Motherhood

For the Days When You Cry on the Kitchen Floor

Image via @WomenIRL on Instagram

Image via @WomenIRL on Instagram

It’s happened to all of us before. Little things and maybe even a few big things build up to create the perfect storm that take you to a place of overwhelm and sends you straight to the kitchen floor in a puddle of your own tears. I’ve had many of these moments since becoming a mom, and I know that I will have many more in the years to come. The details of what sent me to the kitchen floor this morning are irrelevant; the point is that I was there. You know what it feels like; you’ve been there too. When you feel like nothing is within your control, and all you can do is cry. You feel absolutely hopeless and it’s suffocating.

Here’s the deal–we are not in control. We never were, and never will be. Control is an illusion that will drive you mad if you attempt to pursue it. Yet it’s something that we crave so deeply, it seems impossible to let go.

So there I was, crying on the kitchen floor, feeling as though the house was suffocating me. As far as I saw, I had two options:

  1. Try to shove it down, and push through the day as planned running errands and doing laundry.
  2. Say ‘screw it’ and get out of the house, even if I still had to take all the kids with me.

Usually, I pick the first option because life has to move on. The laundry never stops, and someone’s gotta do it. But today, I decided to leave the piles of clothes and empty pantry and do something for myself. Something that, at that moment, I desperately needed. We live 10 minutes away from a river, and water always has a way of calming me. So I got the girls dressed, packed a picnic and ran away to the beach.

There’s just something about being in nature that helps a mind that’s spinning out of control to reset, if you will.

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If you focus, you can feel God’s presence in the perfectly blue skies, in the soft lapping of the water against your feet, and the sweet, cool breeze blowing through your hair.

I am with you.

And even though nothing has changed really, you feel at peace because you know God is working on something good for your life.

Nothing is forever.

It will not always be this hard.

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Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like the rest of this day was suddenly peaches. The life guard wouldn’t let the kids use the floaties that I spent 20 minutes blowing up, pushing a stroller in sand was impossibly hard, the baby woke up when I tried to transfer her to the stroller and screamed the whole time I packed up our stuff, and I am writing this post on my phone from the floor of the older girls’ room because they are fighting me on nap AGAIN. But my stores have been revitalized enough that I’m not a crumbling mess on the floor. My mind is focused on God again, and I am able to hold on to the promises He has made, knowing, not just hoping but knowing, that He will keep those promises.

So the next time you have one of those days that sends you crying on the kitchen floor, know that you are still a good mom. Know that you are not alone. Know that nothing is forever. It will not always be this hard.

And get yourself outside; to water if you can. It really does help.

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Dear 2 Year Old: You’re Making the Baby Cry


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Dear sweet, precious 2 year old of mine:

I know that you love your baby sister so much that you want to squeeze her, but she doesn’t like having all her insides shoved into her chest.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know that you have this weird ear fetish right now, and you think that other people like having their ears pinched together. But no one likes that.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you were only trying to give the baby a drink of water because you thought she was thirsty. But I’m sure you know that her mouth is not on top of her head, and now she’s soaking wet.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you were just chasing bandits on your stick horse, but you trampled the baby and smacked her in the face in the process.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you were just trying to help her stand up because you wanted her to walk, but her legs aren’t strong enough yet, and neither are you based on how you dropped her.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you were just trying to give her a hug, but you knocked her down sumo style instead.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you were trying to help feed the baby, but onion skins are not for eating, and as it turns out, get stuck to the roof of one’s mouth.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you just wanted to cuddle, but when you climbed in her crib and fell on her, you scared her shitless.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you were just copying Mommy and pretending to eat her chubby thigh. But when Mommy does it, she doesn’t use her teeth.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you wanted to teach the baby how to catch, but now she has a black eye.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you still don’t grasp that pinching people hurts them. But it does.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you really wanted to play with the baby’s toy even though you have 100 of your own, but damn it she had it first.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you were only trying to get her dressed, but you have to undo the buttons before trying to ram her head through it.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you were just trying to give the baby a treat, but she’s too young for chocolate. Now I’m the bad guy who took it away and there is chocolate EVERYWHERE.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know that you just wanted to play hide and go seek and thought that the best place for her to hide would be underneath a blanket, but she hated that.

You’re making the baby cry.

I know you told her to run before you shot the arrow at her, but she can’t even crawl yet.

You’re making the baby cry.

 

In conclusion, my dear, sweet little angel of a toddler: I know that you love your baby, and are confused as to why she starts crying when she hears your angelic, screaming voice coming her way, but for the love of God LEAVE THE BABY ALONE!

Because you’re making the baby cry.


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Mystery Poop

It was a lovely Spring afternoon. The windows let in a sweet, cool breeze and the calming song of birds chirping. Mimi was over for a visit, with her lap dog, Dickens. Dickens is a lively 3 month old puppy, and professional instigator, as most puppies are. The children ran about the house playing with Dickens, who kept trying to chew up the various toys that were strewn about the floor.

My husband sat with his mother in the living room, helping her with her tablet. I took advantage of the children being preoccupied and stole away to the kitchen to catch up on dishes. The baby sat happily in her chair, babbling away at me. Then a horrible scream broke through the gaiety. I daresay that in the 8 years that I have known her, I have never heard that sound come out of my mother-in-law. Did Chewbacca, our Shih-Poo, finally eat Dickens? (Chewbacca is not fond of the little chap, I’m afraid.) I ran into the living room to investigate.

Upon entering, I saw Mimi frantically running after little Dickens, trying to get something out of his mouth. She finally caught him and wrenched his mouth open, allowing a piece of poop to fall onto the carpet.

Everyone instantly panicked, the children most of all.

Mimi picked up the offending matter with a bit of tissue and went to flush it down the toilet. Upon entering the bathroom, she was surprised to find another piece of poop on the floor!

