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Susan Wanderer has worked with families in kids ministry for 20 years, with the last ten years serving as Kids Minister at Mount Ararat Church in Stafford. Susan and her husband Ed reside in Fredericksburg and have three amazing kids who joined their family in 2011 and who fill their days with adventure. Come join the conversation over at 

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My Stomping Grounds

Be an Arm-Linker and Not a Finger-Pointer

This is not right, I ordered NO cheese on this sandwich!

If they plant one more bush closer to our line of the yard I am going to call the HOA and complain!

That was MY parking place, lady!  I had my blinker on!

You just have NO IDEA how rude my co-worker is, I do not think I can live like this one more day! I am going to HR and complain.

Little moments throughout the day.  Irritants. Frustrations. Small annoyances we would classify as a common trending topic of First World Problems. We all experience them. Everyday. Moments that make us breathe deep and exhale long. My kids pick up on this and ask questions.

Instead of living in the frustration of how life has been unfair to me at that moment, I so want to teach my children to see each situation, each incident, each irritation as little moments given to us to infuse kindness & point people towards grace.

Order messed up? 

Difficult neighbors?

Irritating co-workers?

Parking place stolen?

With each of these situations, I have been given a moment in time to show my kids that we have no idea what the other person is going through. 

Is the cook going through a hard time in their family? How can we bless them during our perceived cheese-fiasco?

Instead of complaining about property rights with my neighbors, perhaps serving them in the midst of their anger would make a greater impact.

Figuring out a way to bless an irritating co-worker could change the story completely.

And the stolen parking place… seriously, we could all use a few more steps on our Fitbits.  Find another spot that doesn’t come with a dose of entitlement.

In weaving through the hard parts of our journey, I want to show my kids the importance of linking arms instead of pointing fingers.

Arm-Linking, grace and kindness equals a more empathetic, loving and decent humanity.

And we can all use a bit more decency and humanity these days. 

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I Am Fat And I Joined Weight Watchers (Again)

To type this makes my palms sweat and my stomach get butterflies.

I talked a big talk when I wrote Confessions Of A Fat Mom several months ago. So many of you (thousands actually) clicked on that link and head-nodded your way to understanding the layered and complilcated life of weight-loss. And I had SUCH high hopes for us, for me. You may be doing an epic job of moving more, eating less and holding tight. And if you are HOOORAY!

Turns out though for me, just TALKING about eating right and exercising didn't make the pounds come off. (Shocking) Apparently accountability and actually doing a real life-style change will bring about the results desired.

After many months and weeks of dismay, this week my man and I joined Weight Watchers (Again). 

Here's our story:

This week my husband and I both decided we have had enough. My college friend, Paula recently lost 50 pounds and I decided: FINE! FINE! FINE! I’LL ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING INSTEAD OF JUST TALKING ABOUT IT. (Clearly not said in frustration AT ALL)

Ed and I had one million and one things to do each evening this week, but I loaded our girls up, picked Ed up from the train station and I drove us over to the Weight Watchers store at Eagle Village.

As we arrived in the parking lot my voice became shaky, my hands sweaty and I became an excessive talker.

“Let me just drive by the door to see how many people are inside.” I said under my breath.

“Oh gosh, there are too many people in there, Ed. I can’t do this. At all. No way. What was I thinking?”

Then two little voices from the backseat spoke up, “Mom, you can do this. Don’t be afraid.”

“Yeah Mommy, don’t be scared. I believe in you.”

My eyes became leaky and I dared not to blink for fear they would spill over into an uncontrollable sob.

I stared at the steering wheel. Here I was again. At the end of another rope. Staring weight-issues square in the face. With my kids in the back seat observing it all.

“Come on honey, we can do this,” assured my amazing man.

I grabbed his hand, took a deep breath and the four of us went inside.

I normally seem like an extreme extrovert. However, as an only child, there is also a very real introvert that lives inside. And the moment I walked in the door of Weight Watchers the introvert in me came out and I went inside my shell like a turtle.

We were greeted by a lovely lady and told to go ahead and join the group and they would meet with all of the new members after it was complete.

I went to the very back row and I dared not make too much eye contact with people.

The meeting was fine. My girls and Ed really enjoyed it. I was too busy feeling self-conscious to really listen to what was being said. The noise of my insecurity was louder than the leader talking.

Ed looked at me and proclaimed with humble confidence, “These are good tools. We can do this, babe.”

My girls were in complete focus on the stories from all the men and women and they completely forgot they had screens in their hands. 

“Mama, you can do this! Jesus will be strong where you feel weak!”

And with that, we filled out the paperwork, stood on the horrible scales and walked into our first week of counting points. Which is actually not hard at all because there is an app that basically does it all for me on my phone. It’s genius.

Our kids are cheering us on, we are cheering each other on and we are determined to be healthier.

We are moving more, eating less, holding tight and counting points!

If anyone in the local area wants to join us on this journey, the Weight Watchers at Eagle Village is AWESOME! Come join us!

