No mom judging here…

Today hasn’t been my best day ever.

Firstly, while coming home from bible study I slipped and whipped out on the last remaining sliver of ice on our driveway. I was completely fine, completely soaked, and looking around hoping none of my neighbors saw.

I brushed myself off and went about my business. It hasn’t been determined yet if any neighbors happened to be looking out the window.

Anyway fast forward to mid afternoon… I decided we needed hot chocolate, so I filled up my trusty tea kettle and turned on the stove. I walked away for a minute, or several. My lovely kettle has this one annoying thing, it doesn’t make any noise when it boils.

When I came back it was completely out of water.

So having a momentary mental lapse I went the sink to refill….

And then I steam burned my own hand. So definitely not my best day.

Thankfully my big deal brother is a deputy fire chief or whatever and I’ve now been soaking in cold water for over an hour and a half with no sign of blistering.

It’s always good to have the right kind of specialized people in these situations to tell you exactly how to handle it.

Here’s the thing also.

While I’ve been soaking my hand, the 3 year old has been…

Because I still have to mom.

I know there are a small number of people who either have the finances, or massively special support system the includes people who don’t work, don’t have kids, and live close enough to drop everything at a moments notice so they don’t have to mom when they are sick, tired, soaking their hand, or just don’t feel like it and need a day off… I’m happy for you all really I am.

Then there are mostly rest of us who are just trying to get to bed time today with everyone physically, emotionally, and spiritually ok. I’m with you mostly rest of us moms, we are literally doing the very best we can. And God sees us too, and I know He is with us.

Today my single mom friend posted that her childcare for today got sick and she had to take her less than 1 year old to work.

Today my friend has one kid in the hospital, one kid’s birthday this weekend, and she is sick.

Today my friend had to make a gut wrenching decision to put one of her kids back into institutional care because they can’t provide the care level required at home.

If I had a billion dollars I would hire them all a full time nanny and house keeper.

I don’t so today I just want to say I see you friends, I see you doing the best you can for all of your kids and I know it’s hard, and I’m not going to mom judge you for doing your absolute best when your tank is empty

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Snow days are coming

We finally have somewhat significant snow in the forecast here in the northeast. My friends in other parts of the country are posting their snow pictures and my girl keeps asking when we are going to be able to sled down our hill again.

I was at the gas station yesterday and people were filling their gas cans to have on hand for snow blowing.

Being prepared is important but sometimes I wonder about the mad rush to buy certain things.

My first year living in Kentucky there were a few inches of snow predicted. I remember my boss telling me to run out an buy bread and milk, I was like “I don’t eat them anyway.” When I went to the store on the way home there was not a single loaf of bread, dozen eggs, or gallon of milk. I thought to myself “do these people sit around eating French toast the entire time?”

Since having a kid my preparation for snow days has changed a little. Do I have enough activities to keep her occupied without leaving the house for several days? Do I have enough to keep her busy enough that she won’t paint walls the minute I turn around for a second?
There are somethings I love about the forced family togetherness and slowing down, but too many days in a row can start to wear on all of us

Here are my top 10:

1. A sled and appropriate snow gear
I think this is the exact one we have


but I saw this on amazon and had to stop myself recently. You can click on the picture and buy it for us if you really want

Even when we didn’t have a glorious hill in our yard like we do know, we have a lot of fun playing in the snow on our sled.

2. Grillable food.
I don’t know how in the world one cooks French toast when the powers out, but our gas grill is always ready to go. Stock up on the meat and veggies people. If the power goes out, it’s cold out anyway, move the perishables outside.

3. Ingredients for snow cream
it pretty simple, milk, sugar, a little bit of vanilla extract…
basically equal parts milk and sugar, then just keep dumping in snow and stirring till its the consistency of ice cream. We have been known to use chocolate milk instead of regular milk and then we omit the sugar
My husband always has to remind me to let it snow a little longer to avoid the “toxic New York City Acid Snow”

4. Art supplies
maybe it’s just my kid, but she’s never met an art pwoject she hasn’t loved. I always try to have the supplies for a couple new and unique projects on hand. Or we just resort to coloring and painting. Also last year I bought her a giant box of generic paints and I must say they were subpar so now I just stick to the

5. Bath bombs
generally on snow days, after we do all the paint, we head straight for a nice long bath because lets be real, it can entertain for quite a long time. I envision this morphing into a bit of a spa day when she gets older, especially after we spent a single solitary night with my friend Tracy “I wear flipflops all winter because I claim my feet are warmer”
. My girl has legit been asking for me to “paint cute toenails” ever since we got back a week ago.

