Archive for ‘Motherhood’

November 16, 2015

Is Homeschooling Hard?

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on November 11, 2015.

While I was running errands in Winder recently, someone asked me if homeschooling is hard. Since I was having a good day, I said, “Not really. Not if you like learning and don’t mind doing some research.” By that I meant that if you don’t mind engaging in the learning yourself, and if you’re willing to search for the right materials and activities, it’s not that hard to teach your kids. But that doesn’t mean that homeschooling isn’t hard sometimes

I’m sure different moms would have different answers to that question, but I don’t believe the challenges I face are any different than what is hard for any parent. Raising kids is difficult no matter how you decide to educate them, and everybody has different opinions on how to do it.

Knowing what is best for any child is always difficult because every child is different. What worked for one of my boys may not work for the other whether I’m teaching him how to read or teaching him how to behave at the dinner table. We have bad days just like everyone else, but they come and go. Children go through phases, present different challenges, and parents get frustrated and impatient all the while searching for the right solution, even if there isn’t one. Fortunately, most struggles are worked out over time.

Just like any parent, the most difficult thing for me is that there aren’t enough hours in the day. On three week days, one or both boys have outside classes and activities that I drive them to, so I do most of our “formal” lessons with them on three other days (including Saturday) from about 9-2pm. I usually prepare and go over my lesson plans the night before.

In the afternoons and evenings, I am “free,” but of course, there are several things I “should” be doing. 1) Cooking a nutritious meal for my family. (This usually turns into “what can I cook in 20 minutes or less?”) 2) Cleaning. (This gets partially done.) 3) Exercising. (Not just for pleasure anymore. During the past few years when I put off exercising, I developed bursitis in my right hip, and exercising helps to relieve the pain.)

4) Writing. (Again, not for pleasure. We need the extra money. I already wrote a column about the difficulties of a family trying to live on one income, and that remains high as one of our challenges.) 5) Take care of all the other things that come up in a family of four. (i.e. enduring endless interruptions in my work.) Clearly, I can’t do all of this in a short afternoon or evening, so a lot doesn’t get done, or I do a sloppy job of doing a little bit of everything.

A lot of people think that homeschoolers aren’t socialized properly, and I’ve learned that those people are quite ignorant of what homeschooling is about. My boys’ social life is not the problem – it’s mine! My boys enjoy long play dates with friends, classes and camps with kids of different ages, and visiting museums where interesting adults talk to them. All the while, I am busy driving them places and missing the time and energy I once had to join groups with common interests such as the photography guild and writing groups.

Don’t get me wrong – I have some wonderful friends who I have met through homeschooling. I enjoy talking to these other moms about homeschooling and motherhood. But I am not just a homeschooling mom, and I miss meeting people who share creative goals.

Equally difficult is meeting moms who don’t homeschool or working moms. They have different schedules, and sometimes they look at me strangely. Either they think I’m crazy or they wonder if I’m judging them for not homeschooling, which couldn’t be further from my mind. Once a couple rolled their eyes when I said I homeschooled. As a homeschooling mom, I am subjected to all kinds of stereotypes, and this can be frustrating, and at times, painful.

But as I said before, most of these are challenges that a lot of parents face, and every parent has endured the “opinions” of other well-meaning parents. So homeschooling usually is not “hard” for me. When I love what I do most of the time, it’s enjoyable, and I accept the sacrifices. I wouldn’t expect everyone to feel this way because just like children, adults are all different too.


November 8, 2015

Paying Attention to Mama

I have been holding out on you. I have many photos I want to share under my Nature Watch tag. Many of them I took last spring when we went to Cloudland Canyon State Park on vacation. I just haven’t had time to post them, but I’m going to remedy that.

The photos on this page were taken at the front fountain at the state botanical garden. These are pitcher plants, which as you know, we’re very fond of.

The reason I’m making a point to renew my commitment to do Nature Watch posts is that lately, I have been in a sort of funk. Not a Whole Life Funk. I have a good life, which I love, and I have no right to complain about. But I’m having a What-Do-I-Want-To-Do-Professionally-Funk. Though I’m still writing and editing, I’m having a writer’s block. That probably doesn’t make sense, so I’ll explain. I feel there’s something I really want to work on, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. There’s something else I want to do besides writing the same ol’ columns, but I can’t quite figure it out. I am restricted by time, money, and well, I need to make money, so that’s a restriction too. I can’t just go back to journal-keeping and be happy with it. I also want something I can build upon once my children are grown.