Ed and I will document our journey along the way. I tried to find a full length "before photo" to put up on this article, however, I could not find one. Then I realized, fat girls don’t take full body length photos. Ever. We are Stellar Croppers.

Susan before

In several months, I’m hoping to be able to post a full-length photo.  Wooooohoooooo! (said in a nervous, shaky, sweaty cheerleader type voice)

Who’s in?  Who wants to join our crusade to become healthier?

All those local or not local, we would love for you to become part of our tribe as we cheer each other on! 

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What is YOUR Most Embarrassing Story about Falling?

We heart October. I mean truly, love it. Our annual pilgrimage to Belvedere Farm is one of our favorites of the fall season.  And after weeks of waiting, today was the day I went to Belvedere with my daughter and her second grade class. Besides Snead’s Farm, this is one of our favorite Octobering-Adventures in the Fredericksburg area.  

After our wagon drive to the pumpkin patch, we picked our pumpkins, I smooched Dib and told her I was taking our freshly chosen pumpkins to the car and would meet her at the rope swing with her friends. As the other parents and I were walking to our vehicles, I tripped on a BOLDER (actually, more the size of a pebble) and fell flat on my face, with all my weight landing on my knee. My pumpkins went flying and I’m positive my hoodie did not remain securely around my waist.

Y'ALL, I am a big girl and that is a legit amount of weight on one knee.  I’m not sure if it was pain or embarrassment but I totally passed out and woke up with many people standing around me and an ambulance on the way.

Side Note: Christ Chapel Academy truly is one huge family whom I ADORE. They all swung into action, took care of my child and made sure my husband was called. They kept my daughter happy and she remained with her friends at the farm while I went to the ER for X-Rays.

Zero broken bones but a nicely swelled up knee greeted my husband as he got to the ER. I will elevate my leg for a couple of days and all will be fine.

But can I say to you something that is true: There is no graceful way to fall. And even tonight after the incident was over, I found hay still in my bra. Which proves, my arms and legs were all over the place while I tried to save myself from a definite splat to the ground. The ground won.

When you fall… everything is in slow motion.  And while you are falling you are thinking “OH MY WORD! I AM GOING DOWN and is my underwear showing?”

I am so thankful no video (that I know of) was made of me eating the dirt. If there were, my kids would already have it up on my son’s Instagram account. Because what’s funnier than Mom falling? Nothing.

This is possibly THE most random article I’ve ever written for Fredericksburg Parent. But I figured we need a little bit of humor in this crazy October in America.

And what is funnier than “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” stories? Nothing. Watching people fall makes you muffle the laughter because you want to feel empathy but truly, you just need to belly laugh for fear of exploding.

So tell me, what’s your best “I’ve fallen” story?  All of us parents could use a good belly laugh today!

Happy Fall!

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A Note To My Fellow Pro-Lifers

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Sometimes I feel the need to call a family meeting with Team Wanderer. Just to clarify a few things.  When we call a Team-Wanderer-Family-Meeting it's to clarify what we believe and how we make choices and live this life we’ve been given.

Lately, I feel like the ones of us that wear the tag of Pro-Lifer need to have a little family meeting. With this current climate in America the waters seem murkier and more confusing than ever. A family gathering to regain some clarity feels right.

All you pro-lifers, pull up a chair, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and let’s chat.

I personally am gonna take a big gulp of my unsweetened iced-tea and a deep breath.

Please do not take this as scorn or anger.  These words are as much for myself as they are for my fellow friends.  I am pointing to my own heart harder than I am pointing at yours.

As tangled as this topic is, here are my thoughts (on a very tension-filled issue).

Sometimes I think we pro-lifers need to be reminded that being pro-life means that we are for life outside the womb as well as inside the womb.  We may need to reminded ourselves that we are Pro-The-Whole-Span-Of-Life.

Do we picket for the unborn-baby-clinics yet we are unable to feed the hungry adolescent whose only hot meal comes from public school? Do some of us wag a finger at the pregnant mama but are unable to help diaper her newborn she chose to keep?

Pro-Life means caring for life for a Lifetime. Cradle to Grave.

And if we aren't showing human decency, compassion, grace & love towards humans throughout the entire life-span then we perhaps need to rethink our title as a pro-lifer.

Let’s think why we believe in life and the kind of life we hope for others.

I am a pro-lifer because I personally believe all of humanity has been created in the image of God. And we are His masterpieces. And I believe it matters how we care for and treat His masterpiece. Both in the womb and outside the womb.

I understand that is a loaded phrase in the pro-life vs. pro-choice world. But remember, this is a pro-life family meeting. If I just offended a pro-choicer with that, please know that’s not intentional, we just happen to stand on different sides of the Roe v. Wade aisle.

Here’s what I mean about Pro-The-Whole-Span-Of-Life: We Serve Others.

If there are people that are hungry, we feed them.

If people are tired and hurting, we provide comfort.

