A Mama’s Thoughts on Halloween

When you have kids, there are all sorts of discussions about how to raise them. Will you be co-sleeping? Bottle or breast? As they grow, the questions change. When will you potty train? Homeschool or public or private? Can they attend sleep overs?

One thing that we talked about only briefly was whether or not we would celebrate Halloween. My husband’s family didn’t celebrate Halloween when he was young. In fact, in lieu of making him and his brothers feel left out for not dressing up or participating in parties and trick-or-treating, his parents packed them up and took them to DisneyWorld for a few days. And yes, I’d say I’d rather go to DisneyWorld than just go trick-or-treating down the block, but still.

We decided that if we approached Halloween the right way, our children wouldn’t be negatively affected by the holiday. Of course its origins aren’t exactly kid-friendly, but what the holiday has become is kid-friendly. If the focus is on fun, creative costumes, spending time with friends, choosing and decorating pumpkins, and eating candy, there is nothing wrong with that. If trick-or-treating is just a prankless way to show off costumes with friends, then we are headed in the right direction. We don’t need to focus on the scary things (especially the ones that aren’t even real) to enjoy our Halloween.

We have a few books we really like that are Halloween-themed. Little Owl’s Night, Five Little Pumpkins, and Room on the Broom (also a short cartoon you can find on Netflix!) are just a few of our favorites. Obviously, we also love “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” and Curious George’s “A Halloween Boo Fest” is always a winner. Even when it isn’t Halloween, we like watching “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (also obviously at Christmas time), “Coraline” and “The Corpse Bride”. (This is the part where I confess my undying love for all things Tim Burton.) We can have honest and open talks about what’s real and not real, and how we don’t need to be scared of most things in movies and books (children’s books, at least). I don’t want my kids to miss out on the entertainment value of fun movies and the love of reading they already have by greatly limiting their exposure.

So this weekend, you will find us all dressed up, visiting our church’s trunk or treat event, and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood with friends. What do you do around this time with your kids? Are there other books or movies you love for this time of year?

Things Toddlers Say

Hey y’all! Every Tuesday I think, “I can’t believe it’s here again! Do I have enough material to even do this again?!” And yes. Every Tuesday, yes I do. Here it is, y’all!

J got a new Batman hoodie from his grandmother. He loves it, and I’ve been singing the Batman theme song every time he wears it.
EK: Mom, he looks like fat man!
Me: No, honey. It’s Batman, with a B​.
EK: Yeah, fat man!
Me: No, Batman. Ba, ba, ba, Batman.
EK: Yeah! Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble… fat man!

Recently, I must have told EK, “That’s the point.” The reason I know this is because she’s been saying it nonstop. When I tell J to do or not do something, she says, “Yeah, that’s the point!” When I tell her how something works or why we do something a certain way, she chimes in, “Yeah! That’s the point!” It began as cute. It is now VERY ANNOYING. And THAT, my darling daughter, is the POINT.

Getting ready for our road trip to Georgia…
Me: Yeah, you guys should nap in the car! Hopefully anyway.
A few minutes later…
EK to Hubby: Yeah! We gon’ nap in the car hopully!

On the way down to GA, we had made it SO far and the kids were all doing SO well, but there was a minute somewhere near Atlanta that they simultaneously (albeit briefly) lost it. J is squealing at the top of his lungs, I’m driving, and I blindly swiped my hand in J’s direction, knocking him in the leg. This is what I hear:
J: Not nice! NOT! NICE!
Hubby, pretending to be asleep: (giggles)
Touché, kid.

EK comes running from another room and attaches herself to my leg.
Nana: I tried to get her to sit with me, but she just wanted her mama.
EK, finally peeking around my leg: I just shyyyy.

Every time we see/go across train tracks…
EK: Mom! Tracks! The choo choo tracks!
J: Train! I saw da train! (Rarely, if ever, true.)

Heard from the back of the car…
EK: What the heck are you doing?!
I still don’t know who or what.

Also from the back of the car…
EK: Mom! My shirt is too widdle!
Me: Well maybe we can put on a different one later.
EK: I can’t get it!
Me: Stop trying to take it off in the car seat!