So I’m wondering what I want to do. Write a book? Actually, I already started one, but I’m losing confidence in it. Does the world really need another book by a homeschooling mom telling about her experience which may or may not help the experience of other mothers with very different children? Sigh. Should I try writing a column for another venue? Should I try cracking into more freelance writer markets? I can’t decide what I want to spend my limited time doing. Because when I do decide, I put my 100% into it, so I want it to be worth it.

I am really stuck.

I was really feeling down about this, but today I realize that while I’ve been “stuck,” I’ve started taking the time to pay more attention to the things I really love. (I’m talking about things besides family-children-homeschooling.)

One of those things is nature. Even though I don’t have much time or the proper equipment, I can take some pretty nature photos, and I’m going to try to share my work when I find the time. On Twitter, I made a “nature” list, and I’m adding people there who do wildlife photography. Whenever my boys and I spot some wildlife, I’m going to tweet about it (I also keep a hand written journal) whether or not I have a photo. This is transforming how I use Twitter, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I am also promising to start posting my “Nature Watch” photos that I’ve been holding onto with good intentions these past few months. If you enjoy nature photography, you can also follow my photography blog. Doing these things also helps me when we don’t find the time to get out to the local parks and go hiking, especially during this unusually long rainy season we’re having.

I have never written about this before, but I’m also doing yoga regularly. I started about a year and a half ago, but it took awhile to commit to a regular practice. I love it. I want to keep learning about and doing yoga even though right now that means learning through books/online tutorials and doing a 15 minute (sometimes interrupted) practice 4-5 times a week.

I also want to learn how to use some software on my computer. This means taking the time to do some online tutorials. I have no idea when I’ll find the time for this, but it’s on my “list.”

I’m also paying attention to the fact that I have felt lonely for quite a while. It seems strange to say that when I have some great friends, and I have a husband and two boys I love being with and talking to. No, this kind of loneliness is for something else. I miss knowing people who are driven to create. Writers. Artists. Or even nature lovers who like to take long walks and muse about the mysteries of the universe. I used to facilitate writing groups. I used to having walking buddies, but they moved away. Others have very different life situations. It’s hard for me to make time for people when I can’t bring my children with me, and then find something to occupy them with. I don’t think I can remedy this problem until my kids are a little older, but it’s still there. At least recognizing it helps me with some goal setting.

I’m hoping nature, yoga and gaining some other skills will help unstick me and eventually lead me to new people I have other things in common with. What do you do when you feel stuck?

April 1, 2015

Not All Clutter Is Equal

Note: This column appeared in the Barrow Journal on March 25, 2015.

I hear a lot about clutter. It’s a buzzword for stay-at-home moms and probably any parent my age. Kids come with a lot of clutter, and shucks, if you’ve lived in the same place for long enough, you’ll accumulate plenty of clutter with or without kids.

Most of the time, clutter is spoken like a dirty word. “I hate this clutter.” “I can’t get rid of all this clutter.” “What I am going to do with this clutter?” “I’m drowning in clutter!”

I admit, I’ve said all that too. I whittle away at our clutter whenever I get the chance, which isn’t often, but now that the boys are older, it is not as insurmountable of a task as it used to be. I recently went through one of my son’s closets and my own closet. I have a bunch of boxes in the back of my van and ready to donate next time we go into town.

For the past two years before Christmas, I have convinced the boys to pick out whatever they are willing to part with to donate. I tell them that they have to make space for the new toys that are coming. The first year they put together one good-sized box. This year, we had several boxes, and I was proud of them. Despite this, however, we still have clutter everywhere.

But not all clutter is equal, and I have learned to live with a certain amount of clutter, mostly out of necessity. For example, there’s no way I’m going to convince my husband to clean up the clutter on his dresser or bathroom counter. (If I do it, I get fussed at for throwing out some important piece of information.) And since I keep my fare share of clutter, I don’t have a leg to stand on anyway. (But at least I clean mine up sometimes.)