Once we cleaned the floor and carpet, we began to tackle the big question: who’s poop was Mr. Dickens eating? We were quick to assume it to be Dickens’ poop, because he’s still being potty trained. But it was too big to have been his. Next to be blamed was Chewbacca, but he had been on the couch with my husband the whole time, trying to avoid Dickens. It was too small to have been from our Australian Shepherd, Brienne. That left the cat; but she’s never pooped outside of the box in her 9 years of life, and again, it was too big.

Of course, my next thought was Colonel Mustard, who probably used the candlestick to swat it from the powder room to the drawing room.

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But wait–what if the culprit wasn’t an animal? What if the culprit was a human??

We had been so focused on the dog who had been caught with the poop, that we neglected to consider the kind-of-sort-of-potty-trained toddler (a toddler, by the way, who has a history of pooping on my carpet).

Calm as I could, I knelt down and asked the toddler, “Did you poop in your panties?”

“No”, she responded.

A quick check of her panties confirmed that she was telling the truth.

So where did the poop come from?

Then I remembered the poop that was found on the bathroom floor – – next to the Elmo potty.

I went back to the toddler and rephrased my question, “Did you go poo-poo in your potty without telling me?”

“Yes”, she said. “I go poo-poo in my Elmo potty all by myself and I flush it.”

Ah-ha!

I suspect that the toddler pooped in her Elmo potty and pushed the flusher. BUT – – the potty doesn’t really flush; it merely makes a flushing sound to make the child feel good about their potty achievement. Since none of the adults knew she had gone potty, the poop was left in the potty bowl. Dickens then snuck into the bathroom and helped himself to the feast that was left so conveniently at his level.

Another mystery solved.

Lesson learned–keep the bathroom door shut when having a play date with a puppy.

I Call You Blessed

Today was seemingly insignificant. I didn’t accomplish anything worth talking about; laundry, a few dishes, dance class, dinner. It was a very typical day in the life of a stay-at-home mom.

It’s really easy to feel insignificant and unimportant in the role of motherhood. On the surface, it doesn’t look like you do very much at all. At the end of days where I literally only accomplish keeping the kids fed and alive, I sometimes feel stressed because I wasn’t even able to keep up on housework. This feeling is compounded when my 4 year old actually complains about not going to day care like all of her friends and says things like, “Auntie works all the time, but you never work Mom.”

When you work a 9 to 5 job, it’s easy to find satisfaction. You keep busy all day doing important things and at the end of the day, have finished one or many projects. So you give yourself a mental gold star for doing something of value with your life for that day and are happy about it.

I feel like being a stay-at-home mom is looked down on in our culture. Since the feminist movement to allow women into the work force, it seems that if you are a woman who chooses to stay home instead of work, you are then wasting all the efforts of the women who fought so hard for that right. I feel our culture teaching us that if you don’t work, that you aren’t doing enough with your life.

So even though I don’t believe that anymore, I still allow that thinking to make me insecure.

Am I doing enough?

Am I wasting my life?

I put unrealistic expectations on myself, believing that I have to have the house spic and span all the time, homemade dinners ready at the same time every night, and laundry clean/folded/put away. So when I am unable to keep up on the house or when I can’t manage to get dinner out any earlier than 8 pm or when only half of the laundry is clean and is in an unfolded pile, I feel like I am just not cutting it. I feel like I am not enough.

And I know that some people will look at my life and say, ‘I feel sorry for her. I mean, she raised great kids, but she didn’t really do anything with her life.’

But if at the end, I’ve done my job right (because motherhood is a JOB), my children will rise up and call me blessed. How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so:

 

Image via pixshark

Image via pixshark

I can’t stop thinking about the deliberate language in this verse: her children rise. Why ‘rise’? Why doesn’t the verse just say, ‘her children call her blessed’? That would send the same message. But it says that they rise. Rise against whom?

Do you want to know what I think?

I think that her children are rising against those who would dare call their mother’s life insignificant. I think that now that they are grown, her children are able to see how much she has done for them. They couldn’t see it when they were young, but they see it now. They know now that they would not have become the people that they are without her. They also see that there are people who do not understand everything that this woman, their mother, is worth.

Another thought–why doesn’t the mother defend herself? If you read the previous verses that describe her, you will see that she is a strong woman. Why does she stay silent?

Maybe because for a moment, she doesn’t fully see the significance in her life either. Perhaps she is just like me, wondering if she did enough.

But her children say she was more than enough. And they rise up for her, at a time when she cannot do it for herself, and call her BLESSED.

It’s so very easy to sweep all the extraordinary that we do as mothers under the rug of mundane. But we mustn’t forget how very important our job is. We are shaping lives. It is the most important job in the world, and yet is the most undervalued one. Personally, I feel that true feminism should embrace all that a woman can be, including a mother. Motherhood is not something to demean; I truly believe it is the highest honor and calling in life. Think about it– God is trusting us to raise tiny humans into extraordinary beings. What an honor!

So if you are reading this on a day where you are thinking, “Seriously, what did I do with my life today?”, I want to say:

I will rise up and call you blessed.

And one day, your children will too.

 

At Least Pee is Sterile

My sister came out from California to spend last week with us. I had plans of surprising her with a birthday cake since we couldn’t be with her in February for her actual birthday, of painting nails, of days spent outside playing with the kids, of nights drinking wine while watching stupid television shows, of finally getting to show her the place that I now call home because the last time she came to visit was for Laurelyn’s birth & the time before that was in the middle of the polar vortex winter. But reality looked totally different than my fantasy, as it normally does. I wasn’t able to find the time to make her birthday cake. It rained most of the time she was here, keeping us housebound. And to top it off, the 2 older girls got hit with a stomach bug; Eowyn was sick the first day she was here, and Arya 2 days later. Aside from Target & Arya’s dance class, we didn’t get out of the house until her 4th day here! We went to the Mall of America that day for a Barbie’s Dreamhouse / Nickelodeon Universe / Disney store extravaganza.