6. Toilet paper
There’s the obvious “it would really stink to run out”
also there are towers that can be built and then knocked over with that $3 kick ball thing you bought at Walmart last summer and haven’t used since

7. Balloons
There are about a million games you can come up with using balloons, and if your brain is completely beyond thinking one up, there are about a million on pintrest so you don’t actually have to think

8. Fire wood
We actually just got some today because a. power out means heat out, and b. it’s just quite a nice calm ambiance to sit by the fire while the snow comes down

9. New Library books
there is nothing worse than being stuck at home for days having to read the same books you’ve read your kid 7 BILLION TIMES because you own them. Plus also if the power/ internet are out, well then your all out of luck with the watching DVDs and streaming PBS kids, sorry. We are heavy library users anyway, but when I know there is a big storm in the forecast I try to schedule an extra library visit into the lead up

10. New DVDs from the library
because cross your fingers we hope not to loose power and a big major snow storm is not the time to take away screen time as a disciplinary action, for mom’s sanity.

DIY Daddy

Fearfully and wonderfully made

A few weeks ago we were walking around a local museum created for children when something really upset both my husband and I.  There was a huge display featuring these sticky notes.

A huge wheel could be spun if kids couldn’t think of body parts to augment.

Then there was a large wall filled with things kids had written down or plans they had drawn to make their bodies better.

In all fairness I’m sure the creators of this display didn’t really think about the implications of such a question in the image driven society we live in.  The display was surrounded by displays about bionic legs to help amputees and things of that nature.  Unfortunately on the day we were there several sticky notes had been filled out with kids requesting perpetually smaller stomachs, smaller noses, and other unfortunate image driven insecurities.

My husband took a sticky note, wrote “I love my body the way God made me” and slapped it right in the center of the board.

As a mom of a daughter it frightens me sometimes how much focus our society puts on outward appearance, especially in this “selfie” generation.

It got me thinking about how thankful I am that my identity lies in my faith in Christ, that my worth does not come from my physical appearance, and that God created me uniquely for His purposes.

In Psalm 139 King David writes “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well”  (Verses 13-14)

We have been drilling into our daughter that she is beautiful exactly how God created her.  We talk about how she is a gift to us from God.  We read her books like

Hooray for you By Marianne Richmond

God Gave Us You by Lisa Bergren

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

Do you have any favorites on this topic?  I’d love to hear them

Magical Christmas

There is something so special about so many aspects of Christmas with little kids.

There’s the awe of Christmas trees and lights.

My 3 year old actually took this photo.

There’s all the fun crafting and baking…

Then there is all the fun involved with receiving packages in the mail..

I found “magical” in my fridge today

Otherwise know as a Christmas ornament from the above pictured box.

One thing that is so important to our family but so stressful to me as a mom of a preschooler is the Christmas Eve candle light service. Generally lots of church services don’t have childcare which is totally understandable. I’ve heard countless moms who have said “I just can’t do Christmas Eve service little ones, it’s so stressful”

A brief synopsis of our 1st 3 years:

Year 1 she was 5 months old and slept through the whole thing, it was magical.

Year 2 she was 1.5 and I ended up in the church foyer with 3 other moms. Our kids toddled around and I snuck back in to my husband for the last candlelight hymns.

Year 3 she was 2.5. She drew with the pencils in the pews on about 75 cards and envelopes but was relatively quiet mostly. I had packed some of her toys and coloring books but they weren’t as exciting as all the new stuff. When we got to the candlelight part she wrestled for the candles and it was magical that we did not burn ourselves or the building down…

This year she’s 3.5 and I’ve been thinking through how to plan ahead to reduce my anxiety about it.

We’ve been bringing her into church for the singing at the beginning and she does well.

I decided to visit my local dollar store for some new and exciting quiet activities to break out for the first time during Christmas Eve service. I hope having a brand new coloring book and markers will help.

While perusing my options I had a moment of inspiration.