Last one from the back of the car…
J: Come on! Come on! COME ON!
Who knows.

Heard from the bathroom…
EK: My pee is green!
(Spoiler: It wasn’t.)

J, pointing at the front door: Necie in George?
Me: Aw. Yes buddy, Necie’s in Georgia.

At the grocery store…
J, pointing at the flowers: El’ Kate! El’ Kate!
Me: Do you want to get some flowers for your sister?
J: Uh-huh!
Me: That’s really sweet of you!
J: I hold?
Me: Yes, you can hold them. (Heart is melting.)

Well, that about sums up our week of giggles! What are those kiddos saying in your world?


What an eventful week and weekend we had! Last week was full of visitors, hanging out with friends, and pumpkins. The weekend was a road trip to see my family in Georgia. We ended the trip with a virus that seemed to go through everyone but EK, and we are getting over today as we drive home. More details to come!

I’m linking up with Becky at Choose Happy for today’s edition of Currently. Join us and let us know what you’re up to!IMG_0614

Traveling || seven hours in the car back to NC. I’m literally typing this on my phone while Hubby drives. The trip would take Hubby and me only five and a half hours, but it takes seven or more with the kids, depending on traffic and hopefully well-timed naps and meals. Our new car has been a huge blessing because everyone is comfortable, and I can reach the boys without getting out of my seat. We love the Acadia!

Healing || from a nasty virus that was mostly fever, but included a slight rash on the baby boys. EK managed to escape it, but the rest of us have had a crappy day or two.

Photographing || our pumpkin patch experience! A little hectic, perhaps, with three, but they had a great time! Here’s a little of what Hubby shot that morning:


Loving || some good time in Georgia. My kids love my family, for which I am grateful.

We also got to see a few good friends, eat at our favorite restaurant there (here’s looking at you, Schroeder’s Deli) and drink a few beers at the new bar downtown. It’s getting to be a nicer downtown than when I was growing up, and that makes it easier to hang out there now!

Anticipating || the busy season of holidays! The first thing I did when we got settled in the car was open my calendar and see the madness that’s building, culminating at Christmas. I’m excited, but also a little nervous we just won’t be able to get ourselves together to make it all happen. We are notoriously late all the time right now, since, ya know, only a couple of us can do anything by/for ourselves. And every time I think I’ll get up earlier to help the process along, it’s a terrible night for at least two kids, or I battle stress-induced insomnia. I’ll sleep when I dead, right?

Preparing || our Halloween costumes! We have D and EK nailed down, but we are still determining J’s outfit. You’ll see some pictures soon!

Well, there’s our crazy week, fevers and traveling and all. What are y’all up to? Any Halloween plans?

To the Dad at the Mexican Restaurant

My family and a few friends were out at our favorite local Mexican restaurant. We decided to sit outside, what with the cool weather and five children in attendance. We were having a great time just sitting outside, guzzling cheese dip and margaritas.

At some point, I decided napkins weren’t doing the job getting my son’s hands clean from the cheese dip and refried beans. I decided to take him inside for an actual hand-washing.

When I got to the area where the restrooms were, I spotted a little girl, precious in her pink leotard and tutu, with legs crossed and anxious face, waiting with her dad for the men’s room to become available. And because my daughter has been that little girl before, I decided to take the chance.

“In a totally non-creepy way, would you like me to take your daughter to the bathroom?”

“Really? That would be great, actually. Um… she’s got to go number 2…”

“It’s alright. I can handle it.”

Cue me taking a stranger’s daughter to the bathroom, to go number 2, and all that that implies.

In that moment, it got me thinking. I really went out on a limb there! What if I had totally freaked that dad out? What if he had looked at my son, covered in beans, and said, “No way, Jose! You’re clearly a crazy woman!” But he didn’t. He saw me, son in tow, lending a helping hand. And they were both grateful.

What’s more is that we understood each other. I knew I’d just help that gal maneuver her leotard and help her wash her hands. He knew she’d get what she needed a lot quicker if she went with me. We both went out on a limb. And it worked out.

To that dad: Thanks for trusting in humanity. You gave me hope that I could do the same for my daughter. Thanks for being grateful later, when we were leaving and you asked your daughter to tell me “bye”. That was awesome. Parents helping parents is my favorite thing to see.