The next day, I had planned on taking her to the downtown area of our little town. It has a quaint small-town America feel and is right next to the river, so there’s gorgeous views everywhere. The first time I went to the downtown area was the first time I fell in love with this area, which has now become my home. It was really important to me to share that with my sister.

So of course, everything went wrong.

The plan was to make sandwiches and have a picnic, because frankly it wasn’t in the budget to eat out. But we ended up running late in the way that only happens when you have kids: you wake up with the sole goal of getting ready to leave, yet mysteriously it gets dragged out in extra potty trips, nursing sessions, and the extra time it takes to get the kids moving at a pace that doesn’t make you want to gouge your eyes out Fish Mooney style. No way was I going to add making sandwiches to the list when we were finally getting out of the door at 1:30. Fast food was the best choice economically speaking, but I knew that going inside to eat would waste at least another hour because of the reality of the pace of a 4 year old, 2 year old, and nursing 5 month old. The food would have been cold if we drove through and ate it picnic style at the river. So I chose to go to a restaurant downtown, because that would give us the most time. Time to spend together in one of my favorite places on the second to last day of my sister’s visit. I knew we couldn’t afford it, but sometimes I feel it’s important to choose the option that will make you happier, rather than the more frugal one.

We went to a burger joint that I really like that’s right in the middle of downtown. Unfortunately, they messed up my burger and put cheese on it (I’m allergic to dairy). So everyone else ate before me. But I will say that the waitress handled it perfectly: she caught the mistake before bringing the food out and had the manager take my meal off the bill without me having to complain first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to A. Remind the server that I can’t eat the food they served me because of the cheese that’s sitting right on top of it, even though I told them about my allergy when I ordered and, B. Had to complain to the manager because the server made clear to me that my allergy was really inconveniencing them. I don’t like having to make a big stink, so I really appreciated the waitress being so pro-active in fixing the mistake.

Right when I was finishing up eating, Laurelyn pooped. I discovered when I took her to the bathroom that it was a blow out diaper. Like, an up-her-back-and-in-her-leg-rolls blow out diaper. If we had been at home, this would have been a you-need-a-bath kind of diaper. And I had 3 diaper wipes. I managed to get the onesie off without the poop getting in her hair, but I had to resort to using toilet paper to wipe a lot of it up because the 3 diaper wipes didn’t cut it on their own. After she was poop free, I had to put her naked self on my hip so that I could wipe the poop off of the changing pad, so that the new diaper wouldn’t be covered in it. While I was doing this, she peed on me.

Not just a little trickle either.

Oh no, this was a soak-the-whole-left-side-of-my-shirt-and-roll-down-my-pant-leg-and-on-to-my-shoe-ending-in-a-massive-puddle-on-the-floor kind of pee.

I had no extra clothes for myself, because who does that? There was a part of me that wanted to throw in the towel, just go home and give up on this impossible day. But the kids were so excited to run around by the river, and my poor sister had spent almost her whole visit cooped up in my house. So even though I felt positively gross, I decided that I was not going to give up on this day, and forged on in my peed on clothes.

At least pee is sterile.

We went back to the car to get the girls’ kite & balls, to discover that the damn kite had broken! The girls were instantly devastated and threatened to throw tantrums over it. Luckily my husband calmed them down, because if they had thrown fits over that kite I would have lost it. They kicked the ball around for about 5 minutes and then were done. Whatever happened to kids being able to amuse themselves forever with a ball and lots of space to run?

They wanted to walk along the water now. I was nursing again, so my sister took them down by the shore solo while Tyler kept me company.

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This too, only lasted 5 minutes, because Ary kept trying to go in the water. No matter that the water is freezing cold and she didn’t have a bathing suit or floaties on. My sister came walking back to us carrying Ary like a football because she wouldn’t walk on her own. She was also shoeless; she had managed to kick off her shoes in the struggle without my sister noticing.

While my sister went back to retrieve the missing shoes, Eowyn managed to climb a tree entirely on her own. This has been something that she always wanted to do, so it was such an honor to watch it unfold. My daughter checked off her first bucket list item, and I was there to witness it. There it is friends– extraordinary peeking through the ordinary day.

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The moment was broken by a yell of, “I need ta go potty!” I passed the baby off to Tyler, grabbed Ary, and ran to the bathrooms. Which were locked. Why were the park bathrooms locked on a Saturday?! I knew she wouldn’t make it back to the restaurants, so there was only one other option: she was going to have to squat. I took her to a wooded area off the shore of the river, held her in a squatting position above the sand, and told her to go. “NOOOOO!”, she protested. “It’s ok, Ary; the dogs pee outside all the time. Just let it out.” It was really windy that day, so it was kind of a messy experience. But, I kept things light hearted and silly, and when she was done, we were laughing about it. When we were back with everyone else, she proudly announced, “I pee in da woods!”

Hey, at least pee is sterile.

There’s a bridge that goes across the river that I had yet to walk, so we decided to cross that bridge (pun intended). Eowyn was pretty disappointed by this idea, as she wanted to continue climbing trees for the rest of the day.

The view was absolutely breathtaking.

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But both the girls were quickly complaining about how bored they were, and could we please go back now? (INSERT MAJOR EYE ROLL HERE) “How can you be bored when you have all of this beauty surrounding you?”, my sister asked them. I then had a flashback of our childhood when we were the bored children being asked that question. When did we become so old? The girls finally wore us down however, and we headed back halfway through.

Wanting to recreate the iconic picture of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin dropping sticks on one side of a bridge to see who’s stick made it to the other side first, we all picked out sticks and dropped them in the water. Despite the wind being very strong, the current was stubbornly pushing against it, so non of our sticks actually made it to the other side. They actually got carried in the other direction! So much for that moment.

We headed back to the main street to get coffee and ice cream.

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Then we packed up and went home. The girls were not happy about this; there were boo boo lips across the board.