As I said before, kids come with a lot of clutter, and I don’t mind the toys on the living room floor. We clear it out and sweep and mop when we have time, but I don’t try to do that everyday. What is the point when everything will be put right back on the floor the next day? Instead of making them clean everything everyday, I have the kids clean up their dishes and sweep the floor after meals. They also have to make sure the walkways are clear so that no one will trip during the night. In the event that they make an unreasonable mess, they are ordered to clean it right away.

Perhaps the biggest clutter control that I have to deal with is my kid’s projects. My sons are always making something. My five-year-old likes to draw, and stacks of artwork emerge out of nowhere. My eight-year-old likes to make things out of cardboard or paper or any of a number of craft supplies that are spilling out of an old dresser I use to keep this stuff.

Currently our activity room (the former dining room) has a box of paper dinosaurs (origami style) in one corner, and a desk filled with clay artwork, a cardboard ship, mechanical hands made from old cereal boxes and string, and my son’s unfinished Jabba the Hut puppet. There are homemade (and store bought) posters squished between the wall and bookshelf, and my son’s robotics kit sits up on that old dresser along with a globe. On the floor are newspapers spread out with Styrofoam balls and paint because my son is making models of the planets. (His idea.) Add to this all our books and other homeschooling supplies, and you have one cluttered room.

I’m sure this clutter would make most mothers feel insane, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me a bit loopy sometimes, but mostly, I don’t mind. When I look at it, I don’t see a mess. I see time well spent. I have chosen, in this era of my life, to make fostering my kid’s imaginations a priority over clutter. I spend a little less time cleaning the house so that I can do more projects with them. I let them decide what to keep and throw away (usually) because I want to show them I care about their work. I have always told them not to do any damage to anyone else’s work, and I abide by that rule too. When I do that, they feel respected, and they do more good work.

The thing is, these boys are going to outgrow these toys and projects quickly. There will come a day when I can clear most of it out, and later a day will come when the boys move out of the house and take more with them. At that time, I can declutter to my heart’s content. And I know I will sorely miss the days that projects were strewn all over the shelves and floors.

June 5, 2014

The Joy of Salamanders and Other Natural Things

I’m trying to remember when I first discovered that I’m a nature girl at heart. I’m lucky because my parents loved to travel and spend time in nature. We weren’t exactly roughing it because they owned a big RV, but we traveled through many national parks, and my dad loved boating, so I’ve spent time on different lakes and waterways.

I can remember taking long walks with my best friends during my late teens and early twenties. I loved being outside even if it meant walking along city streets. I always noticed the trees, flowers and birds. Whenever I traveled anywhere, I would seek out parks and other beautiful places. I’ve always loved hiking, and I have gravitated to friends who enjoy hiking too.

I met a friend in my late twenties who was a biologist, and she sparked a deep respect in me for the little critters of this earth. She loved frogs and snakes, and for a while she studied salamanders in the Smoky Mountains. I visited her once while she was doing some fieldwork. I thought she had an awesome job.

But I’m not sure I truly understood how much nature – and spending time in nature – meant to me until I became a mother of little boys. Seeing the world through their eyes makes me know on a deeper level how much all of this means to me.

Being in nature is something I crave, and I love learning more about it. Whether it’s learning how alligator moms carry their babies in their mouths or how to grow carnivorous plants, I find more joy in this – in making discoveries and feeling part of this mysterious and wondrous world – than anything else I’m part of. I am in awe of this planet and its place in the universe, and I believe that I’m very lucky to find joy in something so accessible to us all. I believe that finding joy in the simple process of observing and learning is what leads to lasting happiness.

On Mother’s Day, my family took me hiking in the North Georgia Mountains because they know that’s what I love most. First, we climbed the short trail up to Anna Ruby Falls. It’s a beautiful, paved path along Smith Creek, and on Mother’s Day, it was quite crowded, but we didn’t care. We were not there only to view the falls – we went to find the salamanders.

There’s a rocky, muddy wall along the path, and a natural spring drips down it constantly. Even in the coldest part of winter, the water there stays about fifty degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celcius). This is a perfect habitat for salamanders. They like to hide away in the rock crevices. We must have found a dozen of them.