It’s Fun to Shop Local!

As the daughter of a small business owner, I am well-versed in the advantages and disadvantages of small businesses, and the disdain for “one stop shopping” at Wal-Mart and the like. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Target (and other stores like it) for its convenience and shiny red happiness, but I try to shop locally as often as I can. Here are a few reasons why:


Customer Service. Don’t you hate making a phone call to a huge corporation, speaking to someone who doesn’t know anything about why you’re calling, being on hold for 20 minutes, and transferred 13 times? It’s much better to call the small business with only a few employees. Every employee would be able to answer your questions, you wouldn’t be transferred anywhere, and it’s likely you’d only be on hold for long enough for the manager to walk across the store. When you go into a store and need help, small businesses want to help you, not just feel obligated.

Supporting Your Community. Small businesses are an integral part of every community. Every employee is a member of your community, and often if they’re outsourcing anything, it’s to another business in your community. Most of the money you spend in a small business stays local, and is invested back into the community. It’s cycled back in to other businesses, local taxes, non profits, and local families; you’re boosting your local economy!

One-of-a-Kind Products. Many local boutique stores have unique items that can’t be found anywhere else. Isn’t it fun to have something handmade or locally designed that you know not many other people have? Clothes, toys, jewelry, art, and furniture are just a few of the one-of-a-kind things you can find in small, local businesses.

It’s Trendy! This seems like a silly reason to do it, but it’s getting trendy to shop local, and that’s great! It means the overall experience of small business shopping is getting better: customer service, product quality, shopping environment/ease, and prices. The more people that buy local the better those things will get!

It’s Fun! Farmer’s markets, neighborhood coffee shops, small, local restaurants and family-owned stores often hold family-friendly events, draw other folks from your neighborhood, and may even have loyalty programs – those aren’t just for big corporations! And I like planning outings with and running into friends while I shop, and my kids do, too!


The pros of shopping local vastly outweigh the cons. And in addition to everything else, supporting local businesses just feels good. You’re helping families and your community. How much better can it get?

Check back next week if you’re local to me… I plan to compile a few lists of places I like to shop, eat, etc locally!

When You Just Can’t Find a Single Thing You Do Right

This week, one of my blogger friends posed a question on her Facebook page. She was calling out to the moms in her community, asking them to speak positively about themselves. It was truly a wonderful opportunity for moms to brag on themselves for a bit, because that never happens. She basically said this: What’s one thing you do really well? I just want to hear you say something positive about yourself as a mom.

When I read it, I was giving the baby a bottle, putting him down for his nap. I had been scrolling through my Facebook feed, waiting for him to drop off into unconsciousness, so that I could lay him down. My bigs were already napping, and this was about to be my glorious hour or two of quiet freedom.

What’s one thing I do really well as a mom? Get them to nap at the same time so that I can have a moment of sanity. Oh wait, that’s really selfish. How about the fact that I’m great at getting a workout and a shower in every other day? Well, that still benefits me, not them.

All of a sudden, my mind is reeling and tears are coming to my eyes. Why can’t I think of a single thing I do well for my children? All I can think of are the basics. They’re clothed. They’re fed. They’re (relatively) clean. Well, that doesn’t make me a good mom… that’s the bare minimum. I can’t think of a single thing that I do as a mom that’s outstanding. I know so many other mothers who fall into that category. I’m often short-tempered and easily stressed out. Do those things count?

The more I think, the more I realize that as a mom, and as a woman (and a southern woman in particular), I’m trained to just try to be better. Not to recognize something I do well. I should be humble, hard-working, and put together. I shouldn’t be focused on what I do well – those things don’t need attention. The things that need attention are the things that need improvement. That’s where I should put my focus, right?

I agree with trying to be my best self. I agree with seeing that there may be things about myself that I can improve, change for the better. But I should be able to call to mind a thing or two that I do well. Feeding my children healthy food at almost every single meal and snack. Working out with and in front of them, so that they know being healthy is a priority. Spending lots of family time together, at home or out on the town. Reading to them most days and every night. THOSE are things I do well as a mom.