The moment we were pulling into the garage, Eowyn asked if we could play outside. We were completely dumbfounded by her request, since we had just spent the last 4 hours outside. She threw a fit when we denied her request, “But we just walked around on a bridge, we didn’t play in my yard!” (INSERT EVEN BIGGER EYE ROLL HERE)

Sometimes, you just can’t win. You try to plan a nice family day out of the house to make some memories for the scrapbook, and life takes a piss on it (literally).

But you know what? On the way to church the next day, Eowyn said, “Mom, remember when we walked on that bridge yesterday? That was a lot of fun.” BAM! Mom for the win! Even though the day was far from flawless, I think the kids will actually file that memory away as a nice day out. They’ll remember climbing trees and a windy walk on a bridge and ice cream and forget the not-so-great bits.

As moms we try so hard sometimes to create “perfect” memories. But, life isn’t perfect. Stories are more interesting when things go wrong anyways. So the next time a day isn’t going as planned, I will remind myself, ‘at least pee is sterile’. Because if I try too hard to force something to be perfect, I’ll ruin any chance of it being fun because I’ll be stressed out.

We’ve got to hold tight to all that is good, refusing to let it go.

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The Furnace of Motherhood

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.”

-Philippians 2:17 NLT

There’s this debate in parenting circles of where the fine line is of giving yourself to your family without losing yourself in the process. Many blog posts have been written on ‘making time for you’ and ‘putting yourself first sometimes’, because it’s so easy to get burnt out as a parent. This is good advice; after all, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before helping another with their’s, right?

But–the Bible tells us to give all of ourselves to God and His calling for our lives. If His calling is motherhood, then I have to believe that we should give all of ourselves to our families.

I am not the same person I was before I had kids.

But, I don’t lament that.

Ever since I said ‘yes’ to God and leaped off the cliff, He’s been transforming me into the woman He created me to be. The Bible likens this process to refining silver. The metal is put into a burning furnace for a very precise amount of time, for it can easily be ruined if the silversmith leaves it in even a moment too long.

God takes us and burns up all the bad that has tainted us, and it hurts. There are moments when you feel the furnace is too hot, that it’s going to swallow you whole. But your Silversmith knows when to take you out, and He never takes His eyes off of you.

I never wanted to get married and was never entirely sure about having kids. I looked down at stay-at-home moms, thinking they were wasting their lives.

The old me was bitter and selfish; condescending and cruel.

I do not miss her.

I do not wish to go back, even though I am tempted to think I do.

Motherhood is the hardest job I have ever had. It has broken me many times. But it has also made me stronger.

God has been refining me in the furnace of motherhood.

I will happily lay down my life for my family. I will let the old me die, and choose to rejoice about it.

Honestly, I think that’s the secret: rejoicing in losing yourself in your family. Not seeing it as a failure or waste, but as something miraculous and beautiful. Because it’s hard to put others first all the time. But that’s the calling, isn’t it?

And because God is who He is, I now understand that the only way to find myself is to lose myself.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”

-Matthew 10:39 NLT

I will no longer mourn the woman I lost, but celebrate the woman I am becoming.

I know God won’t stop until I am the masterpiece He destined in the beginning (because we are all His masterpieces). So I will look into the foggy future with joyful anticipation. Because I can’t wait to meet that woman.

A Day in the Life of Me with 3

This day technically was an extension of the previous one: I was up until 1 am nursing the baby and catching up on TV shows with the husband (Better Call Saul, Agent Carter, and Downton Abby). The baby went down long enough for me to get myself ready for bed, then woke up again. Luckily this time only required 10 minutes of pacing and rocking and then I was able to put her down. I had my precious devotional time, and went to sleep. Baby slept through the night, waking up at 7:30. I knew that the longer I let her cry, the more likely she was to wake up one of her sisters, so I peed quickly. I grabbed the baby from her bedside bassinet, took the Sleep Sac off, and cuddled her in my bed. A few minutes after I got her latched on, I heard the unmistakable sounds of one of the others getting out of bed and pitter patting to my room. If it’s Eowyn, I might be able to get her to fall back asleep cuddling with us. If it’s Ary, I’m screwed.

The door opens, and Ary climbs into bed with us.

Shit.

She cuddles with her baby sister for a few minutes before declaring, “I want to go downstairs.” The baby has already fallen back to sleep; maybe we can sneak out of bed without waking her up…

Ary [in a not so quiet voice]: “I need go potty!”

Alright Saturday, let’s do this.

-Without waking up Laurelyn, I quietly get Ary to the bathroom and on the potty right as she’s starting to pee. Ary hates washing her hands, so I have to fight with her to get her to do it.

-Laurelyn wakes up; I grab her and the 3 of us go downstairs before Ary has a chance to wake up Eowyn.

-I let the dogs out into the frozen tundra to do their morning business.

-I change Laurelyn’s diaper & put on Star Wars Rebels , per Ary’s request.

-Why is the cat following me, meowing my ear off? Oh, right- she’s hungry. I grab some food for her while I let the dogs back in.

-I hang up the diaper wash cloths to dry. (I don’t do disposable diaper wipes anymore because I was tired of paying for them. I throw the dirty wash cloths in the washer before going to bed, and hang them up to dry in the morning, because I’m too cheap to waste the electricity to dry them in the dryer).

-Right when I sit on the couch to nurse, Ary announces that she wants water and Goldfish. I get back up and grab Ary’s breakfast while juggling Laurelyn on my hip.

-I sit down to nurse Laurelyn (20 minutes and she’s asleep again)

-Eowyn wakes up and comes downstairs

-She declares that she’s hungry. I remind her that she needs to go potty because she just woke up. “[SIGH] I know that, Mom!” Really? Why didn’t you do it on your own then? Why is it that I have to remind you to go potty every. single. morning. ?

-I try to put sleeping Laurelyn in her swing, which is a funny dance where I have to completely support her bottom, keep my face next to hers through the entire transfer and not get my long hair in her face when I lift up. It’s a delicate maneuver that is only about 40% successful. Sure enough – – she woke up. I’m able to transfer her to her chair and bring her into the kitchen with us though, and she’s fine. She is such a perfect baby.