While other tourists passed us by or lingered only for a few moments, we crowded around this wall for a long time (on the way up and on the way down). My seven-year-old said, “I could stay here forever!”

I was reminded of my old friend who studied salamanders, and I was reminded of all the times I’ve been hiking with family and friends, and the peaceful feeling that I get whenever I’m in the mountains, sitting by a gurgling stream. There’s no better place on earth, in my humble opinion.

I’m glad my son thought he could sit there by those salamanders forever. I hope that someday when he’s grown up and dealing with grown-up problems, he’ll remember the good times he had looking for salamanders by a mountain stream, and he’ll be able to go back there, seeking solace. A home for his heart.

June 2, 2014

Robot Mom

The only photo of me taken on our vacation – taken on our first night in the condo by daddy with his tablet. (Because I’m usually taking all the photos.)

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on May 21, 2014.

In the late 90s, I worked for US Airways at the Athens Ben Epps Airport. Truly, it was the best job I ever had for two reasons – the varied work suited me, and most importantly, I worked with some awesome people. It’s the only time I witnessed true teamwork despite working in offices where employers touted the term “teamwork” frequently.

Now that I look back, I realize that the work suited me because I’m not cut out for sitting in an office in front of a computer for eight hours. At the airport I got to work with people, work inside and outside, do physical work, and work on the computer. There were slow times between flights, and there were intense times while checking people in for the flight, loading their bags on the plane, running the security check point, and marshaling the plane in and out of its parking spot. Many times there were only two of us working, and since it was a small airport most of the passengers thought they could arrive five minutes before takeoff. (That wasn’t helpful.)

Once a passenger asked me, “Do you fly the airplane too?”

“Only in emergencies.” I joked.

My co-workers and I worked well together because everyone did exactly what was needed of them in any given moment. None of us favored one task over another, so we jumped in wherever we were needed. The only exception to this was our manager, and though that may sound like a criticism, I actually liked her. She was a nice woman, but when she was there she disrupted the flow of our work for various reasons. Later I learned the only reason she took the job as manager was because there was no else to do it, and she gladly gave it up when someone else wanted it.

The reason I’m telling this story is because I have a vivid memory of one day when a flight was cancelled, and twenty passengers stood before us in a panic because they were going to miss their connection in Charlotte, NC. One of my co-workers and I worked so smoothly and quickly helping each passenger in line that we deflated any quick-tempered passengers.

What I remember about that moment is my manager standing near us and exclaiming, “Look at them! They’re like robots!” It was always hard for her to understand how we could remain so unflustered during those stressful moments.

Now all these years later that memory keeps resurfacing because once again, I find myself in a situation that requires varied tasks. I get to work with awesome people, get outside, do physical work, and part of the day, I’m on my computer. But it’s even better because I get to do creative work and continually learn new things too.

The bad part is that I never get a day off, and I’m so busy going from task to another that I rarely get a chance to rest. I never get to cross everything off my to do list either. Indeed, this is the life of a mother, especially a homeschooling mom, and a freelance writer, and it’s not lost on me that sometimes I must look like a robot. That is, focused, hurried and unsmiling.

I’m trying to remember to smile more. I want my outward appearance to match how I’m feeling inside. I want my kids to know that I love my job, and I love them. Even when I’m tired, there’s nowhere I’d rather be but right here.

I have so many good memories from my time working at the small airport. I could write a book about all the characters I met there, and all the laughter and smiles. Did I appreciate it while I worked there? I think so, but I know there were days that it was just a job.

My current job is anything but “just a job,” so I hope I can remember that each moment is a memory in the making.

April 3, 2014

An Interview on Days With The Grays

If you’d like to learn more about me and my creative work, you can head over to Days With The Grays where I participated in a Creative Mothers interview. All the interviews in that series are inspiring to read! I hope you’ll read them and then find the creative spark within yourself. You can do it!!

Thank you, Megan, for letting me participate. Click here to read the interview.


February 27, 2014

Sound Bites

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on February 27, 2014.

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

In the mornings I’m lucky if I wake up to a quiet house. Usually it’s the galloping of the dogs’ paws on the floors as the canines leap up at the slightest sound of movement from my husband. They follow him into the kitchen, eagerly waiting their breakfast.