Here’s your encouragement for today. I read the comments on her question. It was lovely things like, “taking my kids to the park a few times a week” and “teaching my daughter sign language” and “listening to my children and taking their words to heart”. Those are truly wonderful things that moms are doing for their kids. Why don’t we give ourselves some slack? We’re doing a great job, moms. Love yourself a little. Give yourself a break. You’re a good mom. I know it.


Hello, Wednesday! It’s a better day for this week’s Currently anyway. I’m linking up with Becky at Choose Happy and the rest of those great blog friends! Enjoy, and tell me what you are up to currently!

Loving || wearing boots! I have my trusty brown pair I ordered off of Amazon last year (the brand is “Very Volatile”) and I think I’m going to invest in a pair of booties (Do we call them that? I just mean ankle boots.) for this year! I like the fact that I don’t have to think much about my footwear- I just pop it on. 

Excited || about Halloween with my big kids. They’ve each got a couple of costume choices already here in the house, and we are headed to the pumpkin patch this morning to choose pumpkins and take a few pictures. It should be fun! We are also heading to the country club Halloween event next Thursday, our church’s trunk or treat event on Halloween, and then trick or treating a bit afterwards. Talk about busy!

Traveling || to Georgia to see my family this weekend! It’ll be our first big road trip with three kiddos, so thank goodness our new car has a DVD player! Hopefully D will hold out and nap a lot. It would take hubby and I a little less than six hours if we were by ourselves, but it’s taken up to nine with the kids and all the stops they need. Hopefully we won’t take nine this time since we aren’t leaving until noon!

Enjoying || fall weather! We got to spend some time on a friend’s farm on Saturday, and we’ve been playing outside a lot at home, too. Here is proof we love fall:  

Celebrating || my father-in-law’s birthday! On Monday we had lunch and dinner with the family. We love having the kids all together and knowing that we’ve got two more coming! We also just found out that the two coming are a boy (in January) and a girl (in March)! Blessings abound!  

 Well there’s my late edition of Currently. What are you up to?

Things Toddlers Say 

Hey Tuesday! Hope everyone had a good start to their week yesterday! We celebrated my father in law’s birthday (twice!) so it was a good day for us! Here’s a little bit of what my kids have been saying this week… 

 EK: What time is it?
Me: 8:55
EK: That’s a really good one.
EK: What time is it?
Me: 12:14
EK: Aww… I really don’t like that one…

Upon hearing that I was going to my college roomie’s 30th birthday party (at a bar)…
EK: Aww! I want to come!
Me: I’m sorry, babe! I wish I could take you, but I can’t this time.
EK: But I want to have a girls’ night! And Joe wants to have a boys’ night!
Me: (Dying with laughter and texting my friends) We will REALLY soon!

Getting in the car…
EK: Mom, I can’t do it in my skinny pants!

Waking up from a nap…
EK: Are we gonna go to Georgia now?
Hubby: No, we’re going next week.
EK: Yeah, that’s a good idea, Dad!

EK: Can we have a flying car, Mommy?
Me: I wish. There is no such thing, babe.
EK: But Harry Potter’s blue car is a flying car!
Me: Touché. But Harry potter’s car is magic. And it actually belongs to the Weasleys.

Me: Hey babe, J just took a dump. (I know, I should find new parent slang.)
EK: Yeah, he’s a dump truck! Dump truck! Dump truck! Dumpy, dumpy, dump truck!  (Obviously in a sing-song voice)

EK at bedtime: Do we have school tomorrow?
Me: Nope!
EK: Do we have church?
Me: Nope!
EK: Just stay at home?
Me: Yep!
EK: Well, can we have special breakfast?
Me: I’m never off the hook.

J: I want truck! (Pointing at a tractor)
Me: That’s a tractor, buddy! And you can go get on it!
J: Yay! Truck! (Squealing with excitement)
Me, after several minutes: Alright, why don’t we go see everyone?
Me: Okay, we can play another minute or two…
After several more minutes, I’m rescued by my friend Chris, who lets J play on the “truck” for another 10 minutes.

Hubby: It’s Gon Gon’s birthday!
EK: Aww! We gonna sing to him and he gonna smile at us and we gonna be so happy!