-Get older kids Lucky Charms.

-Get distracted blogging and burn my toast

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-Deny Ary’s request for more cereal 500 times because, “You have to eat the cereal part too; you can’t just eat the marshmallows.”

-Eowyn: “Uh, Mom, I kind of made a big mess.” When will she be able to eat without it ending up everywhere?

-Eowyn then asks for more. I tell her she has to eat the cereal in her bowl before she gets more- “You can’t just eat the marshmallows”. After one more bite of cereal, she’s done. I’m never buying Lucky Charms again.

Star Wars Rebels is over. Eowyn’s turn to pick something. My Little Pony. The movie. I’m shocked.

-I finish my toast in time for Ary to declare she has to go potty. I pick up Laurelyn in her chair and rush the 3 of us to the bathroom and all that ends up happening is 5 minutes of Knock Knock jokes. Which are all a variation of Ary’s favorite :

“Knock, knock!”

“Who’s there? ”

” Lettuce! ”

” Lettuce who? ”

” Arya’s lettuce! ”

It was hilarious. I love this kid.

-Change Laurelyn’s diaper. While I’m doing that, Ary takes out the Sofia the First game board. She sets it up, then gets distracted by tape on the box and makes it’s annihilation her mission in life.

-Nurse Laurelyn. Eowyn promptly takes her place on my left shoulder. The only time I get to nurse without one or both of the other girls all over me is at night when they’re sleeping.

-For the remainder of the My Little Pony movie, Laurelyn goes through a cycle of nursing-sleeping-woken up by one of her sisters. I give up on her napping once the movie is over.

-Eowyn: “I’m hungry.” I swear these girls eat like hobbits.

-Right as I’m getting Laurelyn situated in  her chair, Ary announces, “I need to go potty!” She makes it in time, yay! Fight with her to get her to wash her hands.

-She then goes back and forth to the potty three times, accomplishing nothing until the last time when she poops in the potty. Of course this means that I too have to run back and forth to the potty. Fight with her to get her to wash her hands.

-I wash and slice an apple for Eowyn (because that’s what she asked for), only to have her take 1 bite and tell me, “My throat is making the apple taste yucky, so I’m not going to eat it.” Ary won’t eat it because it has the peel on, so I guess I’m having apple slices. Ary does however want an apple of her own, so I peel and slice a different one for her. She eats about half and “secretly” feeds the rest to our dog Chewbacca. Laurelyn starts to fuss in the middle of all of this, so I get her out of her chair and hold her.

-I try to make a phone call, but my phone app crashes. So I have a phone that can do pretty much anything except make a call. What a world.

-Laurelyn wants to nurse again.

-Eowyn turns her guitar and pirate sword into a cello and puts on a show for us.

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-Eowyn: “Mom, can I have a granola bar please? I can get it!” It then becomes a death race between her and Ary as to who can get to the pantry first. They scream at one another as they squabble over who gets to get a granola bar first. They both make it out alive and with their own granola bars, and Ary leaves hers untouched on the table.

-I steal away for a bathroom break, dragging Laurelyn with me in her chair. Except it’s hardly a break as the moment the door closes, Ary starts shoving colored pencils and a book under the door. Then she barges in, and I tell her to get all her stuff and get out. She gives me a pathetic boo-boo lip and says, “I just wanted to help, Mom.” Help me get away from you lot for a whole minute so I can pee in privacy by not leaving me alone and cluttering the floor with a bunch of stuff? What? How? WHYYYY??!

-I come out of the bathroom to discover Ary is eating all the dark chocolate pieces out of the trail mix.

-After putting the trail mix away and putting the pantry lock on, I lift Laurelyn out of her chair and see poop leaking through her clothes. This baby has a real knack for explosive diapers.

-While I’m cleaning Laurelyn up, Eowyn sits down and practices copying a word that I have written on our white board. This means I must look up 3 times during the blow out clean up to look at her work (“Mom, look!”, “Mom, look!”, “Mom, look!”). “Mom, can I practice with the markers, because it’s easier for me?” Yeah, let’s use markers while Mom is elbow deep in infant poop. NO!

-After the clean up is finished, I corral the troops upstairs so we can finally brush our teeth (it’s now 11 am). First, Ary must grab a toy. You know, in case she gets bored on the long journey to the second level of the house.

-We finally get upstairs just in time for Ary to need to pee again. She makes it to the potty though! Fight with her to get her to wash her hands.

-We brush the kids’ teeth, which requires lots of the Doc Mcstuffins tooth brushing song.

-The girls play on the stairs while I dress Laurelyn, take my morning medicine, and brush my teeth with her balanced on my hip.

-After being naked all day yesterday, all night long, and all of this morning, Ary decides she wants pajamas. I don’t understand this girl.

-By the time I get downstairs, Laurelyn wants to nurse again.

-While I am nursing: -Ary spills Goldfish on the floor, which she starts eating off of the floor with Chewbacca – Eowyn dumps more Goldfish on the floor on purpose because she feels bad for our other dog Brienne not being able to get through Ary and Chewbacca to get any -Eowyn opens the pantry lock and brings out the bag of Goldfish for her and Ary to snack from – Ary takes her pajamas off. They lasted a whole 20 minutes – I become a spider web for the girls to put dew drops onto. -We read a book -Eowyn practices letters

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-We clean up the mess they made yesterday because… hot damn.

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Clean up takes 40 minutes, and that’s with me doing 90% of the work. But it also included me vacuuming their play room once I could see the floor, putting up Command hooks to solve the weaponry storage issue we’ve had, and scrubbing all the paint off of the girls’ dry erase board.

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-Laurelyn announces she is done being in her chair right when I’m finishing up. Perfect baby.

-I get the older girls dry erase markers so they can create art on their newly cleaned board. Then I change Laurelyn’s diaper and nurse her in the play room so I can keep an eye on them. Ary always trys to color everything she’s not supposed to, so when we’re doing markers I have to be there to remind her to only color the paper (or in this case, board) about 5,000 times.