Other mornings I may wake up hearing one of my boys calling me from their bed or the seven-year-old’s footsteps as he runs down the hall and jumps into bed with me. Sometimes I hear a bird singing outside my window. Every once in a while, I wake up and hear nothing, and I savor the quiet.

Today at the park I heard snatches of my children’s conversations with their friends. One boy was explaining to my four-year-old that they would pretend they were dinosaurs and chase each other. They were trying to decide which dinosaur they would be, and my four-year-old wanted to be an Argentinosaurus. “Okay,” said the other boy, “you chase me then.”

“Actually,” my son said in his four-year-old and still sometimes hard to understand speech, “the Argentinosaurus wasn’t very fast.” I smiled at his good attempt at trying to pronounce Argentinosaurus, and I told the other boy’s mother how the word “actually” has become very popular in our house lately. She said it was gaining momentum in her house too.

It’s fun to hear how children will learn a new word and then play with it often as if they are trying to get to know it better.

While we were at the park we walked down to the shoals, and the kids played near the water. Running water in a creek or river is my favorite sound in the world. I could sit beside a river all day and just listen, but kids don’t let me sit for long. We were walking down the trail, and I was too busy keeping an eye on the boys who were running far ahead of us to listen to the wildlife.

I was happy to hear them talking, chattering and laughing as they asserted their independence and tried to get away from their mamas. I did catch the loud sound of a frog croaking from somewhere in the marsh.

On the way home from the park, I wanted to listen to the news on the radio, but my boys kept interrupting the broadcast. Some days I make a point of turning off the radio and just listening to my son chatter about his observations or ask his complicated and often-times unanswerable questions.

“If we walked just one atom at a time, would it take a year for us to walk a foot?” He laughs at himself and I shake my head. I hope he’ll grow up and learn the answer for himself and then tell it to me.

Sometimes in the evenings while my boys are watching T.V. my husband will call me to his office to watch his latest find on YouTube. He listens to music to relax, and he’ll listen to anything from classical to folk to pop music.  One of his favorite things to do is watch YouTube videos of auditions from the British X Factor talent show.

It’s not something you would ever find me doing on my own, but I’ll sit with him and soon be sucked into the inspiring stories of these talented young people who are finally being discovered. We’ll listen to their best songs and then watch whatever other talented musicians he may have found.

If it weren’t for my husband, I would be completely cut off from pop culture and sometimes even the latest news. That’s what happens when you keep turning off the radio to hear your kids chatter. But their young voices are only here for a brief period of time, and as much as I would like to listen to the news or even my own thoughts, I know I won’t regret spending a little time listening to them.

What have you heard lately?

January 4, 2014

My Menu Planning Resolution

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on Tuesday, December 31, 2013.

This New Year is a good a time as any to tell you how I’ve been striving to turn over a new leaf in one area of my life. Anyone who reads my column may recall me mentioning what a poor cook I am…mostly, I don’t cook.  It’s a skill I was never taught, so I didn’t have a good habit established before I had children, and creating new habits with infants and toddlers in the house is next to impossible.

In the last few months, I had an epiphany. I realized that I wanted my children to grow up in a house where food is made lovingly and from scratch. They are picky eaters, so I knew they probably would not eat what I cook, but they love to help me in the kitchen, and I want to foster good memories wherever I can, so I set a goal.

I knew better than to set an unrealistic goal, so I told myself that I would cook something from scratch once or twice a week, and I’d also bake some items from scratch on occasion.  Several recipes are simple foods that my boys already eat, like chicken nuggets. Other foods are for my husband and me, but I encourage my children to try them. (So far, I’ve had little success in getting them to like more foods, but I’m determined not to give up.)

My husband’s idea of cooking is to see what is on sale at the grocery store, buy it and cook it. After talking with some female friends, I was relieved to find our brains are wired differently. I have to plan meals. Or maybe that’s the dilemma of a novice cook – I just can’t look at raw food and figure out what to make of it.

Obviously I’m not alone because there are several websites available that will provide you with a meal plan and grocery list every week. You can also save recipes, search for recipes and request recipes for certain dietary needs.

