Things Toddlers Say

It’s mostly Tuesday (oops) and I hope you enjoy our funnies!!

EK: I watered that plant so it would get back to nermal. It looks all sad like this.

Hubby was holding this shrimp:D ran up to him, demanding: Give me that bacon!

D to his dump truck: Wait! Wait! I lub you!

D handing me two items I don’t even know the name of: Look! I got two one of these!

J: I was licking your face!
Me: Ugh. I know.

J: Know how you make a lollipop? You take a white stick, put gum on it, sweeten it up, pump it up, and it’s a lollipop!

Passing by the first house with Christmas lights this season…
J: Now THAT was a glowing house!

D upon finishing breakfast: Mom! My all done!

D when he wants to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar: I want to read the lollihop!

And this thing in EK’s room needs no caption…

J, coming upstairs after bedtime: Can you carry me down to my room?
Hubby: No, you walked up, so you can walk down.
J: But when I was walking up, I cra(*takes a breath*)ashed so that’s why I can’t walk up or down.

J, asking about his fortune cookie: Hey, what does my tag spay-ell (spell)?

J: Guess who I love?!
Hubby: Who?
J: He’s gotta big, squashy nose!
Hubby: It’s me, isn’t it?

What are your kiddos saying these days?

You don’t need to be perfect.

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

What is your calling? Do you know what the Lord is calling you, nudging you, leading you to do? Or is it someone He’d like you to be, perhaps? Becoming acquainted with the Lord’s call on your life is a messy process, and sometimes it doesn’t yield fruit exactly like we think it will.

God gives us gifts, passions, talents, skills, and desires, and for good reason. Each of those things (and a lot more, too) make us into who we are in Him. He has allowed us to be good at the things we’re good at. He has given us passions and desires so that we may be kingdom-builders and world-changers in our own way. That cliche about how “God doesn’t called the equipped, He equips the called” may actually be as true as it is annoying.

As a perfectionist, I have a disadvantage when I’m asked to do something. If I say “yes” to something, I become obsessed with it. I must do the best job I can do, because I’m afraid of failure. That being said, I don’t say yes to very many things, because if I know ahead of time that I don’t have the energy, time, or skills to do the job extremely well, I’ll just say “no” instead. Even if I can do part of it, or do it well enough, or learn a lot through the process, I don’t want those things… I want perfection or nothing. I want to go 100%, or I won’t start.

But something I’ve had to learn is that not being able to achieve that perfection is okay. Sometimes, what I need more than a perfect product is a perfect process. Or even a messy process to which I’ve given my 100%. My “all” doesn’t always come out perfectly in the end… but God is a miracle worker and can bring it the rest of the way if I let Him.

Did you hear that?

God is the miracle worker. He just needs willing bodies that He has called “able” to do what He is calling us to do.

So when you hear Him calling you towards something that you aren’t sure if you can do, trust Him. If you feel nudged toward a new project, of trying something you’ve never tried before, or an undertaking you aren’t sure you can handle, ask Him to help you do it. You only need to be willing to give Him what you have. He’s got the rest. On a podcast I listened to this morning, the guest referenced something a friend had told her: You just need to take care of the two fishes and five loaves. He will feed the five thousand.

It’s okay to not have everything you need to finish what you’ve been called to start. It’s okay if you can’t see the end to know what’s coming, or if you don’t even make it that far. It’s okay if you only have time to do part of it, or if doing it on top of a hundred other responsibilities means that it takes you a really long time. I might be stepping out on a limb, but I don’t think perfectionism is what He calls us to achieve. There is grace for you to follow where you think He’s leading you, even if there’s a part of you that thinks (or the devil is sneaking in the feeling) that you’re “half-assing” it.

God usually doesn’t call us to do things that are easy, or done in a short period of time. He frequently calls us to make a decision for a life-long process of learning, doing, teaching, or searching. He calls us to something higher than we would plan for ourselves, though in following His will, there is fulfillment we would never dream possible. If you feel like He is leading you somewhere, changing your plan, pushing you to go the extra mile, then follow Him. I encourage you to pray through it, seek wise counsel, and go out on that limb. That limb is where you may just find the excitement, fulfillment, and contentment you’ve been searching for.

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! It’s Thanksgiving week, and we are ready to binge eat – how about you?! I hope you enjoy these funnies and have a great Turkey Day!

EK, standing between Hubby and me: Hug? Hug? Cuddle Huddle!

D handed me this (below), saying: Here’s a new book!(Hubby and I got a Vitamix for our Christmas present and this manual is still in the shrink wrap, hence it’s “new”.)

EK, shouting angrily to J: I get the purple, because purple is my favorite color! And you get the green because green is your favorite color! Agh!