If groups of people need to be reminded that they matter, we become that voice.

If a pregnant, scared pregnant girl or woman isconsidering abortion or adoption and needs comforting, we choose to comfort. We choose to hold her hand instead of a DO-NOT-MURDER sign. We choose to tell the truth of life-importance with grace, mercy and love.

No offense needs to be had on WHY someone is hungry or WHY someone is hurting or WHY a group of people need a reminder that they matter. We simply serve them. By serving them, change happens and the unraveling of WHY becomes clearer. 

We need to be reminded: We don't have to approve or agree with the choices, situations or life circumstances of others in order to honor and serve them. 

What if we decided to pour out compassion to prove to others that they are valuable, they matter and they are loved?

Compassion changes hearts. Compassion moves people towards greater understanding. Compassion leads us closer to the mission of loving humanity well.  

Pro-Lifers, we affirm the life of humans.

We affirm the born and the unborn, we affirm women, we affirm men, we affirm children and adults, we affirm all races and nationalities, we affirm humanity because we are made in the image of the very One who created us.

Let’s go serve people well by loving others well.

Go to a homeless shelter and fix dinner, go to a pregnancy center and take maternity clothes and gift cards for mani-pedi’s, call up the local refugee services and provide a refugee family a meal, sponsor a foster child to attend summer camp, deliver meals to the home-bound in your community, make blankets for the local cold weather shelters.

There are hundreds of ways to honor the lives of those around you.  Pick one and move forward. Your kiddos will follow your compassionate example.

Pro-Lifers, I love our team, I love that we choose to love life and love humanity. Let’s cheer each other on as we seek to serve those around us.

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Mammograms and Pancakes

Two years ago, upon the arrival of my 40th birthday I had my very first mammogram.  Yes I did. I experienced one of the things that women do when they wave goodbye to one decade and say hello to the next.  I was much more nervous than I ever anticipated.

I thought: I wonder if it is too much to ask for a bit of happy medicine? Like... completely-knock-me-out-and-sleep medicine.

My anxiety was a bit ridiculous.

I woke up that morning and immediately texted some of my friends: First Mammogram Today! In honor of being squished, I think I'll have pancakes for breakfast! 

As I entered the waiting room of the mammorgram office and saw all of the women, I wanted to hug them all and say "Women Unite! Be Strong! We can do this!"

As they took me back to the changing room... I was a nervous wreck... complete with sweat.

The very kind technician said "Do you have deodorant on?"

My immediate thought: Oh my word, am I sweating THAT bad?!

Apparently, to get a good read, you need to rub your armpits raw and make sure there is not one single ounce of smell-blocker present.  So, I did. And my hands shook the entire time.

They walked me back to the machine (which in my head sounded like THE. MACHINE.) and I confessed to the technician that I was a nervous sweating wreck (now without deodorant) and I wanted to know if there was a put-you-to-sleep option.

The technician smiled graciously, told me everything would be fine... and she got to work.

After we were done, I just looked at her... in complete shock.  Wait, are you done? Are you sure? Are you going to go back and then come tell me that the real procedure will begin soon?

Yes, the entire procedure was a bit awkward (I mean really... I need not go into detail on the fact that my girls (AKA: boobs) were being held with plastic gloves and shoved into positions that, well... I digress... ) and also uncomfortable (seriously, every woman deserves pancakes after this procedure is complete).  

However, my level of anxiety was MUCH higher than what was actually warranted. 

When I got back in the car, I felt such a beautiful sigh of relief... S I G H.

The entire trip back to my office I began to have a moment.

What other things do I obsess over and freak out about that are much less full-blown-anxiety-worthy and more awkward-and-uncomfortable-reality?

Either way... all I could think through on my ride home was a verse I learned in middle school that helped me through some serious anxiety-filled years "Be anxious for NOTHING... but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God... and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7)

As I type this, my heart hurts for the women in that waiting room that were not going to experience a beautiful sigh of relief that day. Some of them were about to get a diagnosis that started a new-normal beyond anything that the rest of us can understand.

For them, those verses in Philippians take on a whole new meaning and level of trust. That night, they went to bed viewing tomorrow differently. 

It makes my anxiety seem so small. My nervousness about my mammogram paled in comparison to what those ladies had to share with their spouses when they got their results.

Sisters, this month of October, National Breast Cancer Month, acknowledges the journey that comes with such a diagonsis. May the peace of God which transcends all understanding guard the hearts and minds tonight of the women (and their families) who are walking this road.

These women are true warriors.


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Pouches' Community Corner

Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area Splash EventMassadYMCA

For the past seven years, Smart Beginnings has thrown the Splash Pool Party fundraiser. This summer, the event will be held on June 24, 2018 from 6:30-9:30 pm at the Steve & Cheri Thurston Water Park at the Massad Family YMCA. Tickets range in price from $12 for a single ticket, $20 for couples and $35 for a family/group of four and each ticket also covers a hot dog, bag of chips and a drink.