Last year we gave her a magic wand glow stick as a stocking stuffer. Ever since she has called glow sticks “magical” as in “mom may I have a magical please?”

Standing in the dollar store I realized that her love for a brand new glow stick might be just what she needs to engage her enough in the candle lighting and keep her from trying to burn the place down.

I bought a 4 pack because all the other kids will be in the back with us…

I hope you and your family find time and a place to sing praise to our Savior on Dec 24 with lit candles. I’d love for you to join us if you live near us and need a place. We’ll be in the back row with candles…. and glow sticks.

In case you need all the verses…

I hope your Christmas decorating is going well. I hope you have been able to accomplish all the Pinterest projects your heart desires.

Over here we’ve cut down a tree

Decorated

Baked cookies for the neighbors, more on that later…

Hanging out advent Calendar was another story. My mom made it for us a year ago and we just didn’t have space in our tiny apartment, it didn’t get hung up or used. This year is it’s inaugural season.

We went to the dollar store to purchase hooks, and then another store for a rod.

As the hooks were adhering to the wall our girl decided she had a better use for it

Then when we had moved past her disappointment about it not being for her potty seat, the idea of writing out all the Bible verses to go in the pockets was just way down my list of things. It didn’t get done.

To be honest I was just proud of myself for getting the thing hung up prior to Dec 1, I’m not trying to be one of those over achieving people who have the whole house decorated on November 2nd.

I went yesterday to a moms group I go to every other Friday and the leader was handing out these nifty preprinted bible verses for advent calendars! Guys seriously, sometimes I forget that I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Maybe it’s my inner holiday perfectionist nature, maybe it’s my Third Culture upbringing where everything Christmas was smuggled in a year ago or made from scratch….

Anyway if you find yourself on December 1 wishing you also had a magical printout of Bible verses for your advent calendars, here you go

Paint all the pumpkins

We were wandering around Hobby Lobby looking for a specific type of Christmas gift that we need to get in the mail right after thanksgiving when my daughter spotted a pumpkin she just had to have. It’s the week before thanksgiving and pumpkins were 80% off. It’s easy to say yes when it was originally $9 and it’s now $2.13 including tax.

“I’m going to paint it.” She proudly announced to me, herself, the 2 friends we bumped into, and every single store worker we passed. The thing is she remembers painting a pumpkin last fall and she got very upset when we had the audacity to CARVE our pumpkin this year.

She saw her opportunity in Hobby Lobby and she took it.

I would hope that I say yes to $2.13 pumpkins and the like as often as humanly possible, but the truth is sometimes I get caught up in my lists of things to get done and maybe I say no more than I should. Yes I know, I’m a stay at home mom and I have “all the free time…”

Yesterday I was listening to a mom of 4 grown boys and like 85 grandkids under about the age of about seven talk about child led play and it’s importance. Ok, maybe she has only about 9 grandkids, but ironically she was one of the 2 friends we bumped into at Hobby Lobby.

As I was saying yes to the pumpkin I was reminded of how she was talking about the great gift from God that children are to us, about how sometimes we need to just enter into their world and let them play how they want to play, explore how they want to explore, how sometimes our kids just need our undivided attention…

As the holiday season approaches, I really needed this reminder, this refocus…

We headed home with not one thing for the gift package I was trying to finish, but I strapped an ecstatic 3 year old into her seat and she wouldn’t let go of her cardboard pumpkin. She talked the whole drive home about her plan.

We got home, she literally went straight for her “painting mock” and art supplies, and painted that pumpkin.

It was not a neat or tidy “pwoject”

After she was done she headed to the bathroom to “clean up”

All I can really say is that today I’m thankful for washable paint.

And I hope that I can remember today, and the joy and confidence she displayed. It’s super easy to get wrapped up in plans and expectations, especially between thanksgiving and Christmas. We want our decorated tree to look a certain way, we want our gatherings and parties to go a certain way, we want our kids to look just so for the pictures… and somewhere lost in the mix are little people with hearts who just want to spread paint all over themselves and some random object they specifically have in mind.

I hope as we enter this holiday season that I can let go of my expectations, and the expectations others have of me, and say yes to more moments like this. I hope I can truly step back and remember the blessings I truly have and give thanks for them.