Well, that’s it for this week. What have your kids been talking about?

5 Reasons Having 3 Under 4 Is Awesome and Terrifying

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

Having small children is amazing. It’s amazing if you think endless piles of laundry and cabinets being emptied out onto the floor is amazing. It’s amazing if you think snuggles all day every day and being able to make all their sadness go away is amazing. I’ll let you choose which definition you think I like more.

With three children under the age of four, I’m challenged with keeping little bodies safe, fed, clean and happy. They depend entirely on me for those things. You take for granted how easy it is to keep yourself safe, fed, clean and happy – especially if you’ve got a messy child, or a child going through a growth spurt, or a child who is too brave for his own good. Here are a few reasons I think that having three little children depending on you is difficult:

  1. Mobility. You’re always trying to keep track of who can reach what and how quickly and in what way. I’ve got a three year old daughter who basically has her run of the house. There’s pretty much nothing she can’t get to. If she’s too short, she moves a chair to give her a boost. I have an almost two year old son who is a thief. He can find pretty much anything I hide or keep out of sight. I have a two month old son who is completely immobile… for now. But the first time he rolls over? Gone are the days of sitting him on our bed while I get things done. When will he roll over? I hope I don’t find out the hard way.
  2. Car Seats. I’ve got three children in large, five-point harness car safety seats. That means I have to drive a car big enough to accommodate this. Just before we had our third, we sold my Camry (2003, baby!) and got a (large-ish) mid-size SUV, complete with captain’s seats and a third row. It is enough room to fit all three seats, and even hold another adult back there somewhere, but I’m realizing how annoying it is that not a single one of my kids can buckle themselves in. I have to strap in each and every one of them when we get in the car, including the ones in the back row. Heaven forbid I’m wearing a dress, or the neighbors get a show while I’m getting the kids in the car.
  3. Meal Time. This, all things considered, isn’t as bad as it could be. Most of the time, my big kids are great eaters. They eat what Hubby and I eat, almost without fail. My youngest is obviously not eating, but taking bottles, so he needs someone to feed it to him, unless we time it to happen right before or after. But when the rest of us sit down to eat, there are two main issues. My threenager can’t sit in her chair for more than 90 seconds at a time (We end up threatening to throw her food away. She knows she has to be finished to get up, so if she’s up, we “assume she’s finished” and tell her we’re throwing the food away) and my not-quite-two year old eats great for most of the meal, and when he’s done, his plate and the rest of the food hit the floor immediately, with no warning. Hubby and I share meal duty: one is always convincing EK to stay seated, and the other is always on the lookout for flying food/utensils from J.
  4. Lack of Self-Sufficiency. Sometimes, I take for granted how self-sufficient EK is. At 3 1/2, she usually goes to the bathroom by herself, she can dress herself, feed herself (if I make the food, of course), move herself around (with less concern about her running off) and basically entertain herself. With J, I’m still changing his diapers, dressing him (he’s at least getting more helpful with that), making sure he doesn’t run away, fall off something, or spill my favorite nail polish all over my bedroom floor (oh wait, that happened last week). And D? Well obviously at two months old I’m doing everything for him. I don’t mind – really, I don’t. But sometimes, it’s nice to go out to lunch with mygirlfriends and not have to order their food, ask them not to spill their water in their laps, and keep them from throwing the plate in the floor when they’re done. I don’t even have to take them to the potty!
  5. Bedtime. Every single one of them needs (or thinks they need) a long one-on-one with both parents at bedtime. They all also need (or think they need) to go to bed around the same time. We end up tag-teaming. We have a pretty good routine, but especially now that we’ve added a third kid with the same bedtime into the mix, we have had to get creative. Rotating through rooms, lullabies, soothing promises of tomorrow, and a little extra screen time have saved us from heartache, but also lengthened the time between family dinner and grown up freedom considerably.

My family is good crazy, needy and wonderful. Each day is an adventure, full of giggles, snuggles, messes and walking really slowly. Just surviving a day is the most hilarious, challenging, and heartwarming thing I could ever do.