EK was helping me sweep the floor.
J: EK! Come check out this spider web!
EK: I can’t right now. I’m really busy helping mom.
J: Come on, come see it under here!
EK: I know we’re best friends but I just can’t right now.

J, excitedly pointing to the toilet: Mom! Look how many pee bubbles there are!

EK, reading over my shoulder: You! Y-o-u! I saw it! My! The! No! I know those!

J: My nose is snotty. I’m sick. Do I have school today?
Me: You really fast-forwarded that sequence there.

D, while I’m holding him already: Moooooom, I wan’ ‘nuggle!!

I love recording little conversations between my older two kids, like the one at the top. Their relationship is getting more developed every day. What about you? What are your kids saying these days?

‘Tis the Season – of Indulging Your Taste Buds!

During the month of November, I’m participating in NaBloPoMo, where I try to write and publish each day.

I don’t know what it is about this time of year that makes me abandon any sort of diet or food regulations I might normally have going for me. Perhaps it begins with Halloween and the amount of candy that enters the house. Or it might have to do with being inside more often… which typically leads me to baking a lot. Or maybe it’s just that the holidays are full of sugary treats and fatty, sharable sides. Who knows. But what I DO know is that I LOVE food that tastes good.

Now, for me, saying “food that tastes good” covers a multitude of sins. I love fancy meals. I love farm-fresh eggs and meats. I love organic fruits and veggies. I love cuisine from all over the world (here’s looking specifically at you, Italy and Thailand). BUT! I also love a good slamburger (the term coined by my husband for a greasy burger from a no-name burger joint). I love a late-night hotdog from a street cart. Coldstone ice cream creations can cheer me up any day. My kids don’t have to beg to get me to eat at Chick-fil-A. To me, they taste good. And that’s what matters.

But this time of year, I lean in to those home-baked cookies, the cinnamon-sprinkled drinks, and the heavily-buttered breads or potatoes. I want large cuts of fatty meats (hey there, prime rib!) and richly-flavored, creamy soups (butternut squash soup, anyone?). And who can blame me?! It’s getting dark at 5:00pm and I’d like to have some compensation for the stealing of my daylight.

So today, I celebrate the pumpkin muffins with maple-pecan drizzle, the eggnog spiked with bourbon, and ramen from the Bahtmobile (our local Asian food truck). I celebrate shortbread cookies, King’s Hawaiian rolls (why are they so good?!) and 18-pound hunks of prime rib – if you’re having Thanksgiving lunch at our house, anyway. I celebrate good ol’ GBC (if you’re from around here, you should know that’s green bean casserole) and mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and Honeybaked Ham. It’s going to be a good couple of months, y’all, in the world of flavors. Indulge. ‘Tis the season!

8 Ways to Survive Cooking with Kids

This article originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

In my experience, kids love to help cook. They love to help measure, they like to stir, and they can’t wait to see the finished product that they can claim as their own. But also based on my own experience, cooking with kids might need a little preparation. Here’s what I have to do before I get started cooking with my kiddos:

Lower the bar. I mean this in a nice way, but I’m serious. Whatever beautiful product you have in mind, you might want to, uh, let go of that image. However quick and painless you think that recipe might be, just let that go, too. Whatever you do with your kids will take longer, be more messy, and likely less attractive than you thought. That doesn’t mean it won’t taste delicious, though!

Tell them the plan. Kids always do better when they know what’s coming. They can stay on task better when they have an idea of what the task is. They need to know the first part is the fun part where they do all the helping, and the second part you might need to do on your own. Or that those muffins have to bake for ONE ENTIRE EPISODE of Octonauts, then cool for several MORE minutes before they can eat them.

Be flexible. Got a cloud of flour all over yourself? It’ll wash out! Did you lose half the bag of chocolate chips to the floor? Worse spills have happened! I try to take off my “in charge” hat before I get started. I’m often getting frustrated with whoever is “helping” if I don’t already have it in my head that all bets are off. If I’ve committed to making a mess and having fun, then it goes MUCH better!

Choose a simple recipe. Even if you think you’ll be able to control the proportions of the ingredients going into the dish, you may be surprised how sneaky the kids are at adding extra things in. If the recipe is something you know needs to be exact, then it might not be a good one to use.

Be careful. If your kids are still short, they’ll either be standing on a chair or stool, or sitting on the counter with you. Make sure they’re being safe – or else they can’t be good helpers!

Get everything out and close by before you start. This one goes with “be careful” because the more you have at an arm’s reach, the less likely you are to have a kid get loose, or dump something extra into the mix! Whatever your ingredients, tools, etc. are, have them close by before you are running around the kitchen while your kid is dumping the olive oil on the counter.