Drop in

Over the summer we decided it was time to start enrolling our daughter in some “extracurricular” activities like dance, soccer, or gymnastics.

After 13 years working in the highest levels of college athletics I had some very specific ideas about what I wanted and did not want for my 3 year old.

I wanted a low key environment where she could work on gross motor skills.

I wanted an environment where she would have fun and develop confidence.

I wanted her to explore different activities to see what she likes and what she doesn’t like at this point.

I didn’t want a major commitment. If she hated it after a month, I didn’t want to be committed to paying for the whole year.

I didn’t want a big recital at the end of the year with 3 dress rehearsals, 18 performances, and a $1000 costume over 1 weekend.

I didn’t want the activities to interfere with our family time.

I searched and searched. I reached out to several gyms and studios.

It all seemed pretty similar, there were large upfront fees, 60 day notice to terminate participation, recitals…

I was getting frustrated so I reached out to a homeschool group I’m a part of on Facebook. If a group of people would know if what I was looking for existed, it would be them.

YES, they said, 20 minutes from our house was a place called Questers Way! They offer drop in dance AND gymnastics as well as several other classes and activities for her age group!

We started going in September on the nights my husband is traveling for work which averages about 2-3 classes a month. It’s a perfect fit for our whole family and she loves it.

She’s learning to walk and hop on the balance beam, she did her first somersault on a wedge with no assistance recently, she’s learning the precursors to doing handstands and cartwheels, and she’s having a blast doing it.

This was one of her first classes, she was so excited about it she forgot to get up and stand on the wedge before attempting the somersault. It’s pretty amazing to watch how fast kids develop skills at this age.

In the future if she continues to love it we might switch to a more regular and in-depth class at a full gymnastics gym, but for now at 3 years old this is perfect.

Sometimes I wonder how the culture surrounding youth sports got to be where it is with so much over the top time and financial commitment. Was it because parents stopped volunteering and people started pursuing coaching youth sports as a full time job? Was it the increase in lawsuits which led to an increase in insurance for facilities? I’m sure there were a lot of factors involved and I totally understand how parents who are then spending excessive amounts of time and money on their preschool or elementary school kids’ activities can become so out of control with their behavior.

We’ve all seen the reports of youth hockey coaches getting murdered by crazed parents. It’s an alarming and growing trend in our country. While I want my daughter to pursue different activities and I know as she gets older we will likely be more involved, I want to shield her from of the inappropriate mania surrounding youth sports and delay the bigger commitment until she’s older.

I wish more places offered drop in activities for preschool aged kids, I think it would be a small but important step towards changing the culture of youth sports in America, at least in the early years.

Overwhelming kindness

*We were in Walmart. My 3 year old had announced that she needed to potty. We speed walked to the only one I knew of. It was closed for cleaning. I must have had a total panicked look on my face.

“Excuse me, there is another rest room, just head straight back to the right. It’s by the televisions”

As we sped off my daughter kept repeating “mom that man was so nice but why did he have his suitcases and his sleeping bag with him at Walmart? That’s a lot of stuff to bring in…”

 

*Over a week ago I had posted a bit of a tongue and cheek post on Facebook, there weren’t any shoes in the closet that looked like Minnie’s shoes, so my daughter was refusing to wear any. We had plans and I was trying to get us out of the house. It took over an hour to convince her that her gold glitter shoes would do.

A few hours later I received a message from a childhood friend, who I haven’t seen in DECADES, she had ordered a pair of Minnie shoes, they were in the way.

 

*Last weekend our neighbor spent an entire Saturday cutting down a tree in our front yard. He was not interested in any payment other than a meal. We estimate that he saved us over a thousand dollars.

Being the recipient of this level of kindness and generosity feels overwhelming to me. I wonder “how can I repay these people?”  I feel like I have to repay these people.

When the homeless man in Walmart generously offered me directions to a bathroom for my daughter, I was kicking myself that I didn’t have a blessing bag in my purse for him.

I’ve been thinking for a week about what I can do for my friend in return for the shoes she sent my daughter.

I’ve considered buying our neighbors a gift card anyway.

But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize that these people were kind just because and the best way I can repay them is to pass it on.

I can randomly pay for the car behind me in the drive through at Dunakin donuts.