-The dry erase/chalk board easel keeps Things 1 & 2 entertained for a full 20 minutes.

-They then move on to archery.

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-Laurelyn has fallen asleep and I am able to transfer her to her bassinet. Like I said before–perfect baby.

-I have the other two go potty, fight with Ary to get her to wash her hands, and then I take lunch orders. I whip up their requests, serve them, and get started on my pb&j. I decide to jazz it up today by toasting the bread (take that, Bobby Flay). While the bread is toasting, Laurelyn wakes up; she slept for 15 minutes… I quickly finish making my sandwich and go get her.

-As we’re finishing up lunch, I remember that my Tardis cookie jar is empty and suggest to the girls that we make some cookies before naptime. They had gotten a Frozen cookie making kit for Christmas that I had completely forgotten about, so we broke that out and finally made them. I was carrying Laurelyn in my baby carrier, so it was a bit awkward moving around but it was so much fun!

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-I told the girls that they couldn’t eat their cookies unless they took a nap, and got them cleaned off, emptied of pee, and in their beds.

-Then I let the dogs out, changed Laurelyn’s diaper, and nursed her to sleep. I let her sleep on me while Tyler and I watched Vikings .

-All of the girls wake up shortly after our show ends. Ary woke up grumpy as per usual, and she cried uncontrollably for 10 minutes. There’s no comforting her when she gets like this; we’ve got to just let her cry it out.

-Tyler sets the girls up with Disney Jr to try to quell the grumpy fit while Laurelyn and I head into the kitchen to tackle dishes. She lays on her changing pad on the kitchen floor playing happily with her toes and babbling at me. Perfect baby.

-I get through half of the dishes before Ary jumps on the changing pad, scaring the crap out of the baby. Laurelyn starts screaming and then Ary starts crying because she feels bad that she scared her sister; she just wanted to cuddle with her. I stop doing dishes to calm them both down.

-Due to the stress of almost dying, Laurelyn wants to nurse.

-When I’m done nursing, we have an impromptu Skype call with Papa & Grandma Cheri (AKA my Dad and my Step-mom)

-I get Laurelyn set up in her chair and we head back into the kitchen. I adjust my plan to only cleaning dishes that are necessary for me to make dinner, but it still eats up another 15 minutes. I’m able to prep my veggies and pre heat the oven before I have to stop to nurse Laurelyn again.

-Just as Laurelyn is drifting to sleep, Ary yanks on the cat’s tail, who flips out at Chewbacca, making him yelp, which scares Brienne, who in turn, barks. Needless to say, Laurelyn wakes up…

-I nurse her back to sleep and make a failed attempt at laying her down.

-I come downstairs to find Ary standing on a chair next to the kitchen counter. She took one bite out of 4 of the 6 Frozen cookies that we had made earlier. WHHHYYYY???

-I try to put Laurelyn in her chair with me in the kitchen, but she is not having it. Daddy takes her, but she screams on and off through the 40 minutes it takes for me to finish dinner, despite all of Daddy’s best attempts. You should’ve stayed asleep, baby!

-While I’m plating the food, Eowyn starts singing and walking around the kitchen island and basically getting in the way with every step. We tell her to sit down and stop singing because it’s quiet time, which makes her slump over and pout. Ary is stuck in her highchair, but asks Eowyn, “Sissy, what’s wrong?” Eowyn tells her in hushed tones what happened. Then Ary says, “Awww, poor thing. It’s o-tay Sissy. Come here sweetheart.” Then Eowyn gets up and gets a hug from Ary, with the huge tray in between them. She says, “Thanks Sis. You’re the best.” I try not to cry from the cuteness of what just happened.

-We finally eat dinner; me juggling Laurelyn on my lap the whole time. During dinner, Ary has to pee which requires getting her out of her highchair and then back into her highchair. (Not to mention the fight to get her to wash her hands) Between napkin requests, water requests, and dropping forks, I get up 4 different times.

-After our delicious cookie dessert, I nurse Laurelyn. While I’m nursing: -Ary plays fetch with Brienne; Eowyn shoves Arya, making her fall down because she was frustrated with her for singing Let It Go when she wanted to play Mulan . Tyler puts Eowyn in time out; After her time out, Eowyn attempts to color, but Ary keeps messing up her pictures on purpose ; the girls played Gollum with Daddy

-Eowyn & Arya get a bath.

-BEDTIME! This involves brushing teeth (singing Doc Mcstuffins song again), going potty, one last fight with Arya to get her to wash her hands, getting Eowyn in pajamas & Arya in a Pull-Up (she likes to sleep naked), reading a Bible story, saying prayer, tucking them in their beds after they each check to make sure that their billion stuffed animals are all there, and listening to their great ideas for what we should do tomorrow.

-Watch Gotham with Tyler while nursing Laurelyn to sleep

-Laurelyn actually goes down tonight, so I get to sleep without waking up with a kink in my shoulders tomorrow.

-I come back downstairs and throw the diaper wash cloths in the washer. Then I wash the dishes from dinner because waking up to a dirty kitchen stresses me out.

-I then go upstairs around 1 am and have my quiet time with God. I’m so tired when I’m done that I decide to sleep rather than shower. I’ll shower tomorrow.

 

 

There you have it–a typical day as a stay at home mama of 3. Now it’s time to get up and do it all again.

Quiet Time: Mom Burnout

I have been so tired lately. Like bone weary exhausted. Every day.

I read a 3 day devotional series on burnout, and the last entry really struck a cord with me. It talked about how people tend to deal with burnout in 2 ways: lashing out at others in anger, or withdrawing from others. I’m an introvert, so before kids, I tended toward withdrawing unless someone tried to invade the space that I needed, in which case I would lash out. But you don’t get the luxury of being alone once you’re a mother. Especially when your children are all preschool and under. They puppy dog you all. day. long. So now, my reaction to being burnt-out is to lash out in anger. And who is around me all the time, getting the brunt of my wrath? My kids.