Divide the labor. If you’ve got more than one helper, make sure they know they’ve got to take turns. There are only so many steps to the recipe – either half it, and switch the helpers out, or go back and forth with pouring, measuring, and stirring. My kiddos can get frustrated when they’re standing around for too long, watching their sibling have all the fun.

Let your inner germaphobe take a back seat. Of course you had the kids wash their hands before you got started… but that doesn’t mean someone won’t sneeze a little too close to the bowl, lick the spoon, or reach in there with their sticky, contaminated fingers to be a taste-tester. You’ve just gotta let that one go.

Cooking is definitely something you want your kids to learn, and learn to enjoy. A bit of preparation can make the process of cooking alongside your littles less stressful and more successful. Relax, don’t worry about the mess, and have fun!

20 Reasons to Read to Your Kids Every Single Day

This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

Sometimes, I’m trying to do 100 things at once. I’m cleaning, cooking, reading, giving advice, trying to keep myself healthy, saving my children from disaster… you know, just the regular stuff. But every once in a while, one of my kids wanders up to me with a book in his hand, or interrupts me while I’m getting some work done to ask if I’ll read to her. If I possibly can, I say yes. I drop almost anything to read to my kids. Why? Why is it so important to me that I would read to my kids any time they ask?

Because I love reading.

Because they love reading.

Because reading is for every age.

Because reading makes them smarter.

Because reading means you have to slow down.

Because reading to them won’t last forever.

Because reading is a pleasure that can transport them to another world.

Because reading is a way to connect with them.

Because reading opens their eyes to new experiences, ideas, and points of view.

Because reading is a joy that begins early.

Because reading is fun.

Because reading to them means getting a snuggle, too.

Because reading is something I can do with all of my kids at the same time.

Because reading creates time together.

Because reading makes them laugh.

Because reading makes me laugh.

Because reading makes me cry.

Because reading helps them learn about emotions.

Because reading to them turns into reading with them.

Because reading with them turns into them reading to me.

I’ll drop anything to pick up a book and read with my children. That time with them is special, and fleeting. I know from my years of teaching that almost any age of children love to be read to, but I also know that when they get older and busier, that time becomes harder to carve out. So right now, while they’re little, while they bring me books while I’m folding laundry, I’ll read to them. I’ll gladly let the laundry wait to have a snuggle and a book with my kids.

Research has shown that reading to children for at least 20 minutes every day can increase their reading abilities early on, increase their exposure to language and larger vocabularies, improve their attitudes towards reading for school, and increase their likelihood to graduate from high school on time, and go on to receive a higher education degree. Those reasons should be enough for parents to spend the time with their kids reading each day, but when you couple that with extra snuggles, quality time, and getting to hear their cute (or let’s be honest: hilarious!) thoughts on the stories and characters? I’m sold. My kids have the best questions and silliest ideas after we read books together. I would never want to miss out on that. I get to peek inside their minds for a minute when we discuss what the books are about. I get such good opportunities to talk with them about things we would never think of to say. Reading with your kids is a great way to get to know them a little bit better. Don’t miss out on it. It makes a difference for all of you.

My little people aren’t to blame. 

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

I’ve written again and again about losing my patience. Again and again, people comment… “Me too,” they say. “I know what you mean.” and “It gets easier.” are other common responses. I get texts, private messages, and comments right on my blog or my Facebook page telling me what I already know is true: “Every parent loses their patience sometimes. Kids can be totally frustrating. You aren’t to blame.”

Well, my little people aren’t to blame, either.

What is our culture’s obsession with blame? We need someone to be in the wrong in every unfavorable situation. Our president or the government is to blame. My boss is to blame. Our spouses, our parents, our kids. Well, what about the recent hurricanes? Who is to blame for that? No one. We’d love to pin down who caused all the destruction, who could be held responsible for the damage done, the property lost, or the money that will be spent on rebuilding instead of vacations and Christmas presents.

So when I get upset, annoyed, frustrated, or just plain angry, my little people aren’t to blame. I might need reminding of this fact, but they simply aren’t to blame for their tendencies toward mess-making, misunderstandings, or sleep-deprived moodiness. My little ones aren’t to blame for the fact that scrambled eggs aren’t their favorite breakfast, or that they have to wear pants today, or even the fact that they can’t survive off of fruit snacks.

But you know what, I do agree that I’m not to blame either.

You see, the kids and I, we are human. We are broken. We are prone to mistakes and sins. The only thing that can redeem us of those things is the grace of God. It’s by the grace of God we love each other through and in spite of messes (literal and figurative) and it is by His grace we can sometimes rise above the little things that often get under our skin. It’s by the grace of God that I even have these perfect little people in my life, and I wouldn’t dare say that my frustration outweighs the daily joy they bring to my life.