I can put together some more blessing bags and give them to the next homeless people I see.

The other day I was listening to a speaker talk about hospitality. She talked about making people feel important, valuing people and relationships over things.

Then she quoted Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

The thing is that this is what Jesus did.  Over and over again He did it, and He did it without asking anything in return other than passing it on.  He showed us ultimate kindness when He died for our sins on the cross, something we could never ever repay Him for.

As I continue to reflect on the kindness my family has been shown lately, I am reminded of Galations 6:10…

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

I am inspired to find ways to show kindness to those I come into contact with, whether it be the people in my own home and family, friends, or strangers I come into contact with.  Will you join me?

Change happens

I’ve been thinking a lot about transition the past week.

Last week at a playgroup at the library more than half the kids under 5 had flip flops that were just slightly to small, their moms were anticipating the impending transition from summer to fall. Knowing that the change in temperature was coming soon, they weren’t interested in buying new larger flip flops and so it created kind of a funny little scene.

As I was driving a few days ago I noticed lots of trees were on the verge of changing from green to flamboyant yellows, reds, and oranges. It was like they had a slight tint but weren’t ready to make the leap just yet.

My husband and I have made a few pretty large transitions in the last year. We moved houses, he lost his mom, he changed jobs…

In Bible study we are reading in the beginning of the book of Joshua, the Israelites have been wondering for 40 years. Moses has just died. Joshua is about to lead the people into the promised land, they will transition from a people of nomads to a people firmly planted in the same place. They have been receiving daily manna (their food source) and that will stop. There are a lot of things that will be different, different can often feel scary or intimidating.

God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous, not to worry because He will be with them, over and over God repeats this.

The thing is that we have transition constantly in life. We have transition as we grow up, from babies to toddlers to kids to teenagers to adults.

Here in New England we have transitions as the weather changes.

Sometimes we are excited about a transition because we’ve experienced it before and have some idea of how it will go. Sometimes we are excited about a transition because in our view there is no way it could be worse than where we are, we have expectations that make us want to look forward.

Sometimes we feel nervous or anxious, or just downright mad, angry, or sad about a transition. Maybe we aren’t looking forward to a change because it will mean that the friends and support we once had will no longer be there and we will have to build new relationships. Sometimes we are upset about a transition because it wasn’t something we wanted or would have chosen for ourselves, maybe it was the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job or career that we loved.

Reading God’s Word in Joshua has been a life giving reminder that no matter what is in front of us, or what we are leaving behind, that He is with us and He will, in ways only He can, make it beautiful.

You sneaky MOM!

I don’t know if any of you remember that time when Jimmy Kimmel first asked parents to tell their kids that they had eaten all the Halloween candy, take video of it, and send it to him. If you remember, maybe you recall these two adorable boys and their sneaky mom.

https://youtu.be/wR0AfDVhgqU

I die laughing every time.

Anyway lately I’ve been feeling like I’m totally winning with my sneaky mom hack.

My daughter has had a rediculously high metabolism since birth. Gaining weight is such a struggle for her.

Back in March she came down with a cold that lasted a week. She stopped eating, she lost 8% of her body weight and we had been playing catch up ever since.

When we went for her annual check up in July our pediatrician gave us nutritional weight gain shakes to try. I remember saying “what do I do if I can’t make her drink them?”

Totally straight faced she said “feed her all the ice cream.” Ummmm really? “Really at this point every calorie is a good calorie.” So ice cream it was.

It’s been such a tug of war, wanting to get calorie dense foods in, and also wanting to get highly nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables…

Then we moved and I unpacked all our boxes. We went to drop them off for a friend who was about to start packing to move.

She handed me a massive overgrown zucchini, just picked from her mom’s garden.

It sat on my counter for a few days as I wondered what I would do with it.

Then it hit me… ZUCCHINI BREAD, high calorie, with raisins and zucchini.

So we made the batter from an old church cook book

We called them cupcakes.

She wanted frosting, I said ehh no, given her propensity to just lick off the icing and not eat the cake part.

And she loves them.

We’ve made them three times. Some how it propelled her into an Apple, orange, grape, carrot, ice cream binge and she’s finally caught back up and growing again!!!

I feel like the sneakiest mom.

Do have sneaky mom hacks? I’d love to hear them.