I found one that allowed potential members to sign up for a free trial, so I tried it. I enjoyed the Six O’clock Scramble ( website, and I found some good recipes on it, but after the trial was over, I quit using it. My budget does not allow for luxury items such as this, but using it allowed me to see that I would benefit from planning meals. This is when I came up with my own meal planning system. It takes some work to get going, but it saves time in the future.

I created a new calendar on my computer’s calendar, and I labeled it “menu.” Each time I cook something new, I enter it into that day’s date, add a grocery list under “notes,” and then I use the calendar’s automated “repeat” so that it will repeat every 2-3 months. I can also send myself reminder alerts a day or two in advance.

I don’t always use the recipes that appear on my calendar, but if I’m struggling on what to cook, I can find a recipe and grocery list on my calendar, and I know it’s something I didn’t cook just last week. (Did I mention my husband is as picky as my kids?)

All this does not make for a good cook though. Sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes I’m not. I’m not prepared every night either….homeschooling, writing and other chores take too much time. I find that when I’m cooking, I’m usually getting behind on something else. It’s a constant balancing act.

But I’m enjoying cooking, and I love doing it with my kids who usually want to help, so I’m determined to keep it up in this new year, and I hope by the time it is over, I’ll have a calendar full of menu ideas.

Don’t worry about me ever starting a new food column or blog. I will never be that talented. I can point you in the direction of a couple of recipe sites I have enjoyed. Simply Recipes is full of good eats, and Weelicious is a great site for finding healthy baby and kids’ meals.

How do you handle meal times at your house?

December 10, 2013

Then There Were Two: Essays on Motherhood, Chapter 1

Please bear with me as I write about my e-book one last time. (Promise.)

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who has bought my book and sent me kind messages about it. I’m so glad you liked it. Here are a few of the comments I’ve received:

“Shelli, I LOVED IT! You write so beautifully.”

“We so need more supportive, non-judgmental, type of reading out there and your book really helps fill that void for new(ish) moms.”

“Pabis doesn’t offer advice, instead she shares her experiences, her expectations, and her surprises along her motherhood journey, as though over coffee. But, she does more than this–she inspires us to truly savor the moments with our little ones.”

Remember that you can give Kindle books as gifts. There is a little box under the “Buy Now” box that says, “Give as a Gift.” All you need is the recipients e-mail address. You get to pick a delivery date too. They don’t need a Kindle to read the book either.

Below I’d like to offer you the Table of Contents and first chapter to give you a flavor of the book.  I hope you’ll buy it. But if not, that’s okay too. I deeply appreciate that you read my blog.


Then There Were Two: Essays on Motherhood

Table of Contents

Remembering Summers Past
Preparing for a Newborn
What I Least Expected
Watching Two Brothers Bond
Every Mother’s Experience Is Different
My Attempts to Juggle Two Children
Adventures in Potty Training
There Is No Consensus on How to Raise a Child
Autumn Brings Back Memories
The Bad Mommy Syndrome
Good Habits Are Hard to Keep When You Have Children
A Trip to the Mall
Winter Habits
Creating New Family Traditions
The Aquarium
Finding Meaning in the Daily Grind
Our Journey to the Zoo and Back
How Children Changed Me
Time Moves Too Fast with Children
The Joys of Parenthood
I’ve Reached Autumn

Remembering Summers Past

It doesn’t feel that long ago that I spent the summer evenings sitting on a porch swing at a little old mill house I rented in Athens, Georgia.  I lived a stone’s throw from the train tracks, and when a train would sit idle on the track, I could feel its ticks and hums as if it were alive and breathing on my neck. Back then, the sound of the train never bothered me.

Usually it was quiet on that street.  My neighbor’s old hound dog would limp into my yard and perk up when he saw my kitten swatting at bugs and chasing squirrels up the pecan tree. I was single, and I felt I was living as close as I could to the good things I read about in my favorite Southern literature, but most especially, to the stories I heard my grandmothers tell me when I was young.

I loved the slow pace, the humidity, the old houses, and the green veil of mature trees that shrouded the homes in that old neighborhood. Having grown up in Las Vegas where everything was new and glamorous, the South felt romantic to me. The history and my heritage made me feel like I’d come back to my roots.