The Day My Son Threw a Tantrum

I know that toddlers throw tantrums. It’s a widely-known fact, at least among the parent community. Yes, I know they happen at seemingly random times, I know they happen at expected times (Oh, he wanted the chicken nuggets but now he wants the mac and cheese?) and I know that every time is inconvenient.

Yesterday, my son threw a tantrum. He’s thrown one before, like his sister before him. I typically just wait a minute or two and distract him with something. But this time… this time was different.

Y’all, I’ve never seen anything like it.

When I picked J up from preschool, he ran to me, shouting, “Mommy! Mommy!” just like always. He popped on his backpack and followed me down the hall to pick up his sister. I was carrying D in his little bucket seat thing, because who wants to unsnap the kid from his car seat for a 5 minute trip into the building and back out? Anyway, as we were about to leave the building, J plopped down on the floor and said, “No!”

No? He’s never been sad to leave preschool. Not like he dislikes it or anything, but he isn’t exactly begging to stay. So I said, “We’re gonna go home to eat lunch!”


Still no, eh, kid? “We’re gonna eat bananas and see Daddy!” (Bananas and Daddy are his favorite.)

“NO!” (Throws self onto floor, basically bashing his head against the ground.)

Bring out the big guns, Mom. I scoop him up with one hand (I’m still holding D’s carseat in the other.) and carry him out the door. He’s screaming and flailing so hard I’m losing my grip, so we plop down in the courtyard. We’d made it about 20 feet. I let him lay there and holler, then scoop him up again. At this point, EK is sweetly following behind me, carrying J’s backpack. Bless her sweet heart.

We made it another 20 feet before I almost dropped him on the asphalt. At least by now we were across the little road to the parking lot. I let him lay there another minute or two, gearing up for the next big push to the car. EK is still being her sweet self, and D is squinting in the sun, ready to be angry at a moment’s notice.

I football-hold J on my hip (he’s sideways) and haul him and D the last 20 feet to the car. He’s FREAKING OUT, tears, snot, gasping for breath between screams. At this point I’ve passed through the “These things happen” stage into the “Oh my gosh is he going to asphyxiate?!” stage. I’ve put him down next to the car, and he’s laying on the pavement on his back, screaming his head off. EK climbs in the car, I put D down, and get to work stuffing J in his seat. I offer him water (“NO!”) and a snack (“NO!”) and give up. I manhandle him into his carseat, afraid I’m hurting him because of how I’m having to hold him down. He’s planking about as hard as I’ve ever experienced (His abs must be sore!) so it takes me several minutes to get him fully strapped.

Still afraid he’s going to choke or puke, I carry a screaming D over to his side of the car and click his seat in. I close all the doors, and take a deep breath. The battle isn’t over.

I call Hubby. No answer. This is an emergency, I think. Call him again, and he picks up. Over the screaming, I shout, “J is freaking out! I need you! I don’t know what to do! I’m worried about him!” Hubby walks me through turning on the in-flight movie. Thank God for cars with TVs. I don’t use it often, but in this case I pulled out all the stops. After 4 minutes of Despicable Me, he gets quiet. Not happy, but quiet.

We pull into the driveway, and I leave the car on. I get out D, all of the bags, etc, and take them inside. Finally, I turn off the car, and start getting the kids out. As soon as I’ve unsnapped J, he starts flailing and screaming again. Onto the pavement he goes. I walk EK inside, and D is yelling (obviously) probably because it’s time for him to eat. I go back out for J, offering a squeezy pack of applesauce. He takes it, takes a sip or two while we walk inside, then throw it down. RELAPSE into banging his head on the ground. Y’all, I’m not kidding. Every time I stand him up, he flings himself onto his belly and bangs his forehead on the ground. I can’t get him to stop, so I move him to the carpet. (He still has a rug burn on his forehead.)

Finally, I remember the bananas. I managed to hand him a banana and get him to start eating it. I carry him upstairs while he’s eating the banana and get his juice from the fridge. Only then did he finally calm down (and eat a second banana). It was a grand total of about 35 minutes of doing the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen (with the 6 or 7 minute movie break in the car). Then he took a 3 hour, 45 minute nap. AND I WOKE HIM UP so he’d sleep at bedtime.

Poor guy had a hard day.