and sympathized when there was a broken heart.

Moms  are special women, holding a “mother’s” golden nurturing key,

You were my mom, my friend, and a fantastic role model for me to aspire to always want to be.

Thank you, I love you, I miss you, but I know that as you watch over all of us, you are proud and someday (in a very long time, as you would say) we will see you again.

To all the women, whether you’re a Mom, Bonus Mom, Aunt, Godmother, Sister, Neighbor, Teacher, Coach, Friend…to ALL the women who touch a child’s life…HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY…as we are all mother’s of the world!