Besides reminding me of the South’s unsavory history, my husband will tell me that I was lonely in that house and that I hated my job. There’s nothing like marriage to give you a new perspective.

I was lonely at times. I had finally reached an age when I felt ready to move into another era. I had gone to school, traveled, worked various jobs, but my biggest dream of becoming a writer never came true. I lacked the focus and discipline, and I didn’t know anybody in the writing business. I was a dreamer who had run out of options. Or so I thought.

But I was never lonely when I sat on that porch, notebook in hand. I have always been fond of alone time, something that is scarce for a mother, and I will always love a rainy summer afternoon in Georgia. When I’m at my most harried and stressed as a mother and wife, it’s the wide porch swing and shade of a pecan tree that I long for.


In the heat of August, though three years apart, both my boys were born. Their birthdays are only one week apart. Luck of the draw.

Now summers are bittersweet occasions celebrating milestones and remembering the fleeting moments of holding a newborn in my arms. Summer licks its lips as I tell again and again the story of how daddy drove me to the hospital, and I was already ten centimeters dilated. I remember how the nurses poured into my room and swirled into action like waters over a broken dam. I tell my eldest son how I’ll never forget the look on the redheaded nurse’s face when I asked her for my epidural. She shook her head in slow motion. “It won’t help you now, honey.”

I tell my younger son how he kept me waiting until the eleventh hour.  On his due date, I took my husband, son, and mother-in-law on a long walk through the woods at the botanical garden. My husband kept saying it was unsafe for me to be so far from the car in my condition. If that’s what it takes, I thought, but I wasn’t worried. It felt great to be moving along a stream that had known me when I was new to this area. I showed my son my favorite place to sit down and watch the silky water reflect the green canopy and moving circles of light.


Last night my eldest son and I were reading a children’s library book about summer, and it asked us what sounds we associated with it?  After we read the book, we got out of bed and went over to the window, opened it and looked out into the nearly black summer night.  It was unusually quiet, but as we strained our ears, we could hear the crickets in the woods.  A bird began to sing.  I told my son to breathe deeply, and I asked him if he could smell the musty air.  Then we peered into the trees and spied some lightning bugs.

Just maybe I’ll pass on some of my romantic ideals to my son.

Click here to find my book on Amazon.

November 12, 2013

E-book: Then There Were Two

I’m extremely excited to announce that I have published my very first e-book, Then There Were Two: Essays on Motherhood. 

The essays in Then There Were Two embrace the joys, worries and misadventures a mother can have after welcoming her second baby into the world.  From missing the simple routine of caring for just one child to navigating a day at the mall, Shelli Bond Pabis writes in an easy-going manner of one mother speaking to another. Sometimes lyrical and sometimes matter-of-fact, she assures her readers that there’s no consensus on how to raise a child. Her photography adds a beautiful dimension to the book with quiet moments, details of nature and the action of life with children. Mothers will identify with these essays, laugh, cry, and feel satisfied as Pabis surprises herself by finding contentment in the creative job of being a mother. They’ll find themselves wanting to ramble around in their own yards with their children, picking up acorns and listening to the sounds of crickets.

This little book of essays and photography is very special to me not only because it’s my first book but because it contains special memories from a time when I had one small boy and a brand new infant. I began writing my newspaper column for the Barrow Journal two months before my second son was born, and many of these essays are adaptions of those early columns. Most of them have not appeared on this blog, though a few of them have.

The book is about a mother learning how to adapt to life with two children, but you’ll also find musings on nature, family issues, daily life and more.

From the introduction:

I don’t offer much advice; I only hope any new mother who reads it will know she’s not alone. After all, no matter what your experience, you are doing the most important job in the world ~ carrying on this gift of life.

I hope you’ll buy the book, and I really hope that you will like the book. If you do, I would greatly appreciate your help by offering your good reviews and spreading the word about my book on your social media outlets.  Thank you so, so much.

View it on Amazon U.S.

Also on Amazon U.K. , Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia

Currently it is available only in digital format through See this page for free Kindle apps available for every device and computer out there: Free Kindle Reading Apps

Stay tuned to receive news about my future e-books on how to start a storytelling ritual in your family, homeschooling preschool thru kindergarten and more!


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