I hate when I lose my temper with them. Yet it happens every day.

Psalms 37:8 NLT

“Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.”

The last thing I would ever want to do is harm my kids. They are my entire world.

But how can I conquer burnout?

It’s not like I can ask my boss for fewer hours.

The kids need to be taken care of. The dishes need to be done. Lord knows the laundry never ends.

I know what you’re all going to tell me–take time for myself; ask for help.

My husband and I just had a day date 3 days ago. It was so wonderful and we needed it so badly. But yet, here I am 3 days later feeling burnt out again.

Contrary to popular belief, I do ask for help from time to time. But if you ask for help every day, then you’ll burn out your support system.

I can’t help but feel that this issue runs deeper than simply taking time for myself and asking for help. I feel like this is an issue of the heart. My heart.

Here’s what I know: God did not put this spirit of anger inside of me. God entrusted me with the honorable and enormous task of raising tiny humans. I can not do this from my own strength. God wants me to succeed and has a plan that is already in motion to help me succeed.

I may not yet have the answer for how to conquer burnout, and I doubt that it will be found in 3 easy steps. But for now, I will take life a day at a time. I will refuse to worry. I will let go of what I can not control. I will accept the fact that I can not do everything all the time; sometimes the dishes will not get done and the laundry may be clean but unfolded. I will breathe through my days, releasing the nasty poison of anger that I allowed to seep into my heart. I will pray throughout each and every day that God will help me tame my wild tongue and temper, so that I will not harm my precious children.

And most importantly, I will extend grace to myself when I fail, so that I don’t add guilt to my burdens.

On Doing a Sam’s Club Run with Children

Shopping has gotten much harder since I’ve had kids. I remember how terrified I was to go to Costco solo after we had our first kid. What if the baby starts crying in the middle of the frozen section because she wants to nurse? Two kids later and I look back at 1 child version of me and think, “What the hell was I scared of? It’s like a vacation when I get to go shopping with just the baby. Babies are easy! What a whimp I was.” Shopping with 2 kids was challenging, but they were both small enough that I could shove them in the cart and still get everything done pretty fast. On a good day, I was able to bang out 6 stops in 4 1/2 hours.

But now? Sam’s Club alone takes me 3 hours. 3 hours! In 1 store! My baby is a cluster feeder and the other two eat like hobbits, so we had to stop to eat before we even started shopping. Then there’s all the bathroom breaks because the first two are potty trained, and let’s be real here–my bladder will never be the same after 3 kids.

There’s no room for Things 1 & 2 in the cart anymore, so I have to let them walk. I believe that leashes are only for dogs, so I have to say a prayer and hope I don’t lose them. The baby started screaming in the car seat, so I had her in my Baby Bjorn. Of course Things 1 & 2 have to touch everything and climb on every display of stacked boxes. We’ve been sick practically all winter, so now my germaphobia is on full alert, and seeing them put their little hands on everything makes me want to panic because all I’m thinking about are all the germs they’re probably gathering and shoving up their noses that they are shamelessly picking.

Their walking speeds are Painfully Slow or Running, with nothing in between. So basically, I spend 3 hours saying, “Don’t touch that / Get down / No / STOP PICKING YOUR NOSE / Please stay with me / We don’t need that / I’m going to leave you if you don’t hurry up / NO!!”, on repeat. God forbid the baby starts fussing, because then I have to add bouncing and singing to my broken record. Plus I have to remember everything that I came to this God forsaken place for?

Nightmare.

After we checked out today, I led everyone to the bathroom because I didn’t want to hear the dreaded, “I need to go potty!” on our way home. And by led, I mean I chased Things 1 & 2 as they darted into the family bathroom without me, while pulling our cart that was literally overflowing with stuff. All I was thinking was, ‘Please don’t be on the toilet without a cover or lock yourselves in!’ Thing 1 pees no problem, but Thing 2 does not. I remembered that I forgot something, so we pick it up and wait in line AGAIN. The lines are now much longer than when we checked out the first time (of course), and the girls are climbing all over a nearby patio set up. After getting them off of that, they proceed to try to steal giant bags of M&M’s. As if I can’t see the 2 pound bright yellow bag.

Then it happens–Thing 2, (who is only 8 days into potty training and not wearing a Pull-Up), says, “I need to go potty!” I turn towards the woman in front of me and explain that despite the overflowing basket I’m lugging, I really only need to buy one thing and can I please go ahead of her so my kid won’t piss herself. She graciously lets me cut and also allows Eowyn to yak her ear off while I’m checking out. I then rush us and our overflowing basket back to the bathroom to have Thing 2 sit on the potty for 5 seconds and declare that she’s done.

All 3 of her names were used as I told her in my scary Mom voice that she was not getting off the toilet until she put pee in the potty. After a full 60 seconds of physically restraining her while still wearing the baby on my chest, she finally pees. Why must they make it so difficult?!!

It’s 9° out, so then we have to go through the production of putting jackets on. And by “we” I mean me. 6 zippers later and we’re all bundled up (why each jacket needs 2 zippers is beyond me). The baby is screaming at this point because she doesn’t want to be in her car seat. I’m not one of those parents who’s grown immune to their baby crying; it instantly stresses me out.

I had just given the Things yet another stern talking to about running away from me, so their pace walking to the door was back to Painfully Slow. The one good thing about having had 2 transactions, was that I had 2 receipts, so there was no fighting over who was going to hand it over to the employee at the door. But then Thing 2 didn’t want to give me the receipt back. While we were standing in between the two sets of exit doors, she starts screaming. Over a receipt.

Enter: Raging Mom. I grabbed her and lifted her up as I said in my piss-your-pants Mom voice, “Don’t. do. this.” I remove the diaper bag that had been occupying the space next to the car seat and shove Thing 2 in. While I’m doing this, Thing 1 is purposely standing in the way of the second set of exit doors with her arms stretched out, letting people go past one at a time. I yell at her to get out of the way while I contemplate how in the hell I’m going to get to the car carrying a diaper bag and ginormous thing of paper towels and push the overflowing cart of screaming children while making sure that the other one doesn’t walk in front of a car.

Then grace stepped in in the form of another mother, who had been lucky enough to come shopping alone. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“Yes, please!” I said.

She grabbed the paper towels and walked me to my car. “Do you need help loading or getting the kids in the car?” she asked.

“No thank you. I’ll be fine once I get them in. Thank you so much!”

That mom caught me in a not so great mom moment: yelling at my tantruming 2 year old and hyper 4 year old while completely ignoring the screaming 4 month old. But she didn’t judge me or pass any condescending looks. She extended some much needed grace to a fellow frazzled mama, and it made a world of difference in my life.

Thank you, Anonymous Mama.

It turned out that I continued to have a tough mama day after we left Sam’s Club. Even though I got us back in time for nap, Things 1 & 2 did not sleep. Thing 2, who had been doing so well with the potty training, took 10 steps backward and had 4 accidents this evening. She even splashed around in the last pee accident, getting it on practically every part of her naked body (she refuses to wear clothes). Since they were overly tired, they were throwing tantrums left and right and fighting with each other the rest of the day. I lost count on how many time outs were given. Neither of them ate the Turkey Corn Chowder that I made from scratch for dinner, and then complained the rest of the night about how hungry they were.

The woman who let me cut in line, the woman who helped me to the car, and my husband doing the dishes despite the discomfort it caused him (he has problems with both wrists, and recently had a surgery on one of them) were the three saving graces of my entire day.

Be kind to your fellow mamas. We’re all trying our best, and sometimes we need help. So if you come across another mom with a screaming kid, don’t just walk past, grateful that it’s not you this time. Help a mama out, because next time–it will be you. And you’ll wish someone would extend you some grace.

And maybe if we all extend grace to someone else, we can start a chain of grace that reaches around the world and breaks through cultural and political divides, in one big hug that brings some happiness into our world.

Wouldn’t that be extraordinary?

25 Ways to Piss Off a Baby Ary

My middle child is the most ridiculous person I have ever met. She’s fiercely independent, over emotional, and runs on extremes: either she’s hot or she’s cold. Yes, that’s right–she’s a two year old. How’d you guess? After putting up with her for 2 years now, I’ve compiled a list of things that are sure fire ways to piss her off, just in case I’m ever feeling malicious one day.

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25 Ways to Piss Off a Baby Ary

  1. Tell her that she can’t have Goldfish for breakfast.
  2. Tell her she has to wear clothes. Baby Ary operates best when naked. Tell her she has to put clothes on, and she acts as if you’re asking her to pick up the 52 cards she threw around the living room. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
  3. Refuse to allow her to strip naked once you’ve gotten to wherever you were going.
  4. Refuse to undo her car seat straps, because the car is in motion and you don’t want her to die should you get into an accident.
  5. Sing along to songs in the car. She’s decided that adults aren’t aloud to sing. We must endure the never-ending Frozen soundtrack in silence while her and her sister pierce our ear drums with their high belts.
  6. Tell her she can’t have Goldfish for lunch.
  7. Give her Mac ‘n Cheese after she specifically asked you to make her… Mac ‘n Cheese… She now wants a banana for lunch.
  8. Peel the banana for her.
  9. Clean the mashed banana off of her hands, face, hair, chest, arms, legs and feet. Apparently this is the most painful thing in the whole world.
  10. Tell her that she can’t eat her Goldfish in the living room. She must eat them at the table, because that’s the house rule. You know, the house rule that’s been in effect since forever…
  11. Correct her when she calls the afternoon, “morning time”. She knows everything, Mom; you could stand to learn a thing or two from her.
  12. Demand that she pick up after herself. She’ll melt into a puddle on the floor as she declares, “I just tan’t, Mom!” It’ll take about 3 time outs and threats of spankings to get her to pick up one thing. You must go through the cycle of time outs and threats again if you want her to pick up anything else.
  13. Play the wrong episode of Sofia the First. The Emerald Key episode is so yesterday, Mom.
  14. Tell her it’s her sister’s turn to pick a TV show to watch. It doesn’t matter that they both like all the same shows; it’s a matter of respect and principal, Mom!
  15. Insist on changing her diaper when it’s wet. She’s really busy playing her favorite game, “How Many Toys Can I Dump On the Floor?”, and does not want to stop.
  16. Refuse to let her in the bathroom with me. A minute ago she couldn’t care less what I was doing, but now that I’m about to sit on the toilet, she cannot be separated from me.
  17. Say to her, “Hi, Minnie!” when she comes around the corner wearing Minnie Mouse ears. She was pretending the ears were a crown; she’s Queen Elsa right now. Duh, Mom.
  18. If you’re her sister — look at her at the wrong time of day.
  19. If you’re a dog — look at her at the wrong time of day.
  20. If you’re anybody, really — look at her at the wrong time of day.
  21. Tell her that her dress looks nice. How dare you compliment her. She can’t be seen in something that her Mom likes; what will the other toddlers think at the playdate?? Now she has to change.
  22. Tell her that she cannot return the last bite of marshmallow for ice cream instead. You picked marshmallows for dessert kid– live with it.
  23. Rinse her hair during bathtime. I guess the sensation is similar to drowning, because she acts like her life is in danger every time I do it.
  24. Put lotion on her. This, along with being cleaned off, is the most painful thing in the world. Never mind that she spent the entire day flinging her body off of the furniture and crashing onto the floor; suddenly she is quite the fragile flower. “You need be gentol wit me, Mama!”
  25. Allow her blanket to flip up the slightest bit at the end of her bed when you’re tucking her in. She can’t possibly be expected to sleep in such a shamble of a bed!

 

So, anybody in the market for a 2 year old? I’ve got a little angel that I’ll sell to you for free.

I’m kidding, of course.

(But seriously–private message me if you’re interested.)